The City Council of Ieper has granted planning permission for the building of a large “family house” directly opposite the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company Monument and the pedestrian entrance to the Hill 60 site. The view of Ieper, for which so many died, will be largely obscured.
Photo: The view from Hill 60 towards Ypres (Ieper), December 2009 [http://www.savehill60.org/]
John Laffin’s Guide to Australian Battlefields of the Western Front describes Hill 60 as:
“One of the most famous positions on the Western Front, the hill had been formed in the 19th century from the spoil of a deep railway cutting. ….. The hill’s height of 60 metres gave it immense strategic importance in a flat country and both sides continually fought for it.”
German photo of 1915 showing view to Ypres from
Hill 60 (Ieper) [http://www.savehill60.org/]
“The British tunnelled into the hill in 1915 and 1916 to plant mines which killed many Germans when they exploded. The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, under Major J. Douglas Henry took over the tunnels and mines on 9 November 1916.”
“The Company’s primary job was to keep intact two great mines being prepared for a major assault to break the enemy front. ….Protecting the mines from the Germans involved the Diggers in ferocious underground fighting. …..”
For further detail on the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company activities at Hill 60 and some of the personal stories of some of the tunnellers as well as additional sources, click on 1st Aust Tunnelling Co.
Photo: 1st Australian Tunnelling Company Memorial at Hill 60
(with WWII bullet holes), 2007 [Munro Collection]
Hill 60 is one of the places to be visited on the second day of the FFFAIF Western Front Commemorative Tour in July 2010.
Photo: A German pill box on Hill 60, 2007 [Munro Collection]
There are two plots of land in front of the Hill 60 monuments, known as 488v and 488x that remain unbuilt and preserve the vista which the Germans had from Hill 60 and which immediately makes clear why this place was so heavily contested. Building infill is now occurring which is separating Hill 60, which has been preserved in memory of those who fought there from its battlefield context.
Photo: Hill 60 aerial view showing location of Hill 60 Monument
and building site [http://www.savehill60.org/]
The Building Permit was displayed on the site (lot 488v) on Christmas Eve (24 December 2009) which gives 30 days for people who feel disadvantaged by the granting of this application to submit an objection.
A campaign to save the Hill 60 view of Ieper has been launched by a group living near Hill 60, the “Hill 60 Volunteers”, and can be viewed at http://www.savehill60.org/. Private people, companies, government bodies, any third party who feels disadvantaged by the granting of this application can submit an objection.
The campaign encourages those who have visited Hill 60, or who plan to visit the battlefield, or who had a relative on the battlefield and may feel that they will be disadvantaged, to lodge an objection. Any objection will be considered according to the rules laid down, if it is submitted in accordance with the guidelines. The http://www.savehill60.org/ website provides more details on how an objection can be lodged. OBJECTIONS NEED TO BE LODGED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE PLANNING PERMIT BEING DISPLAYED (by 20 January). The website offers to receive Objections by email and lodge them and offers to facilitate the postage, fee and administrative requirements.
For individuals who wish to show their support for preserving the views and requesting that the Belgium Government intervene and purchase the building site, they can add their name to the petition by following the links on the web-site or clicking on the following links to the petition: http://www.savehill60.org/Options.htm or http://www.savehill60.org/phpPETITION/index.php
The petition only requires your name and email address and a message is then sent to your email address requesting confirmation.
Further reading on the Australian Tunnelling Companies click on 1st Aust Tunnelling Co.
The Families and Friends of the First AIF applauds the joint Australian–UK decision, announced by The Hon Greg Combet AM MP and the Hon Kevan Jones MP, to conduct a full DNA testing program on the remains of Australian and British soldiers found in mass graves at Pheasant Wood (Fromelles), and for their continuing commitment to identify as many of the fallen as is possible. We also thank the Australian, UK and French governments for affording dignified individual reburials for these soldiers, buried by German soldiers following the Battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916, in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery presently under construction at Fromelles.