Manchester City Council

Plans announced for cultural event to mark centenary of The Battle of Manchester Hill

Plans have been announced for a unique cultural event to mark the centenary of the Battle of Manchester Hill - a battle that in one day took the lives of 79 men from the Manchester Regiment.

Led by prominent Manchester musicians Stuart McCallum, John Ellis and Luke Flowers (Cinematic Orchestra, The Breath, Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae) the multi media event will be an immersive, atmospheric and poignant performance of new music, poetry, spoken word, and digital projection.   


Using original footage and photographs from the time it will explore the impact of war on communities, and the heartbreak and loss felt, through the unique stories of individuals.


The event will take place at Manchester Cathedral in the evening of Friday 13 April and will be a contemporary performance telling the hidden story of the battle, the sacrifice made by those who fought and lost their lives there, and its significance in marking the beginning of the end of the First World War.


The event will be ticketed, but free of charge.  More details, including full artist line-up and how to apply for tickets, will be announced soon.


The Battle of Manchester Hill took place on March 21 1918 in an area of high ground just outside Saint-Quentin in northern France.  It is a little-known about battle that proved to be a forerunner to the last 100 days of the First World War.


The hill earned its name after being captured by the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment the previous year.  The Regiment continued to hold and defend their position until 21 March 1918 when the hill was attacked by the German army. 


Despite a heroic defence by the 16th Battalion of the Regiment most of the battalion were dead or wounded by 4 pm that day.


Out of 8 officers and 160 men who went into action on the hill, just two officers and 15 other ranks returned to British lines.  Of the remainder, 79 men were killed and the rest either wounded and subsequently taken into captivity, or taken directly as Prisoners of War.   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 also in France - at the hill that still bears the name, Manchester Hill.


The cultural event at the cathedral is being delivered by Manchester City Council in partnership with Manchester Histories, and Manchester based music charity Brighter Sound.


Councillor Tommy Judge, lead member for the armed forces, Manchester City Council, said: "The Battle of 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.


“This unique cultural event will help spread knowledge about the history and impact of the battle and ensure we continue to remember the sacrifices made by those who fought there and lost their lives.”


The event has received public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery.  It is also supported by The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment through the Armed Forces Community Covenant, Manchester Cathedral, and Manchester City Council.


Brigadier Peter Rafferty MBE, Colonel of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, said:  "The defence of Manchester Hill by the Manchester Regiment is nationally recognised and a significant event both for the city and the regiment today. 


"The commemoration will provide opportunities for the whole community to reflect and learn more about the battle, and this cultural event at the cathedral will play an important part in helping open up the story of the battle and the sacrifices made all those years ago, even further."


For more information about The Battle of Manchester Hill and other events to commemorate its centenary, see 

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