Canada comes of age
Vimy Ridge was the battle where communication between units and the right tactical solutions carried out in an coordinated effort, all came together to provide the biggest victory of the war to that point on the western front. The Canadian and British commanders at Vimy Ridge used the invaluable experience they had gained form previous engagements and made sure that they anticipated and solved the problems of the barbed wire, the German Machine Gun nests, the entrenched defences, and the support needed to issue orders and insure that they were received.
Barbed wire had become a major obstacle in any attack across no man's land. Sappers could be sent out to cut paths through the wire walls or artillery used to blow gaps in it. The problem had been that the artillery efforts that had been used to that point had proved to be ineffective. Waves of British and Canadian troops had listened for the whistler from their officers that signaled the attack was to begin, and had emerged from the trenches and charged the German lines only to find the barbed wire intact and a death trap. A new type of artillery shell was developed for this battle which didn't explode until it hit the ground (instead of exploding in the air which was supposed to tear the wire to shreds) and blew a hole in the ground and the wire. This weapon was able to overcome the first problem of the wire.
A rolling artillery barrage was used to neutralize the machine gun nests and entrenched German troops by driving them underground. Artillery had been used throughout the war, but had usually stopped before the troops began the attack which allowed the enemy the opportunity to re-emerge from their protective shelters and get set up to mow down the advancing troops. The rolling barrage tactic laid down a carpet of artillery fire about 50 to 100 feet in front of the advancing Canadians. The Germans did not have an opportunity to re-emerge and get setup. Hundreds of Germans were captured in their underground shelters and the Canadians swept past them to the next objective. This tactic required precise planning, timing and execution. The Canadian troops practiced and trained for this attack intensely before the attack and it paid off.
Communication and information were also used effectively for the first time in World War I on the western front. Maps were issued to Platoons so they would know where they were supposed to be and where other units on their flanks were supposed to be. The Canadian troops right down to the privates knew the timing, location and jobs of their units and other units. They worked together as an entire coordinated force and were able to recognize problems as they developed in their sectors and others and act to correct them.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was not only the First Great offensive Victory for the Allied forces on the western front, it also marked to evolution of tactics which could bring victory to the attacker and hence brought an end to the war into sight.
Vimy Ridge soldiers Preparing for battle
The Attack takes place
Follow up and fall out of the battle
Lest we forget
Lest we forget