Visiting Vimy Ridge
In the summer of 2010, my husband Shane and I, along with two of our children, Matthew and Katelyn—then 18 and 16 respectively, decided to take a family trip to Europe. Matthew was, and still is, very interested in the history of both world wars, and while in France, we took a one-day bus tour to visit the Vimy Ridge National Historic Site of Canada.
This was a very moving and enlightening experience for us as Canadians. I remembered learning in school that Canadians had made significant contributions in helping the Allied powers defeat the Germans in World War I. However, being on the very ground where the battles occurred really brought home the sacrifice of our Canadian soldiers and their families during that difficult time.
The historic memorial site includes the front-line trenches where the German and Canadian soldiers faced off against one another. The ground in the entire area is covered with craters left from the artillery bombardment, and some surrounding fields are still fenced off with warnings about undetonated devices. What must it have been like for those soldiers to witness such devastation?
Being somewhat naive about war, I didn’t realize the immense work involved in preparing for battle. The trenches are four to five feet deep and run for many kilometres along the front line. Behind these trenches, Canadian soldiers built an extensive tunnel system to ferry supplies and personnel to the front line.