On Saturday April 25, 2015, the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 officially inaugurated the thematic walk ‘The Canadian Road to Passchendaele’ in Zonnebeke, Belgium, made possible through a funding partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada.
The 6.5 km long track links key historic sites where the Canadians fought during the Battle of Passchendaele in October to November 1917. The walk starts at Tyne Cot Cemetery and retraces the Canadian soldiers’ progression through the Ravebeek valley during the Battle of Passchendaele from October to November 1917, passing by the “Canadian Memorial Passchendaele” (Crest Farm) and the church, where the Battle of Passchendaele ended. The itinerary then continues through the rolling landscape and along the 85th Canadian Battalion Memorial and back to Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the world. All along the track, information panels will explain Canada’s participation in the Battle of Passchendaele.
The “Canadian Road to Passchendaele” walk is part of the “Canadian Remembrance Trail” project, funded in part through financial support from the Government of Canada of up to $160,000 CAD (more than 100,000 euros), announced in August 2014 by the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Other elements of the “Canadian Remembrance Trail” project are, for example, a Canadian-themed guidebook for a visit of the Ypres Salient and the Western Front and the further development of the Canadian “Passchendaele Memorial Garden” with Canadian plants and shrubs. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada, planted a Canadian sugar maple next to the garden on October 28, 2014.
The inauguration was one of a number of events taking place during the annual Museum weekend of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 (25-26 April 2015). Other events, including the opening of the new temporary exhibit ‘Decoding the Front: Communication during the First World War’ and GoneWest concerts, including Canadian musician Daniel Lanois, completed the weekend.
On October 30, 1917, with the assistance of two British divisions, 20,000 Canadian troops began the assault on Passchendaele. In a landscape destroyed by shelling and intense rains, and with roads, trees and most buildings obliterated, they inched their way from shell-crater to shell-crater, under heavy fire and often waist-deep in mud. The battle ended on November 10, when Canadian troops occupied the Passchendaele village center. Almost 12,000 Canadians were wounded and over 4,000 lost their lives during the battle. The awarding of nine Victoria Crosses confirms the heroic determination and skill of Canadian soldiers in the bitter struggle for Passchendaele.
More information: www.mmp.zonnebeke.be