Lest We Forget………………………………..Never
Vimy Ridge and the 100 Days
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a military engagement fought primarily as part of the Battle of Arras, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, during the First World War. The main combatants were the Canadian Corps, of four divisions, against three divisions of the German Sixth Army. The battle, which took place from 9 to 12 April 1917, was part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras, a diversionary attack for the French Nivelle Offensive.
The objective of the Canadian Corps was to take control of the German-held high ground along an escarpment at the northernmost end of the Arras Offensive. This would ensure that the southern flank could advance without suffering German enfilade fire. Supported by a creeping barrage, the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day of the attack. The village of Thélus fell during the second day of the attack, as did the crest of the ridge, once the Canadian Corps overcame a salient against considerable German resistance. The final objective, a fortified knoll located outside the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, fell to the Canadian Corps on 12 April. The German forces then retreated to the Oppy–Méricourt line.
Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps in capturing the ridge to a mixture of technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training, as well as the failure of the German Sixth Army to properly apply the new German defensive doctrine. The battle was the first occasion when all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle together and it was made a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice. A 100-hectare (250-acre) portion of the former battleground serves as a memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
The code word used by the Canadians for security at this battle was “Llandovery Castle” a Canadian hospital ship carrying both Canadian wounded and Canadian Nursing Sisters. The ship had been torpedoed and sunk in June of 1918.
Without using preliminary artillery but using tanks (effective early but out of commission later) the Canadians moved forward at 4:20 am on August 8, 1918. By 1:15 pm the Canadians had more than achieved their objectives. The German lines had been breached and the Canadians had pressed 13 kilometres into German held territory. The cost was high, with almost 4000 Canadians killed or wounded but the results were impressive; roughly 27,000 German casualties and approximately 5,000 taken prisoner. The “Flanders deception” had worked flawlessly. A German POW had expressed amazement that the Canadians had been his foe, as he was told by the high command that all the Canadians had been moved to Belgium. During the next 2 days, the Germans had been pushed back an additional 24 kilometres, 4 German divisions were “on the run” and 10,000 more prisoners taken by the Canadian forces. This victory had liberated 25 French towns and villages and put a stop to the German efforts to split the British and French armies. The German Spring Offensive had been stopped and the tide of the war reversed.
The result of this Canadian action is best verbalized by Germany’s Erich von Ludendorff, the general quartermaster of the German army, referred to this battle as the “black day of the German army”.
The Kaiser ordered an initiation of Peace negotiations. Over the next few months and by the 09th November 1918, the Canadian Corp with the help of the Australian Corp advanced all the way to Mons. On the 11th November it was all over. By my reckoning the Canadian Corp and the Australian / New Zealand Corp won the First World War. Unfortunately they were all part of the British Army so they never received the recognition they deserved. The Brits took all the glory………………..never again.
Canadians entering Mons. Where it all began and ended.
Canada’s real national anthem!
Australian’s Waltzing Matilda. Not their Anthem but it should be.
And of course New Zealand