In August 1917, the Canadian Corps captured Hill 70, a vital piece of ground just north of the French industrial town of Lens. The Canadians suffered some 5,400 casualties and defeated three days of determined German counter attacks. This spectacularly successful but shockingly costly battle was as innovative as Vimy, yet only a handful of Canadians have heard of it or of subsquent attempts to capture Lens, which cost nearly 3,300 more casualties.
In Capturing Hill 70, leading military historians mark the centenary of this triumph by drawing on Canadian, British, and German records to dissect different facets of the battle, from planning and the conduct of operations to long-term repercussions and commemoration. Hill 70 was the first major battle that Canadian troops fought under one of their own – Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie. Currie and his staff acquitted themselves well and proved capable of planning and conducting large-scale and complex offensive operations.
This richly illustrated and thought-provoking book reinstates Hill 70 to its rightful place among the pantheon of battles that helped forge the reputation of the famed Canadian Corps during the First World War, sheds new light on the personalities that influenced the outcome of the battle, and explores the reasons behind the battle’s neglect over the last one hundred years.
This powerful and timely book will appeal to students, scholars, and anyone interested in Canadian military history and Canada’s role in the First World War.
...Hill 70 should gain the recognition it deserves as the first battle in the First World War planned, executed, and fought by Canadians...While taking nothing away from the accomplishment of Canadian arms at Vimy Ridge, Capturing Hill 70 puts these watershed 1917 battles into a detailed perspective...with the excellent collection of essays that comprise Capturing Hill 70. There is no romance here — only pragmatic efficiency in getting the job done in the Canadian way.
...Capturing Hill 70 has provided Canadians with a multi-faceted, impressively researched, and balanced account of the bloody engagements undertaken in August 1917...[it] succeeds in elevating the engagement to its proper position, provides a comprehensive account of what happened and why, and opens many avenues for future research.
This new book, which chronicles the battle from its inception to its aftermath, asks two questions: Why was this small piece of ground so important, and how is it that now, a century later, almost no one remembers it? ... Whatever the reason for Hill 70’s lack of recognition these days, this insightful, broad-ranging book ought to change that. It’s very hard to read it without thinking: This is an incredible story, and how is it possible I’ve never heard it until now?
Capturing Hill 70: Canada’s Forgotten Battle of the First World War is a thought provoking book worthy of attention. By casting new light on this important battle and offering new perspectives on the leadership of Arthur Currie and the operations Canadian Corps, it makes an important contribution to our understanding of an important period of Canadian military history.
Capturing Hill 70 brings to life a significant yet hitherto neglected battle of the First World War. This meticulously researched account of the Canadian Corps’ first action under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie delineates a seminal point in the Canadian forces’ maturation on the Western Front. This volume is a model of its kind.
An eye-opening account of how the Canadian Corps combined intelligence analysis, training, and logistical arrangements to overcome a strongly fortified German position near the French town of Lens in August 1917.
This book rescues an important episode in our nation’s involvement in the war from obscurity. More importantly, it shines a definitive light on why the battle for Hill 70 succeeded so well and why the fight for the city of Lens that followed went so poorly. A masterful study of strategy, tactics, and logistics.
This is a meticulous work of battle history by a well-organized team of scholars. It showcases all the strengths of Canadian military history today, bringing to life a significant yet little-known battle.
Douglas E. Delaney holds the Canada Research Chair in War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is the author of The Soldiers’ General: Bert Hoffmeister at War, which won the 2007 C.P. Stacey Prize for Canadian Military History, and Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-1945.
Serge Marc Durflinger is a professor in the History Department at the University of Ottawa. His publications include Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec and Veterans with a Vision: Canada’s War Blinded in Peace and War.
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