Second Queen’s Remembers plinth honours war veterans

University District

Remembrance Day unveiling dedicated to Fifth Field Company

The second Queen's Remembers plinth is located at the intersection of Union and Fifth Field Company Lane.

Local veterans, military personnel and their families, as well as students and faculty from both Queen’s and RMC gathered on Nov. 11 for the unveiling of a commemorative plinth dedicated to the Fifth Field Company Royal Canadian Engineers. 

Located at the intersection of Union and Fifth Field Company Lane, this plinth is the second installment in the Queen’s Remembers series. Not only does this series seek to reflect on Queens’ history, it also works to commemorate those who have made significant contributions to the University. Unveiled last month, the first plinth recognizes and celebrates the history of the Indigenous peoples of this territory.

On behalf of Principal Daniel Woolf and Brigadier-General Steve Irwin of the Canadian Military Engineers, the second unveiling ceremony was led by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences Kevin Deluzio. 

“The Fifth Field Company set a precedent for all Canadian universities, as Canada prepared for its role in the war,” Deluzio said to the crowd. “They gave so much and many made the ultimate sacrifice. It is our intent that they not be forgotten, indeed, they are part of the proud tradition that is Queen’s Engineering.”

The plinth features an eight-page waterproof booklet that details the history of the company through their formation and wartime contributions. The Fifth Field Company was founded at Queen’s in 1909 by Professor Major Alexander “Sandy” Macphail and was the first officially recognized military unit formed at a Canadian university. 

Comprised of students and faculty, the unit fought bravely in both World War I and II. Now, the Fifth Field Company lives on as the 33 Combat Engineer Regiment in the Canadian Military Engineers and through the legacy of donating one year’s worth of pay to build a permanent home for the Queen’s Bookstore. 

The guest of honour among the audience for the unveiling was a veteran of the Fifth Field Company – 98-year-old Corporal Stanley Fields. Fields served as part of the D-Day landings on Juno Beach and the Battle of the Liberation of France during World War II. 

“Many members of the Fifth started their military careers when they were students at Queen’s,” Deluzio remarked. “They were young men who would have looked forward to successful futures, yet who, when duty called, unequivocally put others before themselves. I look around at my students today; bright, vibrant young men and women with so much potential, and I know that the only thing separating them and the men of the Fifth is time.” 

The ceremony also featured readings of ‘In Flanders Fields,’ ‘The Engineer Prayer’ and ‘Act of Remembrance.’ University Chaplain Kate Johnson also spoke at the unveiling. She emphasized the importance of always striving towards peace. 

“The majority of Canadian youngsters have been protected from the reality of war like no previous generation,” she stated. “They are so blessed to know it mostly through film, and books. At the same time, we can never take our peaceful existence for granted. We thank the Fifth Field Company for their service, and we honour them for their sacrifice. We can honour them further still, by working to prevent their great-grandchildren from marching off to war.” 

Not only will these plinths help students better understand Queen’s history, but Brigadier-General Irwin said they will also act as a reminder to the impact Queen’s students have made on Canada. As he stated in the ceremony, this feeling can be felt across the world.

“Through this plinth we can all read the history,” Brigadier-General Irwin said. “The legacy of those who served in the Fifth Field Company will continue forever.” 

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