Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, during the First World War. The main combatants were the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in the First Army, against three divisions of the German 6th Army. The battle took place from 9 to 12 April 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras, the first attack of the Nivelle Offensive, which was intended to attract German reserves from the French, before the French attempt at a decisive offensive on the Aisne and the Chemin des Dames ridge further south, several days later.

Battle of Vimy Ridge
Part of the Battle of Arras on the Western Front

The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack
Date9–12 April 1917 (1917-04-09 1917-04-12)
Location50.379°N 2.774°E / 50.379; 2.774
Result British Empire victory
 German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Julian Byng Ludwig von Falkenhausen
  • 3 divisions
  • Total: 30–45,000 men[2]
Casualties and losses
  • Unknown casualties
  • 4,000 captured[4]

The Canadian Corps were to capture the German-held high ground of Vimy Ridge, an escarpment on the northern flank of the Arras front. This would protect the First Army and the Third Army farther south from German enfilade fire. Supported by a creeping barrage, the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day. The village of Thélus fell during the second day, as did the crest of the ridge, once the Canadian Corps overran a salient against considerable German resistance. The final objective, a fortified knoll outside the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, fell to the Canadians on 12 April. The 6th Army then retreated to the OppyMéricourt line.

Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps to technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training, as well as the inability of the 6th Army to properly apply the new German defensive doctrine. The battle was the first occasion when the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together and it was made a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice. A 100 ha (250-acre) portion of the former battleground serves as a memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.[5]