Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge
The History of
Canadian Victory
The Ridge
Picture Taken on August 2nd 2011, by Drayton Walker.
The Ridge itself is fourteen kilometers long, located
at 50° 22′ 44.4″ N, 2° 46′ 26.4″ E. At the time of
World War I, the area was plains, but due to the
bombardment and harsh weather, those plains were
transformed into muddy craters and hills. Today you
can still see the formations that have occurred, but
they have become grass covered.
Vimy Ridge is located outside of a small town called
Arras, and the battle for Vimy Ridge was a small
portion of the Battle of Arras. At the time of the war,
the climate would have been mild to cold, with sleet
and snow starting to melt and disappear.
The Strategy
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Vimy Ridge was occupied by the German forces for
a few years before the final battle took place
between them and the Canadians. Before the
Canadians, the French Army tried to take the ridge,
but were wiped out entirely by the German
artillery. Later, British forces tried many times to
take the ridge, but none of their attempts were
successful. This resulted in a very high fatality and
casualty rate for the Allies. Canadian Regiments
were banded together for the entirety or World
War One, and after the disappointing failures that
the French and British forces produced the Allied
Forces decided to give Canada a shot at the Ridge.
The Canadian Regiments banned together, to make
the Canadian total to be 97, 184 men . Supported
by an additional 72, 816 British Soldiers, the
Canadians had an adequate number of men to
support their assault on the Ridge.
170, 000 men were backed by the Canadian’s 8
Field Artillery Brigades and 2 Heavy Artillery
Brigades, along with an additional 14 Heavy
Artillery Brigades, 9 Field Artillery Brigades, and 3
Divisional Artillery Brigades all consisting of British
Soldiers, the Allied Forces were well equipped
against the German’s 3 Line Divisions; each
consisting of an Artillery Regiment and 15,000 men.
Canadian Artillery
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For two weeks, Canadian Artillery strategically
bombarded the German Battery, preventing them
from making the first move, and causing a
preliminary strike. After the heavy bombardment
that started March 20th, 1917, and ended April 2nd,
all but three of the German bunkers were
destroyed, which was one of the main causes that
lead to victory. For one week, Canadian Regiments
formulated a battle plan which would take place at
05:00 AM on April 9th, 1917. This plan consisted of
having the soldiers rush out of the tunnel, staying
behind the “creeping barrage” (a small tank) in
order to stay covered.
‘Creeping’ Barrage
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At 05:00 AM, when the battle commenced,
Canadians ran from the trenches, staying behind
the barrage until they reached the next trench. This
technique though risky, was very effective. They
continued to do so, fighting Germans who were in
the trenches that they had breached with hand to
hand combat, or sometimes bayonets. This was
known as Trench Warfare, and is still commonly
known as the most brutal warfare around.
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Trench Warfare
Trench Warfare consisted of soldiers on one side,
sitting in a trench firing at the soldiers on the the
other side in their trench, until one trench was
‘empty’ because everyone had been killed, which
then the soldiers would assault their way into the
‘empty’ trench in order to gain ground. After that
move, anyone in trenches behind the front trench,
would move up to the next trench. In many cases the
soldiers would arrive in the ‘empty’ trench, to find an
ambush, or a few straggling soldiers which would
attempt to kill them. This is known as sabotage. It
was the reason a lot of soldiers died during the war.
A lot of Trench Warfare occurred in any battle that took
place in World War I, and early World War II. This is
because Trench Warfare was the most efficient, and
intelligent type of warfare at the time. If you look back at
wars in the 16th century, entire armies would line up,
with no cover, and fire upon the enemy. Trench warfare
is the same idea, only using the trenches as cover. In
today’s modern warfare, we have technologies that
Generals couldn’t have even dreamed about having a
hundred years ago.
Trench Warfare was not pure brutality as some would
suggest, it was very strategic, in the sense that every
trench had to be man made, and each trench had an
elaborate tunnel system leading back and forth.
Many of the soldiers
fighting in the trenches
were constantly exposed to
water, mud and bodies of
the deceased which rotted
their feet entirely. This
destroyed their feet,
making them immobile,
and unable to fight.
Commonly known to day as
‘Trench Foot’, this disease
was the fate that many
soldiers met during the
Great War.
Trench Foot
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The Capture
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Because almost all of the German defenses were
destroyed from the bombardment, the Canadian
regiments mission to capture the Ridge proved to be an
easy task. At 05:00 AM, Canadian soldiers ran from the
trenches and began their main assault on the Ridge.
Quickly moving from trench to trench, using a Barrage
tank for cover, they were able to destroy all of the
enemy forces, and claim the Ridge for the Allied Forces.
Proudly, they captured 4000 German soldiers, and they
became prisoners of war. The capture itself went from
05:00AM April 9th, until 18:00PM April 12th with many
casualties being taken on both sides. By 18:00PM April
12th, the Ridge was controlled by Allied Forces, and the
German occupants were either captured, dead or lost.
The Losses
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“Success consists of going from failure to failure
without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill.
In every war, there is the illusion of a victor, but the
reality, is that no one actually wins in war. Although
the Allied forces won the Great War, there were
22,104,209 casualties within 4 years. At the Battle of
Vimy Ridge itself, the Canadians faced 11, 297
casualties within 2 months.
Overall, there were around 35, 000, 000 casualties.
10, 000, 000 were dead, and the remaining 15, 000,
000 were injured or missing. The War was won by
Allied forces, but at the cost of many, many lives.
John, "What are the Geographical coordinates of Vimy Ridge?" Yahoo
Answers, 2010.
Historica Moments, “Vimy Ridge Synopsis”, 7th Floor Media, retrieved
from Nov, 2011.
Stephens, John, “The Canadians at Vimy Ridge”,,
August 2011.
Gibbs, Philip, “All of the Ridge Cleared of Germans”, New York Times,
page 3, April 11th, 1917.
Humphries, Mark Osborne, “Old Wine in New Bottles”, Vimy Ridge: A
Canadian Reassessment, 2007.
Pictures Cited on corresponding pages.

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