New Brunswick

'We'll never forget it': Husband and wife honour soldiers killed in Passchendaele

A New Brunswick couple has travelled to the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium to honour his home's namesake, who died 100 years ago at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Couple travels to Ypres, Belgium, to lay a wreath for the 2 Hillsborough men killed in 1917 battle

The Menin Gate Memorial has hosted a quiet ceremony for those killed in action nearly every night since 1928. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

A husband and wife from Hillsborough, N.B., have travelled to the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium to honour two soldiers from Albert County who died 100 years ago at the Battle of Passchendaele.

"It's been a very emotional week but it's been a special week for us too," Kevin Berry told Shift N.B. from Belgium.

Berry moved into his home in Hillsborough 17 years ago, a place locals referred to as the "Peck House."

It was a tremendous honour to be able to do that on behalf of the members of our Legion and on behalf of the community in general.—Kevin Berry

After doing some research he discovered his house's namesake was after a family and their son: George Peck — a Canadian solider from the town that was killed in World War 1.

Berry also learned that Peck's father, John, honoured George's life by building a stone building on Main Street, named Peck Memorial Hall, which served the people of the town and Albert County for more than 85 years.

'It was quite astonishing'

After learning so much about his home's history as the Peck family's house, Berry and his wife travelled to Ypres, Belgium.

They laid a wreath at the Menin Gate, in memory of the sacrifice of George Peck and another fallen solider from Albert County, William Pearl Cole.

"It was quite astounding just when you first walked in the size of it was much larger than I had imagined," Berry said.

The Menin Gate Memorial bears the names of more than 54,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the First World War. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

"To see an entire section with the names of over 6,000 Canadians soldiers, whose bodies were never found, it really changed my perception of what it means to be Canadian."

The ceremony in the small city near the French border has been held nearly every night since 1928, except for when the Nazi's occupied the country during the Second World War.

'We'll never forget it'

Traffic was stopped and buglers played at the ceremony followed by a powerful moment of silence, Berry said.

They laid the wreath on behalf of the town and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 on Oct. 30 — 100 years to the day that both Peck and Cole were killed at Passchendaele.

Berry said it was the 30,844th time the ceremony was performed and it was a moment that's changed him forever.

"It was a tremendous honour to be able to do that on behalf of the members of our Legion and on behalf of the community in general," he said.

"We'll never forget it."

With files from Shift New Brunswick

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