Friday, November 12, 2010

# 11 ~ Remembrance Services at Soldiers Tower, Then and Now



The Soldiers' Tower at the University of Toronto, located in between Hart House and University College, has always been one of my favourite buildings on the campus.  For me, it has several endearing qualities.  Architecturally, it's a graceful building, blending the styles of University College and Hart House together, and forming an open link between the northern campus, up towards Hoskin Avenue, with King's College Circle to the south.  It is inscribed and filled with history, joining together the history of life on the campus with that of our national history.  And its purposes are solemn too; every year, on Remembrance Day, it is the location of the University of Toronto's annual commemoration for those who went overseas to fight.  In the past, I've attended the City of Toronto's Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Cenotaph outside Old City Hall, but in the last few years I've usually tried to make it a habit to attend the University of Toronto's ceremony at Soldiers' Tower.

The First World War began in the summer of 1914.  Common anecdotal wisdom tells us that everyone expected it to be over quickly.  I was listening to tour commentary at Casa Loma earlier this summer, and the guide told us a story of how Sir Henry Pellatt, the man behind the construction of the grand home, encouraged all of his workers to lay down their tools and enlist to fight for their country.  After all, he told them, they would be home in a matter of months, if not weeks, and their work would very shortly be waiting for them right where they'd left it.  Scores of similar stories have been told.  No matter how common this optimism was, it soon became clear that it was unfounded.  The war dragged on for four bloody years, until the signing of the Armistice on November 11th, 1918.  The total number of casualties on both sides, after four years of war, were about 16-million dead and 21-million wounded, including both military and civilian casualties.  The numbers were staggering, and no matter what people had anticipated in the summer of 1914, no one could have expected such a violent struggle.

The Canadian dead of the First World War has been numbered between 65,000 and 70,000.  The Soldiers' Tower at the University of Toronto is inscribed with the names of 628 members of the University of Toronto who were killed while on active service in the First World War.  Each one of the tens of thousands of Canadian lives that was given up during the conflict tells a story; each one is full of value, of loss, of sacrifice and courage.  However, there is a certain poignant sacrifice in the thought of those 628 members of the University surrendering their academic pursuits, of letting go of personal ambition, and setting off to fight in the conflict. 


LIEUTENANT COLONEL JOHN McCRAE

THEN : Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, author of "In Flanders Fields", Graduate of the University of Toronto, and one of the 628 members of the University of Toronto who were killed during the First World War, and commemorate on the memorial adjacent to the Soldiers' Tower at the University of Toronto.


Of all those 628 names inscribed on the Soldiers' Tower, the one that is most recognizable to those across the nation may be that of Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae.  He was from a military family, and born in Guelph, the grandson of Scottish immigrants.  He began work on his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto in 1892, becoming simultaneously involved in The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, a Toronto based regiment of militia.  As his studies progressed, he rose through the ranks of the militia, as well, becoming Captain.  But he suffered some setbacks because of asthma, and took a year off to recuperate.  He eventually returned to his studies, training to serve in the artillery at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston and returning to the University of Toronto, having been awarded a scholarship to study medicine.  In the opening years of the twentieth century, his medical expertise brought him positions in several hospitals and universities, and his military training had seen him serve in the artillery during the South African or Boer War (1899 to 1902).  With the outbreak of the First World War, McCrae became just one of the many who was sent to serve.  His legacy would be secured, though, when he wrote "In Flanders Fields", in the spring of 1915.  Less than three years later, on January 28th, 1918, while commanding a hospital unit near Boulogne, McCrae died of pneumonia.  He was buried the next day in Wimereux Cemetery, a few kilometres up the French coastline, north of Boulogne.  Today, in every Canadian school, children (hopefully) learn the name of John McCrae.  His poem, and his name, are inscribed on the memorial section attached to the Soldiers' Tower.


NOW : McCrae's grave, at Wimereux Cemetery, near Boulogne, in France.  McCrae died of pneumonia at the end of January, 1918.


NOW : Part of the inscription of McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" on the memorial at the Soldiers' Tower.

THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR
At the outbreak of war in the 1914, students began enlisting to go and fight overseas.  Recruitment and drills took place right on the campus, and in 1917, Robert Falconer, the president of the University of Toronto, allowed large parts of the campus to be used by the British government to form a School of Aeronautics.  For nearly a year and a half, what is now the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto became a major North American training facility for pilots and aircrew.  Camps full of tents were set up on the University campus, so that newly recruited military personnel, including those being trained in aviation, could be instructed right on the campus before heading over to Europe.

The First World War dramatically changed the way that war was waged.  Not only did it toll the death knell for nineteenth century military tactics, it also introduced new technologies that are still being used and improved today.  Like the "tank", which was first deployed by the British halfway through the First World War, airplanes greatly changed the way in which the war was fought.  Below are some images of the various encampments, drills and other military activities that took place on the grounds of the University of Toronto during the First World War.


THEN : Recruiting near the start of the First World War, on College Street, near the University of Toronto campus.

THEN : Recruiting near the start of the First World War on the grounds of the University of Toronto campus.

THEN : Students of the University of Toronto at drill, 1914.

THEN : Students at the University of Toronto at drill, 1914.

THEN : Students at the University of Toronto at drill, 1914.

THEN : Students at the University of Toronto at drill in front of University College.

THEN : Students at the University of Toronto at drill in front of University College.

THEN : Students at the University of Toronto at rifle drill.



THEN : The faculty was not exempt.  Here, professors at the University of Toronto were put through the drill paces.

THEN : Professors of the University of Toronto at drill.


THEN : A military service at the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall, circa 1915.  A young Vincent Massey can be seen on the far right of the photograph.

THEN : Newly recruited soldiers from the University of Toronto outside Convocation Hall, near the start of the First World War.

THEN : The grounds of the University of Toronto are converted into a military grounds from this photograph taken about 1915.

THEN : A review of 3,000 cadets in front of University College in 1915.

THEN : Soldiers take a break from drill on the grounds of the University of Toronto, 1915.

THEN : A group of officers outside Convocation Hall, 1915.

THEN : The grounds of the University of Toronto were "on loan" to the British government as an aviation school.  Here, a whole camp of tents is pictured.  It would have served as home to those learning the new skill of flying.  After the war, these aviators - or those who survived, at any rate - would go on to open up the Canadian north.

THEN : Aviation camp at the University of Toronto during the First World War.

THEN : A lesson in "aeronautics" at the University of Toronto, during the First World War.

THEN : An aviation camp outside University College during the First World War.  Note the early airplane skimming over the tops of the tents.

When the First World War ended, the sudden silence of peace must have seemed unreal.  In Toronto, across Canada, and throughout the world, those who had fought began to build monuments to commemorate those who had fought and died in the war.  Things were no different at the University of Toronto.  Alumnists of the University of Toronto raised $397,141 to build the Soldiers' Tower as a monument to those students who had fought and died in "the Great War".  Plans were drawn up by Henry Sproatt, who had worked on a number of buildings throughout the University campus and the City of Toronto, including Victoria College (1910), Burwash Hall (1911 to 1913), the Fairmont Royal York Hotel (1929), Emmanuel College (1932), and Hart House, the eastern neighbour of Soldiers' Tower.  In 1919, the foundation stone of Soldiers' Tower was laid by Canada's Governor General, the Duke of Devonshire.  The Soldiers' Tower opened in 1924, at a height of 143 feet (43.6 metres) and cost a total of $252,500.  Since this was less than the amount raised, the remainder of nearly $145,000 was set aside for various University of Toronto scholarships.

The clock in Soldiers' Tower was installed later, in 1927, and that same year, an initial 23 bells were put in to make the carillon.  Today, the University of Toronto is the only Canadian university with a carillon.  The bells came from a British manufacturer, Gillett and Johnson, who had also produced the bells in Ottawa's Peace Tower.  In 1952, several years after the end of the Second World War, an additional 19 bells were purchased.  However, due to a rather unfortunate oversight, they didn't match the tone of the original 1927 bells, so they weren't installed.  Finally, in 1976, a second group of 28 bells was added, bringing the total number of bells up to the current total of 51.  A number of the bells that were installed after the Second World War were dedicated to the memory of individual University of Toronto students who were killed during the war.   Today, the carillon is played throughout the year, on spoecial occasions, including convocation ceremonies, homecomings, speical public recitals, and of course, on Remembrance Day.


THEN : Construction of Soldiers' Tower is nearly finished in this photograph from 1923.

THEN : In this photograph from 1924, one can see that the Soldiers' Tower is complete, but neither the clock nor the bells of the carillon have yet been installed.  The stained glass Memorial Window above the arch would not be unveiled until 1995, fifty years after Victory in Europe in the Second World War.  For seventy years, it was just a regular plane glass window.

THEN : Soldiers' Tower in 1925.  The memorial to members of the University of Toronto who died in the First World War can be seen in the photograph to the left of the tower.

THEN : The Soldiers' Tower seen from the quadrangle of Hart House in 1926, a year before the clock or bells were installed in the tower.


NOW : The Soldiers' Tower today.

The Second World War began in the autumn of 1939, a little more than twenty years after the end of the First World War.  No doubt, the gallant enthusiasm which had greeted the earlier conflict was more restrained now; the horrors of the Great War, with its long, bloody stalemates and its loss of life were still vivid enough memories.  It was a darker time, too, and perhaps the First World War had shaken the confidence of the nations.  But perhaps more than any other conflict, the Second World War has been seen as a necessary one, and more of a righteous one, as the Allies gathered together to fight against Hitler's maniacal fascism.  Canadians from across the country made their way east to Halifax, and from there they got on ships that would transport them over to the fighting in Europe.  The survivors returned home in 1945, but the sad work of commemorating those who had died was repeated.  On both sides of the archway that forms the base of the Soldiers' Tower, the names of 557 members of the University of Toronto who died fighting between 1939 and 1945 are inscribed.  Most were in various branches of Canadian military service, but spread throughout one would see "U.S. Army", or "British Army".  There is a "Sgt-Maj G.W. West" who served in the Australian Army, and an "A / Gnr. R. Steensma" from the Netherlands Air Force.  One did not have to be a Canadian to be remembered at Soldiers' Tower, just a member of the University of Toronto. 


NOW : Steensma, who served in the Dutch Air Force, is one of the 557 members of the University of Toronto to be commemorated in the Second World War section of Soldiers' Tower.  Although not all those who are still remembered were Canadian, they were all affiliated with the University of Toronto.

NOW : Sgt.-Maj. G.W. West, of the Australian Army, is a similar commemoration of a non-Canadian soldier commemorated at the Soldiers' Tower, because of his connection with the University of Toronto.

Perhaps the most recognized name from this part of the Soldiers' Tower is that of Major Sir Frederick Banting, K.B.E., who is most well known for having discovered insulin as a treatment for treating diabetes.  He was killed during the Second World War, in 1941, in an airplane crash in Newfoundland.  He'd been on his way to conduct medical tests on the performance of a special flying suit that was being developed for pilots.


THEN : Major Sir Frederick Banting, K.B.E. was killed in a plane crash in Newfoundland in 1941.  He was on his way to England to help develop a new flight suit for Allied pilots.  His name is included in Soldiers' Tower.  He is pictured here, second from the left, at the University of Toronto in 1930.


NOW : The names of 628 members of the University of Toronto who were killed during the First World War are inscribed in the panels behind these archways, located immediately to the west of the Soldiers' Tower.
NOW : The western side of the arch at the bottom of the Soldiers' Tower, bearing some of the 557 names of members of the University of Toronto who were killed in the Second World War.

NOW : A detail of the western wall at the base of the tower, which reads "THEIR STORY IS NOT GRAVEN ONLY ON STONE OVER THEIR NATIVE EARTH, BUT LIVES ON FAR AWAY WITHOUT VISIBLE SYMBOL, WOVEN INTO THE STUFF OF OTHER MEN'S LIVES"
NOW : The eastern portion of the archway dedicated to the memory of those who were killed in the Second World War.

NOW : A detail of the eastern wall at the base of the tower, which reads "TO THE GLORIOUS MEMORY OF THE MEMBERS OF THIS UNIVERSITY WHO FELL IN THE SECONLD WORLD WAR 1939 to 1945"

THE MEMORIAL ROOM AT SOLDIERS' TOWER
Immediately above the archway of Soldiers' Tower is the Memorial Room, which is apparently the smallest military museum in Canada.  The collection within the Memorial Room includes the momentoes of wartime service of students, staff and alumni of the University of Toronto.  The emphasis of this museum is on wartime service, as opposed to weaponry used in the history of conflict.  The collection is made up of various medals, portraits, photographs and flags, and some of the earliest pieces in the collection date back to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, before the University of Toronto even came into being.  The collection spans nearly two centuries, right up to the present day.

NOW : The entrance to the Soldiers' Tower Memorial Room.

NOW : A section of the staircase leading up to the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : One set of flags in the Soldiers' Tower, from left to right, those of the Royal Canadian Navy, the United Nations, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Former Canadian and Prime Minister and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Lester Pearson had a founding role in the establishment of the United Nations.  For a time, Pearson served as a courier during the Second World War, using the codename "Mike".  He went on to become Canada's first director of Signal Intelligence.

NOW : From left to right, Canada's "Red Ensign", our national flag during the Second World War and right up until 1965, the current "Maple Leaf" national flag, and the Royal Union (or "Union Jack") flag of Canada, which is flown to show Canada's membership in the Commonwealth as well as our allegiance to the Crown.

NOW : The German machine gun captured by Major Thain MacDowell during the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War.  Along with two other men, MacDowell eliminated two German machine gun positions, and tricked 12 German officers and 75 enlisted German soldiers into surrendering.  He and his compatriots had destroyed one machine gun installation, and although he was wounded in the hand, MacDowell managed to hold the other machine gun position for five days.  MacDowell was one of four Canadians to receive a Victoria Cross as a result of services rendered during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

NOW : Inside the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : Inside the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : Portraiture, a Regimental Flag, and a portrait of H.M. the Queen in the Memorial Room at Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : The main display case within the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : A set of medals from the First World War on display in the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : The Second World War medals of Lieutenant Commander Nelson Earl, DSC, RCNVR

NOW : The medals and decorations of Col. the Hon. R.C. Rutherford, MBE, CD, QC, including the Order of the British Empire (MBE) at the far left.

NOW : The ribbon of the Order of the British Empire, on display at the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : Canadian medals from the Korean War, on display at the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : The medals of Major Thain Wendell MacDowell and Major Frederick Albert Tilston, both of whom were members of the University of Toronto who won the Victoria Cross during the Second World War.



NOW : The portrait of McCrae inside the Memorial Room at the Soldiers' Tower.

There is a small collection of windows along the staircase which leads up to the Memorial Room.  These windows commemorate the wartime service of various branches of the Canadian military. 


NOW : Window dedicated  to those who served in the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service during the Second World War.



NOW : Window dedicated to the members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps during the Second World War. 

NOW : Window dedicated to the members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division, during the Second World War.


NOW : Window dedicated to the members of the Canadian Merchant Navy during the Second World War.


NOW : Window dedicated to the memory of those who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.



NOW : Window dedicated to the memory of those who fought in the Atlantic in the Second World War.


This series of smaller windows prepares one for the largest and most magnificent window within the Soldiers' Tower, known as the "Memorial Window".  It is within the Memorial Room itself.  It was dedicated in 1995, the fiftieth anniversary year of Victory in Europe.  The symbolism of the window is of course largely based on "In Flanders Fields", by John McCrae.  In the centre of the window is a Victory Torch, which represents the achievement of peace and the restoration of hope.  Within the window, a Maple Leaf rises from the flames, symbolizing Canada's growth into a nation after the First World War, and our committment to freedom and peacekeeping after the Second World War.  Along the bottom of the window are pictured the various branches of service ~ a sailor, a soldier, an airman, and a nurse.


NOW : The Memorial Window at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : Detail of the Memorial Window, a sailor and soldier, with the inscriptions "SERVICE" and "SACRIFICE".

NOW : Detail of the Memorial Window, an airman and a nurse, with the inscriptions "PEACE" and "FREEDOM".


SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE AT
THE SOLDIERS' TOWER
~ NOVEMBER 11, 2010 ~

The first Service of Remembrance was held at the Soldiers' Tower in 1919, when the Duke of Devonshire, who was then the Canadian Governor General, unveiled the cornerstone of the tower.  Since then, Remembrance Day ceremonies have been held every year.  Below are some photographs from ceremonies of years past, combined with some of the highlights of the service conducted this year, Thursday, November 11th, 2010.


THEN : The bells in the Carillon in 1939, around the time of the start of the Second World War.

Before the service proper was started, a prelude was played on the Carillon by Michael Hart, the Carillonneur of the Soldiers' Tower.

video



THEN : A column of soldiers arrives for a Service of Remembrance at the Soldiers' Tower in 1924.


THEN : Parading through the archway of the Soldiers' Tower in 1924.



The service began with the piping in of Malcolm McGrath, Chair of the Soldiers' Tower Committee, and the chaplain of the tower, Major the Reverend Canon W. Ebert Hobbs, CD.  Malcolm McGrath made a few introductory remarks, and then Major the Rev'd Hobbs conducted most of the remainder of the service.

NOW : Malcolm McGrath, Chair of the Soldiers' Tower Committee, at the podium, with Major the Reverend Canon W. Ebert Hobbs, CD, Chaplain of the Soldiers' Tower on the left.


NOW : Observers at the 2010 Service of Remembrance at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : Students participate in the Service of Remembrance at the Soldiers' Tower.

NOW : Observers at the 2010 Service of Remembrance at Soldiers' Tower.


NOW : A panoramic photograph of the crowds who came out to watch and participate in the service.


Near the beginning of the service, those attending the service joined in the singing of the "Naval Hymn", witten by William Whiting.  After some additional remarks and readings, a musical rendition of "In Flanders Fields" was performed by the Hart House Chorus, conducted by Brad Ratzlaff.  The lyrics, of course, were taken straight from the poem by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.  The music had been composed by Malcolm McGrath.

After further readings, and the singing of another hymn, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past", various wreaths were laid by the panels commemorating those members of the University of Toronto who died during the First World War.  Groups represented in the laying of wreaths included the University of Toronto Alumni Association, the University of Toronto Faculty Association, the University of Toronto Contingent of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps, the Royal Regiment of Canada, the Toronto Scottish Regiment, various colleges of the University of Toronto, as well as other groups associated with campus life.


NOW : Some of the various wreaths laid during the 2010 Service of Remembrance at the Soldiers' Tower.


NOW : The wreath for the Toronto Scottish Regiment, left, laid by Colonel Gilbert W. Taylor, and the wreath for the Royal Regiment of Canada, right, laid by Colonel Blake C. Goldring.


NOW : A panoramic photograph of the panels commemorating those killed in the First World War to the left, with the wreaths, the cornerstone laid by the Duke of Devonshire in 1919, in the centre, and the archway commemorating those killed in the Second World War, to the right.


After the laying of the wreaths, the Last Post was played by Brindley Venables.



video

Two minutes of silence were then observed, and following that, The Lament was played by Pipe Major John Wakefield, MMM, CD, followed by Reveille, "We Will Remember Them", God Save the Queen, and O Canada.  The service then concluded.


NOW : The plaque marking the "Garden of Remembrance", which is located immediately to the west of the Soldiers' Tower.
_____________________________________________________

NOW : As the 2010 service concludes, a few participants stay behind to read through the names inscribed on the tower.


THEN : A similar scene, as the ceremony in 1924 draws to a close.
_____________________________________________________

2 comments:

  1. Wow, great images, Richard! I love seeing the old grounds of U of T.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have set up a web page I have posted few on your lovely photos on http://newarkcemeteryuk.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/we-must-not-forget-those-of-the-commonwealth-and-polish-airmen-they-fought-for-freedom-against-the-enemy-and-didn’t-flinch/
    we at Newark Cemetery have one from the 1st World war and 17 during the 2nd World war that died and there resting is at the Commonwealth and Polish war graves at Newark Cemetery, Nottinghamshire.

    friendsofnewarkcemetery@yahoo.co.uk

    Chairman Friends of Newark Cemetery and Newark Town Councillor

    ReplyDelete