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Campaign Diary

Periodically, we will continue to update our site visitors with the progress of our Study and let you know what other events will be happening along the way. As originally planned, The Far From Home project is still on schedule and will be completed over the next two years.

2017 and beyond

In 2017 or 2018, we are planning one-off trips to Jersey (3 locations each with one casualty), Guernsey (1 location and a single casualty) and the Isle of Man (again, 3 locations each with one casualty) to complete our commitment to Far From Home. Once again, with the additional expense of costly sea crossings to these islands, we are still actively looking to secure sponsorship for these final laps of our marathon journey which to date has spanned over nine years.

In addition, many of the burial places of Canadian casualties were unknown until found by the authors. Their names were listed either on the Brookwood Memorial Wall in Surrey, or in one of the Books of Remembrance. Through extensive research, once each burial place was discovered, the location has been added to our list of new places to visit, including one in the Republic of Ireland and another in Northern Ireland
.

If you would like to contribute to our Centennial Memorial Project, please click here. All sponsorship will be acknowledged on this site and highlighted in any future hard copy reports or seminar papers produced by us. Your support will be hugely appreciated.

In 2018, our 868th and final destination is likely to be at St Peter Port, Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Subject to prior approval from the local authority, we are planning to plant a Canadian Maple Tree. It will be a fitting way to mark the end of our Far From Home project and will be a permanent reminder of the huge sacrifice given by the Canadians who fought with Britain during The Great War.

Our next article about the Great War Canadians has been completed and submitted to the Editor of the Western Front Association Magazine “Stand To!” We look forward to seeing it in print sometime in the Autumn of 2017.

Currently, we are able supply an individual DVD for any one of the 3898 Canadian service men and women who are commemorated in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In addition, our website can also supply an individual DVD by location or county. Please refer to Our Catalogue (click here) for full details.

With the final addition of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, Our Catalogue will include all 3898 casualties in our Far From Home project.

Thank you.

Diana & Adrian

January 2017

This is the report on our trip to Scotland in June 2015

Our planned trip to 161 locations in search of the 307 casualties all around Scotland took place over 26 days in June 2015. It was completed in almost continuous wet, windy or cold weather. Often, a combination of all three elements. The Scottish press reported that it was the coldest June since 1972! Unfortunately, owing to strike action (or should it be inaction?) at Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries, we were unable to fulfil our commitment to visit the three off-shore islands of Lewis, Colonsay and Benbecula. However, we hope to obtain photographs of the five graves on these islands in the near future.

The road trip itself was extremely gruelling. We were grateful that our energy levels and overall fitness were sufficient to enable us to complete the marathon journey of almost 4000 miles. Starting up the east coast of Scotland via Edinburgh (2 nights), Stirling (1 night), Dundee (3 nights), Aberdeen (3 nights) and Inverness, we frequently detoured into numerous tiny villages and hamlets where our Canadians are commemorated.

It was also necessary for us to spend additional time in Inverness at the Tomnahurich Cemetery which is a vast 19th century burial ground. The cemetery is dominated by Tomnahurich Hill which rises over 220 feet above the surrounding land and is covered in a series of thick terraces of trees. In common with many other Scottish cemeteries, we had no section plan to guide us around the site. Having spent hours searching for our graves, we were thankful to enlist the extremely willing help from some of the cemetery workers. With their assistance, we were finally able to locate some of the hard to find private headstones, one of which was located on the flat hilltop.

For several reasons, we decided to stay in Inverness for three nights between the 11th to 14th June. Firstly, we were delighted to meet members of the Scotland North Branch of the Western Front Association and were able to thank them personally for their very generous sponsorship donation. We enjoyed a breakfast meeting with Derek Bird (Chairman) and branch members Jill Stewart and Glen Ross.

Accompanied by Derek, we then went to Cluny Hill Cemetery at Forres to find the three Canadians buried there. One of these casualties was a 22-year-old French Canadian soldier named Pte Antonio Hébert who disappeared from Sluie camp on 30th April 1918. Sadly, he chose to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree along the banks of the nearby River Findhorn. However, his body was not found until 1921, when his remains were discovered by two local lads out for a walk.

Antonio’s story is so sad that we decided to retrace his final journey. With local help at Logie Steading, we were able to determine approximately where the tragedy took place. The River Findhorn is a really beautiful setting and quite deserted. We felt it was important to spend some time in quiet reflection, to acknowledge the tragic death of this particular soldier and the thousands of others who died during the Great War.

On the morning of Sunday 15th June, we resumed our journey northwards and stayed at Thurso, close to John O’ Groats. Catching a Pentland Ferry over to mainland Orkney and then an Orkney Ferry from Kirkwall to the Isle of Eday (15 miles further north), we were lucky to be offered excellent accommodation at the Eday Youth Hostel, which we had all to ourselves for the one night we were there. There are only two small B & B’s on the Island, one was temporarily closed and the other was full.

Once back on the mainland, we ventured west and found our way to the tiny village of Nedd, our most challenging and remote Highland location. It was only reached after a nail-biting white knuckle drive along nine miles of single track road that mimicked a scenic railway! When we arrived at Nedd in the rain, one of the amused locals pointed out the cemetery. It was situated at the top of a steep hill above Nedd but totally inaccessible by car. Undaunted, we donned boots and waterproofs, slowly trudged our way upwards to the top of the hill and found ‘our’ two Canadians. The compensation for all this effort was the magnificent view over the village and across Loch Nedd into the mountains beyond. A shortage of time and the atrocious weather that day prevented us from lingering too long, as we had booked overnight accommodation in Ullapool, nearly 40 miles further down the west coast.

At this stage, we were confronted by the insoluble obstacle of the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry strikes. It was patently obvious we would be unable to get to and from the Isles of Lewis, Benbecula or Colonsay. Instead, we reorganised our itinerary to continue with the trip regardless. Making our way south through Oban to Campbeltown, we visited several more small and out of the way locations off the main road.

Fortunately, we were able to hop on a late morning ferry to the Isle of Arran where we found our Canadian without any delays. Later that same afternoon, we caught yet another ferry from Arran across to Ardrossan. Using Kilmarnock (2 nights) as our base, we visited Ayr and several other locations in Ayrshire.

Next up, our biggest challenge! Glasgow required another three night stay as there were twenty-two of our cemeteries in and around the city. Again, with no section plans available, we had fortunately arranged ahead of time that Cemetery personnel would meet up with us and direct us to all the graves on our list. We were extremely fortunate to meet Robert Stewart (Glasgow City Council) and Ricky Williams (North Lanarkshire Council) who enabled us to successfully complete our programme of visits. To save time, Robert and Ricky had suggested we provide them with a list of all the cemeteries and graves we needed to find prior to our arrival. As promised, they had located each one in advance for us. We are extremely grateful to them both.

Leaving Glasgow on 24th June, we headed southwards towards Dryfesdale Cemetery at Lockerbie which is the site of the memorial to all 270 victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. After a quick loop into England, we made a whistle non stop tour through Gretna Green on our way to Dumfries.

Our last motel stay was at Dumfries (2 nights). On Day 25, our mission was to find the final four cemeteries, none of which were in close proximity to each other and all with just a single casualty. A slow drive towards Stranraer and then south to the Mull of Galloway brought us to Kirk Maiden on Luce Bay. Then, we headed to the Clachan of Penninghame which is approached via a narrow unclassified road leading to a farm track.

Our final two churchyards were at Kirkbean and Kirkton. Afterwards, we simply collapsed into the car with sheer relief. Mission accomplished! We had managed to complete 302 out of the 307 Scottish memorials and visited 156 of the 161 different locations from our original list.

We left Dumfries in the rain on Friday 26th June and arrived back home to sunshine at teatime exhausted but elated after a lengthy journey of just over 400 miles.

Our most challenging destination by far was the disused church set amongst rolling fields at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore. It took three separate sets of directions and some significant back tracking before we were finally successful. There was just a very small wooden sign which read ‘Church’ on an iron gate. We had to clamber over a three foot high iron rail fence (the gate was rusted shut), follow a 150 metre barely discernible path across a field under cultivation and carefully make our way down a rutted slope through woods for a further 150 metres to find a long closed church and churchyard. There was just one casualty there.

Reflecting on the trip, we were warmly welcomed by everyone we met in Scotland and their hospitality was outstanding. Wherever we went, the cemetery staff took a huge pride in their work and were delighted to help us. Our grateful thanks to them all for their patience in helping us to find all the graves and memorials we wanted.

We would like to thank all our sponsors who contributed to our Scotland trip for without their support it would not have been possible. A list of all our sponsors can be found by following the link on the ‘Sponsorship’ page on our website:

The Western Front Association

In particular, we would like to thank the Western Front Association for their generous sponsorship. In addition to a contribution from the National organisation, we were absolutely delighted by the response from five Western Front Association branches.
Thank you.

Diana & Adrian

January 2017

 

 


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