One hundred years ago from Sunday, April 9, thousands of Canadians stormed Vimy Ridge in a battle that’s often called the defining moment of Canada.
They were successful in something the British and French tried and failed to do for months.
But it cost almost 3,600 Canadians their lives while wounding thousands of others.
Robert Farrell was lucky enough to return home.
While he survived, his family said he didn’t talk much about the Great War, and when he did return home, he threw away all reminders.
Now 100 years later, his great-grandson will be returning to the spot where he fought.
Lindon Smith, of Fillmore, Sask., is heading to the Vimy Ridge Memorial as part of a youth travel club. While he admits his knowledge of the event is lacking, he said he’s looking to learn as much as he can about the history.
Some of the men who fought in Vimy were barely older than 15-year-old Smith – and many came from similar backgrounds.
“It makes you look on the bigger scale of things, it certainly does,” Smith said. “You know you have your close family, I live in rural Saskatchewan, but when you think about it, it was farm kids, people from wherever. (It) doesn’t matter if they were in the city or the small town, it was everyone who contributed.”
Ahead of the trip, Smith said he was told he won’t know how it feels until he’s there and that the feeling is both empowering and overwhelming.
“I can’t quite grasp what that would be like but I’m hoping I do get to be able to explain it when I do get home,” he said.
He doesn’t really know what to expect, but he knows the experience will last a lifetime.
“I won’t ever forget the experience that I’m going to have, I know that for sure. It’s something I will definitely remember.”