9th April 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, perhaps the most famous of the battles fought by the Canadian armed forces during World War I. Vimy Ridge is a long hill, running south-west to north-east on the southern edge of the Douai Plain in northern France. Taken and fortified early in WWI by German forces, the ridge provided a strong defense against Allied attack towards the valuable coalfields around the town of Lens. British and French attacks at Vimy earlier in the war were unsuccessful, and hugely costly in lives. Originally intended as a diversion to draw German forces away from a major French offensive further to the south, the Canadian attack at Vimy Ridge in April 2017 succeeded, perhaps beyond expectations, in taking this strong point. It is considered by many an important event in Canadian history: This was the first occasion that the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together and the success of these troops drawn from across Canada has been said to be the “moment when Canada leapt in spirit from colony to nation”. Today, Vimy Ridge is the site of the Canadian national war memorial, located close to the highest point on the ridge.
Many events have been organized this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, including a series of amateur radio operations in Canada (VE100VIMY) and in France (TM100VIMY) organized by the Vimy Commemorative Station Society with the participation of Canadian and French amateur radio operators. The VE100VIMY callsign traveled around Canada for the first months of 2017 with operations from each Canadian province. The week before the anniversary of the battle, TM100VIMY took over operations, located on the site of the Canadian memorial park on Vimy ridge, a piece of land ceded to Canada by France in 1922 to become the site of the Canadian war memorial.
The principal organizers of this memorial operation are Don, VE7DS and Keith, VE7KW, with Didier, F6BCW the principal co-organizer in France. Although today I go by the callsign K3EL, I used to live and was licensed in VE2 and so as a “Canadian by adoption” was pleased and honored to be invited to participate in the VE100VIMY/TM100VIMY operation. If you hear us on the bands, please give us a call! Then, look at the website of the Vimy Commemorative Station Society, or the website of Veterans Affairs Canada detailing the history of the battle of Vimy Ridge and the planned commemorative events..