The Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial


Vimy panoramicThe Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial stands as a reminder of all the losses of war. I suppose its purpose was for us to never repeat the horrors of WWI, yet no more than 4 yrs after its completion, the second Great War was to ravage the European continent and cost millions of lives once again.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is truly a work of art. Its details, from every viewpoint, evoke the sorrow of a nation’s loss and its promise to never forget what so many died for. It is truly ironic that so few years after the completion of this monument to peace, the whole world was once again plunged into a world conflict of even larger proportions.

Have a look at the many details of this glorious work of art.


As we visited the trenches around the historic site and listened to the preparation, the victory and the major losses during the battle of Vimy Ridge, I continued to wonder what it takes for humanity to live peacefully once and for all.

The grounds around the center have been left untouched, with all the craters and hills created by artillery shells exploding. Of course the grass grew back.

 

Cool little fact – the grass around much of the area is kept trimmed by a bunch of sheep. The thinking is that unexploded mines might still exist all around the Memorial area. This way loss of human life is minimized. As for the sheep, I wondered why there wasn’t some of their nice wool available for sale in the gift shop. Humph!! Lost business opportunity there folks!

Leon and I spent some time visiting the commonwealth graves in the area to find specific soldiers who had in some way been associated with 15th Field, Royal Canadian Artillery.

As we drove through the countryside towards Arras, we spotted some impressive ruins – the Towers of Mont Saint-Eloi.  I had to stop for a photo!

St. Eloi near Vimy

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.

According to legend the abbey was established in the 7th century by Saint Vindicianus, a disciple of Saint Eligius (Saint Eloi in French), and by the Middle Ages it had become a powerful religious centre; however the turbulent times of the Revolution saw its walls pillaged for their stone. All that survived were the twin towers of white limestone and the porch on the west wall.

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. From www.remembrancetrails-northernfrance.com/trails/the-front/ruined-towers-of-mont-saint-eloi-abbey.html

As we walked around the front of the ruins, I saw a small convoy of WW1 military vehicles. It turned out to be a group of re-enactors who were from Switzerland.  I had a lovely chat with a gentleman who assured me that Canadians spoke much better French than the French!

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