Sunday, 9 April 2017

The skies above Vimy

 Despite taking place before the time period that World of Warplanes encompasses, I will pause and look back to a very significant event that occurred, 100 years ago today....

Every April the 9th is known as Vimy Ridge Day in Canada and is observed very much like Remembrance Day in some communities. Part of a larger World War I campaign known as the Battle of Arras, it is better remembered for the four day long operation to take out the heavily fortified and defended German positions on Vimy Ridge, by the use of a Creeping Artillery Barrage and a large number of Canadian ground troops. The clear and decisive victory came at a price, with 3,598 dead and 7,004 wounded and was a defining moment for Canada as a nation, on the world stage.

 However, there is an overlooked and forgotten part to the Vimy story. 

During those same four days and high above the battlefield, Canadian airmen and observers, serving with both the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps, would play a crucial part in the outcome of this major conflict. Flying in The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 and through the use of aerial Morse Code transmitters, cameras and acknowledgment flags on the ground, enemy positions and movements would be photographed and relayed to artillery teams, greatly increasing their accuracy and effectiveness.

 Others, flying in Nieuport 17s, Sopwith Pups and Triplanes would engage aerial enemies in dogfights and drop bombs, mirroring the ferocious and bloody action below.

On this day, I will take a moment to remember those Canadian airmen who helped make the Battle of Vimy Ridge such a historical success and pay special honor to the 17 killed in action, along with 8 wounded and 4 still listed as missing....

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