April 21, 2017

On the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

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The following text was released by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress on April 9.

The Ukrainian Canadian community joins all Canadians in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

“Several thousand Ukrainian Canadians fought in World War I with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Many were recently arrived immigrants to Canada who served their new homeland with distinction and honour,” stated Capt. (ret.) Andre Sochaniwsky, CD, president of the Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada. “Today we pause to remember the enormous sacrifices Canadians have made to the cause of freedom.”

On April 9, 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps attacked German positions on Vimy Ridge in northern France. In the ensuing battle, some 3,600 Canadian soldiers lost their lives and over 7,000 were wounded. On April 12, Canadians took Vimy Ridge.

It was on the battlefields of Vimy Ridge that the four Canadian divisions fought together for the first time. In the horror of artillery explosions, machine gun fire, and mud of the blood-soaked fields of Vimy, a new nation defended the cause of freedom in Europe. Canadian soldiers fought with courage and four would earn the Victoria Cross – the highest medal for military valor – for their actions at Vimy.

Canadians played a vital role in ensuring victory in World War I – more than 650,000 men and women served in uniform. More than 66,000 lost their lives, and over 170,000 were wounded.

Let us resolve to always remember the sacrifice of the brave patriots of Canada who found their final resting place on the battlefields of Europe. Although the generation that served Canada during World War I has left us now, they live on in the hearts of a grateful people and in the liberty and peace we enjoy every day.

Lest we forget. Вічная Пам’ять.

Hill 70 Memorial unveiled

On April 8, a memorial to the Battle of Hill 70 was unveiled in France. On August 15-25, 1917, the Canadian Corps battled the German army near Lens, France. The objective was to relieve pressure on allied forces at Passchendaele and to seize high ground – Hill 70. Canadian forces were successful, capturing Hill 70 and holding it against counterattacks, at an immense cost of almost 9,000 killed or wounded.

Cpl. Filip Konowal, a Ukrainian Canadian, was one of six Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross for his valor at the Battle of Hill 70. A Konowal Walk is part of the Memorial that was unveiled.

“The Memorial unveiled yesterday at Hill 70 will stand as an eternal tribute to the thousands of Canadians who fought with courage and valour here almost 100 years ago,” stated Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, one of the initiators of the Konowal Walk. “We recall with pride the heroism of soldiers like Cpl. Konowal and so many others. They are an example to us all of devotion to duty and gallantry.”

The official opening of the Hill 70 Memorial Park will take place on August 22.

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