Vimy Ridge 1

The Great War: Vimy Ridge
George Van Wyck Laughton, M.C.

Canadian - Serving in the British 3rd Army, 34th Division,  
26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish)

                               


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This page last updated on February 01, 2013

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The Battle of Arras, Vimy Ridge (April 9-12, 1917)

As noted on the main page we have now broken down the Vimy Pages into two separate pages, on of which deals with the history of the battle and the second which provides the report as seen through the maps and notes of Grandfather Laughton.  Each are important to the story.

This is the part of the story as retrieved from Forum Members and the research texts.

For a concise overview of the "Battle of Vimy Ridge" from April 9-12, 1917 we can refer you to an excellent piece presented by the National Archives of Canada which have two excellent web sites:

National Archives of Canada, Vimy Ridge
Library and Archives Canada, the Battle of Vimy Ridge

For a view of the Town of Vimy taken in May 1917 from the crest of Vimy Ridge (as well as some other amazing pictures), don't miss taking a look at the photograph to Vimy Ridge on the National Archives site for Canada.

In May 2004 I also came across the text of the Despatches of Sir Douglas Haig, British Army Commander in Chief.  These are excellent documents, as they provide a concise summary of the main events.  In reference to the Spring 1917 offensive, please refer to Haig's Fourth Despatch as it covers this entire period.  If you search this document, you will find many references to the 34th Division.  As of yet I have not found the specific references in the Haig Despatches referring to George Van Wyck Laughton, as mentioned in the London Gazette.  Not all of the despatches are published to the site at present.  You may wish to refer to these links:

Haig's Fourth Despatch, the 1917 Campaigns
Haig's Despatches, Summary

An excellent account of Vimy Ridge for students of Canadian ,military history is provided in the text edited by Colonel C.P. Stacey, Former Director, Directorate of History at the Canadian Forces Headquarters in Ottawa, Canada.  A map provided with the text also shows the relationship of the 51st Division (British) which bordered the 1st Canadian Division on the north and the 34th British Division on the south, of which the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers were a battalion.  The Canadian Forces web site has a newly prepared PDF version of the  full text with this famous battle and many others:

Introduction to the Study of Military History for Canadian Students
(see page 86 for Vimy Ridge)

For a more detailed version of the battle, please see Nicholson's text as referenced in the following table.  With that information in hand, the details that are provided in the records of George Van Wyck Laughton will have much greater value.

A great new text was released in 2005 by Osprey Publishing that details the exploits of the CEF and BEF at Vimy  The text "Vimy Ridge 1917: Byng's Triumph at Arras"  tells the story no better than anyone else to date.  Author Anderson Turner's work, are magnified by the illustrations of Peter Dennis, so that you no longer wonder what it was like at Vimy.  Instead you are transformed to the fields of Vimy.  There are some specific sections (as it relates to my research of paternal and maternal grandfathers) worth mentioning on our web site:

Page 25: The Canadians see their first action at Second Ypres - so now I have a tie between both grandfathers at the same battle;

Page 53: Often the topic of discussion but often not answered, who would have known that there were 50,000 horses and mules at Vimy and that Vets dealt with 1,000 casualties per day;

Page 39: Previously unknown to me, the BEF and CEF had different "Coloured Lines" for the Battle Front of April 9, 1917.    The CEF had only the "black, red, blue and brown" lines and it was only the BEF (paternal grandfather) who also had the additional "Green Line".  I erred in correcting one of my cohorts on missing reference to the green line, not knowing that it was only a BEF objective.  See also the continuation of this aspect on page 65 - a linkage in 2005 that would have seemed so far apart in 1917.

Page 41: My maternal and paternal grandfathers are for the first time linked "in battle" as there is reference to the P.P.C.L.I. (Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry) who are thrust into the same battle.  It makes me wonder how close they came to each other?
Note: Later research shows that Grandfather Kennedy was no longer serving in the PPCLI at the time of Vimy Ridge as by November 1916 he had accepted an Officer Commission in the Royal Irish Rifles.

Page 51:  This is of course the first of the great illustrations and it responds not only to my grandfather's notes to "dump the grey coats" but also to other member comments about "what did they carry"?  How many of us could do that today?

Page 63; Page 70:  The second and third of the great illustrations - which put together with page 51 shows the whole battlefield.  Some day I hope to have time to put all of these together into one battle map on my library wall.  More than at any time in the past, it brought together my thoughts, as I see that the PPCLI and the 26th NF were so close in supporting each other in battle.

There are many other excellent components of Turner's text, the above examples are only a few.  Perhaps one day I will find that Grandfather Laughton and Grandfather Kennedy exchanged greetings or crossed paths in battle, a premonition of a future family and my purpose to date.

 

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