It is almost impossible to put into words just how many graves there are in the area around Vimy. I'd like to be able to tell you of the emotions that course through you after visiting graveyard after graveyard after graveyard, filled with young men, but I can't.
Nine Elms cemetery was the first cemetery I visited, almost accidentally. One thing that struck me was how close everything was, closer than I had envisioned. We had left Arras heading for the Vimy Memorial and had just left the outskirts of the city when we drove by the cemetery. I had known what it looked like from Google Earth and I also knew from it that I drove by another cemetery without even noticing it. As it was the cemetery where my Grandfather's best friend, Stewart McNicol, was buried I turned and stopped. The first cemetery was the easiest, emotionally. I remember standing in front of Stewart's grave (one of almost 700 in this cemetery), thinking about what it must have been like for my grandfather, watching his best friend, a man he joined with, who he had been with all of the time he was overseas, what it had been like to watch him shot beside him and to keep going. I cannot fathom it. I recall a sense of pride as I walked amongst the graves there, pride that there were so many willing to make that sacrifice for a better world.
There are cemeteries everywhere there, and I visited many, looking for men from Roblin who gave their lives in the Great War. Eventually an overwhelming sadness crept over me. So many young man, so much promise lost, so much futility. There are over 11,000 names on the Vimy Memorial, for Canadians killed in France that have no known grave, there are another 7,000 names on the Menin Gate memorial for Canadians killed in Belgium with no known grave.
Here are some of the cemeteries I visited.