The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement to commemorate Vimy Ridge Day:
“More than a century ago today, during the First World War, the Canadian Corps advanced on the German defensive positions on Vimy Ridge in northern France.
“The Canadian assault began early on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, with the first wave of Canadians advancing behind a creeping barrage. While this artillery tactic provided some cover, our soldiers were still exposed to enemy machine gun fire.
“Fierce fighting ensued. The next day, the Canadian Corps captured the ridge’s main high point referred to as Hill 145. On April 12, 1917, they captured a secondary height known as “the Pimple” to end the fighting at Vimy and force a German retreat.
“The cost of victory was steep. Of the roughly 100,000 Canadians who served at Vimy Ridge, more than 10,600 were casualties by the end of the battle, including almost 3,600 who lost their lives.
“After the war, a grateful France granted Canada the land where the Canadian National Vimy Memorial now stands. Engraved on the memorial are the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers listed as “missing, presumed dead” in France during the First World War and whose final resting place is unknown.
“The bravery and sacrifice demonstrated by Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Vimy Ridge resulted in one of the most impressive Allied victories of the entire First World War. Under these tragic circumstances, Canada’s international recognition as an independent country of our own was enhanced, and helped earn our nation its own signature on the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The courageous actions of Canadians in uniform during the great conflicts of the first half of the 20th century, and those of our Canadian Armed Forces members in more recent years, have helped ensure that peace and freedom remain pillars of Canadian society.
“Lest we forget.”