Fields of Fire Travel Client Anne Strickland's Posting: "Do His Bit"

Anne Strickland travelled with Fields of Fire Battlefield Tours during the Return to Vimy Tour 2017 with her husband, Roy.  She shared this note about her family history and her reason for travelling with us on the Return To Vimy 2017 commemorative tour. As Anne has included quotations directly from her uncle's correspondence - his voice travels through time from letters his family and school received while he was at the front. Thanks for sharing this part of your family history with us Anne.  Remembrance is personal.


DEC 30, 1896 - OCT 9, 1916

Corporal, 15Bn CEF

(48th Highlanders of Canada)


This memoriam is in gratitude to my uncle Hugh Gordon Munro and all those like him who did their bit.

While on tour, it was gratifying to see the Regina trench at the Battle of the Somme where Hugh Gordon Munro was injured.  I have a letter, the Nursing Sister who looked after Gordon for the two hours he was at the 49 Casualty Clearing BEF Station before he died, wrote to his mother.  In it she said “when I told him he was going to die, he said that he was not in the least afraid, and he had tried to do his bit.”  

I have a number of letters he wrote home from the front, among them, travelling by ship to England and also a letter outlining his furlough to London before going back to the front, prior to his death.  What a privilege to have them. They made him alive for me and so my trip to Vimy Ridge last year was not only to go with Roy, but as an act of memoriam for my Uncle, Hugh Gordon Munro.

While Gordon was over in France, the Oakville High School, sent him a book of pictures, stories and jokes, and I have sent you some of his words from the letter of thanks to the Staff and Pupils of the High School.

 …“I have just put in one of the most pleasant times I have had since I came to Northern France, thanks to the wonderful book you sent. The book arrived last night just at “tea up”.  Tea up is the way supper time is announced.”

“ That night I took it out to show a friend and in making the journey I foundered, in about two feet of mud and water, got hung up on barb-wire and fell off a ladder that had no rung in the middle of it.”

“Perhaps you do not get a good chance to hear about the life out here. I will try to tell you a few things that happen around the part we are in.  We landed in _______ almost 6 months ago and stayed there for a few days and then we took the train to the front.  At the station behind the lines we were excited to get out but then we heard the big guns, I got uneasy.  To make matters worse, we were asked by one of the Imperials (British Army) who we were.  We told him we were going to reinforce the Fifteenth Battalion Canadians.  He said Oh, I don’t think there are many Canadians left.  This cooled us down and I wished I had not been so anxious to see the front.”

 “But things were pretty quiet.  In the trenches you get to do sentry every day and night, and then, by the time you have cooked and slept, it does not take long for the time to pass. There is not much firing going on, but there is continual sniping going on, but it is not very dangerous to anyone. The trenches are 200 to 300 yards apart, although in places they are close as 25 to 30 yards apart.  We opened up a rapid on a German working party first night in.  It is good fun blazing away though.”

 “Rats and Mice are a great pest in your dug-out.  They run over you at night and steal your bread and so on.   I shot a great big one the other night [which] is probably about the best deed I’ve done for a few days.  We will be in the trenches for Christmas and New Years.  I intend to celebrate somehow and intend to sing the German National Anthem to see what happens.  I wish I had paid more attention in my French and German classes as the languages are useful over here…"



Charming Chateau Outside Arras

Nestled in the tiny village of Fresnoy-en-Gohelle, 15 minutes drive from Arras, is this charming chateau.  This stay allowed us to escape the hustle and bustle of our stops in Ypres and Arras.  Built in the 1920's and lovelingly updated since 2013, the accomodations were modern and Dave describes it perfectly as a "hidden jewel."   Bird song filled the large gardens when we got out of the car and sang us to sleep last night.   Our room was a suite and the included breakfast featured home made jams, fresh squeezed orange juice and melt in your mouth croissants.  We will definitely be back.  The house was used by a German Officers in World War Two and just down the road is a monument to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada who fought near here in May, 1917.

Chateau De Fresnoy, Fresnoy-en-Gohelle

Chateau De Fresnoy, Fresnoy-en-Gohelle

Edible specialties from the farmers of the region include delicious meats and cheese.

Edible specialties from the farmers of the region include delicious meats and cheese.

Monument to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

Monument to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

Plaster Maquettes

Walking up to the Vimy Memorial path for your first visit is something you will never forget.  The monument increasingly overwhelms you the closer you get to it; the grandeur and size has a physical impact.  The winning design in the 1920 competition for a National Canadian Memorial –   the Croatian stone gleams with impressive stature and presence.  I am personally more drawn to the intimacy of the St. Julien Memorial, which stands at Vancouver Corner, Flanders, Belgium. I think it is the modest posture and stoic face of the soldier that draws me into the monument in a personal way.  The colloquial name is "The Brooding Soldier" and I am fond of this soldier resting on his reversed rifle. This photo shows the plaster maquettes, produced by the seventeen finalists of the national competition for Canadian War Memorials.  Both the iconic National Canadian Vimy Monument, designed by Walter Seymour Allward, and the St. Julien Memorial, designed by Frederick Chapman Clemesha, can be seen on the table of maquettes.  This is what happens when you marry a battlefield tour guide - you develop an appreciation for public war memorials.  They are art.

Photo: Aaron Plamondon

Photo: Aaron Plamondon