And they're off! Yesterday marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey.
On Monday April 27th 2015, our Canadian travellers arrived in Paris to meet with our director Ian, to embark on the first part of our 3 part program honouring the 70th Anniversary since the Liberation of the Netherlands.
Along with us on tour is our good friend and Canadian veteran of the 4th Armoured brigade, Alfred "Bud" Weeks - and what an extraordinary first few days the group has had with him so far.
Today, not even 48 hours into tour, I recieved an e-mail from Ian that left me with not only goosebumps, but tears in my eyes and goosebumps down my spine. The chances of what had happened are mind boggingly slim. I just couldn't believe it. I wanted to share this with all of you now, and hope that not only Bud's family and friends hear of it, but Canadians everywhere, here is Ian's email to me and Bud's daughter Sharon Weeks:
Today, at the Juno Beach Centre Bud and I went for a stroll. A lady came up and asked if Bud was a Normandy Vet, he told her yes. She then told us she was here on a pilgrimage to find out if she could get any information of her uncle who is listed on the Bayeux Missing Wall, and asked him who he was with. He replied the 4th Armoured and she replied with bewilderment that her Uncle was also the same...then she told him her name and Bud suddenly was in shock...it was his friend Ellis Dumphy. Bud had seen him killed as he tried to get into a slit trench after him but never made it.
They fell into each others arms and it was very, very emotional as a crowd quickly surrounded us.
Another coincidence? She was part of the Calgary Highlanders Group and their tour leaders were ex tour leaders of ours - now part time (Jim Henderson?) so they came with us (90 of them) and along with a Piper who piped to your Dad at the Memorial in the Abbey with his cross...also a Globus Group was there...your Dad had an audience of 120 Canadians...all in tears...so yes, a very emotional first day for him. He is sitting next to me right now and yes, our group took pictures as I was kind of busy consoling ...an amazing and unique day.... the most moving day I have had on tour...
I have to relay this woman's email when she sends it my way tonight. What are the chances that 70 years later we can finally connect her family with yours..
Bye for now, Ian
Travelling along the Normandy coast before a stop to Belgium and a silent moment at the Menin Gate, our first group will meet the rest of our tour travelling to Holland on the 2nd of May. From the 2nd to the 10th, our Canadians and veterans will be joining in the celebrations marking 70 years since the eventual liberation of Holland from the tremendous hardships they endured during the second world war. To learn more about this program, click here.
More photos & pictures to come.