Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 09, 2012 15:00 ET

Canadian Forces Members Commemorate the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 9, 2012) - Today, a Canadian Forces (CF) contingent of 105 members marked the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, honouring the service and sacrifice of their military forefathers during a commemorative ceremony held at Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

Attending the ceremony, organized by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), were His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada; the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs; Canadian and French dignitaries; Canadian veterans and representatives of Veterans' associations; a large group of Canadian youth: a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer; and a French military contingent.

"The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces are dedicated to remembering the courageous acts and sacrifices made 95 years ago by the Canadian Corps, which have shaped our international identity," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "The Canadian Forces members, who were privileged to be present at today's ceremony, stood in silence to recognize and perpetuate the tradition of freedom that Canada's wartime heroes fought to preserve. It is a tradition that our country and our military continue to maintain today."

On April 9, 1917, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps began their assault on Vimy Ridge. Even though the German defences had held firm against attacks mounted by other allied forces over the previous three years, the Canadian Corps came out of the battle victorious. While the costs in casualties were high, with more than 10,600 casualties, nearly 3,600 of them fatal, this triumph and those that followed are widely credited with earning Canada an independent signature on the peace treaty at the end of the First World War.

"Today's ceremony at Vimy Ridge was an opportunity for our members to pay tribute to the legacy of those who fought and perished during this epic battle." said Major Guy Turpin, CF Contingent Commanding Officer. "As the Canadian Contingent walked the same grounds and trenches as those who served before us, we gained a better understanding of their heroic actions and the sacrifices they made for our country. We are thankful to them today and everyday."

While overseas, members of the CF contingent have participated in other events as part of this important anniversary. Yesterday, they travelled to Belgium, where they attended a private wreath-laying ceremony at the St. Julien Memorial, and also participated in a Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper (Ypres in French). Their trip will conclude tomorrow with a battlefield tour of Vimy Ridge led by Department of National Defence historians.

Note to the Editor:

Still and video imagery of today's commemorative ceremony will be available on the Canadian Forces Image Gallery site at: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca/site/01/VIMY12/index-eng.asp.

For more information on the composition of the CF contingent, please consult the following Backgrounder: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4132.

For more information on the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, please consult the Veterans Affairs Website at: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/feature/vimy-ridge.

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