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Canada commemorates centenary of pivotal Vimy WWI battle

It was the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together in the First World War.

Full texts of statements from Queen Elizabeth II, Governor-General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are reprinted below. "It is our duty to remember and honour those who served so valiantly and who gave so much here at Vimy Ridge and throughout the First World War", she wrote.

"I salute the thousands of Canadians and CP railroaders who served then and the many men and women of CP who serve their country still", said CP president and CEO Keith Creel. But the victory came at enormous human cost - by April 12, 3,598 Canadians had been killed and a further 7,000 injured.

Servicemen wear poppies as they attend a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France on Sunday.

"Canada, when they took that ridge, took it in four days", he explains.

"The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a turning point in the First World War and for Canada, when Canadians acted-and fought-as one", Trudeau said last month.




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.

(Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP) A veteran holds a torch of remembrance during a vigil at the National War Memorial to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, April 8, 2017. Previous attempts by British and French troops had failed. "We must remain committed to continue to tell their stories so those who fought here are never forgotten".

The centre of the poppy is formed by a newly-unveiled sculpture of pairs of soldiers' feet by New Zealand artist Helen Pollock.

Vimy, however, was seen - or at least came to be seen over the passing decades - as the moment in time when Canada emerged from the shadow of its British colony status to earn its place on the world stage as a strong, independent nation.

To protect soldiers from shelling, they built miles of tunnels one of the war's great engineering feats allowing troops to pop up quickly into their positions.

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