Webmatters Title
Webmatters : The Canadian 2nd Division at Vimy Ridge, 9th April 1917
Rough Map of Area

Vimy Ridge

2nd Canadian Division

2nd Canadian Division : initial advance

The initial attack by the 2nd Canadian Division

On the left of the 1st Division, Major General Burstall’s 2nd Division was opposite Hill 135 and the fortified villages of Thélus and Farbus.

Hills were often given a name according to their height, in metres, above sea-level, in this case : Hill 135. A word of caution for those visualising mountains, the height has to be taken in context with the surrounding area.

There were a number of woods on their front which would be full of enemy soldiers and to complicate things for the supporting artillery the battle zone was not equidistant ; 2,750 metres on the right but only 2,000 on the left.

The attack would be similar to that of the 1st Division’s ; carried out in two bounds.

Having determined that a single Brigade would not be sufficient to achieve the final two objectives the Division was allocated the British 13th Brigade from the reserve (5th Division). They would also receive eight tanks but the ground had been so torn up as to render it untraversable.

Zivy Crater

The 18th and 19th Battalions passed close to the modern Zivy Crater Cemetery


Canadian Artillery memorial at Thelus
Canadian Artillery monument at Thélus crossroads

At 0530 hours the leading four battalions launched their assault.

At first the going was fairly easy but then, here and there, machine-gun posts were found to be still operational.

Both the 18th and 24th Battalions were severely hit though this did not prevent the first wave reaching the Black Line by 0610 hours.

From there the 21st and 25th Battalions continued on to the Red Line just beyond the crossroads as you enter Thélus.

Meanwhile, the 20th and 22nd (the French Canadians) cleaned the trenches and underground shelters of any remaining enemy.

This was always a dangerous task on the battlefield as there was always the possibility of having missed a machine-gun post, a sniper’s position or simply a dug-out filled with defenders.

 

2nd Canadian Division : second advance

The final attack by the 2nd Canadian Division

The 6th Brigade was given the objectives of Thélus and Farbus whilst on their left the British 13th Brigade (the only non-Canadian soldiers on Vimy Ridge that day) were assigned Hill 135.

At Thélus the Canadians found only the dead and buildings smashed to pieces by the shelling.

The English and Scots of the 13th Brigade swiftly took Hill 135 and began digging a new trench between Farbus and Vimy village which provided them with an excellent field of view allowing them to beat off a number of German counter-attacks.

The 27th and 29th Battalions achieved their goal by 1400 hours. The enemy had been broken.