Vimy Ridge, 8 km north east of Arras was occupied by the German Army in October, 1914. The ridge rises gradually on its western side, and drops more quickly on the eastern side and provides a clear view for tens of kilometres in all directions. During the following years the area was heavily fortified by the German Army.The French Army had attempted, but failed, to dislodge the Germans in May, 1915 and again in September,1915. The French 1st Moroccan Division managed to briefly capture the height of the ridge but was unable to hold it because of a lack of reinforcements. The French suffered some 150,000 casualties in their attempts to gain control of Vimy Ridge and the surrounding territory. The British replaced the French in February, 1916. In May of that same year, the German Army attempted to push the British from their positions; however little changed during the attacks and counter attacks. The Canadians relieved the British stationed along the western slopes of Vimy Ridge in October, 1916.An artillery bombardment against the German lines began on March 20, 1917 in preparation for a Canadian advance upon the Ridge. On April 9, during a driving snowstorm, four Canadian divisions stormed the ridge at 5:30 am. More than 15,000 Canadian troops overran the Germans defences all along the front. Canadians single-handedly charged machine-gun positions or forced the surrender of Germans in the trenches. By mid-afternoon, the Canadians had taken most of their objectives. Only on the left side of the ridge, at Hill 145, the highest point and a plateau known as the Pimple, where the 4th Canadian Division faced the heaviest German defences, were the Canadians held up. It took three more days of fighting before the Canadians were able to gain control of the entire ridge, Hill 145 being eventually captured in a frontal bayonet charge against the machine-gun positions of the German Army.
Canadian Cemetery near Vimy, 1917. Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives CanadaBattle of Vimy Ridge(with connection to Yarmouth Nova Scotia, Canada)Killed in Action April 4, 1917Hersey, Frank8th Canadian Siege Battery, Canadian Garrison Artillery (killed in action)April 4, 1917Moses, George Melbourne85th BattalionApril 9, 1917d'Entremont, William R.112th Battalion/25th Battalion Stingel, Charles E.3rd Battalion (killed in action)Welsh, J. Clarence219th Battalion/42nd Battalion Wheaton, Jack Merritt85th Battalion (killed in action)April 10, 1917Giles, James Henry13th Battalion (killed in action)April11,1917Spates,Vernell42ndBattalion(woundedApril9,1917)April 18, 1917Williams, J. LewisCanadian Machine Gun Corps (6th Machine Gun Company) (killed in action)April 19, 1917Kehoe, DonaldCanadian Machine Gun Corps (6th Machine Gun Company) (killed in action)April 28, 1917Kinney, Frank F.25th BattalionGoodwin, Robert L.25th Battalion (killedinaction)April 29, 1917Goodwin, Merton H. 25th Battalion (killedinaction)Murree, Gordon S. 25th Battalion ((killedinaction)Hemeon, Carl112th Battalion/25th Battalion (killedinaction)Lewis, Eugene M.64th Battalion/25th Battalion (killedinaction)Long, T. Harold 112th Battalion/25th BattalionMuise, John Alfred (Listed in Official Records as Muese, Alfred Joseph)25th Battalion Soldiers were often listed initially as “missing in action” and later as bodies were found and identified were listed as “killed in action”. Among the Wounded at VimyPrivate George Charles BakerCharles Augustus CrosbySergeant Herbert Lorraine CunninghamPrivate Percy HatfieldCorporal Joseph Bunker JefferyPrivate Herman Leslie PorterMajor Harvey Edwin Crowell
Stretcher bearers and German prisoners bringing in wounded at Vimy Ridge, during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. [between April 9-14 1917]Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001021
Canadians searching captured German trenches for hiding Germans at Vimy Ridge, during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Credit: W.I. Castle / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001129
Light railway siding during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Credit: W.I. Castle/Library and Archives Canada/PA-001049
Canadian soldiers returning from Vimy Ridge May 1917Credit: W.I. Castle / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001332
The Vimy MemorialCredit: Wartime Heritage private collection
Vimy Ridge marked the first time all four Canadian Infantry Divisions worked together as one formation. Sadly, Yarmouth’s own are represented in the casualties from April 9,1917, in all four of the four Divisions: Charles E Stingel3rd Battalion - 1st Canadian Infantry DivisionWilliam Rudolf d'Entremont112th Battalion - 2nd Canadian Infantry DivisionClarence J Welsh42nd Battalion - 3rd Canadian Infantry Division Jack Merritt Wheaton85th Battalion - 4th Canadian Infantry Division “As the guns spoke, over the bags they went — men of CB, sons of NS & NB, FCs (French-Canadians) & westerners — all Canucks.” Writings of Percy Willmot, Cape Bretoner, 25th Battalion