The story of Canada at Vimy Ridge and the high price we paid

A visit to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France (a trip every Canadian should make if they can), often starts in the tunnels at the foot of the ridge.

It was in these low, cramped underground passageways that many Canadian soldiers waited to attack the German fortifications early on Easter Monday of 1917.

At exactly 5:30 a.m., scores of artillery pieces began bombarding German positions, often only 100 metres in front of the tunnels. Engineers exploded underground mines they had buried beneath No Man’s Land between the Canadian and German forces.

Two minutes later, as the next artillery barrage landed a further 100 meters up the ridge, thousands of Canadians poured from the tunnels and began overrunning one set of German targets. Then another. And another.