Harv Allen has been invited to speak at the Remembrance Day service at the Mountain Spruce Hall at Sulphurous Lake for the past two years. (Photo submitted)

Harv Allen has been invited to speak at the Remembrance Day service at the Mountain Spruce Hall at Sulphurous Lake for the past two years. (Photo submitted)

Never forget the sacrifice: wars a ‘terrible waste’

Why are we here today on this the 102nd anniversary of the end of World War I?

For the past two years, Harv Allen has been invited to speak at the Remembrance Day service at the Mountain Spruce Hall at Sulphurous Lake.

Born and raised in Vancouver, I graduated from high school and immediately joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in September 1958. I spent a 37-year career as an aircraft technician in Canada, as well as eight years in Germany and short periods of time in NATO countries such as France, Belgium, Italy and Norway, retiring with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer.

Why are we here today on this the 102nd anniversary of the end of World War I?

My father was a soldier in World War I. He survived four years of hell to return to England, before immigrating shortly afterwards to Canada with his two brothers. He returned whole but suffered for the rest of his life from the effects of mustard gas and a piece of shrapnel in his arm. Each year on this day of remembrance, I think of what he endured during those war years.

When and where were those wars in Europe and other countries in the past 100 years?

The South African War (1899–1902) was Canada’s first foreign war. Also known as the Boer War, it was fought between Britain – with help from its colonies and Dominions such as Canada – and the Afrikaner republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. More than 7,000 Canadians volunteered for service during the South African War. Approximately 280 died, most due to injury or illness brought on by harsh conditions, and more than 250 wounded. The South African War ended on May 31, 1902.

World War I (1914 to 1918) – the ‘War to end all Wars’ as it was called. That terrible conflict ended 102 years ago today on Armistice Day, now known as Remembrance Day. I always want to call it Remembrance Day. In that terrible conflict, We lost 65,000 men and women, and 172,000 were wounded. What a blood bath and a terrible waste. Sadly, there are no survivors of this conflict living.

Only 22 years later, – remember what I said, that World War I was called the “War to end all Wars” – Europe was at war again, along with Japan for six long years, from 1939 to 1945. We lost another 44,000-plus young men and women in Europe and the Pacific in that conflict . Once again, what a waste. Last year we recognized the 75th anniversary of D Day, the beginning of the end of WWII. The average age today of those WWII participants is 96.

Five years later, we were at war again, this time in Korea (1950 to 1953). It wasn’t even called a war, but a Police Action, but once again we lost many good Canadians, 516 of them.

Canada’s military then took part in the war in Afghanistan (2001 to 2009), and Canada lost 159 troops. This war also presented us with a new phrase: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. A hundred years ago it was labelled as cowardice, shell shock, or mental strain, and some Canadian men were even executed by the British for this malady. One of these days someone should sit back and realize that wars are a waste.

In all those wars, thousands returned home broken – mentally and physically. I visited some of them in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy veterans hospital. I was only a teenager and amazed that some had been there since 1918. It was a heartbreaking experience to see these gentlemen, some missing all four limbs, still able to laugh and smile.

I have made several trips to Europe, and visited Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, where a fantastic museum is located, illustrating what our soldiers experienced on D Day, on June 6, 1944. And of course, I stood in many cemeteries in France and England and witnessed rows and rows of headstones, many of them covering the remains of the flower of our youth, from provinces across our great country, many only 18 years old or younger. It takes your breath away.

Earlier, I asked: “why are we here today?” Now we know. To recognize the supreme sacrifice made by so many to keep us safe so that our children would never have to go to war as they did. This is profoundly evident in the many Canadian cemeteries throughout Europe, in Hong Kong, and of course in cities and towns across Canada, which bear our war dead.

Our soldiers, sailors and airmen, men and women, are today still doing their duty, serving 24/7 in many dangerous regions in the world in NATO, NORAD and the United Nations.

The Remembrance Day poppy was inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae, a Canadian, in December 1915. Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers’ graves in Flanders, a region of Belgium. The first-ever annual poppy day occurred on Nov. 11, 1921, marking the third anniversary of Armistice Day. It was immediately adopted by Canada and Australia in 1921 and New Zealand in 1922.

Remember. Remembrance. Let us never forget their sacrifice.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

100 Mile House

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Searchers rescue 17-year-old snowboarder near Spanish Lake

Friends and family reported him missing Saturday when he didn’t return to parking lot.

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Jethro Rolland, 8, and Guinevere Rolland, 6, test out the ice at the new outdoor rink in 100 Mile House. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).
Outdoor ice rinks popular Cariboo pastime

The skaters are out this winter across the South Cariboo.

A power outage Thursday night left nearly 3,000 homes in Clinton and the 70 Mile areas in the dark. (Katie McCullough photo).
Updated: Clinton, 70 Mile left in the dark after vehicle crashes into transmission pole

BC Hydro still working to restore power to 330 homes in 70 Mile House

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read