On April 9, 1917 – Easter Monday – at 5:28 am the battle was engaged.
Caroline Legion members Bobbi Jo Noirot and Terry McGuire made a presentation to other members and guests.
Photos and story by Helge Nome
The popular Friday night supper at the Caroline Legion on April 6 was combined with the recognition of the significance of the April 9 date in Canadian history:
"On the morning of April 9, 1917 the Canadian Corps attacked the German stronghold position at Vimy Ridge. The ridge, located about 10 kilometres to the north of Arras in Northern France and just south of the mines and factories of Lens and Lille, was a high ground that commanded the entire sector.
The Canadian Corps, comprising of the Canadian 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Divisions united for the first time – over 100,000 men - was attempting to do what the British and French forces had tried from 1914 to 1916. Their attacks had gained little other than 130,000 casualties."
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Veteran UN peacekeeper, Terry McGuire, made the following presentation to the audience:
" Ladies and Gentlemen, may I please have your attention for a few minutes. Tonight is not only the Legion's weekly Friday night supper, but is also the Eve of a remarkable event in our country's history.
Allow me to take you back for a while. The place is Northern France and the time is April 1917.
Canada's Declaration of War has been signed for us, in 1914, by the British Government, as she is only a British colony, and her troops are disbursed amongst established British regiments upon their arrival in Europe.
To date, the war has denigrated into a stagnant, trench warfare system, with the allied advances measured in feet and inches, with a great number of casualties.
One of the major stumbling blocks is the 7 mile long stretch of high ground overlooking the Arras valley of France, with its major fortification being the heavily armed and reinforced old French fort of Vimy Ridge, which has been in German hands since the beginning of the war.
Successive attacks by both the French and British armies have met with repeated failures, having amassed 130,000 casualties.
It is noteworthy to point out that about this time, Lt Col John McCrea of the Canadian Army Medical Corps pens his famoius poem: "In Flanders Fields".
So to the Canadians, from falling hands, the torch was thrown: Take Vimy Ridge.
This is the first time in the War that the 4 Divisions of the Canadian Army will fight together in major action.
Employing newly developed and wholly Canadian tactics, on April 9 1917, the Canadians launch their assault. In three days of fighting, they take and hold Vimy Ridge, and in the following weeks also take the surrounding high ground, including Hill 70.
Because of this feat; The Canadians are given the honour of being identified as "Shock Troops", an honour that still applies to this day, as it identifies to the world that the Canadians are capable of handling the worst of situations.
The Canadian Army, from this point on, fights as its own unit, and never loses any major action that it is involved in.
It further elevates Canada from the level of just a British Colony, to that of Dominion, and eventually to that of an independent and sovereign country.
It has often been said that Canada's sons left their homes as young Colonials but returned as Canadians.
So, in recognition of the sacrifices and bravery of our 1st World War Veterans, the Canadian government has decreed that every 09 April will be a day of Remembrance called Vimy Ridge Day, and that all institutions that fly the Canadian flag should lower them to half-mast from sunrise to sunset.
To show our respect and remembrance of these Veterans, I ask you to rise and recite with us "In Flanders Fields" (This was done)
Should any of you wish further information on this, or any of Canada's military history, please talk to any of the Legionnaires, and visit our Memorial Room, where we have put on a special display particular to the First World War, and have memorabilia to that time period for purchase by one and all (See photos below article)
On behalf of the President, and Membership of the Branch, I thank you, and please enjoy yourselves throughout the rest of the evening".
The Caroline Legion will honor the women that have served in Canada's Armed Forces following the Friday night supper on May 11.
Newspaper clipping displayed at the Caroline Legion
Portable and folding lantern used by WWI troops (reproduction). It folds and fits into the metal container on the right. On display at the Caroline Legion.