Slaughter at Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge and the Canadian memorial

Vimy Ridge and the Canadian memorial

David  Yates, right, outside 23, Garnier Street, Fratton. The original  front room of the  house is where he is  standing.

Spirit of the Portsmouth blitz: bacon and eggs served on a newspaper

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Continuing my pieces on the First World War, today I am telling you, somewhat briefly, about the wonderful Canadian Memorial on Vimy Ridge in France.

The Battle for Vimy Ridge on the Western Front began on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917.

The two of the 90ft memorial pylons at Vimy Ridge PPP-140807-140328001

The two of the 90ft memorial pylons at Vimy Ridge PPP-140807-140328001

Four Canadian divisions attacked together for the first time and when you consider that a division could be anything between 12,000 and 20,000 men, so about 60,000 soldiers, it gives you some idea of the huge numbers involved in that first attack.

Over three days of fighting there were 10,602 casualties with 3,598 men killed.

In 1920 the Canadian government was awarded five sites in France for memorials by the Imperial War Graves Commission, plus another three in Belgium.

The monument at Vimy Ridge must be one of the most outstanding memorials anywhere on the First World War battlefields.

It was unveiled on July 26, 1936, by Edward VIII as he was, technically, the King of Canada as it was part of the British Empire.

More than 6,O00 Canadians travelled to the site aboard five ships while another 1,365 Canadians living in England also attended along with an estimated 50,000 British and French veterans and their families.

During the Second World War the monument, like the Menin Gate in Belgium, was hardly touched as Hitler was said to admire the tranquility of these memorials.

Standing on the ridge 480ft above sea level the two pylons shown here in my picture, soar 90ft into the air and can be seen for miles around.

It’s a wonderful place to visit but beware, the surrounding ground still contains unexploded munitions and the public can only walk in designated areas.

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