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1944: Remembrance Day with Matthew Halton

The Story

"Some must die so that others may live." Winston Churchill. By 2002, about 116,780 Canadians have died in war and peacekeeping missions around the world. Remembrance Day honours the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. In this 1944 CBC Radio clip, war correspondent Matthew Halton evokes the "dead and the damned battalions," reflects that "there'll be mad dogs again in the future," and urges listeners "this time, let's not break faith."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: Nov. 11, 1944
Reporter: Matthew Halton
Duration: 4:23
Photo: National Archives, PA-127563: Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King lays a wreath during a service on Parliament Hill, Nov. 11, 1937.

Did You know?

• One of Canada's most distinguished journalists, Halton's graphic radio broadcasts made him a lifeline from the war front to home. He served as a Toronto Star war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War (1936), the Russo-Finnish War (1939-40) and in the Middle East (1941-42). He was the CBC's senior war correspondent during the Sicily, Italy and Northwest Europe campaigns. Awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1945, he was CBC's European correspondent from 1945 until his death in 1956.

• The first "Remembrance Day" was held in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. Originally called Armistice Day, it marked the end of the First World War on Mon., Nov. 11, 1918.

• From 1923-1931, Armistice Day in Canada was held on the Monday of the week in which Nov. 11 fell. Thanksgiving was also held on this day. In 1931, it was renamed Remembrance Day, and fixed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That year, Thanksgiving Day was moved to Oct. 12.

• During the Napoleonic Wars, a mysterious flower, the red poppy, bloomed over the graves of fallen soldiers. In 1915, Canadian doctor and soldier John McCrae incorporated the poppy into his moving poem about war, "In Flanders Fields". McCrae died in 1918. His heart-rending poem is still recited at memorial services each year.

• Each November, the Royal Canadian Legion sells replica poppies across Canada, to raise money for war veterans and their families.

• In Canada, much of the Commonwealth, France, Belgium and other parts of Europe, the day is observed with two minutes' silence at 11 a.m.

• Canadians pause to remember at schools, workplaces and memorial ceremonies across the country. A national memorial service takes place in Ottawa.

• By 2002, more than 1.5 million Canadians had served their country, and more than 116,000 died. Of the 650,000 Canadians in the First World War (1914-1918), 69,000 gave their lives. Of the more than one million soldiers in the Second World War (1939-1945), more than 47,000 died. And in the Korean War (1950-1953), 516 died, of the almost 27,000 who served.

• As of 2002, Veterans Affairs Canada still provided benefits to 15 First World War vets.

• Canada took on a peacekeeping role under Lester B. Pearson (Canada's 14th Prime Minister) Some 113 Canadians have died in peacekeeping missions over the past 53 years (as of Oct., 2001), of the 125,000 who signed up.

• Although Remembrance Day is a federal statutory holiday, it is not a holiday in every province.

• In the U.S., Nov. 11 is known as Veterans Day.


Lest We Forget: Remembrance Day more