I am pleased to be Patron of the Hill 70 Memorial Project.
The Canadian attack on Hill 70 in August, 1917 was among our country’s most significant contributions to the First World War. The objective was to relieve pressure on allied forces at Passchendaele and to seize a high point of land, known as Hill 70, near the city of Lens, France.
In this, the brave and resourceful soldiers of the Canadian Corps were successful. They captured the high ground, and then held their positions against determined enemy counterattacks for days. But it all came at an enormous cost: there were more than 9 000 Canadian casualties in the battle.
It is so important that we remember their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice of those who were wounded. We must also remember the cost to their families and friends. Their lives were also forever changed by the events of August 1917.
For this reason, I am pleased to serve as patron of the Hill 70 commemorative project, which seeks to memorialize the battle with a monument and educational program. Fittingly, the goal is to complete the project in 2017, a century after the battle itself and, incidentally, 150 years after Canada’s birth as a nation.
The First World War was initially expected to last only for a few months. That the “war to end all wars,” as it became known, continued for more than four years at a cost of an estimated eight-and-a-half million soldiers killed—as well as tens of millions wounded, physically and mentally—helps to explain why the world pledged “never again” after the Armistice. Let us keep this in mind as we remember the sacrifices and remarkable service of Canadians at Hill 70.
There is nothing glorious about war, and we owe it to those who fought and were killed and wounded to remember its terrible cost and to work together to build a more fair, just and peaceful world.
I would like to thank the friends and supporters of the Hill 70 Memorial Project for their dedication to preserving and sharing this important part of our military history.