Cameron Highlanders of Canada Memorial Site

Returning Home

The Battalion stayed in Belgium until 5 February 1919, when they departed for Le Havre. After spending four days in drafty dock sheds, the 43rd sailed across the channel and arrived at Bramshott Camp. After a lengthy wait, the Camerons, with a strength of 31 officers and 508 other ranks sailed from Liverpool bound for Halifax.

On the morning of 20 March, the White Star Liner Baltic reached the port of Halifax. On board were the 43rd Highlanders, the 10th Field Ambulance, and the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. Bands played lively tunes on pier 2 and a shout of greeting went up from the large crowd gathered on the wharves when the gangplank was lowered. The troops disembarked in units and marched through Pier 2 and down the stairway to the sheds where the three special military trains awaited them.

The first two trains carrying the Camerons arrived in Winnipeg on morning of 24 March. They were met by thousands of Winnipeggers, but only relatives were allowed into the CPR Station. At the rotunda, each relative stood beneath a letter of the alphabet indicating the surname of the loved one. Following this 45 minute reunion, the men fell in at 10 AM and formed up on Higgins Avenue to march to the Board of Trade Building via Main Street and Portage Avenue.

The Camerons were cheered as they entered the building, beautifully decorated with banners and flags. Along the platform were provincial and city representatives, and officers of the returning units. Once seated, the returned soldiers took out their cigarettes and the hall was soon filled with tobacco smoke. The galleries were filled with friends and relatives.

The ceremony consisted of hymns of thanksgiving, Psalm readings, and speeches from the various officials. Following this, the men marched to the Minto Barracks and were dismissed for the day. Automobiles were provided under the direction of the Returned Soldiers Association. A reception and dance at the barracks took place that evening in honour of the returned men. It had rained most of the day, but this did not damper the celebration. One soldier remarked, "this rain reminds us of Flanders!"


In Remembrance


The inter-war period was a time for great sorrow and remembrance. The Imperial War Graves Commission organized search parties to locate all unmarked war graves. The bodies of men who had been buried at the front or killed in battle were transferred to cemeteries. For bodies not identified, a stone marker simply read "A Soldier of the Great War." Some bodies were never located despite the fact that the military coordinates of their graves were known; other bodies were never located at all.

The names of "missing" Canadians, those recorded in the casulty lists as "missing, believed killed," and those known killed but graves are now lost are inscribed in two locations: at the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium, and at the Canadian National Memorial at Hill 145, Vimy Ridge, France.

The 43rd MEMORIAL PLAQUES AT YPRES

For those interested in learning more about Canada's role in the Great War, I highly recommend the following links:

Veterans Affairs Canada: www.vac-acc.gc.ca
National Archives: www.archives.ca
Commonwealth War Graves: www.cwgc.org
Royal Canadian Legion: www.legion.ca
War Amps of Canada: www.waramps.ca
University of Kansas: www.ukans.edu/~kansite/index_wwi-l.html
University of Kansas: www.ukans.edu/~kansite/ww_one/
Hellfire Corner: www.fylde.demon.co.uk
Trenches on the Web:
www.worldwar1.com


Photograph Credits: National Archives of Canada; "The Lion Rampant - A Pictorial History of The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, 1910-1985" by G.C.A. Tyler; and from Private Sources.

I would like to hear from anyone who had a family member or friend serve with the Cameron Highlanders of Canada, 1914-1919. Please contact me by E-Mail: jsmclean59@yahoo.ca