Darlingford hosts 98th annual Memorial Service

Major Mark Wilson at the 98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

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A solemn tradition continued at the 98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7 as those from the community and beyond gathered to honour veterans.
Floral tributes were delivered by local school children, a tradition that has continued since the very first ceremony.
Major Mark Wilson, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq and a Winkler school teacher was the guest speaker who spoke of service, duty and sacrifice.
He referenced the gas attack at Ypres where 6,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the face of the first chlorine gas attack of the war. He talked about July 1, 1916, during the battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel, where 778 men of the Newfoundland regiment went over the top and only 68 answered roll call the next day.
“Those men knew what they were doing that morning,” he said. “Service, duty, sacrifice.”
Wilson recently took a student tour to the scene, where they looked over the former battleground at Danger Tree, a spot where no allied soldier made it past, only 200 metres into no mans land.
“The current generation also understands those words,” he said. “I was very impressed with how serious and solemn they took in the tour.”
Wilson said the number of Canadians that went to fight is especially impressive when you break it down.
While Canada was 12 million people strong during World War II, there was about 6 million men and about 3 million between the ages of 18 and 35. “Over a million answered the call,” he said. “That’s one in three.”
He talked about those involved in D-Day, the Italian campaign, Korea, peacekeeping missions, and Afghanistan. Wilson himself helped train Afghan soldiers in that campaign.
He told the audience of trying to cover the mouthpiece of his phone as he talked to his wife in Winkler, so she wouldn’t hear the 127mm rockets falling only a couple hundred metres away from his position.
“I thought later, of the men in the First World War,” he said, adding they lived through artillery barrages as long as seven days. “It’s unthinkable.”
Wilson was in Iraq helping with the fight against ISIS in Operation Impact, and helped liberate Mosul, a city of about a million people.
Wilson said soldiers continue to observe service, duty and sacrifice. “I’ve watched ISIS do terrible things,” he said. “I’ve seen the weapons have changed but man’s nature and the terrible effects of war have not.”

98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Children put flowers on crosses to commemorate those from the area who died in the World Wars at the 98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Guest speaker Major Mark Wilson at the 98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

World War II veterans Norris Pringle, Bob Jordan and Russ Amy were in attendance at the 98th annual Darlingford Memorial Service, July 7. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

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