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Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France

vimy ridge memorial to canadian soldiers, france

In 2007, Michelle and I visited Vimy, France to see the Canadian National Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the battle of April 9, 1917, during WWI.

In 1920, France gave the site to Canada in perpetuity to honour the Canadians who died during the successful reclamation of Vimy Ridge. In 1936, the Memorial was unveiled which was designed by Canadian architect Walter Allward. The names of 11,285 soldiers killed in France and whose final resting place is unknown are carved on the walls of the monument. An A. Binkley was lost in the battle, which we discovered while perusing the walls.

The Memorial is impressive. Allward created a unique design using twin pylons, instead of the traditional single monolith, that rise 110 m (360 ft.) at their apex and used monumental allegorical human figure sculptures to illustrate his message. Allward’s sensitivity shows in his design of the sculpture’s gestures, physiques and attitudes. Grief and sadness are pervasive around the base of the monument, but ascend to hope and peace at the top of the pylons. The eastern wall, often mistaken as the rear of the monument, represents an impenetrable barrier and overlooks the landscape of Northern France. Standing upon these ramparts is the huge figure representing Mother Canada mourning her lost children.

Our visit was on a cold, overcast October day, replete with drizzling rain and gusty winds. We couldn’t imagine the discomfort that the soldiers had to endure almost a century ago, but we are ever so grateful for their courage and sacrifice which ensured our freedom today.