Battle of Hill 70

Battle of Hill 70

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Hill 70
partof=World War I

caption=Canadian soldiers relaxing prior to the battle
date=August 15 - August 25, 1917
Lens, France
result=Marginal Allied Victory
combatant1=flagicon|Canada|1868 Canadian Corps
flagicon|United Kingdom British I Corps
combatant2=flag|German Empire
commander1=flagicon|Canada|1868 Arthur Currie
strength1=4 Canadian Divisions
2 British Divisions
strength2=3 Infantry Divisions
The Battle of Hill 70 was an Anglo-Canadian offensive during World War I. It took place near the French city of Lens between 15 August and 25 August 1917. The assault was a diversionary tactic, intended to relieve German pressure on Lens. This goal was only partially accomplished, and the Canadians in particular suffered a large number of casualties.


Hill 70 was a terrain feature rising only fifteen feet over surrounding terrain, located north of Lens, France.

Opposing forces

The attacking forces consisted of the Canadian Corps under the command of General Arthur Currie and British I Corps (6th and 46th divisions), and the defending German units of the 7th and 185th Infantry Divisions as well as the 4th Guard Infantry Division.

The battle

Like the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the attack began with a creeping barrage with the infantry advancing close behind. By the end of the morning, the Canadians occupied the high ground overlooking Lens, with the remaining objectives in Canadian hands by the end of the next day. Having been asked to capture a much larger area, Currie recognised the importance of this one dominating feature and that German doctrine would result in immediate counter attacks. Using 'Bite and Hold' operational doctrine, the Canadians took only this feature and dug in. During the battle, the Germans counter-attacked numerous times, using mustard gas and flamethrowers. Although they were repulsed each time, the number of casualties incurred by the Canadians in doing so was high. By the end of the battle, the Canadian Corps had suffered nearly 9,200 casualties.

Victoria Crosses

Several awards of the Victoria Cross were made for individual acts of heroism during the Battle of Hill 70.
*On 15-16 August 1917, a strong German counter-attack was repulsed by the 10th Battalion, CEF and Private Harry Brown, who was killed acting as a courier during this battle, was posthumously awarded the VC. In addition to the VC, three DSOs, seven MCs, nine DCMs and 60 MMs were awarded to men of the Tenth Battalion for this single action.
*Private Michael James O'Rourke, 7th Battalion, CEF, Lens, France, 15 - 17 August 1917
*Sergeant Frederick Hobson, 20th Battalion, CEF, Lens, France, 18 August 1917
*Major Okill Massey Learmonth, 2nd Battalion, CEF, Loos, France, 18 August 1917
*Warrant Officer II Class (Company Sergeant Major) Robert Hill Hanna, 29th Battalion, CEF, Lens, France, 21 August 1917
*Corporal Filip Konowal of the 47th Battalion, CEF, was the only Ukrainian ever to be awarded the VC. He received the supreme award for his actions at the Lens-Arras Road on 21 August 1917.

ee also

*List of Canadian battles during World War I

External links

* [ Hand-to-hand on Hill 70] (Article by Arthur Bishop in Legion Magazine)
* [ Hill 70 and Lens] (Article at Canadian Veterans Affairs)
* [ Hill 70 & the Lens Offensive: August & September 1917] (Article by John Stephens)
* [ Canadian Great War Project on Battle for Hill 70]
* [ Loos - Hill 70]

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