The Battle of Vimy Ridge represents a coming of age for Canada, which had not yet celebrated 50 years of Confederation at the time. This Battle was the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps had fought together, and under Canadian commanders.
Vimy Ridge has become a potent symbol of Canadian identity and nationalism, though at the painful cost of over 10,000 casualties; 3,598 were killed and 7,004 wounded.
For the Royal Canadian Air Force, the war in which this battle was fought represents the naissance of Canadian military aviation, which made vital contributions to the conduct of the ground engagement.
Every year, on April 9th, Canadians commemorate the victory of the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge in France. The engagement, part of the larger Battle of Arras (April 9 to May 16, 1917), took place from April 9 to 12, and resulted in the decisive defeat of the German defenders.
When the Battle of Arras began on April 9, 1917 the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) deployed 25 squadrons with a combined 385 aircraft; only about a third of these aircraft were fighters (known as scouts at the time). For the men of the RFC and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) – and there were many
Canadians among them – this was the start of what would be called, “Bloody April”. The
savagery of the fighting and the bravery of the combatants on the ground were matched by the war in the air.
The men and women of today’s air force are the proud successors of the Canadian airmen who served as members of the Royal Flying Corps during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Those gallant airmen played a pivotal role in the birth of Canadian military aviation and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Vimy Flight Association and the RCAF conducted flying activities in Northern France with four Nieuport 11 and one SE5 replica aircraft throughout week, leading up to the 100-year anniversary ceremonies of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on 9 April, 2017. Photos: Vimy Flight Association, Capt Brent Handy, RCAF & MCpl Jennifer Kusche, Canadian Forces Combat Camera. #VIMY100 #RFC #RNAS #RCAF