Battle Of Vimy Ridge

April 9, 2012 by staff 

Battle Of Vimy Ridge, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon visited France and Belgium over the long weekend to mark a sombre milestone in Canada’s history – the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The brutal fight killed more than 3,500 Canadians and wounded scores more, according to Veterans Affairs Canada, but was a turning point for the Allies in the First World War and a key moment in Canada’s military identity.

“The lessons of the First World War are many, and we must always remember the enormous sacrifice of Canadians who served and fell in the fields of France and Belgium,” Johnston said in a statement.

“Sharon and I will undertake this visit knowing that, out of the staggering death and destruction of that conflict, Canadians have been able to grasp and carry forward that which is true and honourable and lasting, including a commitment to working together and to always remembering the terrible cost of war.”

The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge marked the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps worked together as one formation and the battle gave them a heavy hitter reputation.

The attack began at daybreak on Easter Monday 1917, with the four divisions sweeping the ridge in the face of snow and sleet. They were in command of the crest of ridge by that afternoon, and the whole of the ridge within three days.

“The victory at Vimy Ridge is celebrated as a national coming of age,” the Veterans Affairs website says.

“For the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps had attacked and triumphed together; four Canadians won the Victoria Cross.”

Johnston began his commemorative tour Sunday in France, with a ceremony at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial. The memorial – a bronzed caribou, the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment -commemorates all Newfoundlanders who fought in the First World War.

On July 1 1916, the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment was decimated in less than 30 minutes at Beaumont-Hamel. Of the 801 soldiers who went into battle that day, 92 per cent didn’t report for duty the next day.

“By all accounts, the Newfoundlanders who fought here were courageous, skilled and dedicated. And it is also no surprise to learn that they were very well-liked by the people of this area, with whom they billeted,” Johnston said in a speech Sunday at the memorial.

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