21/4/1915 Ypres: the British hold Hill 60

On the 17th a sudden British attack seized Hill 60, which lies to the south of Ypres. Since then the Germans have launched a series of counter-attacks to try and recaptures the position.

On the night of the 20th the Germans launch another determined assault. Fighting continues into the early hours of the morning. The British suffer terrible casualties. When all the officers above him are killed, one Lieutenant Geoffrey Woolley finds himself in command of the position. He somehow exhorts his men to hold on even as they are being wiped out. Exposing himself repeatedly to enemy fire he miraculously escapes death or serious injury.

In the morning, the Germans call off their attack. The position is held and the British count the cost, seeing how many of their comrades himself are dead. Woolley’s unit of 150 men now numbers just 20. In the cold light of day, the horror of the fighting hits Woolley himself. He suffers a nervous collapse and has to be sent away to recover.

The Germans launch no further attacks on Hill 60 today. They have other plans for Ypres.

image source (The Baldwin Project: Heroes of the Great War)

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