Remembrance Day ceremonies might look different in the middle of a pandemic, but that didn’t stop one Sooke man from continuing his 13-year tradition with his friend in England.
Colin Davenport laid down a wreath at the Sooke cenotaph Tuesday, and halfway across the world, his friend Maurice Weight is doing the same thing for the Sooke branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“No matter where he goes, there’s always a wreath with our name on it in Europe,” Davenport said. “It’s a small act, but it means so much to keep us connected after all these years.”
The tradition began when the two met in 2007, when Weight, a retired Royal Navy sailor from the UK, brought over a group of his friends to complete the Juan de Fuca Trail.
Weight met the Davenport at the off-chance while visiting his relative that lived only a few doors down in Sooke.
They quickly clicked, as Davenport shared stories of his past growing up in Birkenhead, an English town that was bombed by Germany during the Liverpool Blitz during the Second World War.
“We used to play amongst the bomb wreckage as a playground,” Davenport said. “It was just a part of growing up. We didn’t realize how different life was back then, but I do remember the bombs going off and hiding under the kitchen table.”
Davenport recalled his uncle fighting for the British in the Second World War. His uncle was part of the Dieppe Raid in France in August 1942, who survived to tell the tale.
Davenport said after he brought Weight to visit the Sooke legion in 2007, the rest was history.
The following Remembrance Day, the English man surprised Davenport with a photo he had taken at a ceremony not too far from his home in the town of Rushden, an hour and a half drive outside of London.
The two have been exchanging photos of themselves, laying a wreath dedicated to each other ever since.
This year, the Sooke man received a photo of Weight laying a wreath at a Canadian tombstone at an undisclosed location in England. The headstone is for N.M. Gillis, a Royal Canadian Air Force flight engineer that died on Dec. 17, 1943. The wreath reads: “We Remember Sooke Branch 54 RCL, BC, Canada.”
Back in Sooke, the wreath that Davenport placed down is in honour of MVS Rushden, a merchant vessel.
“It’s tradition that we do something for each other,” Davenport said. “Sometimes, you forget about it until Remembrance Day comes along, but it’s so important that we’re able to keep this going.”
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