Old Sigs Battlefield Tour

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On the eve of the 64th anniversary of D Day, I wanted to give you a brief report on the recent "Old Signallers Battlefield Tour" in Europe. Four members of the Signallers Club decided to visit France and Belgium to honour Canadians, particularly members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, who fought in WWI and WWII. The participants were Don Strong, Jack Thomson, Jim Holsworth and Bill Richard. I will write a more detailed report with photos for the Club web site at a later date. I will also leave some info in the Museum on our itinerary, background reading and hotels. The information may be useful to Club members who would wish to embark on a similar venture in the future.

After flying to Paris, we had a full program for 8 days that took us to Canadian WW I sites at Battle of Somme, Courcelette, Beaumont Hamel, Arras, Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Menin Gate, Passchendaele, Saint Julian, Saint Georges Chapel, Tyne Cot, and John MacRae’s Memorial and then onto WWII sites at Dieppe, Pegasus Bridge, Juno Beach, Arromanches, Omaha Beach, and the Normandy Caen – Falaise Gap battlefield area. Although several of us had visited the areas before, features such as the young Canadian university students at Vimy, Beaumont Hamel and Juno Beach and new museums at Arras, Passchendaele, and Pegasus Bridge made the tour most enjoyable and educational.

We arranged for a Canadian wreath with a Signallers Club banner to be available to honour the members of the Corps buried at the Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries at Dieppe, Beny-sur Mer, and Bretteville-sur- Laize. We had completed research before the trip and had the details to visit the graves of the 3 signallers buried at Dieppe (at least 4 others have no known grave), 29 signallers buried at Beny-sur-Mer (Juno Beach) and 30 signallers buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize (Normandy) . There are 9 signallers buried at Bayeau - Normandy and 8 signallers’ names on the Memorial at Bayeau, with no known grave. 

The signallers’ names on the Bayeau Memorial with no known grave include Corporal Norman Haulk killed on D Day and Lance Corporal E. Peters from Charlottetown, PEI.and Lance Corporal Elmer Swan from Prescott, ON; both 23 years of age and both killed in the advance from the Normandy beach head soon after D Day. Lance Corporal Francis Trainor from Charlottetown, PEI was also killed on 6 June 1944 and is buried at Beny-sur-Mer.

There is little doubt that "old signallers" memories on D Day - 6 June 2008 will be of those 76 + signallers and more than 5000 Canadians who gave their lives in the battle for Normandy.

William S. Richard