The impact of the 100th anniversary of the battle Arras including the northern sector attacked by Candian forces at Vimy Ridge is plain to see throughout the Pas de Calais region of northern France. The front line passed through here for most of WWI, and there are memorials, cemeteries, museums and battlefields everywhere. Many of the villages around Vimy Ridge are decked out with Canadian flags, and wherever we go we are asked whether we are here for the 100th anniversary commemoration. We see groups of visitors and school parties at the battle sites and cemeteries; tens of thousands will attend the official memorial ceremony on the 9th at the Canadian war memorial on Vimy Ridge.
One of the tunnels dug by New Zealand troops under Arras
Most of our team is staying in Arras, which was the center of the British attack, in the sector south of Vimy. The Carrière Wellington museum in Arras (where you can visit part of the network of tunnels and quarries used by the Allied forces to protect troops prior to the offensive at Arras, south of Vimy) is busy with many extra visitors.
The special event operation TM100VIMY brought together 17 Canadian and French amateur radio operators to commemorate the battle of Vimy Ridge. One of our local collaborators is Sylvie, F1PSH, a leader in the F4KIS radio club in Lillers. She arranged for us to present a lecture and discussion on Canada, Vimy and our special event operation.
Anne, XYL K3EL discussing Canada at the time of the Great War
Audience at the Lillers Palace
The TM100VIMY team answers questions
Anne, XYL K3EL spoke about the history of Canada at the time of WWI and the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge, while Dave, K3EL discussed the battle, and also explained to the audience what amateur radio was and how TM100VIMY was participating in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the battle. Several classes from the local Lycee Anatole France were present, as well as members of the local historical society, veterans groups and radio amateurs. After the lecture, the students headed off to catch their buses, while the rest of the audience remained to enjoy a “pot” (special liquids from Bourgogne!) with the radio team.
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 Canadian war memorial, Vimy Ridge. TM100VIMY QSL Card.
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..
Frank, VO1HP and Chris, VE3FU, operating from TM100VIMY.