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In terms of a commemorative ceremony, it couldn't get any simpler. This morning, April 9, 2021, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 270 Coldwater President, Comrade Norm Marion, alone, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in memory of those Canadian soldiers who fought – and too many who died – at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Due to the province-wide stay-at-home order currently in effect, and obviously for the safety of our members and public, this annual event had to be turned into a one-person "ceremony." The flags at the Cenotaph and in front of the Legion building were lowered to half-mast for the day to mark the anniversary of the battle. Branches of the Royal Canadian Legion across the country also commemorate the battle in this manner.

According to many historians, the 1917 battle of Vimy Ridge unified the country by giving it a new sense of a national identity. It was a battle in which, for the first time, four Canadian army divisions (more than 100,000 men) fought side by side as a Canadian Corps, and came out victorious.

While Canadians suffered heavy casualties during the operation, they were successful in reaching and taking their heavily defended objectives on time, leaving the Allies in control of the high ground overlooking enemy positions. Together, the Canadian and British Corps had captured more ground, prisoners and artillery pieces than any previous British offensive of the war. But there was a cost to the battlefield victory. By the end of the battle, Canadians had suffered 10,600 casualties, 3,600 of them killed.

Two soldiers from Coldwater, Private Andrew Durnford and George Hill-Maracle, were killed in action during the battle, and four more were killed within a few weeks in the ensuing fighting over the Vimy area. We will remember them.

PHOTO CAPTION: With the national flag flying at half-mast behind him, Coldwater Branch President Norm Marion lays a wreath in memory of the soldiers who fought and died at Vimy Ridge. (Photo by Wanda Beaudoin)


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