Ceremony at the Canadian Memorial in Thelus
Thélus, France, Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The road that passes by this memorial is often called the “Canadian gunners’ road,” after the members of the Canadian Corps Artillery who fell during the Vimy operations of April, 1917.
It is so important that we remember their service and their sacrifice, because the artillery corps played a critical role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Having learned hard lessons earlier in the war, Canadians took a new approach to artillery fire during these operations.
Rather than alternating between shelling and ground attacks, Canadian gunners and infantry members coordinated their assault for greater effectiveness. With remarkable precision, soldiers moved ahead 90 metres every three minutes, under cover of their own guns. This coupling of artillery fire and troop advance took great courage, but it enabled the Canadians to progress and dig in before the enemy could regroup and counterattack.
This innovative tactic was one of the keys to success at Vimy. This memorial exists to honour those who served, and to remember their enormous sacrifice.
As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, I am honoured to be here. Allow me to offer my sincere thanks to the people of Thélus. You have been steadfast in remembering the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers in the First World War.
Their bravery, dedication and ingenuity continue to inspire us all these years later. Let us honour their lives and achievements, and renew our dedication to remembering the terrible cost of war.
On behalf of all Canadians, thank you for being here today for this important ceremony of remembrance.