Canada comes of age
The Artillery preparations and build-up for the attack were massive: 45,760 artillery personnel and 848 guns were assembled (some 250 heavy guns and howitzers and about 600 field guns and light howitzers). New tramways (light railways) were constructed, existing track was repaired and miles of plank road were built to enable the bringing up of the huge amounts of ammunition required to feed the guns (as well as other supplies and the evacuation of casualties). When the bombardment of the enemy positions began on March 20, 1917, 2,500 tons of ammunition were expended each day. In the three weeks prior to the attack on April 9, one million shells were fired at the Ridge. When the barrage intensified on April 2, there began for the Germans what they termed "the week of suffering." A further 42,000 tons of ammunition was stockpiled behind the lines for the attack itself.
By 1917 each Canadian Corps division had 64 Vickers medium machine guns. These were extremely effective weapons (and in fact remained in service with the British Army until 1968), capable of firing 450 rounds per minute for hours at a time at ranges of more than 5000 yards (almost 5500 metres). Up until now these weapons had been used mainly in a defensive role and against direct targets.
Vimy Ridge soldiers Preparing for battle
The Attack takes place
Follow up and fall out of the battle
Lest we forget
Lest we forget