Vimy Memorial
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a memorial site in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force
Canadian Expeditionary Force
The Canadian Expeditionary Force was the designation of the field force created by Canada for service overseas in the First World War. Units of the C.E.F. were divided into field formation in France, where they were organized first into separate divisions and later joined together into a single...

 members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for First World War Canadian soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known grave. The monument is the centrepiece of a 250 acres (101.2 ha) preserved battlefield park that encompasses a portion of the grounds over which the Canadian Corps
Canadian Corps
The Canadian Corps was a World War I corps formed from the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1915 after the arrival of the 2nd Canadian Division in France. The corps was expanded by the addition of the 3rd Canadian Division in December 1915 and the 4th Canadian Division in August 1916...

 made their assault during the Battle of Vimy Ridge
Battle of Vimy Ridge
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a military engagement fought primarily as part of the Battle of Arras, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, during the First World War. The main combatants were the Canadian Corps, of four divisions, against three divisions of the German Sixth Army...

, a military engagement fought as part of the Battle of Arras
Battle of Arras (1917)
The Battle of Arras was a British offensive during the First World War. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras on the Western Front....


The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation, and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice. In recognition of Canada's war efforts, France granted Canada perpetual use of a portion of land on Vimy Ridge under the understanding that the Canadians use the land to establish a battlefield park and memorial. Wartime tunnels, trenches
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

, craters and unexploded munitions still honeycomb the grounds of the site, which remains largely closed off for public safety. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of other memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.

The memorial took monument designer Walter Seymour Allward
Walter Seymour Allward
Walter Seymour Allward was a Canadian monumental sculptor.- Early life :Allward was born in Toronto, the son of John A. Allward of Newfoundland. Educated in Toronto public schools, his first job was at the age of 14 as an assistant to his carpenter father...

 eleven years to build. King Edward VIII unveiled the memorial on 26 July 1936, in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun
Albert Lebrun
Albert François Lebrun was a French politician, President of France from 1932 to 1940. He was the last president of the Third Republic. He was a member of the center-right Democratic Republican Alliance .-Biography:...

, 50,000 or more Canadian and French veterans, and their families. Following an extensive multi-year restoration, Queen Elizabeth II  rededicated the memorial on 9 April 2007 during a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle. The memorial site is one of two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside of Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada
Veterans Affairs Canada
The Department of Veterans Affairs , also referred to as Veterans Affairs Canada , is the department within the government of Canada with responsibility for pensions/benefits and services for war veterans, retired personnel of the Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, their families,...



Vimy Ridge is a gradually rising escarpment
An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.-Description and variants:...

 on the western edge of the Douai Plains, eight kilometres northeast of Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

. The ridge gradually rises on its western side, dropping more quickly on the eastern side. The ridge is approximately seven kilometres in length and culminates at an elevation of 145 metres (475.7 ft) above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

, or 60 metres (196.9 ft) above the Douai Plains, providing a natural unobstructed view for tens of kilometres in all directions.

Early conflicts on site

The ridge fell under German control in October 1914, during the Race to the Sea
Race to the Sea
The Race to the Sea is a name given to the period early in the First World War when the two sides were still engaged in mobile warfare on the Western Front. With the German advance stalled at the First Battle of the Marne, the opponents continually attempted to outflank each other through...

, as the Franco-British and German forces continually attempted to outflank each other through northeastern France. The French Tenth Army
Tenth Army (France)
The Tenth Army was a Field army of the French Army during World War I. It took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After the armistice it was part of the occupation of the Rhineland...

 attempted to dislodge the Germans from the region during the Second Battle of Artois
Second Battle of Artois
The Second Battle of Artois, of which the British contribution was the Battle of Aubers Ridge, was a battle on the Western Front of the First World War, it was fought at the same time as the Second Battle of Ypres. Even though the French under General Philippe Pétain gained some initial victories,...

 in May 1915 by attacking their positions at Vimy Ridge and Notre Dame de Lorette
Notre Dame de Lorette
Notre Dame de Lorette is the name of a ridge, basilica, and French national cemetery northwest of Arras at the village of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire...

. During the attack, the French 1st Moroccan Division briefly captured the height of the ridge, where the Vimy memorial is currently located, but was unable to hold it owing to a lack of reinforcements. The French made another attempt during the Third Battle of Artois
Third Battle of Artois
The Third Battle of Artois was on the Western Front of World War I, is also known as the Loos-Artois Offensive, including the major British offensive, known as the Battle of Loos....

 in September 1915, but were once again unsuccessful in capturing the top of the ridge. The French suffered approximately 150,000 casualties in their attempts to gain control of Vimy Ridge and surrounding territory.

The British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 XVII Corps relieved the French Tenth Army from the sector in February 1916. On 21 May 1916, the German infantry attacked the British lines along a 2000 yards (1,828.8 m) front in an effort to force them from positions along the base of the ridge. The Germans captured several British-controlled tunnels and mine craters before halting their advance and entrenching their positions. Temporary Lieutenant Richard Basil Brandram Jones
Richard Basil Brandram Jones
Richard Basil Brandram Jones VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, , the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

 was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 for his ultimately unsuccessful defence of the Broadmarsh Crater during the attack. British counter-attacks on 22 May did not manage to change the situation. The Canadian Corps relieved the British IV Corps stationed along the western slopes of Vimy Ridge in October 1916.

Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first instance in which all four Canadian divisions participated in a battle together, as a cohesive formation. The nature and size of the planned Canadian Corps assault necessitated support and resources beyond its normal operational capabilities. Consequently, the British 5th Infantry Division and supplementary artillery, engineer and labour units reinforced the four Canadian divisions already in place. The 24th British Division of I Corps supported the Canadian Corps along its northern flank while the XVII Corps did so to the south. The ad hoc formation, based under I Bavarian Reserve Corps commander Karl Ritter von Fasbender, was the principal defending formation with three divisions responsible for manning the frontline defences opposite the Canadian Corps.

The attack began at 5:30 am on Easter Monday
Easter Monday
Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox cultures...

, 9 April 1917. Light field gun
Field gun
A field gun is an artillery piece. Originally the term referred to smaller guns that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be moved about the battlefield in response to changing circumstances, as to opposed guns installed in a fort, or to siege cannon or mortars which...

s laid down a barrage
Barrage (artillery)
A barrage is a line or barrier of exploding artillery shells, created by the co-ordinated aiming of a large number of guns firing continuously. Its purpose is to deny or hamper enemy passage through the line of the barrage, to attack a linear position such as a line of trenches or to neutralize...

 that advanced in predetermined increments, often 100 yards (91.4 m) every three minutes, while medium and heavy howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

s established a series of standing barrages against known defensive systems further ahead. The 1st
1st Canadian Division
Formed in August 1914, the 1st Canadian Division was a formation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The division was initially made up from provisional battalions that were named after their province of origin but these titles were dropped before the division arrived in Britain on October 14,...

, 2nd
2nd Canadian Division
The 2nd Canadian Division was an infantry formation that saw service in the First World War. A 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was raised for the Second World War.-History:...

 and 3rd Canadian Division
3rd Canadian Division
The 3rd Canadian Division was a formation of the Canadian Corps during the First World War.The 3rd Canadian Division was formed in France in December 1915 under the command of Major-General M.S. Mercer. Its members served in both France and Flanders until Armistice Day...

s quickly captured their first objectives. The 4th Canadian Division
4th Canadian Division
The Canadian Corps - 4th Canadian Division – World War I:The 4th Canadian Division was formed in the Britain in April 1916 from several existing units and others scheduled to arrive shortly thereafter. Under the command of Major-General David Watson, the Division embarked for France in August of...

 encountered a great deal of trouble during its advance and was unable to complete its first objective until some hours later. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Division captured their second objective by approximately 7:30 am. The failure of the 4th Canadian Division to capture the top of the ridge delayed further advances and forced the 3rd Canadian Division to expend resources establishing a defensive line to its north. Reserve units from the 4th Canadian Division renewed the attack on the German positions on the top of the ridge and eventually forced the German troops holding the southwestern portion of Hill 145 to withdraw.

On the morning of 10 April, Canadian Corps commander Lieutenant-General Julian Byng moved up three fresh brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s to support the continued advance. The fresh units leapfrogged units already in place and captured the third objective line, including Hill 135 and the town of Thélus
Thélus is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Thélus lies north of Arras, at the junction of the N17 and D49 roads. Junction 7 of the A26 autoroute is less than a mile away...

, by 11:00 am. By 2:00 pm both the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions reported capturing their final objectives. By this point the "Pimple", a heavily defended knoll west of the town of Givenchy-en-Gohelle
Givenchy-en-Gohelle is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Givenchy-en-Gohelle is a large farming village situated north of Arras, at the junction of the D51 and the D55 roads...

, was the only German position remaining on Vimy Ridge. On 12 April, the 10th Canadian Brigade attacked and quickly overcame the hastily entrenched German troops, with the support of artillery and the 24th British Division. By nightfall on 12 April, the Canadian Corps was in firm control of the ridge. The Canadian Corps suffered 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded. The German Sixth Army suffered an unknown number of casualties with an approximate 4,000 men becoming prisoners of war.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge has considerable significance for Canada. Although the battle is not generally considered Canada's greatest military achievement, the image of national unity and achievement gave the battle importance. According to Pierce, "the historical reality of the battle has been reworked and reinterpreted in a conscious attempt to give purpose and meaning to an event that came to symbolize Canada's coming of age as a nation." The idea that Canada's national identity and nationhood were born out of the battle is an opinion that is widely held in military and general histories of Canada.


In 1920, the Government of Canada announced that the Imperial War Graves Commission
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is an intergovernmental organisation of six independent member states whose principal function is to mark, record and maintain the graves, and places of commemoration, of Commonwealth of Nations military service members who died in the two World Wars...

 had awarded Canada eight sites—five in France and three in Belgium—on which to erect memorials. Each site represented a significant Canadian engagement and the Canadian government initially decided that each battlefield be treated equally and commemorated with identical monuments. In September 1920, the Canadian government formed the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission to discuss the process and conditions for holding a memorial competition for the sites in Europe. The commission held its first meeting on 26 November 1920 and during this meeting decided that the architectural design competition
Architectural design competition
An architectural design competition is a special type of competition in which an organization or government body that plans to build a new building asks for architects to submit a proposed design for a building. The winning design is usually chosen by an independent panel of design professionals...

 would be open to all Canadian architects, designers, sculptors and artists. Interested parties submitted 160 design drawings and the jury selected 17 submissions for consideration, commissioning each finalist to produce a plaster maquette
A maquette is a small scale model or rough draft of an unfinished architectural work or a sculpture...

 of their respective design. In October 1921, the commission selected the submission of Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 sculptor and designer Walter Seymour Allward as the winner of the competition, and that of Frederick Chapman Clemesha as runner-up. The complexity of Allward's design precluded the possibility of duplicating the design at each site. The commission revised its initial plans and decided to build two distinctive memorials—that of Allward and Clemesha—and six smaller identical memorials. At the outset, members of the commission debated where to build Allward's winning design. Committee member and former Canadian Corps commander, Lieutenant-General Arthur Currie
Arthur Currie
Sir Arthur William Currie GCMG, KCB , was a Canadian general during World War I. He had the unique distinction of starting his military career on the very bottom rung as a pre-war militia gunner before rising through the ranks to become the first Canadian commander of the four divisions of the...

 argued in favour of the government placing the monument in Belgium on Hill 62
Hill 62 Memorial
The Canadian Hill 62 Memorial is a war memorial that commemorates the actions of the Canadian Corps in defending the southern stretches of the Ypres Salient between April and August 1916 including actions in battle at the St. Eloi Craters, Hill 62, Mount Sorrel and Sanctuary Wood...

. In the end, the commission selected Vimy Ridge as the preferred site, largely because of its elevation above the plain below.

The government announced its desire to acquire a more considerable tract of land along the ridge after the commission selected Vimy Ridge as the preferred location for Allward’s design. In the interval between the 1st and 2nd session of the 14th Canadian Parliament
14th Canadian Parliament
The 14th Canadian Parliament was in session from 8 March 1922 until 5 September 1925. The membership was set by the 1921 federal election on 6 December 1921, and it changed only somewhat due to resignations and by-elections until it was dissolved prior to the 1925 election.It was controlled by a...

, Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada is the presiding officer of the lower house of the Parliament of Canada and is elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow Members of Parliament...

 Rodolphe Lemieux
Rodolphe Lemieux
Rodolphe Lemieux, PC, FRSC was a Canadian parliamentarian and long time Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons ....

 went to France to negotiate the acquisition of more land. In December 1922, Lemieux concluded an agreement with France in which France granted Canada "freely and for all time" the use of 250 acres (101.2 ha) of land on Vimy Ridge, in recognition of Canada's war effort. The only condition placed on the donation was that Canada use the land to erect a monument commemorating Canadian soldiers killed during the First World War and assume the responsibility for the maintenance of the memorial and the surrounding battlefield park.

Memorial construction

In 1924, the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission
Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission
The Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission was a special commission established by the House of Commons of Canada, on the recommendations of the British Battle Exploits Memorials Committee...

 hired Dr. Oscar Faber, a Danish structural engineer, to prepare foundation plans as well as provide general supervision of the foundation work. Major Unwin Simson served as the principal Canadian engineer during the construction of the memorial and oversaw much of the daily operations at the site. Allward moved to Paris in 1925 to supervise the construction of the monument and the carving of the sculptures. Construction of the memorial commenced in 1925 and took eleven years to complete. The Imperial War Graves Commission concurrently employed French and British veterans to carry out the necessary roadwork and site landscaping.

In June 1922, Allward set up a studio in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and toured for almost two years in an attempt to find a stone of the right colour, texture, and luminosity for the memorial. He eventually found it in the ruins of the Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace is a building in Split, Croatia, that was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD.Diocletian built the massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD. It lies in a bay on the south side of a short peninsula running out from...

. Allward observed that the palace had not weathered over the years, a fact that Allward took as evidence of the stone's durability. Allward's choice, Seget limestone, came from an ancient Roman quarry located near Seget
Seget is a municipality in Croatia in the Split-Dalmatia county. It has a population of 4,904 , 97.5% which are Croats....

, Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

. The difficulties associated with the quarrying process, coupled with complicated transportation logistics, delayed delivery of the stone, which consequently delayed construction of the memorial. The first shipment of stone did not arrive at the memorial site until 1927, and the larger blocks, intended for the human figures, did not begin to arrive until 1931.

While awaiting the first delivery of stone, Simson noticed that the battlefield landscape features were beginning to deteriorate. Seeing an opportunity to not only preserve a portion of the battlefield but also keep his staff occupied, Simson decided to preserve a short section of trench line as well make the Grange Subway more accessible. Labourers rebuilt and preserved sections of sandbagged trench wall, on both the Canadian and German sides of the Grange crater group, in concrete. The workforce also built a new concrete entrance for the Grange Subway and, after excavating a portion of the tunnel system, installed electric lighting.

Allward chose a relatively new construction method for the monument; limestone bonded to a cast concrete frame. A foundation bed of 11,000 tonnes of concrete, reinforced with hundreds of tonnes of steel, served as the support bed for the memorial. The memorial base and twin pylons contained almost 6,000 tonnes of a Seget limestone. Sculptors carved the 20 human figures on-site, from large blocks of stone. The carvers used half-size plaster models produced by Allward in his studio, now on display at the Canadian War Museum
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, the museum covers all facets of Canada’s military past, from the first recorded instances of death by armed violence in Canadian history several thousand years ago to the country’s most recent...

, and an instrument called a pantograph
A pantograph is a mechanical linkage connected in a special manner based on parallelograms so that the movement of one pen, in tracing an image, produces identical movements in a second pen...

 to reproduce the figures at the proper scale. The carvers conducted their work year-round, inside temporary studios built around each figure. The inclusion of the names of those killed in France with no known grave was not part of the original design and Allward was unhappy when the government subsequently asked him to include them. Allward argued that the inclusion of names was not part of the original commissioning. Through a letter to Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission in October 1927, Allward indicated his intention to relegate the names of the missing to pavement stones around the monument. The collective dismay and uproar of the commission forced Allward to relent and incorporate the names of the missing on the memorial walls. The task of inscribing the names did not begin until early 1930s and employed a typeface that Allward designed specifically for the monument.

Pilgrimage and unveiling

In preparation for the 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage, the Government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 made a special Vimy passport available to pilgrims, at no extra cost. On 16 July 1936, five trans-Atlantic liners departed the port of Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 for the unveiling of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. About 6,400 people sailed on the five steamships from Canada and 1,365 Canadians came from England. Edward VIII, in his capacity as King of Canada, officially unveiled the monument on 26 July 1936. The ceremony was one of the King's few official duties before he abdicated the throne
Edward VIII abdication crisis
In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire was caused by King-Emperor Edward VIII's proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite....

. Senior Canadian, British, and European officials, including French President Albert Lebrun, and over 50,000 Canadian, British, and French veterans and their families attended the event. The ceremony included a guard of honour made of Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

 officers, Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

 members with rifles, and flyovers by two Canadian squadrons and two French squadrons. Edward VIII gave a speech, starting in French and switching to English, thanking France for its generosity and assuring those assembled that Canada would never forget its war missing and dead. The king then pulled the Royal Union Flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

 from the central figure of Canada Bereft and the military band played the Last Post
Last Post
The "Last Post" can be either a B♭ bugle call within British Infantry regiments or an E♭ cavalry trumpet call in British Cavalry and Royal Regiment of Artillery used at Commonwealth military funerals and ceremonies commemorating those who have been killed in war.The two regimental traditions have...


Second World War

The general safety of the memorial was a cause for concern for the Canadian government. In 1939, the increased threat of conflict with Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 amplified the Canadian government’s level of concern. Canada could do little more than protect the sculptures and the bases of the pylons with sandbags and await developments. When war did break out, the British Expeditionary Force
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 deployed to France and assumed responsibility for the Arras sector, which included Vimy. In late May 1940, following the British retreat in the aftermath of the Battle of Arras
Battle of Arras (1940)
The Battle of Arras took place during the Battle of France, in the early stages of World War II. It was an Allied counterattack against the flank of the German army, that took place near the town of Arras, in north-eastern France. The German forces were pushing north toward the channel coast, in...

, the status and condition of the memorial became unknown. The Germans took control of the site and held the site's caretaker, George Stubbs, in an Ilag
Ilag is an abbreviation of the German word Internierungslager. They were internment camps established by the German Army in World War II to hold Allied civilians, caught in areas that were occupied by the German Army...

 internment camp for Allied civilians in St. Denis, France.
The rumoured destruction of the Vimy Memorial, either during the fighting or at the hands of the Germans, was widely reported in both Canada and the United Kingdom. The rumours eventually led the German Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was Nazi Germany's ministry that enforced Nazi Party ideology in Germany and regulated its culture and society. Founded on March 13, 1933, by Adolf Hitler's new National Socialist government, the Ministry was headed by Dr...

 to publish denials. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 even personally toured the Vimy Memorial and its preserved trenches on 2 June 1940, and was photographed doing so, to demonstrate the memorial had not been desecrated. The undamaged state of the memorial was not conclusively confirmed until September 1944 when the Welsh Guards
Welsh Guards
The Welsh Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Guards Division.-Creation :The Welsh Guards came into existence on 26 February 1915 by Royal Warrant of His Majesty King George V in order to include Wales in the national component to the Foot Guards, "..though the order...

 recaptured Vimy Ridge.

Restoration and rededication

In May 2001, the Government of Canada announced the Canadian Battlefield Memorials Restoration Project
Canadian Battlefield Memorials Restoration Project
Canada's thirteen World War I memorials were erected to honour and remember the achievements and sacrifices of Canadians and Newfoundlanders during the Great War...

, a major 30 million Canadian dollar
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

 restoration project to restore Canada's memorial sites in France and Belgium, in order to maintain and present them in a respectful and dignified manner. In 2005, the Vimy memorial closed for major restoration work. Veterans Affairs Canada directed the restoration of the memorial in cooperation with other Canadian departments, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, consultants and specialists in military history.

Time, wear and severe weather conditions led to many identified problems, the single most pervasive problem being water damage. In building a memorial made of cast concrete covered in stone, Allward had failed to take into account how these materials would shift over time. The builders and designer failed to incorporate sufficient space between the concrete and stones, which resulted in water infiltrating the structure. Over time, water entered the monument through its walls and platforms and coursed through the structure, dissolving lime from the concrete foundation and masonry. As the water exited, it deposited lime on exterior surface walls obscuring many of the names inscribed on the memorial. Poor drainage and water flows off the monument also caused significant erosion and deterioration to the platform, terrace and stairs. The restoration project intended to address the root causes of the deterioration and included repairs to the stone, walkways, walls, terraces, stairs and platforms of the memorial.

Queen Elizabeth II, escorted by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

, rededicated the restored memorial on 9 April 2007 in a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle. Other senior Canadian officials, including Canadian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper
Stephen Joseph Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election...

, and senior French representatives, such as French Prime Minister
Prime Minister of France
The Prime Minister of France in the Fifth Republic is the head of government and of the Council of Ministers of France. The head of state is the President of the French Republic...

 Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

, attended the event, along with thousands of Canadian students, veterans of the Second World War and of more recent conflicts, and descendants of those who fought at Vimy. The rededication ceremony comprised the largest crowd on the site since the 1936 dedication.


The Canadian National Vimy Memorial site is located approximately eight kilometres north of Arras, France, near the towns of Vimy and Neuville-Saint-Vaast
Neuville-Saint-Vaast is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Neuville-Saint-Vaast is situated north of Arras, at the junction of the D49 and D55 roads...

. The site is one of the few places on the former Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 where a visitor can see the trench lines of a First World War battlefield and the related terrain in a preserved natural state. The total area of the site is 250 acres (101.2 ha), much of which is forested and off limits to visitors to ensure public safety. The site's rough terrain and unearthed unexploded munitions make the task of grass cutting too dangerous for human operators. Instead, sheep graze the open meadows of the site.

The site was founded to principally honour the memory of the Canadian Corps, but also contains a number of other memorials. These include memorials dedicated to the French Moroccan Division, Lions Club International and Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Watkins. There are also two Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintained cemeteries on site; Canadian Cemetery No. 2
Canadian Cemetery No. 2
Canadian Cemetery No. 2 is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission burial ground for the dead of World War I situated on the grounds of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park near the French town of Neuville-Saint-Vaast....

 and Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery
Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery
Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission burial ground for the dead of World War I situated on the grounds of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park near the French town of Neuville-Saint-Vaast....

. Beyond being a popular location for battlefield tours, the site is also an important location in the burgeoning field of First World War battlefield archaeology
Battlefield archaeology
Battlefield archaeology is a sub-discipline of archaeology that began in North America with Dr. Douglas D. Scott's, National Park Service, metal detecting of in 1983...

, because of its preserved and largely undisturbed state. The site's interpretive centre helps visitors fully understand the Vimy Memorial, the preserved battlefield park and the history of the Battle of Vimy within the context of Canada's participation in the First World War. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial and Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial
The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the commemoration of Dominion of Newfoundland forces members who were killed during World War I. The preserved battlefield park encompasses the grounds over which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful...

 sites comprise close to 80 percent of conserved First World War battlefields in existence and between them receive over one million visitors each year.

Vimy memorial

Allward constructed the memorial on the vantage point of Hill 145, the highest point on the ridge. The memorial contains a large number of stylized features, including 20 human figures, which help the viewer in contemplating the structure as a whole. The front wall, normally mistaken for the rear, is 24 feet (7.3 m) high and represents an impenetrable wall of defence. There is a group of figures at each end of the front wall, next to the base of the steps. The Breaking of the Sword is located at the southern corner of the front wall while Sympathy of the Canadians for the Helpless is located at the northern corner. Collectively, the two groups are The Defenders and represent the ideals for which Canadians gave their lives during the war. There is a cannon barrel draped in laurel and olive branches carved into the wall above each group, to symbolize peace. In Breaking of the Sword, three young men are present, one of whom is crouching and breaking his sword. This statue represents the defeat of militarism and the general desire for peace. This grouping of figures is the most overt image to pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 in the monument, the breaking of a sword being extremely uncommon in war memorials. The original plan for the sculpture included one figure crushing a German helmet with his foot. Allward later decided to dismiss this feature because of its overtly militaristic imagery. In Sympathy of the Canadians for the Helpless, one man stands erect while three other figures, stricken by hunger or disease, are crouched and kneeling around him. The standing man represents Canada’s sympathy for the weak and oppressed.
The figure of a cloaked young female stands on top of the front wall and overlooks the Douai Plains. The woman has her head bowed, her eyes cast down, and her chin resting in one hand. Below her at ground level of the former battlefield is a sarcophagus, bearing a Brodie helmet
Brodie helmet
The Brodie helmet, called Helmet, steel, Mark I helmet in Britain and the M1917 Helmet in the U.S., was a steel combat helmet designed and patented in 1915 by the Briton John Leopold Brodie...

, a sword and draped in laurel branches. The saddened figure of Canada Bereft, also known as Mother Canada, is a national personification
National personification
A national personification is an anthropomorphization of a nation or its people; it can appear in both editorial cartoons and propaganda.Some early personifications in the Western world tended to be national manifestations of the majestic wisdom and war goddess Minerva/Athena, and often took the...

 of the young nation of Canada, mourning her dead. The statue, a reference to traditional images of the and presented in a similar style to that of Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

's Pietà
Pietà (Michelangelo)
The Pietà is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres, who was a representative in...

, faces eastward looking out to the dawn of the new day. Unlike the other statues on the monument, stonemasons carved Canada Bereft from a single 30 tonne block of stone. The statue is the largest single piece in the monument and serves as a focal point.

The twin pylons rise to a height 30 metres above the memorial's stone platform. The twin white pylons, one bearing the maple leaf
Maple leaf
The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is the most widely recognized national symbol of Canada.-Use in Canada:At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the settlements of New France had attained a population of about 18,000...

 for Canada the other the fleur-de-lis
The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys is a stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in heraldry...

 for France, symbolize the unity and sacrifice of both countries. At the top of two pylons is a grouping of figures known collectively as the Chorus. The most senior figures represent Justice and Peace. Peace stands with a torch upraised, making it the highest point in the region. The pair is in a style similar to Allward's previously commissioned statues of Truth and Justice, located outside the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 in Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

. The figures of Hope, Charity, Honour and Faith are located below Justice and Peace on the eastern side, with Truth and Knowledge on the western side. Around these figures are shields of Canada, Britain and France. Large crosses adorn the outside of each pylon. The First World War battle honours of the Canadian regiments and a dedicatory inscription to Canada's war dead, in both French and English, also appear on the monument. The Spirit of Sacrifice is located at the base between the two pylons. In the display, a young dying soldier is gazing upward in a crucifixion-like pose, having thrown his torch to a comrade who holds it aloft behind him. In a lightly veiled reference to the poem In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields
"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most notable poems written during World War I, created in the form of a French rondeau. It has been called "the most popular poem" produced during that period...

by John McCrae
John McCrae
Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres...

, the torch is passed from one comrade to another in an effort to keep alive the memory of the war dead.
The Mourning Parents, one male and one female figure, are reclining on either side of the western steps on the reverse side of the monument. They represent the mourning mothers and fathers of the nation and are likely patterned on the four statues by Michelangelo on the Medici Tomb in Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Inscribed on the outside wall of the monument are the names of the 11,285 Canadians killed in France, and whose final resting place is unknown. Most Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials present names in a descending list format. Allward sought to present the names as a seamless list and decided to do so by inscribing the names in continuous bands, across both vertical and horizontal seams, around the base of the monument. The memorial contains the names of four posthumous Victoria Cross recipients; Robert Grierson Combe
Robert Grierson Combe
Robert Grierson Combe VC , was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

, Frederick Hobson
Frederick Hobson
Frederick Hobson VC was a soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for gallantry in the face of the enemy given to British and Commonwealth forces, during the First World War.-Details:He was 43 years old, and a sergeant in the...

, William Johnstone Milne
William Johnstone Milne
William Johnstone Milne VC , was a Canadian soldier in World War I who posthumously received the Victoria Cross for the highest gallantry against the enemy during action in France on 9 April 1917.-Details:...

 and Robert Spall
Robert Spall
Robert Spall VC , was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....


Moroccan Division Memorial

The Moroccan Division Memorial is dedicated to the memory of the members of the French Moroccan Division killed during the Second Battle of Artois in May 1915. General Victor d'Urbal, commander of the French Tenth Army, sought to dislodge the Germans from the region by attacking their positions at Vimy Ridge and Notre Dame de Lorette. When the attack began on 9 May 1915, the French XXXIII Corps made significant territorial gains. The Moroccan Division, which was part of the XXXIII Corps, quickly moved through the German defences and advanced 4 kilometres (4,374.5 yd) into German lines in two hours. The division managed to capture the height of the ridge, with small parties even reaching the far side of the ridge, before retreating due to a lack of reinforcements. Even after German counter-attacks, the division managed to hold a territorial gain of 2100 metres (2,296.6 yd).

Grange Subway

The First World War's Western Front included an extensive system of underground tunnels, subways and dugouts. The Grange Subway is a tunnel system that is approximately 800 metres (874.9 yd) in length and once connected the reserve lines to the front line. This permitted soldiers to advance to the front quickly, securely and unseen. A portion of this tunnel system is open to the public through regular guided tours provided by Canadian student guides.

The Arras-Vimy sector was conducive to tunnel excavation owing to the soft, porous yet extremely stable nature of the chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 underground. As a result, pronounced underground warfare had been an active feature of the Vimy sector since 1915. In preparation for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, five British tunnelling companies excavated 12 subways along the Canadian Corps' front, the longest of which was 1.2 kilometres (1,312.3 yd) in length. The tunnellers excavated the subways at a depth of 10 metres to ensure protection from large calibre howitzer shellfire. The subways were often dug at a pace of four metres a day and were often two metres tall and one metre wide. This underground network often incorporated or included concealed light rail lines, hospitals, command posts, water reservoirs, ammunition stores, mortar and machine gun posts, and communication centres.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Watkins memorial

Near the Canadian side of the restored trenches is a small memorial plaque dedicated to Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Watkins MBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

. Watkins was head of Explosive Ordnance Disposal at the Directorate of Land Service Ammunition, Royal Logistics Corps and a leading British explosive ordnance disposal
Bomb disposal
Bomb disposal is the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe. Bomb disposal is an all encompassing term to describe the separate, but interrelated functions in the following fields:*Military:...

 expert. In August 1998, he died in a roof collapse near a tunnel entrance while undertaking a detailed investigative survey of the British tunnel system on the grounds of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial site. Watkins was no stranger to the tunnel system at Vimy Ridge. Earlier the same year, he participated in the successful disarming of 3 tonnes of deteriorated ammonal
Ammonal is an explosive made up of ammonium nitrate, trinitrotoluene , and aluminium powder.The ammonium nitrate functions as an oxidizer and aluminium as a power enhancer. To some extent the aluminium makes it more sensitive to detonation...

 explosives located under a road intersection on the site.

Georges Devloo

The memorial site is accessible by car, taxi and tour bus, but not by public transport. Canadians looking for transportation used to be able to get rides from a senior resident of Vimy, Georges Devloo. Known as the Grandpa of Vimy to the Canadian guides, he would offer car rides to Canadian tourists to and from the memorial at no charge, as a way of paying tribute to the Canadians who fought at Vimy. Devloo died in February 2009; he had been giving free rides to Canadians for 13 years.

Sociocultural influence

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial site has considerable sociocultural significance for Canada. The idea that Canada's national identity and nationhood were born out of the Battle of Vimy Ridge is an opinion that is widely published in military and general histories of Canada. Denise Thomson suggests that the construction of the Vimy memorial represents the culmination of an increasingly assertive nationalism that developed in Canada during the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

. Meanwhile, Hucker suggests that the memorial transcends the Battle of Vimy Ridge and now serves as an enduring image of the whole of the First World War, while concurrently expressing the enormous impact of war in general. Hucker also suggest that the most recent restoration project serves as evidence of a new generation's determination to remember Canada's contribution and sacrifice during the First World War.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized the importance of the site by recommending its designation as a National Historic Site of Canada; it was so designated, one of only two outside of Canada, in 1997. The other is the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial
The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the commemoration of Dominion of Newfoundland forces members who were killed during World War I. The preserved battlefield park encompasses the grounds over which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful...

, also in France. In 1931, Will Longstaff
Will Longstaff
Captain William Frederick Longstaff was an Australian painter and war artist best known for his works commemorating those who died in the First World War.-Birth and education:...

 painted Ghosts of Vimy Ridge, depicting ghosts of men from the Canadian Corps on Vimy Ridge surrounding the memorial, though the memorial was still several years away from completion. The Canadian Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave in which the unidentifiable remains of a soldier are interred. Such tombs can be found in many nations and are usually high-profile national monuments. Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified...

was selected from a cemetery in the vicinity of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial and the design of the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at the National War Memorial in Confederation Square, Ottawa. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the war memorial in 2000, and holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during World War I...

 is based upon the stone sarcophagus at the base of the Vimy memorial.

A 2001 Canadian bestselling
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and...

 historical novel
Historical novel
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...

The Stone Carvers
The Stone Carvers
The Stone Carvers is a 2001 historical and World War I novel by the Canadian writer Jane Urquhart.-Plot introduction:The novel follows three generations of a Canadian family, starting with a wood carver who befriends an immigrant German priest as he founds a church in an isolated town in 19th...

by Jane Urquhart
Jane Urquhart
Jane Urquhart, OC is a Canadian novelist and poet.-Biography:Born 200 miles north of Thunder Bay, Ontario in Little Longlac , Ontario, Jane Urquhart is the third of three children and the only daughter of Marian and Walter Carter, a prospector and mining engineer...

 involves the characters in the design and creation of the memorial. In 2007, the memorial was a short listed selection for the Seven Wonders of Canada
Seven Wonders of Canada
The Seven Wonders of Canada was a 2007 competition sponsored by CBC Television's The National and CBC Radio One's Sounds Like Canada. They sought to determine Canada's "seven wonders" by receiving nominations from viewers, and then from on-line voting of the short list. After the vote, a panel of...

. The Royal Canadian Mint
Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint produces all of Canada's circulation coins, and manufactures circulation coins on behalf of other nations. The Mint also designs and manufactures: precious and base metal collector coins; gold, silver, palladium, and platinum bullion coins; medals, as well as medallions and...

 released commemorative coins featuring the memorial on a number of occasions, including a 5 cent sterling silver coin in 2002 and a 30 dollar sterling silver coin in 2007. The Sacrifice Medal
Sacrifice Medal
The Sacrifice Medal is a decoration that was created in 2008 as a replacement for the Wound Stripe, being gifted by the Canadian monarch, generally through his or her viceroy-in-Council, to members of the Canadian Forces or allied forces who were wounded or killed in action.-Design:The Sacrifice...

, a Canadian military decoration created in 2008, features the image of Mother Canada on the reverse side of the medal. A permanent bas relief sculpted image of the memorial is presented in the gallery of the grand hall of the Embassy of France in Canada to symbolize the close relations between the two countries.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.