By 1917 the Germans had built tunnels and deep dugouts fortifying the position with three main defensive lines, rows of razor wire and a net work of concrete machine gun nests. Now the Canadians were to have a try at capturing it.
On Easter Monday, April 9, 1917 at 4 am the troops were in position. The battle opened at dawn in a driving snow storm. In the first phase there was fierce hand to hand combat, but most of the opposition came from enemy snipers and machine gun crews.
By the late afternoon the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Divisions at great cost, achieved their objectives. The 4th Division assigned to Hill 145, the highest point and most important part of the Ridge, achieved its objective 2 days later with considerable casualties. All that remained was the northern tip know as the Pimple.
The Pimple was a maze of German trenches, tunnels and deep dugouts, it had withstood many Allied raids. Its capture was a combined operation by the Canadian and British Corps. It would be a defining moment for Canada, bringing the Dominion into an Nation unto itself.
On April 12, 1917 at 5 am, the attack opened in a gale of sleet and snow. The Germans both surprised and blinded by the driving sleet were over powered. By daylight the Canadians and the British 73rd Brigade had driven the Germans off the Ridge. Accepting defeat, the enemy withdrew to strong positions on the plain, leaving behind guns and ammunition which the Canadians took advantage of.
The ground was never again occupied by the Germans. The Canadian success had resulted in the capture of more ground, prisoners and weapons that any previous British offensive on the Western Front. This was the first time that Canadian Divisions had fought altogether as a corps, with planning and preparations by their own commanders. Born that day in their breasts was a pride in themselves and their country.
|Canadian Machine Gum Placement on Vimy Ridge|
|Empty Crates from Artillery Barrage fired on Vimy Ridge|
References: Valor At Vimy Ridge Canadian Heroes of World War I - Tom Douglas
Amid the Guns Below - Larry Worthington