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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Apr 15, 2018 10:26PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
This is a thread dedicated to the World War I - Battle of Vimy Ridge.

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The Battle of Vimy Ridge - 1917

message 3: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) I have two good books in my library (sitting un-read) that I could suggest for further reading covering the Battle of Vimy Ridge:

Vimy Ridge by Alexander McKee by Alexander McKee

Vimy (Pen & Sword Military Classic) by Pierre Berton by Pierre Berton
Publishers blurb:

On Easter Monday 1917 with a blizzard blowing in their faces, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in France seized and held the best-defended German bastion on the Western Front - the muddy scarp of Vimy Ridge. The British had failed to take the Ridge, and so had the French who had lost 150,000 men in the attempt. Yet these magnificent colonial troops did so in a morning at the cost of only 10,000 casualties. The author recounts this remarkable feat of arms with both pace and style. He has gathered many personal accounts from soldiers who fought at Vimy. He describes the commanders and the men, the organisation and the training, and above all notes the thorough preparation for the attack from which the British General Staff could have learnt much. The action is placed within the context both of the Battle of Arras, of which this attack was part, and as a milestone in the development of Canada as a nation.

message 4: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) From the German perspective this new title may offer some interesting reading being made up of many first-hand accounts:

The German Army on Vimy Ridge 1914-1917 by Jack Sheldon by Jack Sheldon
Publishers blurb:

Vimy Ridge is indelibly linked in popular memory to the exploits of the Canadian Corps. There, on 9 April 1917, all four Canadian divisions fought alongside one another for the first time. Battling through snow squalls and deep mud, they took and held the ridge, in the teeth of desperate German resistance, becoming the first Allied soldiers for two and a half years to see the view over the Douai plain.

It was a triumph of arms for Canada and fundamental to its future sense of nationhood but, at the same time, April 1917 was simply the final act in a drama which had begun with the German seizure of the ridge in October 1914. Bitter fighting for the Lorette Spur, followed by two major French offensives in 1915 and months of incessant mining and minor operations, when British formations held the line in 1916, are as central to the story as the heroic tenacity of the German defenders.

Drawing on the immense quantities of surviving archival material, dispelling myths and calling into question many of the `facts' in the accepted record, this vivid portrait of the fighting on Vimy Ridge provides a unique insight into the German aspects of this landmark battle and the thirty months of continuous operations above and below ground which preceded it.

message 5: by Gabriele (last edited Apr 04, 2010 03:04PM) (new)

Gabriele Wills (muskoka) | 173 comments I found the Pierre Berton account of Vimy - Vimy (Pen & Sword Military Classic) by Pierre Berton - fascinating because he focusses on individuals to illustrate aspects of the battle. You really get the feeling that you are there with the troops. Berton's gift was certainly popularizing Canadian history.

Not as memorable but still interesting is Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment by Mike Bechthold by Mike Bechthold et al.

message 6: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Hi Gabriele, I was waiting for your posts, I figured you'd have some good books to offer :)
I will check out that title by Mike Bechthold but first I better read one of those other Vimy books I have sitting in my library!

message 7: by Gabriele (new)

Gabriele Wills (muskoka) | 173 comments Let me know what you think of Pierre Berton's book, Aussie Rick. You know that a book makes an impression if you still have images in your head after reading over 100 other books on the war.

message 8: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) I know what you mean Gabriele, Martin Middlebrook's book "The First Day on the Somme" had the same affect on me. I will try and read Pierre Berton's book soon and let you know.

The First Day on the Somme by Martin Middlebrook by Martin Middlebrook

message 9: by Gabriele (new)

Gabriele Wills (muskoka) | 173 comments That's one of the reasons I so much enjoy memoirs like Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis by Cecil Lewis and Ghosts Have Warm Hands by Will R. Bird.

Berton managed to find some interesting first-hand accounts of the battle - shocking, humorous, astonishing, but always engaging.

message 10: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) I really enjoy (if that's the right word to use) a book that utilises first-hand accounts in the narrative. It makes the 'history' more real for me and I am amazed at the sense of humour of a lot of these men & women in such horrific conditions. I haven't read a stand alone history of the Battle for Vimy Ridge so I will do my best to read Berton's book as soon as I can.

Vimy (Pen & Sword Military Classic) by Pierre Berton by Pierre Berton

message 11: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
Victory at Vimy: Canada Comes of Age, April 9-12, 1917

Victory at Vimy Canada Comes of Age, April 9-12, 1917 by Theodore Barris by Ted Barris Ted Barris


At the height of the First World War, on Easter Monday April 9, 1917, in early morning sleet, sixteen battalions of the Canadian Corps rose along a six-kilometre line of trenches in northern France against the occupying Germans. All four Canadian divisions advanced in a line behind a well-rehearsed creeping barrage of artillery fire. By nightfall, the Germans had suffered a major setback. The Ridge, which other Allied troops had assaulted previously and failed to take, was firmly in Canadian hands. The Canadian Corps had achieved perhaps the greatest lightning strike in Canadian military history. One Paris newspaper called it "Canada's Easter gift to France."

Of the 40,000 Canadians who fought at Vimy, nearly 10,000 became casualties. Many of their names are engraved on the famous monument that now stands on the ridge to commemorate the battle. It was the first time Canadians had fought as a distinct national army, and in many ways, it was a coming of age for the nation.

The achievement of the Canadians on those April days in 1917 has become one of our lasting myths. Based on first-hand accounts, including archival photographs and maps, it is the voices of the soldiers who experienced the battle that comprise the thrust of the book. Like JUNO: Canadians at D-Day Ted Barris paints a compelling and surprising human picture of what it was like to have stormed and taken Vimy Ridge.

message 12: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) One of Canada's greatest military moment....winning the battle of Vimy Ridge. "The true North, strong and free".

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Penny Dowdy by Penny Dowdy (no photo)


After several failed attempts by the United States, Great Britain and France, Canadian soldiers successfully captured Vimy Ridge from enemy German troops. Though victory was not easy, the Battle of Vimy Ridge is remembered as one of Canada's greatest battles.

message 13: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) This book tells the story of Vimy Ridge from the German perspective.

The German Army on Vimy Ridge

The German Army on Vimy Ridge 1914-1917 by Jack Sheldon by Jack Sheldon (no photo)


The book starts with on the capture of Vimy Ridge and the nearly spur of Notre Dame de Lorette in October 1914. The major battles of spring and autumn 1915 is described as is the twelve month period from late autumn 1915 when British forces occupied the lines on the western Ridge. The period from late autumn 1916 onwards when the Canadian Corps was preparing for the April 1917 assault on the ridge, is given detailed treatment, with special emphasis (based on original German intelligence and interrogation files) on how the defenders built up a detailed picture of Allied plans and how they intended to counter them.

The battle (9 - 14 April 1917) is described in detail and the conclusion summarizes the aftermath of the battle and its consequences for the way the German army prepared for the Third Battle of Ypres.

message 14: by Jill (last edited Jun 19, 2015 01:50PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The often forgotten role of the "sapper", the men who created the underground trenches and tunnels in WWI.

Underground War: Vimy Ridge to Arras

Underground War, The Vimy Ridge To Arras by Phillip Robinson by Phillip Robinson(no photo)


This is the first part of a planned four-volume series focusing on a hitherto largely neglected aspect of the Great War on the Western Front - the war underground. The subject has fascinated visitors to the battlefields from the very beginning of battlefield pilgrimages in the years immediately after the Armistice, and locations such as Hill 60 and the Grange Subway at Vimy have always been popular stops on such tours. Three other volumes will follow, covering the Somme, Ypres and French Flanders. Each book in the series has a short description of the formation and development of Tunneling Companies in the BEF and a glossary of technical terms.

message 15: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The Canadian troops were the pride of the Empire and fought like lions.

Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918

Shock Troops Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918 Volume 2 by Tim Cook by Tim Cook Tim Cook


Shock Troops follows the Canadian fighting forces during the titanic battles of Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele, and the Hundred Days campaign. Through the eyes of the soldiers who fought and died in the trenches on the Western Front, and based on newly uncovered Canadian, British, and German archival sources, Cook builds on Volume I of his national bestseller, At the Sharp End. The Canadian fighting forces never lost a battle during the final 2 years of the war, and although they paid a terrible price in the killing fields of the Great War, they were indeed, as British Prime Minister David Lloyd George exclaimed, the shock troops of the Empire.

message 16: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Canada's finest hour in WWI.

Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment

Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment by Geoffrey Hayes by Geoffrey Hayes Geoffrey Hayes


On the morning of April 9, 1917, troops of the Canadian Corps under General Julian Byng attacked the formidable German defences of Vimy Ridge. Since then, generations of Canadians have shared a deep emotional attachment to the battle, inspired partly by the spectacular memorial on the battlefield. Although the event is considered central in Canadian military history, most people know very little about what happened during that memorable Easter in northern France.

"Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment" draws on the work of a new generation of scholars who explore the battle from three perspectives. The first assesses the Canadian Corps within the wider context of the Western Front in 1917. The second explores Canadian leadership, training, and preparations and details the story of each of the four Canadian divisions. The final section concentrates on the commemoration of Vimy Ridge, both for contemporaries and later generations of Canadians.

This long-overdue collection, based on original research, replaces mythology with new perspectives, new details, and a new understanding of the men who fought and died for the remarkable achievement that was the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

message 17: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Sounds like a great book. Will have to look into it. The memorial at Vimy Ridge is awe-inspiring.

message 18: by Jill (last edited Jun 18, 2016 07:42PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Canada's troops were covered in glory by this battle.

Vimy Ridge 1917: Byng's Canadians Triumph at Arras

Vimy Ridge 1917 Byng’s Canadians Triumph at Arras by Alexander Turner by Alexander Turner (no photo)


Vimy Ridge was one of the most important geographic features on the entire Western Front in World War I (1914-1918). In early 1917 it was considered practically impregnable, but on 9 April the Canadian Army Corps, under the command of the British Lieutenant General Sir Julian Byng, assaulted it as part of the Arras offensive. In one of the most spectacular operational attacks of the war, they seized almost the entire ridge in a single day. This book describes how the innovative efforts that went into every aspect of the preparation for this attack ensured that the Canadian and British troops achieved unprecedented success.

message 19: by Betsy (new)

Betsy I've read this. Good basic info on a memorable battle.

message 20: by Jill (last edited Aug 21, 2016 01:20PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Vimy Ridge Memorial

Vimy Ridge in northern France is Canada’s largest overseas national memorial.
Situated on land granted by France to the Canadian people, the memorial towers over the scene of Canada’s most recognizable First World War engagement, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought from 9 to 12 April 1917. The imposing structure was designed by Walter Allward, one of Canada’s most famous sculptors, whose commissions included the national memorial commemorating Canada’s participation in the South African War (1899-1902).

Allward began work on the Vimy memorial in 1925 and completed it 11 years later at a cost of $1.5 million. It is adorned by 20 allegorical figures representing faith, justice, peace, honour, charity, truth, knowledge, and hope. A key figure, “Canada mourning her fallen sons,” speaks to the country’s wartime losses. The Vimy Memorial is inscribed with the names of 11,285 Canadians who were killed on French soil and have no known graves.

The Vimy Memorial was unveiled in July 1936 to a crowd of more than 100,000, including 6,000 Canadian veterans who had traveled overseas for the ceremony. The Memorial survived the Second World War, despite fears that German forces would destroy it after France’s surrender. Adolf Hitler visited and was photographed at the site in 1940. Since the Second World War, there have been several formal, and countless informal, Canadian pilgrimages to the Memorial and the 91-hectare park of Canadian trees and shrubs surrounding it.

In 2007, after several years of extensive restoration work, the Vimy Ridge Memorial was unveiled to dignitaries and several thousand Canadian visitors. It is the principal site of Canadian remembrance and commemoration overseas, and one of the most widely recognized symbols of Canada’s military past.

(Source: Greatwar)

(It should be noted that the image of the memorial does not do it justice as it is quite breathtaking.)

message 21: by Betsy (last edited Sep 05, 2016 02:38PM) (new)

Betsy I agree. When you stand there looking out over the Douai Plain and then realize what it took to get there.

message 22: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
An upcoming book:
Release date: March 7, 2017

Vimy: The Battle and the Legend

Vimy The Battle and the Legend by Tim Cook by Tim Cook Tim Cook


Why does Vimy matter? Tim Cook, Canada's foremost military historian and a Charles Taylor Prize winner, examines the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and the way the memory of it has evolved over 100 years. Vimy is unlike any other battle in Canadian history: it has been described as the "birth of the nation." But the meaning of that phrase has never been explored, nor has any writer explained why the battle continues to resonate with Canadians. The Vimy battle that began April 9, 1917, was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together. 10,600 men were killed or injured over four days--twice the casualty rate of the Dieppe Raid in August 1942.

Cook has uncovered new material and photographs from official archives and private collections across Canada and from around the world. Many of these resources have never been used before by other historians, writers, or film-makers.

On the 100th anniversary of Vimy, and as Canada celebrates 150 years as a country, this new book is about more than a defining battle: it is a story of Canadian identity and memory, by a writer who brings history alive.

message 23: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Will be interested to see this book when published.

message 24: by Dimitri (last edited Feb 20, 2017 05:05AM) (new)

Dimitri | 600 comments

Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment

Vimy Ridge A Canadian Reassessment by Geoffrey Hayes by Geoffrey HayesGeoffrey Hayes

H-net, the peer review site, sounds an ominous amount of dissent which makes me have second toughts about chasing an out-of-print essay collection :

- the editors have set out to answer three basic questions: how did the Canadians come to fight at Vimy in April 1917, how did they achieve their victory, and how was our collective memory of the battle shaped? The book is divided into three corresponding sections which attempt to illuminate these issues. The contributors have been drawn from a "new generation" of historians with a range of experience, from scholarly award winners to military analysts and graduate students. Perhaps to be expected, the quality of the articles is therefore somewhat uneven. Overall, the book is less a reassessment--since it does not examine previous accounts in any detail--than a revisionist history which fills in many previously neglected aspects of the battle
- The book is strongest where it considers analytical questions such as the degree to which the Corps was fully Canadian, or whether its tactics at Vimy marked a departure from previous battles on the western front.
- he Vimy legend makes much of Canadian tactical innovations and a new approach to training in preparation for the attack. Although part 2 sets out to explain the methods by which the Canadian Corps fought and won the Vimy battle, at ten to fifteen pages each they are generally too short to provide detailed coverage. This is compensated in part by the inclusion of essays on the artillery, engineers, and medical personnel which return the supporting arms to a story usually dominated by the infantry. The most effective chapters are those which avoid the temptation to be comprehensive and instead define a clear analytical perspective.
- Certainly, however a more comprehensive selection of maps would have been appreciated, especially a detailed trench map for the chapter on the 4th Division. But the tactical focus means the book is found wanting in the area of historiography, and notably absent is a more detailed historiographical survey of how Vimy has taken its place in Canadian culture. Part 3 does go part way towards such a follow-up, however.

P.S. I pre-ordered Vimy The Battle and the Legend by Tim Cook by Tim Cook Tim Cook to read immediately before revisiting the region in a centennial mood.

message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Apr 15, 2018 10:37PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Alexander McKee by Alexander McKee Alexander McKee


During the first World War, 150,000 French men fell fighting for Vimy Ridge, but at the end of a year the long, sinister hogsback was still held by the Germans. In 1916, the British took over and the battle went underground—war waged in the darkness of narrow tunnels and deep mineshafts. When the four divisions of the Canadian Corps assembled for the last assault in 1917, Vimy Ridge had earned a reputation for blood-soaked invincibility—the German Gibraltar of the Western Front.

What happened when the Canadians attacked on that Easter Monday has never been told in full before. Here at last, in the words of more than a hundred witnesses, is the entire, authentic story. Besides containing the vivid and harrowing recollections of the soldiers and airmen who survived, the book includes official and unofficial reports and records of both sides. The result is the recreation of the battle of Vimy Ridge as it really was.

Behind the merciless precision of the Canadian assault lay months of planning and preparation, of meticulous rehearsal. Before the ground battle could even begin, the air battle had to be fought and won—in the face of crack German fighter units assembled to stop the British reconnaissance aircraft. An overwhelming artillery power had to be brought in and registered on its targets in advance. When this fantastic “set-piece” battle finally began, the most incongruous elements were involved—tanks and infantry, airplanes and cavalry, kite balloons and gigantic naval guns.

For Germany, it was the writing on the wall. For Canada, the capture of the Ridge marked the day her regiments became an army.

About the Author:

Alexander McKee was no "yes-man", he dared to criticise many military, political, economic, media and academic icons and he always kept an open mind.

He was fanatical about making his works as accurate as he possibly could. He was ever alert to plain-wrong, biased, distorted or sloppy reports and hidden agendas; wickedly delighting (the more so as a self-educated man) in criticising and exposing assertions that did not fit the evidence.

Among his targets were those who tended to emphasise media-image-managment, the accumulation of personal wealth and career progression over both personal integrity and respect for other people's contributions. He gleefully highlighted all the many lapses of integrity that he found.

Equally, many established experts, often highly educated people and indeed experts regarding the theoretical aspects of their disciplines, but whom he considered scandalously remiss when they complacently failed to complement such theoretical understanding with practical knowledge as a way to test their theories empirically.

Consequently, some of them came in for some harsh criticism on occasion. One gets the impression from his work that some of them appeared reluctant to venture outside the academy at all; out into the "real world": let alone to mix with ordinary people. Implicitly, he urged them to converse with the fishermen, the builders, the soldiers, the doctors, the nurses, the shipwrights and the firemen to glean practical understanding from these practical people, who had to be willing and able to carry out the ultimate tests on their theories to provide demonstably working solutions in order to fulfill their typical working roles. Then he urges such experts in the theory to re-test their theories against the empirically derived knowledge gleaned from their excursions among the working classes, and to do so conjunction with their own senses, out in the "real world": rather than limiting themselves and risking their reputations on the results of thought experiments alone.

He dug deep into eye-witness testimonies and spent countless hours searching libraries and museums for the documentary evidence surrounding each his-story. One may find this slightly comical that viewed against the background of established caricaturisations, when the elevated "pillars of wisdom", went "building castles in the air" around about the "ivory towers" and he found strong contradictory "real world" evidence he often lambasted them mercilessly, although it does sometimes seem to be overdone.

In contrast, he made the point that some of the sloppy documentary historical works such as that of Sir Robert Davis, that temporarily led his own research astray (and much to his annoyance caused him to repeat untruths in public lectures) while causing the propagation of serious errors until he uncovered them, were nevertheless probably a consequence of the pressures of work, owing to the high quality of the rest of the publication.

Note: McKee OBE was a British journalist, military historian, and diver who published nearly thirty books. He was a WWII veteran and veteran of the British Army on the Rhine.

Kirkus Review:

This is a very conscientious reconstruction, based in great part upon interviews with eyewitnesses, of the Easter weekend 1917 slaughter and victory of the Allies over the Germans at Vimy Ridge on the Siegfried Line. It was primarily an artillery battle of unparalleled intensity, the results of which are still visible in the grassy but jumbled earth. The victory was, however, a fiasco of muddled generalship and inefficient soldiering (except for the Canadians who carried much of the day). First news reports back in London were rapturous with triumph; later information convinced many that this was the blackest day of the war. Indeed the losses were incredible and the descriptions here of the carnage defy the imagination: ""The trees all black stumps as we crawled out each night, the ground all shellholes and with thousands of rats jumping among the dead bodies, the mines going up and Jerry coming down like confetti among the star shells."" An excellent study written with powerful moral conviction and underlying bitterness.

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