Day 15: The Final Canadian War Cemetery

Today we visited the final Canadian War Cemetery of the tour at Bretteville-sur-Laize. After paying our respects to the Canadian soldiers buried there by placing flags at their graves and listening to a presentation on a soldier by one of the other students in our group, I decided to do a rubbing of one of the headstones. I used a crayon (rather than charcoal) to take a print of the maple leaf featured on all of the Canadian headstones. I found two Canadians in particular whose wartime experiences I would like to learn more about, so I did a rubbing of the inscriptions on their headstones.

The first soldier, Flying Officer Hong, was a Chinese-Canadian who was killed on 23 May 1944 at the age of 21. His epitaph reads, “Union of a Chinese heart with a Canadian spirit.” I thought this was a unique inscription that draws attention to the diversity of Canadians who fought during the Second World War.

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The second soldier, Private Paff, was killed on 12 August 1944. A laminated display of photographs had been laid in front of his headstone, presumably by family members, with a note to Private Paff. There are photographs of his daughter whom he never had a chance to meet, as well as his grandchildren. It was nice to see that there were family members who had visited him and that he was still in their thoughts.

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