Canada and France released a joint issue April 8 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The battle is considered a significant victory for the Allies in World War I and also was an important military milestone for Canada.
The joint issue features two stamps, one designed by Canada Post and the other by France’s La Poste, and honors the bond that the battle on French soil forged between the two nations.
The Canadian Permanent (first-class rate; currently 85 cents) stamps are being sold in booklets of 10. There also are separate souvenir sheets from each country featuring singles of both stamps denominated appropriately per country.
At 5:30 a.m. on April 9, 1917, the first wave of soldiers in the nearly 100,000-strong Canadian Corps emerged from their muddy trenches. The corps was ordered to seize a heavily fortified and strategic height of land, Vimy Ridge, in northern France. The ridge had been a virtually impregnable German-held position since early in the war and had withstood several previous assaults at great cost to the Allies.
Nearly 3,600 Canadians were killed and more than 7,000 were wounded over four days of bitter fighting. The Canadian soldiers’ bravery, determination and skillful precision at Vimy earned Canada international accolades. The monument was designed by Canadian sculptor and architect Walter Seymour Allward. It took 11 years and $1.5 million to build. It was unveiled on July 26, 1936 by King Edward VIII. On hand were French President Albert Lebrun and thousands of Canadian and French veterans.
The French stamp features a lower section of the monument with each country’s flag flying, a partial view of the stairway, and a robed, allegorical figure standing with head hung. The Canadian stamp was designed by Susan Scott of Montreal and features the monument’s two towering pylons, which represent France and Canada. In the foreground of the stamp is a figure of a grieving man, one of the monument’s statues, symbolizing loss and grief. The ridge behind the monument on the stamp recalls the site of the battle itself.
Canadian featured the Vimy Memorial on a 15-cent stamp (Scott 468) in 1968 that commemorated the 50-year anniversary of the armistice that ended WWI. France issued a pair of stamps featuring the memorial in 1936 (Scott 311-312).