A Front-Line Experience 1943 on the Battlefront Near Palermo

Our reconnaissance troop was way ahead of our advancing division, trying to make contact with the retreating enemy forces.
We came upon a prosperous-looking farm surrounded by trees in a broad, fertile valley.
The locals had all fled.
While searching the buildings. we entered a well-furnished living room with an upright player piano against one wall.
One of our troopers started it up and the music began to play.
The enemy must have spotted our arrival because a single shell came over and crashed in the yard.
It sounded as if the valley was splitting in two. We dashed outside and jumped into a ditch for cover.
The air was now still except for the distant sound of the piano.
For a while, every few minutes there was an ominous whistle followed by a crash.
As a shell burst nearby however, in the intervening peace we listened,
entranced, to Chopin…

 

This personal account of battle written by an infantry soldier is inscribed onto a pair of granite tablets which sit open, on a stainless pedestal. The tablets look like an open book and form the centre piece of the Veterans’ Monument in the Veterans’ section at Capilano View Cemetery.

The monument is the site for an annual Remembrance Day ceremony where wreaths and poppies are set for those whose lives were lost in war. A sitting pavilion is sited to look out at the Veterans’ graves and is covered by a canopy that derives its shape from wind patterns formed by airborne wings.

This work is part of a greater cemetery master plan that was developed to address the near-full capacity of the Veterans’ section. The plan identifies additional space along the edges of the site which could house mostly cremated remains for this and future generations. Also included were concepts to compliment these new spaces with an enhanced landscape treatment and a memorial structure.

Title
Veterans’ Memorial
Location
Capilano View Cemetery, District of West Vancouver, BC, Canada
Client
Veterans Canada
Date
1995
Images
Bill Pechet