Vimy Ridge - 90 Years On
During the Great War,
Vimy Ridge, France, was
held by the enemy. Attempts to regain it had failed, until Easter, 1917.
Then four divisions of Canadian troops fought together for the first time,
along with a British division, and achieved a resounding victory. Holding
the Ridge ultimately proved key in the defeat of the enemy over a year
Many Canadians trace a sense of nationhood from
Vimy, in that, according to one, "This was the first time men began to see
themselves with a new identity distinct from that of the homelands whence
they had emigrated." In 1922, the use of the land around Vimy Ridge was
given to the Canadian people, and the largest Canadian war memorial was
constructed there. It is placed on the former hill 145, which is the highest
point and the last major stronghold on the Ridge to be captured. The
Memorial took eleven years to build, and was unveiled in 1936 by King Edward
The Memorial has recently been restored. On
Easter Monday (April 9th) 2007, the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy
Ridge, the Memorial was rededicated by Queen Elizabeth II. The day before,
Easter Day, Canadian troops were given the freedom of the city of Arras.
This was to honour the sacrifice of their forebears and in gratitude for
their actions, which relieved the city from the immediate threat of attack.
There were nearly 3,600 allied forces men
killed at Vimy. Amongst them we know there were at least two Dovorians,
enlisted in Canadian forces. Robert Arthur Igglesden was killed in action,
and Henry Edmund Press, who had emigrated with his family, died from
Lance Corporal Igglesden and Private Press are two of a dozen Dovorians who fell while serving in Canadian
forces, and who are named on our Memorial. Quartermaster Sergeant William George Spinner, a Dovorian serving in the British Division with the Royal Garrison Artillery,
was awarded the Military Medal for bravery at Vimy Ridge. He too is named on
It was in their memory, and in commemoration of
Dovorians who fought in Canadian forces and survived, such as Richard
Crascall, George Daynes, and Henry Igglesden, that four of us travelled to
Vimy. The pages Arras, Vimy, and
Frontline record the events as Simon, Maggie, Alan, and Brian
represented our little town.
towns, in a far land, we came,
to save our honour and
a world aflame;
by little towns, in a far land,
and trust that world we won
to you to keep.
The illustrations are:
1. Memorial Cross. This is the
George V silver cross, dedicated to the memory of those who died
in the service of Canada, given to the mothers and wives of
casualties. This one was for Albert Summers, pictured left, born in Manchester
in 1882, who emigrated to Canada. A Bombardier in the Canadian
Field Artillery, he died on 31st May 1917, and is buried at Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St Eloi. The reverse of the
cross is to the right, showing the name engraved upon it. With
thanks to Peter Butterworth for the images of the cross and to
Keith Moore for the picture of Albert Summers.
2. The cards we handed out while we were at Arras and Vimy
3. Vimy memorial at dusk, after the rededication.
The verse "From little towns" is by Rudyard Kipling, 1925, and appears on
the Sault Sainte Marie memorial
in Ontario, Canada