I am a frequent visitor to the History of the Great War website and I am always fascinated in the timeline of events which are so clearly marked out for each month of the war.
April 9th -12th, 1917
Today, April 9th, marks the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge which was fought primarily as part of the offensive known as the Battle of Arras in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. The armies involved were four divisions of the Canadian Corps against three divisions of the German Sixth Army. The objective was to take control of the high ridge along an escarpment at the northern end of the Arras Offensive.The battle took place between the 9-12th April, 1917 and was particularly fierce resulting in much injury and loss of life.
The offensive was due to begin on Easter Sunday but was postponed at the request of the French who wouldn't contemplate beginning such a battle during a Christian festival, so the battle began on the 9th April, which was Easter Monday. The weather was cold with sleet and snow which in a way worked to the allies advantage as the snow was blown in the direction of the German troops higher along the ridge.
At exactly 05:30, the battle for Vimy Ridge began with every piece of Canadian artillery being charged along with the detonation of land mines under no man's land and under the German trench line. Over 15,000 Canadian troops stormed the Ridge capturing most of the German positions by the end of the first day.
The battle concluded on the 12th April with the Canadians firmly in control of Vimy Ridge but it had been a painful and ferocious fight which resulted in 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded.The German Sixth Army suffered an unknown number of casualties with approximately 4,000 men becoming prisoners of war.
Four members of the Canadian Corps received Victoria Crosses - this was the the highest military decoration awarded to British and Commonwealth forces for bravery during the battle:
Private William Johnstone Milne of the 16th (Canadain Scottish) Barttalion
Lance-Sergeant Ellis Wellwood Sifton of the 18th (Western Ontario) Battalion.
Private John George Pattison of the 50th (Calgary) Battalion
Captain Thain Wendell McDowell of the 39th (Ottawa) Battalion