Newsletter April 2011



First World War soldier returns to Vimy

Canadian reburied with full honours at La Chaudière Military Cemetery
The remains of Private Thomas Lawless of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) were reburied with military honours by the Canadian Army on March 15 at the La Chaudière Military Cemetery at Vimy in France. Photo: Canada, Department of National Defence

Thomas Lawless, born on April 11, 1889 in Dublin, Ireland, immigrated to Alberta with his brother Matthew in 1909 and worked on a farm near Gleichen. He enlisted in the CEF in 1915, nine months after Matthew. Lawless and 15 others went missing the night of 8-9 June 1917 during a massive trench raid on the German lines south of Avion near Vimy. In October 2003, the remains of two of these missing soldiers were unearthed by a construction crew while building a gas pipeline.

Through DNA, the first soldier was identified in 2007 as Private Herbert Peterson of Berry Creek, Alberta. In early 2011, after four years of anthropological, historical and biological research, the second set of remains were confirmed as those of 28 year old Lawless.

“The courage and dedication of our Canadian First World War heroes will never be forgotten,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “After all these years, we finally recognize Private Thomas Lawless with the honour and dignity he so greatly deserves.”

Herbert Peterson and Thomas Lawless are now buried side by side at La Chaudière. May they rest in peace.

Canadian High School Students Make Pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge

Receive Vimy Pilgrimage Medals from the Foundation

Over 1600 Canadian high school students are visiting Vimy Ridge in March and April 2011 during school trips tracing Canada’s military history.

To recognize this initiative, The Vimy Foundation personally presented Vimy Pilgrimage Medals to almost 500 students, and, with the assistance of Veterans Affairs Canada personnel, distributed an additional 1100 to school groups. The Pilgrimage Medal was inspired by those awarded in 1936 to veterans returning to France for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial. Their return to Vimy was viewed as a pilgrimage.

“Canadians of all ages experience a supremely moving experience when visiting Vimy. As a physical memento of their pilgrimage, the medal symbolizes their connection to the spot where so much Canadian history played out,” states The Vimy Foundation’s Christopher Sweeney.

South Huron District High School, which visited the memorial March 16, has a personal connection to Vimy. Twenty-one young men from the school were killed in the First World War. “That’s a very big number for a small rural community in Ontario,” states Steve MacLeod, history teacher. “Two of them, Harry Windsor and John Gordon Hogarth, are commemorated on the monument.”



Commemorating Vimy Ridge

Vimy Week events planned across Canada and France

There is a full slate of events across Canada, and in France commemorating Vimy Ridge Day. Here is a brief selection of activities in major cities. With more being added all the time, check our Web Site for the most up-to-date list.

Special thanks to our partners, the Army Cadet League of Canada and the Historica-Dominion Institute (Encounters with Canada), and to Veterans Affairs Canada for their tremendous efforts related to these events



Bay Street Breakfast

If you are in the Toronto area, please join us on the morning of Thursday, April 7 for the second annual Bay Street Breakfast. Our featured speaker will be Blake C. Goldring, chairman and CEO of AGF Management Limited and Honorary Colonel in the Royal Regiment of Canada. The topic of Mr. Goldring’s presentation will be “Vimy Ridge: Sacrifice, Then and Now”.

This wonderful event will take place at The National Club (303 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario) beginning at 7:30 a.m. Tickets are $50 per person. As of press time, tickets are still available. Act fast, as last year’s edition sold out well before the date.



The Victory at Vimy

Historian J.L. Granatstein

The Canadian Corps attacked Vimy Ridge 94 years ago. The German position had successfully resisted earlier Allied attacks, and it was heavily defended. But the Canadians took the ridge and in the process made the Corps' great reputation.

By 1917, Canadians had been fighting for two years. The raw levies that held the Germans off at Ypres in April 1915 now were experienced soldiers. But the key to the success at Vimy came when Byng sent General Arthur Currie of the First Canadian Division to study the methods of the French. Currie learned they emphasized reconnaissance and used air photos extensively, distributing them widely. When they attacked, their objectives were geographical features, and the French rehearsed their tactics. Currie recommended the Canadians, like the French, follow suit. In the battle for Vimy Ridge, Currie's ideas played the decisive role.



Proudly wear the Vimy Pin

Buy your pin online

Spearheaded by Christopher Sweeney, member of the Vimy Board of Directors, the pin has been described as “April’s Poppy” by the National Post. It is the Foundation’s goal that people wear the pin every Vimy Ridge Day in celebration of that outstanding victory on April 9, 1917, and in recognition of that its contribution to Canadian identity.

The Vimy Foundation is actively looking for partners to distribute the pin. If you, your school, place of work or organization would like to obtain or distribute pins, please contact the Foundation



Announcement of Beaverbrook Vimy Prize winners just around the corner

The announcement of the 2011 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize winners will take place on Vimy Ridge Day, Saturday, April 9. Winners will be chosen from among the impressive applications received from youth throughout the winter.

The full list will be published in the next edition of Remembering Vimy, due out in late June. This year’s Prize experience will take place from August 7 to August 21. Scholars will participate in educational seminars and museum events, including visits to the Vimy Memorial and other historic sites in England, Belgium and France.