Our 200 meter challenge reveals a little known tribute... just footsteps next to one of the most famous memorials in the world.
The moon sank lower into a black cloud in the west, the Glen went out in an eclipse of sudden shadow—and thousands of miles away the Canadian boys in khaki—the living and the dead—were in possession of Vimy Ridge.
Vimy Ridge is a name written in crimson and gold on the Canadian annals of the Great War. "The British couldn't take it and the French couldn't take it," said a German prisoner to his captors, "but you Canadians are such fools that you don't know when a place can't be taken!"
So the "fools" took it—and paid the price.
"Rilla of Ingleside" is a historian's dream. The only piece of fiction written by a Canadian woman about her contemporaries during World War I, "Rilla" captures domestic life during a time of war in rich, painstaking detail.
But Montgomery got one detail wrong. Vimy Ridge HAD been captured before. And you won't believe by who.
If you’re reading this post on the date of publication, May 9, 2015, it has been 100 years since the French 1st Moroccan Division first captured Vimy Ridge's Hill 145 for the Allied Forces – and they did so at a devastating cost that would come to define future battles. Reports of the battle are scarce to come by but it appears that the Moroccans were in control of Vimy Ridge for approximately one day and advanced an incredible 4,000 meters against the German line in just 2 hours. But eventually the point came when they could no longer hold on without delivery of the promised reinforcements. The hard won hill again fell back into German control.
But glance they should. For it was the successes and failures of the Moroccans and so many others that allowed the Canadians to formulate a battle plan so detailed and so innovative that it both won the battle and also helped tip the scales in favour of victory for the Allied Forces.
But spare a moment for the Moroccan memorial. Canadians owe a tremendous debt to their sacrifices, which ultimately contributed to a successful battle plan. But even more poignantly, it is a testament to how many countries and nationalities sacrificed during World War I – and a sober reminder that no one is immune to the suffering of war.
What little known sites have touched you during your travels?
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From Casteau to Arras: A Roadtrip to Vimy Ridge
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PS: If you want to read more indepth history, I found the following resource about the early history of Vimy Ridge to be invaluable: Boire, Michael (2007). "The Battlefield before the Canadians, 1914–1916". In Hayes, Geoffrey; Iarocci, Andrew; Bechthold, Mike. Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 51–61. ISBN 0-88920-508-6.