The Battle of Vimy Ridge 9th to 14th April 1917.
Please enjoy a small Tribute to the Valiant soldiers of Canada’s past.
Vimy Ridge overlooking the Douai plain of Northern France had long been easily defended by the Germans. The occupiers controlled the ridge using a network of tortuous trenches along the crest and into the valley, which connected with another network of natural caves. 150,000 French and British soldiers had been killed in a previous attempt to take the ridge. It was believed to be impregnable.
The Canadians planned the battle meticulously for months in advance; every man through all the ranks was thoroughly taught and trained for the occasion. Replicas of the terrain and caves were created for rehearsal. 5 kilometres of tunnels were dug by miners in order to move Canadian troops and ammunition underground to the front. The tunnels were a creative tactic to avoid German fire. In the meantime the British heavy artillery continuously blasted the Germans with 2,500 tons of ammunition daily from over 1,000 diverse artillery pieces, including the use of gigantic British heavy mounted naval guns which exploded the concrete German bunkers. Craters the size of houses were the consequence. Precisely at three minute intervals the guns were aimed a little bit higher and the row of shell-fire advanced by 90 metres, firing behind and before the German lines. The trenches were flattened and 83% of the German guns were destroyed. The attack is said to have been so loud that the blasts could be plainly heard across the Channel.
At 5:30 a.m. on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, the 27,000-man Canadian Corps attacked. The first wave of about 15,000 Canadian troops targeted positions defended by 5,000 Germans, followed by the second wave of 12,000 Canadians against 3,000 German reserves. It is estimated that 100,000 men in total were involved in the taking of the Ridge; those at the front were joined by those underground who broke through the surface of the ground in good time. By April 12 the Canadian Corps controlled the entirety of Vimy Ridge with a mere 3,598 men killed and 7,104 wounded. The German 6th Army, under General Ludwig Von Falkenhausen, suffered approximately 20,000 casualties and lost 4,000 as prisoners of war.
It has been said many times that the Battle of Vimy Ridge created a nation: For the first time in the Great War all of the Canadian troops were united, and a Canadian -Sir Arthur Currie- was delegated the power of planning after the British had failed so miserably. If it wasn’t for the Canadian’s success the country could still be only a Dominion of the British Empire. Success united the country in heart and created an identity. After the battle Arthur Currie was knighted for his service by King George V., and named Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, succeeding British commander Sir Julian Byng, to become the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps.
Author ‘gregorcles’ Oldpoetry Researcher – Canada
For more information:
Canadian War Museum
In those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”
BGen A.E. Ross
Vimy. November 11
Burnett A Ward
To E. T.
The Arras Road
Robert Lawrence Binyon
Cicely Fox smith
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