Tag Archives: Vimy Day

The Spirit Of Vimy: Exceptional Series, Exceptional Canadians

Note this Vimy-related item from the Royal Canadian Mint.


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A BEAUTIFUL COMMEMORATIVE 4-COIN SUBSCRIPTION! Subscribe today to receive all four coins (each coin priced individually at $109.95)! Coins in your 4-coin subscription include: Coin 1: Sacrifice Medal (expected ship date April 2017). Coin 2: Order of Military Merit (expected ship date June 2017). Coin 3: Order of Canada (expected ship date July 2017). Coin 4: Cross of Valour (expected ship date August 2017) LOW MINTAGE! Each of your four coins has a low limited worldwide mintage of 5,500. Canadian Honours - 1 oz. Pure Silver Coloured 4-Coin Subscription. No. 157644 | Mintage: 5,500. $109.95 per coin NO GST/HST!*
The Battle of Vimy Ridge. UNIQUE WITHIN THE SERIES: Selective gold plating was also used on the soldier to place added emphasis on the legacy of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Canadian history.
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The Battle of Vimy Ridge | 100 Years Ago Today

From the Legion Magazine.


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April 9, 1917 – April 9, 2017

Today we commemorate the triumph and sacrifice
made 
at the Battle of Vimy Ridge 100 years ago.

Military Moments | Battle of Vimy Ridge

Narrated by William ShatnerTo commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Legion Magazine, Canada’s Ultimate Story and William Shatner tell the story of this important First World War battle. Our victory at Vimy was a defining event for Canada. On the 100th anniversary, we revisit the Canadian triumph over the German army and explore why the battle has come to signify the birth of our nation. 

To help spread awareness of this important event in Canadian history, please share with friends, family and on social media with #VimyRidge #Vimy100 or #LestWeForget

Click here to watch

Military Moments | Battle of Vimy Ridge

or visit www.legionmagazine.com


The battle for the ridge

“I had seen something of the terror, the vast, paralyzing,
terrific tumult of battle: a thing so beyond humanity,
as if all the gods and all the devils had gone mad
and were battling, forgetful of poor, frail mortals
that they tramped upon.”

– Lieutenant Gregory Clark
4th Canadian Mounted Rifles

Nations choose symbols, and Vimy is an important one for Canada. Tens of thousands have returned to the site of the battlefield in formal and informal pilgrimages. To stand at the memorial on Vimy Ridge in France, as thousands of Canadians will do this year on the 100th anniversary, is to feel the weight of history, the echoes of the clash of battle, and the spirit of those
who served and sacrificed.

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McLean’s: How Canada’s Bloodiest Day At Vimy Defined Great War Sacrifice

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Below is a news article that appeared in McLean’s magazine last month about the battle and its impact.


How Canada’s bloodiest day at Vimy defined Great War sacrifice

Canadians think of Vimy Ridge as the moment our nation came of age. It is less than that—and more, too.

The Nova Scotia Highlanders, marching through Belgium in World War One 1914. (Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

The Nova Scotia Highlanders, marching through Belgium in World War One 1914. (Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

In the end it came down to a battalion of aggrieved Nova Scotians, mostly men from Cape Breton, to put the final seal on the Canadian army’s most iconic victory and the bloodiest day in the country’s military history. By 6 p.m. on April 9, 1917, Canadians and Germans had already been mowed down in their thousands across the heights of Vimy Ridge. Along the far right edge of the battlefield, Arthur Currie’s 1st Division had swept along four kilometres of Vimy’s most gentle terrain at a cost of 2,500 casualties, a dead or wounded man for every metre and a half. The casualty rates only rose as the distances grew shorter but steeper, and the 2nd and 3rd divisions successfully advanced in the centre.

At the far left, though, the day was ending in crisis. Maj.-Gen. David Watson’s 4th Division faced the shortest distance (800 m) and the hardest climb. They were up against Hill 145, the highest point on the ridge—where the Vimy monument now stands—and a tenacious, well-fortified enemy with all the defensive advantages of height. The continuing German hold on Hill 145—maintaining the possibility of reinforcements and the same kind of counterattack that had preserved the ridge in German hands for years—imperilled the entire enterprise, all the bloody day’s efforts and sacrifice.

MORE: Vimy Ridge, April 9, 1917: ‘Like a scene out Dante’

Watson didn’t have much in the way of fresh combat troops to throw into the maelstrom; hardly any fresh troops of any kind, save for the 85th Battalion. Mocked by the other battalions as wannabe Highlanders—the Nova Scotians hadn’t yet been issued their kilts—and unhappy about it, the inexperienced 85th had mostly functioned as a non-combatant labour battalion. They moved up through the trenches to the front lines, where they anxiously awaited the only thing that would give them a fighting chance: a preliminary bombardment. Without it, bayonets versus machine guns was the definition of a massacre. The shelling never came, because senior officers determined that attackers and defenders were already too close to chance the friendly fire.

Not every front-line officer heard that news, and many were perplexed when the appointed hour came and passed without the guns opening up. After a few minutes, though, they took what military historian Tim Cook calls “the gut-wrenching” decision to attack regardless. The element of surprise—who attacks without artillery?—bought a few precious seconds, but the machine guns were scything through the attackers soon enough. The survivors, though, refused to go to ground in shell craters and kept running until they crashed into the German lines, shooting, stabbing and clubbing the enemy.

“Within 10 mad minutes,” Cook writes, Hill 145 fell to the untried Maritimers, wannabes no more, “in the most audacious Canadian bayonet charge of the war.” The 85th suffered almost 350 killed and wounded, including nearly all its officers, but it reversed imminent defeat on the 4th Division front and may well have saved the entire battle. By the time the sun set, Canada was in charge of Vimy Ridge.

It’s probably safe to guess that for every American who can talk about Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg or Briton who knows the fate of the Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo, there is—statistically speaking—no Canadian at all who has heard of the 85th Battalion. Even as royalty, government dignitaries and thousands of ordinary Canadians prepare to converge on northwest France in April to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, vanishingly few of us know anything at all of what unfolded on Vimy that day.

Through a series of historical twists, expertly traced by Cook in his brilliant new book, Vimy: The Battle and the Legend, Vimy—and its soaring, moving, beautiful monument—have come to mean a lot to Canadians. Our concept of it tells a tale of national unity: the battle was the first time—and the last, Cook points out—that the entire Canadian Corps, men from every part of the nation, fought together. It also whispers of a quiet, almost regrettable, skill at killing. It speaks most insistently about sacrifice. But that icon of Vimy is strangely bloodless, especially in reference to a real-life Vimy soaked in it: on April 9, 1917, and in mopping-up operations the next morning, one in three front-line Canadian soldiers was killed or wounded.

MORE: Vimy: The day the earth shook

Cook’s adrenalin-fuelled account of the battle is a powerful antidote. The Great War is peculiarly poised between traditional and modern warfare, the historian notes. It featured aerial maps, enormous artillery pieces that could accurately target positions kilometres way, and machine guns that fired 500 rounds a minute. Yet soldiers threw grenades, unused since the Napoleonic wars, and wore steel helmets, not seen since the 17th century. Often enough, after all the long-range shelling and the rapid-fire machine guns, they were wielding bayonets and rifle butts when they closed with their enemies, in a denouement that would have been familiar to an Egyptian pharaoh.

At 5:28 a.m. on April 9, Canadian heavy machine guns tilted their barrels upwards and rained bullets on enemy crossroads and trenches. Two minutes later, almost 1,000 big guns opened up, providing a creeping barrage that moved forward every three minutes. And 15,000 Canadians went over the top.

The planning was intricate and months old, right down to the pits dug for the dead long before the battle. But the fate of entire battalions turned as often as not on chance. On the 1st Division front, artillery had hit most key defences facing the 15th Battalion from Toronto, which had a relatively easy time of it—at Vimy, its 20 per cent casualty rate was light. But the 14th from Montreal was caught in the open by four surviving Bavarian machine gun nests. Grenades took out two, while the third’s gunners were shot dead by the survivor of a small assault party gathered in the mud, and the three-man crew at the fourth was single-handedly charged and bayoneted by the 14th’s sergeant-major. Almost 40 per cent of the Montrealers were killed or wounded.

The two forward companies of Saskatchewan’s 5th Battalion lost 200 of 300 men in the first 40 minutes, and arrived at the enemy front line in a ferocious emotional state: “There were smart bayonet fights,” records one terse official account, and “cases of treachery on the part of the enemy were summarily dealt with.” Battlefield surrender, writes Cook, was a “perilous” business, especially for machine gunners who fired until the last minute before raising their arms. Most times, the Canadians accepted the surrender, but not always.

A private from Toronto’s 3rd Battalion recorded a grim moment, when the Canadians encountered a lone, shell-shocked German: “Somebody said, ‘Shoot that son of a bitch,’ and somebody did. I concluded that not all sons of bitches were in the German ranks.” Yet when a corporal from the 28th Battalion—known as the Northwest because it recruited men from Saskatchewan to Thunder Bay, Ont.—found a Canadian cowering in a dugout, the corporal “kept him till dark, then advised him to go up to his battalion. He got away with it.”

RELATED: A century later, remembering the hard win at Vimy Ridge

Elsewhere on the front, the situation was similar: battalions from Kingston, Ont., British Columbia, central Ontario, Alberta, French Canada and New Brunswick all pushed forward, were pinned down by machine gun fire, and overcame it by slow attrition at a high cost. Or by acts of individual heroism—four Victoria Crosses were awarded that day, three posthumously.

But at the ridge’s high point, along the 4th Division front, the situation was far worse. An untouched section of the German defences was only 365 metres from the Canadian lines. The first wave of attackers from Montreal’s 87th Battalion were literally shot back into their own trenches. Some 60 per cent of the battalion was lost, and most of the rest hid in shell craters. Seeing this, the neighbouring 78th from Winnipeg quite reasonably refused to go over the top. When their last nine officers finally convinced the soldiers to advance, they too were mowed down. The 72nd Battalion, B.C.’s Seaforth Highlanders, lost three-quarters of their men. But collectively, the decimated 4th Division accomplished enough to set the stage for Nova Scotia’s 85th.

To read a description of the battle is to look through a glass darkly, into the enduring mystery of the Great War, when whole nations and ordinary soldiers absorbed tremendous losses and simply re-dedicated themselves to the cause. Vimy is a story of reckless bravery and fear, a minor mutiny, more than one desperate charge, compassion and brutality, industrial-scale slaughter and intimate killing, and the fortunes of war. Vimy, which in Canadian consciousness stands in for the sacrifices of all wars, is equally a microcosm of Great War combat. And its survivors were like the other combatants, both sombre and proud: he and his comrades, wrote Lt. Edward Sawell in his diary, on “this day did more to give Canada a real standing among nations than any previous act in Canadian history.”

Original article available at http://www.macleans.ca/culture/how-canadas-bloodiest-day-at-vimy-defined-great-war-sacrifice/

Visit Vimy With Peter Mansbridge

Note this feature on Vimy Ridge from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.


Visit Vimy with Peter Mansbridge

One hundred years ago the Battle of Vimy Ridge began. It has been called Canada’s coming-of-age moment.

CBC News partnered with Google to tell Canada’s Vimy story in a new way. Go with Peter Mansbridge into the tunnels of Vimy in our 360 documentary, then explore the memorial as it looks today in a series of 360 photographs.

Visit the website at http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/vimy100/

William Shatner Narrates The Battle Of Vimy Ridge

From Legion Magazine.


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RELEASED TODAY!

Military Moments | Battle of Vimy Ridge
Narrated by William ShatnerTo commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Legion Magazine, Canada’s Ultimate Story and William Shatner tell the story of this important First World War battle. Our victory at Vimy was a defining event for Canada. On the 100th anniversary, we revisit the Canadian triumph over the German army and explore why the battle has come to signify the birth of our nation. 

To help spread awareness of this important event in Canadian history, please share with friends, family and on social media with #VimyRidge #Vimy100 or #LestWeForget

Click here to watch

Military Moments | Battle of Vimy Ridge

or visit www.legionmagazine.com

SEND TO A FRIEND!                                           SHARE  SUBSCRIBE     
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Legion Magazine engages Canadians in commemorating the effort, bravery and sacrifice of those who served and continue to serve in Canada’s military. Legion Magazine offers a blend of stories, photographs, graphics, maps and posters on Canadian military history and heritage, veterans’ issues and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Legion Magazine is published six times a year in English with a French insert. Additional award-winning special-interest publications—collector’s editions—are produced every year. The website—legionmagazine.com—includes numerous articles from current and past issues, audiobook versions of articles, downloadable desktop calendars, Last Post, and more. Legion Magazine is published by Canvet Publications Ltd.

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National Updates from The Royal Canadian Legion

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All Legion flags at half-mast for Vimy Ridge Day on April 9, 2017

Published on Mar 30, 2017 03:50 pm
From sunrise to sunset on Sunday, April 9, the Legion will join federal, provincial and municipal institutions in lowering the Canadian flag to commemorate Vimy Ridge Day 2017.
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Commemorate and Remember Vimy Day 2012

Commemorate and Remember

Vimy Day

with

The Royal Canadian Legion

San Francisco Bay Area Branch 25

on

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Noon Luncheon

with a

No Host Bar

at

The Englander in San Leandro

101 Parrott Street

Your Branch Presidency

President Dennis B. Edmondson

and

Vice President Wayne Padgett

are

looking forward to seeing you then!

Guest Speaker

Fred Rutledge

including

Awards Presentation

RCL – Commemorate and Remember Vimy Day 2012 <– Click link to download invitation.