The Battle Of Vimy Ridge, 3,600 Canadians Lost Their Lives Fighting For Freedom For Our Canada And The World
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, during the First World War. The main combatants were the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in the First Army, against three divisions of the German 6th Army. The battle took place from 9 to 12 April 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras, the first attack of the Nivelle Offensive, which was intended to attract German reserves from the French, before their attempt at a decisive offensive on the Aisne and the Chemin des Dames ridge further south.
The Canadian Corps was to capture the German-held high ground of Vimy Ridge, an escarpment on the northern flank of the Arras front. This would protect the First Army and the Third Army farther south from German enfilade fire. Supported by a creeping barrage, the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day of the attack. The village of Thélus fell during the second day, as did the crest of the ridge, once the Canadian Corps overran a salient against considerable German resistance. The final objective, a fortified knoll located outside the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, fell to the Canadians on 12 April. The 6th Army then retreated to the Oppy–Méricourt line.
Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps to technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training, as well as the inability of the 6th Army to properly apply the new German defensive doctrine. The battle was the first occasion when the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together and it was made a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice. A 100-hectare (250-acre) portion of the former battleground serves as a memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Vimy Ridge Day:
“Today, we remember the thousands of Canadians who fought and gave their lives in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
“The capture of Vimy Ridge was more than just a military victory – it was a turning point for our country. During the battle, soldiers from all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first time. They came from coast to coast to coast – Francophones, Anglophones, new Canadians, and Indigenous peoples.
“On Easter Monday in 1917 – after carefully planning and preparing their attack – these Canadian soldiers battled uphill through sleet, mud, and machine gun fire to achieve one of the First World War’s most decisive victories. The innovative fighting techniques used by our soldiers at Vimy Ridge would also contribute to the final Allied victory a year and a half later.
“The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a defining moment for Canada, but it came at a great cost. Nearly 3,600 Canadians lost their lives, and over 7,000 more were wounded. It remains one of the bloodiest battles in our country’s military history.
“On this day, we honour the courage and sacrifice of those who fought at Vimy Ridge. Canadians remember who they were, what they stood for, and the history they defined. We also pay tribute to all our brave Canadians in uniform, past and present, for their unwavering dedication and service. Every day, they protect the fundamental values that define this country.
“Lest we forget.”
Wikipedia Image source The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack