Vimy Ridge
The Battle that Defined Canada
Significance
• Brought Canada together. First time all
Canadian divisions fought together.
• More ground, more guns, and more German
prisoners were taken than in the first two and
a half years of the war.
• 4 Canadians won the Victoria Cross.
– Highest military decoration awarded for valour “in
the face of the enemy”
• People said that at that moment Canada
became a Nation
• Only significant win for the Allies in 1917
Location
• Northern France
• Stands 110 metres
high and runs for 8
– 10 kilometres.
• The Ridge held a
commanding view
of the entire Douai
Plain.
Leadership
• Commanded by Lt.-General Sir
Julian Byng and Major-General
Arthur Currie.
• Currie was the first Canadian to
be promoted to the rank of
General.
• He had spoken up against
unsound British plans. Instead he
submitted his own which were
often adopted.
• Currie and Byng had been a team
since the battles of Ypres.
Tactics
• Currie made sure that the preparation for
the battle was extremely thorough.
• He was convinced that poor planning had
caused heavy loses in the past.
• Troops built a full scale model of the battle
area and carefully practised their
manoeuvres again and again.
• Plans flew scouting missions and clearly
plotted the position of German guns.
Tactics
• A maze of underground tunnels were
dug to move troops & supplies safely
& secretly.
• The plan was to have the troops
closely follow a massive barrage of
artillery fire on the German position.
• By doing this they gained the element
of surprise.
The Battle
• Attacking together for the first time, the four
Canadian divisions stormed the ridge at 5:30am
on 9 April 1917.
• More than 15,000 Canadian infantry overran the
Germans all along the front.
• Incredible bravery and discipline allowed the
infantry to continue moving forward under heavy
fire, even when their officers were killed.
The Battle
• Hill 145, the highest and most
important feature of the Ridge, and
where the Vimy monument now
stands, was captured in a frontal
bayonet charge against machine-gun
positions.
• Three more days of costly battle
delivered final victory
Battle Scene
Outcome
• The price was heavy: 10,500 casualties,
including 3,598 dead.
• A boost for Canada; made our soldiers
known worldwide.
• Today you can see the Canadian National
Vimy Ridge Memorial at the battle sight in
France.
• As a result of the victory, Canada won a
seat as a separate nation at the peace
talks after the war.
BrigadierGeneral A.E.
Ross declared
after the war, "in
those few
minutes I
witnessed the
birth of a nation."
Video: Vimy
Ridge
With a partner, discuss the feelings that the
soldier felt going back to Vimy.
How did he view war?
What can we learn about the soldiers by
seeing his reaction?
What feelings first came to you when you
learned Canada’s role in the major battle?
Does it make you look at WWI differently?