2017. Official dedication of the Hill 70 memorial park, on land donated by France, and funded entirely through private donations. (CBC)

101 years: A great victory, a monument at last, a burial ceremony


WW-I: Hill-70: Another great Canadian victory 101 years ago

Four soldiers buried today

In a terrible war, it was another tremendous victory for the Canadians, with six Victoria Crosses awarded, the highest Commonwealth medal for valour. As always tragically, the victory at Hill 70 came at a tremendous cost. The German bullets, shrapnel and gas resulted in over 2,000 killed and almost 8,000 more were wounded.

A shell bursts in the distance as a Canadian soldier inspects what appears to be an overrun German gun pit. The partially uncovered wheel and trail of what might be a 21-cm howitzer can be seen, with the wheel of what might be a limber on the far side of the pit. The site has been covered by the Germans with netting likely to conceal it from Allied spotter planes (Canadian War Museum 19920085-814)

At a solemn ceremony in this day, Aug 23, 2018 in northern France, four Canadian soldiers from the First World War were buried, 101 years after they fought and died at and around Hill 70 near Lens, France.

The ceremony today at Loos-en Gohelle, France, to bury the remains of four Canadian soldiers who fell during the Battle of Hill 70 almost 100 years ago. Their remains had been found in the past few years. Over 1,000 others who fell still have no known grave (Canadian Forces)

The remains were found between 2010 and 2016 during construction projects in the area and were buried at the war cemetery at Loos-en –Gohelle near where they had fallen.

The Canadian ministry of defence identified them last October using forensic anthropological analysis, historical research and DNA analysis.

They are listed as Private William Del Donegan, 20, Private Henry Priddle, 33, and Sergeant Archibald Wilson, 25. All three soldiers enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They died on August 16, 1917, in the Battle of Hill 70, as members of the 16th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), a unit perpetuated by The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) of Victoria, B.C.

The four Canadian soldiers finally identified and laid to rest at the military cemetery at Loos-en-Gohelle,France, almost 100 years to the day they fell nearby at the Battle of Hill 70. (Canadian Forces)

The fourth soldier is listed as Private John (Jack) Henry Thomas, of the U.K., and Birch Ridge, New Brunswick. Private Thomas was a member of the 26th Canadian Infantry Battalion (New Brunswick), CEF, a unit perpetuated by The Royal New Brunswick Regiment of Fredericton, N.B. He died in the battle on August 19, 1917, at the age of 28.

Goverment of Canada- histories of the four men

Hill 70; not a very auspicious name, yet 101 years this week ago it was the site of a tremendous battle and victory as an entirely Canadian force captured this high ground near Lens France.

By August 1917, the Germans had come to fear the Canadian Corps which they considered the most capable of the Allies.

On August 15 after careful planning, the all-volunteer Canadian Corps launched the attack against the heavily defended Hill 70, successfully overran German defences and held on against no less than 21 determined counter-attacks, inflicting terrible losses on the German army.

It was another major Canadian victory, and the start of the fearless reputation of Canadian troops leading to later became known as Canada’s 100 days in which Canadians led and won every battle they were sent into up to the end of the war.

But for all the significance, Hill 70 was all but forgotten and there was nothing to indicate that tens of thousands of soldiers were wounded or lost their lives on both sides in this terrible battle.

A group of Canadians decided to change that. A non-profit, non-paid volunteer group led by retired Canadian Forces Colonel Mark Hutchings, began raising funds to create a memorial park and obelisk in time for the 100th anniversary last year.

The Hill 70 Memorial

The newly dedicated Hill-70 Memorial stands on the last piece of land donated by France for WWI battle recognition (GG-Rt Hon. Julie Payette-twitter)

Although the obelisk and park was officially dedicated in 2017, more features to the multi-million dollar project are still being added.

Funded entirely through private donations, Canadian philanthropist Robert N Ho has recently added $1.5 million dollars for the creation of a Frederick Lee walkway to the memorial.

Canadian philanthropist Robert H.N. Ho (何鴻毅), O.B.C. has donate $1.5 million to the project. He is a descendent of Sir Robert Ho Tung Bosman (pictured in the background) and Lady Clara Ho Tung. (via Hill 70 Project)

Private Lee was one of about 300 Chinese-Canadian volunteers in the Canadian Corps and had already fought in the famous victory at Vimy Ridge. He was later killed in action at Hill 70 and like some 1,300 other Canadians who fought in that battle, has no known grave.

Pte Frederick Lee was one of about 300 Chinese-Canadians who volunteered to serve Canada even at at time when they faced considerable discrimination. (courtesy Norman Lee)

Hill 70 Chairman Col. Mark Hutchings commented that the donation was pivotal in enabling his team to proceed with this commemoration to Lee

“We are thrilled to be able to venerate the remarkable story of Frederick Lee whose service to this country made him a role model for all Canadians. However this key element would not have been possible without the generous support of a notable individual – Robert H.N. Ho – a man with a keen sense of history, who has experienced it first hand”.

Lee and the others volunteered at a time of significant discrimination in Canada, but Hutchings says, “These men wanted to serve Canada to prove that they were indeed loyal Canadians. Frederick Lee, and others like him, made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. This is why we chose to honour him at the Hill 70 Memorial. He is representative ofmany other first generation Canadians whose families came from other lands”.

As to why this major action and all-Canadian victory was forgotten for so long, Hutchings says one reason is that casualties were comparatively light in a war where battles resulted in sometimes in tens of thousands of deaths and so it didn’t really register with historians. It also came between two more famous battles, the largely Canadian action at Vimy which was the first success of note in was the Allies had not been winning, and that of Passchendaele, where indeed the casualties were astronomical in a battle that dragged an and on in the mud and trenches.

Additional information

Categories: International, Politics, Society
Tags: , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


2 comments on “101 years: A great victory, a monument at last, a burial ceremony
  1. Avatar Shirley (Reeves) Decooman says:

    I attended this burial August 23, 2018 for the burial of my Great Uncle Prte. Henry Priddle, I want to thank Veterans Affairs for the wonderful ceremony, it was such an emotional event, one that will remain in my heart forever.
    Shirley (Reeves) Decooman

  2. Avatar gilles says:

    belle cérémonie

    gilles p Loos sur les traces de la grande guerre musée Villedieu