‘Capturing the ridge’ at great sacrifice

On Nov. 6, 1917 General Arthur Currie’s Canadian Corps finally took the town of Passchendaele, in the Third Battle of Ypres.
Canadians and Anzac troops suffered 240,000 casualties in four months to gain eight kilometres of muddy territory.
In the Battle of Passchendaele, Canadians captured Belgium’s Passchendaele ridge after an offensive that began on July 31. They took over from the battered Australians.
The battle is remembered for its atrocious conditions, heavy casualties and Canadian valour.
Instrumental in securing victory, Canadians earned a total of nine Victoria Crosses for their courage, including Colin Fraser Barron and James Peter Robertson, for the day of the battle, and Thomas William Holmes, Cecil John Kinross, Hugh McKenzie, George Harry Mullin, Christopher Patrick John O’Kelly, George Randolph Pearkes, and Robert Shankland, for their contributions to the campaign.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) is the designation for the Canadian forces who served overseas during the First World War. Far from their homeland, they helped build Canada’s international reputation and contributed to Canada’s coming of age as a nation.
Sadly, nearly one out of every 10 Canadians who served during the First World War never made it home; nearly 60,000 members of the CEF lost their lives and so many more were wounded during the four-year conflict.
The Royal Canadian Mint has issued several commemorative coins as part of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, including a coin depicting a typical soldier of the CEF. The $5 silver Proof coin was released earlier this year, and is currently 75 per cent sold according to the Mint.

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