Yesterday (5 April) Green Park played host to a commemoration of the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a defining moment in the history of Canada, attended by servicemen, Canadian schoolchildren and members of the public. From the London Clubhouse, ROSL members were able to hear the sounds of bagpipe playing floating across Green Park, as well as the hundreds of schoolchildren filing towards the Canada Memorial just yards from Buckingham Palace.
The battle, which took place from 9 to 12 April 1917, was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force had fought together and was a major victory in the larger British-led Battle of Arras. By nightfall on 12 April, the ridge had been secured and the Germans had retreated. 3,598 Canadians lost their lives, with a further 7,004 wounded. The number of German casualities remains unknown, although 4,000 were captured and held as prisoners of war.
The skill and sacrifice shown by the fledgling Expeditionary Force has become a national symbol of pride and unity in Canada. To read more about the battle and the 150th Anniversary of the confederation of Canada being celebrated this year, look out for the next edition of Overseas, due out in May.