Brock University Student Heads To Belgium To Mark 100 Years Of Remembrance – End of First World War

News from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted November 7th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Shortly after the armistice was signed at 11:11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 to end the First World War, the Canadian Pipes and Drums’ 42nd Battalion Royal Highlanders marched into Mons, Belgium announcing to the citizens that they had been liberated from four and a half years of German occupation.

At left, Brock University Sport Management student and Drum Major Kieran Boyle, Black Watch Association Pipes and Drums, marches in the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montreal. At right, drummer David Balfour is pictured after the First World War 42nd Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada Pipes and Drums marched into Mons, Belgium as the first group after the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918.

On the 100th anniversary of that historic event this Sunday, a Brock University student and retired Canadian Forces member will be part of a re-enactment matching the exact route marched by Canadians a century earlier.

Cpl. (retired) Kieran Boyle, Drum Major for the Black Watch Association Pipes and Drums and a second-year Brock Sport Management student, is currently en route to Belgium to take part in the re-enactment.

“As a Canadian and a veteran, this is an important moment in history to recognize,” said Boyle. “It was Canadian troops who liberated the town of Mons, restored telephone communications and were the first to meet with citizens who came out of hiding to rejoice.”

Boyle, who was just 17 years old when he joined the Canadian Forces, will be wearing an 1918 period uniform and an identity disk representing Canadian drummer David Balfour, who was one of the original 42nd Battalion Pipe Band members who marched into Mons.

Boyle said his family has a long history of military service, and he wanted to continue that tradition.

“My father was a Navy veteran of the Second World War and saw his family and friends suffer as a result. Before he let me enlist, he wanted to make sure I understood the responsibility I was taking on,” said Boyle.

Before enlisting, he was given advice from his father about what it meant to serve with others.

Helping a wounded comrade at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a defining moment for a young nation of Canada

“He spoke so profoundly to me that day. He said ‘if you can’t do your job, you are impacting the entire group. You are not doing this for yourself or your mom, the queen or even the country. You are there for the guys beside you, the ones on the left and right of you,’” Boyle recalled.

In 1985, after being sworn in, Boyle went to Valcartier for infantry training before serving with the Black Watch Royal Regiment of Canada, based out of Montreal until 1999. He also became an infantry medic for the regiment and a drummer, which allowed him to travel with the pipe band to various countries in the Commonwealth Nations.

Historically, being a drummer and piper for the military is a position that holds respect and responsibility.

 “In the First World War, before the battles started, the piper was the first one to get out on the trench to motivate the soldiers not to be afraid,” Boyle said. “Sadly, this also meant the piper was one of the first to be killed.”

While in Europe, the 42nd Battalion Pipe Band will be participating in a ceremony in Ypres, Belgium at the Menin Gate Memorial, which bears the names of more than 54,000 soldiers who died and have no known grave. The Canadian Battalion will also attend the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France.

 “I’m looking forward to seeing Vimy to fully understand the grounds that more than 3,000 soldiers were killed on and to pay my respects to the war graves,” Boyle said. “In my mind, this is where Canada really added its support to the allied forces. It was the first place the Canadian corps came together to fight as a county and history shows us it was effective.”

The Following Is Related News from the Office of Canada’s Prime Minister –

Governor General of Canada to visit Belgium to honour Canadians’ service and sacrifice in First World War

“In Belgium, the Governor General will remember and honour the thousands of Canadians who stood on guard for us and gave their lives far from Canada’s shores. They served with valour and sacrificed beyond measure. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude for their service. We will not forget.” —The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will visit Mons, Belgium, on November 10, 2018.

During her visit, the Governor General will attend commemoration events for the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice. As Commander-in-Chief of Canada, she will attend a remembrance ceremony at the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery.

She will also attend the unveiling of a monument in memory of George Price – a Canadian soldier from Nova Scotia killed two minutes before the Armistice and believed to be the last Commonwealth soldier to die in action during the Great War.

At these ceremonies, the Governor General will pay tribute to all the Canadian soldiers who paid the ultimate price for freedom. She will then travel back to Canada to attend the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa.

Quick facts

  • This year marks the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Hundred Days and the First World War Armistice.
  • Canada made great contributions and sacrifices during the First World War, fought from 1914 to 1918. Our many achievements on the battlefield were capped by a three-month stretch of victories at the end of the war – from August 8 to November 11, 1918 – that came to be known as “Canada’s Hundred Days.”
  • Canadians marched through the streets of Mons on the morning of November 11, 1918, celebrating the end of the war.

The Governor General’s last visit to Europe was in January 2018, when she visited Canadian troops in Ukraine and Latvia.

Associated links

Canada’s Hundred Days and the Armistice 100th anniversary

Canada – Belgium relations

To learn more about the Mons re-enactment, visit the Black Watch Canada website.

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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