Canadian War Museum honours Hill 70 Victoria Cross recipients on the battle’s 100th anniversary

August 15, 2017


For immediate release

Ottawa, Ontario, August 15, 2017 — The Canadian War Museum is marking the centenary of the Battle of Hill 70 with a special display highlighting the six Canadian soldiers who received Victoria Cross decorations as a result of their courageous actions. The Battle of Hill 70, which includes portraits of the recipients and some of their medals, will be on view from August 15 until Remembrance Day.

“Sir Arthur Currie described the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917 as ‘altogether the hardest battle in which the Corps has participated,’” said Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “It’s remarkable that this 11-day battle, fought four months after Vimy Ridge, resulted in six Canadian soldiers of varying backgrounds and ranks being awarded the highest honour for military valour in the British Empire.”

The Canadian Corps, under the command of Sir Arthur Currie, launched an attack on the German-held city of Lens in northern France on August 15, 1917. His strategy was to capture the high ground overlooking the town, forcing the enemy to counterattack. This prevented German units from reinforcing formations facing Allied troops struggling to gain ground at Passchendaele in Flanders. By August 25, the Canadians had withstood 21 failed counterattacks and suffered 9,000 casualties at Hill 70, but they had killed, wounded or taken as prisoner about 12,000 Germans. It was a significant and costly tactical victory for the Allies.

The Battle of Hill 70 introduces visitors to Sergeant Frederick Hobson, Corporal Filip Konowal, Private Harry Brown, Private Michael James O’Rourke, Acting Major Okill Massey Learmonth and Sergeant-Major Robert Hill Hanna. They are among only 96 Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross since its introduction during the Crimean War in 1856.

The Battle of Hill 70, developed by the Canadian War Museum, is presented from August 15 to November 11 on the wall between the LeBreton Gallery and the Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery.

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions. Work of the Canadian War Museum is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.

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Media contacts:
Yasmine Mingay
Director, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8608

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer, Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8607