Princes William and Harry commemorate Vimy Ridge Battle centenary in France

Veterans, cadets and active service members marched to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Winnipeg.

Flags at the Calgary Soldiers Memorial flew at half mast as a crowd of hundreds stood silent, paying tribute to the soldiers who fought and died on the plains of France one hundred years ago at Vimy Ridge.

"Sharon and I are honoured to join the tens of thousands of people attending the commemorations today at Vimy in France, while Canadians gather for memorials in communities large and small across the country".

Vimy Ridge, a decisive victory for the Allies against Germany, was important in the development of Canada's national identity as four military divisions from the nation fought together for the first time as the Canadian Corps.

And then there will be those for whom the connection to Vimy will be more symbolic, a recognition of the individual sacrifices and what they did for Canada and the world.

"They were, most of them, young men in their late teens, in their early 20s", Trudeau said at the ceremony. Over 3,600 soldiers died and over 7,000 were injured in the three-day battle.


At 5:30 a.m. on April 9, 1917, tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers left their trenches and charged the more than six-kilometre-long ridge as almost 1,000 artillery guns fired on German positions.

"On Easter Monday, April 1917, battling through snow, sleet, and constant machine gun fire, they broke through an impregnable fortress and achieved a historic victory". On a per capita basis, no other province suffered a greater loss in the Great War than Manitoba. Vimy School was build in 1930 to commemorate those courageous men who fought and gave their lives at Vimy Ridge so that we can preserve the freedom and democracy that we all enjoy today. And we must believe it: "Never again". "Let's renew our commitment to remember their heroism in the face of suffering and fear".

The ceremony, hosted by the Canadian government, included recitations of stories from soldiers and eyewitnesses to the battle, and performances by Canadian singers such as Johnny Reid and Loreena McKennitt.

The centre of the poppy is formed by a newly-unveiled sculpture of pairs of soldiers' feet by New Zealand artist Helen Pollock.

Vimy, however, was seen - or at least came to be seen over the passing decades - as the moment in time when Canada emerged from the shadow of its British colony status to earn its place on the world stage as a strong, independent nation.

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