On their way to the 103rd annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, a contingent of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members participated in a Departure Parade at the Canadian War Museum today.
“I am very pleased to be here today to wish our 2019 Nijmegen team the best of luck for the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen. The marches require a high level of physical and mental strength, and I know that these dedicated women and men are ready for the challenge. The marches are of great significance, as they highlight our very important bond to the Dutch people. They are also an occasion to reflect upon our rich Canadian military history and our legacy in the region,” LGen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander of the Canadian Army
This year’s Marches, which typically bring together 50,000 military and civilian participants from 84 countries, will be held from July 16-19. A total of 175 CAF members, under the leadership of LCol. Éric Quirion, will be representing Canada in these Marches this year.
The 175 members are made of 14 teams from across Canada with 11 marchers each. The contingent also includes special guests and support staff.
This is the 67th year that the CAF will be taking part in the Nijmegen Marches. The CAF participation in the Marches reflects a strong historical relationship between Canada and the Netherlands.
During the Second World War, Canadian Forces played a significant role in liberating much of the country.
“The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen represent an opportunity for our members to honour the two generations of Canadians who fought and died in Europe so that we might live in freedom and security. As the contingent marches through the same regions as their predecessors, members will remember the sacrifices and bravery of those who came before them. I wish each and every one of our CAF contingent members good luck as they undertake this challenging international event and thank them for perpetuating this important tradition,” said LGen. Wayne Eyre, Commander Military Personnel Command.
The Nijmegen Marches were initially established as an exercise to increase the long-distance marching and weight-carrying skills of the Dutch infantry. The Marches are now an internationally recognized event that challenges physical and mental endurance.
The Marches take participants 160 km through the Dutch countryside and towns surrounding the city of Nijmegen. They will also walk the same terrain where Canadians fought and died during the Second World War.
During their visit to Europe, the CAF contingent will commemorate Canada’s First and Second World War legacy in Europe, in particular, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Scheldt, according to a Department of National Defence press release.
Other events include a visit to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France, a visit to the Sloedam Memorial and the Liberation Museum in Zeeland, the contingent will hold a remembrance ceremony at Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands, and a memorial service at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to command Joint Task Force Nijmegen on the 67th anniversary of Canadian Armed Forces participation. I am privileged to have the opportunity to march alongside this exceptionally strong and motivated contingent through the towns where many Canadians fought for our Canadian values. The marches are an occasion to pay homage to our fallen and celebrate our proud Canadian military history,” said LCol. Éric Quirion, Commander Joint Task Force Nijmegen.