Legion marks Vimy Ridge Centennial

"The French hadn't been able to take Vimy, the British hadn't been able to take Vimy, but the Canadians could", he said. "There is often reference to it - that it was really the birth of a nation".

A century after almost 3,600 Canadian soldiers died at Vimy Ridge, their sacrifice will be remembered Sunday at a commemorative ceremony in France - with a number of Yukoners joining the crowd. "You can picture that that is the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Red Deer".

"One hundred years ago today this regiment was one of several in the Canadian Armed Forces that assaulted Vimy Ridge", said Lt. -Col.

Yet despite the ambitious claims later made for it, Vimy was not a turning point in the Great War.

"The selflessness that they had, the respect they had for each other, and just all the turmoil and the sacrifice that they've done, everything that they lost - it was all for this country that they never saw", Ginter said. Among those more than 3,500 were killed.

Millions more listened to the two-hour ceremony on their radios or watched on their televisions, or bowed their heads at similar events at local monuments inscribed with the names of the dead.

They will gather at the Canadian National Vimy Ridge Memorial exactly 100 years after 15,000 Canadian infantrymen rose from their trenches nearby and began advancing toward a 6.4-kilometre front where their German foes awaited them. The battle raged in France from April 9th to April 12th of 1917.

The battle, which started on April 9, 1917, was one of the defining moments of World War I and a founding moment in Canada's history as Canadian troops fought under Canadian command for the first time.

"The soaring monument at Vimy Ridge stands at the site of a decisive victory".

"It did not call for the same degree of resource and initiative that were displayed in any of the three great battles of the last hundred days: Amiens, Arras, Cambrai". Another 4,000 Germans were taken prisoner.

The Vimy memorial also pays tribute to the 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died in France and have no known graves.

"Those that fought at Vimy tell us that nationalism only leads to war and that fundamentalism only leads to destruction", he said.

Debbie Ginter, 26, of Steinbach, Man., travelled to Ottawa's Vimy ceremony because she said she couldn't make it to France. "Any time a country as large as ours gets together like that - all four divisions were in it - that is quite significant", she said.

Legion branches from the Royal Canadian Legion's E2 zone will march shoulder to shoulder with cadets from the Queen's York Rangers in Aurora and Base Borden, alongside members of York Regional Police's mounted unit and Upper Canada Cavalry, and in solidarity with emergency services personnel and members of the Chippewas of Georgina Island.

  • Stacy Allen