Hill 62 Memorial
|Canadian Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial|
Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial
|For the Canadian participation in the Defence of Ypres between April and August, 1916 and commemoration of the Canadian dead of that period.|
Ieper (formerly Ypres), Belgium
The Canadian Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial is a war memorial that commemorates the actions of the Canadian Corps in defending the southern stretches of the Ypres Salient between April and August 1916 including actions in battle at the St Eloi Craters, Hill 62, Mount Sorrel and Sanctuary Wood. These battles marked the first occasion in which Canadian divisions engaged in planned offensive operations during World War I. In those actions the Canadians reconquered vital high-ground positions that denied the Germans a commanding view of the town of Ypres itself.
The memorial is located beside Sanctuary Wood on the top of Mount Sorrel, which lies next to 'Hill 62' all of which the Canadians held or recaptured from the Germans during those offensive operations in early June 1916. The British Official History of the war recorded "The first Canadian deliberately planned attack in any force, had resulted in an unqualified success."
At the end of the war, The Imperial War Graves Commission granted Canada eight sites - five in France and three in Belgium - on which to erect memorials. Each site represented a significant Canadian engagement in the war and for this reason it was originally decided that each battlefield would be treated equally and graced with identical monuments. The Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission was formed in November 1920 and decided a competition would be held to select the design of the memorial that would be used at the eight European sites. In October 1922, the submission of Toronto sculptor and designer Walter Seymour Allward was selected as the winner of the competition, and the submission of Frederick Chapman Clemesha placed second. The commission decided Allward's monumental design would be used at Vimy Ridge in France as it was the most dramatic location. Despite a consideration that Alward's monument at Vimy could stand alone as the sole monument to the Canadian efforts in Europe  Clemesha's 'Brooding Soldier' design was selected for the remaining seven sites but was later, for a number of reasons, erected only at St. Julien in Belgium.
The remaining six memorials, to be built on sites at Passchendaele and Hill 62 in Belgium and at Le Quesnel, Dury, Courcelette and Bourlon Wood in France would each received a modest memorial designed under the supervision of architect and advisor to the Battlefield Memorials Commission, Percy Erskine Nobbs.  Situated on key points of the battlefield they memorialize, the central feature of the memorials would be a 13 tonne cube-shaped block of white-grey granite quarried near Stanstead Quebec. The blocks are essentially identical, carved with wreathes on two opposing sides and inscribed with the phrase "HONOUR TO THE CANADIANS WHO ON THE FIELDS OF FLANDERS AND FRANCE FOUGHT IN THE CAUSE OF THE ALLIES WITH SACRIFICE AND DEVOTION" around the base. Though uniform in design, they are differentiated in the brief English and French descriptions of the battle they commemorate inscribed on their sides and the small parks that surround the memorial blocks, which vary in shape and layout.
At the encouragement of General Sir Arthur Currie, the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission competition jury that chose Walter Allward's monument design had originally envisioned Alward's edifice being built atop Hill 62 as Currie believed it had been the site of the Canadian Corps first offensive success during the war. When they appeared before the committee, Parkdale M.P. Herbert Mowat and Victoria Cross recipient Cy Peck expressed a preference for a distinct memorial at the Vimy Ridge. Ultimately, Hill 62 received the standard 'granite block' memorial instead of Alward's towering white pylons.
Location and Description
The Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Memorial site is located on the top of a hill known to British Great War soldiers as 'Torr Top', the top of which offers a clear and commanding view of Ieper, just over three kilometres (1.86 miles) away. The vantage point clearly illustrates the strategic significance of the position and thereby the importance of the Canadian Corps accomplishment in wresting it and the territories surrounding it from the German Army in June of 1916.
The entrance to the memorial is found at the end of the Canadalaan (Canada Lane) which runs south from the N8/Meenseweg road running from Ieper to Menen.
The memorial park is made up of a beautiful series of three terraced gardens leading up the hillside to the manicured lawns at the summit where the grey granite block monument sits in a grassed circle on a low flagstone terrace. The inscription on the side of the central granite memorial block reads: "HERE AT MOUNT SORREL AND ON THE LINE FROM HOOGE TO ST. ELOI THE CANADIAN CORPS FOUGHT IN THE DEFENCE OF YPRES APRIL - AUGUST 1916".[Note 1]
- Interestingly, the inscription is factually incorrect as Mount Sorrel is a different hill which is actually found about 1 kilometre south-southeast of the memorial, and can be seen from the memorial park.
- Busch, Briton Cooper (2003). Canada and the Great War: Western Front Association Papers. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2570-X. 205
- "Design Competition". Veteran Affairs Canada. 2007-03-25. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
- Vance, Jonathan Franklin (1997). Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 0-7748-0600-1. 66–69
- Christie p. 46
- "Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France". greatwar.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
- "Vimy Ridge: The making of a myth". the Globe and Mail. 2007-04-09. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
- Vance p. 66
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