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Respect and remembrance evident in St. John's


Crowds gathered at the National War Memorial to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

From where Second World War veteran Leo Knox sat at the Remembrance Day ceremony, he could see a large crowd pressed up against the black gate along Duckworth Street.

They were young and old, but Knox’s thoughts were with those people gathered who have known only peace.

“I’m hoping they never have to face another war again,” he said.

“It’s atrocious.”

Knox, 94, served with the 166 Newfoundland Field Regiment as a dispatch rider.

This Remembrance Day also marked 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Knox began to speak about his father, who was a veteran of the so-called ‘war to end all wars’, but he got choked up.

“Excuse me,” he managed, with tears forming in his eyes as they seemed to gaze somewhere else.

“I’m here in support of my dad,” he said after a long pause.

“He was a war veteran of the First World War, and the boys were left over in the mountains in Italy and the plains of Africa.”

His father was able to return to Newfoundland after serving for the entire duration of the war.

Knox said during the two minutes of silence he thinks of the millions of people who died fighting, including his own loved ones.

“My cousin, Bill, died — was wounded, sent to London, got patched up and sent back to the front and was shot and killed.”


A few seats away sat another decorated veteran, Albert Wood, who served in Korea for 14 months.

“I lost two close friends,” he said.

For Wood, Remembrance Day brings back memories of the past, particularly “friends that didn’t make it.”

“We were young — you had to be young.”

And there were many young people among those gathered either at the Sergeants’ Memorial, or lined the streets along the parade route, or crowded near the National War Memorial where people huddled close together, dressed in winter coats to shield from the cold wind.

Dawn Boutilier said she brought her son, Charlie Boutilier, 6, to the ceremony to teach him about war and the “importance of coming down and respecting the soldiers.”

Flags flying half-mast flung around flagstaffs with each gust, but the sun was shining as another young boy squinted to look up at Cpl. James Rowe, 1st Battalion Newfoundland Regiment, standing sentry at one corner of the cenotaph.

Standing sentry at the other three corners were Cpl. David Emberley with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Aviator John Savage with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Leading Seaman Lawrence Hammond with the Royal Canadian Navy.

Over the loudspeakers, Rev. Ian Wishart said a prayer.

“We honour all who sought justice, all who sought peace, all who sought freedom, all who sought an end to conflict.

“We thank you for the freedom we enjoy – freedom to think, freedom to speak, freedom to choose to make choices every day. We remember those who bought that freedom for us – some at the cost of their lives, some at the cost of great suffering.”

At the end of the ceremony, many in the crowd left their poppies pinned to two crosses placed near the cenotaph.

St. John’s resident Deborah Mawhinney placed her poppy next to the many others, slowly turning the white cross a bright red.

Mawhinney said she attends Remembrance Day ceremonies every year, but noted extra significance this year.

“This year being 100 years since the end of the Great War, and thinking of the rise once again of nationalism…it’s important to remember past sacrifices, and hope to God we never have to do it again. Always be vigilant.”

Earlier story
Remembrance Day in St. John's

A large crowd gathered in downtown St. John’s this morning for the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony that began at the Sergeants' Memorial and made its way to the National War Memorial.

Lucy McDonald, 4, watched as the Remembrance Day parade marched from the Sergeant's Memorial to the National War Memorial in St. John's.
Lucy McDonald, 4, watched as the Remembrance Day parade marched from the Sergeant's Memorial to the National War Memorial in St. John's.

People gathered to remember all who have died in service and show respect for those who serve today.

This morning also marked 100 years since the official end of the First World War with the signing of the Armistice, “which turned the gunfire into silence,” said Rev. Ian Wishart in the ceremony’s closing prayer.

In attendance was Second World War veteran Leo Knox, 94, who served with the 166 Newfoundland Field Regiment as a dispatch rider.

He said he was there in support of his father, who was a veteran of the First World War and served in the navy for the entire duration of that conflict. 

Knox had tears in his eyes as he spoke about his father.

“He was a war veteran of the First World War, and the boys were left over in the mountains in Italy and the plains of Africa.”

Knox said during the two minutes of silence he thinks of the millions of people who have died in war, and also thinks about young people today who have only known peace.

“I’m hoping they never have to face another war again – it’s atrocious.” 

Second World War veteran Leo Knox, 94.
Second World War veteran Leo Knox, 94.

Sitting in the front row near the National War Memorial a few seats from Knox was veteran Albert Wood, who served in Korea for 14 months.

“It brings back the past – friends that didn’t make it,” he said.                                           

At the end of the ceremony, many in the crowd left their poppies pinned to two crosses placed near the National War Memorial.

Veteran Albert Wood served in Korea for 14 months.
Veteran Albert Wood served in Korea for 14 months.

St. John’s resident Deborah Mawhinney placed her poppy next to the many others, slowly turning the white cross a bright red.

She said she attends Remembrance Day ceremonies every year, but noted extra significance this year.

“This year being 100 years since the end of the Great War, and thinking of the rise once again of nationalism…it’s important to remember past sacrifices, and hope to God we never have to do it again. Always be vigilant.”

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

Read more about today’s Remembrance Day parade and ceremony in The Telegram tomorrow.


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