Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The battle of Vimy Ridge


DanielleWilson76
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi, I am currently researching the battle of Vimy Ridge for an essay. What I intend to show in my essay is that Vimy Ridge was evidence that the first world war was a changing war, and that Vimy ridge showed the progression of tactics and planning. I already have quite a few points to illustrate what the canadians and British had built upon from previous experience such as the refinement of the creeping barrage, the tunnelling systems, the planning and practice as well as more emphasis on elite teams such as lewis gunners. (Of which my great great uncle Private Roger Wilson was and killed during this battle.)

If anyone has any evidence or arguments that add to my argument that the success at Vimy was a result of a steep learning curve culmulating from the Somme and previous attempts on the ridge by the French. Any help or points would be greatly appreciated.

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Danielle, if you have time get hold of a copy of "The Germans on Vimy Ridge" by Jack Sheldon (a member of this forum). It will help a great deal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will do, I've got his book that is co-written with Nigel Cave titled " the battle for Vimy Ridge-1917" which is a very good book, so will try and find that one as well. Many thanks, book recommendations are very welcome as the more sources I have the better the essay.

Thank you,

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Danielle. Good luck with your essay. If you can get your library to procure it for you, the definitive reference is The Official History. Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras and the volume of the OH which refers is, " History of the Great War. Military Operations, France & Belgium, 1917 ( The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line and The Battle of Arras) ". Compiled by Captain Cyril Falls. This is one of 3 volumes covering 1917.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The OH and Jack Sheldon's book are must haves for studying the actions there in 1917 IMHO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you can, whilst at the library, get hold of and have a look at Jonathan Nicholls book 'A Cheerful Sacrifice'. It will give you the broader picture of what the April 1917 attacks consisted of. Too often the attack on Vimy ridge is seen in isolation from the other equally successful attacks that day (probably within which your Great Great Uncle Died).

Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many many thanks to you all for your recommendations, I will have a search for those titles. I am arguing that Vimy ridge illustrates among with other battles such as messines that the first world war was a dynamic one. My lecturer at uni first pointed this out and I am keen to show this in my writing. Any counter arguments are welcome to broaden out the argument. As battles such as passchendaele could be seen to argue against a dynamic war but instead show a war stuck in its ways.

Many thanks again,

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree wholeheartedly with your thesis. It may perhaps be of interest that the very short time that Henry Wilson spent commanding in the field was at Vimy before the Canadians took over. He lost some ground there to the Germans but his biographer claimed that he had laid the base for the Canadian attack. The book referred to is, " Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson Bart. G.C.B. D.S.O. His Life & Diaries", Major General Sir C.E. Callwell, K.C.B. Cassell & Co.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Danielle: The following link will take you to a Canadian newspaper website which has interactive mapping, accounts, 15 photographs from the Canadian National Archives, and some front pages of the newspapers coverage of the battle and items regarding the Allies attacks and other related events:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/vimyridge

Hope this helps, Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pete,

The link has gone astray - this should work

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/vimyridge

The article by Michael Valpy gives rise to over 300 interesting comments showing how emotive the subject is to this day - worth a look Danielle

Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For sure you will need to read this:

Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment

This comes from the "Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies" at Wilfred Laurier University.

It is an outstanding text and certainly of academic quality.

It is a collection of essays so it will fit in well with your task.

Richard

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks to you all. The Henry Wilson text will be very useful as I wanted to add what had been previously done at Vimy Ridge and assess it in comparison to what was done by the canadians. I had also been searching for newspaper articles and hadn't had much look so all very much appreciated information. I will look into the text recommendations also as I want to do this essay justice not only for my degree but in honour of my Great great uncle who fought and died there. Its been a fascinating topic and I'm going to visit the battlefield in April and also my uncle's grave site.

Many thanks to you all!

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Pete,

Just noticed that you have a memorial to your great uncle Walter Dixon from Kendal, Westmorland.

I'm from Kendal, Westmorland! but what I find interesting is that I live here and my uncle fought for Canada and you live in Canada (i assume from your profile) and your uncle fought in the British forces.

Basically opposites! what a small world! I'll have to have a look in the Westmorland Gazette archives in Kendal Library to find his obituary at some point. I founf my uncle's in there.

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not read the Wilson biography, so perhaps I should not comment. However, I should take with a large pinch of salt any claim from any source that above ground actions by the British army during the few months they were in occupation in 1916 prepared the way for the Canadians. Work by the British miners is another matter and the role of British gunners on the various staffs and physically manning much of the artillery in Spring 1917, is consistently undervalued in much of the literature. If you get a chance to look at my Vimy book, you will see that the indispensible groundwork for the ultimate Canadian triumph was bought in blood by the French in the Spring and Autumn of 1915.

Jack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live in Canada as well and both my grandfathers served on the line as British Officers. Both in the CEF first and then transferred after Officers School at Oxford. For years I assumed my grandfather Laughton served with the CEF at Vimy Ridge and then when I got into the details I found out he was with the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers! I have thus read almost everything from both the British and Canadian perspective. The only one that is full of errors is Berton's original work.

what I find interesting is that I live here and my uncle fought for Canada and you live in Canada (i assume from your profile) and your uncle fought in the British forces. Basically opposites! what a small world!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live in Canada as well and both my grandfathers served on the line as British Officers. Both in the CEF first and then transferred after Officers School at Oxford. For years I assumed my grandfather Laughton served with the CEF at Vimy Ridge and then when I got into the details I found out he was with the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers! I have thus read almost everything from both the British and Canadian perspective. The only one that is full of errors is Berton's original work.

Its a strange turn of events isn't it! I remember first being told about my great great uncle and I would have expected him to have fought in the British army rather than the CEF. However its been a good way to highlight the different people taking part in the first world war, and for a change I've focused more on another country involved rather than just the British side of the war, which has proved fascinating. I have also been very impressed by the canadian archives and all the information online. I've got rather addicted to researching now!

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not read the Wilson biography, so perhaps I should not comment. However, I should take with a large pinch of salt any claim from any source that above ground actions by the British army during the few months they were in occupation in 1916 prepared the way for the Canadians. Work by the British miners is another matter and the role of British gunners on the various staffs and physically manning much of the artillery in Spring 1917, is consistently undervalued in much of the literature. If you get a chance to look at my Vimy book, you will see that the indispensible groundwork for the ultimate Canadian triumph was bought in blood by the French in the Spring and Autumn of 1915.

Jack

I've got your book on Vimy Ridge that is co written with Nigel Cave. It has been a great help and it will also come in very useful on my first visit to the battlefield in April with the guides in the back. Many thanks for your comments and pointers.

Danielle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got your book on Vimy Ridge that is co written with Nigel Cave. It has been a great help and it will also come in very useful on my first visit to the battlefield in April with the guides in the back. Many thanks for your comments and pointers.

Danielle

As regards the Wilson affair, this was largely a reaction to having lost a chunk of ground to the Germans in May 1916. I cover it briefly in the first of the Battleground Vimy books I did, which tends to talk a lot more, but not that much - do not get too excited!! - about what the French and the British did prior to the arrival of the Canadians. As Jack says, the French were the ones who were involved in major offensive actions in the area of the Ridge, particularly in 1915. When the British got there it was primarily a line holding operation. Contrary to what often hears, the British made absolutely no attempt to capture the Ridge, or even engage in any major activity (except underground) in the seven months or so that they were present holding the line on what is generally known as Vimy Ridge.

A good part of the line captured by the Germans happens to be on the part of the Vimy Memorial that is open to the public; walking up to the Memorial itself, from the preserved Crater Line and the subway, after the T Junction and keeping on the right hand side of the road, you immediately come across the Broadmarsh Crater (VC action nearby) and then the British/French line was on your right until you come to a wooden marker (I think it has the numbe 3 on it, but cannot be sure) which marks, more or less, where the line crossed the road. There is a twin marker on the other side and the line then ran, more or less at right angles to the road across the wooded are and the open shell scape into the wooded area beyond that.

Wilson did suggest a counter attack to recover the lost ground, but Hag was having none of it, not wanting to distract resources from the forthcoming Somme battle.

Enjoy your trip in April,

Nigel Cave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...