On 21 November, 2016, 2 RCHA paraded to commemorate the Canoe River Memorial.
It was a solemn affair as members of 2 RCHA entered the hall from the terrible storm outside. They brushed off a thick layer of snow off of their uniforms that had accumulated there from the storm and gathered to form up for the parade.
This event is held every year to commemorate the loss experienced by our trade on Canadian soil on 21 November, 1950. As part of the Canadian Contingent to Korea, 2 RCHA participated in “Operation SAWHORSE” which was the large-scale rail movement of more than 6,000 soldiers of the Canadian Army Special Forces (CASF) from various points in Canada to Fort Lewis, Washington. At 10:35 AM just east of Canoe River, a train carrying our gunners was met head-on by the Vancouver-Montreal passenger train. There were no casualties to passengers on the East bound train. However, the forward cars of the military train were thrown down an embankment and demolished, resulting in a heavy toll.
Recovery of bodies was extremely difficult. The final fatality count was 17, including four soldiers whose bodies were never recovered. The four CN Rail crewmembers were also killed, and there were many injured gunners (33 non-walking and nine walking). A memorial cairn was erected in Camp Shilo to memorialize this tragedy and, in 1998 a roadside marker was erected and dedicated in Valemount, B.C., by the Klondike City Unit of the Korea Veterans Association as a historical reminder of the tragic Canoe River train wreck of 21 November 1950.
The 2016 ceremony was meaningful and there was a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible accident. This ceremony does not only hold meaning in remembering those who died at Canoe River, but in also in recognizing all members of the artillery family who have died while not on operational duty, such as in training or otherwise.
Lt. S.M. Staples, D Bty, B tp
To see all the photos from Canoe River 2016 click the link below
Commanding Officer - 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
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