October 16th, 2021

Battle of Vimy Ridge has local connection


By Dale Woodard on April 10, 2021.

A German casing inscribed with the name "Vimy" brought back from the actual battle is on display at the entrance to the Lethbridge Legion. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

The Battle of Vimy Ridge has a distinct southern Alberta presence.

As the four-day battle that occurred between April 9 and April 12, 1917 celebrates its 104th anniversary, Glenn Miller, Co chair, public relations for the General Stewart Branch #4, noted the local connections to the piece of World War 1 history.

“It’s commemmorated across Canada. Locally, we have some Vimy Ridge connections here in southern Alberta,” he said. “Vimy Ridge Armoury, located beside the armoury where the militia train, was renamed from Kenyon Field Armoury in 2001 and there’s a monument just outside the front door.

“We also have Vimy Ridge Peak at Waterton National Park and north of Edmonton there’s a little village called Vimy and that was changed because of the significant battle and what it means to Canadians.”

Miller noted some individual accloades as well.

“Major Alexander Boswell Stafford, who was the first battery commander of the 39th battery, actually had a trench named after him called Stafford Street in Vimy Ridge. That was established three or four months before the actual battle and it’s found on different maps near the front lines.

“In Stirling, they will be commemmorating some of their veterans this November. One of their members, Clifton Young, was killed at Vimy Ridge.”

Miller showed a letter written on Vimy Ridge Day by a local member of the 20th battery talking about the human connections. He couldn’t help his mother back in Lethbridge, who was sick.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, the main combatants were four divisions of the Canadian Corps against three divisions of the German 6th Army.

A book called Vimy, Valour and Victory, put out by Canadian author Jean Miso, also has a local angle.

“All the pictures were in black and white, but a lot of the pages are colourized and these horses are bringing up ammunition at Vimy Ridge. These are members from the Lethbridge 20th battery,” said Miller. “That’s a snapshot of some of the connections in southern Alberta as it related to Vimy Ridge. I think most Canadians across the country, if you had a relative in Word War 1, were involved in that battle in some way.”

Miller said the Battle of Vimy Ridge also included British soldiers.

“One-fifth of the Canadian corps was British. So we have to also remember they were there with us. It’s wasn’t strictly a Canadian event although a British commander was in charge of Canadians at that particular battle.”

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