“Canada’s Day”: The myth of Vimy Ridge

“Battle of Vimy Ridge 1917. Canadian machine gunners fire on retreating Germans” ["Canadian machine gunners dig themselves in, in shell holes on Vimy Ridge." Official title.] Alfred Soden English Fonds, Collections CCGW/CCGG
“Battle of Vimy Ridge 1917. Canadian machine gunners fire on retreating Germans” [“Canadian machine gunners dig themselves in, in shell holes on Vimy Ridge.” Official title.] Alfred Soden English Fonds, Collections CCGW/CCGG
Since tomorrow is the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, that often mentioned hallmark of Canadian nationhood, it’s appropriate to have a blog post discussing the battle. Vimy is very hard to write about; it is brought forward every year as THE Canadian battle of the First World War, and with all the accompanying platitudes and official language it can feel a little bit stale. Continue reading ““Canada’s Day”: The myth of Vimy Ridge”

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Transport under fire: Logistics and the Canadian Corps 1916-1918

Pack horses taking up ammunition to the guns of 20th Bty CFA, Neuville-Saint-Vaast, APril 1917. [LAC official title] Seton Collection, CCGW/CCGG 2015.10.13.01
Pack horses taking up ammunition to the guns of 20th Bty CFA, Neuville-Saint-Vaast, April 1917. [LAC official title] Seton Collection, CCGW/CCGG 2015.10.13.01
We posted this photo this week on Twitter from one of our archival collections, and that got me to thinking about the mammoth logistical task that faced armies on the Western Front. This particular photograph shows the transport of shells to the front lines at Vimy Ridge using horses. At Vimy more than 1000 artillery pieces were fired continually for the week preceding the battle and provided the crucial creeping barrage during the three days of fighting, many the shells that were used by the artillery crews would have been transported  exactly like these.  Continue reading “Transport under fire: Logistics and the Canadian Corps 1916-1918”