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Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was 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 four divisions of the Canadian Corps in the First Army, against three divisions of the German 6th Army. The battle took place from 9 to 12 April 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras, the first attack of the Nivelle Offensive, which was intended to attract German reserves from the French, before the French attempt at a decisive offensive on the Aisne and the Chemin des Dames ridge further south, several days later.

Battle of Vimy Ridge
Part of the Battle of Arras on the Western Front

The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack
Belligerents
German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Julian Byng Ludwig von Falkenhausen
Strength
  • 3 divisions
  • Total: 30–45,000 men
Casualties and losses
  • 3,598 dead
  • 7,004 wounded
  • Unknown casualties
  • 4,000 captured

The Canadian Corps were to capture the German-held high ground of Vimy Ridge, an escarpment on the northern flank of the Arras front. This would protect the First Army and the Third Army farther south from German enfilade fire. Supported by a creeping barrage, the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day. The village of Thélus fell during the second day, as did the crest of the ridge, once the Canadian Corps overran a salient against considerable German resistance. The final objective, a fortified knoll outside the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, fell to the Canadians on 12 April. The 6th Army then retreated to the OppyMéricourt line.

Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps to technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training, as well as the inability of the 6th Army to properly apply the new German defensive doctrine. The battle was the first occasion when the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together and it was made a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice. A 100 ha (250-acre) portion of the former battleground serves as a memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

Contents

Vimy Ridge 1914–1916

Location of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge is an escarpment 8 km (5.0 mi) northeast of Arras on the western edge of the Douai Plain. The ridge rises gradually on its western side and drops more quickly on the eastern side. At approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) in length and culminating at an elevation of 145 m (476 ft) or 60 m (200 ft) above the Douai Plains, the ridge provides a natural unobstructed view for tens of kilometres in all directions. The ridge fell under German control in October 1914 during the Race to the Sea as the Franco-British and German forces continually attempted to outflank each other through northeastern France. The French Tenth Army attempted to dislodge the Germans from the region during the Second Battle of Artois in May 1915 by attacking their positions at Vimy Ridge and Notre Dame de Lorette. The French 1st Moroccan Division managed to briefly capture the height of the ridge but was unable to hold it owing to a lack of reinforcements. The French made another attempt during the Third Battle of Artois in September 1915 but only captured the village of Souchez at the western base of the ridge. The Vimy sector calmed following the offensive with both sides taking a largely live and let live approach. The French suffered approximately 150,000 casualties in their attempts to gain control of Vimy Ridge and surrounding territory.

1916–1917

The British XVII Corps (Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng), relieved the French Tenth Army in the sector in February 1916, permitting the French to expand their operations at Verdun. The British soon discovered that German tunnelling companies had taken advantage of the relative calm on the surface to build an extensive network of tunnels and deep mines from which they would attack French positions by setting off explosive charges underneath their trenches. The Royal Engineers immediately deployed specialist tunnelling companies along the front to combat the German mining operations. In response to increased British mining aggression, German artillery and trench mortar fire intensified in early May 1916. On 21 May 1916, after shelling both forward trenches and divisional artillery positions from eighty hidden batteries on the reverse slope of the ridge, the German infantry began Unternehmen Schleswig Holstein, an attack on the British lines along a 2,000 yd (1,800 m) front to eject them from positions along the ridge. The Germans captured several British-controlled tunnels and mine craters before halting their advance and digging in. Small counter-attacks by units of the 140th and 141st Brigades took place on 22 May but did not manage to change the situation. The Canadian Corps relieved IV Corps along the western slopes of Vimy Ridge in October 1916.

Strategic planning

Byng during the battle

On 28 May 1916, Byng took command of the Canadian Corps from Lieutenant-General Sir Edwin Alderson. Formal discussions for a spring offensive near Arras began, following a conference of corps commanders held at the First Army Headquarters on 21 November 1916. In March 1917, the First Army headquarters formally presented Byng with orders outlining Vimy Ridge as the Canadian Corps objective for the Arras Offensive. A formal assault plan, adopted in early March 1917, drew heavily on the briefings of staff officers sent to learn from the experiences of the French Army during the Battle of Verdun. For the first time the four Canadian divisions would fight together. The nature and size of the attack needed more resources than the Canadian Corps possessed; the British 5th Division, artillery, engineer and labour units were attached to the corps, bringing the nominal strength of the Canadian Corps to about 170,000 men, of whom 97,184 were Canadian.

Tactical plan

In January 1917, three Canadian Corps officers accompanied other British and Dominion officers attending a series of lectures hosted by the French Army regarding their experiences during the Battle of Verdun. The French counter offensive devised by General Robert Nivelle had been one of a number of Allied successes of 1916. Following extensive rehearsal, eight French divisions had assaulted German positions in two waves along a 6 mi (9.7 km) front. Supported by extremely strong artillery, the French had recovered lost ground and inflicted heavy casualties on five German divisions.

The Canadian Corps plan of attack outlining the four coloured objective lines – Black, Red, Blue and Brown

On their return from the lectures, the Canadian Corps staff officers produced a tactical analysis of the Verdun battles and delivered a series of corps and divisional-level lectures to promote the primacy of artillery and stress the importance of harassing fire and company and platoon flexibility. The report of 1st Canadian Division commander Arthur Currie highlighted the lessons he believed the Canadian Corps could learn from the experiences of the French. The final plan for the assault on Vimy Ridge drew heavily on the experience and tactical analysis of the officers who attended the Verdun lectures. British First Army commander General Henry Horne approved the plan on 5 March 1917.

The plan divided the Canadian Corps advance into four coloured objective lines. The attack would be made on a front of 7,000 yd (6,400 m), with its centre opposite the village of Vimy, to the east of the ridge. The first objective, represented by the Black Line, was to seize the German forward defensive line. The final objective of the northern flank was the Red Line: taking the highest point on the ridge, the fortified knoll known as the Pimple, the Folie Farm, the Zwischen-Stellung trench and the hamlet of Les Tilleuls. The southern two divisions were to achieve two additional objectives: the Blue Line encompassing the village of Thélus and the woods outside the village of Vimy and the Brown Line, which aimed at capturing the Zwölfer-Graben trench and the German second line. The infantry would proceed close behind a creeping barrage placed down by light field guns, advancing in timed 100-yard (90 m) increments. The medium and heavy howitzers would establish a series of standing barrages further ahead of the infantry against known defensive systems.

The plan called for units to leapfrog over one another, as the advance progressed, to maintain momentum during the attack. The initial wave would capture and consolidate the Black Line and then push forward to the Red Line. The barrage would pause, to enable reserve units to move up and then move forward with the units pushing beyond the Red Line to the Blue Line. Once the corps secured the Blue Line, advancing units would once again leapfrog established ones and capture the Brown Line. Conducted properly, the plan would leave the German forces little time to exit the security of their deep dugouts and defend their positions against the infantry advance. If the corps maintained its schedule, the troops would advance as much as 4,000 yd (3,700 m) and have the majority of the ridge under control by 1:00 pm of the first day.

German defences

German dispositions at Vimy Ridge on the first day of the battle

The experience of the Battle of the Somme led the German command to conclude that the policy of rigidly defending a trench position line was no longer effective against the firepower that the Entente armies had accumulated. Ludendorff published a new defensive doctrine in December 1916, in which deeper defences were to be built, within which the garrison would have room to manoeuvre, rather than rigidly holding successive lines of trenches. Along Vimy Ridge, the German forces spent two years constructing fortifications designed for rigid defence. Little reconstruction based upon the new defence-in-depth doctrine had been accomplished by April 1917 because the terrain made it impractical.

The topography of the Vimy battlefield made defence-in-depth difficult to realize. The ridge was 700 metres (2,300 ft) wide at its narrowest point, with a steep drop on the eastern side, all but eliminating the possibility of counterattacks if the ridge was captured. The Germans were apprehensive about the inherent weakness of the Vimy Ridge defences. The German defensive scheme was to maintain a front line defence of sufficient strength to defend against an initial assault and move operational reserves forward, before the enemy could consolidate their gains or overrun remaining German positions. As a result, the German defence at Vimy Ridge relied largely on machine guns, which acted as force multipliers for the defending infantry.

Three line divisions, comprising seven infantry regiments were responsible for the immediate defence of the ridge. The paper strength of each division was approximately 15,000 men but their actual strength was significantly fewer. In 1917, a full-strength German rifle company consisted of 264 men; at Vimy Ridge, each rifle company contained approximately 150 men. Each German regiment held a zone approximately 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) wide as far back as the rear area. When the Canadian Corps attacked, each German company faced two or more battalions of approximately 1,000 men each. Reserve divisions were kept about 24 kilometres (15 mi) back instead of assembling close behind the second line according to the defence-in-depth theory.

Artillery

Map showing rolling artillery barrage for advance

The Canadian Corps' divisional artillery formations, totalling eight field artillery brigades and two heavy artillery groups, were insufficient for the task at hand and were consequently reinforced with outside formations. Four heavy artillery groups, nine field artillery brigades, three divisional artillery groups and the artillery complement of the British 5th Division was attached to the Canadian Corps. In addition, ten heavy artillery groups of the flanking I and XVII Corps were assigned tasks in support of the Canadian Corps. The artillery batteries of I Corps were particularly important because they enfiladed German gun positions behind Vimy Ridge. In total, the British made available to the Canadian Corps twenty-four brigade artillery groups consisting of four hundred and eighty 18 pounder field guns, one hundred thirty-eight 4.5 inch howitzers, ninety-six 2 inch trench mortars, twenty-four 9.45 inch mortars, supported by 245 corps-level siege guns and heavy mortars. This firepower gave a density of one heavy gun for every 20 metres (20 yd) and one field gun for every 10 metres (10 yd) of Canadian Corps frontage, representing a considerable average increase, including three times the heavy guns, over the distribution of artillery at the Battle of the Somme a year earlier.

Brigadier-General Edward Morrison developed and subsequently issued a 35-page multi-phased fire support plan called Canadian Corps Artillery Instruction No. 1 for the Capture of Vimy Ridge to support the efforts of the infantry. For its operations, the Canadian Corps received three times the artillery normally assigned to a corps for regular operations. To manage the logistics associated with the increased artillery, Royal Artillery staff officer Major Alan Brooke developed coordinated communication and transport plans to work in conjunction with the complex barrage plans.

A 1.6 million shell allotment allowed the artillery along the Canadian Corps front to maintain a high sustained rate of fire. Improvements in the quality of the shells compared to those used earlier in the war ensured fewer duds. The introduction of the instantaneous No. 106 fuze greatly improved the effectiveness of the artillery since this fuse burst reliably with the slightest of contact, unlike older timed fuses, making it especially effective at cutting barbed wire before the advance. To maintain communications during the battle, particularly with the artillery, field units laid over 870 mi (1,400 km) of telegraph and field telephone cabling, normally at a depth of 2 metres (7 ft). In addition, the corps conducted coordinated counter-battery initiatives before the battle. The First Army Field Survey Company printed barrage maps for all batteries, produced artillery boards and provided counter-battery support with their flash spotting groups and sound ranging sections. Utilizing flash spotting, sound ranging and aerial reconnaissance from No. 16 Squadron andNos. 1 & 2 Balloon Companies of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in the week before the battle, the counter battery artillery under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew McNaughton fired 125,900 shells, harassing an estimated 83% of the German gun positions.

Training

Large model of German trench lines

In February 1917, the British General Staff released a training pamphlet titled SS 143 Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action, espousing the return to the pre-war emphasis on fire and movement tactics and the use of the platoon as the basic tactical unit. The pamphlet noted the importance of specialist hand grenade, rifle grenade, rifle and Lewis gun sections in suppressing enemy strong points with an appropriate level of fire to permit other military units to advance. Coupled with the observations and suggestions made by Currie in the report he submitted in January 1917 following the Verdun lectures, the Canadian Corps instilled the tactical change with vigour. The corps implemented the tactical doctrine for small units by assigning objectives down to the platoon level. Assaulting infantry battalions used hills behind the lines as full-scale models of the battlefield. Taped lines demarcated German trench lines while officers on horseback carried flags to represent the advancing front of the artillery barrage.

Recognizing that the men in leadership positions were likely to be wounded or killed, soldiers learned the jobs of those beside and above them. At the British First Army headquarters, a large plasticine model of the Vimy sector was constructed and used to show commissioned and senior non-commissioned officers the topographical features of the battlefield and details of the German trench system. Upwards of 40,000 topographical trench maps were printed and distributed to ensure that even platoon sergeants and section commanders possessed a wider awareness of the battlefield. The new measures gave each platoon a clearer picture of how it fitted into the greater battle plan and in so doing, reduced the command and control problems that plagued First World War combat.

Underground operations

British-dug fighting tunnel in Vimy sector

Operations along the Vimy Ridge were accompanied by extensive underground excavations. The Arras–Vimy sector was conducive to tunnelling owing to the soft, porous yet extremely stable nature of the chalk underground. Underground warfare had been conducted on the Vimy sector since 1915. Bavarian engineers had blown twenty mines in the sector by March 1915. By early 1916, German miners had gained an advantage over their French counterparts. British tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers took over progressively from the French between February and May 1916.

On their arrival, the British began offensive mining against German miners, first stopping the German underground advance and then developing a defensive strategy that prevented the Germans from gaining a tactical advantage by mining. From spring 1916, the British had deployed five tunnelling companies along the Vimy Ridge and during the first two months of their tenure of the area, 70 mines were fired, mostly by the Germans. Between October 1915 and April 1917 an estimated 150 French, British and German charges were fired in this 4.3 mi (7 km) sector of the Western Front. In May 1916, Operation Schleswig-Holstein, a German infantry attack, forced the British back 700 yd (640 m), to stop British mining by capturing the shaft entrances. In the second half of 1916, the British constructed strong defensive underground positions and from August 1916, the Royal Engineers developed a mining scheme for a big infantry attack on the Vimy Ridge proposed for autumn 1916, although this was postponed. After September 1916, when the Royal Engineers had completed their network of defensive galleries along most of the front line, offensive mining largely ceased although activities continued until 1917. The British gallery network beneath Vimy Ridge eventually grew to a length of 7.5 mi (12 km).

The Canadian Corps was posted to the northern part of Vimy Ridge in October 1916 and preparations for an attack were revived in February 1917. British tunnelling companies created extensive underground networks and fortifications. Twelve subways, up to 1.2 km (0.75 mi) long were excavated at a depth of 10 metres (33 ft) and used to connect reserve lines to front lines, permitting soldiers to advance to the front quickly, securely and unseen. Often incorporated into subways were light rail lines, hospitals, command posts, water reservoirs, ammunition stores, mortar and machine gun posts and communication centres. The Germans dug a number of similar tunnels on the Vimy front, to provide covered routes to the front line and protection for headquarters, resting personnel, equipment, and ammunition. The Germans also conducted counter-mining against the British tunnellers and destroyed a number of British attempts to plant mines under or near their lines.

Prior to the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the British tunnelling companies also secretly laid 13 mines under German positions to destroy surface fortifications before the assault. To protect some advancing troops from German machine gun fire, as they crossed no man's land during the attack, eight smaller Wombat charges were laid at the end of the subways to allow troops to move more quickly and safely enter the German trench system by creating an elongated trench-depth crater that spanned the length of no man's land. At the same time, 19 crater groups existed along this section of the Western Front, each with several large craters. To assess the consequences of infantry having to advance across cratered ground after a mining attack, officers from the Canadian Corps visited La Boisselle and Fricourt where the mines had been blown on the First day of the Somme. Their reports and the experience of the Canadians at The Actions of St Eloi Craters in April 1916, where mines had so altered and damaged the landscape as to render occupation of the mine craters by the infantry all but impossible, led to the decision to remove offensive mining from the central sector allocated to the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge. Further British mines in the area were vetoed following the blowing by the Germans on 23 March 1917 of nine craters along no man's land as it was probable that the Germans were aiming to restrict an Allied attack to predictable points. The three mines already laid by 172nd Tunnelling Company were also dropped from the British plans. The mines were left in place after the assault and were only removed in the 1990s. Another mine, prepared by 176th Tunnelling Company against the German strongpoint known as the Pimple, was not completed in time for the attack. The gallery had been pushed silently through the clay, avoiding the sandy and chalky layers of the Vimy Ridge but by 9 April 1917 was still 21 metres (70 ft) short of its target. In the end, two mines were blown before the attack, while three mines and two Wombat charges were fired to support the attack, including those forming a northern flank.

Trench raiding

Further information: Trench raiding

Trench raiding involved making small-scale surprise attacks on enemy positions, often in the middle of the night for reasons of stealth. All belligerents employed trench raiding as a tactic to harass their enemy and gain intelligence. In the Canadian Corps trench raiding developed into a training and leadership-building mechanism. The size of a raid would normally be anything from a few men to an entire company, or more, depending on the size of the mission. The four months before the April attack saw the Canadian Corps execute no fewer than 55 separate trench raids. Competition between units even developed with units competing for the honour of the greatest number of prisoners captured or most destruction wrought. The policy of aggressive trench raiding was not without its cost. A large-scale trench raid on 13 February 1917, involving 900 men from the 4th Canadian Division, resulted in 150 casualties. An even more ambitious trench raid, using chlorine gas, on 1 March 1917, once again by the 4th Canadian Division, failed and resulted in 637 casualties including two battalion commanders and a number of company commanders killed. This experience did not lessen the extent to which the Canadian Corps employed trench raiding with raids being conducted nightly between 20 March and the opening of the offensive on 9 April, resulting in approximately 1,400 additional Canadian casualties. The Germans operated an active patrolling policy and although not as large and ambitious as those of the Canadian Corps, they also engaged in trench raiding. As an example, a German trench raid launched by 79 men against the 3rd Canadian Division on 15 March 1917 was successful in capturing prisoners and causing damage.

Air operations

Observer of the Royal Flying Corps in a photographic reconnaissance aircraft, showing the camera

The RFC launched a determined effort to gain air superiority over the battlefield in support of the spring offensive. The Canadians considered activities such as artillery-observation and photography of opposing trench systems, troop movements and gun emplacements essential to continue their offensive. The Royal Flying Corps deployed 25 squadrons totalling 365 aircraft along the Arras sector, outnumbering the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) by 2-to-1. Byng was given use of No. 2 Squadron, No. 8 (Naval) Squadron, No. 25 Squadron, No. 40 Squadron and No. 43 Squadron, with No. 16 Squadron permanently attached to the Canadian Corps and employed exclusively for reconnaissance and artillery-observation.

Aerial reconnaissance was often a hazardous task because of the necessity of flying at slow speeds and at low altitude. The task was made more dangerous with the arrival of German air reinforcements, including the highly experienced and well equipped Jasta 11 (Manfred von Richthofen) which led to a sharp increase in RFC losses. Although significantly outnumbering the Germans, the RFC lost 131 aircraft during the first week of April (Bloody April). Despite the losses suffered by the RFC, the Luftstreitkräfte failed to prevent the British from carrying out its priority, air support of the army during the Battle of Arras with up-to-date aerial photographs and other reconnaissance information.

Belligerents

Position of the defending and attacking forces before the battle

German 6th Army commander General Ludwig von Falkenhausen was responsible for the Cambrai–Lille sector and commanded 20 divisions, plus reserves. Vimy Ridge itself was principally defended by the ad hoc Gruppe Vimy formation based under I Bavarian Reserve Corps commander General der Infanterie Karl von Fasbender. However, a division of Gruppe Souchez, under VIII Reserve Corps General of the Infantry Georg Karl Wichura, was involved in the frontline defence along the northernmost portion of the ridge.

Three divisions were ultimately responsible for manning the frontline defences opposite the Canadian Corps. The 16th Bavarian Division was located opposite the village of Souchez and responsible for the defence of the northernmost section of the ridge. The division had been created in January 1917 by amalgamating existing Bavarian formations and had so far only opposed the Canadian Corps. The 79th Reserve Division was responsible for the defence of the vast central section, including the highest point of the ridge, Hill 145. The 79th Reserve Division had fought for two years on the Eastern Front before being transferred to the Vimy sector at the end of February 1917. The 1st Bavarian Reserve Division had been in the Arras area since October 1914 and held the villages of Thélus, Bailleul and the southern slope of the ridge.

Byng commanded four attacking divisions, one division in reserve and numerous support units. He was supported to the north by the 24th Division, I Corps, which advanced north of the Souchez river and by the XVII Corps to the south. The 4th Canadian Division was responsible for the northern portion of the advance that included the capture of the highest point of the ridge, followed by the elaborately fortified Pimple just west of the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle. The 3rd Canadian Division was responsible for the narrow central section of the ridge, including the capture of La Folie Farm. The 2nd Canadian Division, which later included a brigade from the 5th Division, was directly south of 3rd Canadian Division and entrusted with the capture of the village of Thélus. The 1st Canadian Division was responsible for the broad southern sector of the corps advance and expected to cover the longest distance. Byng planned for a healthy reserve for contingencies that included the relief of forward troops, help in consolidating positions and aiding the 4th Canadian Division with the capture of the Pimple. As a result, the 9th Canadian Brigade and the British 15th and 95th Brigades were kept in corps reserve.

Preliminary attack

6-inch (150 mm) gun of the Royal Garrison Artillery behind Canadian lines, firing over Vimy Ridge at night

Foreign intelligence gathering by the Germans, big Allied trench raids and troop concentrations seen west of Arras, made it clear to the Germans that a spring offensive in the area was being prepared. In February 1917, a German-born Canadian soldier deserted and helped confirm many of the suspicions held by the Germans, providing them with a great deal of useful information. By March 1917, the 6th Army knew that an offensive was imminent and would include operations aimed at capturing Vimy Ridge. General of Infantry Ernst August Marx von Bachmeister, commanding the German 79th Reserve Division, reported in late March that he believed the Canadian Corps was moving into an echelon formation and were preparing for a big attack. The Germans quickly planned Operation Munich (Unternehmen München), a spoiling attack to capture the northern section of the Zouave Valley, along the northernmost portion of the Canadian front. Munich was not undertaken because the extent of Canadian Corps artillery fire made it impracticable.

The preliminary phase of the Canadian Corps artillery bombardment began on 20 March 1917, with a systematic two-week bombardment of German batteries, trenches and strong points. The Canadian Corps gunners paid particular attention to eliminating German barbed wire, a task made easier with the introduction of the No. 106 instantaneous fuse. Only half of the artillery fired at once and the intensity of the barrage was varied to confuse the Germans about Canadian intentions. Phase two lasted the week beginning 2 April 1917 and employed all of the guns supporting the Canadian Corps, massing the equivalent of a heavy gun for every 18 metres (20 yd) and a field gun for every 9.1 metres (10 yd). The German soldiers came to refer to the week before the attack as "the week of suffering". In the German account, their trenches and defensive works were almost completely demolished. The health and morale of the German troops suffered from the stress of remaining at the ready for eleven straight days under extremely heavy artillery bombardment. Compounding German difficulties was the inability of ration parties to bring food supplies to the front lines. On 3 April, General von Falkenhausen ordered his reserve divisions to prepare to relieve front line divisions over the course of a long drawn-out defensive battle in a manner similar to the Battle of the Somme and the divisions were kept 24 kilometres (15 mi) from the battlefield to avoid being shelled.

Main assault

9 April

Artillery-fire on a field of barbed wire at Vimy Ridge

The attack was to begin at 5:30 am on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. The attack was originally planned for the morning of 8 April (Easter Sunday) but it was postponed for 24 hours at the request of the French. During the late hours of 8 April and early morning of 9 April the men of the leading and supporting wave of the attack were moved into their forward assembly positions. The weather was cold and later changed to sleet and snow. Although physically discomforting for everyone, the northwesterly storm provided some advantage to the assaulting troops by blowing snow in the faces of the defending troops. Light Canadian and British artillery bombardments continued throughout the night but stopped in the few minutes before the attack, as the artillery recalibrated their guns in preparation for the synchronized barrage. At 5:30 am, every artillery piece at the disposal of the Canadian Corps began firing. Thirty seconds later, engineers detonated the mine charges laid under no man's land and the German trench line, destroying a number of German strong points and creating secure communication trenches directly across no man's land.

Field guns laid down a barrage that mostly advanced at a rate of 100 yards (91 m) in three minutes while medium and heavy howitzers established a series of standing barrages further ahead against known defensive systems. During the early fighting, the German divisional artilleries, despite many losses, were able to maintain their defensive firing. As the Canadian assault advanced, it overran many of the German guns because large numbers of their draught horses had been killed in the initial gas attack. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions reported reaching and capturing their first objective, the Black Line, by 6:25 am. The 4th Canadian Division encountered a great deal of trouble during its advance and was unable to complete its first objective until some hours later. After a planned pause when the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions consolidated their positions, the advance resumed. Shortly after 7:00 am, the 1st Canadian Division captured the left half of its second objective, the Red Line and moved the 1st Canadian Brigade forward to mount an attack on the remainder. The 2nd Canadian Division reported reaching the Red Line and capturing the village of Les Tilleuls at approximately the same time.

2nd Canadian Division soldiers advance behind a tank

A mine explosion that killed many German troops of Reserve Infantry Regiment 262 manning the front line, preceded the advance of the 3rd Canadian Division. The remaining German troops could do no more than man temporary lines of resistance until later manning a full defence at the German third line. As a result, the southern section of the 3rd Canadian Division was able to reach the Red Line at the western edge of the Bois de la Folie at around 7:30 am. At 9:00 am the division learned of its exposed left flank, as the 4th Canadian Division had not yet captured Hill 145. The 3rd Canadian Division was thus called upon to establish a divisional defensive flank to its north. Although the German commanders were able to maintain open lines of communication and issue orders, even with swift staff work the tempo of the assault was such that German decision cycle was unable to react decisively.

The only portion of the Canadian assault that did not go as planned was the advance of the 4th Canadian Division, collapsing almost immediately after exiting their trenches. The commanding officer of one of the assaulting battalions requested that the artillery leave a portion of German trench undamaged. Machine gun nests in the undamaged sections of the German line pinned down, wounded, or killed much of the 4th Canadian Division's right flank. The progress on the left flank was eventually impeded by harassing fire from the Pimple that was made worse when the creeping barrage got too far ahead of the advancing troops. In view of the German defence, the 4th Canadian Division did not attempt a further frontal assault throughout the afternoon.

Machine gunners operating from craters on the plateau above the ridge

Reserve units from the 4th Canadian Division came forward and once again attacked the German positions on the top of the ridge. Persistent attacks eventually forced the German troops holding the southwestern portion of Hill 145 to withdraw, but only after they had run out of ammunition, mortar rounds, and grenades. Towards midday, the 79th Reserve Division was ordered to recapture the portions of its third line lost during the progression of the Canadian attack. However, it was not until 6:00 pm that the force was able to organize and counterattack, clearing the Canadian Corps troops out of the ruined village of Vimy, but not recapturing the third line south of the village. By night time, the German forces holding the top of the ridge believed they had overcome the immediate crisis for the time being. Additional German reinforcements began arriving and by late evening portions of the 111th Infantry Division occupied the third line near Acheville and Arleux, with the remainder of the division arriving the following day.

10 April

Front page of the Daily Mail on 10 April 1917

The British moved three fresh brigades up to the Red Line by 9:30 am on 10 April to support the advance of the 1st and 2nd Canadian Division, whereupon they were to leapfrog existing units occupying the Red line and advance to the Blue Line. Fresh units including two sections of tanks and the 13th British Brigade were called up from reserve to support the advance of the 2nd Canadian Division. By approximately 11:00 am, the Blue Line, including Hill 135 and the village of Thélus, had been captured. To permit the troops time to consolidate the Blue Line, the advance halted and the barrage remained stationary for 90 minutes while machine guns were brought forward. Shortly before 1:00 pm, the advance recommenced with both the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions reporting their final objective. The tank-supported advance via Farbus and directed at the rear of the 79th Reserve Division, was eventually halted by concentrated German fire short of the village. The Canadian 1st and 2nd Divisions were nonetheless able to secure the Brown Line by approximately 2:00 pm.

The 4th Canadian Division had made an attempt to capture the northern half of Hill 145 at around 3:15 pm, briefly capturing the peak before a German counterattack retook the position. The Germans occupying the small salient on the ridge soon found themselves being attacked along their flanks by continuously reinforced Canadian Corps troops. When it became obvious that the position was completely outflanked and there was no prospect of reinforcement, the German troops pulled back. The German forces were evacuated off the ridge with German artillery batteries moved west of the Vimy–Bailleul railway embankment or to the Oppy–Méricourt line. By nightfall of 10 April, the only Canadian objective not yet achieved was the capture of the Pimple.

12 April

The 4th Canadian Division faced difficulties at the start of the battle that forced it to delay its assault on the Pimple until 12 April. The Pimple was initially defended by the 16th Bavarian Infantry Division but the Canadian Corps' preliminary artillery bombardment leading up to the assault on 9 April caused heavy casualties amongst its ranks. On 11 April, the 4th Guards Infantry Division first reinforced and then relieved affected 16th Bavarian Infantry Division units. The night before the attack, artillery harassed German positions while a gas section of Royal Engineers, employing Livens Projectors, fired more than 40 drums of gas directly into the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle to cause confusion. The defending German troops managed to drive back the initial Canadian assaults at around 4:00 am using small arms fire. The 10th Canadian Brigade attacked once again at 5:00 am, this time supported by a significant amount of artillery and the 24th Division of I Corps to the north. The German defensive artillery fire was late and too light to cause the assaulting troops great difficulty, allowing the Canadian Corps to exploit wide gaps and break into the German positions. The 10th Canadian Brigade, assisted by snow and a westerly wind, fought hastily entrained German troops to capture the entire Pimple by 6:00 pm.

Vimy as seen from Vimy Ridge May 1917

By nightfall on 12 April 1917, the Canadian Corps was in firm control of the ridge. The corps suffered 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded. The German 6th Army suffered an unknown number of casualties with approximately 4,000 men becoming prisoners of war.

German soldiers captured during the battle.

Following the defeat, the Chief of the German General Staff, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, ordered the Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL, Supreme Army Command) to conduct a court of enquiry into the defensive collapse of the Arras sector. The court concluded that the 6th Army headquarters had disregarded frontline commander reports, noting a possible imminent attack and as a result, reserve units were kept too far back to execute a timely and effective counterattack. The court concluded that 6th Army commander General Ludwig von Falkenhausen failed to apply an elastic defence properly as espoused by German defensive doctrine of the time. Instead, the defensive system was a series of unmoving strong points and static lines of resistance, which the Allied artillery isolated and destroyed. Hindenburg removed Falkenhausen from his command and transferred him to Belgium where he served the remainder of the war as Governor General.

The Germans did not see the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps as a loss. Contemporary German sources viewed the action, at worst, as a draw, given that no breakthrough occurred following the attack. The Germans did not attempt to recapture the ridge, even during the Spring Offensive, and it remained under British control until the end of the war. The loss of Vimy Ridge forced the Germans to reassess their defensive strategy in the area. Instead of mounting a counterattack, they pursued a scorched earth policy and retreated to the Oppy–Méricourt line. The failure of the French Nivelle Offensive in the week after the Arras Offensive placed pressure on Field Marshal Douglas Haig to keep the Germans occupied in the Arras sector to minimize French losses. The Canadian Corps participated in several of these actions including the Battle of Arleux and the Third Battle of the Scarpe in late April and early May 1917.

Lt.-Gen. Sir Julian Byng views some Trench Mortars captured by the Canadians at Vimy Ridge. The large mortar in foreground is a 24 cm LadungsWerfer Ehrhardt.

After the end of World War I, Byng was raised to the peerage as Baron Byng of Vimy, of Thorpe-le-Soken in the County of Essex, on 7 October 1919. The next month, he retired from the military.

Awards

Victoria Cross

Four members of the Canadian Corps received the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded to British and Commonwealth forces for valour, for their actions during the battle:

Pour le Mérite

At least two Orders Pour le Mérite, the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order, were awarded to German commanders for their actions during the battle:

  • Oberstleutnant Wilhelm von Goerne, commander of the 261st Prussian Reserve Infantry Regiment, of the German 79th Reserve Division.
  • General of the Infantry Georg Karl Wichura commander of the VIII Reserve Corps and Gruppe Souchez.

Influence on Canada

The Battle of Vimy Ridge has considerable significance for Canada. Although the battle is not generally considered the greatest achievement of the Canadian Corps in strategic importance or results obtained, it was the first instance in which all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of the country, fought together. The image of national unity and achievement is what, according to one of many recent patriotic narratives, initially gave the battle importance for Canada. According to Pierce, "The historical reality of the battle has been reworked and reinterpreted in a conscious attempt to give purpose and meaning to an event that came to symbolize Canada's coming of age as a nation". That Canadian national identity and nationhood were born out of the battle is an opinion that in the late twentieth century became widely held in military and general histories of Canada. McKay and Swift contend that the theory that Vimy Ridge is a source of Canada's rise as a nation is highly contested and developed in the latter part of the twentieth century after most of those who experienced the Great War had died but in 1919 Hopkins had attributed to F.A. MacKenzie the recognition "...that Dominions sharing the common burden shall share the common direction of the Empire's war policy" and related Lloyd George's commitment that the Dominions would not again be engaged in wars without consultation.

Vimy Memorial

King Edward VIII unveiling the figure Canada Bereft on the Vimy Ridge Memorial

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is its largest and principal overseas war memorial. Located on the highest point of the Vimy Ridge, the memorial is dedicated to the commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War and those killed in France during the First World War with no known grave. France granted Canada perpetual use of a section of land at Vimy Ridge in 1922 for a battlefield park and memorial. A 100-hectare (250-acre) portion of the former battlefield is preserved as part of the memorial park that surrounds the monument. The grounds of the site are still honeycombed with wartime tunnels, trenches, craters and unexploded munitions and are largely closed for public safety. A section of preserved trenches and a portion of a tunnel have been made accessible to visitors.

The memorial was designed by Toronto architect and sculptor Walter Seymour Allward, who described it as a "sermon against the futility of war". The memorial took eleven years and cost $1.5 million ($22.58 million in present terms) to build. The unveiling was conducted on 26 July 1936, by King Edward VIII accompanied by President Albert Lebrun of France and a crowd of over 50,000 people, including at least 6,200 Canadian veterans and their families.

Ghosts of Vimy Ridge, painting by Will Longstaff

The Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King was absent, it being well understood that he was reluctant to meet veterans and felt it more appropriate for a war veteran in Cabinet to act as minister in attendance. Edward VIII thanked France, in both English and French, for its generosity and assured those assembled that Canada would never forget its war missing and dead. A restoration project began in 2004, which included general cleaning and the recarving of many inscribed names. Queen Elizabeth II rededicated the restored monument on 9 April 2007, during a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle. Veterans Affairs Canada maintains the memorial site. The commemoration at the memorial on 9 April 2017 for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge was attended by dignitaries including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General David Johnston, Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry and President of France François Hollande.

  1. The Germans grew uneasy about the proximity of the British positions to the top of the ridge, particularly after the increase in British tunnelling and counter-mining activities.
  2. These included the Prinz Arnulf, Volker and Schwaben tunnels.
  3. German counter-mining explosion; 35 t (34 long tons) exploded near the Broadmarsh Crater (creating the Longfellow crater group) on 23 March 1917, 45 t (44 long tons) exploded 26 March 1917 near the Pimple.
  4. Hill 145 is the site of the present-day Vimy Memorial.
  5. The German Historical Service estimated 6th Army suffered 79,418 casualties during April and May 1917; of that 22,792 were classified as missing. Crown Prince Rupprecht estimated 85,000 casualties for the 6th Army, with 3,404 men becoming prisoners of war at Vimy Ridge. Losses of the 79th Reserve Division 1–11 April were 3,473 and 1st Bavarian Reserve were 3,133. Other casualties from the bombardment and the units sent as reinforcements and counterattack divisions are additional.
  6. On importance to Canada, see Inglis. Outside of Canada the battle has much less significance and may simply be noted as being one part of the larger Battle of Arras.
  7. The Canadian War Museum cites a crowd of 100,000.
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Battle of Vimy Ridge
Battle of Vimy Ridge Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Vimy 1917 The Battle of Vimy Ridge was 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 four divisions of the Canadian Corps in the First Army against three divisions of the German 6th Army The battle took place from 9 to 12 April 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras the first attack of the Nivelle Offensive which was intended to attract German reserves from the French before the French attempt at a decisive offensive on the Aisne and the Chemin des Dames ridge further south several days later Battle of Vimy RidgePart of the Battle of Arras on the Western FrontThe Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard JackDate9 12 April 1917 1917 04 09 1917 04 12 LocationVimy Pas de Calais France50 22 44 N 2 46 26 E 50 379 N 2 774 E 50 379 2 774 Coordinates 50 22 44 N 2 46 26 E 50 379 N 2 774 E 50 379 2 774ResultBritish Empire victoryBelligerents Canada United Kingdom German EmpireCommanders and leadersJulian ByngLudwig von FalkenhausenStrength4 Canadian divisions1 British divisionTotal 170 000 men 1 3 divisions Total 30 45 000 men 2 Casualties and losses3 598 dead7 004 wounded 3 4 Unknown casualties4 000 captured 4 The Canadian Corps were to capture the German held high ground of Vimy Ridge an escarpment on the northern flank of the Arras front This would protect the First Army and the Third Army farther south from German enfilade fire Supported by a creeping barrage the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day The village of Thelus fell during the second day as did the crest of the ridge once the Canadian Corps overran a salient against considerable German resistance The final objective a fortified knoll outside the village of Givenchy en Gohelle fell to the Canadians on 12 April The 6th Army then retreated to the Oppy Mericourt line Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps to technical and tactical innovation meticulous planning powerful artillery support and extensive training as well as the inability of the 6th Army to properly apply the new German defensive doctrine The battle was the first occasion when the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together and it was made a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice A 100 ha 250 acre portion of the former battleground serves as a memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial 5 Contents 1 Background 1 1 Vimy Ridge 1914 1916 1 2 1916 1917 2 Prelude 2 1 Strategic planning 2 2 Tactical plan 2 3 German defences 2 4 Artillery 2 5 Training 2 6 Underground operations 2 7 Trench raiding 2 8 Air operations 3 Battle 3 1 Belligerents 3 2 Preliminary attack 3 3 Main assault 3 3 1 9 April 3 3 2 10 April 3 3 3 12 April 4 Aftermath 4 1 Awards 4 1 1 Victoria Cross 4 1 2 Pour le Merite 5 Commemoration 5 1 Influence on Canada 5 2 Vimy Memorial 6 See also 7 Notes 8 Citations 9 Bibliography 10 Further reading 11 External linksBackground EditVimy Ridge 1914 1916 Edit Location of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Vimy Ridge is an escarpment 8 km 5 0 mi northeast of Arras on the western edge of the Douai Plain The ridge rises gradually on its western side and drops more quickly on the eastern side At approximately 7 km 4 3 mi in length and culminating at an elevation of 145 m 476 ft or 60 m 200 ft above the Douai Plains the ridge provides a natural unobstructed view for tens of kilometres in all directions The ridge fell under German control in October 1914 during the Race to the Sea as the Franco British and German forces continually attempted to outflank each other through northeastern France 6 The French Tenth Army attempted to dislodge the Germans from the region during the Second Battle of Artois in May 1915 by attacking their positions at Vimy Ridge and Notre Dame de Lorette The French 1st Moroccan Division managed to briefly capture the height of the ridge but was unable to hold it owing to a lack of reinforcements 7 The French made another attempt during the Third Battle of Artois in September 1915 but only captured the village of Souchez at the western base of the ridge 8 The Vimy sector calmed following the offensive with both sides taking a largely live and let live approach The French suffered approximately 150 000 casualties in their attempts to gain control of Vimy Ridge and surrounding territory 9 1916 1917 Edit See also German attack on Vimy Ridge The British XVII Corps Lieutenant General Sir Julian Byng relieved the French Tenth Army in the sector in February 1916 permitting the French to expand their operations at Verdun 10 The British soon discovered that German tunnelling companies had taken advantage of the relative calm on the surface to build an extensive network of tunnels and deep mines from which they would attack French positions by setting off explosive charges underneath their trenches 11 The Royal Engineers immediately deployed specialist tunnelling companies along the front to combat the German mining operations 11 In response to increased British mining aggression German artillery and trench mortar fire intensified in early May 1916 12 On 21 May 1916 after shelling both forward trenches and divisional artillery positions from eighty hidden batteries on the reverse slope of the ridge the German infantry began Unternehmen Schleswig Holstein an attack on the British lines along a 2 000 yd 1 800 m front to eject them from positions along the ridge 12 The Germans captured several British controlled tunnels and mine craters before halting their advance and digging in 12 Note 1 Small counter attacks by units of the 140th and 141st Brigades took place on 22 May but did not manage to change the situation 12 The Canadian Corps relieved IV Corps along the western slopes of Vimy Ridge in October 1916 13 Prelude EditStrategic planning Edit Byng during the battle On 28 May 1916 Byng took command of the Canadian Corps from Lieutenant General Sir Edwin Alderson Formal discussions for a spring offensive near Arras began following a conference of corps commanders held at the First Army Headquarters on 21 November 1916 14 In March 1917 the First Army headquarters formally presented Byng with orders outlining Vimy Ridge as the Canadian Corps objective for the Arras Offensive 15 A formal assault plan adopted in early March 1917 drew heavily on the briefings of staff officers sent to learn from the experiences of the French Army during the Battle of Verdun 15 For the first time the four Canadian divisions would fight together The nature and size of the attack needed more resources than the Canadian Corps possessed the British 5th Division artillery engineer and labour units were attached to the corps bringing the nominal strength of the Canadian Corps to about 170 000 men of whom 97 184 were Canadian 1 Tactical plan Edit In January 1917 three Canadian Corps officers accompanied other British and Dominion officers attending a series of lectures hosted by the French Army regarding their experiences during the Battle of Verdun 15 The French counter offensive devised by General Robert Nivelle had been one of a number of Allied successes of 1916 Following extensive rehearsal eight French divisions had assaulted German positions in two waves along a 6 mi 9 7 km front Supported by extremely strong artillery the French had recovered lost ground and inflicted heavy casualties on five German divisions 16 The Canadian Corps plan of attack outlining the four coloured objective lines Black Red Blue and Brown On their return from the lectures the Canadian Corps staff officers produced a tactical analysis of the Verdun battles and delivered a series of corps and divisional level lectures to promote the primacy of artillery and stress the importance of harassing fire and company and platoon flexibility 16 The report of 1st Canadian Division commander Arthur Currie highlighted the lessons he believed the Canadian Corps could learn from the experiences of the French 17 The final plan for the assault on Vimy Ridge drew heavily on the experience and tactical analysis of the officers who attended the Verdun lectures British First Army commander General Henry Horne approved the plan on 5 March 1917 15 The plan divided the Canadian Corps advance into four coloured objective lines The attack would be made on a front of 7 000 yd 6 400 m with its centre opposite the village of Vimy to the east of the ridge 14 The first objective represented by the Black Line was to seize the German forward defensive line 18 The final objective of the northern flank was the Red Line taking the highest point on the ridge the fortified knoll known as the Pimple the Folie Farm the Zwischen Stellung trench and the hamlet of Les Tilleuls The southern two divisions were to achieve two additional objectives 18 the Blue Line encompassing the village of Thelus and the woods outside the village of Vimy and the Brown Line which aimed at capturing the Zwolfer Graben trench and the German second line 18 19 The infantry would proceed close behind a creeping barrage placed down by light field guns advancing in timed 100 yard 90 m increments 18 The medium and heavy howitzers would establish a series of standing barrages further ahead of the infantry against known defensive systems 20 The plan called for units to leapfrog over one another as the advance progressed to maintain momentum during the attack The initial wave would capture and consolidate the Black Line and then push forward to the Red Line The barrage would pause to enable reserve units to move up and then move forward with the units pushing beyond the Red Line to the Blue Line Once the corps secured the Blue Line advancing units would once again leapfrog established ones and capture the Brown Line Conducted properly the plan would leave the German forces little time to exit the security of their deep dugouts and defend their positions against the infantry advance 21 If the corps maintained its schedule the troops would advance as much as 4 000 yd 3 700 m and have the majority of the ridge under control by 1 00 pm of the first day 22 German defences Edit German dispositions at Vimy Ridge on the first day of the battle The experience of the Battle of the Somme led the German command to conclude that the policy of rigidly defending a trench position line was no longer effective against the firepower that the Entente armies had accumulated 23 Ludendorff published a new defensive doctrine in December 1916 in which deeper defences were to be built within which the garrison would have room to manoeuvre rather than rigidly holding successive lines of trenches 24 Along Vimy Ridge the German forces spent two years constructing fortifications designed for rigid defence Little reconstruction based upon the new defence in depth doctrine had been accomplished by April 1917 because the terrain made it impractical 25 The topography of the Vimy battlefield made defence in depth difficult to realize 26 The ridge was 700 metres 2 300 ft wide at its narrowest point with a steep drop on the eastern side all but eliminating the possibility of counterattacks if the ridge was captured 26 27 The Germans were apprehensive about the inherent weakness of the Vimy Ridge defences The German defensive scheme was to maintain a front line defence of sufficient strength to defend against an initial assault and move operational reserves forward before the enemy could consolidate their gains or overrun remaining German positions As a result the German defence at Vimy Ridge relied largely on machine guns which acted as force multipliers for the defending infantry 28 Three line divisions comprising seven infantry regiments were responsible for the immediate defence of the ridge 29 The paper strength of each division was approximately 15 000 men but their actual strength was significantly fewer In 1917 a full strength German rifle company consisted of 264 men at Vimy Ridge each rifle company contained approximately 150 men 30 Each German regiment held a zone approximately 1 000 metres 1 100 yd wide as far back as the rear area When the Canadian Corps attacked each German company faced two or more battalions of approximately 1 000 men each 31 Reserve divisions were kept about 24 kilometres 15 mi back instead of assembling close behind the second line according to the defence in depth theory 32 Artillery Edit Map showing rolling artillery barrage for advance The Canadian Corps divisional artillery formations totalling eight field artillery brigades and two heavy artillery groups were insufficient for the task at hand and were consequently reinforced with outside formations 33 Four heavy artillery groups nine field artillery brigades three divisional artillery groups and the artillery complement of the British 5th Division was attached to the Canadian Corps 33 In addition ten heavy artillery groups of the flanking I and XVII Corps were assigned tasks in support of the Canadian Corps 33 The artillery batteries of I Corps were particularly important because they enfiladed German gun positions behind Vimy Ridge 34 In total the British made available to the Canadian Corps twenty four brigade artillery groups consisting of four hundred and eighty 18 pounder field guns one hundred thirty eight 4 5 inch howitzers ninety six 2 inch trench mortars twenty four 9 45 inch mortars supported by 245 corps level siege guns and heavy mortars 35 36 This firepower gave a density of one heavy gun for every 20 metres 20 yd and one field gun for every 10 metres 10 yd of Canadian Corps frontage 35 representing a considerable average increase including three times the heavy guns over the distribution of artillery at the Battle of the Somme a year earlier 37 Brigadier General Edward Morrison developed and subsequently issued a 35 page multi phased fire support plan called Canadian Corps Artillery Instruction No 1 for the Capture of Vimy Ridge to support the efforts of the infantry 38 For its operations the Canadian Corps received three times the artillery normally assigned to a corps for regular operations 39 To manage the logistics associated with the increased artillery Royal Artillery staff officer Major Alan Brooke developed coordinated communication and transport plans to work in conjunction with the complex barrage plans 39 A 1 6 million shell allotment allowed the artillery along the Canadian Corps front to maintain a high sustained rate of fire 36 Improvements in the quality of the shells compared to those used earlier in the war ensured fewer duds 40 The introduction of the instantaneous No 106 fuze greatly improved the effectiveness of the artillery since this fuse burst reliably with the slightest of contact unlike older timed fuses making it especially effective at cutting barbed wire before the advance 36 To maintain communications during the battle particularly with the artillery field units laid over 870 mi 1 400 km of telegraph and field telephone cabling normally at a depth of 2 metres 7 ft 41 In addition the corps conducted coordinated counter battery initiatives before the battle The First Army Field Survey Company printed barrage maps for all batteries produced artillery boards and provided counter battery support with their flash spotting groups and sound ranging sections 42 Utilizing flash spotting sound ranging and aerial reconnaissance from No 16 Squadron and Nos 1 amp 2 Balloon Companies of the Royal Flying Corps RFC in the week before the battle the counter battery artillery under command of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew McNaughton fired 125 900 shells harassing an estimated 83 of the German gun positions 43 Training Edit Large model of German trench lines In February 1917 the British General Staff released a training pamphlet titled SS 143 Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action espousing the return to the pre war emphasis on fire and movement tactics and the use of the platoon as the basic tactical unit 44 The pamphlet noted the importance of specialist hand grenade rifle grenade rifle and Lewis gun sections in suppressing enemy strong points with an appropriate level of fire to permit other military units to advance 21 Coupled with the observations and suggestions made by Currie in the report he submitted in January 1917 following the Verdun lectures the Canadian Corps instilled the tactical change with vigour 45 The corps implemented the tactical doctrine for small units by assigning objectives down to the platoon level 41 Assaulting infantry battalions used hills behind the lines as full scale models of the battlefield 41 Taped lines demarcated German trench lines while officers on horseback carried flags to represent the advancing front of the artillery barrage 16 Recognizing that the men in leadership positions were likely to be wounded or killed soldiers learned the jobs of those beside and above them At the British First Army headquarters a large plasticine model of the Vimy sector was constructed and used to show commissioned and senior non commissioned officers the topographical features of the battlefield and details of the German trench system 41 Upwards of 40 000 topographical trench maps were printed and distributed to ensure that even platoon sergeants and section commanders possessed a wider awareness of the battlefield 46 The new measures gave each platoon a clearer picture of how it fitted into the greater battle plan and in so doing reduced the command and control problems that plagued First World War combat 47 48 Underground operations Edit British dug fighting tunnel in Vimy sector Operations along the Vimy Ridge were accompanied by extensive underground excavations The Arras Vimy sector was conducive to tunnelling owing to the soft porous yet extremely stable nature of the chalk underground Underground warfare had been conducted on the Vimy sector since 1915 49 Bavarian engineers had blown twenty mines in the sector by March 1915 50 By early 1916 German miners had gained an advantage over their French counterparts 51 British tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers took over progressively from the French between February and May 1916 52 On their arrival the British began offensive mining against German miners first stopping the German underground advance and then developing a defensive strategy that prevented the Germans from gaining a tactical advantage by mining 52 51 From spring 1916 the British had deployed five tunnelling companies along the Vimy Ridge and during the first two months of their tenure of the area 70 mines were fired mostly by the Germans 53 Between October 1915 and April 1917 an estimated 150 French British and German charges were fired in this 4 3 mi 7 km sector of the Western Front 52 In May 1916 Operation Schleswig Holstein a German infantry attack forced the British back 700 yd 640 m to stop British mining by capturing the shaft entrances In the second half of 1916 the British constructed strong defensive underground positions and from August 1916 the Royal Engineers developed a mining scheme for a big infantry attack on the Vimy Ridge proposed for autumn 1916 although this was postponed 53 After September 1916 when the Royal Engineers had completed their network of defensive galleries along most of the front line offensive mining largely ceased although activities continued until 1917 The British gallery network beneath Vimy Ridge eventually grew to a length of 7 5 mi 12 km 52 The Canadian Corps was posted to the northern part of Vimy Ridge in October 1916 and preparations for an attack were revived in February 1917 53 British tunnelling companies created extensive underground networks and fortifications Twelve subways up to 1 2 km 0 75 mi long were excavated at a depth of 10 metres 33 ft and used to connect reserve lines to front lines permitting soldiers to advance to the front quickly securely and unseen Often incorporated into subways were light rail lines hospitals command posts water reservoirs ammunition stores mortar and machine gun posts and communication centres 54 The Germans dug a number of similar tunnels on the Vimy front to provide covered routes to the front line and protection for headquarters resting personnel equipment and ammunition 55 Note 2 The Germans also conducted counter mining against the British tunnellers and destroyed a number of British attempts to plant mines under or near their lines 57 Note 3 Prior to the Battle of Vimy Ridge the British tunnelling companies also secretly laid 13 mines under German positions to destroy surface fortifications before the assault 58 52 To protect some advancing troops from German machine gun fire as they crossed no man s land during the attack eight smaller Wombat charges were laid at the end of the subways to allow troops to move more quickly and safely enter the German trench system by creating an elongated trench depth crater that spanned the length of no man s land 52 At the same time 19 crater groups existed along this section of the Western Front each with several large craters 59 To assess the consequences of infantry having to advance across cratered ground after a mining attack officers from the Canadian Corps visited La Boisselle and Fricourt where the mines had been blown on the First day of the Somme Their reports and the experience of the Canadians at The Actions of St Eloi Craters in April 1916 where mines had so altered and damaged the landscape as to render occupation of the mine craters by the infantry all but impossible led to the decision to remove offensive mining from the central sector allocated to the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge Further British mines in the area were vetoed following the blowing by the Germans on 23 March 1917 of nine craters along no man s land as it was probable that the Germans were aiming to restrict an Allied attack to predictable points The three mines already laid by 172nd Tunnelling Company were also dropped from the British plans The mines were left in place after the assault and were only removed in the 1990s 60 Another mine prepared by 176th Tunnelling Company against the German strongpoint known as the Pimple was not completed in time for the attack The gallery had been pushed silently through the clay avoiding the sandy and chalky layers of the Vimy Ridge but by 9 April 1917 was still 21 metres 70 ft short of its target 61 In the end two mines were blown before the attack while three mines and two Wombat charges were fired to support the attack 52 including those forming a northern flank 62 Trench raiding Edit Further information Trench raiding Trench raiding involved making small scale surprise attacks on enemy positions often in the middle of the night for reasons of stealth All belligerents employed trench raiding as a tactic to harass their enemy and gain intelligence 63 In the Canadian Corps trench raiding developed into a training and leadership building mechanism 63 The size of a raid would normally be anything from a few men to an entire company or more depending on the size of the mission 64 The four months before the April attack saw the Canadian Corps execute no fewer than 55 separate trench raids 63 Competition between units even developed with units competing for the honour of the greatest number of prisoners captured or most destruction wrought 65 The policy of aggressive trench raiding was not without its cost A large scale trench raid on 13 February 1917 involving 900 men from the 4th Canadian Division resulted in 150 casualties 66 An even more ambitious trench raid using chlorine gas on 1 March 1917 once again by the 4th Canadian Division failed and resulted in 637 casualties including two battalion commanders and a number of company commanders killed 66 67 This experience did not lessen the extent to which the Canadian Corps employed trench raiding with raids being conducted nightly between 20 March and the opening of the offensive on 9 April resulting in approximately 1 400 additional Canadian casualties 66 68 The Germans operated an active patrolling policy and although not as large and ambitious as those of the Canadian Corps they also engaged in trench raiding As an example a German trench raid launched by 79 men against the 3rd Canadian Division on 15 March 1917 was successful in capturing prisoners and causing damage 69 Air operations Edit See also Royal Flying Corps and Luftstreitkrafte Observer of the Royal Flying Corps in a photographic reconnaissance aircraft showing the camera The RFC launched a determined effort to gain air superiority over the battlefield in support of the spring offensive The Canadians considered activities such as artillery observation and photography of opposing trench systems troop movements and gun emplacements essential to continue their offensive 70 The Royal Flying Corps deployed 25 squadrons totalling 365 aircraft along the Arras sector outnumbering the Luftstreitkrafte Imperial German Air Service by 2 to 1 70 Byng was given use of No 2 Squadron No 8 Naval Squadron No 25 Squadron No 40 Squadron and No 43 Squadron with No 16 Squadron permanently attached to the Canadian Corps and employed exclusively for reconnaissance and artillery observation 71 Aerial reconnaissance was often a hazardous task because of the necessity of flying at slow speeds and at low altitude The task was made more dangerous with the arrival of German air reinforcements including the highly experienced and well equipped Jasta 11 Manfred von Richthofen which led to a sharp increase in RFC losses Although significantly outnumbering the Germans the RFC lost 131 aircraft during the first week of April Bloody April 71 Despite the losses suffered by the RFC the Luftstreitkrafte failed to prevent the British from carrying out its priority air support of the army during the Battle of Arras with up to date aerial photographs and other reconnaissance information 70 Battle EditBelligerents Edit See also Battle of Vimy Ridge order of battle Position of the defending and attacking forces before the battle German 6th Army commander General Ludwig von Falkenhausen was responsible for the Cambrai Lille sector and commanded 20 divisions plus reserves 72 Vimy Ridge itself was principally defended by the ad hoc Gruppe Vimy formation based under I Bavarian Reserve Corps commander General der Infanterie Karl von Fasbender 73 However a division of Gruppe Souchez under VIII Reserve Corps General of the Infantry Georg Karl Wichura was involved in the frontline defence along the northernmost portion of the ridge 74 Three divisions were ultimately responsible for manning the frontline defences opposite the Canadian Corps The 16th Bavarian Division was located opposite the village of Souchez and responsible for the defence of the northernmost section of the ridge The division had been created in January 1917 by amalgamating existing Bavarian formations and had so far only opposed the Canadian Corps 72 The 79th Reserve Division was responsible for the defence of the vast central section including the highest point of the ridge Hill 145 75 The 79th Reserve Division had fought for two years on the Eastern Front before being transferred to the Vimy sector at the end of February 1917 The 1st Bavarian Reserve Division had been in the Arras area since October 1914 and held the villages of Thelus Bailleul and the southern slope of the ridge 72 Byng commanded four attacking divisions one division in reserve and numerous support units He was supported to the north by the 24th Division I Corps which advanced north of the Souchez river and by the XVII Corps to the south The 4th Canadian Division was responsible for the northern portion of the advance that included the capture of the highest point of the ridge followed by the elaborately fortified Pimple just west of the village of Givenchy en Gohelle The 3rd Canadian Division was responsible for the narrow central section of the ridge including the capture of La Folie Farm The 2nd Canadian Division which later included a brigade from the 5th Division was directly south of 3rd Canadian Division and entrusted with the capture of the village of Thelus The 1st Canadian Division was responsible for the broad southern sector of the corps advance and expected to cover the longest distance Byng planned for a healthy reserve for contingencies that included the relief of forward troops help in consolidating positions and aiding the 4th Canadian Division with the capture of the Pimple As a result the 9th Canadian Brigade and the British 15th and 95th Brigades were kept in corps reserve 41 Preliminary attack Edit 6 inch 150 mm gun of the Royal Garrison Artillery behind Canadian lines firing over Vimy Ridge at night Foreign intelligence gathering by the Germans big Allied trench raids and troop concentrations seen west of Arras made it clear to the Germans that a spring offensive in the area was being prepared 76 In February 1917 a German born Canadian soldier deserted and helped confirm many of the suspicions held by the Germans providing them with a great deal of useful information 76 By March 1917 the 6th Army knew that an offensive was imminent and would include operations aimed at capturing Vimy Ridge 77 78 General of Infantry Ernst August Marx von Bachmeister commanding the German 79th Reserve Division reported in late March that he believed the Canadian Corps was moving into an echelon formation and were preparing for a big attack 79 80 The Germans quickly planned Operation Munich Unternehmen Munchen a spoiling attack to capture the northern section of the Zouave Valley along the northernmost portion of the Canadian front Munich was not undertaken because the extent of Canadian Corps artillery fire made it impracticable 81 The preliminary phase of the Canadian Corps artillery bombardment began on 20 March 1917 with a systematic two week bombardment of German batteries trenches and strong points 82 The Canadian Corps gunners paid particular attention to eliminating German barbed wire a task made easier with the introduction of the No 106 instantaneous fuse 36 82 Only half of the artillery fired at once and the intensity of the barrage was varied to confuse the Germans about Canadian intentions 82 Phase two lasted the week beginning 2 April 1917 and employed all of the guns supporting the Canadian Corps massing the equivalent of a heavy gun for every 18 metres 20 yd and a field gun for every 9 1 metres 10 yd 35 The German soldiers came to refer to the week before the attack as the week of suffering In the German account their trenches and defensive works were almost completely demolished 83 84 The health and morale of the German troops suffered from the stress of remaining at the ready for eleven straight days under extremely heavy artillery bombardment 85 Compounding German difficulties was the inability of ration parties to bring food supplies to the front lines 82 On 3 April General von Falkenhausen ordered his reserve divisions to prepare to relieve front line divisions over the course of a long drawn out defensive battle in a manner similar to the Battle of the Somme and the divisions were kept 24 kilometres 15 mi from the battlefield to avoid being shelled 32 86 Main assault Edit 9 April Edit Artillery fire on a field of barbed wire at Vimy Ridge The attack was to begin at 5 30 am on Easter Monday 9 April 1917 The attack was originally planned for the morning of 8 April Easter Sunday but it was postponed for 24 hours at the request of the French 87 During the late hours of 8 April and early morning of 9 April the men of the leading and supporting wave of the attack were moved into their forward assembly positions The weather was cold and later changed to sleet and snow 88 Although physically discomforting for everyone the northwesterly storm provided some advantage to the assaulting troops by blowing snow in the faces of the defending troops 89 Light Canadian and British artillery bombardments continued throughout the night but stopped in the few minutes before the attack as the artillery recalibrated their guns in preparation for the synchronized barrage 90 At 5 30 am every artillery piece at the disposal of the Canadian Corps began firing Thirty seconds later engineers detonated the mine charges laid under no man s land and the German trench line destroying a number of German strong points and creating secure communication trenches directly across no man s land 91 92 Field guns laid down a barrage that mostly advanced at a rate of 100 yards 91 m in three minutes while medium and heavy howitzers established a series of standing barrages further ahead against known defensive systems 43 During the early fighting the German divisional artilleries despite many losses were able to maintain their defensive firing 93 As the Canadian assault advanced it overran many of the German guns because large numbers of their draught horses had been killed in the initial gas attack 94 The 1st 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions reported reaching and capturing their first objective the Black Line by 6 25 am 19 The 4th Canadian Division encountered a great deal of trouble during its advance and was unable to complete its first objective until some hours later 19 After a planned pause when the 1st 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions consolidated their positions the advance resumed Shortly after 7 00 am the 1st Canadian Division captured the left half of its second objective the Red Line and moved the 1st Canadian Brigade forward to mount an attack on the remainder 95 The 2nd Canadian Division reported reaching the Red Line and capturing the village of Les Tilleuls at approximately the same time 96 2nd Canadian Division soldiers advance behind a tank A mine explosion that killed many German troops of Reserve Infantry Regiment 262 manning the front line preceded the advance of the 3rd Canadian Division The remaining German troops could do no more than man temporary lines of resistance until later manning a full defence at the German third line 97 As a result the southern section of the 3rd Canadian Division was able to reach the Red Line at the western edge of the Bois de la Folie at around 7 30 am 92 At 9 00 am the division learned of its exposed left flank as the 4th Canadian Division had not yet captured Hill 145 98 The 3rd Canadian Division was thus called upon to establish a divisional defensive flank to its north 98 Although the German commanders were able to maintain open lines of communication and issue orders even with swift staff work the tempo of the assault was such that German decision cycle was unable to react decisively 28 The only portion of the Canadian assault that did not go as planned was the advance of the 4th Canadian Division collapsing almost immediately after exiting their trenches 99 The commanding officer of one of the assaulting battalions requested that the artillery leave a portion of German trench undamaged 100 Machine gun nests in the undamaged sections of the German line pinned down wounded or killed much of the 4th Canadian Division s right flank The progress on the left flank was eventually impeded by harassing fire from the Pimple that was made worse when the creeping barrage got too far ahead of the advancing troops 101 102 In view of the German defence the 4th Canadian Division did not attempt a further frontal assault throughout the afternoon 103 Machine gunners operating from craters on the plateau above the ridge Reserve units from the 4th Canadian Division came forward and once again attacked the German positions on the top of the ridge Persistent attacks eventually forced the German troops holding the southwestern portion of Hill 145 to withdraw but only after they had run out of ammunition mortar rounds and grenades 104 105 Note 4 Towards midday the 79th Reserve Division was ordered to recapture the portions of its third line lost during the progression of the Canadian attack 106 However it was not until 6 00 pm that the force was able to organize and counterattack clearing the Canadian Corps troops out of the ruined village of Vimy but not recapturing the third line south of the village 107 By night time the German forces holding the top of the ridge believed they had overcome the immediate crisis for the time being 108 Additional German reinforcements began arriving and by late evening portions of the 111th Infantry Division occupied the third line near Acheville and Arleux with the remainder of the division arriving the following day 108 10 April Edit Front page of the Daily Mail on 10 April 1917 The British moved three fresh brigades up to the Red Line by 9 30 am on 10 April to support the advance of the 1st and 2nd Canadian Division whereupon they were to leapfrog existing units occupying the Red line and advance to the Blue Line 109 Fresh units including two sections of tanks and the 13th British Brigade were called up from reserve to support the advance of the 2nd Canadian Division By approximately 11 00 am the Blue Line including Hill 135 and the village of Thelus had been captured 110 To permit the troops time to consolidate the Blue Line the advance halted and the barrage remained stationary for 90 minutes while machine guns were brought forward 111 Shortly before 1 00 pm the advance recommenced with both the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions reporting their final objective 112 The tank supported advance via Farbus and directed at the rear of the 79th Reserve Division was eventually halted by concentrated German fire short of the village 113 The Canadian 1st and 2nd Divisions were nonetheless able to secure the Brown Line by approximately 2 00 pm 112 The 4th Canadian Division had made an attempt to capture the northern half of Hill 145 at around 3 15 pm briefly capturing the peak before a German counterattack retook the position 105 113 The Germans occupying the small salient on the ridge soon found themselves being attacked along their flanks by continuously reinforced Canadian Corps troops 114 When it became obvious that the position was completely outflanked and there was no prospect of reinforcement the German troops pulled back 113 The German forces were evacuated off the ridge with German artillery batteries moved west of the Vimy Bailleul railway embankment or to the Oppy Mericourt line 115 By nightfall of 10 April the only Canadian objective not yet achieved was the capture of the Pimple 105 12 April Edit The 4th Canadian Division faced difficulties at the start of the battle that forced it to delay its assault on the Pimple until 12 April 116 The Pimple was initially defended by the 16th Bavarian Infantry Division but the Canadian Corps preliminary artillery bombardment leading up to the assault on 9 April caused heavy casualties amongst its ranks On 11 April the 4th Guards Infantry Division first reinforced and then relieved affected 16th Bavarian Infantry Division units 115 The night before the attack artillery harassed German positions while a gas section of Royal Engineers employing Livens Projectors fired more than 40 drums of gas directly into the village of Givenchy en Gohelle to cause confusion 116 The defending German troops managed to drive back the initial Canadian assaults at around 4 00 am using small arms fire 117 The 10th Canadian Brigade attacked once again at 5 00 am this time supported by a significant amount of artillery and the 24th Division of I Corps to the north 116 The German defensive artillery fire was late and too light to cause the assaulting troops great difficulty allowing the Canadian Corps to exploit wide gaps and break into the German positions 117 The 10th Canadian Brigade assisted by snow and a westerly wind fought hastily entrained German troops to capture the entire Pimple by 6 00 pm 118 Aftermath Edit Vimy as seen from Vimy Ridge May 1917 By nightfall on 12 April 1917 the Canadian Corps was in firm control of the ridge The corps suffered 10 602 casualties 3 598 killed and 7 004 wounded 3 The German 6th Army suffered an unknown number of casualties with approximately 4 000 men becoming prisoners of war 119 Note 5 German soldiers captured during the battle Following the defeat the Chief of the German General Staff Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg ordered the Oberste Heeresleitung OHL Supreme Army Command to conduct a court of enquiry into the defensive collapse of the Arras sector 29 The court concluded that the 6th Army headquarters had disregarded frontline commander reports noting a possible imminent attack and as a result reserve units were kept too far back to execute a timely and effective counterattack 79 The court concluded that 6th Army commander General Ludwig von Falkenhausen failed to apply an elastic defence properly as espoused by German defensive doctrine of the time Instead the defensive system was a series of unmoving strong points and static lines of resistance which the Allied artillery isolated and destroyed 122 Hindenburg removed Falkenhausen from his command and transferred him to Belgium where he served the remainder of the war as Governor General 123 The Germans did not see the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps as a loss Contemporary German sources viewed the action at worst as a draw given that no breakthrough occurred following the attack 123 The Germans did not attempt to recapture the ridge even during the Spring Offensive and it remained under British control until the end of the war The loss of Vimy Ridge forced the Germans to reassess their defensive strategy in the area Instead of mounting a counterattack they pursued a scorched earth policy and retreated to the Oppy Mericourt line 124 The failure of the French Nivelle Offensive in the week after the Arras Offensive placed pressure on Field Marshal Douglas Haig to keep the Germans occupied in the Arras sector to minimize French losses 124 The Canadian Corps participated in several of these actions including the Battle of Arleux and the Third Battle of the Scarpe in late April and early May 1917 125 Lt Gen Sir Julian Byng views some Trench Mortars captured by the Canadians at Vimy Ridge The large mortar in foreground is a 24 cm LadungsWerfer Ehrhardt After the end of World War I Byng was raised to the peerage as Baron Byng of Vimy of Thorpe le Soken in the County of Essex on 7 October 1919 126 The next month he retired from the military 127 Awards Edit Victoria Cross Edit Four members of the Canadian Corps received the Victoria Cross the highest military decoration awarded to British and Commonwealth forces for valour for their actions during the battle 128 Private William Johnstone Milne 16th Canadian Scottish Battalion Lance Sergeant Ellis Wellwood Sifton 18th Western Ontario Battalion Private John George Pattison 50th Calgary Battalion Captain Thain Wendell MacDowell 38th Ottawa BattalionPour le Merite Edit At least two Orders Pour le Merite the Kingdom of Prussia s highest military order were awarded to German commanders for their actions during the battle Oberstleutnant Wilhelm von Goerne commander of the 261st Prussian Reserve Infantry Regiment of the German 79th Reserve Division 129 General of the Infantry Georg Karl Wichura commander of the VIII Reserve Corps and Gruppe Souchez 129 Commemoration EditInfluence on Canada Edit The Battle of Vimy Ridge has considerable significance for Canada Note 6 Although the battle is not generally considered the greatest achievement of the Canadian Corps in strategic importance or results obtained it was the first instance in which all four Canadian divisions made up of troops drawn from all parts of the country fought together 130 The image of national unity and achievement is what according to one of many recent patriotic narratives initially gave the battle importance for Canada 131 According to Pierce The historical reality of the battle has been reworked and reinterpreted in a conscious attempt to give purpose and meaning to an event that came to symbolize Canada s coming of age as a nation 132 That Canadian national identity and nationhood were born out of the battle is an opinion that in the late twentieth century became widely held in military and general histories of Canada 133 134 McKay and Swift contend that the theory that Vimy Ridge is a source of Canada s rise as a nation is highly contested and developed in the latter part of the twentieth century after most of those who experienced the Great War had died but in 1919 Hopkins had attributed to F A MacKenzie the recognition that Dominions sharing the common burden shall share the common direction of the Empire s war policy and related Lloyd George s commitment that the Dominions would not again be engaged in wars without consultation 135 136 Vimy Memorial Edit Main article Canadian National Vimy Memorial King Edward VIII unveiling the figure Canada Bereft on the Vimy Ridge Memorial The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is its largest and principal overseas war memorial 137 Located on the highest point of the Vimy Ridge the memorial is dedicated to the commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War and those killed in France during the First World War with no known grave 138 France granted Canada perpetual use of a section of land at Vimy Ridge in 1922 for a battlefield park and memorial 5 A 100 hectare 250 acre portion of the former battlefield is preserved as part of the memorial park that surrounds the monument The grounds of the site are still honeycombed with wartime tunnels trenches craters and unexploded munitions and are largely closed for public safety 138 A section of preserved trenches and a portion of a tunnel have been made accessible to visitors 139 The memorial was designed by Toronto architect and sculptor Walter Seymour Allward who described it as a sermon against the futility of war 140 The memorial took eleven years and cost 1 5 million 22 58 million in present terms to build The unveiling was conducted on 26 July 1936 by King Edward VIII accompanied by President Albert Lebrun of France and a crowd of over 50 000 people including at least 6 200 Canadian veterans and their families 138 141 Note 7 Ghosts of Vimy Ridge painting by Will Longstaff The Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King was absent it being well understood that he was reluctant to meet veterans and felt it more appropriate for a war veteran in Cabinet to act as minister in attendance 144 138 Edward VIII thanked France in both English and French for its generosity and assured those assembled that Canada would never forget its war missing and dead 145 A restoration project began in 2004 which included general cleaning and the recarving of many inscribed names Queen Elizabeth II rededicated the restored monument on 9 April 2007 during a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle Veterans Affairs Canada maintains the memorial site 146 The commemoration at the memorial on 9 April 2017 for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge was attended by dignitaries including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Governor General David Johnston Charles Prince of Wales Prince William Duke of Cambridge Prince Harry and President of France Francois Hollande 147 148 See also Edit Canada portal World War I portalNotes Edit The Germans grew uneasy about the proximity of the British positions to the top of the ridge particularly after the increase in British tunnelling and counter mining activities These included the Prinz Arnulf Volker and Schwaben tunnels 56 German counter mining explosion 35 t 34 long tons exploded near the Broadmarsh Crater creating the Longfellow crater group on 23 March 1917 45 t 44 long tons exploded 26 March 1917 near the Pimple Hill 145 is the site of the present day Vimy Memorial The German Historical Service estimated 6th Army suffered 79 418 casualties during April and May 1917 of that 22 792 were classified as missing Crown Prince Rupprecht estimated 85 000 casualties for the 6th Army with 3 404 men becoming prisoners of war at Vimy Ridge 120 Losses of the 79th Reserve Division 1 11 April were 3 473 and 1st Bavarian Reserve were 3 133 Other casualties from the bombardment and the units sent as reinforcements and counterattack divisions are additional 121 On importance to Canada see Inglis Outside of Canada the battle has much less significance and may simply be noted as being one part of the larger Battle of Arras The Canadian War Museum cites a crowd of 100 000 142 143 Citations Edit a b Nicholson 1962 p 229 Turner 2005 pp 21 22 a b Moran 2007 p 139 a b Nicholson 1962 p 265 a b Canada Treaty Information Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade 26 February 2002 archived from the original on 21 September 2013 retrieved 17 October 2010 Boire 2007 pp 52 53 Boire 2007 p 56 Tucker 1996 p 68 Turner 2005 p 8 Boire 1992 p 15 a b Boire 2007 p 59 a b c d Samuels 1996 pp 200 202 Farr 2007 p 147 a b Nicholson 1962 p 245 a b c d Brennan 2007 p 94 a b c Nicholson 1962 p 227 Humphries 2007 p 67 a b c d Granatstein 2004 p 113 a b c Nicholson 1962 p 254 Nicholson 1962 p 249 a b Turner 2005 p 38 Nicholson 1962 p 248 Nicholson 1962 p 239 Nicholson 1962 p 240 Wynne 1976 pp 170 171 a b Turner 2005 p 29 Sheldon 2008 pp ix 252 a b Sheldon 2008 p 252 a b Godefroy 2007b p 229 Turner 2005 pp 20 22 Turner 2005 p 22 a b Nicholson 1962 p 267 a b c Farndale 1986 p 238 Map 38 Chasseaud 1999 p 266 a b c Nicholson 1962 p 225 a b c d Cook 2007 p 113 Sheffield 2002 pp 191 194 WO 106 399 Canadian Corps Artillery Instruction No 1 for the Capture of Vimy Ridge 1917 a b Brennan 2007 pp 98 99 Sheffield 2002 p 191 a b c d e Turner 2005 p 39 Chasseaud 1999 p 268 a b Cook 2007 p 117 Corkerry 2001 entire manual Humphries 2007 pp 73 76 Humphries 2007 p 77 Barris 2007 p 41 Terraine 1992 p 180 Sheldon 2008 pp 177 178 Sheldon 2008 p 179 a b Sheldon 2008 p 225 a b c d e f g The Durand Group Vimy Ridge Retrieved 3 August 2016 a b c Jones 2010 p 133 Barton Doyle amp Vandewalle 2004 p 200 Sheldon 2008 p 200 Robinson amp Cave 2011 p 60 Sheldon 2008 pp 218 222 Boire 1992 pp 22 23 Boire 1992 p 20 Jones 2010 pp 134 135 Jones 2010 p 136 Jones 2010 p 135 a b c Cook 1999 p 10 Tucker 1996 p 694 Turner 2005 p 41 a b c Sheldon 2008 p xi Cook 1999 pp 7 24 Turner 2005 pp 41 42 Sheldon 2008 p 254 a b c Barris 2007 p 49 a b Turner 2005 p 43 a b c Nicholson 1962 p 246 Williams 1983 p 149 Godefroy 2007b pp 228 229 Hopkins 1919 p 157 a b Sheldon 2008 pp 229 237 Hopkins 1919 pp 157 158 Sheldon 2008 p 251 a b Godefroy 2007b p 230 Sheldon 2008 p 259 Sheldon 2008 pp 248 249 263 a b c d Barris 2007 p 58 Nicholson 1962 p 251 Sheldon 2008 p 273 Sheldon 2008 pp 270 272 Godefroy 2007a p 231 McGill 2007 p 261 Turner 2005 p 52 Nicholson 1962 p 253 Cook 2007 p 116 Rawling 2007 pp 131 133 a b Hayes 2007 p 200 Sheldon 2008 p 298 Sheldon 2008 p 299 Nicholson 1962 p 255 Campbell 2007 pp 178 179 Sheldon 2008 p 291 a b Hayes 2007 pp 202 203 Godefroy 2007a pp 217 218 Nicholson 1962 p 259 Nicholson 1962 pp 259 260 Godefroy 2007a p 222 Sheldon 2008 p 297 Sheldon 2008 p 309 a b c Godefroy 2007a p 220 Sheldon 2008 p 308 Sheldon 2008 pp 308 309 a b Sheldon 2008 p 311 Campbell 2007 p 179 Campbell 2007 pp 179 181 Nicholson 1962 p 257 a b Campbell 2007 p 182 a b c Sheldon 2008 p 312 Sheldon 2008 p 313 a b Sheldon 2008 p 315 a b c Nicholson 1962 p 262 a b Sheldon 2008 p 317 Nicholson 1962 p 263 Gibbs Philip 11 April 1917 All of Vimy Ridge Cleared of Germans The New York Times New York retrieved 2 February 2009 Falls 1992 pp 341 556 557 Falls 1992 p 341 Godefroy 2007b p 231 a b Godefroy 2007b pp 233 234 a b Bechthold 2007 p 240 Bechthold 2007 pp 239 264 No 31610 The London Gazette 21 October 1919 p 12890 No 31640 The London Gazette Supplement 11 November 1919 p 13768 Foot Richard 4 June 2017 The Battle of Vimy Ridge The Canadian Encyclopedia Retrieved 23 April 2018 a b Godefroy 2007b p 233 Vance 1997 p 66 Vance 1997 p 233 Pierce 1992 p 5 Inglis 1995 p 2 Humphries 2007 p 66 McKay amp Swift 2016 pp 8 11 Hopkins 1919 pp 341 343 WarMuseum ca History of the First World War After the War Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation retrieved 16 May 2009 a b c d The Battle of Vimy Ridge Fast Facts Department of Veterans Affairs Canada archived from the original on 21 June 2008 retrieved 8 April 2012 Hucker 2007 p 286 Hucker Jacqueline 2008 Vimy A Monument for the Modern World Architecture Canada 33 1 43 Evans 2007 p 126 Brown amp Cook 2011 pp 37 38 Cook Tim 2 April 2017 The event that recast the Battle of Vimy Ridge Toronto Star Toronto Retrieved 8 April 2017 Excerpted from Vimy The Battle and the Legend Brown amp Cook 2011 p 42 Brown amp Cook 2011 pp 47 48 Winegard 2007 pp 83 85 Vimy Ridge Royals commemorate defining WW1 battle BBC 9 April 2017 Retrieved 9 April 2017 Elizabeth II 9 April 2017 Message from Her Majesty The Queen on the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Queen s Printer for Canada Retrieved 9 April 2017 Bibliography EditBarris Ted 2007 Victory at Vimy Canada Comes of Age April 9 12 1917 Toronto Thomas Allen Publishers ISBN 978 0 88762 253 3 Barton Peter Doyle Peter Vandewalle Johan 2004 Beneath Flanders Fields The Tunnellers War 1914 1918 Montreal amp Kingston McGill Queen s University Press ISBN 978 0 7735 2949 6 Bechthold Mike 2007 In the Shadow of Vimy Ridge The Canadian Corps in April and May 1917 in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 239 264 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Boire Michael 1992 The Underground War Military Mining Operations in support of the attack on Vimy Ridge 9 April 1917 PDF Canadian Military History Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies I 1 2 15 24 ISSN 1195 8472 archived from the original PDF on 5 March 2009 retrieved 2 January 2008 Boire Michael 2007 The Battlefield before the Canadians 1914 1916 in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 51 61 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Brennan Patrick 2007 Julian Byng and Leadership in the Canadian Corps in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 87 104 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Brown Eric Cook Tim 2011 The 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage Canadian Military History Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies XX 2 33 54 Campbell David 2007 The 2nd Canadian Division A Most Spectacular Battle in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 171 192 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Chasseaud Peter 1999 Artillery s Astrologers A History of British Survey and Mapping on the Western Front 1914 1918 Lewes Mapbooks ISBN 978 0 9512080 2 1 Cook Tim 1999 A Proper Slaughter The March 1917 Gas Raid at Vimy pdf Canadian Military History Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies VIII 2 7 24 ISSN 1195 8472 retrieved 25 July 2015 Cook Tim 2007 The Gunners of Vimy Ridge We are Hammering Fritz to Pieces in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 105 124 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Corkerry Shaun 2001 Instructions for the Training of Divisions for Offensive Action 1916 Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action 1917 Buckinghamshire Military Press ISBN 978 0 85420 250 8 Evans Suzanne 9 February 2007 Mothers of Heroes Mothers of Martyrs World War I and the Politics of Grief Montreal McGill Queen s University Press ISBN 978 0 7735 3188 8 Falls Cyril 1992 1940 Military Operations France and Belgium 1917 The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line and the Battles of Arras History of the Great War Based on Official Documents I Nashville The Battery Press ISBN 978 0 89839 180 0 Farndale General Sir Martin 1986 Western Front 1914 1918 History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Woolwich Royal Artillery Institution ISBN 1 870114 00 0 Farr Don 2007 The Silent General A Biography of Haig s Trusted Great War Comrade in Arms Solihull Helion ISBN 978 1 874622 99 4 Godefroy Andrew 2007a The 4th Canadian Division Trenches Should Never be Saved in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 211 224 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Godefroy Andrew 2007b The German Army at Vimy Ridge in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 225 238 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Granatstein Jack Lawrence 2004 Canada s Army Waging War and Keeping the Peace Toronto University of Toronto Press ISBN 978 0 8020 8696 9 Hayes Geoffrey 2007 The 3rd Canadian Division Forgotten Victory in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 193 210 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Hopkins J Castell 1919 Canada at War 1914 1918 A Record of Heroism and Achievement Toronto Canadian Annual Review OCLC 869410882 OL 19804038M Hucker Jacqueline 2007 The Meaning and Significance of the Vimy Monument In Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo ONT Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 279 290 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Humphries Mark Osborne 2007 Old Wine in New Bottles A Comparison of British and Canadian Preparations for the Battle of Arras in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 65 85 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Inglis Dave 1995 Vimy Ridge 1917 1992 A Canadian Myth over Seventy Five Years Burnaby Simon Fraser University ISBN 978 0 612 06688 5 Jones Simon 2010 Underground Warfare 1914 1918 Barnsley Pen amp Sword Military ISBN 978 1 84415 962 8 McGill Harold W 2007 Norris Marjorie ed Medicine and Duty The World War I Memoir of Captain Harold W McGill Medical Officer 31st Battalion C E F Calgary University of Calgary Press ISBN 978 1 55238 193 9 McKay Ian Swift Jamie 2016 The Vimy Trap Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War Toronto Between the Lines ISBN 978 1 77113 275 6 Moran Heather 2007 The Canadian Army Medical Corps at Vimy Ridge in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 139 154 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Nicholson G W L 1962 Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914 1919 PDF Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War Ottawa Queen s Printer and Controller of Stationary OCLC 59609928 retrieved 15 July 2015 Pierce John 1992 Constructing Memory The Vimy Memorial PDF Canadian Military History Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies I 1 2 4 14 ISSN 1195 8472 archived from the original PDF on 5 March 2009 retrieved 2 February 2009 Rawling Bill 2007 The Sappers of Vimy Specialized Support for the Assault of 9 April 1917 in Hayes Geoffrey Iarocci Andrew Bechthold Mike eds Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment Waterloo Wilfrid Laurier University Press pp 125 138 ISBN 978 0 88920 508 6 Robinson Phillip Cave Nigel 2011 The Underground War Vimy Ridge to Arras I Barnsley Pen amp Sword ISBN 978 1 84415 976 5 Samuels Martin 1996 Command or Control Command Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies 1888 1918 Portland Frank Cass ISBN 978 0 7146 4570 4 Sheffield Gary 2002 Forgotten Victory The First World War Myths and Realities London Headline Books ISBN 978 0 7472 6460 6 Sheldon Jack 2008 The German Army on Vimy Ridge 1914 1917 Barnsley Pen amp Sword Military ISBN 978 1 84415 680 1 Terraine John 1992 The Smoke and the Fire Myths and Anti Myths of War 1861 1945 London Pen amp Sword Books ISBN 978 0 85052 330 0 Tucker Spencer ed 1996 The European Powers in the First World War An Encyclopedia New York Garland ISBN 978 0 8153 0399 2 Turner Alexander 2005 Vimy Ridge 1917 Byng s Canadians Triumph at Arras London Osprey ISBN 978 1 84176 871 7 Vance Jonathan Franklin 1997 Death So Noble Memory Meaning and the First World War Vancouver UBC Press ISBN 978 0 7748 0600 8 Vimy Memorial Ottawa Ontario Canadian War Museum 2009 retrieved 26 January 2015 Williams Jeffery 1983 Byng of Vimy General and Governor General London Secker amp Warburg ISBN 978 0 436 57110 7 Winegard Timothy 2007 Here at Vimy A Retrospective The 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge PDF Canadian Military Journal Department of National Defence VIII 2 83 85 ISSN 1492 465X retrieved 2 February 2009 Wynne Graeme Chamley 1976 1940 If Germany Attacks The Battle in Depth in the West Greenwood Press NY ed London Faber amp Faber ISBN 978 0 8371 5029 1Further reading EditBerton Pierre 1986 Vimy Toronto McClelland and Stewart ISBN 978 0 7710 1339 3 via Archive Foundation Cook Tim 2017 Vimy The Battle and the Legend Toronto ON Penguin Canada ISBN 978 0 7352 3317 1 Foot Richard 2017 Battle of Vimy Ridge The Canadian Encyclopedia Toronto Historica Canada OCLC 21411669 Retrieved 23 April 2018 Macintyre D Eberts 1967 Canada at Vimy Toronto Peter Martins Associates OCLC 910396 Sheldon J 2015 The German Army in the Spring Offensives 1917 Arras Aisne amp Champagne Barnsley Pen amp Sword Military ISBN 978 1 78346 345 9 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Vimy Ridge The Battle of Vimy Ridge Battle info video footage and photos The Vimy Foundation Canadian War Museum The Battle of Vimy Ridge Heritage Minutes Vimy Ridge at Historica Canada Vimy Ridge Virtual Interactive Veterans Affairs Canada The Underground War Military Mining Operations in Support of the Attack on Vimy Ridge 9 April 1917 Veterans Affairs Canada Vimy Ridge 100th anniversary Vimy Ridge played by the Band of H M Royal Marines Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Battle of Vimy Ridge amp oldid 1052408684, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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