Friday, July 18, 2008

205 Canadian Forces Members Visit Vimy Ridge

The contingent of some 205 Canadian Forces (CF) personnel participating in this year's Nijmegen Marches visited the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France on July 13 to hold a memorial ceremony with support from the Royal Canadian Legion.
On April 9, 1917, the Canadian Corps accomplished a task the French and British armies had tried and failed to do since 1914: it broke through the heavy German defences to capture and secure Vimy Ridge. In 1922, France designated about one square kilometre of the battlefield as Canadian territory as a free gift in perpetuity to the Canadian people. The Vimy Monument was built on this site and inscribed the names of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died in France but have no known graves. The monument was recently refurbished and, on the 90th anniversary of the battle it was rededicated by Queen Elizabeth II.As well as the Vimy Monument, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial includes a small museum, an area of preserved trenches and tunnels, and cemeteries containing the graves of soldiers killed in the battle. In 1997, the Vimy Memorial was designated as a National Historic Site, one of only two outside Canada.
The Internationale Vierdaagse Afstandsmarsen Nijmegen (International Four Days' Marches Nijmegen, or Nijmegen Marches) is a prestigious Dutch marching event in which Canadian military contingents have participated every year since 1952. This year, from July 15 to July 18 inclusive, a contingent of about 205 CF members will take part in the Nijmegen Marches with more than 44,000 people, both civilian and military, from over 50 nations. The marchers' itinerary usually includes a visit to Vimy on the way to Nijmegen.

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