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Battle of Vimy Ridge

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The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first successful operation against the German Hindenburg Line[?] during World War I. Thought to be unbreakable, in light of thousands of French and British casualties in previous attempts on the line, the Canadian Corp broke the line in one day using a variety of new techniques.

The attack had little strategic significance but in a war where, in battle after battle, thousands died for gains measured in yards it had tremendous tactical importance both in terms of relieving the city of Arras from immediate threat of attack, as well as proving that the war could be made to move once again, after three years of stalemate.

The name Vimy Ridge is part of the very fabric of Canadian nationhood. Its capture by Canadians, under the command of General Arthur Currie[?], was a turning point for Allied Forces during the First World War. The Ridge had been one of the keys to the Germans' defence system, fortified so extensively that it had been impervious to all attempts by Allied Forces to take it during the first three years of the war.

The Memorial

The battle is commemorated by the Vimy Memorial, at Vimy Ridge, in Givenchy-en-Gohelle[?], near Vimy, in the french Pas-de-Calais. It is Canada's most important memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War I.

The Memorial commemorates Canada's role in the First World War with stone figures that symbolize the values defended and the sacrifices made. There is a wealth of symbolism in its sculptures which help the viewer in contemplating the structure as a whole. Built between 1925 and 1936, the works of art, produced by Canadian war artists, record and illuminate the nation's military achievements by documenting, and commenting on, Canada's notable contribution.

The monument was designed by a Canadian architect and sculptor, the late Walter Seymour Allward[?]. His design was selected from 160 others submitted by Canadians who participated in a competition held in the early 1920s. The two pylons, representing Canada and France, tower 27 metres above the base of the monument. Because of the height of the Ridge, the topmost figure - that of peace - is approximately 110 metres above the Lens Plain to the east. The land for the memorial as well as the surrounding 100 hectares were given to Canada by France in 1922 in gratitude for sacrifices made by Canada in the First World War and for the victory achieved by Canadian troops in capturing Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

This memorial was built by the people of Canada as a tribute to their countrymen who fought in the Great War and, particularly, to the more than 66,000 men who gave their lives to defend freedom.

As you walk to the front of the monument, you will see one of its central figures - a woman, cloaked and hooded, facing eastward toward the new day. Her eyes are cast down and her chin is resting on her hand.

Below her is a tomb, draped in laurel branches and bearing a helmet. This saddened figure represents Canada - a young nation mourning her fallen sons.

Vimy Ridge is today wooded, each tree planted by a native of Canada and representing the sacrifice of a Canadian soldier.



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