The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought from April 9 to 12, 1917 during the First World War in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France against the German army. The Canadian troops were victorious, but they paid a heavy price — 3,598 were killed and 7,004 injured.
A ceremony held in honour of the 95th anniversary of this battle took place at the Kitchener Armoury April 4. Co-ordinated by Lisa Vangalen, chair of the 1596 Waterloo Region Cadet’s parent support committee, the event allowed army cadets and the public to recognize the veterans’ efforts.
A memorial service began at 7 p.m. and lasted approximately one hour. Some of the people who paid their respects included Don McCumber, president of the Army Cadet League of Ontario, Tim Beckett, Kitchener fire chief, and Jean Davidson, the president of Branch 50 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“Mr. Don McCumber is very instrumental in having the cadet program be involved in setting up the ceremony,” said Vangalen.
The armoury participates in other events including Remembrance Day services in Elmira and at the main Kitchener cenotaph. They also take part in parades and in Oktoberfest but events aren’t held on the grounds regularly.
The previous year was the first time the army cadets participated in the commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The sea cadets have always commemorated the Battle of the Atlantic and the air cadets have always commemorated the Battle of Britain. However, the army cadets didn’t have an event to call their own. McCumber asked the National League of Cadets if the army cadets could participate in the Vimy Ridge ceremony which was approved. The official kickoff for the cadets was held in Queen’s Park last year. The kickoff this year was held in Ottawa and everyone there received a Vimy Ridge commemorative pin.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge has considerable significance for Canada. It was the first time all four Canadian divisions fought in battle as one large unit. The Battle of Vimy Ridge also showed national unity and achievement and was Canada’s coming of age as a nation.