Vimy 100 ceremony at cenotaph draws hundreds

"The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, accompanying The Prince of Wales, today attended the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France".

Trudeau was to be joined at a ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial by French President Francois Hollande and Britain's Prince Charles and his sons Princes William and Harry. Although Queen Elizabeth II wasn't in attendance, she did send out a public message paying tribute to the Canadian troops who "stood far from home together with their allies in defence of peace and freedom".

By the end of the First World War, Canada-a country of fewer than eight million people-had more than 650,000 men and women serving in uniform.

It was the first time different Canadian military divisions had fought together under one command.

Last week memorial benches to honour the battle of Vimy Ridge were unveiled at the Alliston, Beeton and Tottenham Legion branches.

Many like Toronto businessman Drew Hamblin, who will spend Sunday at Vimy with his father and two children, had grandfathers who told them about the rain and the cold and the rat-infested tunnels. The battle saw them handle over 10,000 soldiers who were killed or wounded over a four day period.

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Military boots symbolizing dead soldiers are seen at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France on Sunday.

"As we honour such great bravery and sacrifice, we should honour the fearless men and women of the Canadian Forces, who risk their lives to carry on this proud tradition of service - and keep us all safe".

The battle took place between April 9 and April 12, 1917.

"All of those were things that I think came to mark Canadians not only as warriors", he says, "but to some degree how we carry out our day-to-day affairs". In total, there were 1,325 casualties among members of the CAMC over the course of the First World War. They succeeded where other armies had failed - but at a great cost. "Many Canadians paid a awful price for this historic victory at Vimy, and I am humbled and honoured to be part of a company that has contributed so much to protecting the people and values we all hold so dear".

Our victory at Vimy is regarded by many as the moment when Canada stood on its own; as the moment when Canada became a nation. In the words of one veteran: 'We went up Vimy Ridge as Albertans and Nova Scotians. "Lest we forget", said Johnston.

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