Vimy, Hill 70 and German cemetery

The weight of the First World War was truly sobering today as the scale of the conflict and the magnitude of the loss was deeply impressed upon us. The Vimy commemoration ceremony on Sunday, April 9, 2017 will reflect on one of Canada’s greatest military moments. Lost in the Vimy celebrations is another moment where Canada defined itself as a nation when Arthur Currie led Canadian troops into battle for the first time at Hill 70. The dead cried out as we visited Neuville-Saint-Vasse, the final resting place for more than 44,000 German soldiers.

Vimy memorial

Magnificent image of The Female Mourner as five vintage First World War planes do a flyby during rehearsals at the Vimy Memorial on Friday, April 7, 1917.

Vimy boots

Thousands of Canadian Armed Forces boots will be placed at the Vimy Monument by Canadian and French youth, symbolically representing the 3,600 Canadians who died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. 

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This is a trip the three of us – Craig Zoretich, Colin Hay and myself – have been planning for years. We actually put it all together in an afternoon at Colin’s.

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Craig examines the chalk walls in the Grange tunnel beneath Vimy Ridge. 

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Three amigos standing in front of one of Canada’s most famous monuments, Vimy Ridge. 

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Colin views a gallery in an offshoot of the Grange tunnel that held Canadian soldiers in the lead up to the Vimy battle on April 9, 1917.

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Burrowing deep through the chalk beneath Vimy Ridge is a passage that was part of the tunnel warfare between Canadians and German during the lead-up to the battle of Vimy Ridge. 

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If you are claustrophobic, the communication tunnel beneath Vimy Ridge would be horrifying. 

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Canadian flags liberally fly from buildings and hedges all over Northern France just under the Vimy Monument.

Hill70

The magnificent monument erected at Hill 70 just south of Lens, France commemorates the first time Canadian forces in the First World War fought under a Canadian commander. 

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Canadians planted flags at the largest German cemetery in France. There are more than 44,000 German soldiers buried at Neuville-Saint-Vasse. 

German cemetary

Taking a moment to reflect on the war dead, Colin and Craig make their way through Neuville-Saint-Vasse.

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