Battle of Hill 60 (Western Front)

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Hill 60 was a man-made hill created in the 1860s from what was dug out from a nearby railway line. It had a height of 150 feet and was situated to the south-east of Ypres. It had been captured by the Germans in December 1914, giving them a strategic advantage due to its height. Naturally the British wanted to take it back and so in April 1915 they began tunnelling. This use of offensive mining involved digging tunnels into and under the hill in order to place 5 mines beneath the hill. When they were detonated they literally blew the top off Hill 60 allowing the British to retake the crucial position.

All the men who joined the Tunnelling Companies were experienced miners; they came from the coal mines in Northumberland, from the sewers in Manchester and the tubes in London. Most of them had been digging since they were 10 years old, with generations of mining history and were often shorter than regular soldiers. In the barbaric, secret wars below ground; it was these men who experienced one of the highest death rates.

Unfortunately almost as soon as the battle for Hill 60 was finished, the Second Battle of Ypres began. In these significant battles, the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time. And by the end of the battle, the Germans had moved two miles closer to Ypres, on the eastern side of the salient.