The Canadian Memorial is a simple wooden roadside cross overlooking sloping ground, close to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary - it is beside the minor road leading from Emery Down, not far from the A31 underpass. (Note: access to / from the A31 is not available here).
The Canadian Memorial recalls World War Two Canadian forces present in the New Forest before the D-Day invasion of June 6th, 1944 - the first day of landings at the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy, a momentous assault on German-occupied France.
At this site, during the build-up to D-Day, Canadians of all denominations who were stationed in the area would regularly gather for church services.
A plaque with inscription reads: ‘On this site a cross was erected to the glory of God on 14th April 1944, by men of the 3rd Canadian Division RCASC’ - the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.
(On D-Day, RCASC soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade landed on Juno Beach, suffering fourteen fatal casualties on that day and many more in the weeks and months that followed).
At the beginning of 2009, the following poignant lines by Betty Whitcher remained pinned to the cross - they can perhaps best be appreciated by reading them on site, in this once lonely part of the New Forest.
D Day Sixty Years On
6th June 2004
I would like to make a scrapbook of sixty years ago, so that one day
our children would look through it, and then they would really know
of sacrifices made for the freedom we have today, and of those who
gave their lives for us, and who in foreign fields now lay.
The grieving ones they left behind, just their memories to hold dear,
husbands, sons and brothers, and as they left, we never knew their fear.
I wiped away a silent tear remembering sixty years ago,
of how they sailed away then to face a mighty foe.
Lads in the convoys all around us, in every road and street,
they were the grandest bunch of men you could ever wish to meet.
We opened up our homes and hearts, we made them cups of tea,
and then a quietness descended whey they put out to sea,
What were their thoughts as they sailed away, some never to return
They had to end the tyranny for children yet unborn.
We owe a debt to all of them which can never be repaid,
unless we put this world to rights, and then the sacrifices made,
will not have been in vain.
Let us remember those past dark years, we pulled together then,
we fought for what we knew was right, we can do it yet again.
I watched the veterans march today along the beaches they fought to take,
with heads held high and medals gleaming, what a picture they did make.
And then I watched them on their pilgrimage to the rows of white crosses there,
I saw them stand, remembering, the grief they had to share.
So many of the fallen were only just young boys,
they would never know the peace we have, would never know the joys.
We have so many thanks to give, we will remember them with pride,
until our memories fade away and we stand with them, side by side.
Royal Canadian Army Service Corps - http://www.http://rcasc.org/
The New Forest at War - John Leete
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