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Lest We Forget

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All members of the public are invited to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies around the Lower Mainland on Friday.


• Victory Square, Cambie Street at Hastings Street, 10:30 a.m.

• Chinatown Memorial Square, Keefer Street at Columbia Street, 12:30 p.m.

• South Memorial Park. 41st Avenue at Windsor Street, 10 a.m.

• Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place, 8 a.m.

• UBC War Memorial Gym, 6081 University Boulevard, 10 a.m.


• North Vancouver Cenotaph, 1200 Lonsdale, North Vancouver, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m.


• Richmond Public Library, 100 – 7700 Minoru Gate, Richmond, 11 a.m.


• Ladner Memorial Park Cenotaph, 47th Avenue at Garry Street, Ladner, 10:20 a.m. parade, 10:45 a.m. ceremony

• North Delta Social Heart Plaza, 11415 – 84th Avenue, North Delta, 10:40 a.m.


• Surrey Cenotaph, 17710 – 56A Street, Surrey, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

• Dasmesh Darbar Gurudwara, 12885 - 85th Avenue, 9 a.m. – 12 noon Saturday.

The list from the Vancouver Sun:

Friday is the day set aside for Canadians to remember the contribution and sacrifice of Canadian soldiers, sailors and aircrews who served in the armed forces in past and recent conflicts.

There will be ceremonies at hundreds of sites across British Columbia to mark the occasion. The following is a list of those that can be found in Metro Vancouver.


The first ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. at the Vancouver Cauldron located at the Vancouver Convention Centre, 1055 Canada Place.

The cauldron will be lit as a Canadian flag is handed from a Korean War veteran to a soldier who served in Afghanistan — symbolic of the line in the poem In Flanders Fields, "... to you from failing hands we throw the torch ..."

An honour guard from 39 Brigade Group and HMCS Discovery will attend along with a Royal Canadian Legion colour party and RCMP sentries. Last post will be sounded and the Lament will be piped.

The cauldron will be extinguished at 11:02 a.m. to coincide with the end of the two-minute silence at the main Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square.

VICTORY SQUARE: Traditionally the largest celebration in the city will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Victory Square, Cambie Street at Hastings.

CHINATOWN: 12:30 p.m. at Chinatown Memorial Square, Keefer Street at Columbia Street. The statue in Memorial Square recognizes Chinese that helped change Canadian history. Chinese Canadian veterans who came back from the Second World War helped gain their community Canadian citizenship and the right to vote.

SOUTH MEMORIAL CENOTAPH SQUARE: 10 a.m., South Memorial Park, 41st Avenue at Windsor Street. The parade will make its way from John Oliver School to South Memorial Park Cenotaph for the ceremony.

University of British Columbia: 10 a.m. at the War Memorial Gym, 6081 University Blvd.

North Vancouver

Parade begins at 10:30 a.m., at the North Vancouver Cenotaph, 1200 Lonsdale. Open House to follow at the 6 Engineer Squadron.

West Vancouver

10:50 a.m. parade leaves from 18th Street and Marine Drive. Service to be held at 11 a.m. at Memorial Arch.


LADNER: 10:20 a.m. parade and ceremony at Ladner Memorial Park Cenotaph, 47th Avenue at Garry Street.

NORTH DELTA: 10:40 a.m. at 11415-84th Ave., Delta.


10:40 a.m. at the cenotaph at Richmond City Hall, 6911 No. 3 Rd., Following the ceremony a parade will go from city hall along Granville Ave., to the Richmond School Board offices where veteran William Laboucane will review the parade from a viewing stand.


9:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. at Surrey Cenotaph, 17710-56A St. Take part in the Remembrance Day ceremony and later visit the Surrey Museum for refreshments, chats with veterans, films, crafts and more.


NORTH BURNABY: Confederation Park Cenotaph. Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. from the Safeway parking lot at 4440 Hastings St.

SOUTH BURNABY; 10:30 a.m. Bonsor Park Cenotaph, Imperial and Nelson. Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. from Legion 83 on Grimmer Street. Ceremony at the cenotaph starts at 10:45 a.m.

New Westminster

10 a.m. Royal Westminster Regiment Armoury. Participants should assemble there at 9:30 a.m. Overflow seating at Queens Avenue United Church. Following the ceremony there will be a parade to the City Hall Cenotaph for the two minute's silence at 11 a.m.

Port Moody

10 a.m. outside the Port Moody Legion, 2513 Clarke St. The service will be followed by a parade to the cenotaph at 10:25 a.m. where a 21-gun salute will take place.

Port Coquitlam

9:30 a.m. service at the Wilson Centre, 2150 Wilson Ave. Following this there will be a parade to the cenotaph at Veteran's Park in front of city hall where a ceremony will be held at 11 a.m.


10 a.m. service at the Como Lake middle school auditorium, 1121 Albert Ave. There will be a parade to the cenotaph on Veteran's Way at 10:30 a.m. followed by the Act of Remembrance at 11 a.m.

Langley City

10:25 a.m. parade forms at Legion Branch 21, 20570-56th Ave., and will march to the new Douglas Park Cenotaph for an 11 a.m. ceremony.

Langley District

10:25 a.m. parade forms at the Fields Store on 272nd Street and will march down Fraser Highway to the cenotaph at Legion Branch 265, 26607 Fraser Hwy., where the ceremony will take place.

Maple Ridge

10:30 a.m. parade from the Legion to the cenotaph in Memorial Peace Park for the ceremony which begins at 11 a.m.

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The first hand account of the then Staff Sgt. John Rhys (now living in Vancouver) who as a 22 year old was one of the first Western soldiers to enter Hitler's Bunker in Berlin will be in a feature article in the Vancouver Province tomorrow. It should be a fascinating read,

Surly Russian guards looked on as British Staff Sgt. John Rhys started down a long flight of steps shortly after the dictator’s demise in 1945. Rhys, a 22-year-old British soldier, was descending into Adolf Hitler’s bunker. He was among the first Westerners to enter the Fuhrer’s underground lair following the end of the Second World War.

Now 88 and living in a Metro Vancouver care centre, Rhys has come forward for the first time to tell us of his wartime experiences and what he found amongst a pile of rubbish in Hitler’s study.

His compelling story, as told to Province reporter Kent Spencer, will be featured here and in our print edition Friday.

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Wow, that must have been really something to be a part of, I can't wait to give it a read tomorrow.

Thanks for the heads up

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A nice piece in today's Globe and Mail from columnist Rod Mickelburgh who has been covering the OV protest.

Every Saturday morning, over my oatmeal, celery sticks and carrot juice, I read the obits section of the newspaper. First, to see if I’m there and it’s time to apply for death benefits, and after that to both relish and mourn the often astonishing details of so many lives led, of those who contributed so much to this country without ever attracting a headline or nomination for an Order of B.C.

Two groups resonate with me more than others: Japanese-Canadians, whose lives we shattered so shamefully during and after the Second World War, and, of course, the vets.

As we know, those courageous young Canadians who risked all to take on Nazi Germany and imperialist Japan are now in their late eighties or older. Inevitably, they are leaving us at a very sad rate. Just check the obits page.

Friday, we pause once again to remember them. While we also pay respects to veterans from other wars, the aging combatants from the Second World War are the ones to capture our hearts.

When those dwindling few, bundled up against the cold, march past – heads still high – in their shuffling gait, rare is the eye that is dry.

So, see you at the cenotaph. It’s the least we can do. Lest we forget.

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Will will always remember

From: TheProvinceOnline | 10 Nov 2011 |

Looking back at Remembrance Days -- and wars -- of the past, through the Province archives.

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My grandfather is from England. He fought for the Allies in North Africa, Italy and Greece. He was twice wounded and carried shrapnel in his hip for 60 years. He would talk at length about visiting Rome and things like that but never ever talked about combat. He passed away in 05.

Back in London my grandmother drove an ambulance during the bombing raids. Shes still with us. Shes 92 now.

They emigrated to Canada shortly after the war.

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To all of those who have sacrificed so much for Canada, including the families of those who have served, thank you. All of you epitomize what is great about this country.

Thank You.

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At 1100 hours (11 am) click on the video below - The Last Post, A Moment of Silence followed by The Rouse by the Governor General's Foot Guards:



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My Great-Grandfather was at Vimmy Ridge, he was a fortuneate survivor out of far too many who had to lose their lives to help protect our freedoms. R.I.P. To those who payed to ultimate sacrifice for their country, so that we could continue to live in a safe and peaceful nation. Lest We Forget.

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The most brave and honourable thing a person can do is serve their country. Not every person serves in combat but every member of the Armed Forces contributes valiantly to protecting the rights and freedoms that we sometimes take for granted.

To all those who have served in the past - thank you

To all those who are serving now - thank you and come home safe

To all those who have lost their lives in service of their countries - RIP


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Thank you Vets for giving your lives for this country. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

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THIS country??? Are we talking the vets from the war of 1812 here?

AFAIK, Hitler never sent troops across the ocean to attack us here. Full marks to our boys for going over to Europe to fight and stop an evil megalomaniac dictator from spreading his horizons, but the Europeans should really have stood up for themselves.

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THIS country??? Are we talking the vets from the war of 1812 here?

AFAIK, Hitler never sent troops across the ocean to attack us here. Full marks to our boys for going over to Europe to fight and stop an evil megalomaniac dictator from spreading his horizons, but the Europeans should really have stood up for themselves.

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From today's Province - the story of British Staff Sgt John Rhys, a British soldier who was raised in pre-war Berlin and would later emigrate to Canada (Vancouver) and his trip into Hitler's bunker.

Inside Hitler's underground lair


Surly Russian guards scowled as British Staff-Sgt. John Rhys started down a long flight of steps shortly after Adolf Hitler’s suicide in 1945. It was the quickest way into the Fuehrer’s underground bunker where he had met his end two months before. Rhys, a 22-year-old British soldier, was among the first Westerners allowed to enter the dictator’s lair following the end of the Second World War.

Now 88 and living in a Metro Vancouver care centre, Rhys has come forward for the first time to tell us of his wartime experiences and what he found among a pile of junk in Hitler’s study.

“Berlin was a shambles. Broken fixtures and furniture were everywhere, covered by splintered glass,” says Rhys, a retired accountant, in his unpublished memoirs.

Rhys, who was a British subject, ended up in the heart of Nazi Germany on the Allied Control Commission because he had been raised in prewar Berlin and spoke fluent German.

He was thus uniquely qualified to suss out hiding places among the ruins, locate some rare Nazi artifacts and spirit them away from ever-watchful Russian sentries.

The wealth of material he gathered tells its own story of the infamous Third Reich.

Eerie sights

As a child, Rhys played in the magnificent Tiergarten Park in central Berlin, feeding seeds to a crowd of chickadees. But the mood turned dark in the Depression-ravaged 1930s. One time he was punched out by a group of “loutish youths” who also stomped on a cap given to him for Christmas.

By July, 1945, Rhys hardly recognized the city. Hungry people wandered amid the rubble and Rhys was needed to guide the Allies around the city.

One day he joined a group of Americans descending into the bunker, which had been kept dark since Hitler’s death.

Diesel-driven ventilators were silent, so Rhys’ candles cast eerie shadows on the walls.

The air had a pungent odour, the result of pitch from torches used by the Russians, whose army was first into the city.

Hitler’s lounge, where he and wife Eva Braun committed suicide, was right where the map said it should be, at the foot of the exit stairs.

Even though weeks had passed since their joint suicide, no one had bothered to remove the blood-stained furniture. Rhys noticed his “velvet sofa and carpet,” but was unimpressed.

“It was just a job to be done at the time,” he says.

A broken Berlin

During his travels through the broken masonry, Rhys took a trip several blocks away to the apartment where his family had left everything behind five days before the war. He says the destruction was “awesome.”

The once-beautifully treed Tiergarten had been cut down for fuel and turned into a “moonscape” by explosions. Many of the zoo’s animals were dead.

Hungry Berliners scavenged for food and used hand-drawn carts to pull their worldly belongings.

German women faked serious skin diseases to reduce the chances of being sexually assaulted by Russian troops bent on vengeance. He says people tried to gain sympathy in job interviews by forging concentration camp-type tattoos on their wrists.

Albert Speer’s architectural marvel was a building in the government district called the new Reich Chancellery.

It combined Hitler’s official residence with grand halls as big as anything in Europe.

Inside Hitler’s extra-large study, Rhys says his safe was still unopened.

The Fuhrer’s bedroom was tiny by comparison, measuring just 12 square feet.

Rummaging around the piles of soggy debris — the roof was open to the rain — Rhys spotted two undamaged boxes lying on shelves.

“I was thrilled to find several dry boxes,” he says. “There was a gilded dinner guest invitation from Hitler and table seating cards for state banquets.”

Two important finds lay among the badges, plaques and SS epaulettes.

One was an Iron Cross, First Class, accompanied by an award certificate signed by Hitler himself.

Another signed certificate and medal with a winged eagle was to be given for exemplary public service.

Hitler, who was last photographed handing out medals to teary-eyed youngsters above the bunker just days before his death, hadn’t lived long enough to present either commendation.

Rhys says he immediately realized the items had historical significance and were keepers.

But the problem was the Russians, who were everywhere at that time.

“I tucked all the memorabilia into my uniform tunic, which made me look quite portly,” he says.

With the guards none the wiser, Rhys and his artifacts slipped out, eventually making their way to Vancouver.

Mini-history of the Reich

Rhys’s collection (see the photo gallery) is a mini-history of the Armed Forces in the Third Reich.

Many of the items are tiny three-dimensional models of planes, tanks, eagles and swastikas. Some are mounted as badges or put on pins.

There is a Luftwaffe pilot’s wings, a tank commander’s badge and purple heart-type medals for combat injuries.

A couple of SS shoulder badges worn by Hitler’s personal guards came from the bunker itself as those near him desperately tore away any association with the dead man.

Rhys’ son Brian says the collection will remain in the family’s possession safely locked away in a bank vault.

“As time passed, the significance of the events has become clearer,” says Rhys’ other son David. “We wanted to celebrate dad’s service and contribution. There is no plans to sell the artifacts or for them to leave the family, but it’s possible they could be loaned to a museum in the future.”

Few sights are as chilling as the signature of the man who sent millions to their deaths.

Mark Jackson, manager at the Command Post military store in Victoria, says Hitler’s signature changed five or six times over the years.

At the end, it was little more than a squiggle on a sheet of paper.

“His last signature was a scrawl because he was an absolute mess,” says Jackson.

Simon Offord, archivist at the Imperial War Museum in London, England, says Rhys’ artifacts are “quite rare.”

But he says the signature on them could be just a machine-generated copy because 300,000 Iron Crosses were given out during the war. “Hitler wouldn’t be able to sign them all,” says Offord.

“It is possible, however, that he may have personally signed these particular certificates, which would indeed make them quite valuable,” says Offord.

Brian Rhys says the family was curious about the signature and showed it to a friend who had once been a handwriting expert for the RCMP. He says the friend authenticated the signature as an original.

Jackson says collectors of German war memorabilia are not usually looking to glorify the Nazi’s war crimes, but indulging in a fascination for the Germans’ well-recognized military prowess.

“The German collectibles market is the biggest in the world. A lot of German designers were very artistic and their badges have a lot of effort put into them. The Iron Crosses were always made of silver and iron even during the last month of the war,” he says.

A document with a facsimile of Hitler signature is worth up to $300; Iron Crosses can go for $500.

He estimates Rhys’ items are likely worth a few thousand dollars.

Artifacts a remarkable story

Mark Zuehlke, who has written extensively about the Canadian Army’s wartime exploits, says Rhys’ story is quite remarkable.

“It is incredibly unique that these artifacts should have fallen into Rhys’ hands,” he says.

“The Russians were incredibly security conscious. They would not willingly have shared anything like these artifacts,” says Zuehlke.

After the war, Rhys moved to Vancouver, where he met his British-born wife Pat. They raised two boys and he worked as an auditor for B.C. Telephone for 38 years.

Rhys’s memoirs have been written in a matter-of-fact tone from the hand of a man accustomed to dealing with dry facts and observations.

Few emotions are expressed — and Rhys’ memory is failing so much today that he is unable to add to the written record.

But his son Brian says he will show him a copy of The Province story on Remembrance Day.

“It’s the first thing I’ll do,” he says.

Photo galleries:

Artifacts from Adolf Hitler's bunker

Photos: Soldier John Rhys

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It may seem like an inappropriate time and place for it, but I feel this misconception just has to be cleared.

I would really prefer our troops to have stayed home safe and sound until something started brewing in our neighbourhood. (Isn't that a commonly expressed sentiment when it comes to wars in Iraq, Libya, etc.?)

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"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die." - G.K. Chesterton

Lest we forget.

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