Canadian soldiers celebrate their hard fought victory at Vimy Ridge April-9-12, 1917

WWI: Vimy Ridge, April 9, 1917: At last a victory

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The First World War had been going badly for the Allies stuck in this deadly war of attrition amid appalling conditions.

A new and desperate plan was formed- take the heights from the Germans at Vimy.

The early morning of April 9.1017 had barely dawned, the freezing night not yet giving way to barely light grey cloudy, cold and miserable morning. Then the guns started. Thousands of shells screamed overhead toward German lines around Vimy and on the ridge. The Germans had successfully fought off previous Allied attacks costing an obscene toll in the tens of thousands and had reinforced their positions on the hill each time.

Canadians advance across a blasted landscape behind the creeping barrage at a pace known as the “Vimy glide” while German shrapnel shells burts above them (PA-001020 Capt H.E. Knobel)

On April 9, as shells began bursting only a short distance from the Canadian lines and moving outward toward the Germans, the officers blew their whistles and thousands of Canadians went over the top and began walking toward German lines.

In bitter fighting and through meticulous planning, the Canadians took the strategic ridge where others had failed. It was a huge morale boost to the Allies for whom the war had not been going well to that point and one might say, almost losing the war. To that point, Canadian forces had been scattered among British divisions and Vimy was the first time they had been brought together as a single unified Canadian force.

From there to Hill 70, to Canal du Nord, Passchendaele, Amiens and more, the Canadians earned the reputation as the best Allied fighting force of the war.

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