The Battle of Vimy Ridge can be considered a defining moment for Canada, as through the military engagement, Canada emerged from the shadow of Britain, and in consequence, the country felt that it was capable of greatness. In addition, the Canadian troops earned a respectable reputation owing to the stunning success that was registered in the war. However, despite the success, the war was costly because more than 10,000 people were killed and wounded. The battle occurred between 9th and 12th April 1917, and was part of the opening phase of the Arras Battle, which was a British-led diversionary attack for the French Nivelle Offensive (Krawchuk, 2009). The main combatants were the Canadian Corps, mainly encompassed of four divisions, which were against three divisions of the German Sixth Army. The main objective, which the Canadian Corps aimed to achieve in the war was taking control of high ground which the Germans held, particularly at an escarpment at the northern end of Arras Offensive. By taking the escarpment, the Canadian Corps would ensure that the Southern flank would be able to advance without suffering a German enfilade fire. As the Canadian Corps we supported by the creeping barrage, they were able to capture most of the ridge in just the first day of the attack. On the second day following the war, the Thelus town fell, and so did the crest of the ridge when the Canadian Corps overcame the German resistance. The final objective, which was capturing the fortified knoll that was located the Givenchy-en-Gohelle, which can be dated on the 12th April. Consequently, the Germans retreated to the Oppy-Mericourt line (Krawchuk, 2009). As such, the Battle at Vamy Ridge is one of the most significant battles of WW1 and gave Canada an opportunity to come together as a nation.
The war was characterized by an effective strategic and tactical planning from the Canadian Corps. For instance, all men in the four Canadian divisions fought together for the first time. As such, the attack plan incorporated the four divisions to battle in unison against the enemy combatants. The tactical formation called for the Canadian soldiers to attack the Vimy Ridge in a strategic formation alongside each other (Krawchuk, 2009). The Canadian soldiers were led by Julian Byng, a British General, assisted by staff officers from Britain and Canada, with the inclusion of Arthur Currie, who was the General in the first division. The Canadians carefully prepared for the attack with a lot of precision. In essence, the soldiers were provided with enough information pertaining to the location and terrain of the enemys strong points. In addition, they were shown maps and models of the battleground by using in-flight photographs of the area. As such, this careful rehearsal contributed to the Corps victory. Also, the infantry soldiers were no longer riflemen; they were now assigned tasks previously intended for specialists, such as grenade throwers or machine gunners. Also, new team tactics were adopted, which mainly commanded the combatants to keep moving and following their lieutenant, and in cases he went down, then the combatants were required to follow their corporal.
Also, the combatants were instructed to outflank the adversary machine shooters who survived the original weaponry bombardment, as well as using grenades. In addition, the Corps were instructed not to lose contact with fellow soldier in proximity (Krawchuk, 2009). These new tactics were new and innovative thinking that percolated at the time within Britains combatants, and intended to capitalize more on trenches, which was based on previous experience, particularly, three-year knowledge of tried accomplishments and disappointments in war. For this reason, they knew what tactics would be effective in the war, and once they were implemented, then they won the battle. In addition, the army engineers dug wide-ranging tunnels, which were mainly located underneath the battleground so as to ensure that the infantry was closely monitored and also ship them safely from the German enemy combatants. Also, fresh weaponry strategies were also used to advance the key attack, and included limitless stock of shells, as well as utilization of new shell fuses that ensured that the bombs used were to explode once in contact with the enemy combatant rather than being buried on the ground.
In essence, the Canadians fought in four independent divisions, but in the case of the battle of Vimy Ridge, they came together and fought in unison. They attacked in the early morning of April 9, 1917, which is commonly referred to as the Bloody Easter (Krawchuk, 2009). The Corps troops moved to the western side of the slope, and consequently, around fifteen thousand Canadians took the ridge, occupying German positions within the first day. In the three days that ensued, intense fighting saw the highest grounds, the Pimple and Hill 145 being in the hands of the Canadians (Krawchuk, 2009). It was the greatest Allied development that pinpointed to the Western part of the Front.
However, the battle success was not easy for the Canadians. Tanks were broken down thereby becoming stuck in the mud, and the troops were disoriented by the explosions on the slopes of the ridge. Stretcher bearers were not able to find access to the wounded, while the field dressing stations for taking care of the wounded were filled with injured soldiers. As a result, the battle left roughly 3,500 soldiers for Canada dead, and an additional 7,000 combatants were wounded (Krawchuk, 2009). However, there were approximately 20,000 German casualties.
The victory of the battle at Vimy Ridge has a lot of significance for Canada. In essence, it was received with enthusiasm and awe, and thereby became a mark of arousalfor Canadian nationalism. For instance, the battle brought together soldiers from the Canadian region, all aiming to achieve the same goal. It was the battle where the assaulting force of the Corps came in unison to acquire the Ridge. It signified the birth of a nation. It also saw the replacement of General Byng after two months, with Arthur Currie, who was the first native commander. In addition, the battle was symbolic of Canadas overall sacrifices within the precincts of WWI, which saw approximately 60,000 Canadians die in the battle. This was an important sacrifice to the birth of a nation. The sacrifice convinced Robert Borden, the Prime Minister, to be independent from Britain, and thereby independent exemplification for Canada, as well as other areas in the after war Paris peace talks. For this reason, the battle earned Canada a spot in the conference held in Paris, which eventually helped Canada earn independence from Great Britain. The battle also allowed Canada to be recognized on the global stage.
It also brought confidence and national pride in the subsequent decades. For instance, it led to the making of limestone memorial on Hill 145, which was engraved with the names of the fallen Soldiers in WWI. In addition, the white monument given by France perpetuated Vimys iconic image, signifying the place were Canada became of age.
As such, the battle signified the birth of a nation. In essence, the battle saw Canada being recognized internationally. Canada became more involved in trade, and consequently, it had a booming weaponry industry. It also gave the country confidence to participate in the Second World War. In essence, since the country won the battle of the Vimy Ridge it has become a member of international associations, such as the United Nations, G20, and G8 (Krawchuk, 2009). Also, the country has become more independent and powerful. In addition, Canada was actively involved in peace keeping missions, such as in Vietnam War, for example, by accepting immigrants fleeing the war. Also, Canada became more actively involved in worldly issues, such as its involvement in Korean War, as well as India-Pakistani and Arab-Israeli conflicts. Also, the Vimy Ridge became important or the nation that France ceded 250 acres of land to Canada so as to commemorate what happened. All four divisions in the Canadian Army participated in the war, giving citizens a sense of national unity. It is for this reason that General Alexander Ross asserted after the war ended, it signified the birth of a country.
Krawchuk, M. J. (2009). The Battle of Vimy Ridge: Wall of Fire. Calgary, Canada: Detselig Enterprises.
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