The Battle of Vimy Ridge
A Diary of Nurse Chandra
These past few years will be ones that will be remembered for generations to come. Today is November 13th, 1918, and World War 1 was declared to be over a couple of days ago. I, along a large number of impaired and wounded soldiers, am aboard a ship taking us back to our families in Canada. However, some Canadian doctors and nurses who served in the war, have been left in Europe at Britain's command, to continue to aid soldiers who remain in critical condition. Fortunately, I was granted permission to return back to Canada aboard this ship, with the responsibility of attending to the disabled soldiers also making their way back home. World War 1 has been one of the most direful and ghastly experiences one could even imagine. I have faced many deaths in the many years that I was deployed in Europe, and have faced many different types of diseases, wounds, and types of anxieties. As a nurse, I, myself had to deal with a lot of grieving and hardships throughout the course of the war. However, I am writing in my journal today to talk about one specific battle. The media has asked me to talk about one important and significant battle that identified Canada as a whole during World War 1, and explain why I thought this way. I do not have the courage to talk about this in person, but I have agreed to let the media read this journal after I am finished. Even though we lost many battles in our time in Europe, I am glad to say there was one battle we will never forget and always keep close to our heart. The Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a great morale booster for all Canadian citizens, as well as all of the Canadian army. This battle took place from April 9-14, 1917, and we were coming in to this battle with a pessimistic and gloomy attitude, knowing that we were almost guaranteed to lose. The British viewed us as their pests, and kept placing us in different battles and situations that were unreasonable and senseless. We knew that Britain and France had tried to invade and flank this ridge once before, but had failed miserably. Having less than half the men that the French and British did, we thought of this battle as a suicide mission. With each soldier carrying almost up to 36 kg of equipment on their back, the attacking wind-driven sleet made walking even harder. However, on April 9th, 1917, at 5:30 am, we attacked with almost 1000 artillery pieces along a 6.4 km front. Every artillery piece at the Canadian Corps`disposal was launched into the sky. Around a minute later, engineers detonated mines in the German`s trench line. From the tent that I was working in with other nurses and doctors in aiding patients, we could hear the explosive `booms` of all the bombs going off, even from the far distance we were located at from the battle. From what I can remember, the Canadians ceased to advance as the Germans pushed back over the course of the 5 days, with back-and-forth firing. On April 14th, the Canadians won, and swept the Germans off this ridge. This served as a huge morale booster for the Canadian army and civilians living in Canada, for it was such an unexpected battle that we would win. The odds were greatly against us, yet we still pulled through to a glorious victory. However, it came at a great cost with 3,600 Canadians dead. After the battle, we celebrated and we were all in high spirits for a very, very long time. All in all, our win at Vimy Ridge gave us confidence, and renewed our energy going forward in the war.
The victory at Vimy Ridge was greeted with awe and enthusiasm in Canada, and the battle quickly became a symbol of an awakening Canadian nationalism. One of the prime reasons is that soldiers from every region of Canada fought together for the first time as a single assaulting force in the Canadian Corps, and we took over the ridge as a whole. Vimy Ridge is a shared symbol for all Canadians, and a source of national identity and pride. After a 60,000 death toll for Canadian soldiers in World War 1, we Canadians view Vimy Ridge as an exemplary of Canada`s overall sacrifices. Subsequently after our dominance at Vimy Ridge, Prime Minister Borden started to fight for Canada`s independent representation as a whole, and stepped out of Britain`s obscurity. As a reward for winning over Vimy Ridge, the British have at least promised us a huge limestone memorial on top of the highest point on Vimy Ridge. This limestone will have names carved in for all the Canadians who died in France and had no known grave. After this battle, many soldiers, commanders, doctors, and I refer back to this battle of `Canada`s coming of age`.
After the conquering win at Vimy Ridge, Canada started to gain an international identity. Britain viewed us as more of an independent state, and this win proved that we were capable of winning battles without assistance. This battle also allowed Canada to become more important on the world stage. As we gained recognition, countries were more respectful towards us, and quickly identified that we were a valuable nation to have on their side. On the other hand, Germany realized that we were now a threat. After this battle, the daily newspapers reported that Canada had been more involved in trading with other countries, who thought of Canada in a more influential way. This triumph has increased our international stature, and hopefully Britain will start to perceive us as more of a dominant state.
The victory at Vimy Ridge also helped in the final ending of World War 1. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a small battle of a much greater battle called the `Battle of Arras`. Arras, France and areas surrounding this city were main German strong points and bases for their military. The British and French assigned our soldiers to take over and win one of these strong points called Vimy Ridge. Vimy Ridge was a very important key aspect in winning over the Battle of Arras, as it had earned its reputation as an impregnable stronghold. Vimy Ridge was surrounded by seven miles of barbed wire, and had honey-combed trenches. This ridge was very strategic to the Germans as it sat on a very high plain, and soldiers were able to outlook a great distance from the hill. While our soldiers bombarded the German soldiers with artillery at Vimy Ridge, the British, French, and Australian soldiers were assaulting other German strong points. The objective of the Battle of Arras was to break through all the defenses that the Germans had. Eventually, the Germans had to fight us in open ground. This was an advantage for us, as the Germans had an army which was numerically inferior, compared to those of the French, the British, and our other allies` armies combined. This win later led to the advancement of other battles such as the `Battle of Bullecourt`, and the `Battle of Arleux`, which our allies also won, and helped us in ending World War 1.
Today is November 16th, 1918, and 3 days have passed since I started writing in this journal. The wounds of the soldiers are generally starting to get better, and many are slowly regaining their strength. With the advanced medication the British have provided us nurses with, the soldiers are quickly recovering. As I talk with other commanders, they are glad that I have the courage to even write in this journal, where most cannot even a mutter or write a word regarding World War 1. To summarize everything I have written thus far, this victory has etched a big mark in Canadian history. This win has a great symbolic significance towards our country, and is the most momentous during World War 1 in my mind. From boosting our morale, to gaining pride and nationalism, to being recognized internationally, and helping with the end of World War 1, centuries will come, where I hope no one will forget this amazing battle. The Battle of Vimy Ridge.
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