Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remembrance Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you with failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae

Vimy Ridge

Canada’s most significant victory of the First World War was the battle of Vimy Ridge on 9th April 1917. Vimy Ridge was part of the Hindenburg Line near Arras, France and was a heavily fortified German stronghold. There were three layers of trenches; barbed wire and deep tunnels. Previous attempts by the French in 1915 and the British army in April 1916 had been driven back.

All four Canadian divisions fought on the same battlefield and the cost was high: there were 10,602 casualties of which 3,598 were killed. Four Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross and the entire Canadian contingent were commended for their bravery.

In the early morning of 9th April 1917 some 20,000 soldiers attacked and by the afternoon the two front lines had been taken. By 12th April 1917 the entire ridge was under allied control.

The bravery and valour of the Canadian soldiers was considered the turning point of the First World War.