Kamloops joins country in commemorating Vimy Ridge

By Jill Sperling
April 7, 2017 - 7:00pm

KAMLOOPS — Commemorative events will be held in Canada and France on Sunday to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. 

It was on April 9, 1917 that thousands of Canadian soldiers and their allies stormed the German-held escarpment in France. 

After several days of intense battle, the Canadian Corps were in control of the ridge. 

Thousands of Canadians lost their lives in the battle that has been said to have helped shape the country. 

"For Vimy Ridge, the four divisions were brought together, and of course the camaraderie and the brotherhood was there and they stormed that ridge and took it to show the rest of the world what Canada's really capable of," said former Canadian Peacekeeper, Scott Casey.

Casey's great-grandfather, Vincent Bernard Casey, was one of the thousands of Canadians who worked tirelessly for four days to take control of the ridge.

"When they did the attack on Vimy Ridge, they had undermined the ridge itself through a range of subways and tunnels up underneath it and they planted explosives," Casey explained. "During the attack they set those explosives off, and he was one of the ones that had been doing the digging and placing of the charges underneath the ridge."

Nearly 3,600 Canadians never made it home from that battle, that number includes several Kamloops soldiers.

"I'm just marking the names on the cenotaph here," said Clarence Schneider of Royal Canadian Legion branch 52. "These are people who came from Kamloops that were killed during the action at Vimy Ridge." 

Schneider placed poppies next to the names of those soldiers ahead of an event planned for Sunday. 

A memorial ceremony will be held at the Battle Street Cenotaph to recognize their contributions to the country.

"The Battle at Vimy Ridge pretty well put Canada on the map," Schneider said. "...In some sense of the word, Vimy Ridge made Canada what it is."

100 years later, Canadians still attribute that sense of national identity to the soldiers who played a major role in the battle. 

"I think Canadians realize that Vimy plays a very important role in our history," Casey said, "and I think it's being shown day-to-day out there right now that there's a huge support for what happened."

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