Today we visited Vimy Ridge, a place where the Canadians prevailed and won a significant battle against all odds during WWI. On April 9, 1917, Canadian regiments from coast to coast fought together to take back the Ridge.

In the early morning, we took part in a commemorative service at Vimy National Memorial. The Memorial is a tribute to all who served in the battle, including the 3,600 Canadians who perished there. It is inscribed with the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were listed as “missing, presumed dead” in France. At 220 acres, it is the largest war memorial in the world.

A fellow pilgrim, Al Hodgson, found the name of his great uncle Arthur Hodgson inscribed on the memorial. Arthur was one of four brothers who served in the First World War, he never made it back home.

The area around the memorial has been preserved, and the trenches, tunnels and the cratered landscape remain to remind us of cost of war. We did a tour of the trenches and the tunnels that was used by the Canadians during the assault that led to the capture of Vimy Ridge. At some places the distance between trenches of the opposing sides is only 25 meters! To be there and see how close the trenches were was just astounding.

We also visited Notre Dame de Lorette, the world’s largest French military cemetery nearby Vimy Ridge. In total, the cemetery and ossuary hold the remains of more than 40,000 soldiers, as well as the ashes of many concentration camp victims.

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Photo above and below: Vimy Ridge Memorial

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Photo below: Trenches at Vimy Ridge. Trench warfare came at a huge human cost during WWI, both sides would dig trenches for shelter from enemy fire. The area between opposing trench lines (known as “no man’s land”) was exposed to artillery fire from both sides.

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Photo below: Tunnels used by Canadian soldiers during the battle.

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Photo below: Canadians consolidating their positions on Vimy Ridge.

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Photo below: Stretcher bearers and German prisoners bring in wounded soldiers.

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Photo below: Notre Dame de Lorette.

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– Shaun

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