90th Anniversary of the Memorial Arch
Article by: 13987 Bryan Bailey – Executive Director RMC Club
This past Friday, 13 June, RMCC celebrated the 90th Anniversary of Memorial Arch with a ceremony at the Arch. The event was very well attended by RMCC military and civilian staff, cadets, as well as a good turn-out of ex-Cadets who braved the unsettled weather. Also in attendance were three former Commandants: BGen (Ret’d) Turner, MGen (Ret’d) Norman and Commodore (Ret’d) Murray.
The most senior of the three was 2816 BGen (Ret’d) W.W. Turner. Both BGen Meinzinger and MGen Norman acknowledged his recent award of France’s Legion of Honour medal in recognition of being a distinguished D-Day veteran 70 years ago.
The Commandant opened the ceremony with a poignant address which recounted the history of the Arch and an explanation of how the Arch came to be located precisely where it stands today. The full text of his address is below this article.
He was followed by 3572 MGen (Ret’d) Frank Norman, former Commandant from 1982-1985, who delivered a fascinating address which was aimed squarely at those “dressed in scarlet”. He noted that while the Club decided on 14 June, 1919 to erect “a suitable memorial gateway” that the College’s Commandant of the day, 151 MGen Sir Archibald Cameron Macdonnell, was the driving force behind the creation of not one but three Memorials. The first was the Memorial Staircase in 1921 which includes photos of those “who have died in service”. Second was the construction of Currie Hall as a tribute to his own Corps Commander. Lastly, was the construction of the Memorial Arch which General Norman noted was erected 15 years earlier than the national war monument in Ottawa.
General Norman then invited the cadets to look upwards to the Arch to read the words “To the Glorious Memory of the Ex-Cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada Who Gave Their Lives for the Empire.” He also noted that the opposite side of the arch contains the appropriate verses of Rupert Brooke, taken from his 1914 poem, The Dead:
“Blow out ye bugles over the rich Dead,
There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.”
General Norman summarized the sacrifices of cadets by conflict: 11 before the Great War, 152 during WW I, 114 during WW II, one in Korea and four in Afghanistan. He also provided interesting facts about the some of the individuals who are commemorated on the Arch.
- The first name is 52 Capt William Stairs, Emin Pasha Rescue Expedition
- The first KIA was 62 WH Robinson, Commander Royal Engineers, West Africa
- The earliest Cadet by number is 4 Lt Col WM Davis, the last is 23519 Cpl KC O’Quinn
- The most senior in rank was 25 MGen WT Bridges who was killed at Gallipoli, the most junior were three Private soldiers: 653 AS LeMesurier, 721 B Inderwick, and 896 HR Mallory.
- The first KIA in WW 1 was 774 CGG Mackenzie, the last 775 JL McLennan
- Amongst the juniors of that War was 841 Lt AH Helmer who was a very close friend of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae whose death was the inspiration for the iconic poem, In Flanders Fields.
- The first two KIA during WW II were both killed at Dunkirk, both Royal Engineers, 2279 A.F. Galloway, and 2311 D.E. Bradford
- The most senior 1983 Brig JN. Lane, Commander Royal Artillery 4 Canadian Armoured Division, was killed when his jeep was blown up by mines on 10 Nov 1944 near Bergen-op-Zoom.
- For WW II, the most senior by College Number was 500 K.C. Folger, who entered the College in 1899; the most junior was 2827 V.S. Allan, entering in 1940 an astonishing 41 years later.
The ceremony concluded with appropriate words and blessings from the College padres and Amazing Grace from a College Piper. All in all, the event certainly served to underscore the history and significance of the Arch to the College and all of its alumni.
Cérémonie du 90e anniversaire de l’Arc commémoratif, 13 juin 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, Ex- RMCC Commandants, Recent French Legion of Honour Recipients, BGen (retd) Turner and Col(retd) Mr Brit Smith. Members of the Ex-Cadet Club and Foundation, Members of the RMCC College Team, Cadets of the Royal Military College, Friends and Family, Ladies and Gentlemen.
En tant que commandant du Collège militaire royal du Canada, j’ai le grand privilège de vous accueillir à la cérémonie d’aujourd’hui.
I am delighted that we have assembled here this morning en masse alongside highway 2 and Valour Drive, to acknowledge and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the unveiling of this magnificent Memorial Arch, the College’s poignant symbol of service and sacrifice. More importantly, we are here today to also pay respects to all those ex-cadets that lost their lives while serving their country, ex-cadets that made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation.
As many of you know, it was not but a few weeks ago that we met the soldier-On Afghanistan Relay team here at the RMC Memorial Arch, as this group of 19 incredibly courageous and dedicated Canadians carried the last Canadian Flag to fly in Afghanistan from Trenton to Ottawa where the symbolic closing of the Afghanistan mission occurred on 9 May.
These 19 Canadians epitomized the strength and resiliency that is at the core of the Canadian Armed Forces. These brave and tenacious veterans of the Afghanistan conflict clearly exemplified the notions of duty, loyalty, honour and sacrifice – institutional values that we hold dearly within the profession of arms and that are brought alive simply by standing in the shadow of this majestic Arch.
Comme nous étions rassemblés pour reconnaître les sacrifices consentis, je n’aurais pas pu imaginer un lieu plus à-propos pour accueillir nos invités qu’au pied de ce magnifique Arc commémoratif, qui fut inauguré il y a quatre-vingt-dix ans presque jour pour jour, soit le dimanche quinze juin mille neuf cent vingt-quatre (1924), en l’honneur des anciens élèves-officiers qui avaient donné leur vie au service de l’Empire britannique.
Today, the arch displays the names of all ex-cadets who died while serving their country, whose names are commemorated for all of us to remember.
J’aimerais d’abord dire merci à mon chef d’état-major, le capitaine de frégate Mike Mooz, pour avoir eu la vision de nous rassembler tous ici ce matin en tant qu’unité et équipe du Collège afin que nous puissions nous recueillir un instant et songer au symbolisme de l’Arc commémoratif. Merci Mike.
There is an incredibly rich and amazing history that surrounds the Memorial Arch, this 46 foot high and 42 foot wide granite and limestone wonderment.
90 years ago this Sunday, there was a significant dedication ceremony held on this very ground. In fact, there were thousands of local citizens in attendance, standing all around the Arch, on the Causeway and even in boats on the river. All attempted to position themselves to gain a birds-eye view of this important event.
Bien sûr, l’année mille neuf cent vingt-quatre (1924) succédait de peu à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, et les citoyens de l’époque avaient sans nul doute une idée très concrète des notions de service et de sacrifice. C’est dans ce contexte que l’idée de l’Arc a vu le jour, comme moyen de rendre hommage aux quelque cent soixante-dix (170) anciens élèves‑officiers qui avaient jusqu’alors perdu la vie au service de l’Empire britannique.
Apparently there was debate as to the best location to erect the Arch and once its current location was largely determined, a wooden mock-up covered in cloth was created to verify that indeed this was the best location. There is a great story that during the final cloth covering of the wooden Arch, a sudden gust of wind blew the structure apart with one poor terrified cadet soul clinging from the top of a tree following this untimely collapse.
The cornerstone for the arch was laid during graduation in 1923 by the then Governor General, His Excellency, Viscount Byng.
The unveiling ceremony that occurred on Sunday, June 15th, 1924 was indeed solemn with Mrs. Joshua Wright leading the official unveiling. Mrs Wright was the mother of two ex-cadets; 558, Major G.B. Wright and 814, Major J.S. Wright, both of whom had been previously killed-in action.
Comme c’est toujours le cas aujourd’hui, le Club du Collège Militaire Royale du Canada appuyait déjà le Collège au début des années vingt. C’est donc le Club qui a recueilli les soixante-quinze milles dollars nécessaires à la conception et à la construction du monument, dans le cadre d’une campagne de financement qui s’est échelonnée sur environ quatre ans.
Au fil des ans, il y a eu plusieurs autres cérémonies de dévoilement.
The second dedication ceremony, overseen by the Governor-General of the day occurred on 25 Sep 1949 which served to honour all ex-cadets that died between1926-1945 via the installation of two granite pylons.
The third dedication occurred in 2006, with the leadership and support of our mighty league of ex-Commandants. The unveiling of a plaque on the East pylon serves to record the names of all ex-cadets that died on active service since 1945.
To our current cadets, the Arch remains a key symbol of what it means to be a member of the profession of arms with our College motto of Truth, Duty, Valour appropriately etched on this magnificent structure.
Depuis le début des années 80, les élèves-officiers défilent sous l’Arc à leur arrivée au Collège, et ce n’est que lorsqu’ils obtiennent leur diplôme et leur brevet d’officier qu’ils ont de nouveau le droit de passer sous l’Arc.
The Memorial Arch has great meaning to all ex-cadets and we recognize its deep importance in fostering a sense of remembrance, reflection and respect.
In fact, even today as Commandant, I cannot walk or jog past the Arch without checking my arms as a show of respect for all those ex-cadets that have given their lives for our country no different than I did almost 30 years ago as a bright eyed officer-cadet.
Pour terminer, j’aimerais vous remercier, tous autant que vous êtes, de votre présence à cette modeste cérémonie ce matin. This hallowed Arch is a symbol that unites all ex-cadets as it ensures that we will always remember those ex-cadets that died while serving their country. Their names will always be commemorated here for all of us to remember. TRUTH, DUTY, VALOUR
Brigadier-General | Brigadier-général
Royal Military College of Canada | Collège militaire royal du Canada