The City of Surrey Cemetery Services is honoured to have worked with community groups in honouring Veterans, and actively participating in 'We Will Remember Them' with these projects and events.
The gun appears to be a 17 pound anti-tank gun, developed by the British in late 1942, which by the end of the Second World War had become the main weapon in most anti-tank regiments. Archives indicate in the Council Minutes of May 26, 1961 that the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (established in 1944) informed Surrey of the gun and Surrey Council approved acquisition of the gun and the shipping costs from Montreal Quebec to Surrey BC.
Surrey had been trying to acquire such a gun for some time for it's WWI Cenotaph. The original gun had been removed from the WWI Cenotaph during WWII and melted down for bullets.
This gun was located on the east side of Pacific Highway, just north of 60th Avenue, for many years. With the widening of Pacific Highway the gun had to be relocated. The Veteran’s area in Surrey Centre Cemetery welcomed this feature and the gun was placed near the flagpole. Thanks to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 6 Cloverdale, funding was made possible to create a garden surrounding the gun and flagpole. This feature is a landmark in the cemetery and continually reminds cemetery visitors that this area holds significance and importance in remembering the men and women who have served our country, both foreign and domestically.
The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 6 Cloverdale, in cooperation with the Last Post Fund and the City of Surrey, undertook a grave marker project to provide permanent granite headstones for war veteran graves that had been unmarked for several years. The project focused on the City-owned Surrey Centre Cemetery, which had 30 unmarked gravesites identified.
On November 20, 2004 the Cloverdale Legion orchestrated a proper Military service to recognize deceased war veterans and those who served valiantly and gave their lives for their country. The ceremony commenced with the 746 Air Cadet Squadron March of the Colours and the Honour Guard. Judy Cook sang the national anthem and Cloverdale Branch Earle Fraser officiated at the ceremony. the Branch Chaplain performed a graveside dedication and prayer in the memory of the deceased veterans and local dignitaries participated in the service by placing a lit candle on each of the new memorials. Canadian flags framed the newly placed markers and a Cadet stood guard beside each grave during the ceremony. Using a bugle recovered from a fallen soldier in WWI Europe, the bugler provided a memorable rendition of The Last Post and Reveille that could be heard across the valley. The ceremony concluded with Colour and Honour Guard retiring.
In 2005, ‘Year of the Veteran’ the 1921 WWI cenotaph was reassembled in Heritage Square, located adjacent to the Surrey Museum and Leaning & Discovery Centre in Cloverdale. This location approximates the original north/south orientation of the cenotaph and provides a prestigious parade arena for Remembrance Day ceremonies and a constant reminder of the contribution made by our Canadian was veterans.
To honour our war veterans, the role they played in history, and the sacrifices they made to ensure peace for our lives, the City worked with members of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 6, Cloverdale to refurnish and enhance the WWI cenotaph and ensure all original elements and historical significance remained during the reassembly.
The historic cenotaph was refurbished and upgraded with improvements that included:
- A wider base to easily accommodate placing of wreaths on Remembrance Day.
- Acid wash &/or flashing of the existing granite to restore the natural beauty of the BC granite.
- New complementary granite panels, engraved with all the historical information that replaced the original metal-letter memorials and phrases.
- Modification of the top of the cenotaph included a figurative representation of a grave.
- Between the original wheel blocks a plinth was added to represent a headstone. Across the front of the plinth memorials for WWII, Korea and the Peacekeepers have been engraved to replace the bronze plaques used at the Pacific Highway location.
Unveiling and dedication of the cenotaph was part of the 2005 annual Cloverdale Legion Remembrance Day services.
Operation Remembrance started with the humble desire of a youth group to place a marker on a veteran's grave, but quickly became a heartfelt community-wide initiative to honour veterans that would involve an entire city in their local cemetery. The first Operation Remembrance happened in Surrey BC in the spring of 2006, and the program grew to be available to other cemeteries across BC.
The idea that some veterans had rested unknown for over 50 years was the spark that began Operation Remembrance. The project involved young and old, businessman and veteran, law enforcement officer and homemaker, and children of every age. Working together members of the community paid their respects, and made a difference in the community at the same time. A new appreciation and connection was made to these historical 'gems' that now rest in the tranquil Sunnyside Lawn Cemetery who were once a vibrant part of the neighbourhood.
Two volunteer workday and a dedication ceremony brought together hundreds of individual citizens, and veterans, countless community service groups, schools, legions, government departments, businesses and local law enforcement agencies. The Last Post Fund, operated by Veterans Affairs Canada, assisted financially in marking the graves of the Canadian veterans. The funds raised within the community were used to mark the graves of the allied Vets (from England, Australia, and the US) buried in the cemetery. Fundraising was undertaken by many individuals and was conducted entirely by word of mouth.
Response to the project was so overwhelming that sufficient funds were raised to refurbish the existing cenotaph and a place a new granite feature at the top, and create a Veteran's Garden at the base. Visitors to the cemetery now have a beautiful, peaceful place to sit and remember lives lived.
Operation Remembrance may have started with the mission of marking the graves of veterans, but quickly the contagious spirit of Operation Remembrance reached deep into the Surrey community. The community had become proactive and shown our children that remembering Veterans wasn't something just done on November 11th.
As the logo shows, it became a way to actively remember the contributions of veterans while bridging the gap between generations. Our diverse ethnic community cam together to celebrate what Canada is because of these veterans. It combined the past and the future, educated the youth, united neighbours, and allowed the unnamed veterans to become once again known and cared for in the community they had come to call home.
Read and view photos about the:
- Project summary
- April 29 Community workday
- May 6 Community workday
- Veterans that received new memorials
- Newly developed Veterans Garden
- May 25 Dedication Ceremony
The project of placing a new feature atop the WWI cenotaph was named 'A Gift of Remembrance’ It was a community project to honour and memorialize our war veterans, the role they played in history, and the sacrifices they made to ensure peace for our lives today.
The relocation of the WWI Cenotaph to the new Surrey Learning & Discovery Centre in 2005 provided for the opportunity and timing to restore an appropriate feature on the cenotaph top.
From 1921 to the start of WWII a German Field Gun (called a Whizz Bang), captured …. Read the whole story
SIGNIFICANCE OF A KNEELING SOLDIER IN WWI
The act of kneeling, depending on the setting, can demonstrate courtesy, respect, submission or Worship. Socially, kneeling, similarly to bowing, is associated with a movement of the body made in token and used as a position for prayer, adoration and homage. During wartime a kneeled person is less visible from the distance and kneeling was established as a military tactic as a form of concealment to evade or attack an enemy that passed their position.
In WWI, WWII and Korea, the Canadian Army's policy was NOT to return those killed in action (KIA) but bury them in the theatre where they fell. In wartime fighting, soldiers killed in action might be left where they fell until the battlefield became safe enough …. Read the whole story
CREATING A STATUE – The Process
The main steps in creating an original bronze statue include:
A small model or Marquette is created to capture the intent of the artwork in a manageable size. An aluminum wire armature is created to support the clay/wax/or plaster that a sculptor will use to model the form upon. Then a small scale Marquette is crafted in wax, more particularly "victory brown" wax; a soft dark brown material. By putting the wax under a light bulb it becomes very soft and easily modeled. This wax is applied directly over …. Read the whole story
April 9, 2007 marked the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Vimy Ridge holds a special significance for Canadians, as it marks the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps went into battle together and accomplished what others could not, the capture of Vimy Ridge. The Canadian success earned Canada a separate signature on the Versailles Peace Treaty.
In honour of the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the City of Surrey created a visual silent tribute by the placement of red storm candles around the 6 cenotaph locations within Surrey. Approximately 230 candles were dispersed among 6 cenotaph locations:
- Sunnyside Lawn Cemetery, 14850 – 28th Avenue
- Newton Cenotaph, 137A Street near 70A Avenue
- Cloverdale Cenotaph, 17575 Highway 10, beside the Surrey Museum
- Port Kells Cenotaph, 18918 – 88th Avenue
- Royal Canadian Legion, Whalley Branch, 13525 – 106th Avenue
- Royal Canadian Legion, Crescent Beach Branch, 2643 - 128th Street
The project in Surrey cemeteries included a visual survey of all markers within the 3 City cemeteries, and locating Veteran's burials that are marked by identifiable markers, taking photos of the markers and documenting pertinent data such as condition and grave location.
Surrey cemetery services provided the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with;
- Photos of all identifiable Veteran memorials
A complete listing, by cemetery, of all identifiable Veterans graves
Maps of the applicable area in the 3 cemeteries for reference
Thanks to the White Rock Air Cadets for assisting with visually locating all the Veteran memorial in Sunnyside Lawn Cemetery.
In total, 703 Veteran memorials were identified and recorded; 382 in Sunnyside Lawn Cemetery, 315 in Surrey Centre Cemetery, and 6 in Hazelmere Cemetery.
Duties of the are to mark and maintain the graves of the members of the forces of the Commonwealth who died in the two world wars, to build and maintain memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown, and to keep records and register. The Commission’s work is guided by fundamental principles:
- That each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the headstone or memorial
- That the headstones and memorials should be permanent
- That the headstones should be uniform
- That there should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed
The care of the war graves in civil cemeteries and churchyards is mostly entrusted to local authorities and contractors who maintain them by agreement with the Commission.
Surrey Centre Cemetery is home to 5 Commonwealth War Graves, and in 2009-2010 all 5 graves received new upright memorials. City of Surrey Cemetery Services worked with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Mortimer's Monumental Works in Victoria BC to accomplish this. The 5 graves are:
LOVEROCK, W. W. & S.
FLATT, B. A.
SWITZER, N. J.
Branch No. 6 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Cloverdale, and the City of Surrey joined forces to honour Canada’s war veterans by refurbishing and renovating the graves in the WWI Veterans Section in Surrey Centre Cemetery.
The project involved;
- The refurbishment of 60 memorials which were pressure washed, repaired and where required the memorial inscriptions repainted.
- Many of the flat memorials were found to be pillow type memorials and new concrete bases were purchased to restore these memorials to their original condition and placement.
- Upright memorials that had been laid flat over the years were resurrected, cleaned and placed in new bases.
- Two of the gravesites are Commonwealth grave sites and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission provided two new replacement upright memorials for those sites.
- Four new sloped granite corner posts were installed to replace the unreadable flush concrete corner posts. The corner posts are now raised to further define the area and they read, VETERAN PLOT, ARMY, NAVY, & RCAF.
- A new Remembrance Garden was been created.
- The area was leveled and received new grass.
As a symbolic passing of the ‘Torch of Remembrance’ to future generations, and to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, there was a re-dedication ceremony in the old Veteran’s Section of the Surrey Centre Cemetery on Saturday, June 5, 2010. For the rededication each site was adorned with a Canadian flag, fresh bouquet of red and white flowers and a candle which burned over the next 48 hours, creating a reverent, hallowed site in honour of these Veterans.
The ‘Torch of Remembrance’ is a legacy and a duty that belongs to every Canadian’ said Pat Ostrum, President of Branch no. 6. “By restoring the memorials of these brave men and women, future generations will be able to remember them and the sacrifices they made for our country’.
City of Surrey, Cemetery Services
6348 - 168th Street, Surrey BC V3S 3Y1
Phone: (604) 598-5770
Fax: (604) 598-5880