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The current time is: 3/17/2018 6:18:59 PM
 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2711
Lens and Hill 70 + One hundred
Posted on: 8/21/2017 4:16:46 AM
One hundred years ago this week.

Another mighty Canadian contribution.

Huge respect to Canada, especially as we think about that awful episode a quarter century later at Dieppe, also being commemorated at the moment.

Regards , Phil
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 6572
Re: Lens and Hill 70 + One hundred
Posted on: 8/21/2017 6:22:15 AM
I believe that this battle was General Currie's first major operation as commander of the Canadian Corps. General Julien Byng had been in charge at Vimy Ridge.

Hill 70 was Currie's preferred choice to attack as it overlooked Lens. He had been told to seize Lens proper but saw this as a foolish endeavour as it would involve a frontal assault.

He insisted upon significant lead time to plan and train his troops and they performed magnificently in kicking the Germans out of their significant defensive works on the hill.

The Germans knew that Hill 70 meant that they and the city of Lens were now in full view and so they immediately counter attacked and continued to do so time and again. If memory serves, over 20 attempts were made to retake the hill

The Canadians had hauled several hundred MG's up the slope and had dug in.

The toll taken on the Germans was severe. They were cut down in waves as they attacked bravely. Canadians commented on the piles of bodies in front of them.

As well, when the Germans were forming up, they could be seen and some counter attacks were destroyed by artillery before they could move.

Less often discussed is the attempt, after Hill 70 was taken, to take Lens itself. This was an after thought and the preparation for it was poor and very un-Currie like.

The Canadians who were sent into this urban combat paid a heavy price and the city was not taken.

Altogether though, this was a tremendous victory that receives less attention in Canada than the victories at Vimy and Passchendaele.



Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 6572
Re: Lens and Hill 70 + One hundred
Posted on: 8/21/2017 2:30:56 PM
There were 6 VC's awarded at Hill 70, two more than at Vimy Ridge.

This is the citation for Major Okill Massey Learmonth. It reads like an action movie except that it actually happened.

“For most conspicuous bravery and exceptional devotion to duty. During a determined counter-attack on our new positions, this officer, when his company was momentarily surprised, instantly charged and personally disposed of the attackers. Later, he carried on a tremendous fight with the advancing enemy. Although under intense barrage fire and mortally wounded, he stood on the parapet of the trench, bombed the enemy continuously and directed the defence in such a manner as to infuse a spirit of utmost resistance into his men.

On several occasions this very brave officer actually caught bombs thrown at him by the enemy and threw them back. When he was unable by reason of his wounds to carry on the fight he still refused to be carried out of the line, and continued to give instructions and invaluable advice to his junior officers, finally handing over all his duties before he was evacuated from the front line to the hospital where he died.”

(London Gazette, no.30372, 8 November 1917)

The citations for the rest may be found here. Note the birthplaces of these men. Ireland, England, Canada and Ukraine.

[Read More]

There was a new memorial to the men who fought at Hill 70 that was unveiled this year. The pathway to the memorial is engraved with 1877 maple leaves, one for each man who died at the Hill 70.

[Read More]