A military display in P.E.I. will show Islanders the connection between Canada’s involvement in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the D-Day Landings.
The “From Vimy to Juno” travelling exhibit on display at the P.E.I. Regiment Museum was unveiled recently during an official opening.
Lt.-Col. Glenn Moriarity said the display shows Canada and P.E.I.’s involvement in both World Wars by drawing a parallel between the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge and the 1944 D-Day Landings.
“Those were two significant events in Canadian military history and also in P.E.I. military history,” said Moriarity. “Islanders have fought in virtually every major war campaign since and including the War of 1812.”
Last year saw celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, while 2019 will be the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.
“This (display) kind of ties both together,” said Moriarity. “It’s a great honour to have this here.
It’s a great story and the fact that Islanders participated in the Battle of D-Day and the Normandy Invasion, it kind of hits.”
The museum also has its own display on Islanders in the First World War that was unveiled several years ago. It is also now in the process of developing a new display about P.E.I.’s involvement in the Second World War.
Two Islanders were killed in the D-Day landings while a number of others died in the days afterwards.
The exhibit includes six double-sided interpretive panels showing what it was like to serve in both wars.
It also has a number of artifacts largely from soldiers who fought with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, such as two battle dress tunics.
Capt. Greg Gallant, who curates the museum, said many of the Islanders who went ashore on D-Day would have worn the same style tunics, including his own great-uncle.
The items, which also include a Lee-Enfield Mk. 1 rifle bayonet, also give a greater appreciation of what soldiers went through during the war.
“With the bayonet, you can feel the weight. A typical soldier would have carried ammunition, jackets and other things, so you can imagine (what they went through) going ashore,” said Gallant.
Gallant said the display has been travelling across the country for the past while.
“We were the only province that did not have it yet, and I thought we had to do something about that,” said Gallant.
The exhibit, which was created by the Juno Beach Association in partnership with Heritage Canada, will be on display at the P.E.I. Regiment Museum until April 12. Admission at the museum is free, and it is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, as well as Thursday evenings when the regiment is training.