Group visits graves of Saanich soldiers

Gavin Cooper left certificates at the grave sites of 18 Saanich soldiers killed during the First World War

Saanich resident Private F.C. John was killed in action on Sept. 25

Gavin Cooper of Vancouver Island led an annual tour of First World War battlefields and cemeteries in France and Belgium in September.

Cooper agreed to a request from Saanich Archives asking him to visit the graves of Saanich soldiers killed in action during the First World War.

Saanich Archives provided a spreadsheet with the locations of 25 graves which Cooper planned a tour around. He carried with him a certificate signed by Mayor Richard Atwell on behalf of the municipality to place at each grave, together with a Canadian flag and poppy.

Cooper’s group was able to locate 18 of the 25 graves and held a short commemorative ceremony at each. The certificates were left at the grave sites and, when they are eventually removed by the cemetery custodians, will be kept at the cemetery entrance near the visitors’ books.

Many of the Saanich men who died in the conflict were young and died without any descendants. For many, there are no family members left to remember them and Saanich Archives staff felt that it was important to honour their sacrifice and keep their memory alive as part of the Saanich Remembers WWI project.