Friday, 14 November 2014

Vimy Ridge: The Memorial

Mentioned in my last post here, we went 'en famille' to Vimy Ridge in Northern France, a First World War battlefield site. You can read that post by clicking here.
Now I bring you the memorial.

Driving into this National Historic Site of Canada the first thing you all notice is the landscape. "Is that where a bomb landed?", we heard from the back of the car. It was.
We were told that the landscape was scarred by shelling and bombing, but it doesn't really look scarred, it has a kind of beauty, holding memories and prompting questions.

One question was answered for us. The trees were all planted after the war. However, you can't go off and explore, as they can't guarantee that no explosives remain, mines and bombs. Our guide tells us that apparently, "not so far away, a mine exploded during a storm when the ground was struck by lightning".
This impresses the kids.

The monument impresses us all, young and old. It sits on a hill, Hill 145, so called because it is 145 meters above sea level, the highest point of Vimy Ridge.

Walking towards the monument, it's hard to comprehend the scale of it. Commemorating the taking of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps in 1917, remembering the 3,598 Canadians who gave their lives during that battle.
"A victory, but the bloodiest day in history for the Canadians." 

The columns represent Canada and France, the sorrows and sacrifice of war.

Between the columns sits a young dying soldier.

Not sure my nephew should have been climbing the memorial, but just looking at him gave you such a sense of the scale of the monument. The living touching the dying.

The figures on top represent truth and justice, peace and knowledge.

Spirit of sacrifice and Torch Bearer.

Mourners sit at the base, grieving for their loss,

...and male.

Over 11,000 names are carved on the walls, Canadian soldiers who died in France during the First World war, some of whom were never found.

I'm not quite sure who asked it first, I know I was thinking it. Perhaps it was my nephew, my husband, my sister-in-law? But how did something so huge and so white, and considering its location in Northern France, survive the Second World War? Our guide knew the answer. It can't have been the first time it had been asked.

It wasn't a case of luck, that it just happened to survive any bombing by planes flying across Northern Europe.  No, Hitler purposefully, not only spared the Canadian monument but sent SS forces to protect it. In 1940, Hitler had himself photographed at Vimy Ridge to refute the reports in Canadian newspapers that Nazi Germany had destroyed it. Apparently this was all because this is a monument to peace and not a celebration of war.

Sorrow and sacrifice. 

More about the Vimy Ridge memorial on this website here


  1. This really is a very very special memorial, and your photos show it off beautifully. We went there with my Canadian son-in-law and we all found it very moving.

    1. Thanks Patricia. It was moving, and sitting down to blog about it gives more time to ponder it and all the stories that surround it.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Amy. Looking forward to Five on Friday

  3. Hello Katharine. Just popped by to say thank you for your kind comment on my post about my trip to the Western Front. Your photos are stunning. We didn't get to Vimy Ridge but are hoping to go back in the New Year. Like you I'm an ardent fan of galleries and museums and I'm passionate about London.

    1. Hi Patricia. nice to meet you, I'll be following your blog, particularly the getting out and about to see places posts. Often get ideas of places to visit from blogs.

  4. I'm glad that it was spared and the story of how it managed that is just bizarre. Your photos are fantastic and really show the scale and majesty of what is a very moving monument.

    1. Thanks Ali. Just got a point & shoot camera. Love Panasonic Lumix. The scale of the monument was amazing.

  5. It is an astonishing place, humbling to visit.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...