There is a brown tourist sign after the Hindhead Tunnel, at the side of the main A3 London to Portsmouth Road. It says, “Canadian Memorial Planting”. Many of the drivers who notice this sign do not have any knowledge of the significance of this Memorial, or what it is. There is a small car park on Ministry of Defence land, which allows visitors access to the avenue of maple trees, which were planted on Bramshott Common to commemorate Canadian servicemen who were trained locally and died at Bramshott during the First and Second World Wars. The trees, which were brought from Canada as a “continued memorial to those who gave their lives in defence of freedom”, were planted on both sides of the A3 dual carriageway road. There is a pedestrian underpass under the A3, which was opened in 2008 and grants access to both avenues. In autumn the trees provide a glorious spectacle of colour. The original avenue of sycamore trees, which were planted after the end of World War II, were removed as they had become a danger to road users. The last of the current maple trees were planted on Canada Sunday on 25th June 1995.
During World War I and World War II, tens of thousands of Canadian volunteer soldiers came to England to fight for freedom. Bramshott was one of the largest training areas for Canadian soldiers in the United Kingdom. Whilst undergoing training, the soldiers became part of the community of Bramshott and Liphook. Bramshott is a small village in Hampshire, situated just off the A3 London to Portsmouth main road, one mile north of Liphook. During World War I, a camp was established on heathland between Bramshott and Liphook. As well as wooden huts for accommodation, there were corrugated iron huts providing a cafe, bank, shop and even a cinema. Canadian General Hospital No 15, tended those suffering from general sickness as well as those wounded in the fighting. Many soldiers, having survived the war, became victims of the Spanish influenza pandemic, which struck the world from 1918 until 1920.
In St. Mary’s Churchyard, Bramshott, are buried 318 Canadian soldiers who died during or soon after the end of World War I. The graves are tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A further 95 Roman Catholic Canadian soldiers are buried in St. Joseph’s Churchyard, Grayshott, a village close to Hindhead. The graves of Canadian soldiers who were killed during World War II, are in Brookwood Military Cemetery near Woking in Surrey. In St. Mary’s Church, parts of which date from 1220, there are three stained glass windows above the altar. They contain the names of most of the Canadian Provinces that the soldiers came from. At the end of the nave, is the Canadian Red Ensign, which was “flown over the last Canadian Camp (Huron)” in 1946. This is together with a Canadian Veterans Banner from Brighton and Hove. The priest’s stall, desk and lectern were presented in 1954 to commemorate the Canadian Forces’ association with Bramshott.
Bramshott has an unusual accolade. It has been claimed that it is the most haunted village in Britain with seventeen alleged ghosts, including that of Boris Karloff. Boris Karloff was a famous actor who played the monster in the Frankenstein films in the 1930s. He lived in Bramshott in a cottage known as, “Roundabout”, until his death in 1969.