Vimy Ridge was the site of a battle in WWI in April 1917, as part of the fighting around Arras. All four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Corps in the First Army fought together and were tasked with capturing the ridge from the German army. They succeeded but it was another bloody battle with nearly 4,000 Canadians killed and another 7,000 wounded. The German casualties are estimated at 20,000, with 4,000 taken prisoner. All this in four days.
Vimy Ridge is now a Memorial Park in honour of the Canadians who were killed in the war and have no known grave. ‘…Hill 145, the highest and most important feature of the Ridge, and where the Vimy monument now stands, was captured in a frontal bayonet charge against machine-gun positions…’.
Everything I have read describes thorough and painstaking analysis and preparation for the battle, with plans drawn up and rehearsed, and endless tunnels and trenches dug, as well as stockpiling of ammunition in readiness for fighting. The attack began in snow and sleet, cold and mud. The neat trenches today give no idea of the sheer awfulness of the experience.
If you are in Northern France, even if you are on your way to another destination, stop here for an hour.
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