Vimy Memorial

 

 

Pas de Calais

 

 

France

 

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The Vimy Memorial overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about eight kilometres northeast of Arras on the N17 towards Lens. The memorial is signposted from this road to the left, just before you enter the village of Vimy from the south. The memorial itself is someway inside the memorial park, but again it is well signposted.

The grounds around the memorial are open year-round and contain restored and preserved trenches and tunnels. To view these, it is recommended that visitors pre-book. Without a booking, visitors will be accomodated depending on operational capacity. To make a booking, please contact the Vimy Office on +33 (0)3 21 50 68 68. For further information, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada website: www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/

On the opening day of the Battle of Arras, 9 April 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting side by side for the first time, scored a huge tactical victory in the capture of the 60 metre high Vimy Ridge.

After the war, the highest point of the ridge was chosen as the site of the great memorial to all Canadians who served their country in battle during the First World War, and particularly to the 60,000 who gave their lives in France. It also bears the names of 11,000 Canadian servicemen who died in France - many of them in the fight for Vimy Ridge - who have no known grave.

The memorial was designed by W.S. Allward. It was unveiled by King Edward VIII on 26 July 1936.

Number of Identified Casualties: 11169

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Cross: 427586 Private, William Johnstone Milne, VC. 16th Bn. Canadian Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) 09/04/1917, aged 24.

 

 

Citation

An extract from the Second Supplement to The London Gazette, dated 8th June, 1917, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack. On approaching the first objective, Pte. Milne observed an enemy machine gun firing on our advancing troops. Crawling on hands and knees, he succeeded in reaching the gun, killing the crew with bombs, and capturing the gun. On the line re-forming, he again located a machine gun in the support line, and stalking this second gun as he had done the first, he succeeded in putting the crew out of action and capturing the gun. His wonderful bravery and resource on these two occasions undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his comrades. Pte. Milne was killed shortly after capturing the second gun."

 

Picture courtesy of Joe O'Raw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait of Field Marshal Sir Julian Hedworth George Byng GCB, KCB, KCMG, MVO, CB, signed 'Byng of Vimy'. Born in England, he served in the Sudan and in the Boer War. When the First World War broke out, he commanded the Cavalry Corps within the British Expeditionary Force and was then sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula as commander of the 9th Army Corps, performing creditably. He took command of the Canadian Army Corps in 1916; after victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, he was promoted to command of the Third Army in June, and enhanced his reputation through his involvement in the attack at Cambrai. During the remainder of the war he had a succession of victories; he was made 1st Baron Byng of Vimy of Thorpe-le-Soken, in Essex, in October 1919. He was Governor General of Canada from 1921-1926, and was promoted to Field Marshal in 1932.

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Cross: Lieutenant, Robert Grierson Combe, VC. 27th Bn. Canadian Infantry, 03/05/1917, aged 35. Son of James and Elizabeth Combe, of Aberdeen, Scotland; husband of Jean Traquair Donald Combe, of 155, Linden Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 27th June, 1917, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery and example. He steadied his Company under intense fire and led them through the enemy barrage, reaching the objective with only five men. With great coolness and courage Lt. Combe proceeded to bomb the enemy, and inflicted heavy casualties. He collected small groups of men and succeeded in capturing the Company objective, together with eighty prisoners. He repeatedly charged the enemy, driving them before him, and whilst personally leading his bombers was killed by an enemy sniper. His conduct inspired all ranks, and it was entirely due to his magnificent courage that the position was carried, secured and held."

 

784602 Private

Stephen Duckhouse

87th Bn. Canadian Infantry

(Quebec Regiment)

14/08/1917, aged 20.

Son of Mrs. E. Baggott (formerly Duckhouse), of 47, Little Green Lane, Small Heath, Birmingham, England.

Private Stephen Duckhouse was born in 1897 in Birmingham, England and in 1910 was sent out to Canada as a Home Child. There he resided with Edgar McPhail, Ada Alde McPhail and John A. McPhail until 1916, when he joined the C.E.F. 129th Wentworth Battalion Regiment in Dundas, Wentworth Country Ontario. Although under age, he said that he wanted to do his duty.

Later in Europe, he became part of the 87th Battalion and took part in the the Hill 70 initiative during which he along with 9 other men were found dead in the Loos sector on August 14th, 1917 behind enemy lines. This event was later recounted in the Toronto Star.

Fondly remembered by the family of Edgar McPhail, Ada Alde McPhail and John A McPhail. (Canadian Home Family)

Picture courtesy of Margaret Bonham McPhail from the collection of Edgar and Ada Alde McPhail

 

 

441163 Private

Ronald Bellew

14th Bn. Canadian Infantry

26/09/1916, aged 22.

Born 30th April 1894, Bishops Nympton, Devonshire - Son of Charles and Rebecca (Annie) Bellew, of Folly Cottage, South Molton, Devon, England.

Killed in action 26th September 1916, battle of Thiepval Ridge.

 

Picture courtesy of niece, Angela Bavidge

 

 

  Victoria Cross: 475212 Sergeant, Robert Spall, VC. Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment), 13/08/1918, aged 25. Son of Charles and Annie Maria Spall.

Citation An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 26th Oct., 1918, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice when, during an enemy counter-attack, his platoon was isolated. Thereupon Serjt. Spall took a Lewis gun and, standing on the parapet, fired upon the advancing enemy, inflicting very severe casualties. He then came down the trench directing the men into a sap seventy-five yards from the enemy. Picking up another Lewis gun, this gallant N.C.O. again climbed the parapet, and by his fire held up the enemy. It was while holding up the enemy at this point that he was killed. Serjt. Spall deliberately gave his life in order to extricate his platoon from a most difficult situation, and it was owing to his bravery that the platoon was saved."

 

 

 

Victoria Cross: 57113 Sergeant, Frederick Hobson, VC. 20th Bn. Canadian Infantry, 18/08/1917, aged 41.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 16th Oct., 1917, records the following:-"During a strong enemy counter-attack a Lewis gun in a forward post in a communication trench leading to the enemy lines, was buried by a shell, and the crew, with the exception of one man, was killed. Serjt. Hobson, though not a gunner, grasping the great importance of the post, rushed from his trench, dug out the gun, and got it into action against the enemy who were now advancing down the trench and across the open. A jam caused the gun to stop firing. Though wounded, he left the gunner to correct the stoppage, rushed forward at the advancing enemy and, with bayonet and clubbed rifle, single-handed, held them back until he himself was killed by a rifle shot. By this time however, the Lewis gun was again in action and reinforcements shortly afterwards arriving, the enemy were beaten off. The valour and devotion to duty displayed by this non-commissioned officer gave the gunner the time required to again get the gun into action, and saved a most serious situation."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain

Robert Fleming Bell

25th Bn. Canadian Infantry, (Nova Scotia Regiment)

28/04/1917, aged 31.

Son of George Walter and Emily Bell, of Meadow Creek, Alberta.

O. C. 2nd Troop B, 13th Sqn. 25th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, (Nova Scotia Regiment)

 

Picture courtesy of great nephew, Captain Kevin Daggitt, CIC (Air) Canadian forces)

 

 

 

129662 Private

Arthur Edwin Baggs

72nd Bn. Canadian Infantry

01/03/1917, aged 28.

Son of Edwin and Louisa Mary Baggs,

of 3605, Knight Rd., Vancouver, B.C.

 

 

427229 Private

Gustav Adolf Stromberg

31st Bn. Canadian Infantry

(Alberta Regiment)

15/09/1916, aged 22.

Son of the late Gustav L. and Anna Stromberg.

 

 

 

69482 Private

Frank A. Kelly

26th Bn. Canadian Infantry

15/09/1916, aged 24.

(New Brunswick Regiment)

Son of William and Ellen Kelly (nee Lyons), of Chatham, New Brunswick.

 

Picture courtesy of Donna Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

838492 Private

Campbell Clark

4th Canadian Mounted Rifles

(Central Ontario Regiment)

23/04/1917, aged 22.

Son of Duncan and Maria Clark, of 615, 8th Street East, Owen Sound, Ontario. Enlisted in 147th Grey Bn. Nov., 1915.

 

 

 

 

     

A mosaic of aerial photographs showing "Red" Line, located at the southern end of Vimy Ridge in front of 1 Canadian Infantry Division, on the day after the Ridge was captured.

  IWM (Q 50942)

First World War period German Minenwerfer (Heavy Trench Mortar). This particular mortar was captured by the 31st (Alberta) Battalion, 2nd Canadian Division, during the fighting for Vimy Ridge, 9th April 1917. At the outbreak of war, service patterns of rifled trench mortars had been developed in the German Army for use in siege warfare, and were therefore served by pioneers. They were used with great effect in the attacks on certain of the Lige Forts, at Maubeuge and Antwerp. They existed only in small numbers and the German Army passed through the same phase of crude improvisations as the French and British Armies experienced, and it was not until 1916 that the standard types were found in large numbers. After this the older types were used chiefly for throwing gas bombs and other special projectiles. The old patterns had a very short gun, and were mounted on a circular bedplate with all-round traverse.

The German Minenwerfer, alone of standard types of Trench Mortars, were rifled and were designed essentially as siege howitzers of reduced weight and power, and the piece, cradle, buffer and form of shell were in accordance with conventional artillery practice. In all patterns care was taken to house the gearing and mechanisms so as to keep out mud and dirt. Particulars of 25 cm Heavy Minenwerfer: (early pattern) - weight in action 11cwt; rifled length 3.1cal; weight of shell 207.2lbs; weight of charge 103.6lbs; most favourable range 219-601yards; crew 21; rounds per hour 20. 1916 Pattern: weight in action 15cwt; rifled length 4.54 cal; weight of shell 207.2lbs; weight of charge 103.6lbs; most favourable range 547-1094yards; crew 28; rounds per hour 20. The Heavy Minenwerfers were largely used against targets too near the German trenches to be shelled by their heavy artillery, e.g., parapets, dug-outs, observation posts, trench mortar and machine gun emplacements and wire.

IWM (ORD 52)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

715094 Private

Lyle Whidden Bryson

25th Bn. Canadian Infantry

09/04/1917, aged 19.

Son of McCully and Lilly Bryson, of Hilden, Colchester Co., Nova Scotia.

 

His brother Lieutenant Elmer Bryson was also killed and is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont

Picture courtesy of his nephew, Lyle L. Bryson