Canadian Battlefields Memorials Committee

Following the Armistice of 1918, various countries of the British Empire, including Canada, wanted to construct memorials on selected battlefields sites in honour of those who fought for their countries.

To determine which efforts of the Canadian Forces should be recognized with memorials, Canadian officers held a meeting which was lead by General Sir Arthur Currie. Following this meeting, the Battle Exploits Memorials Committee was formed in February 1919. The committee was formed in Great Britain, and Brigadier-General H.T. Hughes was appointed as Canada’s representative.

The committee submitted a proposal to the Government of Canada, which included their recommendations for memorials on battlefield sites in Europe. The proposal was passed on to a Special Committee of the House of Commons, which recommended the following:

  • Eight memorials of a permanent character and worthy of the events commemorated should be erected at Vimy, Bourlon Wood, Le Quesnel, Dury and Courcelette in France and St. Julien, Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood), Passchendaele in Belgium.
  • that a competition in design, open to all Canadian architects, designers, sculptors and other artists should be held to determine the design or designs to be adopted.
  • that the holding of the competition, selection of designs, letting of contracts and prosecution of the work generally could be best undertaken by a small honorary commission.
Brigadier-General H.T. Hughes

Following the recommendations from the Special Committee, the Battle Exploits Memorials Committee started planning for the construction of the Canadian memorials. Brigadier-General H.T. Hughes, who had already done a considerable amount of preliminary work, was made Chief Engineer for the whole project.

On September 2, 1920, the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission was established. Appointed to the Commission were:

  • Major-General the Honourable Sidney C. Mewburn, C.M.G., K.C., M.P., Chairman;
  • The Honourable Rodolphe Lemieux, K.C., M.P.;
  • Lieutenant-General Sir R.E.W. Turner, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O.;
  • The Honourable J.G. Turriff;
  • Colonel R.W. Leonard;
  • Colonel H.C. Osborne, Honorary Secretary;
  • Mr. P.E. Nobbs, M.A., F.R.I.B.A., R.C.A., Architectural Adviser.

The first meeting of the Commission was held on November 26, 1920, to discuss the process and conditions for holding a competition for memorial designs, which would be open to all Canadian architects, designers, sculptors and other artists.

After the competition was held, and the designs were selected, Brigadier-General H.T. Hughes was able to identify and acquire the land for eight memorial sites.

Newfoundland Memorials

The Newfoundland Memorials at Beaumont-Hamel, Gueudecourt, Monchy-le-Preux, and Masnières in France; and Courtrai in Belgium, were constructed for the government of Newfoundland between 1924 and 1925.

Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Nangle was the Director of Graves Registration and Enquiry and Newfoundland’s representative on the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission. He played a leading role in selecting and developing the sites where the Newfoundland memorials stand, as well as supervising the construction of each memorial. The landscape architect was Mr. Rudolph H.K. Cochius, a native of Holland who was living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. There, he had been responsible for the lay-out of Bowring Park, the 200-acre historic park in the city’s West-end.

When Newfoundland’s officially became a part of Canada in 1949, the memorials became the responsibility of the Government of Canada.

First World War Memorials

Canada's 13 First World War memorials were erected to honour and remember the achievements and sacrifices of Canadians and Newfoundlanders during the Great War. In May 2001, the Government of Canada announced a major $30-million restoration project to restore and rehabilitate Canada's memorial sites in France and Belgium, in order to maintain and present them in a respectful and dignified manner. On April 2, 2007 restoration of the last memorial site, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, was officially completed and the site was re-opened to the public.

Eight of these memorials stand on notable Canadian battlefields: Vimy Ridge, Bourlon Wood, Courcelette, Dury, Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood), Le Quesnel, Passchendaele and St. Julien. The other five memorials mark places of historical significance to the then Dominion of Newfoundland: Beaumont-Hamel, Gueudecourt, Monchy-le-Preux, Masnières, and Courtrai. Collectively, they are symbolic of the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who gave their lives during the First World War, and are physical reminders that their sacrifices and victories must never be forgotten.

The repair work required to rehabilitate these memorial sites, at an average of 75 years old, was beyond the scope of routine maintenance. The program of work was carried out in collaboration with Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and other specialists, consultants and military historians. The work was separated into 4 project areas, with the restoration of the Vimy Monument being the main priority.

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Battlefields
Battle at Monchy-le-Preux, 1917

A handful of gallant Newfoundlanders held off massive German counter-attacks on April 14, 1917.

Battle of Cambrai, 1917

The Newfoundland Regiment, with General Byng’s Third Army, attacked the Hindenburg Line in front of Cambrai.

Battle of the Somme, 1916

The Canadians played a major role in the Battle of the Somme from September 3 to November 18, 1916 at the cost of 24,029 casualties.

Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 1917

Vimy Ridge, in German hands since October 1914, was a key to the German defence system. On April 10, 1917, Vimy Ridge was captured by the Canadian Corps. It marked the only significant success of the Allied spring offensive of 1917, and it was the greatest Allied victory up to that time.

Battlefield Viewing Area

St. Lambert-sur-Dives, France.

Canadian Battlefields Foundation: Viewing Area

Located at Point 67 on Verrières Ridge, South of Caen.

Canal du Nord, September 1918

On September 27, 1918, the Canadian Corps crossed Canal du Nord and captured Cambrai, Denain, Valenciennes and Mons.

Prelude to the Somme, 1916

The Canadians suffered more than 9,000 casualties from April to August 1916 in the Battles of the Ypres Salient before joining the Battle of the Somme.

Second Battle of Ypres (St. Julien), 1915

18,000 Canadians withstood the first German gas attacks during the Second Battle of Ypres, April 22-24, 1915, at the cost of 2,000 lives.

The Battle of Amiens, August 8-11, 1918

On August 8, 1918, 100,000 soldiers of the Canadian Corps attacked between Hourges and Villers-Bretonneux and drove the enemy eastward for 8 miles.

The Battle of Le Transloy, 1916

At the village of Gueudecourt on October 12, 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment made its heroic assault during the Battle of Le Transloy, one of the major battles of the Somme. The Regiment had been one of the few units on the whole of the Fourth Army’s front to capture and retain an objective.

The Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line, 1918

In assaulting and capturing both the Fresnes-Rouvroy and Drocourt-Quéant lines, the Canadian Corps penetrates more than eight kilometers between September 1 and 3, 1918.

The Battle of the Sambre, 1918

On November 4, 1918, units of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division assault the mining town of Vicq, a strong point proving difficult to crack. They manage a footing, only to be driven off by incessant German machine-gun and artillery fire.

The Battle of the Scarpe, 1918

The battle took place in the northern area of France on 26-31 August, 1918.

The Battle of Valenciennes, 1918

On November 1-2, 1918, the Canadian Corps captures roughly 1,800 enemy soldiers and more than 800 enemy dead are counted in the battle area. Canadian losses number 80 killed and some 300 wounded.

The Final Newfoundland Offensive, 1918

The men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment were remarkable in their achievements during the Battle of Courtrai in October 1918.

The Opening Day, Battle of the Somme, 1916

On July 1st, 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, the Newfoundland Regiment fought its first engagement in France, its costliest of the whole war.

The Second Battle of Arras, 1918

100,000 soldiers of the Canadian Corps attacked Arras on August 26, 1918. They broke and turned the main German position on the Western Front and reached Canal du Nord.

Memorials
Abbaye d'Ardenne, France
Abbaye d'Ardenne, France

Abbaye d'Ardenne, France

20 Canadian soldiers were executed during the Second World War in the garden of the chateau.

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Arras Memorial, France
Arras Memorial, France

Arras Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates almost 35,000 Commonwealth servicemen, including 207 Canadians, who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918 and have no known grave.

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Bayeux Memorial, France
Bayeux Memorial, France

Bayeux Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates more than 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces, including 269 Canadians, who died in the Normandy campaign and have no known grave.

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Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, France
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, France

Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of all Newfoundlanders who fought in the First World War, particularly those who have no known grave.

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Bourlon Wood Memorial, France
Bourlon Wood Memorial, France

Bourlon Wood Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the attack across the Canal Du Nord by the Canadian Corps on September 27, 1918 in which they suffered more than 20,000 casualties.

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Bretteville-l'Orgueilleuse, France

The monument is dedicated to the memory of the Canadian soldiers who played a part in the liberation of Bretteville-l’Orgueilleuse on June 7-9, 1944.

Brookwood (United Kingdom 1914-1918) Memorial, England
Brookwood (United Kingdom 1914-1918) Memorial, England

Brookwood (United Kingdom 1914-1918) Memorial, England

The memorial commemorates more than 200 Commonwealth casualties who died in the United Kingdom during the First World War but for whom no graves could be found.

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Brookwood Memorial, England
Brookwood Memorial, England

Brookwood Memorial, England

Located in Brookwood Military Cemetery, it commemorates nearly 3,500 members of the Commonwealth land forces, including 204 Canadians, who died during the Second World War and have no known grave.

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Canadian Korean War Memorial Garden, South Korea
Canadian Korean War Memorial Garden, South Korea

Canadian Korean War Memorial Garden, South Korea

Dedicated by the people of Korea to the memory of the approximately 26,000 Canadians who served during the Korean War, 1950-1953. Of these, 516 died and 1,255 were wounded.

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Canoe River Memorial
Canoe River Memorial

Canoe River Memorial

In November of 1950 thousands of soldiers were sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, for training before their journey to Korea. They went by rail. At 10:35 in the morning of November 21st, a troop train carrying 340 soldiers - soldiers of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - was just east of the village of Canoe River, British Columbia. An express train on the same track was speeding in the opposite direction. The two trains crashed head-on. The troop train was tossed into the air, its engine thrown back onto the coach cars behind it. Steel cars were shattered by other steel cars in a raging inferno. Seventeen Canadian soldiers died that morning, and the bodies of four of them were never found. Many of those who escaped death suffered horrible injury including massive burns. The sacrifice made by the men at Canoe River was no less than that of all war veterans who died in the service of our country.

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Cassino Cemetery and Memorial, Italy
Cassino Cemetery and Memorial, Italy

Cassino Cemetery and Memorial, Italy

Located in the Cassino War Cemetery, the memorial commemorates over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen, including 199 Canadians, who took part in the Italian campaign and whose graves are not known.

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Chatham Naval Memorial, England
Chatham Naval Memorial, England

Chatham Naval Memorial, England

The memorial commemorates 8,517 sailors of the First World War and 10,098 of the Second World War, including 119 Canadians, who have no known grave.

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Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial, Canada
Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial, Canada

Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial, Canada

The memorial commemorates 809 men and women of the Commonwealth air forces, including 447 Canadians, who gave their lives during the Second World War and have no known grave.

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Commonwealth Memorial, South Korea
Commonwealth Memorial, South Korea

Commonwealth Memorial, South Korea

The memorial commemorates Commonwealth soldiers who died during the Korean War and whose burial places are unknown.

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Courcelette Memorial, France
Courcelette Memorial, France

Courcelette Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian Corps during the Battles of the Somme, September to November, 1916, which cost 24,029 Canadian casualties.

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Dury Memorial, France
Dury Memorial, France

Dury Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian Corps during the Second Battle of Arras, September, 1918.

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El Alamein Memorial, Egypt
El Alamein Memorial, Egypt

El Alamein Memorial, Egypt

The memorial bears the names of 11,868 members of the Commonwealth forces, including 213 Canadian airmen, who died in battles in the Middle East during the Second World War and have no known grave.

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Groesbeek Memorial, Netherlands
Groesbeek Memorial, Netherlands

Groesbeek Memorial, Netherlands

Located in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, it commemorates 1,030 members of the Commonwealth land forces, including 100 Canadians, who died in north-west Europe in 1944-45 and whose graves are not known.

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Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial, France
Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial, France

Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial, France

It marks the spot where, in October 1916, the Newfoundlanders played a decisive role in the capture of a German strong-point named Rainbow Trench, helping them regain
confidence after the great losses at Beaumont-Hamel.

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Halifax (Fort Massey) Memorial, NS, Canada

Located within Halifax (Fort Massey) Cemetery, the memorial commemorates two servicemen who were killed in the 1917 explosion but whose bodies were not found.

Halifax Memorial, Canada
Halifax Memorial, Canada

Halifax Memorial, Canada

The memorial commemorates 3,120 Canadian men and women of the army, navy and merchant navy who died at sea during the First and Second World Wars.

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Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial, Belgium
Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial, Belgium

Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial, Belgium

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian Corps in the defence of Ypres, April to August, 1916.

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Juno Beach Centre, France
Juno Beach Centre, France

Juno Beach Centre, France

The centre is an interactive educational facility and museum that offers information about Canada’s role in the Second World War.

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Kamp Westerbork, Netherlands
Kamp Westerbork, Netherlands

Kamp Westerbork, Netherlands

Former internment site from which 102,000 people were deported to concentration camps during the Second World War.

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Korea National War Memorial and Museum
Korea National War Memorial and Museum

Korea National War Memorial and Museum

The Korea National War Memorial and Museum is located in Seoul, Korea. The photo is of the Canadian Tablet along the Corridor of Honour, which bears the names of all those from the United Nations Forces, who fell in the Korean War. Canada’s memorial lists the 516 Canadians killed.

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Le Quesnel Memorial, France
Le Quesnel Memorial, France

Le Quesnel Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian Corps in the Battle of Amiens, August, 1918.

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Liberation Forest, Netherlands
Liberation Forest, Netherlands

Liberation Forest, Netherlands

A forest of some 30,000 maple trees created as a living monument to the Canadian liberators of the Netherlands.

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Malta Memorial, Malta
Malta Memorial, Malta

Malta Memorial, Malta

The memorial commemorates almost 2,300 airmen, including 303 Canadians, who lost their lives during the Second World War while serving with the Commonwealth Air Forces and who have no known grave.

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Masnières Newfoundland Memorial, France
Masnières Newfoundland Memorial, France

Masnières Newfoundland Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of the Newfoundland Regiment at the Battle of Cambrai, November 1917.

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Memorial to the Airmen of the Great War, France
Memorial to the Airmen of the Great War, France

Memorial to the Airmen of the Great War, France

On it are inscribed the names of all the airmen, including 46 Canadians, who died on the Western Front during the First World War and have no known graves.

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Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium
Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium

Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium

During the First World War, thousands of men passed through the gate on their way to the battlefields. The memorial now bears the names of 54,391 Commonwealth soldiers, including 7,061 Canadians, who died during the battles of the Ypres Salient and whose graves are not known.

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Monchy-le-Preux Newfoundland Memorial, France
Monchy-le-Preux Newfoundland Memorial, France

Monchy-le-Preux Newfoundland Memorial, France

The memorial commemorates the handful of gallant Newfoundlanders who held off massive German counter-attacks on April 14, 1917. Total casualties for its part in the battle numbered 460 all ranks, including 153 taken prisoner.

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National War Memorial, Canada
National War Memorial, Canada

National War Memorial, Canada

The memorial commemorates the response of Canadians in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War. It has come to symbolize the sacrifice of all Canadians who have served Canada in time of war in the cause of peace and freedom.

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Newfoundland National Memorial (St. John's), Canada

This Memorial stands in St. John’s main street with the famous old harbour as its backdrop. It commemorates all of Newfoundland’s wartime achievements on land and sea.

Passchendaele Memorial, Belgium
Passchendaele Memorial, Belgium

Passchendaele Memorial, Belgium

The memorial commemorates the achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian Corps who captured and held Passchendaele Ridge in the fall of 1917 at a cost of 16,000 casualties.

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Putôt-en-Bessin, France
Putôt-en-Bessin, France

Putôt-en-Bessin, France

The monument is dedicated to the memory of the Canadian soldiers who played a part in the liberation of Putot en Bessin on June 7, 1944.

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Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar (formerly Burma)

Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar (formerly Burma)

Located in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, the memorial bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma (now Myanmar) and who have no known grave.

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Runnymede Memorial (Air Forces Memorial), England
Runnymede Memorial (Air Forces Memorial), England

Runnymede Memorial (Air Forces Memorial), England

The memorial commemorates by name over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations and who have no known graves.

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Sai Wan Memorial, Hong Kong
Sai Wan Memorial, Hong Kong

Sai Wan Memorial, Hong Kong

Located in Sai Wan War Cemetery, the memorial bears the names of more than 2,000 Commonwealth servicemen, including 230 Canadians, who died in the Battle of Hong Kong, or subsequently in captivity, and who have no known grave.

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Singapore Memorial, Singapore
Singapore Memorial, Singapore

Singapore Memorial, Singapore

Located in Kranji War Cemetery, the memorial bears the names of over 24,000 Second World War casualties of the Commonwealth land and air forces, including 212 Canadians, who have no known grave.

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South African War Memorial (Charlottetown), Canada
St. George's Church, Belgium
St. George's Church, Belgium

St. George's Church, Belgium

Constructed after the war in order to provide a place of worship for the many English families whose men were working on the cemeteries and memorials, the church became a memorial to British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives in the First World War.

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St. Julien Memorial, Belgium
St. Julien Memorial, Belgium

St. Julien Memorial, Belgium

The memorial marks the battlefied where 18,000 Canadians withstood the first German gas attacks during the Second Battle of Ypres, April 22-24, 1915. 2,000 fell and here lie buried.

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The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

The memorial bears the names of 11,197 Canadian soldiers who died during the First World War and who have no known grave.

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The Man with Two Hats, Netherlands
The Man with Two Hats, Netherlands

The Man with Two Hats, Netherlands

The monument symbolizes the historic bonds between Canada and the Netherlands.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Canada
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Canada

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Canada

Located in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, the tomb was created to honour the more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom.

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Tower Hill Memorial, England
Tower Hill Memorial, England

Tower Hill Memorial, England

The Memorial commemorates more than 35,000 men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets, including 478 Canadians, who died in both World Wars and who have no known grave.

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Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Located in Tyne Cot Cemetery, the memorial bears the names of almost 35,000 soldiers, including 50 Canadians, who died during the battles of the Ypres Salient and whose graves are not known.

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Victoria Memorial, Canada
Victoria Memorial, Canada

Victoria Memorial, Canada

Located in Victoria (Ross Bay) Cemetery, the memorial bears the names of 39 officers and men who were lost or buried at sea in the Pacific Ocean, most of them on October 30, 1918.

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Villanova War Cemetery, Italy
Villanova War Cemetery, Italy

Villanova War Cemetery, Italy

The cemetery contains 205 Canadian graves of the Second World War.

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Wall of Remembrance

The Korea Veterans Association of Canada erected a Wall of Remembrance to the 516 Canadians who are commemorated in the Korean War Book of Remembrance.

War Memorial (Charlottetown), Canada
Canadian Battlefields Memorial Commission, Canadian Battlefield Memorials . Ottawa: King's Printer, 1929.
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