France, Canada leaders mark centenary of Vimy Ridge

Military boots symbolising dead soldiers are seen as a Canadian police mounted officer stands guard before the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

By Miranda Alexander-Webber
April 9, 2017

ARRAS, France (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led commemorations on Sunday marking the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in northern France in which over 3,500 Canadian soldiers were among the dead.

A giant poppy made up of messages of love and gratitude was unveiled at Heroes Square in the town of Arras where Hollande and Trudeau wrote their own notes and placed them among others.

The Canadian armed forces, representing the four battalions that fought in the 1917 battle, conducted a military parade at sunset on Saturday, the eve of the centenary.

During the First World War battle on Easter Monday in 1917, over 3,500 Canadian soldiers, many of them below 20 years old, died while capturing the ridge in a fierce battle with German forces.

Hollande, Trudeau and British princes Charles, William and Harry were to take part in a ceremony later on Sunday expected to draw some 25,000 people.

Copyright Reuters 2017

(Reporting by Miranda Alexander-Webber; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) poses for a selfie picture at Heroes Square in Arras, France, as part of a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy RIdge April 9, 2017. REUTER/Philippe Huguen/Pool

French President President Francois Hollande (L) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) place signed red circles that form a giant poppy design at Heroes Square in Arras, France, as part of a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy RIdge April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thibault Vandermersch/Pool

A Canadian police mounted officer stands guard before the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

A Canadian police mounted officer stands guard before the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Military boots symbolising dead soldiers are seen as Canadian police mounted officer stand guard before the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Military boots symbolising the dead soldiers are seen as a Canadian police mounted officer stands guard before the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

French President President Francois Hollande (R) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak at Heroes Square in Arras, France, as part of a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy RIdge April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thibault Vandermersch/Pool

People attend a Remembrance Day ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, at Canadian National Memorial in Vimy, France, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

An image of a sculpture on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial is projected on the National War Memorial during an overnight vigil on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 8, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

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