Tomorrow is April 9, we will be commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the British lead capture of Vimy Ridge from the Germans. It turned out to be one of the bloodiest encounters of WW1. I was going to say celebrate but stopped myself because there is no celebrating war of any kind. Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arres, Nord-Pas-de-Calis, France. John Kay said " We do not celebrate the victory or the loss of life... We remember the sacrifice".
In the early morning of Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, all four divisions of Canadian soldiers made up of men from all across the country joined forces with the 5th division of Britain to take the ridge from the German VI army. Germany's VI was made up of 3 divisions totalling between 30 - 45,000 soldiers. The Canadian and British forces blended into a cohesive group of 170,000 young men. Some being as young as 14 years old as they had lied about there age to join the army. This would be the first time the Canadians had been together as a group. It was a battle that would bring Canada together as a nation.
The battle raged for three days resulting in a hard won victory and a high cost to the young men who fell and their families back home. In total 7,004 young men were wounded and the Canadian and British nations lost 3,598 of a generation. The price was extra high considering only 267 Canadians lost their lives during the entire Boar War.
As our men were at war, efforts were being made back home to collect and send care packages and food to the troops. I know in the small town of Penticton where I live there was a group actively collecting money to buy a machine gun for the troops.
There is a local author in Penticton by the name of Yasmin John-Thorpe who is writing a book aimed at 8 to 14 year old about the Battle at Vimy Ridge. She goes into our schools and talks to the grad 8 classes. " History teaches us lessons and if we want to see what's going to be in the future, we just have to look at the past because history will repeat itself, because we don't seem to learn from our lessons." Kids have no idea what has been sacrificed in the past for them so they can live in a free country and enjoy the benefits we have. We need to keep educating our younger generation or the history will be forgotten.
Visiting the memorial today you are still able to see glimpses of the remnant of many trenches and tunnels that were used through out those 3 days. The memorial itself is the largest Canadian Memorial outside of Canada today. It's situated on the highest point of Vimy Ridge.
Tomorrow as we remember at the memorial in France our Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, David Johnston Governor General of Canada, Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the President of France, Francois Hollande will join in honouring our veterans of Vimy Ridge.
Lest we forget