Kevin Soren­son Re­ports

The Drumheller Mail - - CLASSIFIEDS - Kevin Soren­son M.P. Bat­tle River-Crow­foot Con­stituency

Vimy Ridge

This year on April 9th, Canada marked the 100th An­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge. Back in 2007, I was asked to be part of the Gov­ern­ment of Canada Del­e­ga­tion trav­el­ling in France and Bel­gium to mark the 90th An­niver­sary of the End of the First World War. The high­light for me was the hon­our of lay­ing the Gov­ern­ment of Canada wreath at the Cana­dian Na­tional Vimy Me­mo­rial and de­liv­er­ing the Key­note Ad­dress at that cer­e­mony on be­half of our coun­try.

The bat­tle of Vimy Ridge took place on April 9, 1917. Four Cana­dian di­vi­sions fought to­gether as a uni­fied fight­ing force for the first time. De­spite 3,598 Cana­dian sol­diers be­ing killed dur­ing the bat­tle, it was suc­cess­ful. It is of­ten cited as the be­gin­ning of Canada’s evo­lu­tion from dominion to in­de­pen­dent na­tion.

Canada suf­fered 60,000 fa­tal­i­ties dur­ing the First World War. France granted Canada 107 hectares of land at Vimy to build and main­tain a me­mo­rial. France con­sid­ers this land ‘Cana­dian soil’.

When the Cana­di­ans at­tacked Vimy Ridge, the Ger­mans had suc­cess­fully re­sisted ear­lier Al­lied at­tacks. Vimy was heav­ily de­fended.

By 1917, our Cana­dian troops were ex­pe­ri­enced sol­diers. Gen­eral Arthur Cur­rie of the First Cana­dian Divi­sion used re­con­nais­sance and aerial pho­to­graphs to en­sure ge­o­graph­i­cal ac­cu­racy and he had the troops re­hearse the at­tack. Cur­rie did what he could to pre­pare our troops to launch an as­sault on whom ev­ery­one knew was a for­mi­da­ble force: the Prus­sian Guards.

At 5:30 on Easter Mon­day morn­ing, the at­tack com­menced un­der snow and sleet. The open­ing and con­tin­u­ous ar­tillery bar­rage was tremen­dous. The Cana­di­ans ad­vanced over the newly bro­ken, smol­der­ing ground. The Cana­di­ans gained 4,500 yards and sus­tained 10,602 ca­su­al­ties. Once we ‘dug in’ to stay and hold our ground, the en­emy re­treated. The bat­tle was won. Cana­di­ans suc­ceeded in the mis­sion to take Vimy Ridge.

Cana­di­ans fought along­side Bri­tish ar­tillery and elite troops. The French mil­i­tary had al­ready sus­tained ten times as many ca­su­al­ties just to bring the Al­lies to the edge of Vimy Ridge. April 9th, 1917 re­mains the worst day for Canada in a war.

The loss of lives at Vimy caused the Gov­ern­ment of Canada to im­ple­ment pol­icy of con­scrip­tion to re­plen­ish our mil­i­tary and con­tinue to as­sist our Al­lies in the war. The con­scrip­tion pol­icy di­vided Cana­di­ans at home. Our vic­tory at Vimy Ridge cre­ated an­other chal­lenge for Canada.

Canada’s mil­i­tary suc­cess, rep­u­ta­tion and the new re­spect paid to our troops and our na­tion by our Al­lies was truly born at Vimy Ridge. Our mil­i­tary went on to achieve many more vic­to­ries in World War I. Our Al­lies re­mained im­pressed. Our Cana­dian mil­i­tary waged the fi­nal bat­tle at Va­len­ci­ennes on Novem­ber 1. Ten days later – on Novem­ber 11, World War I was over. That is why the Bat­tle for Vimy Ridge will al­ways be one of the most im­por­tant his­tory lessons fu­ture Cana­di­ans can be taught. We came to­gether as a na­tion to help other na­tions stand up for the free­dom to live demo­crat­i­cally and peace­fully. We were a young na­tion of mainly farm­ers, hunters, fish­ers, log­gers, new im­mi­grants, and indige­nous peo­ple. We were not the wealthy na­tion we are to­day. We were will­ing to sac­ri­fice to suc­ceed, and we achieved at great cost.

If you have any ques­tions or con­cerns re­gard­ing this or pre­vi­ous col­umns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Cam­rose, Al­berta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or email Kevin.Soren­

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