Vimy Ridge Centenary: Trudeau, Hollande Honour Those Who Fought WWI Battle

The sun peaked its head out of the clouds just in time for the city's ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Sunday afternoon.

At 5:30 a.m. on April 9, 1917, tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers left their trenches and charged the more than six-kilometre-long ridge as almost 1,000 artillery guns fired on German positions.

Exactly one century ago, Canadian troops captured the heavily fortified German positions along a four mile ridge - where past British and French attempts had failed.

A historian also went through the facts of the Vimy Ridge battle, and it ended with the playing of The Last Post and Reveille, then a blank shell was sacked from a 105 mm field gun, like the ones used to bombard enemy positions a hundred years ago.

As part of its effort, CP also organized the first battalion of Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps (CORCC) to build and run railways through Europe during the war.

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. In total, 3,598 Canadians died and another 7,004 were wounded.

"We're here to remember those men who really helped change what was a colony into an autonomous sovereign nation, Canada, and it's a huge privilege for British soldiers to be allowed to come here and join this parade", said Col. Marcus Evans, British Army Training Unit Suffield.

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"These trees are direct descendants of acorns collected following the battle, and they will be planted in a circular pattern four deep to represent the four divisions".

Veterans Affairs Canada organized an evening of remembrance at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Prince William and his brother Harry laid boots on the memorial in memory of the fallen soldiers. "We're never the same after the First World War".

Pictured, Francois Hollande speaks with a woman during the poppy ceremony.

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

The government of Canada is hosted the ceremony, which will speeches from officials and performances by famous Canadian artists, including singer Loreena McKennitt.

Earlier Sunday, Trudeau and French President Francois Hollande unveiled a separate "Poppy of Peace" monument in the town of Arras, a few kilometers from Vimy. The monument consists of a red metallic base with sculptures of soldiers' feet.

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