At the height of the First World War, on Easter Monday April 9, 1917, in early morning sleet, sixteen battalions of the Canadian Corps rose along a six-kilometre line of trenches in northern France against the occupying Germans. All four Canadian divisions advanced in a line behind a well-rehearsed creeping barrage of artillery fire. By nightfall, the Germans had suffered a major setback. The Ridge, which other Allied troops had assaulted previously and failed to take, was firmly in Canadian hands.
The Canadian Corps had achieved perhaps the greatest lightning strike in Canadian military history. One Paris newspaper called it “Canada's Easter gift to France.” Of the 40,000 Canadians who fought at Vimy, nearly 10,000 became casualties. Many of their names are engraved on the famous monument that now stands on the ridge to commemorate the battle.
It was the first time Canadians had fought as a distinct national army, and in many ways, it was a coming of age for the nation. The achievement of the Canadians on those April days in 1917 has become one of our lasting myths.
Based on first-hand accounts, including archival photographs and maps, it is the voices of the soldiers who experienced the battle that comprise the thrust of the book. Like "JUNO: Canadians at D-Day", Ted Barris paints a compelling and surprising human picture of what it was like to have stormed and taken Vimy Ridge.
From the Author of Juno: Canadians at D-Day, June 6, 1944, comes a new book about the famous Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge.
"Barris has gathered the best of these soldiers' words to tell his story, often with breathtaking simplicity and grace....The accompanying maps, graphics and photographs are first-rate, making it easily the best book for those few Canadians who are completely unfamiliar with Vimy Ridge, and a must-read for the vast majority who have heard of the battle but know little about the details."
"...[Barris] lets the front-line soldiers tell their stories in a dazzling recreation of the battle....Here are the men...their letters, journals, postwar interviews and other original source treasures carefully mined by Barris and seamlessly fused into one of the most poignant narratives ever written about the Great War."
"Through a masterful use of oral histories, personal letters and memoirs...historian Ted Barris has created a fitting memorial to the ordinary Canadian soldiers who...fought 90 years ago in the War to End All Wars. Rarely have the thoughts and feelings of so many spoken so clearly through the widening mist of history."
Ted Barris is an accomplished author, journalist and broadcaster. As well as hosting stints on CBC Radio and regular contributions to The Globe and Mail,
the National Post,
and various national magazines, he is a full-time professor of journalism at Centennial College in Toronto. Barris has authored fifteen non-fiction books, including the national bestsellers Victory at Vimy
HISTORY / Military / World War I