Soldier's mural leaves lasting legacy for 1RCR
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Cpl. Edward Turner stands in front of a massive mural of the colours of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, which were unveiled at Garrison Petawawa Wednesday. Over the past year, the infantryman tireless painted the 22 x 27 foot mural which will hang proudly inside the battalion’s Victoria Barracks drill hall.
GARRISON PETAWAWA – It's not too often that people can leave a monumental legacy behind when they retire from the military, but that's just what Cpl. Edward Turner has done.
The infantryman with 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment has spent the last year slaving away at a massive mural depicting the unit's new colours. During a brief ceremony Wednesday, the finished oil painting was unveiled on the drill floor at the battalion's Victoria Barracks.
The impressive mural measures 22 x 27 feet and will be mounted inside the drill hall. Cpl. Edwards spent his evenings and weekends working away at the project painstakingly painting separate 4x8 plywoods that were assembled for the first time on Wednesday.
“It's a great honour to be able to do it,” said the softspoken veteran of 10 years with the Canadian Armed Forces. “I'm quite happy with it.”
The Pembroke native, who grew up in Chapeau and Killaloe before moving to Ottawa, received permission to go ahead with the painting after speaking with his commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Steven MacBeth and regimental sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer John Copeland.
“They gave me a lot of freedom to go ahead and do this,” added Cpl. Turner, who served one combat tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010. “For the most part I tried to keep it as traditional as possible and did my best representation of the colours.”
The colours, which in military tradition act as a rallying point for troops or to mark the location of the commander, carry the battle honours that unit have won throughout Canada's conflicts. They are awarded to provide public recognition to combatant military units for active participation in battle against a formed and armed enemy. The Royal Canadian Regiment have 62 battle honours stretching from the Northwest Rebellion to Korea. In 2014, the Director of History and Heritage approved Afghanistan as a battle honour for units.
One of the 1st Battalion's most noted campaigns in Afghanistan was the Battle of Panjwaii during Operation Medusa in 2006. In the future, the battalion will receive a new set of colours, with Afghanistan emblazoned on them, from a member of the Royal Family. Until then, Maj. Marc Kieley, the battalion's deputy commanding officer, said the mural presents a great opportunity for the soldiers to see the colours years before the formal presentation. He lauded Cpl. Turner's work noting that only 26 battle honours could go on the colours.
“It a mix of space and selecting the battle honours which are most important and most representative of the battalion's experience,” said Maj. Kieley calling the mural a “fantastic piece of art.”
The mural initiative attracted attention outside of the unit. 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group brigade sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Mercer was overwhelmed by the scope and detail in the mural. Presenting a coin on behalf of 2CMBG commander Col. Michael Wright, Chief Warrant Officer Mercer said Cpl. Turner set a positive example for his peers with his dedication to this project, most of which was done on his own time.
“He not only loves his regiment but loves his battalion,” said Chief Warrant Officer Mercer. “That type of passion is a rare thing. Everyone of you should look for that flame in your heart that obviously resides in his.”
Cpl. Turner will be retiring from the military in December and plans to stay in the Petawawa area. Noting that his artistry consists of capturing real-life depictions of animals and buildings, the brigade sergeant-major praised the soldier for using his considerable gift to leave a lasting legacy for his comrades and his battalion.
“What you do is always a portrait of yourself,” added Chief Warrant Officer Mercer. “This is excellence and that portrait is of yourself of excellence.”