Vimy Ridge 9th April 1917…
150,000 Frenchmen fell in a single year fighting for Vimy Ridge, but at the end the long, sinister hogs-back was still in the hands of the Germans. Then, in 1916, the British took over and the battle went underground, war raged in the darkness of narrow tunnels and mineshafts deep below the surface. The Germans Counter-attacked from the crest and took British mineshafts. When the four Divisions of the Canadian Corps assembled for the last assault in 1917, Vimy Ridge had earned a reputation for blood-soaked invincibility, as the German Gibraltar of the Western Front.
Behind the merciless precision of the Canadian assault lay months of planning and preparation, of meticulous rehearsal. Before the ground battle could even begin, the air battle had to be fought and won-in face of crack German fighter units like the Richthofen Circus’ specially assembled to stop the British reconnaissance aircraft. An overwhelming artillery power had to be brought in and registered on its targets in advance. And when this ‘set piece’ battle began, the most incongruous elements were involved…tanks, infantry, aeroplanes and Cavalry, kite balloons and gigantic naval guns. For the Germans, it was the writing on the wall-they were no longer facing amateurs but professional ‘Storm Troops’. For Canada, the capture of Vimy Ridge marked their day her regiments became a formidable army.
“In spite of the blizzard, the attack, for the first time in the war, went forward like clockwork. Coupled with the accuracy of the creeping barrage was the fantastic dash and elan of the Canadian Troops”.
“Vimy was from first to last an outstanding example of how to win a battle. As such it should have been regarded. As such it cannot fail to interest us all in the Art of War”…..!!!