09 Jul Recover Our Vimy Heroes
On April 9th, 1917, 100,000 Canadians stormed the strongest German position on the Western Front. It was a decisive victory for the Canadians but the price was high with 3600 men killed or died of wounds. After the battle burial squads searched the battlefield and buried the Fallen. In the post-war years Exhumation Companies concentrated these small cemeteries and isolated graves into the War Cemeteries we see today. In spite of their incredible effort to recover Our Dead, 1100 Canadians from the Vimy Operations are still Missing, buried as unknowns in the cemeteries, or still out there on the battlefield.
For those who watched Episode 2; The Missing of The Great War Tour with Norm Christie series (6 Episodes) on TVO or Knowledge Networks, you will know the story of CA40. As Norm recounts, it was made right after the battle and contained 44 Soldiers of The 16th Canadian Infantry, The Canadian Scottish, killed on Vimy Ridge, April 9th, 1917, including William Milne, VC. As explained in the show, it was supposed to have been concentrated into another War Cemetery close-by, but clearly this never took place. There is no evidence that these graves from CA40 were ever recovered, and it appears, based on all the paper evidence, and the ground checks, that these men still lie buried in an unmarked grave in a potato field in Northern France. This is unacceptable.
Norm Christie has launched a Fundraising campaign, Help Recover Our Vimy Heroes, with the intention of raising $110,000 to proceed with the second step in the recover of the 44 Canadian Soldiers buried in CA40. This will cover an engineering team (for subsurface evaluation, GPR, electrical analysis), a documentary film crew, compensation for local farmers and safety and security costs.
Recent work by the Australians have resulted in the recovery of 150 Australian remains, and Norm feels if the Australians can do it there is no reason why Canadians can’t also show that level of determination and pride. He is looking for Canadians, who see this as a measure of who we, are to contribute to the campaign. There is a video on the site that explains the history of CA40, click on the arrow at the lower right corner of the photograph).
To contribute go to: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/4zeCb
Answers to a couple of questions regarding this project
Why not leave them where they are?
It is inappropriate and disrespectful to leave Fallen Canadian soldiers in an unmarked grave, on a French potato field. How anyone can think is OK is beyond understanding. These men went to fight for Canada and gave their lives for US. For US to simply ignore them would be an embarrassment, and say way too much on what we now have become. I believe many Canadians do care about these Men, and very much want these Canadians to receive a proper burial. Secondly, do you think the Australians would let their Boys languish in a farmers field? We already know the answer to that one.
Why doesn’t the War Graves do this work?
The CWGC does not get involved UNTIL remains are found, and have been cleared by the local police. The remains then go into the CWGC morgue and the CWGC advises the appropriate national defense departments. The CWGC is never involved in any searches.