The story of the original cross erected in the days after the assault on Vimy Ridge and how it came to Canada.
The Cross returns to France on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
Details of the ceremony on the occasion of its return to the Regimental Museum
The erection of a granite replica by the 15th Battalion Memorial Project team.
As a direct result of the in-depth research that was done on the cross to prepare it for the journey to France for the Vimy Centenary and significant public interest in the story generated by the CBC documentary, the 15th Battalion CEF Memorial Project developed a plan to erect a memorial near the location where the original cross had been erected on 10 April 1917. Like the previous nine memorials the Project had erected in Belgium and France between 2010 and 2014 that commemorate the Battalion’s participation in significant Great War battles, the new memorial would commemorate participation in the assault on Vimy ridge and all the men who took part – especially those who fell during the battle or died of their wounds thereafter. The original cross was erected at CA35 slightly west of Nine Elms Cemetery and following the Armistice in 1918, it was moved to Nine Elms Cemetery along with the men who were buried beneath it. Therefore, the site of the new memorial was proposed to be as close to those locations as possible while allowing for access by the public.
A suitable site was located adjacent to Nine Elms Cemetery that was on ground over which the 15th Battalion advanced on 9 April 1917 and the property owner graciously agreed to donate the land for the memorial and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) supported the location adjacent to Nine Elms Cemetery. The Project Team proposed that the memorial be a 1:1 scale replica of the original Vimy cross but made of granite. HGH Granite of Ancaster, Ontario was contracted to design and manufacture of the cross. The cross was quarried in China and the engraving and finishing was completed in Ancaster in the late summer of 2018.
Despite initial support for the proposed memorial, the CWGC withdrew its support mere days before the 2 ton cross was scheduled to be shipped to France for installation. Fortunately the the town of Ecurie, slightly south of CA35 and Nine Elms Military Cemetery, generously donated a site in a new park on the edge of the town and enthusiastically embraced the presence of the memorial in their community. Corporate sponsors DHL and Purolator Canada transported the cross to France in September 2018 where it and two accompanying display panels were installed by French contractors DeGand. Funding for the project came entirely from the generosity of private donors.
Vimy cross memorial was dedicated on 22 September 2018 in a ceremony attended by members of the 15th Battalion CEF Memorial Project, the Honorary Colonel and Padre of the 48th Highlanders of Canada and former serving members of the Regiment, local Mayors and municipal officials and many community members from Ecurie, Roclincourt and Thelus, VAC officials and staff from Vimy National Memorial and the Somme Battlefield Pipes & Drums.