Battle of Vimy Ridge

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Fought on 9-12 April 1917, the Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first action in World War I by the entire Canadian Corps. To many Canadians, it was one of the events that defined modern Canada. Canadian forces suffered 10,602 casualties, of whom 3,598 killed in action. They took their objective and captured approximately 4,000 Germans.

The Corps was commanded by Lieutenant General Julian Byng, a British officer who was to become Governor-General of Canada. Major General Arthur Currie commanded the 1st Canadian Division.

The battle featured advanced artillery techniques by the Canadians, such as the creeping barrage in front of advancing troops; CBC News likened it to the "shock and awe" initial bombardment in the Iraq War. [1] Andrew McNaughton, an artillery staff officer of the division, introduced some of the first modern techniques of counterbattery fire direction, using sound and flash ranging.

Objective

It was part of a larger operation that the British call the Battle of Arras, although Canadians associate the Battle of Arras with a different event in 1918. Within that battle, the Canadian Corps was to capture and hold a terrain feature, Vimy Ridge, while the First Army would advance and the Third Army would break through on the east, toward Cambrai. Since the Army-level events did not succeed, the capture of the Ridge became historic on its own.[2]

The Ridge is a low, sloping structure, which had to be approached over open ground. Its German defenders had built three distinct defensive lines. [3]

References

  1. Vimy Ridge Remembered: Shock and Awe, 1917, CBC News, 9 April 2008
  2. Alexander McKee (1966), The Battle of Vimy Ridge, Stein and Day, pp. 69-70
  3. Canada in the First World War and the Road to Vimy Ridge, Veterans Affairs Canada