On today’s date in 2000, a Canadian Forces aircraft flew to France to return an unidentified Canadian soldier, who died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, back to Canada.
According to Veterans Affairs Canada, aboard the iconic flight was a Canadian Forces contingent consisting of a 45-person guard, a bearer party, and a chaplain. The Veterans Affairs contingent contained veterans and civilians, including two Canadian children.
Two days later, during a ceremony at the Canadian Memorial on Vimy Ridge, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave the remains of the Unknown Soldier to Canadian officials. The casket was transported to Parliament, where it was placed in the Hall of Honour in Centre Block to lay in state for three days while Canadians paid their respects.
That afternoon, the Unknown Soldier was brought from Parliament Hill to the National War Memorial on a horse-drawn gun carriage provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Unknown Soldier was eventually laid to rest in a specially-designed sarcophagus located in front of the National War Memorial.
1939 NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL STAMP
On May 15, 1939, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) issued a two-cent stamp (Scott #247) commemorating the National War Memorial, which would officially open on May 21 of that year. Designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz based on a photograph by Photographic Stores Ltd., the stamp was issued in honour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s 1939 visit to the Dominion of Canada. Being the first to welcome the new king and queen in person, Canada’s post office issued three commemorative stamps, one of which was the National Memorial stamp, printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company.