Battle of Vimy Ridge – April 9 to 12, 1917

The Battle of Vimy Ridge began 96 years ago today at 5:30 a.m. To mark the occasion, Library and Archives Canada has posted a remarkable barrage map on its blog. While difficult to read, this map shows on paper the famed creeping barrage that helped our soldiers achieve the impossible: Take Vimy Ridge. Doc Alexander was not at Vimy. He was in England at the time, recovering from “disordered action of the heart,” better known as shell shock or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). My grandfather served first with a mortar unit and then as a stretcher bearer during the First World War. He enlisted in 1916 at the age of 19. He left no record of what he saw or experienced during the Great War but there is no doubt it was horrific. So on this anniversary, and this goes out to all of the men and women who served from 1914-1919, Lest We Forget.

Library and Archives Canada Blog

For Canadians, the Battle of Vimy Ridge brings to mind the joint effort of all of the Canadian units that fought together for the first time to achieve victory. In a way, it was our very first national military victory, and, as such, a tremendous source of pride.

In spring 1917, Allied Command tasked Canadians with the difficult mission of taking Vimy Ridge and driving back the Germans, who had controlled it almost continuously since the beginning of the First World War.

The Canadian officers spent weeks developing their tactical attack down to the last detail. The soldiers rehearsed their attack behind the lines using a model to represent the battlefield so they would be familiar with the terrain where they would be fighting. The role of the artillery was also meticulously planned in preparation for its famous “creeping barrage,” an artillery bombardment that pressed forward against the enemy at…

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

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