Manchester City Council

The Council & democracy News - February issue

Remembering the Battle of Manchester Hill

Plans are underway to commemorate the Manchester soldiers who played their part in a little-known battle that proved to be a forerunner to the final days of the First World War.

The Battle of Manchester Hill took place on 21 March 1918 in an area of high ground just outside Saint-Quentin in northern France.

The hill had become known as Manchester Hill after being captured by the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment the previous year. The Regiment continued to hold and defend its position there until March 1918, when the hill was attacked by the German army.

Despite a heroic defence, most of the Manchester Regiment were killed or wounded by 4pm that day. Out of eight officers and 160 men who went into action on the hill, just two officers and 15 men returned to British lines.

Among those who lost their lives was 29-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Elstob, who led his troops selflessly into battle with the words “Here we fight. Here we die”.

One hundred years on, the actions of the valiant soldiers of the Manchester Regiment are to be remembered both here in Manchester and in France – at the hill that still bears the name, Manchester Hill.

Commemorative events in Manchester include a wreath-laying at the Cenotaph and a special service at Manchester Cathedral on 15 April – one hundred years to the day since a similar service was held there in 1918 to remember those who lost their lives in the battle.

From April, Manchester Central Library will be hosting an exhibition about Manchester Hill, featuring historic regimental photographs alongside pieces of creative writing from school pupils.

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Councillor Tommy Judge, lead member for the armed forces at Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester Hill was a significant event in the final months of the war in which many local young men gave their lives for their country. One hundred years on it’s important we remember this, and that we commemorate their courage and the sacrifice they made.”

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