1st Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Over the top @ 5.30 am.
Enemy burst open the canal bank & flood area S. West of Lens. We can plainly see it from Vimy. One of our ‘planes brought down in nose dive on Vimy Ridge.
Enemy put heavy fire all around us.
One of our balloons is set on fire by a disguised enemy ‘plane. Our airmen go over & send two of his down in retaliation.
Our troops take Vimy so it is reported.
Snow is falling.
*The capture of Vimy was more than just an important battlefield victory. For the first time all four Canadian divisions attacked together: men from all regions of Canada were present at the battle. Brigadier-General A.E. Ross declared after the war, “in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”
Vimy became a symbol for the sacrifice of the young Dominion. In 1922, the French government ceded to Canada in perpetuity Vimy Ridge, and the land surrounding it. The gleaming white marble and haunting sculptures of the Vimy Memorial, unveiled in 1936, stand as a terrible and poignant reminder of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed in France who have no known graves.
One of [our?] planes shot down.
AT 5:20 am our artillery open up their barrage – also M. Gun Coy. There’s a regular hell on earth, truly a grand sight – for us! The semi-darkness is lit up by bursting shells, making sprays of red light.
Our barrage lasts for 1 hr 20 minutes. 4th Div. held up temporarily by wire. All the Rgts. reach their objective & VIMY RIDGE IS OURS. ‘Tis surprising how near one can be to shells when they burst for two burst almost @ my feet.
I go up after & make a panorama sketch for the General. Lt. Bole is killed.
*The Canadians advanced behind a “creeping barrage.” This precise line of intense artillery fire advanced at a set rate and was timed to the minute. The Canadian infantrymen followed the line of explosions closely. This allowed them to capture German positions in the critical moments after the explosions but before the enemy soldiers emerged from the safety of their underground bunkers. (http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/fact_sheets/vimy)
– fine, cold
PPCLI make a raid @ 5 am.
Fearful bombardment continues. Enemy retaliate. Vimy Ridge with Ecole & La Folie Farm are being pulverized by our artillery. I go to the Crater also Subway & to 11 Bde. Area.
In afternoon there are many air flights. Both sides patrol their own lines, then dart forward when opportunity offers & do battle. Enemy has much faster machines than ours. One of our battle ‘planes go over his lines decoyed by an enemy ‘plane painted red. He is set upon by 3 others & forced to descend. His machine bursts into flames 500 feet up & lands in German line N. of Vimy.
Heavy firing on Vimy Ridge. Enemy comes over en masse. Our machine guns mow them down. Their (enemy) attack fails.
McWallis promoted Capt. So it makes two Captains on Brigade.
[I send an opion sco….. to Maj. Southam. 35 for]
Stay up till midnight with Lieut. Gleam of the 1st Div. pioneers. Drink in the New Year. No artillery fire of any description. We awaken at 9 am very late.
I go to Mt. St. Eloy and have dinner with the Transport staff and Brigade staff in a private house. I also visit 4 Co. PPCLI. The Pats get reinforcement of 50 men. Major Adamson makes a speech to them. Fog all day. I travel overland. Not observed by enemy. Our guns are active.
*PPCLI – Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
*On a hill overlooking Arras stand the remains of two towers which bear testament not only to the once-powerful Mont-Saint-Eloi Abbey but also to the savage fighting that took place in the area during the Great War….From the beginning of the Great War the towers were used by French troops to observe German positions on Lorette Spur and Vimy Ridge. The suspicions of the French soldiers were aroused when Germans fired upon their every movement until it was realized that what was giving them away was not a spy but the birds nesting on the towers which took flight when troops disturbed them. (www.remembrancetrails-northernfrance.com) (www.greatwarphotos.com/tag/mont-st-eloi)