Hill 60 is about three miles southeast from Ypres. Though it is known as Hill 60 and was called this on Allied trench maps from the time, Hill 60 was in fact man-made. It was created in the 1860’s from what was dug out from a nearby railway line. However, with a height of 150 feet any elevation within the Ypres Salient was advantageous to whoever held it and for this reason Hill 60 became a prime target for both Allies and Germans.
By April 1915, the British were in a position to detonate six large mines. This occurred 19.05 on April 17th. In the immediate aftermath of these devastating explosions, Allied artillery fired on the German positions. Once this had finished, infantry attacked the German lines. The surviving German defenders were so disorientated that the attacking British infantry only suffered seven casualties in this assault.
On April 18th the Germans launched a major counter-attack. This forced the British off Hill 60. However, the next day, the British regained it.
It was at Hill 60 that the Germans first used poisonous gas against Allied troops on April 21st. A second attack using poisonous gas took place on April 22nd.
In the summer of 1917, men from the Australian Tunnelling Company dug underneath German positions on the hill. Mines were exploded with devastating effect. Allied infantrymen then stormed the hill and captured it and it was held until the 1918 German Spring Offensive.
Similar to Messines Ridge, the Allies lost control of Hill 60 during the Spring Offensive of 1918. However, the Germans were unable to sustain this assault and it petered out.
The British last captured Hill 60 on September 28th 1918, six weeks before Armistice Day.
By the very nature of the fighting that took place at Hill 60, many bodies are known to still lie there. The names of the Allied dead can be found on the Menin Gate in Ypres.