Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment

Overview

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 ...

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Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment

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Overview

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.

Co-published with the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554582273
  • Publisher: Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies
  • Publication date: 4/28/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Hayes is an associate professor in the History Department at the University of Waterloo and the associate director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Andres Iarocci’s principal rsearch interests include Canada’s First World War military operations and postwar commemoration. His publications include Canadian Forces Base Petawawa: The First Century (2005).

Mike Bechthold is the managing editor of Canadian Military History and the communications director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. He teaches military history at Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Foreword xi

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction 1

Part I The Strategic Background

1 Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Arras: A British Perspective Gary Sheffield 15

2 The End of the Beginning: The Canadian Corps in 1917 Paul Dickson 31

3 Vimy Ridge: The Battlefield before the Canadians, 1914-1916 Michael Boire 51

Part II The Battle for Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917

4 "Old Wine in New Bottles": A Comparison of British and Canadian Preparations for the Battle of Arras Mark Osborne Humphries 65

5 Julian Byng and Leadership in the Canadian Corps Patrick Brennan 87

6 The Gunners at Vimy: "We are Hammering Fritz to Pieces" Tim Cook 105

7 The Sappers of Vimy: Specialized Support for the Assault of 9 April 1917 Bill Rawling 125

8 The Canadian Army Medical Corps at Vimy Ridge Heather Moran 139

9 The 1st Canadian Division: An Operational Mosaic Andrew Iarocci 155

10 The 2nd Canadian Division: A "Most Spectacular Battle" David Campbell 171

11 The 3rd Canadian Division: Forgotten Victory Geoffrey Hayes 193

12 The 4th Canadian Division: "Trenches Should Never be Saved" Andrew Godefroy 211

13 The German Army at Vimy Ridge Andrew Godefroy 225

14 In the Shadow of Vimy Ridge: The Canadian Corps in April and May 1917 Mike Bechthold 239

Part III Aftermath and Memory

15 Battle Verse: Poetry and Nationalism after Vimy Ridge Jonathan Vance 265

16 "After the Agony in Stony Places": The Meaning and Significance of the Vimy Monument Jacqueline Hucker 279

17 Safeguarding Sanctity: Canada and the Vimy Memorial during the Second World War Serge Durflinger 291

18 Afterthoughts The Editors313

Appendices

1 Order of Battle-Vimy Ridge 319

2 Lest We Forget: The Men of Vimy Ridge 331

Selected Bibliography 335

Contributors 338

Index 341

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