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?