Honouring fallen soldiers online in tribute to VE Day

On May 8, 2020, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) was commemorated. To honour this day, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) launched an online initiative to help Canadians learn more about, recognise, and pay respects to our war dead from the First and Second World Wars.

Now, Canadians can discover and honour those who served in the world wars by participating in the digital “Wall of Remembrance”. The campaign follows social and physical distancing by calling on the public to take part in an act of virtual remembrance. This innovative online space allows Canadians to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day by submitting a tribute or photo.

To contribute to the “Wall of Remembrance”, Canadians can submit their tribute using #ShareYourTribute on social media or upload on the CWGC website to honour the moment the most destructive conflict in European history finally came to an end. This initiative allows VE Day to be remembered while following the safety measure due to COVID-19. 

“At this dark time, we want to give people a way to honour those brave men and women who gave their lives in the Second World War, creating this virtual Wall of Remembrance, so they can take part in VE Day. Whether it is a simple thank you, a picture or a few lines of text, we want to collect as many tributes as possible,” says Victoria Wallace, Director General for the CWGC.

Listen to The 1.7 Million Stories of CWGC podcast.

As well as the online Wall of Remembrance, the CWGC has introduced a new podcast series called “The 1.7 Million Stories of CWGC”. Exploring the stories of those who lost their lives, the series explains the history of the wars and how the CWGC continues its work today. 

Additionally, Canadians can discover the commission’s newly digitised Enquiry Files (E-Files): personal letters, pictures and documents sent between the commission and the wives and parents of soldiers that reveal the anguish of the First World War.

Among the stories is that of George William Malcolm, a father who searched for eight years to find the grave of his son, Lieutenant Alan Alexander Malcolm, and the story of Capt. Bell who worked as journalist for The Globe newspaper in Toronto prior to joining the military. Similar stories are being made available to the public for the first time in generations thanks to the newly released archive material.

“Stories like that of Capt. Bell and Lt Malcolm reveal the struggle many families faced during the First World War to find answers about their loved ones. These important stories of grief honour the sacrifices made by our Canadian heroes and must continue to be shared with generations to come. We are pleased to be able to make this invaluable piece of World War history accessible to a new generation of Canadians,” says David Loveridge, CWGC’s Area Director for Canada and the Americas Area.

The records are part of a collection of nearly 3,000 files which have never been made available to the public before. Nearly half have been digitized so far, alongside a previously unreleased collection of more than 16,000 photographs held in negatives in the commission’s archive.

Use the Commission’s online resource to add to the virtual stories and photographs while remembering those who died serving Canada in the world wars.