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Horley Local History Society: Talk on Battle for Vimy Ridge (by Andy Thomson)

23rd March 2017, 7:30 PM (for 8.00 PM start)
Methodist Church Hall, Victoria Road, Horley
Doug Cox

Andy Thomson will be talking about the Battle for Vimy Ridge and, as Horley is twinned with Vimy, this will be of interest to many local residents.

Everyone is welcome to attend and there is a nominal charge of £1 entry fee for non members (refundable if they join HLHS for just £7 a year).

For further details, please see resume by Andy Thomson below.


The Battle of Vimy Ridge

If 1916 had been bloody for the British army on the Somme and the French at Verdun it had cost the German army dear. Having lost so many crack troops they made the decision to switch to the defensive on the Western Front whilst their U-boats, with orders to sink any ship approaching Western Approaches, drove Britain out of the war.

The French had a new CinC, Robert Nivelle, the saviour of Verdun, believed he could break through the German lines and secure a decisive victory. Despite his reluctance, Haig had to agree to support the plan which would see the French attack the Germans to the east of Paris at the Chemin des Dames. Nivelle asked the British launch a pre-emptive strike at Arras. This would both give the Germans a bloody nose and prevent them moving reserves south to the main battle ground.

The British planners warmed to the task and quickly understood that the key to the battle in their sector was driving the Germans off the high ground to the north east of Arras – the notoriously well defended Vimy Ridge. To execute this daunting task Haig turned to the Canadians who were now on the Western Front in big numbers.

For the first time in the war all four Canadian divisions were to attack together and their commanding officers, Byng and Currie both understood that this could be not only a defining time in the Great War, it offered the opportunity for the fledgling nation to prove its worth.

In a driving snow storm the Canadians attacked the well dug in Germans (whose high command believed the summit of the ridge, Hill 145, to be impregnable) and in less than 24 hours and with few casualties, the entire ridge was captured and the northern section of the battlefield secured.

The presentation will cover the events of at Vimy on Easter Monday 1917.

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