Vimy 100 in the Classroom

Bring the Battle of Vimy Ridge to your class this year with the Vimy Foundation’s online educational resource Vimy 100 in the Classroom!

This free, fully accessible, bilingual resource has been designed for high school students across Canada and includes lesson plans, resources, and activities for use in a variety of classes.

Your students will be able to interpret Canada’s role in the First World War, as well as the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial; setting these events within the contexts of the formation of Canada as a country, Canadian nationalism, and citizenship.

The Vimy 100 in the Classroom program encourages students to actively consider the war, and to discuss difficult questions, like the relationship between nationalism and war, in the form of debates, data collection, art, and mini research projects.

Vimy Quotation Analysis

Debate: Was a Nation born on a Battlefield?

Stories from Vimy – Victoria Cross Recipients

Art and the First World War

Conscientious Objectors and Pacifists

Vimy as a Symbol: The Vimy Memorial

Photography and the First World War

Geography Meets History at Vimy

 

Download all modules  (.zip file)

 

With the support from:

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Our additional thanks to James Stewart and Christian Martel for their ongoing guidance and assistance.

Poll Results

The Vimy Foundation regularly polls Canadians about their attitudes and opinions related to Canada’s First World War legacy and the upcoming Vimy Centennial, through market research conducted by Ipsos Reid.

November 2016 “Survey of Six “Western Front” Nations Shows Canadians Most Likely to Have Attended War Remembrance Ceremony in Past Year

April 2016 “New Poll Shows Most Canadians (83%) Feel Vimy Centennial should be Key Part of Canada 150 Celebration

November 2015 “Most Canadians Can Identify “In Flanders Fields” (76%) by John McCrae (61%) as Canadian Poem Written During First World War

April 2015 “Three Quarters of Canadians (74%) Believe 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge in 2017 Should Be One of Canada’s Most Important Celebrations During Sesquicentennial

November 2014 “Three in Ten (27%) Canadians Will Attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony This Year, 23% Said they Went Last Year

April 2014 “One in Five (18%) Canadians Don’t Know What Vimy Ridge Is

 

 

Canada’s FWW Battles

From 2014 to 2018, we commemorate the centennial anniversaries of the First World War. The Vimy Foundation is actively working to ensure that these major battles of the First World War involving Canadians are recalled and our losses commemorated.

May 1915 – Festubert and Givenchy

June 1916 – Battle of Mount Sorrel

July 1, 1916 – Beaumont Hamel

September 15-22, 1916 – Courcelette

September 26, 1916 – Thiepval Ridge

October 1 – November 11, 1916 – Regina Trench

 

Festubert and Givenchy | May-June 1915

In May and June of 1915, at Festubert and Givenchy in Northern France, Canadian troops went on the offensive for the first time in the First World War. The battles were part of the Allied effort to challenge entrenched German positions and where possible push the invaders back. Hampered by poor information, unrealistic goals, a lack of substantial artillery support and facing unbroken barbed wire and hidden machine gun nests, Canadians troops were unable to make any significant gains. 2,868 Canadians were killed or wounded in these two battles alone. The stalemate of trench warfare had now become painfully real to the Canadian soldiers and public.

Download our poster about the centennial anniversary of the battles of Festubert and Givenchy.

 

Sanctuary Wood  and Mont Sorrel | 2-13 June 1916

The high ground between the villages of Hooge and Zwartelleen was by 1916 the only raised area near Ypres still until Allied control. The ground, comprising of Hill 62, Hill 61, and Mont Sorrel were held by the 3rd Division, Canada’s most newly arrived division and as yet untried in battle. After the disaster at Saint-Eloi in April, Alderson had been removed from command of the Canadian Corps and replaced by a British cavalry officer, Lieutenant General Julian Byng.

The stretch of ground was the only thing holding back the German army from complete domination of the Ypres sector, so in a rare aggressive move the Germans mounted an attack the morning of 2 June 1916, surprising the 3rd Division with a hail of artillery fire at 8h30 and the detonation of 4 mines under their front lines. Preparations for the attack had been observed by the RFC in the weeks leading up and the intelligence passed on, but the 3rd Division’s commanders had not prepared their lines sufficiently for the coming attack, and had made no arrangements for artillery support.  After the devastation of most of the 3rd Division’s line, the flanks were held by the PPCLI for 24 hours under heavy fire.

Counter attack was arranged for the following morning at 2am, but was repeatedly delayed as the battalions leading the attacks struggled to get to their jumping off points. The counter attack took place under a weak bombardment at 7am, in broad daylight and under clouds of German gas. A failure from the start, those commanding officers left after the first few minutes called off the attack and told their men to dig in. Casualties for 2-4 June were 3 750 for the 3rd Division. Those left alive dug in to hold the lines as best they could until Byng gave the order for another attempt to take back their lost position on 13 June.

Currie’s 1st Division was moved in to take the ground between Hill 60 and Sanctuary Wood, after 4 bombardments the attack began on 13 June, with the artillery working closely with the infantry, a first for the Canadians. Currie’s men went over the top at 1h30am, bayoneting the enemy and pushing to the German second line. By 2h30am, all the ground lost on 2 June had been retaken and the Canadians prepared for the coming German counter attacks. Total casualties for the actions at Mount Sorrel would be about 8 700, many of them prisoners of war.

Technical advancements:

  • The failure of the 3rd Division on 3 June was blamed largely on lack of cooperation with the artillery. Artillery Forward Observation Officers were attached to infantry front line command to better direct fire. For the attack on 13 June, the artillery would also use aerial observers to better pinpoint enemy gun positions to knock them out.
  • The attack on 3 June made use of the PH helmet, a chemically treated cloth hood with goggle eyes and a breathing tube for protection against chlorine gas. The PH helmet was soon replaced by the box respirator but was a significant step up from the urine soaked pads used by the 1st Division at Ypres the year before.

Did you know? 

Pte (Lt. Later) A.Y. Jackson (60th Battalion ) Already gaining renown in Canada as a member of the Group of Seven, Jackson was wounded at Mount Sorrel on 3 June going over the top with the battalion. He later returned to the front as one of Lord Beaverbrook’s official Canadian war artists and would paint haunting canvases of the blasted landscapes on the Western Front.

Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer (3rd Division) Mercer was killed by a British artillery shell fragment during a front-line inspection after his appointment as leader of the 3rd Division during the surprise German bombardment of 2 June. Lieutenant-General Byng was invited to accompany Mercer on his tour and declined. Brigadier-General Victor Williams accompanied him and was captured by the Germans, Canada’s highest ranking prisoner of war.

Capt. Percival Molson (PPCLI) The son of John Thomas Molson, of the Montreal brewing family, Percival was an avid hockey player and part of the team that won the 1897 Stanley Cup. He was wounded in the face near Sanctuary Wood on 2 June as the PPCLI struggled to hold the flank left open by the 3rd Division. Molson later returned to the front and was killed near Avion in July 1917 after a direct hit from a Howitzer shell. He was awarded the Military Cross before his death. In his will, Molson bequeathed 75 000$ for the building of a sports stadium at McGill. It was named in his honour after a decision by the board of governors of McGill in 1919.

Battle of Mount Sorrel. Attacking under smoke. Credit: Henry Edward Knobel / Canada Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-000169
Battle of Mount Sorrel. Attacking under smoke. Credit: Henry Edward Knobel / Canada Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-000169

Download our poster about the Battle of Mont Sorrel.

 

Beaumont Hamel | July 1, 1916

100 years ago, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment faced devastating losses at Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Going “over the top,” Newfoundlanders were completely exposed to intense machine gun fire and the attack was a horrific failure. Within 20 minutes, approximately 85% of those who had started forward were dead, dying or wounded.

While the casualty list varies, most records indicate that 287 Newfoundlanders were killed in this battle, on the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. Due in part to the incredible courage and bravery demonstrated at Beaumont Hamel, King George V honoured the Regiment’s actions by granting it the designation “Royal”.

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Download our poster about the centennial anniversary of Beaumont Hamel. 

Recent high school grad Victoria Jackman of Mount Pearl, NL has been forever changed by her trip to Beaumont Hamel. In April of 2014 as a grade 10 student, she was awarded the Vimy Foundation’s Vimy Pilgrimage Award. This program recognizes the actions of young people who demonstrate outstanding service, positive contributions, and leadership in their communities, and awards them a fully-paid week-long trip to France and Belgium to visit the key sites of the First World War. Watch her reflections on the 100th anniversary of Beaumont Hamel:

BH Website banner photos

 

Courcelette |  15-22 September 2016

The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916, however the Canadian Corps did not arrive on the field of battle until September 1916. Their first test? To take the fortified village of Courcelette on 15 September. Aside from the Canadian victory at Flers-Courcelette, the battle also marks the debut of General Sir Douglas Haig’s latest weapon, the tank.

The Canadian 2nd and 3rd Divisions attacked the outskirts of the village at 6:20AM on 15 September, under a creeping barrage. The barrage malfunctioned, lifting 100m before the German lines and leaving the men of the advancing first wave open to machinegun fire. Despite this setback, the attack was an unexpected success. With the help of one of the several tanks that were able to reach the battlefield the 20th and 21st Battalions took the Sugar Refinery, an objective outside the town and a German strongpoint. The trenches in front of Courcelette fell around 8AM.

At this point, Byng was faced with a decision.  Should he consider the attack as a single success and halt? Or continue with a second attack on the village itself, exploiting the advantage of the Canadian successes in the morning? Byng decided to take the second option and gave orders for the 22nd and 25th battalions to move up from the reserves for an attack on the village at 6PM, with the 26th Battalion in suppoer. The men had to quick march from their reserve positions to their jumping off points, crossing the battlefield of the morning as medics moved the wounded and dying back to the regimental aid posts.

Due to the spontaneous nature of Byng’s attack, both battalions would advance in full daylight without jumping off trenches, and only a light bombardment. The 22nd and the 25th advanced almost 2km to the outskirts of the village proper, sustaining heavy casualties. Upon reaching the first occupied German trenches, they attacked with bayonets, driving the Germans into the village itself. Attacking from the right, the men of the 22nd split into smaller groups to clear the village, with the 25th Battalion approaching from the left to meet in the middle. The Germans were pushed out of Courcelette by 6:30PM, though for how long no one knew.

Both battalions now had to dig in to face the inevitable German counterattacks. They were low on ammunition, food, and water, and scavenged German ammunition for use. The Germans attacked four times the night of 15 September, by the next day the 22nd Battalion was down to 200 men of the original 900. The battalions received a food and water party from the 26th Battalion on 17 October, their first meal in three days, and were ordered to attack the German trenches outside the village. On 18 September, the 22nd and 25th battalions were finally relieved, after 4 days of constant counterattacks. Casualties for Courcelette were 7,230 killed, wounded, or missing.

Technological advancements:

The use of tanks, a first during the war, was certainly the technological highlight of Courcelette. The British version of an armoured combat vehicle had been under development since 1915, with the formation of the Landships Commission. Haig had hoped to use the new tanks on 1 July, but production delays had plagued the project, and they were not able to be used until September. Unfortunately, there were only 32 tanks available for use at Courcelette, of those 9 actually arrived at their starting positions. Most of those were quickly knocked out by German guns. The tanks moved slowly and at that time had very thin armour that could be easily pierced by a shell. Tanks in the First World War were still very much under development and did not see the widespread use that they would in the Second. They would appear again on the British front in 1917 at the Battle of Cambrai, and in the 100 Days campaign at the end of the war.

Notable participants: 

Captain (Later Lt.col)  Joseph Henry Chaballe (22nd Battalion), MC  for the capture and defense of the village or Courcelette against 13 counter attacks. Chabelle was wounded during the defense and continued fighting. He was later promoted and invalided out of a combat position after being diagnosed with shell shock in 1917. He wrote an article for La Canadienne in 1920 describing his experiences at Courcelette, as well as a history of the 22nd Battalion in both wars.

Corporal Arthur Fleming (26th Battalion), MM for leading a party that captured an enemy strong-point in the village of Courcelette. By the end of the battle 4 days later only Fleming and one other man of the party remained alive.

Pte  John Chipman Kerr (49th Battalion), VC for singlehandedly taking 62 prisoners and over 200 yards of trench with only a rifle on the second day of Courcelette. Kerr had the fingers of one hand blown off in the process, but survived the war.

Bringing in a wounded Canadian from the Battle of Courcelette, Sept. 1916. Photo: Library and Archives Canada | PA-000664
Bringing in a wounded Canadian from the Battle of Courcelette, Sept. 1916. Photo: Library and Archives Canada | PA-000664

Download our poster about the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Courcelette. 

 

Thiepval Ridge | 26 September 1916

The Canadian victory at Courcelette earlier in September pushed the Corps up several hundred metres to new lines just after the village. Several weeks later, as part of Haig’s bite and hold plan, the 1st and 2nd Divisions would be jumping off from the new Canadian lines to take Thiepval Ridge, some 1 000 metres north west of their current position. The divisions would be covering fully half of the 6 000 yards of front planned for the attack, and would be advancing in broad daylight towards the Germans’ elevated position on top of the ridge.

After a three day bombardment, the 1st and 2nd Divisions attacked at 12h35 on 26 September.  Like most of the Somme attacks there was little room to manoeuvre or conceal preparations, so the divisions were caught out almost immediately under the German counter bombardment. The Canadian bombardment was able to keep the frontline trenches from functioning, but could not knock out the guns further back, which rained shells onto the battalions trying to cross the open ground to their objectives. Both divisions successfully moved across No Mans Land, though at high loss of life, and crashed into the trenches opposite, over running most over the course of a 3 hour struggle. As with Courcelette, the problem was less capturing a trench than holding the trench, and the battalions holding parts of Hessian, Kenora and the Zollern Graben struggled to hold them against multiple counter attacks.

By the end of the day, the trench systems at the ridge where still not fully captured and the British commander of the operation, Hubert Gough, called the attack off for the night, planned to begin again in the morning. However, the German regiments pulled out during the night, consolidating in the fortified Regina Trench system at the top of the ridge. Some effort was made to probe Regina trench, and the Canadian Divisions continued to skirmish around Kenora trench, but the large scale battle for Thiepval was over for the time being.  Canadian losses for the day were extremely heavy, total Allied losses for Thiepval were over 12 000.

Technological advancements

After their use at Courcelette, Thiepval was the second site of employment for the new British Mark I tanks. The Canadian divisions were given the use of the Corps two remaining workable tanks for the battle, one of which was a casualty of the mechanical problems that continued to plague them, and the other of which was knocked out by a direct hit from a German shell.  As with Courcelette, the small scale of their usage, problems with co-ordination and mechanical failure prevented the tanks from being effective.

Notable participants

Lt. Charles Edward Reynolds, DSO & MC 29th Battalion –Reynolds received the DSO for an attack against German positions that were firing on the 29th Battalion’s new position, one of the only objectives reached during the first minutes of Thiepval. Along with Sergeant W.A. Tennant, Reynolds led the attack, killing two German officers, and the strong point was taken. Tennant and Reynolds were the only survivors of the party.

 

Burial of Major Edward Lewin Knight, commander of the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Battery (Canadian Machine Gun Corps). Knight was killed on 26 September 1916. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada. | Colourized for the first time ever by Canadian Colour.
Burial of Major Edward Lewin Knight, commander of the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Battery (Canadian Machine Gun Corps). Knight was killed on 26 September 1916. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada. | Colourized for the first time ever by Canadian Colour. ]

Download our poster about the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Thiepval Ridge.

 

Regina Trench | 1 October – 11 November 1916

The Regina Trench system dominated the area held by the Canadians after the initial attack at Thiepval on 26 September. Regina Trench had been part of the original Thiepval objectives, which called for the capture of the system by the end of the day on the 26th, but like most of the battles fought on the Somme, the attack had devolved to a multi-week slog, as the British army tried in vain to take increasingly smaller chunks of territory.

The 3000m system was perfectly placed for defense, being slightly over the top of Thiepval ridge, and surrounded by miles of thick barbed wire. To take Regina Trench, the Canadians would have to advance in full view of the defenders up the slope, with no options for outflanking and massed in a tight area of attack. Pre-attack bombardments were largely unsuccessful in removing the wire and many shells fell short as the Canadian gunners struggled to hit their target. Byng would again be calling on the beleaguered 2nd Division, fresh from the attempt to take Thiepval Ridge in September, to take Regina Trench. Despite protestations from the divisional commanders Turner and Lipsett, and an additional protest from Byng himself, Gough refused to call off the attack, and the 2nd  and 3rd Divisions would go forward into Regina Trench on 1 October at 3:15pm.

The German Marine Brigade, an elite group originally stationed in Belgium, had been moved to the Somme as the German regiments slow weakened from loss of men, and were stationed at Regina Trench. The attack on 1 October briefly took control of Kenora Trench and part of the eastern end of Regina Trench proper, but were pushed out by the Marines by 2 October and forced to abandon their positions. Bad weather and low visibility delayed the next attack until 8 October, though the Canadian barrage continued during this time, always trying to remove chunks of the barbed wire that had proved so disastrous the 2nd and 3rd Divisions on 1 October.

The attack on 8 October would be carried out much as the failed attack on 1 October, this time with the 1st and 3rd Divisions. Both went over the top before dawn behind a creeping barrage towards the maze of trenches making up the Regina system. Most of the battalions would run again into uncut barbed wire, which funneled them into concentrated zones of German machine gun fire. Both attacks, on the Quadrilateral and Regina Trench proper, were ultimately repelled as the Canadians were pushed back to their jumping off points.

A combined British and Canadian attack on 21 October would finally see a large part of Regina Trench captured by the Canadian 4th Division, and many German prisoners taken. It would not be until 10-11 November that the final western section of the trench would be captured during a lightening night attack by battalions of the 4th Division. The same division would be called upon to take Desire Trench, the final support trench in the Regina system on 18 November, which they would do in four successive waves, following their creeping barrage closely. Unlike the early attacks on Regina, Desire was taken relatively easily, though fighting was still fierce in some areas.  In the end, Regina trench would cost thousands of Canadian lives; in total, the Canadian Corps counted over 24 000 casualties during the time it was on the Somme, almost all in the area surrounding Courcelette, Thiepval Ridge and Regina Trench.

Technological advancements

After Thiepval and the first attempt to take Regina Trench, General Gough released a “Memorandum on Attacks” addressing many of the problems that had arisen, and calling for a more platoon based organisational structure empowering leaders at the company and platoon level to make decisions on how to reach their objectives as the need arose, instead of waiting on high command. Gough also called for better organisation of reserves and using those groups who had already taken their objectives to better maintain the force of battle; almost all the battles fought by the British on the Somme had suffered particularly in this regard, with reserves held back behind the front lines who could not move quickly enough to support those objectives already taken. In 1917, the reogranised Canadian Corps would use this “leap frog” technique in every battle, greatly increasing their ability to take and hold objectives.

Notable participants

Lance Corporal Ralph Lewis (25th Battalion CEF) One of the few survivors of the battalion to take KEnora Trench on 1 October, Lewis manned  a Lewis gun in the defensive line formed to hold the trench. He was awarded the Military Medal.  Later a Lieutenant of the battalion.  [Battalion report detailing the conditions in Kenora trench that Lewis fought under ]

Piper James Cleland  Richardson (16th Battalion CEF) The 16th Battalion was tasked with a portion f Regina Trench on 8 October and were being driven back to their own trenches when their piper, James Cleland Richardson, stepped above the trench and began to play his bagpipes. Richardson was surrounded by flying bullets, but continued to play, and the men of the 16th turned and stormed into Regina Trench, taking their objective. Richardson continued to play throughout the day, later putting down his pipes to bring in a wounded comrade, when he returned to retrieve them he never returned and was listed as MIA. His body was found in 1920 and buried in France. His pipes were found in 2006.  Piper Richardson, age 20, was awarded a posthumous VC for his bravery.

Lance Corporal Leo Clarke VC (27th Battalion) Clarke received the VC earlier in September for his actions at Pozières. The 27th Battalion was ordered into Regina Trench on 11 October to secure the area, Clarke was buried by a shell hit and his spine broken. His brother, Charles, was able to dig him out and he was sent to hospital, but died under care on 19 October 1916.

German Prisoners captured by Canadians in the storming of Regina Trench. October, 1916. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada. PA-000825.
German Prisoners captured by Canadians in the storming of Regina Trench. October, 1916. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada. PA-000825.

Download our poster about Regina Trench here.

 

We will remember them.

 

Help us continue our work to highlight Canada’s lesser-known First World War battles, and commemorate these important centennial anniversaries. Please consider making a donation today.

BATTLE OF

VIMY RIDGE VIP TOUR

Commemorative Centennial Tour

April 04-11, 2017


It is with pleasure that we at the Vimy Foundation present our specially designed tour, operated by Spirit of Remembrance Ltd, our official adult tour operator based in Europe. Part of the proceeds of this unique official tour will assist us to raise funds to send a group of young Canadians to Vimy, France in April 2017 for the Centenary commemorations. Staying in a breathtaking 17th century Chateau, your tour, led by General Rick Hillier (Ret’d), follows the trail of events which lead to the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge. Please join our tour and help us to help our youth perpetuate the memory of those who gave us the freedoms we enjoy today. The mission of the Vimy Foundation is to preserve and promote Canada’s First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a milestone where Canada came of age and was then recognised on the world stage.

The Vimy VIP Tour is now fully booked.

For any questions, please contact us at info@vimyfoundation.ca.

Itinerary

Pre-Tour: Tuesday April 4, 2017

The Spirit of Remembrance team can meet you at the Paris airport and welcome you to France.

Remainder of the day at leisure (OPTIONAL TOURS AVAILABLE)

  • Guided tour around Paris cultural highlights
  • Personal shopper
  • Helicopter tour
  • Numerous other options available.

Welcome cocktail function followed by dinner in a historic restaurant

Tour DAY 1: Wednesday April 5, 2017

The Spirit of Remembrance team will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to the Chateau Chartreuse which will be your home for the next 5 nights.

We will visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park (time TBD). Enroute we will visit the Cabaret Rouge Cemetery in Souchez. In May 2000 the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier were taken from this cemetery and buried in a special tomb at the foot of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada.
This afternoon time permitting we will visit the Wellington Quarries in Arras. The museum is founded to the memory of thousands of men of the British Army and Dominion Forces who lived under the city during the Great War of 1914-1918. In particular work of the tunnelers of the New Zealand Division is commemorated.

Tour DAY 2: Thursday April 6, 2017

 

Today we travel to Ypres, (Approx. 1 hour). General Rick Hillier (Ret’d) and our team will share fascinating stories relating to the First World War and what you can expect when you arrive in Ypres.

We will visit the following:

  • Essex Farm. Dressing station where in 1915 a Canadian surgeon, John McCrae, wrote the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” and the story of the Poppy was born.
  • PPCLI Memorial – commemorating a gallant stand by the Patricia’s in May 1915.
  • “The Brooding Soldier” – St. Julien Canadian Memorial at Vancouver Corner – where Canadians held the line during the first German poison gas attack in April 1915.
  • Passchendaele Memorial Museum (admission included)
  • Langemark German Cemetery and the nearby location of the first gas attack
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Act of Remembrance. Travel via Passchendaele New Cemetery viewpoint and hear how the Canadian Corps took Passchendaele in Oct/Nov 1917
  • Canadian Memorial Passchendaele
  • Mount Sorrel – The 1916 British Front Line south-east of Ypres was situated on this high ground of the Ypres ridge at Zillebeke and the double summits of Hill 61 and Hill 62. Three divisions of the Canadian Corps were involved in the defence of the line here when the German Army made an attack on 2nd June 1916. (If time permits)

In the evening, we will take our places at the Menin Gate ready to experience the Last Post Ceremony and lay a wreath on behalf of the Vimy Foundation.

Tour DAY 3: Friday April 7, 2017

 

General Rick Hillier (Ret’d) will talk with us about the Battle of the Somme – 1916. We will be visiting Beaumont Hamel and Thiepval.

  • Beaumont Hamel – Newfoundland Memorial Park. Here, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, attached to a British division, was cut down on 1 July 1916 by German machine-gun fire as it attacked over open ground. Within 30 minutes the regiment suffered a crippling 324 killed and 386 wounded out of a total of 801 soldiers. The story of Piper James Richardson VC, 16th Canadian Scottish. Newfoundland Memorial.
  • Thiepval – Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The Battle of the Somme raged for over four months and resulted in over a million casualties to Allied and German troops. The Canadians, originally in the Ypres sector, missed the first months of the fighting, but had moved to the Somme by early September.

  • Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont. Act of Remembrance.
  • Mouquet Farm area – 3rd Canadian Division. The story of Pte John Kerr VC, 49th Battalion.

You will then have the unique opportunity to visit the Maison Blanche Souterrain (Date/Time TBC).

  • Previously used as a chalk quarry, this underground system was turned into a barrack by the Canadian Corps who continued to expand the tunnels and caves. The underground space saved many lives as Canadian soldiers would sleep and wait as the ground above them shook. Many soldiers carved names, symbols and even detailed pictures into the chalk walls that can be viewed today.

Today you will attend special VIP opening, (time TBC) of Witness – Canadian Art of the First World War, a travelling exhibition from the Canadian War Museum at Musée des Beaux Arts in Arras.

Tour DAY 4: Saturday April 8, 2017

 

We will venture south to where the Battle of Amiens (1918) was the beginning of the end of the German armies. A powerful Allied force, spearheaded by Canadian and Australian troops, nearly broke through the enemy lines on 8 August. The Canadians advanced 13 kilometres through the German defences, the most successful day of combat for the Allies on the Western Front.

We will visit:

  • Domart Bridge – A Canadian engineer story.
  • Hangard Wood & War Cemetery – the story of three VCs
  • Beaucourt Wood – another VC
  • The defence of Hallu by the Winnipeg Grenadiers & the Calgary Battalion.
  • Manitoba Cemetery, Caix and Caix British Cemetery – burial place of the “Hallu 8” who were 8 Manitobans buried with full military honours on 13th May 2015 nearly a century after they were killed.
  • Villers Bretonneux – Australian War Memorial – Story of Lt Jean Brillant VC, MC , R22e Regiment
  • Corbie was the location of a RAMC casualty clearing station and the nearby location where the Red baron, Manfred von Richthofen (5/2/1892- 4/21/1918) died. He was an ace German fighter pilot in World War I credited with 80 air combat victories.

There will then be time to visit the Amiens Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Gothic sacred art and a UNESCO World Heritage site before returning to the Chateau Chartreuse.

We will then attend the Vimy Foundation Vimy Reception at the Chateau Chartreuse in Gosnay, France. Attendees are expected to include government officials, heads of state and Vimy Foundation supporters. (To be confirmed.)

Tour DAY 5: Sunday April 9, 2017 – “CENTENARY OF THE BATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE”

 

Today we will travel to Vimy Ridge and spend a couple of hours visiting the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park.

Attend the Official Vimy Centennial Commemoration Ceremony. Commemorative events have not yet been confirmed so the day has been left free.

Tour DAY 6: Monday April 10, 2017

 

Depart for the Mons area via the Hindenburg Line 1918 via Drocourt-Quéant Line

After the victory at Amiens, Allied commanders agreed on a multi-army offensive along the Western Front against Germans force that, for the first time in the war, appeared vulnerable. The ensuing campaign, known as the Hundred Days (August – November 1918), ended in the defeat of German forces in the West.

We will visit:

  • Canal du Nord
  • Bourlon Wood Canadian Memorial
  • Sancourt British Cemetery

We will have a special lunch in Grand Place Mons. This is where the Canadian Corps Commander, Lt Gen Sir Arthur Currie, took the salute on 11th November 1918.

We will also visit:

  • St Symphorien Cemetery – Buried here is the last Canadian soldier to die in combat in the First World War. He was Private George Price of the 28th Battalion, killed by a German sniper northeast of Mons only a few minutes before the Armistice. The war ended at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918.
  • Return via The Glade of the Armistice in the Compiègne Forest was the site of the signing of two armistices

Return to Paris

Post-Tour: Tuesday April 11, 2017

 

Travel back to Canada or select optional tour modules.

Package Includes:

 

  • Land transport to and from Paris in an executive coach (incl. DVD, AC, toilet)
  • 2 nights’ accommodation** at a 4 star hotel in Paris
  • 5 nights’ accommodation at the Hôtel La Chartreuse du Val Saint Esprit**
  • Buffet breakfast daily
  • 6 x lunches
  • 5 x dinners
  • 1 x gala dinner
  • Experienced historian battlefield tour guides (1 per coach)
  • Spirit of Remembrance tour manager
  • Vimy Foundation “swag bag” including Pilgrimage medal
  • Special tour bag including a hat, rain jacket, pen and baggage tags
  • Bound souvenir programme including tour documentation with background information
  • Special invitation to unique Vimy Centennial weekend events including Art Exhibition at Arras Museum of Fine Arts and Vimy Foundation Vimy 100 Reception at Arras City Hall
  • There will be optional tours and extras available at an extra cost

* 12 years old and older
** 2 people in 1 room either in a double, (1 bed) or twin room (2 beds)

Package does not include:

 

  • Flights to and from France
  • Admission fees in museums and monuments unless specified in the itinerary
  • Meals and beverages unless shown in the itinerary
  • Tips, porterage and all personal extras
  • Insurance & passport costs – you must have travel insurance and a valid passport

 

For any questions about the tour, please contact tour operator Spirit of Remembrance at vimy@spiritofremembrance.com.

Book Your Trip

STEP 1

Cost: $7000 plus $1000 minimum donation (per person)
Travel Date: April 04-11, 2017

To participate in this exclusive Vimy tour, featuring General Rick Hillier (Ret’d), a $1000 donation per guest is required. Part of the proceeds of this unique official tour will assist us to raise funds to send a group of young Canadians to Vimy, France in April 2017 for the Centenary commemorations.

The Vimy VIP Tour is now fully booked. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please contact us at info@vimyfoundation.ca.

Vimy Visitor Education Centre

In 2017, Canada will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a seminal event in Canada’s history. The crowning achievement of the Centennial celebrations will be the unveiling of state-of-the-art Vimy Visitor Education Centre ($5 million was committed by the Government of Canada in 2013) near the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France – a project from Veterans Affairs Canada in partnership with the Vimy Foundation.

While the Vimy monument itself is of course stunningly beautiful, currently visitors are given little context at the existing information booth as to why Canadians fought and died there; why Vimy remains special to the Canadian soul; and how Vimy, and other First World War battles at which Canadians fought, forever altered Canada’s status on the world stage. The Visitor Education Centre at Vimy will answer these questions.

VECimages

 

Images courtesy of Robertson Martin Architect and Bisson+Castonguay

 

Construction has begun on the Vimy Visitor Education Centre:

(All images courtesy of Veterans Affairs Canada)

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - January 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – January 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - February 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – February 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - March 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2016

 

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - April 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – April 2016

 

Tour of Vimy Visitor Education Centre site on April 9, 2016. (L to R) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon Ambassador of Canada to France; The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director, Vimy Foundation; Greg Kenney, Director General, European Operations, Veterans Affairs Canada.
Tour of Vimy Visitor Education Centre site on April 9, 2016. (L to R) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon Ambassador of Canada to France; The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director, Vimy Foundation; Greg Kenney, Director General, European Operations, Veterans Affairs Canada.

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - May 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – May 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - June 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – June 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - July 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – July 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - October 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – October 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre - October 2016
Vimy Visitor Education Centre – October 2016

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – January 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – January 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

 

Vimy Visitor Education Centre – March 2017

2015 BEAVERBROOK VIMY PRIZE WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

The Vimy Foundation is proud to announce the 2015 winners of the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, a prestigious scholarship that aims to educate and inspire students through the historic Battle of Vimy Ridge, where Canada came of age and was then recognized on the world stage.

Now in its tenth annual edition, the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize provides students aged 15 to 17 with the unique opportunity to take part in an intensive and rewarding scholarship program in Europe. From August 7 to August 21, 2015, students will participate in educational seminars, visit museums and historic battlefields, gravesites and monuments such as the iconic Vimy War Memorial, while building new relationships with other participants from Canada, the United Kingdom and France, as they learn about history.

List of Winners:

Thomas Albertini – Toronto, ON
Isabelle Ava-Pointon – Vancouver, BC
Rachel Bannerman – Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
Luca Bonifacio-Proietto – St. Catharines, ON
Derrin Couture – Debden, SK
Gabriel Duguay – Halifax, NS
Jessica Dutchak – Dauphin, MB
Palma Gurdulic – King, ON
Josanna Hickey – Bathurst, NB
Caitlyn Jarvis – Gibsons, BC
Carson Jones – Delta, BC
Aspen Murray – Hartland, NB
Nicolas Rigudiere – Bezouotte, France
Evan Rippin – Langley, BC
Mollie Symons – Wolfville, NS
Alice Vines – Surrey, Great Britain

Congratulations!

For more information about this program, please contact:

Stella Begic
Programs Manager, Vimy Foundation
514.904.1007
sbegic@vimyfoundation.ca

VIMY FOUNDATION RELEASES NEW POLL FOR VIMY WEEK 2015

New Vimy Foundation poll reveals majority of Canadians believe 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge in 2017 should be focus of Canada’s Sesquicentennial

Vimy Day to be celebrated across Canada on April 9

 

TORONTO—April 8, 2015 —To mark Vimy Day (April 9), The Vimy Foundation has released a new poll measuring Canadian attitudes and knowledge of this seminal moment in Canadian history.

With 2017 being a big year for Canada as it celebrates both its 150th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the most famous battles of Canadian history, which scholars often point to as Canada’s definitive “coming of age” moment, a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of the Vimy Foundation has revealed that three quarters (74%) of Canadians ‘agree’ that ‘the 100th anniversary of Vimy, falling as it does in 2017, should be one of the most important celebrations for Canada that year’.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, and its contribution to Canadian history and nation building, is so significant that the government of Canada chose to include an image of the monument on the new $20 bill. Many Canadians want to see the gesture go even further: a majority (51%) of Canadians ‘agree’ that since the new $20 Canadian polymer bill features an image of the Vimy monument, they’d ‘support changing the name of the $20 bill to a “Vimy” to help commemorate the battle’s centennial in 2017’.

“It is encouraging that a clear majority of the country recognizes the important place the victory holds in our history,” said Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director of the Vimy Foundation. “As we countdown to 2017, we look forward to further engaging and educating Canadians about this seminal moment in our nation’s history.”

Troubling was that four in ten (40%) Canadians feels the war cenotaph/memorial in their community is ‘in need of repair and/or restoration’. Built following the end of the First World War, these cenotaphs/memorials are often used for public gatherings and celebrations, particularly on Remembrance Day.

From 2014 to 2018, Canada and those around the world mark the 100th anniversary of many important milestones from the First World War. But most Canadians are not entirely aware of these important anniversaries. Four in ten (44%) ‘agree’ that they are ‘aware of upcoming centennial anniversaries of important moments of the First World War, such as poet John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields, the Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, etc’. Conversely, a majority (56%) ‘disagrees’ (they are aware of these important milestones).

Interestingly, 5% of those polled (up 2% from 2014), said that they or a member of their family are considering travelling to Vimy for centennial celebrations in 2017.

Other findings include:

  • Three quarters (75%) ‘agree’ a visit to Canadian battlefields, cemeteries and historic sites in Europe has or would increase my knowledge and appreciation for Canada’s military history,
  • Three quarters (72%) ‘agree’ that all Canadians should participate in a local activity to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday in 2017
  • A majority of Quebeckers (54%) support the renaming of the $20 bill to a ‘Vimy’ in time for the centennial in 2017
  • Half of Albertans (50%) ‘agree’ that the cenotaph/memorial in their community is in need of repair/restoration

The Vimy Foundation, working with the Government of Canada, is spearheading the building of an Education Centre at the Vimy Memorial site in France, so that students and visitors can better understand this pivotal moment in Canadian history. The Centre will open on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9, 2017. For more information on Vimy 2017, visit www.vimy100.ca

Click here to view full poll results.

The Vimy Foundation

Founded in 2006, the mission of the Vimy Foundation is to preserve and promote Canada’s First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a milestone when Canada came of age and was then recognized on the world stage. Visit www.vimyfoundation.ca.

 

THE VIMY FOUNDATION REMEMBERS ROBERT FENECH

In Memory of Robert Gerald Fenech
August 9, 1955 – March 30, 2015
Rob passed away suddenly on Monday, March 30, 2015. Born August 9, 1955 in Toronto, Rob was a proud and dedicated employee of the Toronto Transit Commission for 27 years. He had numerous respectable qualities but will be fondly remembered for his great sense of humour, exceptional carpentry skills and his willingness to jump in and help others. He was a staunch supporter of the Vimy Foundation by proudly wearing his Vimy pin on any occasion.
He enjoyed travelling, from visiting his favorite country Brazil to splashing with friends and their children at the Great Wolf Lodge. One of his favorite pastimes was his daily leisurely strolls through Wychwood Park and watching Seinfeld episodes every evening. Rob will be lovingly remembered by his cherished spouse, Madlyn Sue; beloved son of Mary Fenech and the late Joseph Fenech, dear brother of Joe (Anne), Doreen Ciamarra (Tony), Peggy Haslett (Tom), Diane, Louise Kelly (Sean), Paul, and Maryellen MacDonald (Danny); dear brother-in-law of May Yan (John), Karen Fong (Ian), Wayne Sue (Heather) and Jean Sue (Tony); and dear uncle to numerous nieces and nephews.
Family and friends may visit at the Jerrett Funeral Home, 1141 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto (1 block east of Dufferin St) on Friday from 2-4pm and 6-9pm. The Funeral Service will be on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 11am in the Jerrett Funeral Home Chapel. Cremation to follow privately.
To make a donation to the Vimy Foundation in honour of Rob, please click here.