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Hill 60

Hill 60

Mine warfare in the First World War

During the excavation work for the railway construction between Ypres and Kortrijk in 1854, a sixty-metre-high hill was created.

More than half a century later, when the First World War broke out, this hump turned into a crucial lookout post for the German army. From a height of sixty meters, the soldiers could observe the front around Ypres and keep a close eye on British movements. Or at least for a while.

Mine battle 

In great secrecy, miners from Australia and elsewhere dug an underground network of galleries where they placed six explosive charges. They exploded on April 17, 1915, the first large-scale mine battle. The British were then able to capture the German positions. Three weeks later, the Germans retook Hill 60 by using poison gas.

The hill remained in German hands until June 1917, when underground warfare reached a new stage.

Caterpillar crater

Then, two mines exploded beneath Hill 60 and the nearby Caterpillar. This crater owes its name to the earthen embankment south of the railway. To the British, it looked like a caterpillar. Hill 60 fell into Allied hands again.

The fact that there was such a fierce battle to conquer Hill 60 had everything to do with its strategically important role as a lookout post. Due to the countless battles, the hill has turned into a war landscape full of mine craters and bunkers.

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