The French, British, Czech and Polish Memorials West of Vimy
After finishing the drive from Arras to Cambrai in the footsteps of the Canadian Corp. I had time to follow up on a couple of items that Zac (faithful guide from my Vimy Trip) had suggested. Notre Dame De Lorette and the Abbey at Mont Etoi.
I drove to the Site of N.D de Lorette, which is located on a hill to the west of Vimy Ridge. A tower, Abbey, and large cemetery are at the top of the hill. The cemetery simple goes on as far as you can see along the hill in both directions. It is simply massive. If I read the french explination correctly, it indicates 60,000 dead in the cemetery and crypt. This dates to the early part of the war when there was little British or Canadian Forces in France. The French Army bore the attacks of 1914 and 1915 which overran their territory.
Moving down the road to Cabaret Rouge Cemetery – a British Cemetery named after the destroyed public house that sat at this location – I saw the largest British Cemetery I had so far. Over 7,000. It was from a plot in this Cemetery that an unknown solider, killed in the battle for Vimy Ridge was exhumed and moved to the National War Memorial in Ottawa. A marker still remains in the plot, explaining the movement of the remains.
Further down the road there are two other memorials. A Czech one that commemorates both WWI and WWII loses and a Polish Memorial from WWI. These two plus the Morocan memorial on Vimy recognize the other Allied forces of the Great War.
Last, I drove to Mount Eloi, there are the ruins of an Abbey, mostly destroyed long before WWI but commanding a view that made it an ideal command post and artillery observation site for the Battle of Vimy Ridge.