MORE than 100 current and former servicemen and women from Canada took a step back in time to commemorate one of the major conflicts of the First World War.
Representatives from the Calgary Highlanders, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and British Colombia Regiment recently visited the NRA Century Range at Bisley.
The trip – which also included a reception at Canada House in Trafalgar Square attended by Her Majesty The Queen – marked the centenary of the battle of St Julien (2nd battle of Ypres).
The trip to the rifle range was organised by independent shotgun makers William Evans, whose Canadian Managing Director James Cox is an honorary lieutenant colonel with the Calgary Highlanders.
The 110 guests – 80 serving and 30 veterans – spent five days in the UK to commemorate the centenary, which also included a special service at Canada Gate.
At Bisley they watched a demonstration by First World War re-enactors from the Lee Enfield Rifle Association, while they were also able to try out the historic equipment and fire some original 303 Enfield rifles for themselves. Mr Cox said: “The visit was a lot of fun and it was a pleasure to welcome our guests and host them at Bisley.
“William Evans has a long history of ownership by Canadians and we were delighted to be able to mark our British heritage.
“We were particularly honoured to have Her Majesty The Queen present for the reception and we presented her with a Calgary Highlander sweetheart broach as a show of our gratitude.
“I’d also like to say a big thank you to the Lee Enfield Rifle Association for making the day at the rifle range such a special occasion. It was a lot of fun for everyone.”
The Battle of St Julien took place during the Second Battle of Ypres, fought between April 22 and May 25, 1915.
It marked the fi rst mass use by Germany of poison gas on the Western Front and was the fi rst time a former colonial force – the 1st Canadian Division – defeated that of a European power, the German Empire, on European soil.
To cement its commitment to the Armed Forces William Evans – which has gun rooms at both St James’ Street in Mayfair and at the NRA range at Bisley – is offering all serving personnel a five per cent discount on clothing and accessories.