In the early morning of Easter Monday, April 9th 1917 all four Canadian divisions of the Canadian Corps worked together for the first time as a cohesive formation to advance on Vimy Ridge. Working together to overtake the Germans, the Canadian Corps firmed control of the ridge by nightfall of April 12th, 1917. Canadians suffered 10,602 casualties; 3,598 killed and 7004 wounded. The Germans suffered an unknown number of casualties and 4000 men were captured to become prisoners of war. Four Canadian soldiers earned the Victoria Cross for military valour: Private William Milne, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Lance-Sergeant Ellis Sifton, Wallacetown, Ontario; Captain Thain MacDowell, Brockville, Ontario; and Private John Pattison, Calgary, Alberta. This military achievement became the image of Canada’s national unity and achievement. To learn more about the battle, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vimy_Ridge.
The Imperial War Graves Commission awarded Canada eight sites of significant Canadian engagement during the war to erect memorials in 1920. This began an architectural design competition open to all Canadian architects, designers, sculptors and artists. A Toronto sculptor and designer by the name of Walter Seymour Allward won the competition with his design in October, 1921. The Vimy Ridge site was picked with the help of the Prime Minister and House of Commons. On July 26, 1936, King Edward VIII unveiled the Vimy Ridge monument to a crowd of 50,000 people. During WW II, Canada could not do much to protect the monuments. Germany took control of the area and it was rumoured that the memorial was destroyed. The Germans denied that accusation and published a picture of Adolf Hitler standing in front of it in 1940. The undamaged site would not be confirmed until Allies recaptured Vimy Ridge in September 1944. To learn more about the memorial, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_National_Vimy_Memorial.
On April 6, 2017, thousands of people come to the Vimy Ridge to remember and say thank you to the soldiers that fought at Vimy Ridge. The French President, Governor General of Canada, the Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, the Duke of Cambridge, and the Canadian Prime Minister all attended the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The ceremony included musical performances, speeches, a bagpiper playing “The Lament” and the laying of wreaths at the feet of the “Canada Bereft” statue.
“These ordinary and extraordinary men of the British dominion fought for the first time as citizens of one and the same country, Francophones and [A]nglophones. New Canadians. Indigenous peoples. Side by side, united, here in Vimy, within the four divisions of the Canadian Corps.” – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Photo source: Wikipedia.ca, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/overseas/first-world-war/france/vimy