On Easter Monday 1917 with a blizzard blowing in their faces, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in France seized and held the best-defended German bastion on the Western Front - the muddy scarp of Vimy Ridge. The British had failed to take the Ridge, and so had the French who had lost 150,000 men in the attempt. Yet these magnificent colonial troops did so in a morning at the cost of only 10,000 casualties.
The author recounts this remarkable feat of arms with both pace and style. He has gathered many personal accounts from soldiers who fought at Vimy. He describes the commanders and the men, the organisation and the training, and above all notes the thorough preparation for the attack from which the British General Staff could have learnt much. The action is placed within the context both of the Battle of Arras, of which this attack was part, and as a milestone in the development of Canada as a nation.
Featured inGreat War July 2019
First published in 1986, this paperback reprint of Pierre Berton's excellent book is most welcome. The author's well written and authoritative account places the action firmly within the context of the Battle of Arras, of which this attack formed a part. Narrowly pipped as my Editor's Choice for this issue.The Great War Magazine
The remarkable story of four divisions of the Canadian Corps in France who seized and held the Western Front's best-defended German bastion – the muddy scarp of Vimy Ridge.Military History Monthly
In this classic account of the offensive the author examines the results of when all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drwan from all parts of the country, fought as a cohesive formation for the first time.Britain at War
The author has succeeded in his objective of telling not just the history of the assault on Vimy Ridge, but also how it felt to the men who were there. He has linked many personal accounts and anecdotes to give great depth to the story. It is a Canadian book and focuses on the actions of the Canadian Corps and is a little lightweight on the events concerning ‘British’ Divisions that also fought at Vimy but let that not detract from a well-balanced narrative of the role of the Canadian Corps. Vimy remains a place that always conditions an emotional response and should form part of any visit to the Western Front today.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide