29 June 2016
The French grant 91.18 hectares of the former battlefield of Vimy Ridge to the Government of Canada on 29 June 1922
On this day in history, 1922: The French grant 91.18 hectares of the former battlefield of Vimy Ridge, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, 'freely, and for all time, to the Government of Canada, the free use of the land exempt from all taxes’. On 26 July 1936 the site was opened by King Edward VIII as a memorial park and home to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
The memorial is dedicated: ‘TO THE VALOUR OF THEIR COUNTRYMEN IN THE GREAT WAR AND IN MEMORY OF THEIR SIXTY THOUSAND DEAD THIS MONUMENT IS RAISED BY THE PEOPLE OF CANADA.’
The park surrounding the Vimy Memorial was created by horticultural experts, who planted Canadian trees and shrubs to resemble the woods and forests of Canada, and First World War trenches and tunnels have been restored and preserved.
Nearly 3,600 Canadians were killed and more than 7,000 wounded in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which was part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras. The Canadian Corps fought at Vimy Ridge from 9 April 1917 until their victory on 12 April 1917.
It was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, drawn from all over the country, had fought together and the battle became a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice. On 9 April each year Canada holds a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The memorial is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada. Find out more about Vimy Ridge and watch a film at http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war while family historians can search for Canadian War Dead at http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial.
If you have ancestors who fought at the Somme, don’t miss our guide to battlefields by leading experts Tonie and Valmai Holt (creators of Major and Mrs Holt’s renowned battlefield guides) in Family Tree July issue, in UK shops until 6 July and on digital - get it now via our store.