Vimy 102

“The French couldn’t take it, and the British couldn’t take it. But you Canadians are such fools that you don’t know when a place can’t be taken.”

In the weeks leading up to the Battle of Arras, Canadians had been preparing Vimy Ridge for assault by using special fuses to destroy barbed wire. They also used gas. Horses, of course, could not put on gas masks, and many of the wretched animals that had been the pride of the German cavalry died in agony. But, this neutralized the heavy German guns. The Germans called it “The Week of Suffering.”

The innovation of the battle plan and the superior training of the Canadian soldiers is attributed to their success at Vimy, a battle they were not expected to win. Measures such as providing every soldier with a watch and a compass were employed. This sounds like a really common sense thing to do, but at the time it was completely unheard of.

Also, every soldier was familiar with the battle plan. Strategy was no longer viewed as something comprehensible only to the military elite, and ordinary men were taught to understand the thought behind the plan, its objectives and what they were expected to do. Again, this may seem like an obvious step but at the time, it was radical thinking.

Calgary’s 10th and 40th battalions were there! 

As the sun set on 8 April, the ridge that had taunted the Allies since pretty well the beginning of the war was in Canadian possession — all except for a feared and hated spot known as “The Pimple.” And Calgary’s 10th would play a very important role in taking the last holdout on that blood soaked ridge the following day. I’ll finish the story tomorrow. #Vimy102

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