Canadian war memorial rededicated by Queen

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The Queen has rededicated a war memorial to the 3,500 Canadian soldiers who died at the battle of Vimy Ridge, France, in the first world war.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the battle, and the existing memorial, originally unveiled by the Queen's uncle King Edward VIII in 1936, has been restored to mark the occasion.

The prime ministers of Canada and France, Stephen Harper and Dominique de Villepin, both attended today's ceremony, which featured a one minute's silence and the Last Post.

"No fewer than four Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery in the battle, though it could easily be said that every solider in the field demonstrated conspicuous bravery, such was the verve of the Canadian attack," the Queen said at the site of the battle, which is close to Lille.

"It was a stunning victory. Moreover, in capturing this formidable objective, the Canadian corps transformed Vimy Ridge from a symbol of despair into a source of inspiration."

The monument bears the names of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers listed as "missing presumed dead" during the four-year conflict.

Referring to the death of four Canadian soldiers operating under Nato's mandate in southern Afghanistan yesterday, the Queen continued: "To their eternal remembrance, to those who have so recently lost their lives in Afghanistan, to Canada and to all who would serve the cause of freedom, I rededicate this magnificently restored memorial."

And addressing the assembled crowd, which included Canadian war veterans and serving military personnel, Mr Harper said that there was "no place on Earth that makes us feel more Canadian [than Vimy Ridge]".

"Because we sense, all around us, the presence of our ancestors," he said.

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