When Dan Speed heard that there was no one available to clean the crosses in the Field of Honour at Port Alberni’s Greenwood Cemetery in time for Remembrance Day ceremonies, he called on some comrades for help.
Speed is the vice-president of Commandos Pacific Motorcycles, a non-profit club made up of active and retired Canadian Armed Forces and Allied military members.
“Our club is a charitable society that has groups all over Canada and this year we donated to the local (Port Alberni) Toy Run,” Speed said. “Our club has members all over the Island.”
A dozen members from the Commandos, including one who came from the Fraser Valley, spent the morning of Saturday, Nov. 6 washing the crosses, blowing leaves away from the cenotaph and tidying up the grass around the base of the crosses and headstones in the Field of Honour.
“We are extremely community based.”
The cleaning of the Field of Honour crosses was traditionally done by army and sea cadets but as the numbers have waned in the Alberni Valley their participation was not a possibility this year.
The motorcycle club was formed in 2015 by former members of the Veteran Paratroopers Motorcycle Club (MC) under a different name: the Veteran Commandos Veteran Motorcycle Club. In 2018 they became a Canadian club and now have branches in almost every province.
The name “commando,” according to the club’s website, originated in the Boer War where light, mobile commando units were found to be better suited to fight in their environment in small groups. The term was used to describe an actual arm of military command and in 1942 the Commando Basic Training Centre for Allied Forces was established in Lochaber, Scotland.