Author Topic: Vimy  (Read 29300 times)

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Offline bossi

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Vimy
« on: April 08, 2002, 19:17:00 »
(from the Toronto Star):

Vimy battle raged around wounded gunner
Canadian Army gunner‘s harrowing survival in bloody World War I battle

CP/NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA
Gunner Sidor Crouch was wounded at Vimy Ridge in April, 1917. He survived the battle that claimed nearly 3,600 Canadian lives.

In 1915, Sidor Crouch, 19, enlisted in the Canadian Army and eventually ended up fighting at Vimy Ridge in France. Canada suffered more than 10, 000 casualties, including 3,598 killed, in one of World War I‘s bloodiest battles. His son, Philip Crouch, went to Sidor Crouch‘s home on Nov. 5, 1977, and asked him about his experiences at Vimy. This is Sidor Crouch‘s story as told to his son.
I had been in the trenches about nine months before arriving at Vimy Ridge with some of my comrades in the 20th Battalion, 2nd Division, in the Canadian Army. It was cold, muddy and swampy; we had to contend with lice and rats.

The battle at Vimy Ridge took place on Monday, April 9, 1917, but before then the engineering corps had built tunnels leading up to the German lines. They also constructed caves in the hills where men were gathered, sleeping on a single rubber sheet in the mud.

Before the battle there was a huge artillery barrage against German lines, which lasted for six days, day and night. I was part of a Lewis machine-gun crew. I was the gunner; there was also a loader and four men who were to protect us. Two of them were riflemen and two of them grenade men. All of us could handle any of the positions.

As the hours towards the start of the battle approached, the infantry soldiers were ordered into the tunnels. We machine gunners were ordered to crawl silently towards the German lines and to take up positions a short distance from them.

We were not to take any action until a signal was given — an artillery shell. We crawled silently towards the German lines and stayed there. We could see the Germans and we could hear them talking although they could not see us.

At 5:30 a.m. Easter Monday, the signal was given and the artillery opened up. We moved forward. The Germans in our immediate vicinity were so surprised that they immediately surrendered. The infantry orders were to walk slowly forward following the artillery barrage. Soldiers were to spray bullets in front of them as they walked. We had no trouble overcoming the first line.

There was a big battle for the second German line. They started running. Many of the Germans were paralyzed with shock from the bombardment. Even though they had not been wounded, they lay motionless with their cheeks twitching.

As we captured German artillery, our gunners would turn the weapons around to fire at the Germans. On the side to the east of us, huge tunnels had been dug in underneath German positions and dynamite had been placed there. The dynamite exploded and one huge blast ripped apart, and completely destroyed, the German positions in that area. There was a great deal of killing on both sides as the fighting continued.

I remember that the sun started to shine about 10 a.m. and that many German prisoners were taken. Many of these German prisoners were killed by their own artillery, which was shelling our lines. Our machine-gun group was moving constantly. We confronted a German machine gun position, and in effect a duel took place. As we fired at each other I decided to attempt to dig a trench with the bullets from my gun to the enemy‘s weapon.

After a while it appeared that we had silenced the German machine gun. It was my mistake, however. As I stood up I felt a blow like a baseball bat hit my right leg and I was knocked to the ground. I had been shot. Immediately another crewmember replaced me and shortly after this the German machine gun crew surrendered.

My group then moved ahead, leaving me on my own, in accordance with orders they had been given. The medics arrived, bandaged me and put me in a shell hole. They went to look for other wounded.

Right beside the hole was a dead German with a rifle. As I looked up I saw a huge crowd of Germans coming towards me. I thought it was a counter-attack and reached for the dead German‘s rifle to defend myself. To my relief, the Germans were prisoners, who were being chased to our rear lines by a few Canadians.

As I lay there, mules and horses passed by with ammunition. Darkness, and snow, fell and then I could see soldiers coming to collect the dead and wounded. I was hoarse and cold. I remember cavalry riding by at an extremely fast clip. I believe that they were East Indian, although I could not be sure about that. One of the horses came frighteningly close to me. I worried that I would not be picked up.

At one stage a sad looking German soldier approached me. He was unarmed, obviously frightened and anxious to surrender. He was small and underweight. I used the rifle from the nearby dead German soldier and motioned for him to come closer. He approached fearfully, and I indicated to him that I wanted him to carry me towards the Canadian side on his back. He finally understood, bent down and I got on his back, but he was not strong enough to carry me.

The pain of the movement was so bad that I gave up on that idea. I then sent him on his way and he ran off with great speed.

At 6 the next morning, young Canadian soldiers were out trying to find the wounded and one found me. He gave me water and said he would come back with a stretcher and other men. He did come back with others, including German prisoners who were being used as stretcher-bearers.

I was carried to a valley, where there appeared to be thousands of wounded, and wrapped in a blanket.

The injured included British and Australian servicemen, as well as Canadians. I fell asleep and was put on a truck and taken to an Australian tent hospital. One of my biggest problems at the time was that the lice were unbearable. I was washed and put in a bed and they gave me coffee and they fed me.

I spent a week there and doctors put a splint on my right leg and wrapped the wound.

An Australian doctor approached me when he learned that I could speak Russian and asked me to teach him to speak the language (Crouch was born in what is now Ukraine. His name was changed from Kravets during a document mix-up when he immigrated in 1913).

After a week, a number of us were taken to a field to await trucks to take us to LeHavre. As we lay in the field, German artillery started to shell areas nearby. I was afraid that they were going to hit us, but for some reason the shelling stopped.

I was put on a truck and taken to a boat at LeHavre, which proceeded to Dover, England. Hospital treatment followed and I arrived back in Canada on April 24, 1918.
--------------------------------------------------
Sidor Crouch died in 1980. Tomorrow marks the 85th anniversary of Vimy Ridge
Junior officers and NCOs who neglect to guide the thinking of their men are shirking a command responsibility.
-Feb 1955 Cbt Forces Journal
Those who appreciate true valour should in their daily intercourse set gentleness first and aim to win the love and esteem of others. If you affect valour and act with violence, the world will in the end detest you and look upon you as wild beasts. Of this you should take heed.
-Emperor Meiji: Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors, 4 January 1883

Offline bossi

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2002, 21:58:00 »
On Vimy Ridge, Canada came of age
 
J.L. Granatstein  
Times Colonist (Victoria)

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
 
EIGHTY-FIVE YEARS AGO today, the Canadian Corps attacked Vimy Ridge. The German position had successfully resisted earlier French and British attacks, and was heavily defended. But the Canadians took the ridge and in the process made the Canadian Corps‘ great reputation. The victory of April 9, 1917, has also been hailed as the birth of Canadian nationalism, the day Canada ceased to be a colony and became a nation.

Vimy is the Canadian victory, the pinnacle of Canadian military achievement. Soldiers then and the media at home painted it as a triumph of arms -- and so it was. Part of this myth-making for civilians was the sense that Canadians had scaled a cliff, struggling to the top of the great ridge in the face of enemy fire. In fact, most of the ground in front of the Canadians was characterized by a gentle upward slope. No one needed pitons to scale the heights of Vimy.

More important, while Vimy was an enormously strong position, and while its capture by the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fighting together for the first time was a significant victory, it was a battle without exploitation. No cavalry streamed into the gap blasted in the enemy lines; no reserves moved forward. Vimy was a costly battle that mattered little in terms of the overall conduct of the war.

For the Canadians, it was an undoubted psychological fillip; for Gen. Sir Julian Byng, the British commander of the Canadians, it was the culmination of his career; and for people at home it showed that "our boys" could do great things. But its military importance, regrettably, was slight. Nonetheless, the battle was so perfectly planned and executed that it deserves its place in our military history.

By 1917, Canadians had been fighting for two years. The raw levies that had held the Germans off at Ypres in April 1915 now were experienced, well-trained soldiers.

The key to the success at Vimy came when Byng sent Maj.-Gen. Arthur Currie of the First Canadian Division to study the methods of the French. Currie learned that they emphasized reconnaissance, putting every man into the line to see the ground and likely enemy resistance points. They used air photographs extensively, distributing them to the officers of the assaulting units, who then briefed every man. When the attack went in, the objectives were geographical features, not hard-to-find map references.

Moreover, the French believed attacks were more likely to succeed if they used fresh troops. Above all, Currie recommended that the Canadian Corps, like the French, adopt a flexible, manoeuvrable platoon organization. In the battle for Vimy Ridge, Currie‘s ideas played the decisive role.

Byng‘s plan for the attack was ready by March 5, allowing a month for preparation. Engineers cut large dugouts into the chalky ground so men could mass in safety, and water and telephone lines were laid. The Canadians had massive fire support for their attack, one piece of heavy artillery for each 20 yards of front, and one field gun for every 10 yards. The artillery program had been carefully devised and called for an escalating two-week bombardment on trenches, machine-gun nests, and supply dumps. When the attack itself began, a rolling barrage would move forward in 100-yard increments while other guns hit defensive positions.

"We had been practising and rehearsing the details for several days," wrote Lieut. Stuart Kirkland, "but didn‘t know the hour it was to start until the night before." Air photos and maps came well forward, and every man knew his task. Indiscreetly, Pte. Ronald MacKinnon of the Princess Patricia‘s Canadian Light Infantry wrote to his father: "I am a rifle grenadier and am in the ‘first wave.‘ We have a good bunch of boys to go over with and good artillery support so we are bound to get our objective alright. I understand we are going up against the Prussian Guards."

When the 15,000 troops from 21 battalions, fortified with a tot of rum and a hot meal, went over the top at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Monday, they attacked in snow and sleet, the wind driving into the enemy lines.

The attack began with "the most wonderful artillery barrage ever known in the history of the world," Kirkland said. Behind the rolling barrage, the men moved steadily forward over the badly broken ground, most of Currie‘s First Division units reaching German front-line positions while the enemy still huddled in their dugouts. At the second German line, snipers and machine-guns began to inflict heavy casualties. The Second and Third Divisions similarly moved quickly over their first objectives, one unit of the Third Division capturing 150 Saxons in a dugout.

The First Division moved on, helped by snow that hid its advance. The Germans now fled or fell, and by 7 a.m. the division had seized most of its second objective. The Second Division moved over flattened enemy trenches, capturing many prisoners, though casualties were beginning to mount. Still, by 9:30 the two divisions had their third objective, as the British Official History noted, "in precisely the same manner as it had been worked out on the practice fields." The final objective soon followed, though it took a bayonet charge by the 6th Brigade to overcome machine-guns firing at point-blank range.

"Hundreds of men were now walking over the open in all directions," wrote Padre F.G. Scott. "German prisoners were being hurried back in scores. Wounded men, stretcher-bearers and men following up the advance were seen on all sides, and on the ground lay the bodies of friends and foes." From the air, a Canadian pilot saw what seemed to be men casually wandering across No Man‘s Land. The young Billy Bishop could see shells bursting among the Canadians and men falling, while others continued slowly forward. It looked like something unreal, he recalled, a game, not war.

Only the Fourth Division met sustained difficulties in taking Hill 145, the point that provided the Germans with observation over the valley of the River Souchez. Here the defences were very strong. Careful preparation brought the Canadians to within 150 yards of the German lines, but surprise was difficult to achieve. But that night the 85th Battalion, the Nova Scotia Highlanders, a battalion new to the front, took Hill 145.

There now remained only "the Pimple," the northern tip of Vimy Ridge. In the early hours of April 12 in the teeth of a gale, the Canadians surprised the Guards Regiment manning the position. Heavy fighting followed and by 6 a.m. the Canadians had the position. The ridge was now wholly in Canadian hands.

Stunned by the Canadians‘ rapid success, the Germans pulled back their line to eliminate the advantages of observation offered by the ridge. The Canadian Corps, having suffered 10,602 casualties, dug in on the line of the Lens-Arras railway, a gain of 4,500 yards. The opportunity for a breakthrough, like others in this war of attrition, disappeared into the swirling sleet of April.

Still, it was a famous victory, cheered to the echo in Canada and France. Capt. Georges Vanier of the 22nd Battalion wrote that "The morale of our troops is magnificent. We cannot lose -- what is more we are winning quickly and the war will be over within six months." The Canadians had captured a hitherto impregnable position and taken 4,000 prisoners.

That all four divisions of Canadians fought together at Vimy undoubtedly contributed to the victory. Worth remembering, however, is that Byng was British, as were his superiors -- the Canadian Corps did not fight under Canadian command until Currie took over. Moreover, it was not until late 1918 that the Canadian-born made up more than half of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. British immigrants had made up two-thirds of the first contingent and made up almost half of all who served.

Did this make the force less Canadian? On the contrary, virtually every commentator then and since concluded that the soldiers became Canadian in battle, convinced that their corps, their nation-in-formation, was something special. So it was -- and is.

J. L. Granatstein, former director of the Canadian War Museum, is the author of Canada‘s Army, Waging War and Keeping the Peace, forthcoming from University of Toronto Press.
Junior officers and NCOs who neglect to guide the thinking of their men are shirking a command responsibility.
-Feb 1955 Cbt Forces Journal
Those who appreciate true valour should in their daily intercourse set gentleness first and aim to win the love and esteem of others. If you affect valour and act with violence, the world will in the end detest you and look upon you as wild beasts. Of this you should take heed.
-Emperor Meiji: Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors, 4 January 1883

Offline Future Unknown

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Vimy Ridge Poem
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2007, 12:21:16 »
A Timeless Growth
(Anticipation of Aged Serendipities)

I’ve known of you for a mere two weeks,
My new acquaintance; I feel as if
Your ‘mere’ two years have turned you
Old.  Friend
Of mine, was a farmer, of no man’s land.
He dug for deep places to station young
Sprouts, and weeded out the unwanted,
Who crept closer, on the surface.

If you look hard enough, you’ll find those six degrees.  Your job entails you to
 look hard,
Night and day, night and day.
 Two years.
Whether insignificant or immense, is it a struggle to search out our differences?
You represented our country, now I see I represent you.

I’ll elaborate, yet it’s too late to help a friend I never knew, he too did not know
Me.  What was coming.
As small as the imperative poppy blowing across the pock-marked road.  Gunfire had forced this vast face of landscape into manhood.

The ironic truth of the Almanac.  And we parallel our companionship with empty stomachs.  A cultivator of inedible thoughts, on a far-off comatose soil; of previous lives lived, loved and tossed into the Seine.
A span of 20 flowing in his veins.  Carriers of soldiering motivation.  So much covered the contrasting ground; A great spill of red on white.
A wasted gift?  A generous donation of red, until the rain would visit to cleanse the skins enveloped in a uniform green.  All 19, 20, 21.
It’s done.  I’ll use their bitter sweet allegories to feed new allies, newer acquaintances.  An easier six degrees.  Yet, the closest witness is too out of reach in distance and in time. 
An inaccessible hero.




As is going over the top, I expect this to be just as hard.  Unripe.
Not every harvest turns out.  The Great War took many seasons; to this, she will testify.

You fought, I’ll inform ‘til all are allies.  As I lie within, I’ll grin, for all your
sadness and chagrin have been harvested.
A burden no more.

Your bounty is perfect, every right intention.
Sometimes things must be picked early so others can prosper.  A soldier is aware.
Yes, there is guilt, but not for volunteers.
Call me Lucky; I have time to grow.  Gratitude towards the swiftly aging who revealed this to the land.  Your dedication has taken root, nurtured by countless thank-yous.

Ninety years, Vimy, please meet me
Half way.
I could never in your 19 years describe your 19 years.  Too humbling for your views;
Chancing misinterpretation.  Your elation from here to there.

Another outlook we often overlook:
Was it for piece of mind?  Piece of land?
Until I find out, Sir,
I indulge myself in this peace.


In memory of
 Private William Louis Armstrong
(January 17, 1897- April 9, 1917)
Occupation: Farmer
Force: Army
Cemetery: Givenchy-En-Gohelle

Alix Ferwerda   
Miles Macdonell Collegiate
Winnipeg, Manitoba



Written by my friend and posted with her permission


Blood is Freedom's Stain

Offline FascistLibertarian

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Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2007, 16:54:40 »
Hey all. First time poster and very intrested in military history.
I think what we did at Vimy was amazing, do not get me wrong at all, I have great respect for it.
My question is why does not one ever talk about Lens, 2nd Ypres, Amiens or breaking the Hindenburg line?
Some of these seem equally important and impressive!
By Lens i mean that battle for Hill ____ I just can not remember its #.
Thanks!

Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2007, 17:10:58 »
Because it was the first time the Canadian Corps fought as a unit and winning it was quite unexpected.  The victory was also largely due to innovative planning by Currie.
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Offline Carcharodon Carcharias

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2007, 18:09:47 »
EDIT: I hope many of you take the time to read these few paragraphs I put together. Vimy is personal for me, and no doubt many other Canadians, still to this day. Vimy, even now is a milestone in Canadian history. Aside from the obvious, its about standing you ground, putting forward your beliefs and sacrifice, and being there for your mates.

This war cost Canada over 60,000 killed, and then there is the casualties which numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The gassing, the bullets, and shrapnel, all causing the most hidious injuries. Many totally incompacitated for the rest of their lives, some living to be old men, still carrying these injuries. Some old soldier told me once 'there are worse things than death'. Blindness ,amputations and facial disfigurement.

We cannnot forget the shell shocked and the emotional trauma caused from this battle (and others), which even in today battles our soldiers experience. Life goes on, but battlefields are simply that, and only the technology changes. Maybe take the time to reflect the current operations both the CF and Allied Forces are currently on at this very moment you read this.

Many Canadians of that generation referred to Vimy ridge as the birth of the nation (Canada). For years the English and the French tried to take the Ridge from the well dug in and fortified Germans, and both dismally failed. The Canucks did it in a day with low casualties. The 'rolling' artillery barrage was born.

Try reading Pierre Burton's book VIMY, but be warned, once you start it, its very difficult to put down. In my entire life, its one of the best books I have ever read, and it makes one feel proud to be Canadian even from something so long ago.

09 April 1917.

I had two Great Uncles, PTE's Tony and Alf Meahan, and one 3rd cousin at Vimy that day. The cousin, PTE Richard Marlin (late of the 38th Ottawa Battalion) is buried not far from the Ridge itself. He was killed outright with his Unit's advance, and is buried in a communal grave with two others at a near by CWGC cemetery.

My two Great Uncles survived Vimy and the war, both enjoying life, living to be old men, marrying and having many children. Tony lived into his 70's, and Alf well into his 80's. Tony chose to live out his years in Detroit Michigan, and Alf in Vancouver. Both men were wounded, Tony so bad, that he (literally) held his guts in with his tin hat, somehow dragging himself back to the lines for help. Alf had shrapnel wounds to his forearms and the back of his neck. I remember his scars so vividly ever since I was a kid.

I always thought that Tony was tramuatised his entire life, and never spoke much about those times to anyone, as I can remember my Mom telling me never to discuss the war with him. I was about 12 (even at this age I was interested in the military) when he died. Alf was different. He mentioned the Ridge many times to me, and he loved his whisky and his cigars. He was proud of his accomplishments, and as a young Militia soldier, I remember him telling me how his Vickers would spout steam once it was hot, and give their positions away to the enemy. He died in 1979 or 1980. Two different men who handled the aftermath of The Great War differently.

Just a few thoughts about Vimy, as the 90th anniversary comes up in less than a month.

Cheers,


Wes
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 19:16:23 by Wesley (Over There) »
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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2007, 18:27:57 »
John Galt
             Lieut.-Gen.Sir Julian Byng may have had a little to do with the success of this operation
given the fact that he was the commander of the Canadian Corps and Currie was only a division
commander.
                                REGARDS
nothing is better for the morale of the troops
as occasionally to see a dead general
               field marshal slim

Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2007, 18:33:57 »
John Galt
             Lieut.-Gen.Sir Julian Byng may have had a little to do with the success of this operation
given the fact that he was the commander of the Canadian Corps and Currie was only a division
commander.
                                REGARDS


Currie is commonly credited with responsibility for the planning and tactics that were utilized ...
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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2007, 18:45:15 »
Hey all. First time poster and very intrested in military history.
I think what we did at Vimy was amazing, do not get me wrong at all, I have great respect for it.
My question is why does not one ever talk about Lens, 2nd Ypres, Amiens or breaking the Hindenburg line?
Some of these seem equally important and impressive!
By Lens i mean that battle for Hill ____ I just can not remember its #.
Thanks!

In many respects the choice of placing the monument on Vimy Ridge consigned the other battles of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces to unwarranted obscurity. Vimy Ridge was also one of the rare "glorious victories",  while the battles of "Canada's 100 days" were responsible for more casualties then any other comparable time period they are seen by some, however inaccurately, as "mopping-up".

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2007, 18:49:42 »
Byng
Currie

Let's not forget Andy McNaughton

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2007, 21:20:07 »
Wes,
if you take the time/have the time to put together several paragraph's it is defiantly worth the read. From the teacher perspective you hit the nail on the head with the "Birth of a nation". Aside from Burton any work on this battle is a good read. Based on some on and off reading and a survey course on the battle I would cast my vote for Currie as to the success. Although Micheal does bring up McNaughton who later gave politicans fits will trying to fix the military. If your ever in Europe you should visit the site while it is still there.
"if he was to be hanged for it, he told his brother, he could not accuse a man whom he believed had meant well, and whose error was one of judgment, not of intention"
Wellington

Offline riggermade

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2007, 22:14:04 »
Wes

I want to Thank You for sharing your thoughts on Vimy.  As our veterans are almost gone it is in books and their thoughts shared with others that will carry the memory along.

I was always fascinated by WWI and did a speech on Vimy when I was 12 or 13 and it still fascinates me
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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2007, 10:43:22 »
Wes,

Thank you for sharing your memories with us.  It can be too easy to forget that battles are fought by people in the end.

FL,

I believe that Vimy stands out in our collective national memory for a number of reasons.  It stood out at the time as a clear cut victory with a tangible objective captured as opposed to what had gone before (and after).  It represented the coming-together of the Canadian Corps, which was itself important (even though the Commander was British as noted by others).  I think that AJ hit on an important element as well.  The Vimy monument elevated the battle in the national conciousness after the war.  It should be noted, however, that the Vimy monument commemorates all Canadians in WWI, and the names of all Canadians who fell but have no known grave are inscribed there.  I had the privilege to visit Vimy a few years ago and I was deeply moved.

Perhaps it is not 'fair' that some battles become famous while others become obscure.  The 8th of August 1918 was a tremendous victory and few know of it (even in the military).  That battle, taken with the Last 100 Days show the Canadian Army arguably at its best ever but it lacks the resonance of Vimy.  The 8th of August was also a trememdous victory for the Australians and memories of it could be seen as being obscured by the tumult of events around it.  Vimy is isolated in time and space which makes it stand out in Canadian experience.  Although other nations were present, it was "our" battle.

I, for one, am glad that Vimy does capture attention as that keeps WWI alive in Canadian memory.  Vimy may capture the attention of people who can then learn about the other battles.
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Offline reccecrewman

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2007, 11:12:53 »
One major reason is it was the first major offensive undertaken by the four Division's of the Canadian Corps acting together.  It was not the Canadian colonials under the patronage of the British Army, but the citizens of Canada in the Canadian Army accomplishing a huge feat. It's an old cliche that Canada wasn't born on 1 Jul 1867, but rather on Easter Monday 1917. There is some truth to that in the sense that after Vimy, Canada came into it's own as a Nation.

Secondly, it showed our British allies that the Canadian Corps was every bit as good (or better) than any formation in the British Army and Vimy provided an excellent reason to ensure that the Divisions of the Canadian Corps always stayed together as they fought extremely well together.

Thirdly, those battles you named as not getting much mention were built on the shoulders of our success at Vimy.  My final point to you is I find it hilarious that you ask why Vimy gets so much attention and battles you named do not.......... yet you failed to mention Third Ypres.  That my friend is the battle that the Canadian Corps participated in that gets virtually no attention whatsoever due to the fact that Third Ypres only brings back the horrorible memories of Passchendaele.

The British Army went through the meat grinder at Passchendaele for virtually zero gains after three months of bloody fighting.  Fortunately for Canada, we were spared the bloodletting of Passchendaele because we were in the Vimy sector at opening of the battle.
After three months of futile fighting, Sir Douglas Haig was desperate for some sort of tangible gain in his ill-fated Flanders campaign..... He needed somthing the British people could see as a reason for the terrible cost of lives.  The Canadian Corps with it's rapidly building reputation as a crack formation was selected as the tip of his spear to take Passchendaele.

Sir Arthir Currie accepted the assignment on the condition that after the Canadians took Passchendaele, they would be pulled out of the region immediately, he didn't want his Corps to be subject to being whittled down during the winter of 1917-18 holding the ridge.  Haig agreed and the Canadian Corps went in and took a position the Germans occupied since the beginning of the war (The German defences here were extremely good, and the Germans commanded virtually every height on an otherwise very flat piece of real estate) Coupled with these defences was the mud........... mud so soupy and slick that horses, men and waggons were known to disappear if they slipped off the duckboards.  In virtually open ground under the eyes and fire of the Germans, our men constructed duckboard roads to enable the artillery to follow our infantry over the morass of Passchendaele.  The Canadian Corps took Passchendaele ridge and the town at a cost of nearly 14,000 (Sir Arthur Currie's estimated casualty figure before the battle even started)

All in all, Passchendaele was a near disaster and to this day, an embarrassment to the British Army, but Canada should (We don't because very few are familiar with what the Corps accomplished here) take immense pride in Passchendaele.  It can also be argued that the Canadians in Passchendaele literally broke the back of the German Army, as the bulk of German forces engaged at Passchendaele were the flower of their Army - their best Divisions. Germany admitted to approx. 280,000 casualties over the course of the battle, however that figure has been disputed and could be as high as 350,000

As to those that vilify Sir Haig for continuing the Passchendaele campaign for continuing the offensive after the opening phases, obviously has no clue about what was going on.  The British Army had to keep pressure on the Germans because of the mutinies in the French Army that could have been doom for the Allies on the western front had the Germans known about it and went to exploit the weak link.  The French Army would not attack........... had the British opted to stand on the defensive as well, that allows the Germans to plan and mass forces for their own offensive that if delivered to the French could well have been victory to the Kaisers troops.  Passchendaele kept the Germans fully occupied with the British and allowed the French Army to recover from their inner turmoil. By the fall of 1917, the French Army had recovered enough that they could participate in limited offensives.

Vimy deserves every recognition it gets.............
Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference....... Soldiers don't have that problem.

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Offline AJFitzpatrick

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2007, 11:21:36 »
  The Vimy monument elevated the battle in the national conciousness after the war.  It should be noted, however, that the Vimy monument commemorates all Canadians in WWI, and the names of all Canadians who fell but have no known grave are inscribed there.  I had the privilege to visit Vimy a few years ago and I was deeply moved.



Just a slight correction. Canadians who fell in Belgium with no known grave are commemorated at the Menin Gate in Ieper (formerly Ypers) whereas the Vimy Memorial commemorates those who fell in France with no known grave.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 12:11:55 by AJFitzpatrick »

Offline FascistLibertarian

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2007, 15:41:27 »
Thanks all, these have been some well thought out answers.
Wes thanks for sharing that story.
On a personal note I have a soft spot for 2nd Ypres as my great grandfather got gassed there.  He had medical problems for the rest of his life I think although I am unsure of to what degree and I think he lived until the 1950's at least.
It was our baptism under fire and we held the line while the others ran!
Yes 3rd Ypres should have been mentioned I just do not know as much about it as the 5 other battles.
I can remember reading a story in english class in hs about vimy but not about any other battle in that war.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 15:44:39 by FascistLibertarian »

Offline Blackadder1916

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2007, 15:44:49 »
Quote
....the names of all Canadians who fell but have no known grave....

And not to forget those who served at sea.
http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=memorials/ww1mem/seamen
Quote
The Imperial War Graves Commission erected the Hollybrook Memorial in Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton, England. It records the names of those who went down in vessels mined or torpedoed in home waters, as well as elsewhere in the world, from transports to hospital ships, and whose graves are not known. The total number of officers and men named on this Memorial is 1,868, and 64 of these are Canadians.

But there are a few Canadians whose remembrance of The Great War does not turn first to Vimy but another place and memorial.  Beaumont Hamel.
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Offline Gumby

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2007, 20:26:24 »
Wes, Reccecrewman, thank you for bringing us back down to earth on this.  It seems most Canadians are so far from educated on things such as this.  Good posts, to both of you.
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Offline Tango2Bravo

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2007, 22:33:58 »
AJ/ Blackadder,

Absolutely correct and quite lazy of me! The point I was trying to make was that the Vimy monument is about more than Vimy Ridge.

As an aside, here is a thread from a little way back on Canada and WW1.  I never did find out if the fellow got his paper done, but it was an interesting thread at the time. 

http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,34853.0.html


Cheers
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Offline Blackadder1916

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2007, 23:29:09 »
Red Five, agreed.  Both Vimy and Beaumont Hamel are "National" memorials meant to respresent the total effort of each country in that war.  Beaumont Hamel may be more unique (along with the other Nfld memorials in France and Belgium) in that it represents both an "entire" country and a "single" regiment.

I've been lucky in having been able to visit that part of the world many times and have seen a lot of the memorials, cemetaries and former battlefields of the First World War.  (Can't say 'most' because there are just too many)  Though I 'may' be biased due to heritage, Beaumont Hamel and Vimy (in that order) arouse the most emotions though the sentiments are not necessarily the same. 

Beaumont Hamel, to me anyway, has always been a sad place that brings forth thoughts of the sacrifices made.  Vimy, on the other hand, raises different feelings; that, while men had laid down their lives in this ground, it was with a sense of deliberate purpose and hope of a greater future.
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Offline FascistLibertarian

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2007, 14:20:54 »
Here is one more thing my buddy pointed out to me the other day.

If you go to Vimy, even if you know nothing about military history, you can still kinda imagine what happened.
It was a ridge, we took the ridge.

WIth Amiens the objective was to push as far as possibile, it is not as dramatic to think about or view for the general public.

and of course 2nd Ypres was on the defensive.

I still think Lens is the most overlooked battle though.  Brillent planning and making the German tactical doc work againt themselves.
Plus Currie stood up to the higherups and insisted that his plan (sieze the hill above town) was used instead of the (UK?) plan (Sieze and town and hold it while the Germans control both hills around the town).

Offline Staff Weenie

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2007, 14:58:40 »
You have a point FL - it's easier for humans to allow their imagination to work if there's something with definable and tangible borders to work with - and a battle at a prominent or distinctive landmark or feature fits the bill, especially if efforts have been made to preserve it, and mark it for continued distinction.

Canadians fought many battles in France and on through Holland in WWII, but Dieppe and Juno beach stick out - they are distinctive battles, with a distinct terrain or region. You can wade out a bit into the water and look at the shore and use your imagination. Efforts have been made to preserve the memories attached to these places.

When I went to Vimy, I was so impressed with the setup - and it helped me understand a bit more of my heritage. I lay down on the ground, and tried so hard to picture what it would have looked like for our forefathers.

Some of our former battlefields are built over now, or grown over and few know of their existence or visit any more - once they aren't a site of pilgrimages or tours, then they can fade from the collective memory.

I wouldn't argue either that there's a bit of a 'selection bias' at work. Not a defined and deliberate attempt to denigrate other efforts. but, sometimes a culture becomes fixated on specific events of the past. And, historians and other pundits will often write books to appeal to the audience, and as such, will focus on that which the general public will buy.

Vimy is so ingrained now into our Canadian military and political identity. Was it greater or lesser than other campaigns? I won't get into that here. But, because it is the site of the memorial, because it has been preserved so well, and because it became so much a part of our history and identity with so many books and documentaries made, it has and probably always will, overshadow most of the other battles.

Offline Patrick H.

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2007, 15:52:28 »
Because it was the day the Canadian Army showed the world who had the finest, toughest, most dedicated troops!

 :threat: :cdn:
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Offline GAP

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DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2007, 09:32:05 »
DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
KATHERINE HARDING From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Article Link

EDMONTON — Doreen Bargholz's family rarely talked about her uncle, Private Herbert Peterson.

His parents and five brothers were heartbroken when the 22-year-old soldier from rural Alberta never returned from the muddy French battlefields of the First World War. The military told them he had gone missing, and was presumed dead.

"There was a big photo of him hanging in my grandparents' living room. That's how I knew him," the 78-year-old Ms. Bargholz said in an interview.

But thanks to hard work by a team of Canadian scientists, genealogists and Defence Department historians and officials, the private's body was recovered in 2003 and identified earlier this year.
More on link
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Offline geo

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2007, 10:41:45 »
At ease Pte Peterson, your work is done

At the going down of the sun,
and in the morn,
we will remember them!

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Chimo!

Offline FascistLibertarian

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2007, 01:24:06 »
3,598 Canadians :salute:
We will remember them

Offline Carcharodon Carcharias

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2007, 04:59:32 »
Another mystery solved after almost 90 years. A family who only knew their relative on a faded photo, now has the questions answered, and he can now be buried in a marked grave.

I do beleive Canada has about 11,000 ' Defence personnel' with no known grave from the Great War.


Regards from Kuwait,

Wes
"You've never lived until you've almost died; as for our freedom, for those of us who have fought for it, life has a flavour the protected will never know." - Anonymous

Offline FascistLibertarian

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Re: Why does Vimy get all the attention?
« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2007, 10:25:27 »
http://jam.canoe.ca/Television/2007/03/22/3806335-cp.html

"Vimy Ridge: Heaven to Hell" airs Monday night on History Television at 8 p.m. ET.

Should be a good watch :)


Offline AJFitzpatrick

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2007, 10:55:34 »
Just a thought question

How many unidentified burials are there and how does it to compare to the number with no known grave?
How many are left to find?

Offline FascistLibertarian

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2007, 14:25:51 »
I have no idea about the numbers.
But from the Canadian graveyards I have seen in France there are ALOT of graves that say something like "a soldier of the great war" or "A Canadian Soldier of the 1939-45 War".
As well who knows how much is buried in each grave.

Offline smitty66

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2007, 14:53:28 »
The Commwealth War Graves Commission says the Numbers are as follows;

WW1 Identified Burials and Cremations - 45,528
         Commemorated on Memorials to the Missing - 19,514 (minus 1 now)

WW2 Identified Burials and Cremations - 37,305
         Commemorated on Memorials to the Missing - 8,011

Source: Commwealth War Graves Commission Annual Report 1986-87
 The numbers may have changed since then.

Offline 3rd Herd

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Re: DNA solves mystery of Vimy Ridge soldier
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2007, 16:10:31 »
I have no idea about the numbers.
But from the Canadian graveyards I have seen in France there are ALOT of graves that say something like "a soldier of the great war" or "A Canadian Soldier of the 1939-45 War".
As well who knows how much is buried in each grave.

In some cases there is nothing in the grave. Though beginning with the First World War British and then Commonwealth philosophy changed in that every attempt was made to provide each departed soldier with his own place of permanent rest. Inspite of this noble effort there are problems ranging from the results of a direct hit by an artillery shell in which case there are physically no remains to the remains being submerged in the mud and hence being unlocated. Further reasoning is the use of mass graves to get the bodies out of the way to enhance a newly one position, or the entanglement of several various bodies due to the continuing cycle of attack, counter attack. This was often occurring circumstance in modern warfare and a prime example is the research of Russian author Nina Tumarkin who "with her own hands, unearthed the bones of some of the estimated two to three million Soviet soldiers killed in World War II but never properly buried."

Additonal problems are exemplified by "the burials of our fallen soldiers differed according to the native customs in a given locality. When an airplane crashed near the villages of natives, the bodies were always accorded proper burial. In some cases this meant cremation,in others simple interment."(Snow) Other problems are illuminated by  in that during the Korean War "combat troops could hardly be spared to dig graves, and it was almost impossible to obtain civilian labor, due to the abandonment of towns and villages by fleeing refugees anxious to escape from the battle area."(Cook) Other problems identified by Cook are as follows "because of the exigencies of battle  remains were hastily interred in foxholes, shell holes, or any area of soft earth which permitted a quick burial. These isolated graves were not always marked, and, even in cases where crude markers were erected, many were lost through the action of the elements or destroyed in battle. Still other markers were removed by natives or the enemy."  While  Pavel L. Ivanov states "however historically, until recently, the success in identifying war dead was not the question of the highest priority for the country, and no special resources and assets have been devoted to this endeavor."


Source:

Cook, John C. LTC  Q.M.C. "Graves Registration in the Korean Conflict" The Quartermaster Review March-April 1953

Ivanov, Pavel L. "Identification of Human Decomposed Remains Using the STR Systems: Effect on Typing Results'. Center for Forensic Medical Expertize, Ministry of Health; Moscow, Russia.

SNOW,CHARLES E. "THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE UNKNOWN WAR DEAD", American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 6, Issue 3 (p 323-328

Tumarkin, Nina. The Living & the Dead: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia  . 1994:Basic Books

edit: grammer clean up
« Last Edit: March 23, 2007, 18:29:54 by 3rd Herd »
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Offline Frankex

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Speeches at the 90th anniversary of Vimy Ridge
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2007, 11:18:59 »
so what speech would you vote nomber 1

if you cant decide you can vote for all 3.




The Queen's Speech

Ladies and gentleman, in any national story there are moments and places, sometimes far from home, which in retrospect can be seen as fixed points about which the course of history turns; moments which distinguish that nation forever. Those who seek the foundations of Canada's distinction would do well to begin here at Vimy.

Until this day 90 years ago, Vimy Ridge had been impregnable; a lesson learned at terrible cost to the armies of France and Britain. For the Allies, this ridge had become a symbol of futility and despair. It was against this forbidding challenge that the four divisions of the Canadian Corps were brought together as a single army for the first time.

In a matter of a few hours, on this cold and inclement Easter Monday morning, the Canadians became masters of the ridge and accomplished what many had thought impossible. Their victory was the fruit not only of an ingenious battle plan drawn up by Canadian commanders, but especially of courage and determination with which Canadian soldiers carried out their mission.

No fewer than four Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery during the battle, though it could easily be said that every soldier in the field demonstrated conspicuous bravery, such was the verve of the Canadian attack. It was a stunning victory. More, in capturing this formidable objective, the Canadian Corps transformed Vimy Ridge from a symbol of despair into a source of inspiration. After two-and-a-half years of deadly stalemate, it now seemed possible that the Allies would prevail and peace might one day be restored.

Here on this hallowed ground, where so much has been sacrificed, we're commemorating their courage and achievement. Their victory gave more than hope, it allowed Canada, which deserved it so much, to take its place on the world stage as a proud, sovereign nation, strong and free. Canada's commemorative monument at Vimy shows Canada's great strength and its commitment to freedom and also shows the deep solidarity that links Canada and France.

And lastly, it certainly shows the bravery, courage and sacrifice of the courageous Canadians that inspired a young nation to become a great nation.

To their eternal remembrance, to those who have recently lost their lives in Afghanistan, to Canada, and to all who would serve the cause of freedom, I rededicate this magnificently restored memorial.







The Prime Minister Of Canada Stephen Harper' Speech


Your Majesty, Mr. Prime Minister of the Republic of France, distinguished guests, veterans, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for honouring us with your presence today.


We Canadians here today are a long way from home but there may be no place on Earth that makes us feel more Canadian, because we sense all around us the presence of our ancestors.


If we close our eyes we can see them, dressed in their olive khaki uniforms, rifles slung over their shoulders, the distinct wide-brimmed helmet perched on their heads.


They are emerging from their filthy trenches, trudging through the boot-sucking mud, passing the skeletons of trees and the shell holes of blood, surrounded by the horrible noises of war.


Overhead, the Canadian Red Ensign is fluttering through the smoke.


One hundred thousand brave Canadians fought here 90 years ago today. Three thousand five hundred and ninety-eight died.


Every nation has a creation story to tell.


The First World War and the battle of Vimy Ridge are central to the story of our country.


The names of all the great battles are well known to Canadians and Newfoundlanders, but we know the name of Vimy best of all, because it was here for the first time that our entire army fought together on the battlefield and the result was a spectacular victory, a stunning breakthrough that helped turn the war in the allies favour.


Often, the importance of historical events is only understood with the benefit of hindsight but at Vimy everybody immediately realized the enormity of the achievement.


Brig-Gen. Alexander Ross famously said that when he looked out across the battlefield he saw, and I quote, "Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade,'' and that he felt he was witnessing the birth of a nation.


The year after the war ended the brilliant Canadian commander at Vimy, Sir Arthur Currie, put it another way in a speech at Toronto's Empire Club.


Canada was a nation of immigrants before 1914, he said. Now these men who have come back are your very own.


Nothing tells our story of the First World War as eloquently or as powerfully as this extraordinary monument. It reminds us of the enormity of their sacrifice and the enormity of our duty to follow their example and to love our country and defend its freedom for ever. The veterans of Vimy passed their stories to their children, who passed it to theirs, who passed it to us, who are passing it to our children.


Thousands of them are with us today. And some of them will return here someday with their own children, and their grandchildren.


Because nothing tells our story of the First World War as eloquently or as powerfully as Walter Allward's extraordinary monument to the 11, 285 Canadians who fell in France with no known resting place.


Allward said he was inspired by a dream. He saw thousands of Canadians fighting and dying in the vast battlefield. Then, through an avenue of giant poplars, a mighty army came marching to their rescue. They were the dead, Allward said. They rose in masses and entered to fight and aid the living: I have tried to show this in this monument to Canada's fallen, what we owed them, and will owe them forever.


It is sometimes said that the dead speak to the living. So at this special place at this special time on this special day, let us together listen to the final prayer of those whose sacrifice we are honouring. We may hear them say softly: I love my family, I love my comrades, I love my country and I will defend their freedom to the end









Speech by the Prime Minister of France M. Dominique de Villepin.

"Your Majesty,

Prime Minister of Canada,

Ministers,

Members of Parliament and elected representatives,

Ambassadors,

Monsieur le Préfet,

General Officers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are gathered today at the monument to the Canadian soldiers killed at the battle of Vimy Ridge.

90 years ago, on Easter Monday 1917, an allied offensive attacked an enemy fortress here, a fortress defended by reinforced concrete, barbed wire, machine-gun nests, mines and trenches, and which had already cost the lives of more than 150,000 Entente troops.

[In English:] 90 years ago this Easter Monday, after a week of shelling the enemy lines, in driving sleet, 35,000 Canadian soldiers launched their assault. Beneath a deluge of fire, they advanced towards the German defences. By midnight on Tuesday, Vimy Ridge had fallen. 3,600 Canadian troops were dead and 11,000 wounded. By their courage and their spirit of sacrifice, those who fought at Vimy struck one of the first of the blows that opened the way to victory a year and a half later.

Altogether 66,000 Canadians, all volunteers, many of them so young, coming from all over Canada, were to give their lives for this war fought so far from home. They did so out of solidarity with Great Britain and with France, their brothers. That is why on 26 July 1936, King Edward VIII, your uncle, Ma’am, inaugurated this monument of commemoration and gratitude.

Your nation, Mr Prime Minister, displayed this same solidarity again at Dieppe on 19 August 1942, and on D-Day, when Canadian troops were in the front line on Juno Beach, paving the way for the Liberation of Europe.

[In French:] The heros of Vimy died to defend values which have constantly united us and brought us together: values of peace, freedom, tolerance and respect for man. Our democracies must go on defending these values throughout the world. This is why we are together involved in safeguarding peace in Bosnia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Haiti and Afghanistan. It’s why I want, in France’s name, to pay a solemn tribute to the Canadian soldiers fallen on French soil. In my thoughts too are the six Canadian soldiers killed yesterday in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

To our British allies, I want to express our unfailing gratitude.

On this Artois soil which has suffered so much, and where our allies were our liberators, France says thank you to Canada. [In English:] Thank you Canada.

[In French:] To the Great War veterans, I want to express the whole nation’s heartfelt admiration and deep gratitude.

France honours the Canadian soldiers! France honours Canada! Long live the Republic! Long live France!"


Offline KwaiLo

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Re: Speeches at the 90th anniversary of Vimy Ridge
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2007, 22:33:52 »
The Prime Minister Of Canada Stephen Harper's speech;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6373IRqSeU

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7vCQ7VMuvA
« Last Edit: April 22, 2007, 22:43:22 by KwaiLo »

Offline Carcharodon Carcharias

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Well, it's the anniversary of Vimy Ridge today.

8 yrs off 100 yrs.

Here is a 2nd cousin of mine KIA on the Ridge 92 yrs ago today.

He was from down east originally, and ended up with the 38th Ottawa Battalion.

Richard Marlin cut down at just 20 yrs of age.

He's in a CWGC communal grave, resting with his mates just 100's of metres from the Ridge itself, and buried near where he and his mates fell.

RIP mate.

OWDU

EDIT: Anyone who wants to add to this, feel free.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 07:48:22 by Overwatch Downunder »
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Offline kkwd

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Re: Vimy Ridge, 09 Apr 09, and 92 Yrs Ago
« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2009, 05:26:16 »
Here is the info on 2 brothers killed this day in 1917.

The Long, Long Trail
Quote
9 April 1917
814814 Olivier Chenier, 27, and 814813 Wilfred Chenier, 28, both of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force, who died during the attack on Vimy Ridge. Sons of Janvier Chenier, of Buckingham, Quebec, they are buried in adjacent graves in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez.

Another pair of brothers from the same day.

Quote
Also 9 April 1917
797131 Arthur West, 28, and 797116Bill West, 26, both of the 14th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, who died during the attack on Vimy Ridge. Sons of Abraham and Emiline West of Norfolk, Ontario, they are buried in adjacent graves in Nine Elms Cemetery, Thelus. A third brother, 797113 Louis West, 21, was also killed at Vimy Ridge on 7 September 7 1917. He is buried in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 05:38:58 by kkwd »
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A friend of mine did their master's thesis on the stability of the tunnels at Vimy Ridge.


http://hdl.handle.net/1974/979

Some interesting pictures of the tunnels (and a lot of geology).

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Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #37 on: December 17, 2010, 06:38:40 »
Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
article link
A Canadian soldier's letter from Vimy Ridge is being hailed by a European scholar as a "fantastic find" that provides evidence of a previously unknown "Christmas Truce" — the impromptu, Dec. 25 laying down of arms by German and Allied soldiers during the First World War.

University of Aberdeen historian Thomas Weber, whose own great-grandfather fought with the German army during the 1914-18 conflict, said the letter home from a Toronto soldier details an exchange of gifts between enemy soldiers just months before the horrific battle remembered as Canada's coming of age.

The letter is all the more poignant because the young Ontario soldier who wrote it — 23-year-old Pte. Ronald MacKinnon — was killed in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a bloody but successful Canadian charge up a strategic height of land in the French countryside.

A few months earlier, MacKinnon had written to his sister in Toronto about a remarkable event on Dec. 25, 1916, when German and Canadian soldiers reached across the battle lines to share Christmas greetings and trade presents.

"Here we are again as the song says," MacKinnon wrote. "I had quite a good Xmas considering I was in the front line. Xmas eve was pretty stiff, sentry-go up to the hips in mud of course. . . . We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly. They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars."

The passage ends with MacKinnon noting that, "Xmas was 'tray bon,' which means very good."

The best known Christmas truce from the First World War took place in 1914, when German and Allied soldiers are said to have sung Christmas carols together and otherwise fraternized in a brief moment of peace amid the killing fields of the Western Front.

But historians have long debated the precise details of that event, and Weber told Postmedia News that most scholars believe such episodes did not recur as the gruesome war dragged on and feelings of hatred and revenge came to fill the minds of men on both sides.

"But these kinds of sentiments were being expressed throughout the war," said Weber, whose recently published book, Hitler's First War, details the First World War experiences of the central figure of the Second World War.

Notably, says Weber, Adolf Hitler's own regiment in the First World War was among those known to have participated in momentary acts of kinship with enemy soldiers. He takes aim in his book at the widely held notion that Hitler was profoundly shaped by a deep hatred and bitterness for the enemy that was common among German soldiers from the First World War.

While Hitler is known to have been personally hostile to momentary peacemaking amid the war, there was a definite "gulf" between his views and those of many Germans on the front lines.

MacKinnon's letter and similar evidence of fraternizing with foes "really puts to rest the long dominant view that the majority of combatants during the Great War were driven by a brutalizing and ever faster spinning cycle of violence," Weber argues in a summary of his research.


"I'm not saying that brutalization did not occur at all," he added, "but more commonly what happened was that soldiers in the heat of battle fought ferociously but, after the battle and after the adrenalin had gone, remorse tended to set in, and there are many incidents recorded where soldiers tried to help injured soldiers from the other side."

It was "because of this kind of sentiment that continued Christmas truces were possible," Weber states.

The historian said he was alerted to the MacKinnon letter following a lecture he gave this fall in Toronto. An audience member approached him afterwards and said his family had direct evidence of the sometimes friendly relations exhibited between enemies during the First World War.

"The letter was a fantastic find and clearly demonstrates that there was an attempt to downplay these small-scale Christmas truces when they happened," says Weber, noting that official military records make little or no mention of such events — largely because they could be interpreted by army commanders as a failure to maintain discipline and a fighting frame of mind among front-line soldiers.

"Officers had to report to higher chain of command so had an interest in downplaying events in the official version in their war diaries."

He said in an interview that British and Canadian soldiers appear to be most commonly involved in Christmas truces, which were occurring despite the "great amount of risk for the first soldier coming out" of the trenches to initiate contact with the enemy.

"You never quite know how widespread the phenomenon will be," he said. "Will the enemy start singing or get out their guns?"

He noted that the "existing popular version" of why Christmas truces occurred suggests "what was ultimately important was whether Allied troops were facing 'good Germans' like Bavarians or 'bad' Germans like Prussians and Saxons. But actually, it seems it doesn't matter whether the Germans were northern, southern, Catholic or Protestant — the influential factor was whether they were facing British — including Canadian and Australian units — rather than French troops."

Other historians have cautioned against "sentimentalizing" life on First World War battle fronts. The award-winning Canadian chronicler of the war, Canadian War Museum historian Tim Cook, has documented the illegal executions of enemy prisoners and other acts of barbarism during the conflict, and once wrote that such "cruel" episodes typically garner less attention that idealized stories of spontaneous truces featuring "cigarette-swapping, football-kicking soldiers at Christmas."

Weber says there's no doubt the brutalizing effects of the First World War led to the "dehumanizing" of enemy combatants in many cases, but that the Christmas truces highlight how a "kind of humanity did survive."

Text of letter written on Dec. 30, 1916 to Jeanie Gregson in Toronto.
Dearest Sister,

Here we are again as the song says. I had quite a good Xmas considering I was in the front line. Xmas eve was pretty stiff, sentry-go up to the hips in mud of course. I had long rubber boots or waders. We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly. They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars. Xmas was "tray bon" which means very good.

Do you ever write to Aunt Minnie in Cleveland? If you do, see if she can give you the address of any of our mother's relations in England. Aunt Nellie was saying that some of them lived in Grangemouth, which is not far from Fauldhouse. If you could get me their address I would be very pleased to see them when I am in Blighty again.

I am at present in an army school 50 miles behind the line and am likely to be here for a month or so. My address will be the same, No. 3 Coy., PPCLI. I left the trenches on Xmas night. The trenches we are holding at present are very good and things are very quiet.

I have had no Xmas mail yet but I hope to get it all soon. How is Neil getting on in the city? I'll write to him some of these days. Remember me to all my many friends at home.

Your loving brother
Ronald

Photo:
Canadian soldier, Private Ronald MacKinnon, whose 1916 letter from Vimy Ridge is being hailed as a "fantastic find" documenting a previously unknown "Christmas Truce" between German and Allied soldiers during the First World War.
Photograph by: Oxford University Press, Photo Handout

                      (Reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act)





Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #38 on: December 17, 2010, 09:09:37 »

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Private RONALD  MACKINNON who died on April 9, 1917

Service Number: 157629
Age: 23
Force: Army
Unit: Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regt.)

(More photos at this link.)

Book of Remembrance page:



Attestation Paper:





Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #39 on: December 17, 2010, 09:13:05 »
The PPCLI War Diary mentions attempts at fraternization, but claims none occurred. Considering it would most likely have been severely punished, both participants and chain of command, if senior commanders had known, it's unlikely that the event would have been recorded in detail.


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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #40 on: December 17, 2010, 13:45:12 »
Amazing how certain stories can change your perception of the good and bad in war!
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #41 on: December 18, 2010, 17:15:13 »
1916 letter supports tale of Christmas truce
One soldier's letter tells of Canadian and German troops swapping 'bully beef for cigars,' writes Randy Boswell.
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News December 17, 2010

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/1916+letter+supports+tale+Christmas+truce/3990888/story.html

Quote
A Canadian soldier's letter from Vimy Ridge is being hailed by a European scholar as a "fantastic find" that provides evidence of a previously unknown "Christmas Truce" -- the impromptu, Dec. 25 laying down of arms by German and Allied soldiers during the First World War.

University of Aberdeen historian Thomas Weber, whose own great-grandfather fought with the German army during the 1914-18 conflict, said the letter home from a Toronto soldier details an exchange of gifts between enemy soldiers just months before the horrific battle remembered as Canada's coming of age.

The letter is all the more poignant because the young soldier who wrote it -- 23-year-old Pte. Ronald MacKinnon -- was killed in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a bloody but successful Canadian charge up a strategic height of land in the French countryside.

A few months earlier, MacKinnon had written to his sister in Toronto about a remarkable event on Dec. 25, 1916, when German and Canadian soldiers reached across the battle lines to share Christmas greetings and trade presents.

"Here we are again as the song says," MacKinnon wrote. "I had quite a good Xmas considering I was in the front line. Xmas eve was pretty stiff, sentry-go up to the hips in mud of course. ... We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly. They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars."

The passage ends with MacKinnon noting that, "Xmas was 'tray bon,' which means very good."

The best known Christmas truce from the First World War took place in 1914, when German and Allied soldiers are said to have sung Christmas carols together and otherwise fraternized in a brief moment of peace amid the killing fields of the Western Front.

But historians have long debated the precise details of that event, and Weber told Postmedia News that most scholars believe such episodes did not recur as the gruesome war dragged on and feelings of hatred and revenge came to fill the minds of men on both sides.

"But these kinds of sentiments were being expressed throughout the war," said Weber, whose recently published book, Hitler's First War, details the First World War experiences of the central figure of the Second World War.

Notably, says Weber, Adolf Hitler's own regiment in the First World War was among those known to have participated in momentary acts of kinship with enemy soldiers. He takes aim in his book at the widely held notion that Hitler was profoundly shaped by a deep hatred and bitterness for the enemy that was common among German soldiers from the First World War.

While Hitler is known to have been personally hostile to momentary peacemaking amid the war, there was a definite "gulf" between his views and those of many Germans on the front lines.

MacKinnon's letter and similar evidence of fraternizing with foes "really puts to rest the long dominant view that the majority of combatants during the Great War were driven by a brutalizing and ever faster spinning cycle of violence," Weber argues in a summary of his research.

"I'm not saying that brutalization did not occur at all," he added, "but more commonly what happened was that soldiers in the heat of battle fought ferociously but, after the battle and after the adrenalin had gone, remorse tended to set in, and there are many incidents recorded where soldiers tried to help injured soldiers from the other side."

It was "because of this kind of sentiment that continued Christmas truces were possible," Weber states. Weber says there's no doubt the brutalizing effects of the war led to the "dehumanizing" of enemy combatants in many cases, but that the Christmas truces highlight how a "kind of humanity did survive."
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/1916+letter+supports+tale+Christmas+truce/3990888/story.html#ixzz18VJj4rr1

Offline MMSS

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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #42 on: December 18, 2010, 17:20:35 »
The Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Private RONALD  MACKINNON who died on April 9, 1917

Service Number: 157629
Age: 23
Force: Army
Unit: Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regt.)

Wouldn't have a family connection to Cape Breton would he/you? My wife's mother is a MacKinnon, from Little Narrows.

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #43 on: December 18, 2010, 17:26:47 »
Wouldn't have a family connection to Cape Breton would he/you? My wife's mother is a MacKinnon, from Little Narrows.

His attestation paper (posted above) shows he was born in Toronto.

My only connection to Cape Breton was serving as the RSSO for 2 NSH (CB) in the 1980s.


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Re: Vimy Ridge letter shows war did not crush human spirit
« Reply #44 on: December 18, 2010, 18:13:48 »
An old story for a few of us

See link - http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/wfa-publications/118-wfa-stand-to/894-stand-to-84.html

PM me for a larger link of the trace
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Vimy Ridge 2017: 100 Years, 100 Summits
« Reply #45 on: March 15, 2017, 21:59:35 »
Vimy Ridge 2017: 100 Years, 100 Summits

“My father always went into the mountains as if he were entering a church.”  George Orwell


Both my grandfathers served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War One. As infantrymen. Both were at Vimy. 

Of course, they survived or I would not be writing these words. How miraculous that is - that I am here because both survived the mud, blood and gore of that most infamously hideous global conflict - was driven home to me during my first visit to Canada’s Vimy Ridge memorial. On it are inscribed the names of over 60,000 Canadians, most of them Infantrymen like my Grandfathers, who did not survive that terrible war.

My mother’s father, Giles Clark, came close to earning himself an inscription on that memorial: he was buried alive by shellfire at Vimy, fighting with the PPCLI sometime before the famous battle and, incredibly, was dug out alive but terribly injured. Ironically, that probably saved his life as he was invalided out of the war. My dad’s dad and my namesake, Richard Eaton, fought with the 67th Battalion Western Scots. The 67th are perpetuated today by the Victoria based Canadian Scottish Regiment, with whom I now serve. Grandpa Eaton was mustard gassed (‘If you didn’t get a whiff of gas, you weren’t at the front’) and it eventually killed him, as it also did two of his Kelway family brothers-in-law.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, when I was younger, Canada’s success at the Battle of Vimy Ridge was an intensely proud event in the history of my family. Although no one bragged about it, or even talked about it much at all apart from my dad, it’s now apparent to me that in our own quiet, self-effacing, Canadian way my family were as proud of their contribution to Canadian history as any American whose forefathers froze with Washington at Valley Forge, or Englishman whose ancestors crushed tyranny with Wellington at Waterloo. So, as the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge approached I wondered: what could I do to honour that contribution?

One thing I like to do when I get the chance is to climb mountains. Big ones. My current personal high point is 18,491 ft, which I achieved in February 2016 with a successful summit of Pico de Orizaba. Coincidentally, on April 9th, 1917 the men of the Canadian Corps successfully scaled a well defended high point during that now distant battle. Of course, there is little in the way of comparable risk as most mountains these days do not confront the climber with thousands of well dug in opponents sporting hundreds of machine guns and artillery pieces. However, as a gesture, I thought that it might be appropriate for me to climb 100 summits within a year encompassing 2017.

And so, on December 17th, 2016, I began ticking off the summits (the photo of this first summit is included at the top of this page). My criteria for a ‘worthy summit’ is, of necessity, relatively modest. It has to be a geographical feature that is known as a mountain, or is mountain like in its prominence. It has to be a self-propelled effort by me from bottom to top, and back down again because, after all, there were no Sky Rides, ATVs or helicopters at Vimy Ridge. And I have to be carrying a reasonable load on my back, not only to pay homage to the 60 to 100 pounds of weapons, ammunition and ancillary equipment which encumbered my Infantry Grandfathers, but to make sure that I meet my personal fitness preparation goals for future big climbs.

How am I doing so far?

As of March 14th, 2017, the day I wrote this article, by focusing mainly on the relatively humble local bumps I’ve managed to find the time to haul me and my 30 pound pack up and down 27 summits. Sometimes, I’ve even been able to complete two or three summits in one day. On other occasions, time is short, so I have to be content with one, but I also have a few bigger targets in my sights for this summer. Regardless, as I step off on each climb I think of my Grandfathers, the kind, quiet, and dignified old men I knew as a child and instead envision two battle hardened, 20-something soldiers of the elite Canadian Corps – Shock Troops of the Empire - setting off into No Man’s Land, rifles gripped, bayonets fixed, to do a dirty job in the face of unlimited danger and vast uncertainty. Of course, these thoughts help me to put my relatively trivial discomforts and worries into the right perspective, while concurrently passing down our family’s proud, and very lucky, Vimy and First World War story to my children in an authentic, enduring and meaningful way.

And maybe to also, finally, after 100 years, celebrate a little.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/vimy-ridge-2017-100-years-summits-richard-eaton?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_detail_base%3BiUR88Ygyyg%2B03fHwJHD2LQ%3D%3D

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #46 on: April 09, 2017, 08:22:58 »
Centennial messages from the Queen ...
Quote
“Today, as people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gather to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, there will be difficult memories of loss and of suffering, but also memories of many heroic acts of bravery and of sacrifice on the part of those who served. On this day a century ago, thousands of Canadian soldiers stood far from home together with their allies in defence of peace and freedom. They fought courageously and with great ingenuity in winning the strategic high point of Vimy Ridge, though victory came at a heavy cost with more than 10,000 fallen and wounded.

I am pleased that my son The Prince of Wales, and my grandsons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, are attending the commemorations today.

As Colonel-in-Chief, Captain General and Air Commodore-in-Chief of Canadian Armed Forces units, I have often borne witness to the professionalism and dedication, as well as the sense of equality, of respect, of perseverance, of sacrifice and of hope that infuses our military.

It is our duty to remember and honour those who served so valiantly and who gave so much here at Vimy Ridge and throughout the First World War.”
... and from Canada's GG/Commander-in-Chief:
Quote
On this day a century ago, after months of careful planning and surveillance, through considerable innovations in tactics and technology, and after remarkable determination and courage, the Canadian Corps took Vimy Ridge.

Despite all of these efforts, the outcome was uncertain, the cost of victory very high. Three thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight Canadians were killed in the fighting. Seven thousand were wounded. On the home front, millions of Canadians waited anxiously for news of their loved ones.

Today, as we mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, we honour the soldiers who fought at Vimy. We have the opportunity to look back on our history and to learn valuable lessons from the past. Indeed, we have that responsibility.   

Sharon and I are honoured to join the tens of thousands of people attending the commemorations today at Vimy in France, while Canadians gather for memorials in communities large and small across the country. Let us remember those soldiers who sacrificed so much and let us strive always for a better understanding of our history and for peace. Lest we forget.
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Re: Vimy
« Reply #47 on: April 09, 2017, 10:51:50 »
Just got home from the ceremony at the National War Memorial.  It was good, if different.  Not impressed with the Minister of the Environment neglecting to acknowledge members of the CF in her address.  Unintended, I'm sure.

They did have First Nations participation with a Smudge and Drum ceremony.  The drummer was long in song,  I noticed that the foreign dignitaries were somewhat puzzled by it.

But overall,  very good and well done.  The white doves at the end was touching.

Today, I remember Pte Edward Maunsell, 10th Battalion,  my great uncle who fell this morning in 1917.  And my grandfather, Lt  Edward Buckwell, LdSH(RC) who passed away overseas while revisiting Vimy for the memorial dedication in 1936.  As well as all the others who fell and fought at Vimy. :salute:

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #48 on: April 09, 2017, 11:53:59 »
What 35 Montreal high school students hope to learn as they travel to Vimy
35 students from Lindsay Place High School are travelling to Vimy to join thousands of other Canadians
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-students-visit-vimy-1.4059705

Victoria Hall exhibition commemorates 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge battle
http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/victoria-hall-exhibition-commemorates-100th-anniversary-of-vimy-ridge-battle


'That day was like a scythe': Montreal and the casualty lists of Vimy Ridge
Battalion diaries, newspapers detail decisive battle's toll on Montrealers 100 years ago

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/vimy-ridge-casualty-lists-montreal-1.4058385


Newly discovered photos depict unveiling of Vimy memorial Walter Wright was one of the organizers of the Toronto
pilgrimage to Vimy, France, made by thousands of Canadian veterans for the unveiling of the memorial.
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/04/08/newly-discovered-photos-depict-unveiling-of-vimy-memorial.html

The Germans considered it a victory, too: Rare images showing everything you didn’t know about Vimy Ridge
http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-germans-considered-it-a-victory-too-rare-images-showing-everything-you-didnt-know-about-vimy-ridge





Lest We Forget :salute:


C.U.



« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 12:59:27 by Chispa »
History is not like playing horseshoes where close enough counts; those that have done the proper legwork have a responsibility to insure a detailed accurate account. Canada at War Blog  http://wp.me/55eja

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #49 on: December 22, 2017, 14:29:51 »
A tweet of mine:
https://twitter.com/Mark3Ds/status/944287658842484736

Quote
Mark Collins  @Mark3Ds

#WWI #CanadianArmy-Prof. Jack Granatstein on Canadian myths about Battle of #VimyRidge 1917 and the realities-note majority of Canadians in Corps actually British-born (pdf 6-7) #cdnhistory #BritishArmy #militaryhistory @WW1TheGreatWar  http://jmss.org/jmss/index.php/jmss/article/view/749/701


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Re: Vimy
« Reply #50 on: December 22, 2017, 15:20:27 »
I cannot take issue with Dr Granatstein's observations, and he has made his points in a very balanced manner. However, the subject of the nationality of the members of the CEF requires some amplification. The decades before the Great War had seen heavy immigration to Canada from the United Kingdom. As Donald E. Graves has noted, more than 480,000 people between 1901 and 1911 alone. Many members of the CEF probably came to Canada as infants or small children and had no recollection of their country of birth. The location of their next-of-kin (nok) on their enlistment documents is probably a more accurate indication of their nationality than their place of birth according to Graves. For example, in the 3rd Battalion CEF, with 60.4% born in the UK, if those showing nok in North America are removed, the "British" drop to 29.5%. This is probably a more accurate indication of nationality.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 15:26:11 by Old Sweat »

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #51 on: December 22, 2017, 16:18:31 »
Further to the above, circa 1969 I read an account by a British-born Canadian Gunner about meeting a childhood friend serving in the RA just before the attack on the Ridge. It went something like this:

"I hate the sight of you Canadians."

"For whatever reason, Alf?"

"Because wherever you go, we go, and wherever you go, all hell breaks loose. What devilment are you up to this time?"

"We're going to take the ridge."

There is not much doubt in my mind, they both considered one to be Canadian and the other to be British, regardless of place of birth.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #52 on: December 22, 2017, 16:46:50 »
And lots on this angle:

Quote
Yes, French Canadians Did Their Share in the First World War
http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/Vol17/no4/page47-eng.asp

Mark
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Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #53 on: December 22, 2017, 17:29:06 »
To be somewhat cynical, the reason Vimy Ridge may occupy such a prominent place in Canadian lore is location, location, location. Whoever picked the ridge selected one of the most striking vistas on the Western Front. The magnificent monument catches the eye and dominates the surrounding countryside like nowhere else I have seen in France and Flanders.

Sir Arthur Currie was correct in his assessment, and his fears, that Vimy would (my words) grow to occupy centre stage for Canadians, when it was a bit player in the drama of the Great War.

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #54 on: January 25, 2018, 10:44:36 »
Last summer my wife and I visited Vimy. Whatever we may think today about the actual military value of the operation, or whatever second-guessing we might indulge in, there has been nothing for me, so far in my life, to equal actually standing on that spot.

I have walked some of the battlefields in Italy, but there is just something about the place, the huge brooding monument, and the endless cemeteries, which all make Vimy a very striking and unforgettable experience.

I recommend it to all Canadians.
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #55 on: January 25, 2018, 11:35:54 »
I second PBI's thoughts. Last year I had the honour and the privilege to be one of the conducting officers for the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery's commemoration of the centenary of the capture of the Ridge. It was a humbling, but most gratifying, experience and one that would be almost impossible to replicate.

Offline YZT580

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #56 on: January 25, 2018, 14:05:28 »
If I recall correctly, Vimy Ridge has been deeded to Canada in perpetuity: it is part of our country.  It is an awe inspiring site and very humbling.  Successive parliaments should be required to stand in the shadow of that monument when they take their oath of allegiance much as all Israeli troops are required to take their oaths in Masada.  Maybe then our MPs would begin to take their solemn responsibilities to Canada seriously

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #57 on: January 28, 2018, 18:32:51 »
Last summer my wife and I visited Vimy. Whatever we may think today about the actual military value of the operation, or whatever second-guessing we might indulge in, there has been nothing for me, so far in my life, to equal actually standing on that spot.

I have walked some of the battlefields in Italy, but there is just something about the place, the huge brooding monument, and the endless cemeteries, which all make Vimy a very striking and unforgettable experience.

I recommend it to all Canadians.

All the more impressive when you realize that the French lost over 150,000 casualties trying to take and hold the ridge prior to 1917. There's a small memorial to their efforts in the vicinity and, although I remember visiting it during a couple of visits, can't remember exactly where it's placed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_National_Vimy_Memorial
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Nomad933

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #58 on: January 29, 2018, 07:30:37 »
I've been fortunate enough to travel there once a year,for the past few years, with my family.  Each time finding a new path or memorial.  There is a large memorial to the Moroccans- directly across from the main monument. I have to admit, when my daughter and I went to pay our respects on Nov 11, we were saddened to see that there were only three wreaths there and apparently we were the only people to visit it....

Offline Simian Turner

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #59 on: January 29, 2018, 11:44:57 »
I've been fortunate enough to travel there once a year,for the past few years, with my family.  Each time finding a new path or memorial.  There is a large memorial to the Moroccans- directly across from the main monument. I have to admit, when my daughter and I went to pay our respects on Nov 11, we were saddened to see that there were only three wreaths there and apparently we were the only people to visit it....

All the more impressive when you realize that the French lost over 150,000 casualties trying to take and hold the ridge prior to 1917. There's a small memorial to their efforts in the vicinity and, although I remember visiting it during a couple of visits, can't remember exactly where it's placed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_National_Vimy_Memorial

Moroccan Memorial also makes reference to the Zouaves (Indigenous Algerians) and the Foreign Legion who fought as part of 1st Moroccan Division - http://www.webmatters.net/france/ww1_vimy_9.htm

"Vimy Ridge ran almost 12km north-east of Arras. The Germans occupied Vimy Ridge in September 1914 and their engineers immediately began to construct a network of artillery-proof trenches and bunkers. These were protected from infantry attack by concrete Machine Gun Posts.

The French Tenth Army responded by digging its own system of trenches at Arras. Repeated French attempts to take Vimy Ridge cost about 150,000 casualties between May and November 1915. Although the French were able to take the villages of Carency, Neuville St Vaast and Souchez, Vimy Ridge remained under the control of the Germans."  http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWvimy.htm

Nearby 15 minutes away from Vimy is Ablain St.-Nazaire French Military Cemetery, also known as “Notre Dame de Lorette”, is the largest French military cemetery in the world. A total of 40,057 casualties are buried here. Almost all of the remains are casualties of the First World War. http://www.greatwar.co.uk/french-flanders-artois/cemetery-ablain-st-nazaire-notre-dame-de-lorette.htm
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 11:59:53 by Simian Turner »
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: Vimy
« Reply #60 on: January 29, 2018, 14:26:22 »
I have been to Notre Dame de Lorrette. It is extremely impressive.

If you get time, visit the village just below the cemetery, in the direction of Vimy. It has been rebuilt, but only just barely. They left the burned out hulk of the cathedral as it was in 1918. Makes quite an impression.