By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
“The whole Empire will rejoice at the news of yesterday’s successful operations. Canada will be proud that the taking of the coveted Vimy Ridge has fallen to the lot of her troops. I heartily congratulate you and all who have taken part in this splendid achievement.”¹
There are many anniversaries being celebrated in 2017. Canada marks 150 of confederation, which means the Province of Ontario is also 150 years old. Locally, the Oshawa Historical Society is celebrating 60, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery is celebrating 50, and Parkwood National Historic Site is 100, with construction of RS McLaughlin’s mansion completed in 1917. Another 100 year milestone being commemorated is 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a landmark battle in the First World War. which took place from April 7 to 12, 1917.
As our archivist Jennifer Weymark relayed in one of her podcasts about Vimy Ridge:
The battle at Vimy Ridge is considered by many historians to be a defining moment in Canadian history. It was during this battle that Canadian troops were heralded for their bravery and their strength and for leading a stunning victory. This victory was not without great cost in terms of loss of life as over 10 000 Canadian were killed or wounded in this battle. Vimy Ridge was the first time all four Canadian divisions attached as together. The battle was considered a turning point in the war and holding the ridge was important to the eventual allied victory.
One Oshawa man, Phillip J. Phillips, was part of the 116th Battalion and fought with the 18th Canadian Infantry Battalion during the battle of Vimy Ridge. He survived the initial battle and was relived from the front line by the 24th Battalion. At this time the 18th Battalion moved back to the divisional reserve on April 13th. On May 6th, the battalion moved back to the front to relieve the 24th Battalion. The front line was under heavy shell fire. On May 7th, 5 soldiers were killed, 13 wounded, under continuous bombardment of gas-shells by the Germans. Phillips was one of the five that were killed that day. He was buried at the Vimy Communal Cemetery, near Lens, France.
Vimy Avenue was a street that was developed during the 1920s, a period of growth for the City of Oshawa. It is found in the neighbourhood northeast of Olive and Ritson, and other streets in its vicinity include Verdun Road, Courcellette Avenue, St. Eloi Avenue, and Festhurbert Street, all named in honour of significant World War I battles. These streets all feature a poppy on the sign.
Lest we forget.
¹ His Majesty the King to Field-Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, April 10, 1917. War Diary, 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade. RG 9, series III, vol. 4881, folders 236-239. Accessed from https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/firstworldwar/025005-1300-e.html
For further reading about the Battle of Vimy Ridge, please visit the following sites: