Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
AS YOU WERE . . .
WAR YEARS ECLECTICA :: FEBRUARY 2021
2021.02 Edition

CANADA IN WORLD WAR I
1. WWI Photo Gallery
2. Preparation for Attack
3. Vimy Victory
4. WWI Factoids
5. Rare Photos
Part I: Photo Gallery





The First World War
The First World War was the largest conflict the world had ever seen up until that time. It came about due to the political tensions and complex military alliances of the era. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the summer of 1914 resulted in an international crisis and by August, the fighting had begun. This bloody four-year war would see Britain (and her Empire), France, Russia and the United States lining up against Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.


Canada goes to war
In 1914, Canada's external affairs were governed by the United Kingdom. This meant that once Britain declared war, Canada automatically followed. The First World War opened with great enthusiasm and patriotism on the part of many Canadians, with tens of thousands rushing to join the military in the first months of the conflict so they would not miss the action. They need not have worried as the war would grind on for more than four years, killing as many as ten million combatants in fighting that would be revolutionized by high-explosive shells, powerful machine guns, poison gas, submarines and war planes.


The Western Front
After the initial German advances of the war, the battle on the Western Front quickly turned into a stalemate of trench fighting, with the front line zigzagging for nearly 1,000 kilometres from the coast of Belgium to the border of Switzerland.


Life in the trenches
Life for soldiers in the trenches was miserable. They were often muddy and cold and had to live in the midst of pests like rats, lice and fleas. In this form of warfare, soldiers faced the enemy across a narrow strip of land between the opposing trenches. This was a harsh "No Man's Land" of mud, barbed wire and shell craters, swept by enemy machine gun fire, and menaced by artillery and snipers. This is what soldiers had to cross when they went "over the top" and launched an attack. The dead and injured who fell in No Man's Land often could not be recovered.


Canada's Victory at Vimy Ridge
The seven-kilometre long Vimy Ridge in northern France, near Arras, held a commanding view over the surrounding countryside. Previous unsuccessful French and British attacks had suffered over 150,000 casualties.

    In early 1917, British High Command ordered the Canadian Corps to capture the position as part of a larger spring offensive in the Arras area. The Canadian attack against Vimy Ridge was spectacular.
    The battle has since become an important symbol for Canada, the place where Canadians from across the country delivered an unprecedented victory, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fighting together for the first time in the war. The victory at Vimy was a defining event for Canada, considered by many contemporaries and later scholars to be a significant event in Canada’s progress to full independence from Britain.

WW I PHOTOS
Click for full-size images and captions

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~ Reference: www.veterans.gc.ca

From the XII Manitoba Dragoons
and 26th Field Regiment Museum

www.12mbdragoons.com

Click for full size
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CANADA IN WWI :: THE BATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE
A MAJOR CANADIAN VICTORY

1. WWI Photo Gallery
2. Preparation for Attack
3. Vimy Victory
4. WWI Factoids
5. Rare Photos

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