Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery
Although our country was not subject to direct enemy attack during World War II, 6,395 of our servicemen gave their lives in Canada in the performance of their duties and now lie forever in the soil. With them rest many of their commonwealth brethren – a reminder to us that the rigors and dangers of battle are but part of the final price of victory.
During the 1939-1945 war, air-reconnaissance planes and military defense forces were based at Gander, which was the headquarters of an anti-aircraft regiment of the Royal Canadian Army.
The Commonwealth War Graves is located 3.5 km east of Gander. It was set up near the airfield for the burials of casualties, mainly airmen who died in crashes in the area during the war. It contains 100 war graves. 95 of these graves are those of airmen, of whom 76 belonged to the Royal Canadian Air Force, 8 to the Royal Air Force, 2 to the Royal Australian Air Force, 5 to the Royal Air Force Ferry Command, and 4 to the British Overseas Airways Corporation. Of the 6 soldiers buried in the remaining graves, five belonged to the Royal Canadian Army and 1 to the British Army.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established to mark and maintain the graves of the forces of the Commonwealth who died in the two World Wars. Their graves, carefully marked and maintained in perpetuity, serve as a constant reminder to us of the ideals and sacrifices made by the men and women of Canada and the Commonwealth on our behalf.
The Silent Witnesses Memorial
The Silent Witnesses Memorial was erected in response to the desires of the many directly affected families of the Arrow Air Crash victims throughout the United States. The Memorial embodies a true sense of community oneness and will permanently demonstrate Gander’s concern for their sad and tragic loss.
The Silent Witnesses Memorial depicts an American soldier standing atop a massive rock holding the hands of two civilian children. The children, a boy and a girl, each hold an olive branch, indicative of the peace-keeping mission of the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” on the Sinai Peninsula. Behind them rise three tall staffs, each bearing a flag: Canadian, American and Newfoundland. As the trio stands, looking to the future, they are surrounded by the trees, hills and rocks of the actual Arrow Air crash site. These natural surroundings are the “Silent Witnesses” of the precise moment when 256 dreams ended, and the hearts and imaginations of the entire world were captured.
This whole scene becomes the “Silent Witnesses Memorial”, an appropriate and peaceful place of remembering. The sculpture was designed by Lorne Rostotski of St. John’s, NL, Canada, and sculpted by :Stephen Shields of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, USA.
Cross of Sacrifice
Another memento at the site is a “Cross of Sacrifice”. It stands 22 feet in height and is inscribed with the words “Rendezvous With Destiny” – the motto of the 101st Airborne Division. It was crafted from the remains of the emergency exit door of the ill-fated DC8.