‘It’s important we remember’; 105th Vimy Ridge anniversary recognized in London, Ont.

An association which promotes the remembrance of Canada’s fallen military hopes children will know the story of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

“Vimy Ridge is one of the most iconic battles in Canadian history,” says Seaumus Wilson, director of the Remember November 11 Association (RN11A) in London.

“It was a very big turning point for our country, and I really think it’s important that we remember it and that we talk to our kids about it,” he says.

On the 105th anniversary of Canadian soldiers capturing Vimy Ridge in France from the Germans, the RN11A held a short ceremony at Remembrance Gardens on River Road.

Based on research by RN11A, over 1,000 soldiers from London-Middlesex fought at Vimy Ridge, but 80 of them did not return home.

Great War reenactors (LR), Brad Stott, Bill Dinesen, Tom Ross, Andrew Ross and Raiffe Sculthorp take part in the Vimy Ridge ceremony at Remembrance Gardens in London, Ont. on Sunday Apr 10, 2022. (Brent Lale/CTV News)

The day included a bit of history of how the four divisions of the Canadian Corps – fighting together for the first time – attacked the ridge on the morning of April 9, 1917 and fully took it four days later.

They also had pipers, a bugle and Great War reenactors.

Private Tom Ross is one of those dressed in a replica uniform, and has a personal tie to Vimy Ridge.

“It’s dear to my heart because my great grandfather Warden Johnson 766232 was wounded at Vimy, but lived into his 90s and I remember him well,” says Ross, who was standing next to the local memorial.

“Military history, especially Canadian military has always been very important to me, and it also allows us to show the public and show young people this is what they dress like and this is how they behaved. We’re here to commemorate the battle,” he adds.

Ross says his team of fellow historians do research, write books, sit in trenches with other people and some even travel around the country. He’s excited to reenact the Battle of Longwoods later this month at Longwoods Conservation Area.

Great War reenactors observe a moment of silence during the Last Post bugle call at Remembrance Gardens in London, Ont. on Sunday April 10, 2022. (Brent Lale/CTV News)Also among those in attendance was London-Fanshawe MP Lyndsay Matthyseen. She’s visited the Vimy monument in France, and saw her great-great Uncle George Mount’s name etched in the stone.

“It was really emotional to see a relative’s name, carved into that stone into that memorial,” says Matthyssen.

“It is breathtaking, it captures the light and it stands there and it holds true to all those thousands and thousands of people who fought for our democracy and I was pretty young. I mean it was a while ago when I went, but for me to be in those trenches and to see things left as they were, there’s no better kind of education to see that and to feel that and to see how that’s taken care of by people still in France,” she adds.

Wilson says this is one of a few historic events they make sure to talk about and commemorate each year. He not only wants young people to learn about Canadian military history, but also respects those who served.

“We also want to make sure that our veterans see that we are honoring their comrades and their sacrifice,” says Wilson.

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