Royal Canadian Legion branches in Sudbury honoured the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 10.
Between April 9 and April 12, 1917, four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought a fierce battle against three divisions of the German Sixth Army. The Canucks were tasked with taking control of the high ground to protect a British advance in the Battle of Arras, itself a diversion for a French attack against the Germans called the Nivelle Offensive.
Vimy Ridge was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together, and ever since has been seen as a moment that helped define the Canadian identity. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, at the site of the battle, is still visited by countless Canadians.
The sacrifice of those soldiers was at the forefront when Legion members, as well as the Irish Regiment, Greater Sudbury Police Service, Polish Combatants Association, and the Navy, Sea and Army Cadets marched from Tom Davies Square to the Church of the Epiphany for a memorial service.
Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement commemorating Vimy Ridge Day:
"Today we remember the Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought over four days beginning April 9, 1917, which many believe marked Canada's coming of age as a nation. Of the 100,000 Canadians who fought in this First World War battle, more than 7,000 were wounded and nearly 3,600 lost their lives. Canadian bravery in the face of difficult circumstance was the hallmark of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and has become the standard by which our Canadian Armed Forces operate today.
"While we can never fully appreciate what our soldiers experienced at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, 99 years ago, we will remember and honour them. We are forever indebted to those who served and those who sacrificed their lives in defence of our country. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice to help ensure the peace and freedom for which Canada is recognized around the world.
"Every year, on this day, communities across Canada pay tribute to the soldiers who fought at Vimy Ridge. The courage of our Canadian heroes will never be forgotten."