Vimy Ridge : Homefront
Perspective of a 14-Year-Old Girl
-December 23rd 1916-
At approximately 5:41 in the evening father announced that he will be joining the war, and those are one of the things that I fear. Christmas is two days away, and the last thing that I want to happen is my father separated from us. My family was devastated and at the same time displeased when my father announced that he would be joining the war, and the worst part is he will be in the Vimy Ridge battle. Father told me that the French and the English attacked four times and still haven't conquered it. Mother kept telling him not to do it and just stay here to protect us, but I think it's selfish, the war started two years ago and it would be cruel to not help the people who were sacrificing their lives for us, for their family, and especially for the country. So I agreed, even if it would kill me to death.
Supper was quiet, as if you could only hear the fire from the fireplace crackling. Vivian and Edward kept fighting about their food and normally Father and Mother would tell them to stop and keep eating. But today they were just hushed, silent. It made me uncomfortable so I tried to start a conversation to make the air lighter, but it just made the air more stiff. Both of them were neglecting my statement and they just nodded and muttered some words. I couldn't do anything so I just kept eating. Avoiding the gazes of my family. As I was done with my supper I immediately went to the living room and joined Vivian and Edward. They were talking about father. They were talking about if father would survive, and they even thought that he'd be back in a month or two. It broke my heart as I heard it, they didn't know that the war is a scary place to be in. They thought it's only adventure and experience. But it's more than that. It's about sacrifice, survival and fear.
I know someone who volunteered to be in the war. My cousin, who's sixteen years old enlisted to be in the army. We all thought before that he's going to be home this Christmas. We were proud of him. But we were mistaken. Until now we still haven't heard of him. Aunt Petunia said that he doesn't write letters to them anymore. We're still praying for him hoping that he's still alive. My parents and I still haven't told Edward and Vivian about it as they are too young to accept it.
-December 24th 1916-
It's dawn, 5:15 in the morning and we're currently infront of our home waiting for father to be picked up by one of the soldiers. Mother kept crying as father is stopping her tears from running while embracing her. Vivian then started crying while I try calming her down as much as possible. Edward, who is trying his best to be brave is holding his tears while his face is all red while his eyes are watery. And me, I try my best to be as calm as possible so father won't feel guilty of volunteering to be in the war.
As father is done discussing with my mom and my siblings, he then walked infront of me and kneeled. I remembered that he said I was a brave girl, not crying even though I knew that I wouldn't see him for a long time. Honestly I wanted to cry, but I don't want to see my father's look in his to be crying the last time I see him. So I long embraced him and I gave my necklace and put it in the palm of his hand. A tear came down on his cheek and I wiped it off. He then gave me his watch as a sign to remember him, he specifically gave me a watch so I could see how much time is left until he comes home. I then embraced him one last time and I could hear a vehicle coming from the distance.
As father stood up he said that he would write as many letters as possible and would try to find my cousin too. We nodded at his statement and he then went inside the truck and drove away as he looked back and waved at us one last time. The last time that I saw my father. Merry Christmas Father.
-March 31st 1917-
It has been three months since my father has been separated from us. It felt dreadful but as he promised he still sent letters to us and claimed that he is doing well. Since those letters arrive late he normally sends four-to-five letters. As we got them we excitedly wait for mother to open it as she happily reads it to us. We send him letters too asking him what it's like to be living in a campsite, has he met people and I asked him if he still has my necklace that I gave to him. He responded to every single question and tried his best to write to us considering that he spent most of his spare time writing since commanders gave the soldiers barely any spare time to themselves. So I'm happy, joyful even. That I would know how my father's doing.
In some of his letters he stated that they had to ride horses to arrive at Vimy Ridge. I rode a horse before, and it was disastrous. My behind was sore the next day and I have to minimize walking since it hurts so much. He then stated that they spent the entire winter preparing for the assault on Vimy. The soldiers were trained vigorously. Planned on making models in the trenches and eventually building them. He made some friends along the way. But he honestly said that he tries to not make any acquaintances in this war as he would be afraid that they would die and felt foolish that he wouldn't do anything about it. But nevertheless he continued. He gave us some insight about Vimy Ridge, he said that Vimy Ridge is located in northern France, about 175 kilometres north of Paris. It is a long hill that "controls" the place. Germany captured Vimy Ridge early in the war and made it into a strong territory, with confusing tunnels and trenches with highly-trained soldiers with machine guns and artillery. I was afraid when he mentioned the French and English attacked four times but failed miserably, I feel worried for father. Hoping that he would come home safely.
He said that it's almost time for war. Telling us to pray for him and hope that the Canada would win too. I'll try my best to not think negatively, if I did. I'd always think that he'll die.
-April 15st 1917-
They announced that the Vimy Ridge war ended. Canada won! Hurrah! I am very happy! I get to see father again! It has been months since I've seen him and hopefully he doesn't appear wounded in any chance, even though it's a war. But I just hope that he'd be here safe and sound with us.
-April 21st 1917-
It has been a week since the war ended. These days I feel worried now, but mother told me that the war that took place is far from us so I feel tad bit relieved. But what made me suspicious is the letters. Father's letters would normally have a gap of a week's time when we receive it. But we didn't receive any today. It's evening right now and normally we'd receive it by noon. I know there's a war but I know father. He'd make time writing letters even if it's a sentence. Vivian and Edward were worried but me and mother tried our best to keep them calm and keep us calm. Just then a knock then came from the front door and all of us were startled from the sound. I stood up from the ground and immediately opened the door. As I opened the door I was smiling from ear to ear, then I frowned. It's not father, it's a man with a wounded head and a broken arm. He smiled at me and gave me a paper. I was confused at the word and mother came by my side. I asked her what it means. She grabbed the paper from my hands and tears came swelling up her eyes and broke down with her knees in the ground. I looked at her confused and the man held my shoulder, and said "K.I.A., Killed in Action..."
What? This can't be.. It won't be! I then started crying forcing myself to stop, but it can't. Killed in action? He died?! No! That can't be! All this time I was waiting for him to come here, wrapping my arms around him and still having my necklace. While I still have his watch. For awhile it became like that, just crying and when Vivian and Edward knew. They cried. Mother couldn't do anything about it. Even I can't do anything about it. After for awhile we talked to the man, he claimed that he's a friend of father's. He didn't know how father died. But as the war ended he said that he was finding him. But only to found out that he's there, laying in the ground with blood all over his head. Claiming that he was shot. I couldn't bear the image in my head of him being shot. It just teared me apart. But. He said something significant. That he and father, the only soldiers has captured a hundred and more soldiers in the war. Father. He did that? I knew he would do justice in this fight but being one of the soldiers that captured a hundred or more? That's amazing. So he didn't die in vain. He did it with pride. He then talked about the war. After the war what is left a muddy field littered with bodies and a lot of dead trees that either crashed or have been bombed. He said that the war started on Easter Monday (April 9th) to April 14th. The things that they did were significant is in every three minutes they would advance in a hundred meters. Most of the heavily defended ridge was captured around noon. Took Hill 145 (highest point in Vimy Ridge) by morning in April 10th, and two days later the Canadians captured "The Pimple" (Another highest point in Vimy Ridge) After "The Pimple" was captured Germans were forced to lose 3 kilometers and finally the battle is finally over. Some things that are unfortunate is that they lost 600,00 men, some were killed and some were missing. But we'll let them know that they didn't lose even if they died. They did this for Canada. Their families would be proud of them.
In the end Aunt Petunia came to our home with our cousin! He didn't write any letters anymore since he didn't have time and the war kept getting worse and worse. I'm happy that my cousin didn't die. I'm still devastated about the death of my father. But I'm proud that my dad sacrificed his life for me and many other young Canadians' futures.
"The Battle of Vimy Ridge." Veterans Affairs Canada. Government of Canada, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/fact_sheets/vimy>.
"A Soldiers' Life." Veterans Affairs Canada. Government of Canada, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2014. <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/overseas/first-world-war/france/vimy/story-galleries/02_behind_lines/01_soldier_life>.
"Captures & Aftermath." Veterans Affairs Canada. Government of Canada, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/overseas/first-world-war/france/vimy/story-galleries/03_april_1917/03_aftermath>.
Larkin, G.W., and J.P. Matresky. World War 1: Canada in the Twentieth Century. Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1987. Print