Hatters gather to commemorate sacrifice and valour of Vimy Ridge


About 20,000 people, including many Canadians, were expected to gather on Vimy Ridge to remember the day that outnumbered Canadian troops succeeded in taking a strategic position from the Germans.

But what really set the battle apart was that, for the first time in the Great War, the Canadians would be fighting all together as one single unit: The Canadian Corps.

Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau said: "One hundred years later, we must say this, together. We must never forget their service and sacrifice". Their sacrifices left an indelible mark on our history, and spurred the emergence of a Canadian national consciousness.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain's Prince Harry, right, stand during commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the WWI Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France, Sunday, April 9, 2017.

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Previous attempts to capture the ridge resulted in the deaths of more than 150,000 French and British soldiers.

The First World War battle, won where other allied armies had failed, came at a cost of more than 10,000 killed and injured.

By the end of the First World War, Canada-a country of fewer than eight million people-had more than 650,000 men and women serving in uniform.

"These trees are direct descendants of acorns collected following the battle, and they will be planted in a circular pattern four deep to represent the four divisions".

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"It was an important step in shaking off British colonial rule", he said.

Instead, rain and sleet and artillery shells had lashed what then was a muddy, bloody battlefield as 30,000 Canadian soldiers huddled in trenches and waited for the assault to kick off.

The battle started on April 9, 1917 and lasted for four days. We came down as Canadians'.

But Vimy's real importance and power appears to be in the fact that many Canadians believe it is important, which is why they will watch and listen as the country looks back in time.

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Hollande said the links built between France and Canada were evident today "when we condemn chemical massacres committed by a criminal regime" - a clear reference to the suspected chemical attack in rebel-held Syria this week.