There is a slight ridge of land in northern France where 100,000 Canadian soldiers succeeded in the First War where others had repeatedly failed. They did it their way, under a Canadian general who rejected the British plan of attack. Instead the Canadians chose their own destiny during that terrible struggle for Hill 70 over 10 days in August, 1917, which cost more than 1500 of them their lives. They showed the world their determined character as a people and their formidable perseverance as fighters, beating back 21 counter attacks by German forces desperate to regain the high ground, and earning more Victoria Crosses than in any other Canadian battle of the First War to date.
Yet there is no monument at the site near the town of Loos, France, to commemorate this battle - so important for the Allied war effort and Canada’s sense of emerging nationhood. It was an oversight noted by the commander at Hill 70, General Arthur Currie, to the end of his life.
To right this wrong – to honour and acknowledge the accomplishments and sacrifice of the Canadian Corps – a growing group of determined volunteers has been quietly working since 2012, both to erect a monument to the past and to educate all Canadians present and future about this crucial victory and its lasting influence on European and Canadian history.
With the enthusiastic support of the citizens of Loos, the Project Team has secured a prominent location just inside the Canadian front lines of August 1917, next to the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The opening of the monument is scheduled to take place on the battle’s 100th anniversary.
Our team members, like the Canadian Corps, are volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds: educators, retired military, bankers, architects, and businessmen. Our Patron is the Governor General of Canada, and a number of prominent Canadians support us as honorary advisers.
It is an honour for us all to work on bringing to the surface in visible fashion a memorial to the extraordinary efforts of the Canadian Corps at Hill 70, where more than 9000 brave men were casualties, dead or wounded.
It is to commemorate those men who helped shape and strengthen the future of Canada that we serve.
Deep underground there are numerous tunnels built at this battle site to protect soldiers waiting for the start signal; still pockmarked with shell holes, near Loos, France. The marks are still fresh – with soldiers’ names, hometowns, sketches of loved ones scribbled with their blue pencils on the white chalk walls of the tunnels. For many it would be the last things they ever wrote. More information on the tunnels can be found at the Durand Group website.
We would be pleased to answer any inquiries about this project. Please contact us.