Justin Trudeau in France to mark the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

Justin Trudeau in France to mark the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

Justin Trudeau in France to mark the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

"On April 9th we remember and honour the many Canadians who fought and died for the freedom of our nation and did what no other force was able to accomplish, to liberate France".

While Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau told the around 25,000 attending the ceremony that "the monument is also symbolic of Canada's birth and our enduring commitment to peace".

Historians today generally agree that Vimy was not the most important of Canada's First World War battles.

Success at Vimy Ridge was the result of intense training over several months, and despite the heavy losses, helped forge Canada's identity on a global scale only 50 years after it had become an independent dominion.

Canada lost 3,600 soldiers and had over 7,000 injured during the three-day battle.

Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Passchendaele all occurred in one historic year for the Canadian military.

James Cockriell's great-uncle Joseph was one of the soldiers who fought at Vimy and was killed on the last day of the battle.

The Battle for Vimy Ridge was a distinctly Canadian effort from the beginning, a true demonstration of all the best qualities that Canada represents: individual initiative; esprit de corps; gumption; enthusiasm.

An ocean away from home, spilling their blood on a remote ridge in the muddied battlefields of northern France a century ago, many would argue that Canadians earned nationhood.

There were dozens of shouts of "thanks so much" and "thanks from Canada" as they moved towards their official cars.

William and Harry - who have both served in the armed forces - will lay a pair of boots, some of the first of thousands that will be placed at the site by Canadian and French youth - representing nearly 3,600 Canadians who died during the battle.

"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".

"They are telling us peace is the most precious gift and it's the greatest merit of Europe to have realized that dream".

The ceremony, hosted by the Canadian government, included recitations of stories from soldiers and eyewitnesses to the battle, and performances by Canadian singers such as Johnny Reid and Loreena McKennitt.

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