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CHAPTER 4: Unending Seige

Hill 70 and Lens (1 page)


At the beginning of summer Arthur Currie replaced Julian Byng: The Canadians would henceforth be led by one of their own. The offensives the British now mounted in Flanders included one led by the Canadians on the coal-mining city of Lens. The plan was to attack Lens directly. Currie suggested an alternative, which was accepted: They would take Hill 70, a small feature dominating Lens and one that the Germans would probably attempt to recapture. The Canadian artillery would have to smash these counterattacks, cause serious casualties and force the enemy to abandon the ground.

On 15 August the 1st and 2nd divisions attacked behind a powerful rolling artillery barrage supported by counterbattery activity and a saturation bombardment of the designated positions. The hill was taken and, as predicted, the Germans counterattacked until the 18th, sustaining 20,000 casualties compared to 9,000 for the Canadians. For the first time, a great Canadian victory could be ascribed to the vision of a Canadian.