Canadian remains at Vimy

From the Canadian Press:

An Ottawa historian has undertaken a mission to give proper burials to more than 40 Canadian soldiers killed at Vimy Ridge.

Norm Christie, an author and History Television host, says that on April 9, 1917, a unit of the Canadian Scottish regiment attacked across a field in northern France.

During the heat of battle, 44 of the dead were buried in a crater which was marked CA40. They included William Milne of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a Victoria Cross winner.

Christie says the dead — including ten members of the 113th Battalion Lethbridge Highlanders — were supposed to be exhumed and relocated to a nearby cemetery called Nine Elms, but it never happened.

Christie and his supporters are trying to raise money for non-destructive testing to find the exact location of the mass grave, which he suspects is in the middle of a farmer’s potato field.

So far, they have raised $22,000 of their goal of $110,000.

“I think if we can recover them, then we should recover them,” says Christie. “It’s a real statement about a country how you treat your dead and these are, really, Canadian heroes who gave their lives for Canada on one of the most significant dates of our history.”

Christie says residents in the village of Thelus, France and area farmers have given their consent to have the area explored.

On his organization’s website, Christie notes that recent work by the Australians have resulted in the recovery of 150 Australian remains.

He says there is no reason why Canadians can’t show that level of determination and pride.

Remembering Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge Day was celebrated in Canada yesterday, a day to remember the men who fought April 9- 13, 1917, to take the ridge from the Germans and whose success — at a cost of more than 10,000 casualties, including 3,598 dead — marked a turning point for the Canada and its army.

From Veteran Affairs Canada:

Brigadier-General Alexander Ross had commanded the 28th (North-West) Battalion at Vimy. Later, as president of the Canadian Legion, he proposed the first Veterans’ post-war, pilgrimage to the new Vimy Memorial in 1936. He said of the battle:

“It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then . . . that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”

Here’s a link to a wonderful story from CBC Hamilton, with photos, videos and audio recordings:

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/2013/04/08/hamilton-vimy-ridge.html

Image Carving the names  of the missing on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. There are 11,000 names.

Image Mother Canada mourning her dead; a detail of the memorial, one of the most impressive sites on the Western Front.

Celebrating Vimy Ridge

Here’s our tribute to the Canadians who conquered Vimy Ridge on this day in 1917.

http://storify.com/ww1ha/victory-at-vimy-ridge#publicize

Photos taken and posted on Flickr by Walker.

Detail from the Vimy Ridge Memorial. Text by Walker:

As you walk to the front of the monument, you will see one of its central figures – a woman, cloaked and hooded, facing eastward toward the new day. Her eyes are cast down and her chin is resting on her hand. Below her is a tomb, draped in laurel branches and bearing a helmet. This saddened figure represents Canada – a young nation mourning her fallen sons. This figure was carved from a single, 30-tonne block of stone – the largest piece in the monument.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is open to the public all year and is free of charge.