Hill 60 – William Was Here

April 21, 2013

The Mad Game Newsreel

William learned the craft of mining with the Tunnelling crews from Wales, England, New Zealand and Australia. Hill 60, little more than an artificial bump in the ground made from spoil dug when a railway cutting was constructed, became a repeated battleground fought over, abandoned, reclaimed, lost and reclaimed again. Every little scrap of height in the Ypres salient was fought over desperately as it allowed views over the enemy positions.

Miners blew the tops off many of the heights in Ypres, from 1915 to 1918. A major chain of mines from Hill 60 to the Southern Range, including Messines Ridge were blown in June 1917.

William learned the art of shallow chalk mining, clay kicking and deep mining and counter mining at Hill 60.

Today, Hill 60 is surrounded by new housing developments and has the feel of a park, not a battlefield. The Belgians did not ask that their Country became a battlefield, but it is eerily odd that a quiet lane of new houses leads to this spot, where such bitter and deadly fighting took place. The scars are visible still, including the German bunkers overlooking in three directions towards Ypres. The bodies still lie beneath the ground, a very great many of them.

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