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 Beneath Hill 60

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PostSubject: Beneath Hill 60   Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:04 pm

Recently was bored and googling things and came upon something that interested me:

Beneath Hill 60 is an Australian movie set for release on ANZAC Day, though it has been moved up to 15th April this year. It is based on a true story. It tells the story of the 1st Australian Tunneller's Division during the First World War. They are engaged in a new kind of tunnel warfare fighting 30 metres underneath the frontlines near Ypres, Belgium.

Hill 60 was a lone hill around Flander's Fields near the French/Belgian border. It is a raised position about 40 metres high and was the only high ground for a long way. It was also only a few miles outside the strategically important town of Ypres.

During World War 1 the hill was occupied by the Germans and further fortified and heightened using ground dug out from a nearby railway line, then undermined by the British and French early in the war with 21 mines underneath the hill detonated. The explosion killed a moderate level of Germans, with an assault on the hill resulting in only 7 casualties for the British and French forces. However shortly afterwards the hill was recaptured by German forces.

In 1916 the Western Front had become a transcontinental frontline and was well fortified on both sides. It had many salients in the lines however, with one such salient being Hill 60, which poked into the allied lines a fair way. In order for progress to be made the front lines had to be straightened out. That meant the heavily fortified machine gun positions over Hill 60 had to be retaken.

The Western Front was a bloodbath - most people were cut down within 10 metres of leaving their trenches to attack enemy lines. As neither side could break the other's lines both sides decided to dig underneath the trenches and undermine the enemy's defenses.

Leading the Allied mining operations a newly formed force of Australian troops, the 1st Tunnelling Division, which was made up of civilian miners from towns such as Charter's Towers with only 2 weeks training were called up. Their mission was to dig underneath No Man's Land and below the German trenches. 21 tunnels soon began construction underneath 30 metres below the Western Front.

Meanwhile, German tunnellers, mainly from Bavaria were trying to dig under the British lines at Ypres. They hoped to undermine the positions and take the town with a later assault. They began constructing numerous tunnels heading towards the town to the northwest.

Both of these civilian mining divisions quickly had the rules of Tunnel Warfare forced upon them. Be good at close quarters combat. No guns, just fists, knives and bayonets. Watch your step - one footstep too loud could bring the tunnel down on you and you'd be trapped underground forever. Maintain silence - you never know when the enemy has someone with good ears pressed against the walls of their tunnels. Listen hard - you never know when the enemy may be tunnelling merely two metres above, below, to your sides or right in front of you. Most of all, say your prayers - this place is most likely going to be your tomb.

After nearly a year the Australians had dug 21 tunnels underneath the German lines. All of these tunnels were loaded to the top with amonnal explosives. The order was given to hold the tunnels and prevent the Germans from discovering the hidden payload. An order will come, no matter how long it takes, to blow up the mines. If you're still alive then, god bless you, you can come out of this shithole.

It would take nearly 7 months before that order would come through. 7 months of brutal hand to hand combat. 7 months of dying hope. 7 months of uncertainty. The Germans continued their countermining operations, but had only discovered one Australian mine out of the 21 that were dug, with the compromised tunnel being blocked off by the Germans and the detonation lines cut. The tunnels were packed with many more explosives than the previous explosion early in the war. If the operation was successful it would be the largest man made explosion in history.

On June 7 morning, 1917, the Allies commenced a massive artillery barrage of the German positions on Hill 60. This ended at 2:50am. The Germans, expecting a massed infantry assault to commence sent reinforcements and relief units up to the front lines around Hill 60. However, they had fallen straight into the Australian's trap. At 3:10am as the relief units arrived, the Australians detonated 19 of the mines. The explosion completely guttered the hill, bringing it down almost entirely with the German positions on top. The German trenches were shattered to pieces and sunk into the ground below. The precise and well executed timing of the explosion resulted in over 10000 Germans alone killed within 30 seconds of the mines being set off. 30000 more were believed to deserted their units and ran off in fear. The shockwave of the explosion was confirmed to have been heard all the way in London, with what they thought to be an earthquake shattering windows and awakening London residents. The Irish reported that the explosion had even been heard in Dublin. It was the largest man-made explosion to that day, remaining that way until the atomic bomb explosion of Hiroshima.

Shortly after the detonation of the mines the British, Canadian and Australian infantry at ground level broke their positions and charged the enemy. They took the hill (at least the small amount that was left of it) with only 7000 casualties compared to the 24000 the Germans had suffered. The operation was a remarkable success, with almost every objective hoped for achieved by the well planned strategy.

Of course, being the typical World War 1 tactics that had been known to plague the war, it wasn't long until Hill 60 was recaptured by the Germans. During the 3rd Battle of Ypres (also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, made famous by the movie Passchendaele) the Germans managed to retake the hill and fortify it once more. The Germans would occupy the hill until the American Expeditionary Forces were to force them out in the final year of the war.

After the war ended a memmorial was erected at the site of the hill where the largest detonation had taken place. Sadly though during the Second World War British forces retreating to the coastline during the German invasion of Belgium and France occupied the remains of the hill to slow down the German advance. The memmorial was destroyed by the advance of the German Blitzkreig. After the war a second memmorial was erected at the site of one of the bunkers containing an entrance into the tunnels.

As mentioned earlier, the Australians had dug 21 mines and filled them with explosives. Only 19 of these detonated. The one the Germans had discovered ended up going off in 1955 after a Lightning strike, killing livestock but no people. The other that failed to detonate is yet to be defused and is still armed and ticking, somewhere underneath densely populated farm land surrounding Ypres. In 1994 it was claimed to have been found buried underneath a farmhouse some 4 miles southeast of Ypres, however no one has managed to disarm the bombs, let alone remove them from the danger zone. The locals are well aware of this though and have taken measures to ensure that when it does explode they won't suffer too much damage. The Belgians are working as fast as they can to pinpoint the exact location of the tunnel. However progress is very slow due to the severe risk of these tunnels - they can collapse at any moment or worse yet explode entirely. There is no deadline that can be accurately be put forward as to how long the defusal will take. For now, residents can only wait and hope that it does not - it's not exactly comforting knowing that your home is built right on top of a massive ticking time bomb that is still ready to explode any second.

Also have seen the trailer for the movie and it looks epic! Finally a decent Australian war movie for once.

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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:42 pm

Can you do one about Market Garden/Hells highway
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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:22 am

Well I mainly did this one to encourage people to look into the movie, "Beneath Hill 60," which comes out in Australia on April 15th. Plus I have to know all about Hill 60 and the Battle of Messines for Modern History, as well as have a number of primary and secondary sources (at least 5 and 10) which would be an epic pain as half the evidence from the war has gone missing after these years. We also have to fill out a 70 page journal, make our own journal to go with that and do a 10 minute dramatic piece performing as someone who experienced any of the wars that Australia saw involvement in. Obviously I chose World War 1, though I was originally planning to do the Russian Civil War.

As for Market Garden, I'll probably take a look into it with a bit more detail and see what I can come up with. Might do it on the anniversary.

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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:14 am

So 6 months and is the hill 60 movie showing up in America?
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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:07 am

Most likely, but I don't know the release date.

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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:03 am

Haven't seen previews but who knows
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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:40 am

I saw the previews in Cinemas Yesterday adn though of what you said abotu it Anna. It looks alright. Then A friend and I started speaking about The Pacific.

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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:46 am

My brother's downloaded the whole of The Pacific, must watch!

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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:20 pm

Were can u download it I obviusly don't have hbo
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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:41 am

im gonna watch the Paific soon and Beneath hill 60 when it comes out.


i still think one of the best war movies was saving private ryan!
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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:34 pm

Nahh best was Miracle at St.Anna
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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:53 am

Best was A Bridge Too Far.

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PostSubject: Re: Beneath Hill 60   Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:54 am

Good but not the best my cousins nehibor was actuly one the prisoners used to build the bridge btw every movie we named Is ww2 movie with a depressing theme
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