Article by Capt Gary Leblanc, Real Property Operations
Three members of Real Property Operations Section Esquimalt – Capt Leblanc, Maj Monette-Saillant and Rob McDermot - self-funded their trip to Nijmegen, Netherlands, to participate in the 103rd Vierdaagse (Four Days Marches).
With an intensive training schedule that started back in February and over 600 km of marching behind them, their feet were finally ready for the task.
Prior to the four-day event, they visited Vimy Ridge and Beaumont-Hamel in France, followed by tours of the Passchendaele battlegrounds to learn of engagements in the “Great War” by Canadian soldiers, including John McCrae’s dressing station where he penned In Flanders Fields.
They also visited the Brooding Soldier Canadian Memorial that marks the first gas attacks on Canadians during the second battle of Ypres in Belgium, and a visit to the Canadian war cemetery in Groesbeek.
One of the more memorable moments, they said, was at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres where Capt Leblanc read the Act of Remembrance and laid a wreath together with Maj Monette-Saillant at the nightly Last Post Ceremony, which was observed by McDermot.
A few days later they successfully tackled the Four Days Marches that proved to be a “rewarding challenge” for all three members of the team.