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Patricias relay team retraces symbolic route

Cpl. Evan Maytwayashing takes his turn during the Memorial Baton Relay.

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Cpl. Evan Maytwayashing takes his turn during the Memorial Baton Relay. (WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS )

ABOUT 10 soldiers from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) conducted a memorial baton relay through town Thursday, but they weren't alone.

Inside the hollow baton head that they carried on their run was a memorial cross with the names of the 1,866 PPCLI members who have fallen in active service for Canada.

The Memorial Baton Relay team is retracing the symbolic route taken by its original members as they marshalled for service in 1914 on the eve of the First World War.

The Patricias were the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Hamilton Gault. He took $100,000 of his own money to create this unit to fight in the war. Because it was privately funded, he was able to decide who could join.

"They wanted experienced soldiers," said Cpt. Christine Salt.

"There were a lot of British soldiers. They started out in Edmonton picking people up along the way."

Master Cpl. Dean Munoz-Perez has been with the Patricias for nine months and was honoured to be taking part in the baton relay.

"Regimental history is a big thing for me. We're walking in the footprints of giants right now," he said.

Munoz-Perez said the Patricias had a reputation of always being the first in the field.

"We were the most charismatic (regular) force regiment in Canada. We really get involved with the community as much as possible," he said.

Along the way, runners, soldiers and veterans stopped for a number of memorial and dedication ceremonies, including at Brookside Cemetery, Tommy Prince Mural on Selkirk Avenue, Valour Road Victoria Cross Plaques and the legislature.

The baton is on its way to Ottawa, where it will arrive on Sept. 18. It will then be taken to Belgium next May to complete the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The Battle of Frezenberg was the first main battle in which the Patricias fought.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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