Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

July 14, 2007 11:15 ET

DND: "Boots on the Ground" in Nijmegen, Netherlands

OTTAWA-ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 14, 2007) - A contingent of some 220 Canadian Forces (CF) personnel leaves Canada today for Nijmegen, Netherlands, to take part in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, a prestigious Dutch marching event Canadian military contingents have participated in every year since 1952. Over the course of the event, which will take place July 17-20, 2007, all participants must complete a 160 km march while carrying a standard military rucksack weighing at least 10 kg.

"The Nijmegen Marches is an excellent fitness activity and endurance test that builds morale and develops core military values, including leadership and teamwork, in all participants," says Brigadier-General Raymond Romses, Commander, Canadian Defence Liaison Staff (London). "Having our members in uniform participate also helps them understand what their predecessors achieved and sacrificed in defence of our freedom, values and way of life," he adds.
The Canadian contingent represents the entire CF, comprising members of the Regular Force and the Reserves from across the country. During the months of training required to be selected for the Canadian contingent, candidates test both their physical and mental stamina by marching an average of 700 km with their rucksacks, which is why Canadian soldiers, sailors and air personnel consider it an honour and privilege to be selected for the gruelling four-day event.

Participation by the CF in this event also includes paying a lasting tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in bringing freedom to the Dutch people. During their stay in the Nijmegen area, the CF contingent will visit the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery to pay their respects to the more than 2,300 Canadian soldiers and airmen who died to liberate the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945. On the way to Nijmegen, contingent members will also visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France to hold a memorial ceremony, supported by the Royal Canadian Legion.

The Nijmegen Marches is also the world's largest walking event, attracting thousands of civilian participants as well as hundreds of other military teams. More than 40,000 marchers from at least 50 nations are expected to participate this year.

NOTE TO NEWS/ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:

Interviews can be arranged between Canadian media outlets and Canadian Forces personnel who are in Nijmegen by contacting the Public Affairs Officer on location, Ms. Tina Crouse, at: 613-286-2398.

As still imagery of the Nijmegen Marches is obtained it will be posted on the Combat Camera website at:

www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca

For further information, visit the official website of the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen at:

http://www.4daagse.nl/index.asp?taal=en&pagina=homepagina&interactivepage

For information on Canadian Forces participation in the Nijmegen Marches, visit:

http://www.forces.gc.ca

BACKGROUNDER

CANADIAN TROOPS PARTICIPATE IN NIJMEGEN MARCHES

The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen is a prestigious Dutch marching event Canadian military contingents have participated in every year since 1952. This year's marches will take place in Nijmegen, Netherlands, from 17 to 20 July 2007. A contingent of some 220 Canadian Forces (CF) members, led by Brigadier-General Raymond Romses, Commander, Canadian Defence Liaison Staff (London), will participate in the marches. More than 40,000 people, both civilian and military, from over 50 nations around the world are expected to participate in this year's event.

HISTORY

In 1945, Canadian troops participated in the Liberation of the Netherlands. Now, some half a century later, Canadians and the Dutch still remember the historic events of that time and celebrate the lasting bonds that were created between our two countries through the Nijmegen Marches.

The Nijmegen Marches originated in 1909 with Dutch military efforts to increase the long-distance marching and weight-carrying ability of infantry soldiers. It evolved into an international event comprising both military and civilian participants.

The participation of a CF contingent in the Nijmegen Marches demonstrates our dedication to remembering the Canadians who died liberating the area around Nijmegen during the Second World War. During the four days of marching, CF members will walk the same terrain where so many Canadians fell during the Second World War. Through the marches, members of the Canadian contingent remember the sacrifices made by Canadians in defence of our freedom, values and way of life. This year marks the 55th year of Canada's participation in the Nijmegen Marches, which falls on the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

On the way to Nijmegen, the Canadian contingent will visit and hold a memorial ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. During the marches, Canadian military participants will pay their respects at the Groesbeek Commonwealth War Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 2,300 Canadian soldiers and airmen who died fighting to liberate the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945.

THE MARCHES

The Nijmegen Marches consists of four days of marching through the countryside and crowded streets of towns and villages in the Nijmegen area. Each military participant marches in total 160 km while carrying a rucksack weighing at least 10 kg. The marches are neither competitive nor a speed test, but they do require proper training and a good team spirit to ensure success. It is the team that finishes with spirit and style that wins the plaudits of the crowd.

Physically and mentally strong, the Canadian contingent is representative of the whole of the CF. The Canadian contingent is broken down into teams, with each team consisting of 11 personnel. Teams are made up of both Regular and Reserve Force members from across the country. During the months of training required to be selected for the Canadian contingent, candidates test both their physical and mental stamina by marching an average of 700 km with their rucksacks, which is why Canadian soldiers, sailors and air personnel consider it an honour and privilege to be selected for the gruelling four-day event.

The Nijmegen Marches are primarily a team event that develops such core military values as leadership, teamwork and endurance, and each team is expected to complete the marches successfully in good order and with the team intact. Although each individual who successfully completes the marches receives an award, the coveted award is the team award. The team medal is awarded to the members of a team who successfully complete the marches with at least 90 per cent of the team intact. The training standards and selection criteria for the Canadian Contingent are such that every team entered should, barring any unforeseen accidents, qualify for a team award.

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