Arras and Vimy Ridge

Today I visited Vimy Ridge. The Canadians assaulted up the hill and took the high ground overlooking the Douai valley in on e day on 9 April 1917. Today, there is a visitor centre, trench preservation including sections of Canadian and German positions almost on top of each other. There are several mine craters and of course the enormous memorial to the Canadians in the Great War at the very summit of the ridge, which is little more than 60m, but given the flat surroundings was enormously important in the sector.

The Canadians took Vimy Ridge and they hold it still

I also visited the Wellington Galleries in Arras itself. Almost tucked away out of sight, the entrance is sloping and unassuming. Inside there is access to a very small part of 20km of excavations designed to allow troops to be billeted, fed, protected and placed right against the enemy trenches so that they could spring out for an attack. The most moving part of the whole visit is standing at the base of the steps of No.10 Exit. From here over 5000 of the 24,000 soldiers launching the attack departed. The top was blown to allow escape and they poured up the steps right into the heart of the enemy positions. Today the top of the exit is blocked and built over, but the galleries remain.

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