Premier Stephen McNeil, who is also Minister of Military Relations, visited commemorative sites in Belgium this weekend to pay respect to Nova Scotians and all Canadians who served in World Wars.
“The sacrifices of all who distinguished themselves in battle and were lost in conflict, remind us of the important role played by the military in Nova Scotia’s history,” said Premier McNeil.
“It also reminds us that military members and their families continue to make tremendous contributions and sacrifices today.”
The premier laid a wreath at the grave of Pte. George Lawrence Price, at Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons. Pte. Price, born in Falmouth, was the last Commonwealth soldier killed in action during World War I. He was shot and killed by a German sniper only two minutes before the Armistice at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918.
At Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British Commonwealth cemetery in the world, Premier McNeil paid respect to two Nova Scotian soldiers, Pte. James Peter Robertson, VC, of Stellarton, and Lt.-Col. Philip Eric Bent, VC, born in Halifax.
Pte. Robertson was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917 during the final assault on Passchendaele. Lt.-Col. Bent was killed Oct. 1, 1917, while serving with the Leicestershire Regiment, a British unit.
On his way to pay tribute to solders at Menin Gate, Premier McNeil laid a wreath at the 85th Infantry Battalion – Nova Scotia Highlanders Monument. The site is a tribute to the first distinctly Nova Scotian fighting unit – the Nova Scotia Highlanders. The 85th fought at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. Their valour lead other Canadian troops to refer to them as “the Never Fails”.
Menin Gate enshrines the names of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers killed in Belgium with no known grave, including almost 7,000 Canadians.
Nova Scotia is the only province with a Minister of Military Relations, emphasizing the importance of the military for the province.
While in Brussels, Premier McNeil also met with Ambassador Denis Robert, to discuss enhanced trade opportunities for Nova Scotian exports to Europe. The meeting is part of an eight-day mission to five European countries to strengthen trade relationships, promote the offshore and attract investment to Nova Scotia.