The Fighting Tenth Battalion
"The French army tried but they couldn't do it. Next, the English. They could not get over. Then the Canadians went in. We took Vimy Ridge" – Masumi Mitsui, M.M., Tenth Battalion
Some 35 Japanese Canadians were part of the Tenth Battalion when they helped lead the attack on Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Two of these soldiers, Sergeant Masumi Mitsui and Private Tokutaro Iwamoto, would go on to earn Military Medals for their heroic actions at the Battle of Hill 70. A total of 15 Japanese Canadian soldiers across five battalions received decorations for their service: 13 received Military Medals, and two received the Cross of St. George.
The elite Fighting Tenth saw action in every major conflict of the war, and Japanese Canadians helped continue a hallmark of outperforming expectations. As one of their commanding officers, Dan Ormond, said, "After April 1915 we never lost anything that we ever held, and never failed to do anything that was asked of us, and on many occasions did more than the job assigned to us". Ormond attributed the success of the Fighting Tenth to outstanding morale, particularly in the junior ranks, that bolstered the resolve of their officers throughout the war.
After a resounding victory celebration at the end of the war, the Canadian Japanese Association (CJA) erected the War Memorial in Stanley Park in honour of the success of the Canadian contingent who fought fearlessly and sacrificed their lives. And in 1936, CJA president Eikichi Kagetsu; his wife Toyo; the Japanese Branch #9 of the Canadian Legion, British Empire Service League (BESL) secretary Saburo Shinobu; and veteran Bunshiro Furukawa were invited to the Vimy Memorial dedication in honour of the Canadian soldiers who took the Ridge.