war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


Vimy Ridge - 90 Years On


Memorial Cross, courtesy Peter ButterworthDuring 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 later.

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 VIII.

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 wounds.

card - Dover, England, remembers Vimy Ridge card - From Dover, England, to Canada. Many emigrated from Dover, many returned as Canadians to fight in the Great War. Today we remember Robert Arthur Igglesden, killed in action at Vimy and Henry Edmund Press, died of wounds at Vimy. Also William Spinner, awarded the Military Medal for bravery at Vimy. Proud to be Dovorian. Proud to be Canadian. r

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 our Memorial.

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.

the memorial on the ridge, seen from a distance, as the sun sets behind

From little towns, in a far land, we came,
to save our honour and
a world aflame;
by little towns, in a far land,
we sleep,
and trust that world we won
to you to keep.

Vimy Ridge:
Freedom Arras:
page 1   page 2
Vimy Rededication:
page 1  page 2  page 3  speeches
Front Line Torchlit Team


The illustrations are:memorial cross, courtesy Peter Butterworth

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

Copyright 2007-12  Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved