Hill 62 is just two miles from the centre of Ypres. On high ground (for the area) Hill 62 gave whoever occupied it an advantage because of its commanding views in what was primarily a flat region. For the first two years of the war, Hill 62 was behind Allied lines within the Ypres Salient. Therefore, for two years the Allies benefited from the height advantage it gave them.
On June 2nd 1916 the Battle of Mount Sorrel began when the Germans launched an attack against Allied positions on Hill 62, Armagh Wood, Sanctuary Wood and Mount Sorrel.
Mount Sorrel was about 1000 metres southwest from Hill 62. The Germans captured these targets. Therefore they now had a favourable height advantage over the Allies based in Ypres, which could clearly be seen from Hill 62.
General Plumer, commander of the II Army in Ypres, could not tolerate this situation. He ordered the Canadians to launch a counter-attack to recapture Hill 62. This started at 01.30 on June 16th and was led by the Canadian 1st and 2nd Divisions.
The Canadians took heavy casualties at Hill 62 and failed to recapture it. However, the ferocity of their attack was sufficient to force the Germans out of Hill 62 with neither side in control of it.
Hill 62 remained almost in a state of limbo in terms of who controlled it as it was between Allied and German front lines as they stood after the Battle of Mount Sorrel – effectively Hill 62 was ‘No-Man’s Land’.
The Canadians lost 1,200 men killed and 4,500 wounded or missing at Hill 62.
The Canadian losses are commemorated at the Canadian Memorial. This is approached via Canadalaan, which translates as ‘Canada Avenue’ and it is lined with Canadian maple trees.
The inscription on the memorial states: “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”.
Hill 62, like Hill 60, took its name from the contours that marked it out on Allied trench maps used at the time.