Vimy Ridge Memorial - History and Facts | History Hit

Vimy Ridge Memorial

Givenchy-en-Gohelle, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy, France

The Vimy Ridge Memorial commemorates the more than 60,000 Canadians who lost their lives in th First World War.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Vimy Ridge Memorial

The striking Vimy Ridge Memorial is dedicated to the more than 60,000 Canadians who lost their lives in World War One.

Vimy Ridge Memorial history

Located on the site of a major victory by Canadian forces, the Battle of Vimy Ridge took place on 9th – 12th April 1917. During this action, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps captured the strategically important ridge and significantly aided the wider outcome of the Battle of Arras, of which the battle formed a part.

More than 15,000 Canadian infantry overran the Germans all along the front. Incredible bravery and discipline allowed the infantry to continue moving forward under heavy fire, even when their officers were killed. There were countless acts of sacrifice, as Canadians single-handedly charged machine-gun nests or forced the surrender of Germans in protective dugouts.

Hill 145, the highest and most important feature of the Ridge, and where the Vimy monument now stands, was captured in a frontal bayonet charge against machine-gun positions. Three more days of costly battle delivered final victory. The Canadian operation was an important success, even if the larger British and French offensive, of which it had been a part, had failed. Yet it was victory at a heavy cost: 3,598 Canadians were killed and another 7,000 wounded.

As the location of such a crucial Canadian victory, it was at Vimy Ridge that the Canadians chose as the site for their national memorial, and the site commemorates all those Canadians who fought in the war, as well as listing those with no known grave.

The memorial was designed by W.S. Allward. It was unveiled by King Edward VIII on 26 July 1936.

Vimy Ridge Memorial today

As well as the towering memorial, the site includes a number of restored First World War trenches and tunnels, which can also be explored by visitors.

The grounds around the memorial are open year-round and contain restored and preserved trenches and tunnels. To view these, it is recommended that visitors pre-book. Without a booking, visitors will be accommodated depending on operational capacity.

Getting to Vimy Ridge Memorial

The Vimy Memorial overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about eight kilometres northeast of Arras on the N17 towards Lens. The memorial is signposted from this road to the left, just before you enter the village of Vimy from the south. The memorial itself is someway inside the memorial park, but again it is well signposted.

Featured In

WWI Battlefields to Visit

Discover the history of World War One at these historic battlefields, memorials and monuments in Belgium and France.

France Historic Sites

From towering imposing castles to First World War trenches, ancient Roman ruins to historic Revolutionary sites, France is brimming with relics of its esteemed and turbulent history. Here's our pick of 10 of the very best attractions in the country.