Princes William and Harry commemorate Vimy Ridge Battle centenary in France

Posted April 15, 2017

Soldiers stand next to boots dropped off the lawn, during a commemoration ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, takes a selfie with military personnel following the Poppy of Peace Ceremony in Arras, France on Sunday, April 9, 2017.

Before the prime minister spoke, Canadian Governor General David Johnston pointed to the majestic Vimy monument, unveiled between world wars in 1937, and declared it a symbol of what the battle accomplished a century ago.

But the Canadians did, after four days of intense warfare, capture the ridge that both the French and British had previously failed to do.

More than 15,000 Canadian soldiers stormed the 7 km long ridge, nearly 4,000 were killed and another 7,000 were wounded.

Prince Charles commended the "strength of character" of Canada's troops.

Many Canadians consider the victory at Vimy a significant step toward Canada's colonial emancipation from Britain, but some Canadian historians have debunked the state's official view of its significance.

"We commemorate and thank those who gave of their lives, so that we can preserve the freedom of today", said Saracino.

The events of that day saw the four divisions of the Canadian Corps serving together for the first time. On this day, they were more than mere tools of the Empire - they were professionals who, through innovation, daring and dedicated preparation, managed to solve one of the most stubborn riddles of a hellish conflict. "We must never forget their service and sacrifice".

The commemorative ceremony at the memorial honors Canadian soldiers who were killed or wounded during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

The Prince of Wales described the efforts of Canadian troops who fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge as setting "an extraordinary example of selflessness for our future generations".

By the end of the First World War, Canada-a country of fewer than eight million people-had more than 650,000 men and women serving in uniform.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of a larger British-led offensive that included Australian soldiers, known as the Battle of Arras, which was a diversionary tactic to assist a major French attack further south.