Vimy Ridge
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Vimy Ridge

On April 9, 1917 guns started booming before dawn on Easter Monday or known as Bloody Monday. It was the start of an intense three day battle for Canada to take back Vimy Ridge from the Germans.

The Canadians planned and rehearsed their attack for months. In the wind, sleet and snow more than 15,000 infantry overran the Germans and kept going even though officers were killed.

Vimy Ridge, located in northern France, was heavily fortified seven kilometer ridge in a commanding view over allied lines.

Canadian students work on four month contract. They give tours which includes walking in the trenches our soldiers once walked (although the ground is covered with wood planks) plus a visit to the underground tunnel where the soldiers ate, slept and waited for word it was time to go out and do battle. Some soldiers etched their name, date and where they were from on the walls of the tunnel. Very eerie when trying to imagine the hardships the soldiers went through.

The land around Vimy was once flat but because of shelling it looks more “crater-like”. Our tour guide told us the sheeps keep the grass short. No one is allowed on these hallowed grounds since it technically is one giant gravesite as men are buried where they died. You must stay on the marked path.

Inside the museum are pictures of soldiers, letters written by soldiers, some of the utensils and kitchen ware used, cups used, a small room where a short video is shown, items used for communication and much more.

Before I got to the monument, I stopped for a bit at Canadian Cemetery No. 2 which contains 2,965 Commonwealth soldiers, a huge portion not identified.

Hill 145 is the highest and most important feature of Vimy Ridge. It is here the Vimy monument stands with two pylons at 30 metres high. One pylon represents Canada (bears a Maple Leaf) the other represents France (bears Fleur de Lys). The names of 11,285 killed or missing in action with no known graves are etched on the monument which was unveiled in 1936. Around the monument are some twenty beautiful sculptures representing peace, justice, grief, hope; all poignant statues including Weeping Woman facing Douai Plains. She symbolizes a young nation weeping the loss of her sons and daughters. In 1940, when Hitler forces overran France, he took a victory lap around the monument. Thankfully he didn’t destroy it as some Canadians feared he might.

It is said in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canada became of age and out of Britain’s shadow. But the terrible price of this victory: 10,000 soldiers were killed or wounded.

Every Canadians ought to visit one of these remarkable remembrances of our Canadians soldiers of World War I and World War II such as Vimy or Juno Beach. Vimy is a very powerful reminder of the brutal life our soldiers endured and still endure to this day of fighting against evil.


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