Monday, 29 May, 2017

Regina commemorates 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Melissa Porter | 17 April, 2017, 06:13

PARIS (AP) - More than 20,000 people, a lot of them Canadians, attended a solemn ceremony Sunday to commemorate a World War I battle in northern France that remains indelibly etched on Canada's national identity 100 years after it happened.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Francois Hollande arrived at the Cabaret Rouge cemetery, near Vimy Ridge, where they walked the rows of gravestones.

Kelly Noseworthy brings us highlights from the ceremony. He will go to Juno Beach, where the Normandy landings took place, and then visit the Canadian War Cemetery in Beny-sur-Mer.

"One hundred years later, we must say this, together. Lest we forget", said Johnston.

Prince Charles commended the "strength of character" of Canada's troops.

Before the prime minister spoke, Canadian Governor General David Johnston pointed to the majestic Vimy monument, unveiled between world wars in 1937, and declared it a symbol of what the battle accomplished a century ago.

The crowd was the biggest for the series of centenary commemorations of World War I battles in France and five times bigger than for the commemoration of the Battle of Verdun in May past year.

It was neither decisive for the war's outcome "nor the most fundamental" of the battles fought by Canadians during the conflict, Boire said.

The attack on 9 April sparked four days of intense fighting, until Canadian and British forces retook the heights overlooking the Douai Plain, which was still occupied by the enemy.

"Despite all of these efforts, the outcome was uncertain, the cost of victory very high".

Chilliwack paused to remember Sunday the sacrifices that were made 100 years ago on the muddy slopes of Vimy Ridge, in a victory that has come to define Canada.

During a ceremony in the city centre earlier in the day, Arras Mayor Frederic Leturque thanked Australia, Britain, New Zealand and South Africa for having fought during that larger battle.

As many as 25,000 people have come to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, where hundreds of empty black combat boots have been laid in rows on top of and all around the monument, representing those who died.

A number of dignitaries from Canada and Europe attended the ceremony.