Vimy Ridge at 100

Vimy Ridge at 100

UPDATED April 12, 2017 9:45amET

Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge — a landmark moment in Canadian history.

Dignitaries at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial included Governor General David Johnston, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Prince of Wales, the Duke Of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and French President François Hollande. Also attending are Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.

The group took a tour of the battlefield:

Also watch the full ceremonies from France and Ottawa:

The four-day assault against German positions on the ridge began on Easter Sunday, 1917. Four days later, the first action involving all four Canadian Corps divisions fighting side-by-side ended in victory.

But as with many First World War battles fought among the trenches and with powerful new offensive technology, the human cost was high: more than 10,600 casualties, including 3,600 dead.

CPAC visited Vimy Ridge in the late 1990s with Parks Canada historian Yvon Desloges:

The First World War remains by far Canada’s bloodiest military mission. More than 60,000 Canadians were killed, compared to 42,000-plus during the Second World War.

The casualty rate tells the story. About one in 10 who served from 1914 to 1918 died, compared to approximately one in 26 between 1939 and 1945. The number rises if you consider only those Canadians who actually deployed to the Western Front.


 

-Compiled by Andrew Thomson