The 2017 Legion National Youth Track & Field medal series uses the monument located at Vimy Ridge, France, which commemorates Canadian’s who fought in the Great War, as the basis for its design.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
At 5:30 a.m., April 9, 1917, Easter Monday, the creeping artillery barrage began to move steadily toward the Germans. Behind it advanced 20,000 soldiers of the first attacking wave of the four Canadian divisions, a score of battalions in line abreast, leading the assault in a driving north-west wind that swept the mangled countryside with sleet and snow.
Vimy Ridge marked the only significant success of the Allied spring offensive of 1917. The Canadian achievement in capturing Vimy Ridge owed its success to sound and meticulous planning and thorough preparation, all of which was aimed at minimizing casualties. But it was the splendid fighting qualities and devotion to duty of Canadian officers and soldiers on the battlefield that were decisive. Four earned the Victoria Cross during the battle for their bravery. Of the four only one survived the War.
Vimy was one of the most complete and decisive engagements of the Great War and the greatest Allied victory up to that time. Though the victory at Vimy came swiftly, it did not come without cost. There were 3,598 dead out of 10,602 Canadian casualties. Back home, the victory at Vimy, won by troops from every part of the country, helped unite many Canadians in pride at the courage of their soldiers, and established a feeling of real nationhood.
Brigadier-General Alexander Ross had commanded the 28th (North-West) Battalion at Vimy. Later, as president of the Royal 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.”