• Reporter Angela Mouly

Vimy Still Valued


Legion Sergeant at Arms, Jim Bristowe, gives a salute during the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ceremony in Vermilion on April 9. Photos Angela Mouly

Drawing emotion and reverence, the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge was celebrated with flag dedications and a march to the Cenotaph in Vermilion on April 9.

St. Savior’s Anglican Church began their Palm Sunday service with a special dedication labelled: ‘Remembering those who served,' and ‘Our link to Vimy.'

Barb Snelgrove and Melissa Luke Guenthner presented two replica flags of the 151st Battalion that were draped on the Altar. Robert Snelgrove gave an address sharing the impact the involvement with Vimy Ridge has had on their family, and a blessing was given for the 151st Battalion Regimental Colour as they were dedicated to the St. Savior’s Anglican Church and to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 11. Following the service, parishioners overlooked memorabilia the Snelgrove’s had acquired while following the footsteps of their relative Veteran, Thomas Alban Snelgrove, to Vimy Ridge.

“Our family has been truly blessed by this experience,” said Robert Snelgrove.

Vermilion Legion members, Cadets, RCMP, Lakeland Pipes and Drums, dignitaries, and members of the Snelgrove family marched from the Legion to the Cenotaph on April 9.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 11 hosted a ceremony to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Vermilion Cenotaph. The Colour Party march from the Legion building to the Cenotaph included Legion members, 2645 Vermilion Cadets, and the RCMP; followed by Lakeland Pipes and Drums, representatives from the Town of Vermilion, and the Snelgrove family. The ceremony began with O Canada, followed by wreath laying and a historical account of the Battle by Vermilion Legion 1st Vice President, Wayne Freestone who described what it did for us as Canadians.

Left, Legion Director, George Matechuk during the Vimy Ceremony in Vermilion on April 9.

Center, From left, Gordon Hills, Deputy Mayor Rob Pulyk, Ed Mistal, and Martin St.Onge approach the Cenotaph in Vermilion on April 9.

Right, Legion 1st Vice President, Wayne Freestone gives historical address at the Vimy Ceremony in Vermilion on April 9.

“Thomas Alban Snelgrove’s involvement brings Vimy Ridge back to Vermilion, giving it substance and meaning. What happened at Vimy Ridge 100 years ago is a part of our history and heritage in Vermilion that can’t be overlooked; and it was the battle that made Canada what it is today,” said Freestone.

“I’m not sure who was more thankful; the Church and Legion to receive the flags, or me to give them. It is very rewarding to know how many people are interested, even through social media,” said Robert Snelgrove.

Left, Legion President, Garry Zayac lays a wreath during the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ceremony in Vermilion on April 9.

Center, Legion Chaplain, Aubrey Bell, during the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ceremony in Vermilion on April 9.

Right, Luke Guenthner and Robert Snelgrove lay a wreath at the Vermilion Cenotaph honouring Veteran Thomas Alban Snelgrove on April 9.

Vermilion Legion President Garry Zayac felt the program went very well and mentioned, “We are very grateful to have been donated the replica flag and will be honoured to display it in the Legion. We would like to thank the Cadets, Lakeland Pipes and Drums, all those who attended, and the RCMP for their attendance and traffic control.”

Upon conclusion of the ceremony, members gathered at the Legion, and Cadets were provided the opportunity to view shells the Snelgrove’s brought back from France.

“It was really cool being able to see the leftover battle memorabilia,” said Vermilion Cadet Sergeant Ryder Budden, who had previously taken history lessons in Cadets on the Battle of Vimy Ridge and had stepped in to carry the 151st Battalion flag during the April 9, ceremony.

Top left, Vermilion Cadet marches with pride during the Vimy Ceremony on April 9.

Top Center, From left, Ed Mistal and Marcel Lefebvre recognize the sacrifices of those who served at Vimy Ridge 100 years ago.

To Right, Cadet Sergeant, Ryder Budden, stepped in to carry the 151st Battalion flag during the April 9, ceremony.

Bottom left, Lakeland Pipes and Drums members during the Vermilion Vimy Ceremony on April 9.

Bottom Center, RCMP members stand at attention during the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge Ceremony in Vermilion on April 9.

Bottom Right, Lakeland Pipes and Drums members during the Vermilion Vimy Ceremony on April 9.

During the ‘Searching For Vimy’s Lost Soldiers’ documentary, Historian, Norm Christie referred to the 44 missing soldiers including Vermilion’s Veteran, Thomas Alban Snelgrove, and said, “We have to treat them like the heroes they are. It is our obligation to recover these bodies.”

When asked how they felt about seeing their relatives name inscribed on the Vimy Memorial, Melissa Guenthner said, “Pride and Honour are the best way to describe it; they gave us freedom.”

Reminded that they were standing exactly in Thomas Alban Snelgrove’s footsteps in the Bentata Cave, standing where he stood 100 years ago, Guenthner noticed there was so much detail on the carving, and went on to say, “He meant for it to be found.”

Norm Christie continued to challenge the families by asking them to pick a personal inscription for their relatives that still 100 years later had no known grave or marker.

“Their name should liveth on forever more,” was part of the inscription selected by Callum Snelgrove.

Geophysicists searched 2,500 square yards to find three possible sites in the potato field in France where the bodies are believed to be in a mass grave. With approval from the land owner, and bomb disposal specialists aiding the dig, the excavation process began. Part way through the dig, a French bureaucrat halted the process, threatening the crew with jail time.

Currently, Norm Christie and the families continue to lobby Canadian and French governments to continue recovering the missing soldiers.

“It was very emotional watching the documentary, ‘Searching For Vimy’s Lost Soldiers,’ said Robert Snelgrove.

The replica 151st Battalion flag was hung at the St. Savior’s Anglican Church on April 10.

The 151st Battalion replica flag was proudly hung in the St. Saviour’s Anglican Church on April 10, in Vermilion.

When asked what his favourite part of learning about his heritage was seven - year - old Luke Guenthner said, “Seeing all the stuff Great Uncle Thomas was fighting for.”

Great - great - great nephew of Thomas Alban Snelgrove, Luke Guenthner was thrilled to march behind the cadets during the 100th Anniversary ceremony in Vermilion, and has been enthralled with seeing all of the ‘war stuff.' After seeing the Vimy Memorial Lego replica in Edmonton, Luke said, “I thought I had the biggest Lego set in the world, but I actually don’t.”

Luke had lots of fun learning how to make television with the documentary crew and learning how to fly a drone with Don Henry.

“Being free is the best part of being Canadian,” concluded Luke Guenthner.

From left, Robert Snelgrove and Luke Guenthner stand proudly with the 151st Battalion replica flag at the St. Savior’s Anglican Church on April 9.

Photo submitted

#VimyRidge #Vimys100thAnniversary #19172017 #151stBatallion #ThomasAlbanSnelgrove

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