Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 09, 2012 14:45 ET

Minister MacKay Commemorates the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 9, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today:

"On another Easter Monday, 95 years ago, 100,000 Canadians stood in the driving snow and sleet and heard the first artillery shells whistle through the air over their heads. They knew the time was near; their time.

Above them lay Vimy Ridge, a heavily fortified German bastion that had not been shaken in three years of battle. Thinking of home and family, they stood and waited. Then, at dawn, the whistle. There was no thought anymore. Training and raw courage propelled the first wave of the Canadian Corps "over the top" of their trenches, through the maze of barbed wire in no man's land, into the face of deadly machine gun fire.

By noon on that bloody day, April 9, 1917, the Canadian Corps - all of Canada's army divisions fighting together for the first time - had captured its objective and accomplished what no other army had. The German line was broken. Two days later, the Germans were forced to withdraw three kilometres in the face of a Canadian onslaught, and the Battle of Vimy Ridge was over.

The victory at Vimy Ridge is celebrated as a national coming of age. While the costs in casualties were high, with nearly 3,600 dead and 7,000 wounded, the Canadian military's actions raised our country's international stature and helped earn us a separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War.

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. Today's heroes - a contingent of CF members - returned to Vimy Ridge to commemorate this anniversary with a solemn ceremony at the Vimy Memorial, which marks the site of the great Canadian victory, and pays tribute to those who risked or gave their lives in this and the other battles of the First World War.

At home, we remember and honour the bravery of our military forefathers who fought 95 years ago, and the 11,285 Canadian soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial, listed as "missing, presumed dead" in France.

Commemorative events, such as the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, ensure that the courage and dedication of our Canadian heroes will never be forgotten."

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