| images by john ecker, pantheon photography

Posts tagged “cemetery

Thiepval British Cemetery, France, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography

THIEPVAL MEMORIAL GRAVESTONES:  The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Battle of the Somme bears the names of more than 72,000 men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme  and  have no known grave. Over 90% of those named on the memorial died between July and November 1916.  Standing in front of the giant Thiepval Memorial is an Anglo-French tribute that consists of 300 British Commonwealth and 300 French graves. The British Commonwealth graves are marked with rectangular headstones in white stone.  On the British headstones is the inscription “A Soldier of the Great War / Known unto God.” The French graves have grey stone crosses. The French crosses bear the single word “Inconnu” (‘unknown’). The cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice bears the following inscription:  “That the world may remember the common sacrifice of two and a half million dead, here have been laid side by side Soldiers of France and of the British Empire in eternal comradeship.”

Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X,  Nikkor 18-2oo lens at f14, 1/250 sec., ISO 1600. Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography


Remembrance: Vimy Canadian Cemetery, France, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography

REMEMBRANCE: VIMY CANADIAN CEMETERY, FRANCE:  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200 lens at 127mm, f22, 1/125 sec. ISO 1000.  Photo by John Ecker    |     pantheon photography

Canadian Memorial, Vimy, France

CANADIAN MEMORIAL, VIMY, FRANCE:  I’ve visited Canada’s Memorial a few times over the years.  Each time, the skies have been mostly gloomy, adding an even great sense of solemnity.  When the clouds do break, and the sun shines on the bright white stone, the sight’s true beauty emerges.  The memorial overlooks the Douai plain in northern France, about ten kilometers from the town of Arras.

On April 9, 1917 the Canadian Corps was ordered to seize Vimy Ridge. The heavily-fortified seven-kilometre ridge held a commanding view over the Allied lines. Previous French attacks had failed with over 100,000 casualties.

The names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were killed in France and whose final resting place was then unknown are carved into the stone. Facing the Douai visitors can see other places where Canadians fought and died. 7,000 plus more are buried in 30 war cemeteries within a 20-kilometre radius of the Memorial.

At the base of the Memorial, these words appear:

To the valour of their
Countrymen in the Great War
And in memory of their sixty
Thousand dead this monument
Is raised by the people of Canada

The Memorial was designed by Canadian architect and sculptor Walter Allward. The foundation of the memorial is a bed of 11,000 tonnes of concrete.  It is reinforced with hundreds of tonnes of steel. The figures were carved on site.  The large cloaked figure on the front (east) side, was carved from a single, 30-tonne block.

Over the decades, the memorial became weather worn and damaged by the elements.  In 2007 a major re-construction and restoration project was completed.  The work was massive.  The main elements of the memorial were pretty much dismantled. The monument was re-pointed; damaged stone was replaced; lighting and draining was improved.

Many people assume that the ‘front’ of the memorial is on the approach from the parking area.  On the contrary the front is actually on the opposite side.  To full appreciate this sculpture, it is necessary to walk to the edge of the lawn in front of the monument, with your back to the Douai plain. 

Nearby the memorial is the Vimy Canadian Cemetery.  Row, upon row of graves– many without names.

Photos by John Ecker     |       Pantheon Photography

Remembrance Day, November 11, 2010, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

REMEMBRANCE DAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2010:  It’s Remembrance Day.  The poppy is the enduring symbol that reminds us of those who gave their lives in battle.  Like so many Canadians, I cannot look at a poppy without thinking of the poem by John McCrae.  McCrae joined up in August 1914 and was appointed brigade surgeon with the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery.   He served in Belgium and witnessed the bloody Second Battle of Ypres, in Flanders.  McCrae wrote his famous poem the day after the death of a close friend in battle.   McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis on January 28, 1918. He was buried with full military honours in Wimereaux Cemetery.  His grave is simply marked, but always adorned with poppies and poppy wreaths.  Click here to read  In Flanders FieldsShot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 16-85 VR lens at 75mm, f32, 1/160 sec., ISO 800. 

Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Remembrance: Vimy Canadian Cemetery, France,photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

REMEMBRANCE: VIMY CANADIAN CEMETERY, FRANCE:  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200 lens at 127mm, f22, 1/125 sec. ISO 1000.  Photo by John Ecker    |     pantheon photography