Tributes are coming in as Canadians remember the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge today.
Among those paying their respects is the Queen.
“Today, as people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gather to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, there will be difficult memories of loss and of suffering, but also memories of many heroic acts of bravery and of sacrifice on the part of those who served. On this day a century ago, thousands of Canadian soldiers stood far from home together with their allies in defence of peace and freedom. They fought courageously and with great ingenuity in winning the strategic high point of Vimy Ridge, though victory came at a heavy cost with more than 10,000 fallen and wounded,” said in a special message.
“As colonel-in-chief, captain general and air commodore-in-chief of Canadian Armed Forces units, I have often borne witness to the professionalism and dedication, as well as the sense of equality, of respect, of perseverance, of sacrifice and of hope that infuses our military. It is our duty to remember and honour those who served so valiantly and who gave so much here at Vimy Ridge and throughout the First World War.”
Gov.-Gen. David Johnston has also issued a statement regarding Vimy Ridge.
“On this day a century ago, after months of careful planning and surveillance, through considerable innovations in tactics and technology, and after remarkable determination and courage, the Canadian Corps took Vimy Ridge,” he said.
“Despite all of these efforts, the outcome was uncertain, the cost of victory very high. Three thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight Canadians were killed in the fighting. Seven thousand were wounded. On the home front, millions of Canadians waited anxiously for news of their loved ones.
Today, as we mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, we honour the soldiers who fought at Vimy. We have the opportunity to look back on our history and to learn valuable lessons from the past. Indeed, we have that responsibility. Let us remember those soldiers who sacrificed so much and let us strive always for a better understanding of our history and for peace. Lest we forget,” said Johnston.
Canadian Pacific today commemorated the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 3,500 Canadians in a military victory that many consider a defining moment in the history of the country.
CP put the resources of its entire globe-spanning freight and travel system at the disposal of the British Empire and allies at the outset of the war, contributing not only tracks and trains, but its ships, yards, shops, hotels, telegraph lines and – above all else – its people. Some 11,340 CP employees enlisted with 1,116 railroaders losing their lives and another 20 per cent wounded before the end of the war.
“I salute the thousands of Canadians and CP railroaders who served then and the many men and women of CP who serve their country still,” said CP president and CEO Keith Creel.
“Many Canadians paid a terrible price for this historic victory at Vimy, and I am humbled and honoured to be part of a company that has contributed so much to protecting the people and values we all hold so dear.”
During the war, two CP employees received the Victoria Cross – the highest award in the United Kingdom – for gallantry “in the face of the enemy,” and 385 others were decorated for valor and distinguished service.
As part of its effort, CP also organized the first battalion of Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps (CORCC) to build and run railways through Europe during the war.