All volunteer, privately funded project
This month, what is very probably the last monument to commemorate the fallen of the First World War, was officially opened in France.
The impressive Hill 70 memorial at Loos-en-Gohelle (near Lens) was officially opened to the public this month commemorating an incredible tactical victory, the first all-Canadian victory which took place in August 1917.
In spite of the major significance of the battle, it seemed all but forgotten after the mostly Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge, and prior to the later bloodbath of Passchendaele.
Indeed although all the major battles of WW-I had long since had some kind of memorial, Hill 70 did not.
Retired Canadian Forces Col. Mark Hutchings, decided that this significant historical event and the lives of the several thousand Canadians killed and wounded in taking the high ground above Lens and who fought off 21 counter attacks, needed to be remembered and honoured.
- RCI: Aug 23/18: 101 years, victory, commemoration, burial
- RCI: Aug 28/18: Hill 70 graphic novel for students
- RCI: Nov 21/18: Hill 70 Victoria Cross- saved
In a mere eight years from idea to completion, the impressive obelisk and landscaped park was the result of a small all-volunteer group, and a larger group of professionals who volunteered their expertise as well.
In addition to their valuable donation of time, the approximately eight million dollars to complete the project was also entirely from private donations.
The site also features high-tech narrations of the personal stories and information about the battle and individual participants along with information about the six Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the battle.
As WWI fighter planes performed a fly past, many high-ranking political dignitaries and military officials were in attendance, along with several families, and the descendants of soldiers who fought or were killed during the battle. Speaking to reporters, several descendants expressed great satisfaction that this battle was finally being commemorated and honoured.