The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Through the eyes of a Canadian Soldier

By: Varnikaa Gupta

Stretcher bearers and German prisoners bringing in wounded at Vimy Ridge, during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, 1917. Web. Feb 19 2015

November 10th, 1916.

General Arthur Currie informed us today that Great Britain has finally assigned Canada a mission, and it's a big one. They gave us Vimy Ridge, the area that both the French and the English failed to secure. Considering that Canada has seen minimal victories prior to this assignment, it seems strange that we had been given the responsibility of capturing Vimy Ridge. How on Earth could we do this when two of our biggest allies failed? Especially after the Battle of the Somme. We traded minimal amounts of land for so many lives. I can only imagine what a blood bath we will have at Vimy. Luckily, my comrads and I are an ambitious bunch, ready for the taste of victory.

January 3rd, 1917.

Today we start training for real. Our general, Arthur Currie is exceptional, unlike any British commander that had ever lead us before. All of us soldiers knew him by his words to live by, "Thorough preparation must lead to success. Neglect nothing" (Keirstead). That is exactly what we did. We trained over and above the average soldier. Every single one of us knew exactly what our jobs were and that of the soldiers beside us. The plans and the strategies kept replaying in my mind; each senario that could happen, including the possibility of the general being killed. That often meant the end for all the soldiers too as they would have no idea what to do. General Currie however, had made it clear that if, God forbid anything happen to him, we would know what to do.

General Arthur Currie (centre) at practice attack near Vimy Ridge, Ja 1917. Web. Feb 20 2015.

February 7th, 1917.

The plan has been decided. Some time ago we had sent our planes over the German side so that we could map out their side of the field and assess what to do (Larkin 27). All of the troops have been divided into 4 divisions, each with a predetermined section of land to secure from the German side. I'm a part of the first division and I'm terrified. My divison has the longest, most treacherous, and the greatest area of land to capture, but I trust all of my other fellow soldiers to have my back. All of the divisons have the goal of capturing a certain amount of land everyday for three days, April 8, 9, and 12 (Santor 16). General Currie was brilliant when he decided that we would attack on Easter Monday. No German troop in their right mind would suspect an attack on a Christian holy day (Quinlan 17)! Another innovation of his that we all admire is the creeping barrage approach. Generally, when artillery is set off, everyone has to cease the attack until the field is clear again. However in this strategy, the artillery acts as a curtain for the infantry that advances soon after the explosion (Larkin 26).

Map of the attack on Vimy Ridge. Personally taken photo. Feb 21, 2015.

April 9th, 1917.

Happy Easter. Yesterday's attack was just as strong as we had planned. We gained land faster than we had expected, at a rate of around 100m every 3 minutes (Larkin 28). For the second part of yesterday's attack, we barely even saw the faces of our foes. Our largest artillery shells had kept them all underground in their trenches. This worked greatly to our benefit as they couldn't reach food, water, or contact their relief soldiers (Larkin 29). Though we are succeeding in the battle, I'm mourning the loss of my dear comrad and close friend. It is a bloody Easter indeed.

April 14th, 1917.

VICTORY IS OURS! "Vimy Ridge was the greatest accomplishment of my life. After the battle, I broke down and started to cry. That day, on April 14, 1917, we achieved something the no one else had done before. I truly believe that was the moment Canada was born and I had never felt prouder to be a Canadian." (Larkin 28)

Soldiers returning home from Vimy Ridge, 1917. Web. Feb 20 2015.

Links to Other Persepectives

Work Cited List

  1. Foot, Richard. "Vimy Ridge". The Canadian Encyclopedia, 20 July 2006. Web 10 Feb 2015. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/vimy-ridge>
  2. Quinlan, Don. "Birth of a Nation: Vimy" World Affairs: Defining Canada's Role. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. 16, 17. Print.
  3. Larkin, G.W. "Vimy Ridge: Canada's Easter Gift to France". Worl War 1. Markham: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1987. 26-30. Print.
  4. M.Santor, Donald. "Vimy Ridge: April 1917." Canadian Scrapbook: Canadians at War 1914-1918. Scarborough: Pretice-Hall of Canada, 1978. 16. Print.
  5. Keirstead, Marc. "Trenches on the Web - Bio: Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie."Trenches on the Web - Bio: Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie. Sacred Heart CHS. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://www.worldwar1.com/bioccurr.htm>.
  6. Cook, Tim. "The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917." WarMuseum.ca. Canadian Museum of History. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/vimy/index_e.shtml>

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