Sunday, December 24, 2017

Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was World War I battle that took place from April 9 to April 12, 1917, during the Battle of Arras, near the town of Vimy, Pas-de-Calais, France. It was fought between the Canadian Corps, under Field Marshal Sir Julian Byng, and units of the German Imperial Army, commanded by Ludwig von Falkenhausen.

Composed of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Infantry Divisions and reinforced by elements of the British 5th Division and artillery groups, the Canadian Corps was given the mission to take the German-held upper ground of Vimy Ridge, defended by the Bavarian 79th and 1st Reserve Divisions, and backed up by artillery units. The Canadian assault on the German positions in the area around Vimy was part of the 1917 Allied Arras offensive.

Supported by intense artillery fire, the Canadians launched their main attack on Vimy Ridge at 05:30 hours on April 9. At the end of three days of ferocious fighting against stubborn German resistance, the Canadian Corps troops managed to take the trenches and fortifications on the steep slopes. They had achieved their objectives, but at a high cost, for they had lost 3,600 men killed in combat, most of them by German artillery and machine gun fire during the trench assaults.

Weapons used in the battle

Forming part of the British Expeditionary Force, the Canadians were armed with the same types of weapons used by the British: Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles; .303 (7.7mm) Vickers and .303 Hotchkiss M1909 machine guns; 2-inch trench mortars. These were the weapons used by the infantry. The artillery units were equipped with QF 18 pounder, French 75mm, 60-pounder-field-gun, BL 60 pounder field guns; and QF 4.5-inch and BL 8-inch howitzers.

The German troops were equipped with the 7.92mm Mauser Gewehr 98 bolt-action rifles; stick grenades (Stielhandgranate); 8mm MG 08 machine guns; 7.7 cm FK 96, 10 cm k 04, krupp-13-5-cm-fk-1909-gun, and Krupp 13.5 cm FK 1909 field guns.