Vimy Ridge, France, July 8 2013

Vimy Ridge Canadian War Memorial Unveiling July 26 1936. Over 100,000 people attended

Vimy Ridge Canadian War Memorial Unveiling July 26 1936. Over 100,000 people attended. Photo from the George Metcalf Archive.  CWM 19910181-036

Standing on land granted by France to the Canadian people, the Vimy Ridge Canadian War Memorial overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point on the ridge, and towers over the site of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought from April 9-12 1917, an engagement that Canadians remember with more pride than any other World War 1 operation. This incredible monument was designed by one of Canada’s most well-known sculptors, Walter Allward. He began work in 1925 and completed it 11 years later at a cost of $1.5 million. Twenty figures can be seen representing faith, justice, peace, honour, charity, truth, knowledge, and hope. The walls of the memorial are inscribed with the names of the 11,285 Canadians who were killed on French soil and have no known graves. Think about that for a minute…

My friends Barry Canning, Lloyd Reid and I visited Vimy Ridge as part of a trip to Northern France to pay our respect to the war dead of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel about 40 kilometers away. Obviously, Newfoundland wasn’t a part of Canada during the First World War and wouldn’t be until 1949, but as Newfoundlanders we were just as moved by the contributions of the Canadian Forces as we were by the sacrifices made by the RNR. We were also happy to see a busload of British high school students visiting the memorial with their teachers. The park is nearly 100 hectares of parkland, preserved trenches and cemeteries, meticulously maintained, scenic, awe-inspiring and able to stir deep emotions in the visitor.

Shot with a Nikon DSLR and iPhone 5, 3-5pm on July 10, 2013.

As you approach the from a distance, you get a look at the monument as a whole. As you get closer, it just fills your field of vision.

As you approach from a distance, you get a look at the monument as a whole. When you get closer, it fills your field of vision.

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Overlooking the plain, the Front Wall represents an impenetrable line of defense. The sculpture of the figures on the near corner is called Breaking the Swords.

figure-

Mourning Parents, the male.

Mother Canada Mourning Her Fallen Sons. She is sculpted from one 30 tonne piece of limestone. The almost 30,000 tonnes of limestone used to construct the monument was brought to the site from an abandoned Roman mine on the Adriatic Sea in present-day Croatia.

Mother Canada Mourning Her Fallen Sons. She is sculpted from one 30 tonne piece of limestone. The almost 30,000 tonnes of limestone used to construct the entire memorial were brought to the site from an abandoned Roman mine on the Adriatic Sea in present-day Croatia. In the background, the plain of Douai.

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The 2 monolithic pylons represent Canada and France.

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Canadian Cemetery #2. Containing the graves of hundreds of Canadian soldiers who died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

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Their Name Liveth For Evermore

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Canadian war graves, Vimy Ridge Cemetery #2. The groundskeeper told us there is always a flower blooming next to every headstone, no matter how remote a corner of the site it may be located.

Canadian Men

These Canadian gentlemen were at Cemetery #2 paying their respects. Somehow they recognized us as Newfoundlanders… maybe our accents.

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Barry Canning at Canadian Cemetery #2, Vimy Ridge.

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Mausoleum at Canadian Cemetery #2, Vimy Ridge, France.

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Looking south across French farmland from Cemetery #2.

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Lloyd Reid at Cemetery #2, Vimy Ridge.

 

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Row upon row of fallen Canadian soldiers.

Dedication of the Vimy Memorial, likely shot from a flyover by Canadian and French Airforces. McMaster University Libraries, Identifier: 00000647

Dedication of the Vimy Memorial, 1936,  likely shot from a flyover by Canadian and French Airforces. Photo from McMaster University Libraries archive: 00000647

To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada.
– Inscription on Monument.

Please attend the the Remembrance Day Parade on November 11, and if you’re in Newfoundland, the Memorial Day Parade on July 1, lest we forget.
wpk

poppy

Information about Canada’s victory at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on Wikipedia.
Royal Canadian Legion
Commonwealth War Graves Commision

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About Paul Kinsman

Musician, photographer, broadcaster, in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
This entry was posted in Europe, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Vimy Ridge, France, July 8 2013

  1. Chris LeDrew says:

    This is a wonderful tribute to the men who gave all.

  2. Paul Kinsman says:

    Thanks, Chris. Ever since visiting there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t thought about our experience in the Somme.

  3. Sarah Morgan says:

    What an experience, thanks for sharing. We owe such a debt to those whose graves you visited, everything we hold dear is because of their sacrifice.

  4. Robin MacDonald says:

    That was a beautiful post, Paul. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Judith C. Price says:

    Truly an emotional journey! Thanks for this, Paul. Great photos and accompanying information. Each of my 3 trips evoked so many different emotions and I hope someday to go again. Every Newfoundlander and Canadian should have this on their “Bucket List”! I still choke up when trying to sing The Ode or O Canada. We will remember them.

  6. patrice ravaux says:

    Je suis Français habitant juste à côte de Vimy à lievin, je suis garde d’honneur de notre dame de lorette. J’ai simplement à dire MERCI cousin canadien ! Pour me rendre chez ma mère vivant à bailleul sire berthoult près de thélus je passe devant le monument. Le soir il est majestueux avec son éclairage entre les arbres de la forêt ! c’est chaque fois un moment fort que je ressens. , un moment d’apaisement . et de respect .

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