Two Memorial University students are set to walk in the footsteps of the bold young men who blazed a trail 100 years ago in Europe.
It was the sacrifices of these soldiers that allow the students to study at a university created in their honour. Katie Cranford and Seamus Hogan are headed to the major battlefields where Newfoundlanders and Labradorians served in the First World War.
The trip was made possible thanks to a partnership between Memorial and E & B Travel and Trafalgar Canada.
Ms. Cranford, a third-year student completing a double major in French and history and with strong family connections to the war, and Mr. Hogan, a term five mechanical engineering student and volunteer with the Cadet Corps as a member of the Canadian Forces Reserves, were chosen as the recipients of the travel awards.
“As a young Newfoundlander and a history major, I cannot think of a higher honour than attending the Beaumont-Hamel 100th anniversary commemorations,” said Ms. Cranford. “The sacrifices made by these young men contribute to our heritage and being a part of these celebrations will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Mr. Hogan agrees.
“I believe education involves knowing about our past as well as planning for the future,” he said. “My knowledge of military history will be supplemented by the experiences offered by visiting the actual sites of the European battlefields where Newfoundlanders and Labradorians served during the First World War. I thank everyone involved for this incredible opportunity.”
Passing the torch
Wolf Paunic, president, Trafalgar Canada, was moved by the story of the Newfoundlanders who fought in the war.
“As president of Trafalgar Canada, I became involved in the Beaumont-Hamel project with Derek Winsor of E&B Travel, who inspired me to look at this significant Newfoundland anniversary as an opportunity to pass the torch of remembrance to the next generation,” said Mr. Paunic. “It is up to today’s generations to preserve the memory of the First World War and help future generations learn and remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.”
Dr. Luke Ashworth, chair of Memorial’s WW100 Commemoration Program, is pleased the university was able to team up with Trafalgar Canada to make the trip a reality.
“Memorial University established the WW100 commemoration program in recognition of our unique origins as a living memorial,” said Dr. Ashworth. “After Trafalgar generously offered to take one student along on their educational tour of the battlefields of Europe, we decided to sponsor a second student. Katie and Seamus were selected through an essay competition and I am pleased to have two such excellent youth ambassadors representing the university.”
Five battlefield memorials
The commemoration tour, running June 25-July 4, includes visits to all five of the Newfoundland battlefield memorials, including the major centenary ceremony at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1. Other sites on the itinerary include Vimy Ridge, Dieppe and the D-Day beaches in Normandy.
As part of the sponsorship agreement, the students are expected to relate their experiences upon their return through a written or video submission which will be highlighted in the Gazette, in July.