The Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge
By Euronews
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1917: April 9


On April 9, 1917 at 5:30am members of the Canadian Corps left their trenches, and advanced on the heavily fortified German positions on Vimy Ridge behind a creeping barrage. Within an hour the German first and second line trenches had been captured by Canadian forces. During the horrific fighting the Canadians were able to overcome all of the German positions on the ridge, and by the April 12 the Ridge was entirely in the hands of the allies. However, the Canadians paid a heavy price for their victory: 3,598 Canadian soldiers died during the course of the battle and another 10,602 were wounded.

The Canadian Corps had been tasked with the seizing of the Ridge after numerous failed attempts by the French, during which they suffered 150,000 casualties, and the British, who were driven back after they relieved the French at the Ridge. So much blood was shed over Vimy Ridge because of its strategic importance – the ridge crucially overlooked the plains of Artois, on which the allies planned to launch their 1917 spring offensive. If the Ridge was in German hands it could be used as a firing point for artillery onto the advancing allied troops.
In order to take the German positions, the Canadians built tunnel systems to allow troops to move up to the frontline and prepare for the attack without coming under fire from German artillery. The tunnels also allowed them to place mines under key German defenses, which were detonated just before the attack. Prior to the attack, the British Royal Artillery bombarded the German lines on the Ridge for three weeks.

Ultimately, Vimy Ridge is considered one of the most successful allied offensives, as during the attack the Canadians advanced further and captured more men and arms than in any other offensive up until this moment in the First World War. Vimy Ridge remained in the hands of the allies until the end of the war in 1918.

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