Raising a Flag to Remember Vimy
Mayor Lyn Hall, and some members of Council, join members of the Legion Branch 43 in raising the Red Ensign.
Prince George, B.C.- The four day battle to claim Vimy Ridge in France in 1917, has often been referred to as a nation defining event for Canadians.
Sunday, April 9th marks the 100th anniversary of the start of that four day battle, and this morning, representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 43, joined Mayor Lyn Hall and some Councillors, to raise a flag to commemorate that anniversary.
The Red Ensign, the predecessor of the maple leaf , was the flag under which Canadian troops fought.
Jeremy Diamond, CEO of the Vimy Foundation is in France for Sunday’s commemorative event He says there are a couple of reasons why this particular battle is so important “One was, that this was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Army fought together, which wouldn’t seem like a big deal today because Canadians have gone off to Afghanistan and other wars as one. But then, we were all split up. We were known more as help and troops of the Brits, British subjects, than we were as Canadians. So there is a symbolism in there, that everybody fought together as one, from all different parts of the country and we were successful.”
He says the battle was also one where Canadians could look back and say we were able to do something no other country was able to do. The British and the French had tried previously and failed, to capture the ridge.
Diamond says the key to the Canadian Army’s success was planning “This battle was planned for months before hand by a Canadian General.” The plan called for a tactic called “creeping barrage” where heavy artillery shots were fired over the heads of the Canadian soldiers as they advanced towards the line. “They has planned this out for months before, and they took the approach the French and British had not and were able to take much of the ridge in the first two days, and the remainder in the last two days. It was an innovative approach by Canadians and I think that word is something Canadians feel has kept on a hundred years later, innovation.”
The battle was a costly one, as 3,598 Canadians would lose their lives.
Diamond is in France, preparing for the officially commemoration of the anniversary at the Vimy Memorial . Descendants of those who fought at Vimy will be among those on hand, “There will be over 25 thousand people there which we think is the largest gathering at Vimy since the monument was opened 80 years ago.” He says the Vimy Foundation has been working very closely with the Government of Canada to unveil a new education centre ,raising more than $5 million dollars for the $10 million dollar education centre that will be the first of its kind to talk about Canada’s role in the First World War. “This is going to be an incredible entry point at Vimy for people, so before they go through the tunnels and trenches and go see the beautiful monument, they will be introduced to why we were there, and what was the importance of the battle, what was it like to be in the First World War, and then go out with a lot more context and understanding to their visit.”
Here at home, the anniversary is being marked with the raising of the Red Ensign at City Hall, and with a service and parade on Sunday . A ceremony will take place at Veterans Plaza in front of City Hall at 11:45, followed by a short parade through downtown and a reception at the Legion afterwards.