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New monument honours fallen soldiers of First World War

The names of 743 fallen members of the 52nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force now have a monument in their name
Military monument
A monument honouring the 52nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force now stands at Current River Park. (Michael Charlebois, tbnewswatch)

THUNDER BAY - An important chapter in Thunder Bay's military history has now been engraved in stone.

A new monument honouring the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force was unveiled at Current River Park on Saturday.

The monument shows the official fatal casualty list for 743 soldiers in the battalion who died during the First World War.

Lt. Col. David Ratz, commanding officer of Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, said honouring the soldiers has been a long time coming.

"This has been a long build-up to fill this void in our military commemoration and remembrance," Ratz said.

"It's been over 100 years since these men have died, it's about time they have been recognized."

The battalion was raised in Northwestern Ontario through 1915, and went on to fight in most of the major battles in the First World War including the Battle of Somme, Passchendaele, and Vimy Ridge.

During the war, the battalion were reinforced so often that 4,100 officers had passed through by the end of the war. They were awarded 18 battle honours, and 380 personal awards, including one Victoria Cross.

Logistically speaking, the monument was a two-year process, and relied on public donations.

"It's been a community effort in that regard. It's the senior people, the retired people from the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment who've helped build this monument," Ratz said. 

During the ceremony, military members welcomed Lt. Gen. Omer Lavoie, who serves as the deputy commander of NATO's Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy.

Lavoie joined the Canadian Forces in 1983 as a private soldier in the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment.

"It's an extraordinary privilege and honour," he said.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams it would come full circle and I would get this invitation to come to this dedication, especially being posted half way across the world and coming back to where I started 37 years ago."

Michael Charlebois

About the Author: Michael Charlebois

Michael Charlebois was born and raised in Thunder Bay, where he attended St. Patrick High School and graduated in 2015. He attends Carleton University in Ottawa where he studies journalism.
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