#Vimy101 – Did you know, the preserved tunnels and trenches at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial likely only exist by a fluke? While waiting for Walter Allward to arrive with the stone, Canadian engineers on-site in France decided to keep busy by preserving what they had found on the ridge.
#Vimy101 – Did you know, sculptor Walter Allward spent two years travelling the world in search of the perfect stone to be used on the Vimy Memorial. Allward finally found it, Seget limestone, in an old Roman quarry in Yugoslavia (modern-day Croatia). A total of 6,000 tons of stone would travel by water to Venice, and then by rail to Vimy. The Canada Bereft figure was cut from a single block weighing 28 tons!
#Vimy101 – Did you know, in an April 2015 poll, 5% of Canadians said that they, or a member of their family, were planning to travel to France in 2017 for the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the unveiling of the new Vimy Education Centre.
Were you there for #Vimy100?
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Did you know, the 199th (Duchess of Connaught’s Own Irish Rangers) Battalion was raised in Montreal in an effort to bolster recruitment amongst Irish-Canadians? Their motto was “Who Shall Separate Us”.
#Vimy101 – The Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917, and “Kaiserschlacht” (“Kaiser’s Battle” – the German Spring Offensive of 1918) are both known for their use of devastating artillery fire. In the trenches, the common soldier sought words to describe the phenomena they saw, heard and felt, when witnessing such firepower.
Did you know – “tube train” was a slang term for a heavy shell passing low overhead, due to its sound mimicking the underground trains. On the other hand, a “carpet slipper” was “a heavy shell, passing high above” which created a sound like whispering (Pegler, Soldiers’ Songs and Slang of the Great War, p. 191 & 58).
During the First World War, as artillery technology became increasingly advanced, the ever-increasing reach of their firepower left few unscathed. It is no secret that civilians suffered greatly under the strength of artillery. Private Fraser, of the 31st (Calgary) Battalion, recorded an altercation between civilians and artillery in his journal:
“The big gun, a 12-inch… hidden in a camouflaged house, began to talk this afternoon… We watched the shells leave the gun. Although weighing 750 lbs., they shot up towards the heavens… and appeared from behind like cricket balls… the shells were soon lost to view in the clouds… as soon as the first shell was fired, a small dog bolted out of a nearby house and flew down the road… to put kilometers between it and the gun… an aged Belgian couple was passing in the vicinity of the gun when it went off, and it was pitiful to see the woman totter and stagger for several yards, due to sheer shock and fright, before she could compose herself.” (Fraser & Roy (Ed.), The Journal of Private Fraser, p. 162-163)
#Vimy101 – #DidYouKnow the Canadian Corps had approximately 170,000 men, all ranks, for the attack on Vimy Ridge? Of these, 97,184 were Canadians. The remainder were British infantry, artillery, engineer and labour units attached to the Corps for the attack (Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, p. 252).
Exactly one month from today, the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge will be observed across Canada on April 9th, Vimy Ridge Day. To mark this occasion, we will be posting Vimy-related facts, stories and history over the next four weeks. Be sure to follow along and share the posts with the hashtag #Vimy101 as we will also be running contests to win Vimy-themed prize packs!
We’re kicking-off our #Vimy101 coverage with #FastFacts on Andrew McNaughton, arguably the Canadian counterpart to Germany’s “Durchbruchmüller” (Breakthroughmüller).
#DYK – A former engineering professor at McGill University, McNaughton improved the artillery concepts of “flash-spotting” and “sound-ranging” in preparation for the Battle of Vimy Ridge. #Vimy101
#DYK – McNaughton’s work later led to his invention of the cathode ray direction finder, an early form of RADAR. He sold the rights of the invention to the Government of Canada for just $1. #Vimy101
Happy Holidays from the Vimy Foundation! Our offices are closed from December 23 to January 2. We hope you have a happy and peaceful holiday season. Thank you for your support in 2017 and we look forward to updating you on all of the events and programs taking place in 2018!