Iconic WWI battle emblematic of the birth of the nation
Submitted by Bryan Buffett
One hundred and one years ago, Canada, as a nation, was born. As a result of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canada became a player on the international stage. Canada had entered the Great War as a part of the British Empire.
The Allied plan involved a French thrust through Champagne, and a British diversionary attack in the area of Arras. As part of this attack, four Canadian Divisions, the entire Canadian Corp, attacked the German stronghold that was Vimy Ridge. For the first time Canadians from Halifax to Victoria were involved in a single attack. On Easter Monday, the 9th of April 1917, at 0530 hours, approximately 100,000 Canadian soldiers went over the wire attacking through sleet and driving snow fortifications and machine gun nests that crowned the ridge. Throughout the 9th and the following days the attack continued. By the afternoon of the 12th, victory had been declared.
Enthusiasm in Canada was high. It was the greatest Allied victory to date in the war, but that victory did not come without a cost. Some 3600 Canadian wouldn’t live to see it, some 7000 more lay wounded, the most casualties suffered by the Canadian Corp in one day in the entire war. The lessons learned at Vimy Ridge helped to end the war within two years.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge became emblematic of Canada’s sacrifices throughout the war. As Brigadier-General Alexander Ross put it: “… in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.” Canada became proud and independant, with a reputation as fearsome soldiers.
Legion and non-Legion members will honour Canada’s battle victory at the annual Vimy Ridge Banquet, April 11th. Tickets are still available at the Legion or at Lotto One for the Vimy Ridge Dinner at the Legion at 5:00 pm. Come out and celebrate our veterans. Years of Service pins will also be awarded to Legion members for each 5-years of continuing service.