April 9-12 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, part of the Battle of Arras. On a snowy Easter Monday in 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first (and only) time. Training and tactics won the ridge, but at the cost of about 3,600 Canadian lives.
Vimy Ridge is an important site of Canadian remembrance: a 250-acre park on the former battleground is the site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. The monument commemorates Canadian WW1 soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known grave.
Over 6000 Canadians – veterans and surviving families – were part of the Vimy Pilgrimage, events that culminated in the unveiling of Walter Allward’s soaring monument. King Edward VIII did the honours on July 26, 1936.
Unveiling Vimy Ridge Monument, a painting by Georges Bertin Scott, marks the day. The King is seen wearing a gold Vimy Pilgrimage medal. The medal is now displayed beside the painting at the Canadian War Museum.
One of the people presented to the King that day was Charlotte Susan Wood of Winnipeg, Canada’s first Silver Cross Mother. She had lost five sons in the war.
Sir, I have just been looking at the trenches and I just can’t figure out why our boys had to go through that.
Please God, Mrs Wood, it shall never happen again.