Lost but not forgotten was the sentiment shared by Liphook Junior School at the annual Canada Day commemoration at St Mary’s Church, Bramshott. 

The service is held each year to remember the 318 Canadian servicemen and women from the First World War who are buried in the churchyard.

The Canadian Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, joined the children from Year 4 at Liphook Junior School on Wednesday June 28.

The minister was part of a 13-strong Canadian contingent which made the trip for the service.

Bramshott Common was used as a camp for allied troops, including servicemen from Canada, during the First and Second World Wars. 

The Year 4 children started the day by raising the Canadian flag and the Union Jack on the flagpoles at the old bridge on London Road, Liphook, which the troops from Bramshott Camp used to march over on their way to war. 

Each year the children each adopt a serviceman from the Commonwealth War Graves site in the churchyard.  

The children research the servicemen’s history and write poems dedicated to them.

These poems are recited during the service, which ends with the singing of both the National Anthem and the Canadian national anthem, O Canada.   

Mrs Anand helped the children plant a maple tree in the churchyard to replace two of the original trees that were planted at the end of the First World War, which had been lost in storms. 

Mrs Anand helping the children plant a maple tree in honour of Canadian troops
Mrs Anand helping the children plant a maple tree in honour of Canadian troops (Liphook Junior School)

Mrs Anand said it brought tears to her eyes when the children sang the Canadian national anthem and she witnessed all the effort put in by the school to pay their respects and remember the many young lives that were lost in the war.

“The friendship between our two countries runs very deeply and I wanted to come here the moment I heard of the effort the Liphook schoolchildren went to to honour Canadians,” she said.

Mrs Anand was among those who laid wreaths at the Canadian memorial in the churchyard. 

Others were laid by Deputy Lord Lieutenant James Balfour and head teacher Michele Frost. 

A wreath was also laid on behalf of East Hampshire District Council, the parish council and the Royal British Legion who were all in attendance.  

A spokesperson for the school said there was not a dry eye in the house after the service.

The children, who sang their hearts out throughout the commemorations, have been rewarded for their efforts with an invitation to visit the Canadian High Commission in Trafalgar Square.

After the tree-planting, which was donated by Bramshott Open Gardens, Michelle Frost, the executive head of Liphook Infant and Junior Schools, entertained the Canadians, veterans, visitors and members of the congregation for lunch at the school. 

The Year 4 children then performed wartime songs and told the story of Archie Ford and his sister who lived on a farm in Saskatchewan. 

The siblings enlisted in the First World War, one as a soldier and the other as a nurse.