April 2017 marked the 100 year anniversary of a defining moment in Canadian history
April 9th, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of “The Battle of Vimy Ridge.” The battle is widely considered a defining moment in Canadian history – a defining moment which came at a great cost.
The battle marked the first time soldiers from all four Canadian Corps divisions fought side-by-side on the same battlefield.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge began at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917. The first wave of 20,000 Canadian soldiers, each carrying up to 36 kilograms (80 pounds) of equipment, attacked through the wind-driven snow and sleet into the face of deadly machine gunfire.
Though the number of casualties suffered by the Battalions were greatest in the first waves of the assault, the Canadians proceeded on schedule. Most of the heavily-defended ridge was captured by noon. Hill 145, as the main height on the ridge was called, was taken on the morning of April 10. Two days later, the Canadians took “the Pimple,” as the other significant height on the ridge was called and with that the Germans were forced to withdraw and the Battle of Vimy Ridge was now over.
Of the 100,000 Canadians who fought to take Vimy Ridge, approximately 11,000 suffered casualties, 3598 of them fatal. The First World War took a huge toll with more than 66,000 Canadians losing their lives and 170,000 being wounded by the end of the First World War.
Today, on land granted to Canada for all time by France, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial sits atop Hill 145. The monument is inscribed with the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were listed as “missing, presumed dead” in France. It stands as a tribute to all who served their country in battle and risked or gave their lives in the war.
The Government of Canada marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the Battle of Vimy Ridge with commemorative ceremonies on April 9, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France and the National War Memorial in Ottawa.