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Proudly wearing the Poppy beginning Oct. 27

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 has launched this year's Poppy campaign. Members will be offering poppies at locations across Petawawa from now until Remembrance Day. Here Branch president and retired Chief Warrant Officer Bob Howell (second from left) presents the first poppy of the campaign to (left to right) Garrison Petawawa/4th Canadian Division Support Group (4CDSG) commander Col. Louis Lapointe, Mayor Bob Sweet and 4CDSG formation sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer Tom Verner.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 has launched this year's Poppy campaign. Members will be offering poppies at locations across Petawawa from now until Remembrance Day. Here Branch president and retired Chief Warrant Officer Bob Howell (second from left) presents the first poppy of the campaign to (left to right) Garrison Petawawa/4th Canadian Division Support Group (4CDSG) commander Col. Louis Lapointe, Mayor Bob Sweet and 4CDSG formation sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer Tom Verner.

 

PETAWAWA – In honour of Canada's war dead, residents are being asked to begin wearing the poppy on Friday, Oct. 27.

Last week, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 launched the Poppy campaign with president Bob Howell, a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and retired regimental sergeant-major, presenting the first poppies to Mayor Bob Sweet, Garrison Petawawa/4th Canadian Division Support Group (4CDSG) commander Col. Louis Lapointe, and 4CDSG formation sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer Tom Verner.

Over the next few weeks, scores of Legion members, veterans, volunteers and the local Air and Army Cadets will be handing out poppies at retail outlets, restaurants and malls. Poppies will be available at grocery stores, gas stations and numerous businesses across the municipality. Branch 517 includes members who served in virtually all of the major conflicts of the last 75 years, including the Second World War, Korea, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and in peacekeeping operations around the globe.

For Garrison Petawawa, Remembrance Day has been a solemn occasion. In recent decades, local soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia. However, the garrison has also lost personnel in training accidents here and across Canada. With 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group assuming the role of high readiness task force for the Canadian Army, the garrison currently has troops deployed to Iraq and the Ukraine with a contingent heading off to Latvia in the new year.

“It is our duty to remember,” said Col. Lapointe. “We have people deployed all the time overseas so it's very important for us to participate in and contribute to the poppy campaign.”

On Saturday, Nov. 11, units will dispatched firing parties and marching contingents to services throughout Renfrew and Pontiac counties, as well as neighbouring Lanark County. This year's

Garrison Commander's Business Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 9 will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Battle of Passchendaele.

Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was undertaken by the British to take the pressure off the French forces to the south. Sir Douglas Haig, the British commander, enlisted the Canadian Corps, fresh off their victory at Vimy, to take part in the operation to wear down the German capacity to continue fighting the war and seize strategic German railways in Belgium. The Allies hoped to capture German submarine bases along the coast which were being used to menace Allied shipping.

“There was a strategic interest in seizing Passchendaele,” explained Col. Lapointe. “We needed to take that piece of ground to preserve the fleet and keep the supplies coming in.”

On Nov. 6, 1917, the Canadians and British launched the assault to capture the village of Passchendaele itself. Canada’s great victory at Passchendaele came at a high price. Before the battle ended on Nov. 10, more than 4,000 had died and almost 12,000 were wounded.

Branch 517 will be holding their Remembrance Dinner on Nov. 9. Following the dinner, a candle light ceremony will be held at the cenotaph with the Petawawa Military Wives Choir providing the music.

SChase@postmedia.com