My name is Patricia Helen Ropohl (neeBray), an artist living in the province of Alicante in Spain.
My father, Capt. John William Bray, member of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, (and 2nd Bn, CDN Gds) was always proud and very encouraging in my pursuit of the arts. He took me to all the great galleries of Europe and saw to it that I apply for study at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. It was the school that he would have attended had he not joined the army and gone to war in Korea at the gentle age of twenty. He subsequently made the military his career, climbing the ranks to officer, filling those years with pride, intelligence and dedication. He has since passed away.
The ceramic poppies that I create are not a copy of the ones made famous by the artist Paul Cummins displayed at the tower of London in 2014, but a personal extension of his work, now made my own. The horrors & experiences my father lived through during the Korean War kept him company his life long. That the poppy is for Canadians, a symbol of recognition of our servicemen, respect for all mankind, and hope for peace, touches me personally. This beautiful, gentle wild flower becomes a of carpet of orange-red in fields each spring all over the world bringing pleasure to everyone, and it is these combinations of sentiments that goes into each ceramic flower I create.
Each hand made poppy is signed and tagged with a copy of the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae in his hand writing. The poppies can be had with or without stems.
For more information on my work, please visit my website; www.PatriciaRopohl.com
Transfer of Second Battalion Colours
The Colours of the 2nd Battalion that were laid up at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa in 1969 are being transferred to the Hall of Colours in Beechwood Cemetery at 14:00 on Sunday 19 July 2015. There will be a very brief ceremony in the Sacred Space in the Administrative Buildings which will be followed by a reception. In addition to the transfer ceremony, this provides an opportunity to visit the National Military Cemetery (NMC) with its 3,000 some Canadian Forces graves. The Canadian Guards Memorial Tree is located in the NMC.
Association Members and spouses are cordially invited to be part of what will be the last Regimental ceremony of this kind. In order to arrange for catering please advise the association secretary, Al Johnston at: firstname.lastname@example.org, if you plan to attend. Returns are requested by 10 July.
Suggested dress is blazers and medals or nearest equivalent.
Beechwood Cemetery can be accessed from the Queensway heading east: exit on St Laurent Blvd North. travel 3.2 Kms to Hemlock Rd. Turn left travel 1.5 Kms to Beechwood Cemetery (very prominent sign) turn left and at 500 m. you will see the Beechwood Administrative Buildings on the right.
NOTE THE FOLLOWING EVENT FOR Petawawa Branch
The Canadian Guards Association
Back by popular demand.
PETAWAWA CANADIAN GUARDS ASSOCIATION WILL HOST The SUMMER “BBQ” AT THE ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION PETAWAWA BR. 517 On 27 JUNE 2015– MEET & GREET – 3 – 4 P.M. – BBQ TO FOLLOW.
COST $10.00 PER PERSON – TICKETS TO BE PURCHASED IN ADVANCE. CUT OFF DATE IS 14 JUNE 2015 IF POSSIBLE TO ASSIST COMMITTEE ON NUMBERS ATTENDING.
CONTACTS FOR TICKETS: NORM MCBRIDE 613-735-2363; HERB MOLLOY 613-687-6713; BOB PIERCE 613-687-8223; Junior Warrington 687-4948, Joe McLaughlin 687-4070
GUARDS ASSOCIATION LUNCHEON
Wednesday, 13MAY, 2015
Members of the Foot Guards Association, Grenadiers and the Canadian Guards Association will be getting together for the annual spring lunch on Wednesday, 13May, 2015. Bus service in Ottawa is free for seniors on Wednesdays. If you are driving, allow time to secure a parking spot as they are often at a premium in the area. There is an elevator in the Mess that goes from the parking lot Mess entrance to the main floor.
Dress is suit/jacket and tie (Regimental if you have one).
All area Association members are encouraged to attend. It will be a great opportunity to renew Regimental acquaintances and get ready for summer.
For the benefit of members who may not be familiar with the Mess building, it is a city of Ottawa heritage site described as a city mansion. It was built in the 1890s and served as the family home of the then largest Ottawa department store founder Archibald Frieman and family until the 1950s.
Special kudos must go to John Barclay, Al Johnston, Gerry Wharton and the volunteer regimental elves who assisted John in the sale and disposal of the regiment's crested silver tableware. John's dedicated effort in particular was huge. Through his conscientious work many of us now are proud possessors of those valuable artifacts. The sets I purchased through John, now fully refurbished, make wonderful place settings. Every special family dining occasion now is also a proud remembrance ceremony in miniature. Kit and I are very grateful for the Executive's consideration in offering the silver to the Association's members." Steve B (Apr 2015)
As you recall, some time ago I introduced us all to Chevalier Walter Verstraeten, my dear friend from Germany days. Revisiting his emails, I occurred to me that I should share with our membership his email below, as moving as it is informative. Walter has done a significant service to Canada with his part in preserving history.
AMUAM, Steve (G. W. Stephen Brodsky) (Apr2, 2015)
There is so much we Belgians should be thankful for vis-à-vis the Canadians who fought on our soil in both world wars.
If you go to http://users.telenet.be/airwareurope/en/bergingen/halifax_lw682_e.htm you'll find an article that illustrates the price paid by the Canadian fly-boys. I helped plan and execute the dig and consequent events described in the article and was witness to the incident described where the German pilot who downed the Halifax actually was trying to hide himself from the aviator's next of kin at the funeral, only to find himself invited to sit in the front row next to the sister of the pilot killed. A very moving moment that was so indicative of the rage of war that would lead to the peaceful get-together at Geraardsbergen so many years later.
As the liberation of Antwerp in September 1944 became a real possibility, my mom and dad thought it wise not to stay in the city where fighting would be ferocious. Mom had an aunt who married a farmer and lived in Zoersel a small village not too far away from Antwerp. Her aunt was all too happy to let my mom and dad have a room in the attic of her farm. It turned out that Zoersel and the nearby Schilde village would soon become the epicenter of the fighting going on between the Germans and the allied troops to get across the nearby Albert Canal. I remember my mom and I going from the farm to Zoersel village to get a loaf of bread as we got caught up in the middle of a cross fire. We actually field-crafted our way back to the farm. A Canadian Infantry Division paid heavily to get hold of the canal but eventually broke through the German front and soon the news spread the Canadians were coming to liberate us. The day before the Canadian tanks were to reach us a severe Spitfire attack developed over the Zoersel area. The aircraft belonged to No. 144 Wing (Canadians) and were lead by the famous Johnnie Johnson who eventually would climb to the rank of Air Vice-Marshall in the RAF. My dad had dug a trench in the back yard of the farm. It had an L-form and he instructed and even made my mom and I go through the moves of selecting the correct leg depending on what direction the planes came from. When No 144 Wing roared over our heads in anger attacking the Gestapo Headquarters in the Schilde town hall, mom was (again) down in the wrong leg as 30 mm grenades dug themselves deep into the splintering apple tree over our head and made the grass sods go up in pieces raining down in our trench. Squadron after squadron came in for the attack and in a brief lull my dad who was a very religious man who knew his bible well said "This is the apocalypse for the Germans". We passed the night in prayer as we listened to the continuous drones of passing bombers on their way to Germany and the incessant shooting of the tanks making the sky light up with a fiery red glow. Dad said: "God knows how many soldiers are there dying to liberate us." But in the morning they came. They came out of a low lying fog along the small cart road next to our farm. We heard the squealing sound of the tank tracks and the cheering of so many happy Belgians long before the snout of the first Sherman tank came around the bend. It was a sight for a sore eye. We all wept and cheered at the same time as the Canadian infantry men walking in two files each side of the road handed us chewing gum, chocolates and cigarettes. The poor boys looked bad. They were battle-beaten, their faces were unshaven and covered with the remains of the mud they had had to go through to beat their opponents. But they managed a shy smile feeling a bit uneasy with the many Belgians picking them up from where they walked and hugging and kissing them.
O yes Steve, we owe the Canadians so much and maybe this explains to you better than anything else why meeting you guys in Germany was so special to me. Becoming your friend was one of the finest experiences I had the pleasure of coming across in my life.
Yesterday ten children soccer teams from ten NATO-countries met for a soccer competition at Ypres. This event was organized in remembrance of Christmas 1914 when the guns went silent for a day leading to the spontaneous get-together and even a couple of soccer games between the German and allied troops. I have been asked to deliver a speech at the Royal Military School in Brussels on January 19 on the subject of the Dame Blanche resistance group in Belgium during the first World War and the continuation of their activities during WW II. Still going strong in that respect!
Stay put, Steve
Good morning, Walter -
Those photos you sent, and your description of them, are very moving. You have my heartfelt thanks. I have two personal connections with WW1: When my father Gregory (Gregori Alexandrovich) left Tsarist Ukraine after the pogroms (in which he was injured, imprisoned and tried and acquitted for murder after saving a friend's life from a Kyiv mob), he eventually became a British citizen and was at Cambridge University. In July 1914, believing that war was a certainty, he enlisted and was commissioned in the 18th Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). (He had already had conscripted service in the Russian Army, so was a trained cavalryman.) The 18 H was a Regular regiment, and in August went immediately to Belgium as part of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force). My father took part in that first phase, the "race to the sea," when the British needed to secure the channel ports before the Germans took them. In October my father was "blown up" by an exploding shell. He wasn't wounded physically, but had shell shock. He was repatriated to England, and that was the end of his active war service. He was proud of being an "Old Contemptible" (so-called because the Kaiser had referred to the BEF as Britain's "contemptible little army.") My other connection is through my maternal uncle Wilfrid Newton, Royal West Kent Regiment. He attended Sandhurst in the same class as B.L. Montgomery, and joined pre-war as a Regular. He was a captain, acting Brigade Major, when he was killed on the Somme in 1916. A leg wound became gangrenous, and he died three days after being hit. Sulfa drugs, which would have saved him, hadn't been invented. (My middle name is Wilfrid, after him.)
That tribute in lights is so typically West European in its sentiment of undying gratitude. Recently the French government awarded 360 Légions d'honneur to surviving WW 2 veterans of D-Day. (Too late for my brother Mike who died two years ago); and Canadian WW2 veterans are always profoundly touched by their welcome by the Dutch. Throughout Western Europe the military cemeteries are beautifully maintained with loving care by citizens as well as the War Graves Commission. Now, my point is this: there is a loving, grateful and ENDURING consciousness among Europeans for those sacrifices - often by young men who really hadn't a clue why they were there (except for the usual patriotic cant).
That's quite different from what happens here in Canada which hasn't had a battle on home turf since the war of 1812 when British troops and Canadian militia repulsed American invaders. This year at the Ottawa War Memorial there was the biggest Nov 11 attendance (c. 50,000) anyone can remember. The murder of a ceremonial sentry at our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the centennial year of WW1 account for that spontaneous outpouring of mass emotion. But I can recall a 11 November there about 40 years ago, when only a handful appeared at the War memorial. The military was despised, and veterans were ignored. Our fickle public is manipulated by the government and media, so that military sacrifice goes through periods of being in vogue, then out of vogue, and in vogue again cyclically. Rather than a constancy of remembrance and simple respect, we fluctuate between utter neglect and emotional binges. I'm sorry to say, I see something terribly artificial, contrived and sensational in that. but it's likely inevitable in North America, because even with 9/11 and that recent desecration by murder here, war has never touched ordinary people in the mass as it has in Europe. No one here has ever heard Marschstiefel pounding along an ordinary street.
That skepticism of mine may seem cynical, and I'm sure thousands of my fellow Canadians would be outraged at my suggestion that their feelings aren't altogether genuine (and of course many are very genuine). But my thought comes from what I see as the contrast between the constant fidelity of remembrance displayed by Europeans compared to our cycles of neglect and excess. Let's hope, however, North America never has to experience the conditions, as Europeans have, which will leave them with that state of mind which brings enduring remembrance.
"In Flanders fields the poppies grow, among the crosses row on row,/ And in the sky the larks still bravely singing fly,/ Scarce heard amid the guns below. . . ." Despite all I've said, it's remarkable that those verses, learned by every school child in the English-speaking world, were by John MacCrae, a Canadian soldier.
So, as you see, Walter, Your photos found their target. Thanks so much. Steve
"Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear" (Shakespeare)
November 11 always brings back memories of those who did not grow old. This year's main remembrance lingers on the many soldiers who died in Flanders Fields. Recently Flanders organized an event called 'Light Front'. All along the 84 km-long 1918 final frontline from the North Sea up to the French border, over 8400 people of all ages lined up standing 10 meters apart and holding a flaming torch. On all war cemeteries candles in fire proof bags were put before each grave. The attached pictures give you some idea of the intense solemn feeling that reigned all across Flanders. We still remember those who died so we could have our liberty and always will as the" Last Post" is sent up high in the night sky also today, as it has been done daily at 8 p.m. since 1928.
Kind regards, Walter
Memories -While obeying orders – by Howie Pierce, Gdsm
On the way through the laundry room at the Pierce household, as I passed viewing the “wall of memories”, old photos of days gone by. I take note of a photo picturing me and Miss Dominion of Canada
Taken just prior to the march down the main drag of Grand Falls NB. And, without second thought thinking perhaps others who took part in the festivities surrounding this chapter in the not so well known history of the late Regiment of Canadian Guards, it would amused as I rehash the events; both of historical value; and, just what it took to be a Guardsman.
At the time we the Guards were back from a five year tour in Germany, most of us had never heard of potatoes harvested in Grand Falls NB...we most often thought potatoes were the product of PEI., or those from Ottawa Valley understanding most of our table spuds had been dug up from behind the barn in plain view of the pump sitting beside last winters big rotting pile of manure, within reach of that same pump that gave us cold water on a hot summers day. As I recall it also gave a new meaning to rainwater and ground water mixtures, and how that old pump generated different tastes that farm water which could produce from season to season a variety of flavours ... you get the drift, eh?
Anyhow at the direction our commanding officer at the time Colonel “Willie” Mulherin who hailed from the outskirts of Grand Falls, reared on his fathers potato farm. Prior to joining up for the fight in Europe; we guessed he loved the army, and his future in potato farming did not appease adventuresome so he had become a professional soldier so much so he stayed on. Now serving with his battalion on assignment at nearby Camp Gagetown.
The idea to participate in the festivities celebrating the Grand falls Potato Festival had to be his...in preparation he outfitted two guardsmen as personal escort and the Corps of Drums for the parade. The two escorts were outfitted in drummers uniforms with bear skin and all the trimmings... pictured here. Cpl Howie Pierce, at the time a member of the BOR staff, and another guardsman from the intelligence section was assigned by Capt John Hayter, the adjutant to escort Miss Dominion of Canada. Miss Farrell a pretty young lady from somewhere in Newfoundland.
During the festivity, not ground shaking by any sense of the imagination, just another small town parade. Why was I given such harsh punishment, later to learn, only because the uniforms fit. Our mission included marching beside her convertible as they motored down the main street in front of the whole town and surrounding countryside ...with the Corp of Drums leading the way. And, later on stage while introductions took place we stood our ground. Nothing ground shaking but the festivities got us out laying about in the hootch just off the Orange Road. One remarkable occurrence after the parade, was being informed to go and fetch a bandsman from the local lock up, who had apparently got himself in a jam the night before. Apparently, he was under the influence, but was not under arrest. Those in charge thought give this young drummer a place of rest as he was installed on the top of a pile of mattress in the storage area of the Grand Falls jailhouse. After returned the vagrant to the ranks of the battalion's Corps of Drums' ... we didn't give it another thought; although, I later learned of the exceptional shine on the brass interments in the band, not to mention the spic and span cleanses of the out house in and around the BOR was a result of his piccolo.
May I add in passing, much later when the call went out from the editorial crew for photos of regimental interest for Bill Patterson’s publication”, A Regiment Worthy of Its Hire” it was returned “not in line with the focus of the book!” Now that we are in the last throws of all that's left is the Guards Association, thinking it may be its last chance for the unwritten history to be released.
Let us scratch our heads in unison... believe in our past adventures as Guardsman, that ours was “A Regiment Worthy of Its Hire' that it was not always ground shaking.
Shall we say to each who participated within The Regiment Worthy of Its Hire, here and now “each and every one of us Guardsmen be graced with a Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year, 2015; “ As we raise our glasses “Up The Guards”.
I thought I should write to you and let you know that plans are underway for a reunion of members of that great Tattoo for 2017. 2017 may sound like a long way off but we need to get started on planning an event site as believe it or not, things are already starting to book up for Canada’s 150th anniversary.
We had originally thought Ottawa would be the perfect spot but not so. Ottawa is already starting to fill up even now three and half years before the summer months in the nation’s capital city. The hotels there are raising their rates such that it has put it out of the reach for us. We are now looking at other locations in Ontario. Ontario appears like the most central place given that the highest percentage of Tattoo 1967 members live there. I personally would like the reunion closer to the west coast where I live but that would mean members from the east coast travelling all the way across Canada. Ontario has more opportunities to find an appropriate location so I guess that has to be the way.
You may know that the women of the Tattoo have been holding a reunion annually for two years now, the first two in Ottawa. Next year, 2015 their reunion will be in Halifax and they have booked themselves to see the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo on July 4 which is a matinee performance. This author is planning on attending and to meet the women not seen for 48 years. We are all going to wear our Tattoo 1967 T-Shirts which I will speak of in the next paragraph. Your probably already know that the women will have Tattoo Sister on their T-Shirt but the alternate T-Shirt will have Veteran in place.
This gets me to the point of this email to you. There were about 1700 men and women on Tattoo 1967 and tracking down these members is a major task. Finding your email was a big help as well as those members who signed up on the Tattoo Facebook page. However that has only given us about 130 names and email addresses for a contact list for 2017 which is a long way off 1700. This is how you can help. Go back to my web page at . You will notice at the bottom of my front page a notice about a Survey that’s been developed to gather as much information as possible to help us put together this once in a life time reunion of Tattoo 1967. On the survey you will also see a T-Shirt that has been designed by a professional graphic artist, Jason Rees in Belleville, Ontario the first run of which will happen in January 2015. If you would like one of these Tattoo T-Shirts please indicate how many and what size. Full instruction is on the survey. One further and last point, we are asking all our members to help us find as many members as possible. If you know any members of Tattoo 1967 could you get them to register on the survey form? They may be very interested in the reunion in 2017 but even if they aren’t we would still like them to register. It would be sad to have the 50th anniversary of Tattoo 1967 come and go to find members out there later who would have liked to attend.
Thank you for your patience in reading this long email and your help in making Tattoo 1967’s 50th reunion a success.