Thousands of Canadians flock to France for major WW1 centenary commemorations at Vimy Ridge

Canada is preparing major commemorations to mark the centenary of World War One's Battle of Vimy Ridge in northern France this Sunday, April 9th.

On that day in 1917, more than 3,000 Canadian soldiers, many of them not even 20 years old, lost their lives in a hard-fought battle as part of the former British Empire against the German forces in which they successfully captured the ridge.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the country's Governor-General David Johnston, and French President Francois Hollande as well as the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry are all due to attend.

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Commemoration of 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
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Commemoration of 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Royal Canadian Mounted Police parade ahead of the playing of the Last Post at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing on April 6, 2017 in Ypres, Belgium. April 9, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge which was a military engagement fought mainly by Canadian Corps in France during World War One. The Vimy Ridge 100 commemoration anniversary will involve events being held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France and the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A World War I pillbox sits beside preserved trenches in the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

People attend the Veterans Affairs Canada 'Three Seconds of Light' sound and light show at Place des Heros on April 6, 2017 in Arras, France. The show is is one of many commemorative activities taking place in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and Battle of Vimy Ridge. The 20-minute sound and light show combines digital technology with historical architectural design through a combination of lighting effects, images, sounds and music. The show explores Canada's military history and long-standing relationship with France.

(Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

A World War I rail cart sits in the Grange tunnel subway at the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Headstones are made at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone production unit on April 7, 2017 in Beaurains, France. The CWGC make 6000 headstones a year to commemorate the 1.7 million who died during the two world wars. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

World War I water (L) and air (R) pumps sit in the Grange tunnel subway at the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The French and Canadian flags hang from a building close to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on April 7, 2017 in Neuville-Saint-Vaast, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A visitor takes a picture with their phone from inside a World War I pillbox in the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The cratered landscape of the Vimy Memorial Park is pictured on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

People attend the Veterans Affairs Canada 'Three Seconds of Light' sound and light show at Place des Heros on April 6, 2017 in Arras, France. The show is is one of many commemorative activities taking place in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and Battle of Vimy Ridge. The 20-minute sound and light show combines digital technology with historical architectural design through a combination of lighting effects, images, sounds and music. The show explores Canada's military history and long-standing relationship with France.

(Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police parade following the Last Post ceremony in front of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing on April 6, 2017 in Ypres, Belgium. April 9, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge which was a military engagement fought mainly by Canadian Corps in France during World War One. The Vimy Ridge 100 commemoration anniversary will involve events being held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France and the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Preserved trenches sit among the landscape at the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A man waring a Canada baseball cap looks on during the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing on April 6, 2017 in Ypres, Belgium. April 9, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge which was a military engagement fought mainly by Canadian Corps in France during World War One. The Vimy Ridge 100 commemoration anniversary will involve events being held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France and the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Preserved trenches sit among the landscape at the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The cratered landscape of the Vimy Memorial Park is pictured on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

People attend the Veterans Affairs Canada 'Three Seconds of Light' sound and light show at Place des Heros on April 6, 2017 in Arras, France. The show is is one of many commemorative activities taking place in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and Battle of Vimy Ridge. The 20-minute sound and light show combines digital technology with historical architectural design through a combination of lighting effects, images, sounds and music. The show explores Canada's military history and long-standing relationship with France.

(Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

A sign warning of undetonated explosives stands among the trees at the Vimy Memorial Park on April 7, 2017 in Vimy, France. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

People attend the Veterans Affairs Canada 'Three Seconds of Light' sound and light show at Place des Heros on April 6, 2017 in Arras, France. The show is is one of many commemorative activities taking place in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and Battle of Vimy Ridge. The 20-minute sound and light show combines digital technology with historical architectural design through a combination of lighting effects, images, sounds and music. The show explores Canada's military history and long-standing relationship with France.

(Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

A Canadian Maple Leaf design sits in a completed headstone at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone production unit on April 7, 2017 in Beaurains, France. The CWGC make 6000 headstones a year to commemorate the 1.7 million who died during the two world wars. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The design for a headstone is displayed on a monitor as they are made at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone production unit on April 7, 2017 in Beaurains, France. The CWGC make 6000 headstones a year to commemorate the 1.7 million who died during the two world wars. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A completed headstone for a Canadian soldier sits in the workshop at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone production unit on April 7, 2017 in Beaurains, France. The CWGC make 6000 headstones a year to commemorate the 1.7 million who died during the two world wars. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A military band plays the Last Post at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing as visitors watch on April 6, 2017 in Ypres, Belgium. April 9, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge which was a military engagement fought mainly by Canadian Corps in France during World War One. The Vimy Ridge 100 commemoration anniversary will involve events being held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France and the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Headstones are made at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone production unit on April 7, 2017 in Beaurains, France. The CWGC make 6000 headstones a year to commemorate the 1.7 million who died during the two world wars. The Battle Of Vimy Ridge was fought during WW1 as part of the initial phase of the Battle of Arras. Although British-led it was mostly fought by the Canadian Corps. On Sunday 9th April a centenary commemorative service will be held at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France attended by the Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry and representatives of the Canadian Government.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

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The ceremony is expected to be attended by 25,000 people, according to Veteran's Affairs Canada.

Around 17,000 Canadians have registered for the event, many of whom have arrived in France in recent days.

The surrounding landscape is ridden with craters, alongside preserved trenches and multiple cemeteries, all now acting as surviving proof of the battle that took place there. The ridge provides sweeping views over the region, highlighting its strategic significance.

The Battle has gained national prominence in Canadian history for being the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces fought together.

Towns and villages surrounding Vimy have been adorned with the flags of France, Canada and Britain, as locals honour those who gave their lives one hundred years ago.

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