On April 9, 1917, the Canadian troops, after crouching in the tunnel system for 36 hours, burst forth from the tunnel and pushed the Germans back metre-by-metre. By the next day, the Canadian troops had accomplished their objective of capturing the 14-kilometre-long escarpment back from the Germans.
Also located in the historic park is the monument to the Canadian soldiers killed in France during World War I. The monument bears the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died in France and who have no known graves. More than 66,000 Canadians died during the Great War. The monument is immense and powerful, visible from quite a distance in the French countryside.
Part of the monument also includes a sculpture of Mother Canada—it’s very moving and brought tears to my eyes as I thought how difficult it must have been for relatives of those soldiers lost during the war.
More than 7,000 Canadian soldiers are buried within a 20-kilometre radius of the monument, and visiting the cemeteries is a sobering experience. All the Commonwealth cemeteries are managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, so they all look similar. The tombstones are identically shaped, with emblems depicting either the country or regiment of the soldier. Planted between every second tombstone is a rose bush so that at some point during the day the sunlight casts the shadow of a rose on each grave.