Positions of Canadian Corps and German Group Vimy at Zero Hour, 9 April 1917
The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack (1866-1952)
It is noteworthy that in 1914, at the beginning of WW1, when King George V of England declared war on Germany, Canada, not yet a fully independent country, was therefore automatically at war. We were still a colony, in essence, of Great Britain despite the BNA act. However, the Canadian Army proved itself so well during that war, and especially at Vimy Ridge in 1917, when a citizen's army, composed of bunch of cowboys, clerks, and farmers drove the, up to then, unbeatable Imperial German Army's front line back nearly 30 miles. Canadians took not only their trenches, but their ammunition dumps , kitchens, and field hospitals. When the war ended, Canada had become a full-fledged respected member of the world community of nations, and signed the Armistice, (called the treaty of Versailles) in 1919, apart from Great Britain. Now a completely independent entity on the world stage, "The Dominion of Canada" as we were known then, became a founding member of the League of Nations (the original UN). Canada was also a founding member country of the evolving Empire, now called the British Commonwealth of Nations.  
Petit-Vimy CWGC
Just off Vimy the main road from Lens to Arras (N25) before one turns right to enter the Canadian National Park, all but four of the 94 buried here are Canadian. The inscription on one grave, that of Gunner C D Moore of the Canadian Artillery, reads:
He would give his dinner to a hungry dog and go without himself.

Vimy Ridge

Proudly standing in front of the real Canadian flag outside the main compound, finally flying at the site after nine decades. Flying the Red Ensign, Canada entered WW2 by declaring war on the Nazis. (They still respected our fighting prowess calling the 1st Canadian Division the "Red Patch Devils".) But this time the Dominion had declared war some days after King George VI declared war. Our only link with England then were our traditions, way of life, our love for the motherland, our proud historic roots, and the British North America Act (called the Canadian Constitution- It was passed into law by the British Parliament in 1867, unifying the existing colonies basically to protect North-western part of North America from American invasion.)  This Constitution, as it has been justly called, was taken from the British Parliament, where it was protected and could not be changed or altered, by Trudeau and the Liberal government of the day, and "repatriated" to Canada in 1982. (This was typical lying political wordage, not the correct word usage since it was never in Canada, but was a British Government law). This political act would now allow our constitution to be changed and altered at the whim of the majority government; and of course was followed closely by the passing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, removing forever the old historic sense of "Individual Freedom" as Canadians knew it then. Now our "rights and freedoms" are generally decided by powerful lobby groups, or by lawyers and judges in our courts of law, not by the elected representatives of the people, nor even by a jury of citizens.

"Oh Canada!" where have you gone, don't you care about your sons and daughters?"
My first pilgrimage to Vimy and exactly ten years later. The Vimy Ridge National Historic Site of Canada is a tribute to all Canadians who risked or gave their lives for King and Empire in the First World War. 
To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada. 
-Inscription on monument
His Majesty King Edward VIII, descending from the Monument at the Unveiling ceremony. 
Over 100,000 attended the unveiling- as many as had been there on April 9, 1917 including 8,000 Canadian veterans.
 King Edward VIII performing the dedication by unveiling the statue of "Canada Bereft," possibly his only official duty as monarch during his short reign that began in January until December 1936.
The monument in 1926 and a decade after when the monument had been completed

Hitler's visit in June, 1940

Designed by Canadian sculptor and architect Walter Seymour Allward, the monument took eleven years to build. It rests on a bed of 11,000 tonnes of concrete, reinforced with hundreds of tonnes of steel. The towering pylons and sculptured figures contain almost 6,000 tonnes of limestone brought to the site from an abandoned Roman quarry on the Adriatic Sea (in present day Croatia). The figures were carved where they now stand from huge blocks of this stone. A cloaked figure stands at the front, or east side, of the monument overlooking the Douai Plain. It was carved from a single, 30-tonne block and is the largest piece in the monument.

The same view 90 years ago.
Below "Mother Canada" is a sarcophagus draped in laurel branches and bearing an helmet and sword.
On each side of the front walls at the base of the steps are the Defenders: two groupings of figures shown here whilst in the studio and today- Breaking of the Sword...
...and Sympathy for the Helpless. Above each grouping is a cannon, silent now and draped in laurel and olive branches.

Carved on the walls of the monument are the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were killed in France and whose final resting place was then unknown. Standing on the monument’s wide stone terrace overlooking the broad fields and rolling hills of Northern France, one can see other places where Canadians fought and died. More than 7,000 are buried in 30 war cemeteries within a 20-kilometre radius of the Vimy Memorial. Altogether, more than 66,000 Canadian service personnel died in the First World War.
The twin white pylons, one bearing the maple leaves of the Dominion of Canada, the other the fleurs-de-lys of France, symbolise the sacrifices of both countries. At the top are figures representing Peace and Justice; below them on the back of the pylons are the figures representing Truth and Knowledge. Around these figures are shields of Canada, Britain and France. At the base of the pylons is a young dying soldier, the Spirit of Sacrifice, and the Torch Bearer.
On each side of the staircase are the male and female Mourner figures. Here is the female in 1932 and today.
 Ghosts of Vimy Ridge
Canadians today are so far removed from their history that they cannot even recognise the monument

 The trenches at the site have been rather artificially preserved by replacing the sand bags with concrete

"German Front Line 1917": a visit to the same trenches by German soldiers during the Second World War. 
Memorial to the 1st Canadian Division
In February 1918 and today

Memorial to the 3rd Canadian Division

Canadian Cemetery #2Shamefully the cross on the gate has been replaced by a national symbol- the Canadian maple leaf; the Canadian Government seeing fit to take exclusive claim on a cemetery that holds far more non-Canadians than its own- compared to the official 695 Canadians resting there are 2, 241 British as well as 19 Australians, 7 New Zealanders, two South Africans, and one Indian.

Givenchy Road Canadian Military Cemetery

This small cemetery inside Vimy Memorial Park contains the graves of 109 Canadian soldiers, principally of the Canadian 4th Division, all of whom fell between April 9, 1917 and April 13, 1917 during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It was originally established as a battlefield cemetery by the Canadian Corps and named CD 1. The cemetery covers an area of 849 square metres and was enclosed by a rubble wall. Although only being 250 metres from the nearby Canadian Cemetery No. 2, it was not incorporated into the cemetery like many other battlefield cemeteries created at the time.
Givenchy during the war

Outside the Memorial Park heading south

At the time in the heart of the battle of Vimy Ridge, Thelus today is a farming village 5 miles north of Arras at the junction of the N17 and D49 roads with the A26 autoroute less than a mile away; it was harrowing having to cycle navigate my way by bicycle from here into Arras. The village has two memorials to the Canadians who were killed during the Great War before the Canadian Corps finally liberated the town on April 9, 1917.

Thelus CWGC

296 are buried here, of whom 244 are Canadian.

German Whiz-bang captured by Canadians at Thelus April, 1917.


General Horne, General Sir Julian Byng, General Sir Arthur Currie and Major-General Sir H.F. Mercer at the unveiling of the Memorial to Artillerymen who fell on Vimy Ridge at Thelus in February, 1918 and the site today.

Nine Elms CWGC
One of two CWGCs named "Nine Elms", the other being near Poperinghe. Sure enough, nine elm trees do surround this cemetery found on the main road less than a mile south of the village.

Over 700 lie here with nearly 150 still unidentified.