Vimy Ridge: Royals to commemorate defining WW1 battle

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The April 9 1917 battle on a snow-swept French hillside is key to Canada's history.

"Despite these losses, Canadian bravery and ingenuity won the day and led to one of the most decisive victories in the First World War".

Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry were given a guided tour of the trenches in northern France, where Canadian troops, under British command, fought the German military.

The battle started on April 9, 1917 and lasted for four days.

"Those spires stand for peace and for freedom", Gov. Gen. David Johnston said, indicating the white towers of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial behind him.

On Sunday, Prince William, Prince Harry, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared together, as part of a group of leaders paying tribute to a historic battle. It is truly an honour to be here to recognize the more than 650,000 courageous Canadians who served in the First World War and commemorate our proud history. Vimy School was build in 1930 to commemorate those fearless men who fought and gave their lives at Vimy Ridge so that we can preserve the freedom and democracy that we all enjoy today. "Many Canadians paid a awful price for this historic victory at Vimy, and I am humbled and honoured to be part of a company that has contributed so much to protecting the people and values we all hold so dear".

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From the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, 47 soldiers were killed and 151 wounded in the assault.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country "was born here" as he led commemorations in France on Sunday for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Others are former or current military members for whom the event holds great significance.

But he saved a special thanks for Canada, telling Trudeau and the hundreds of others assembled that the Canadians' actions at Vimy were "a turning point for our city and our country".

"As we honour such great bravery and sacrifice, we should honour the courageous men and women of the Canadian Forces, who risk their lives to carry on this proud tradition of service - and keep us all safe".

"Many historians and writers consider the Canadian victory at Vimy a defining moment for Canada, when the country emerged from under the shadow of Britain and felt capable of greatness", he said. The site, which in 1922 became a piece of Canadian territory on French soil, is a revered national symbol, one featured on the back of Canada's $20 bill to this day.

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