Canadians Should Remember April 9th

Canadians Should Remember April 9th


April 9th is an anniversary, the significance of which Canadians do not sufficiently realize, or if they do, they give little heed. Eight years ago to-day Canada’s best blood was poured out like water and a deed accomplished that filled the world with astonishment and returned its fading hopes.

Vimy Ridge! How that name will swell the breasts of Canadians yet unborn. What a recollection to those who breasted its shell-torn and debris-littered slopes. Those at home who pored over maps cannot possibly realize what Vimy Ridge looked like. It is a real ridge, looming up as a mountain range in that low-lying country. In some ways its northern slope resembles the escarpment that runs from Niagara Falls to Hamilton.

In December, 1914, and again in May and September of 1915, the French tried to sweep the Germans from that Ridge, but failed. The British took over a part of the French line in May, 1915. In the desperate fighting that followed a portion was lost to the Germans, who kept it until that glorious Easter Monday.

What the losses on that short line were will never be known, but there can be little doubt that half a million men laid down their lives on that field. After the last French assault it seemed as though allied efforts could never avail. Because of their showing on the Somme it was decided to try the Canadian Corps at Vimy. And many were the rough jests hurled at the “Blinking Colonials,” who would attempt what had defied the best of France and Britain.

I was with the field artillery on that sector. Much sanguinary fighting took place previous to the final assault. Though we were ready we were not sure what attack would be driven home. All night, on the Sunday before the final taking of the Ridge, there was the steady tramp of troops and rumble of wagons. Just before dawn came the order, “For fire action stand to,” and the ringing words of the fire officer: “Men, this it the real attack.”

It is useless to try to sketch that scene, but as I thought of that stricken field, after the day was over, the words of Kipling kept drumming through my mind: “If blood be the price of victory, Lord God we have paid in full.”

April 9th should be a day of real thanksgiving to Canadians, and a holy one, for it meant the breaking up of the German morale. Never before in history had such a position been carried by a frontal attack in so short a time, and this by a citizen army against the best drilled, equipped and officered conscript army in the world.

The Ridge should be hallowed ground to Canadians for all time, for I doubt if more Canadian blood ever stained so small a field. I believe it has been deeded to Canada as a memorial in perpetuity, and I only wish it were possible for all who lost loved ones there to visit that spot and make of it a national shrine.

Geo. C. Makinson
Welland Co.


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