100 Years Ago: Hill 70

The Battle of Hill 70, August 15 to 25, is a Canadian success story as important as Vimy Ridge. It took place only a few months after Vimy and days before Passchendaele and yet it is largely forgotten. Following the victory at Vimy the Canadians continued operations in the Arras area to divert attention from the French front and to conceal from the Germans the planned offensive in Flanders. As part of the diversion, the Canadians sent one Division against the Germans in the Battle of Fresnoy in early May.  Eight Norfolk men died in this action. While fresh troops were being sent in to replace the dead and wounded, a soldier who escaped the previous battle uninjured went into the next battle.

During the Battle of Hill 70, Canadian forces captured this position on the northern approach to the city of Lens and secured the western part of the city. The fighting cost the Canadian Corps 9,198 casualties in dead and wounded. The Battle will echo across history as the most brutal conflict ever faced by the men of Norfolk. Twenty-nine died and an inordinate number more were wounded.  The story that begins to unfold from Vimy forward to the final days of the war in November 1918 is of a Canadian army that will not be defeated. They were becoming the best shock troops in the world.