On the 10th of July 1944 in Normandy, France was the battle for Hill 112 which occurred during The Second World War (1939-1945).
In 1944 Britain and its allies executed the D-Day landings, stationing thousands of soldiers on the beaches of Normandy with the aim to liberate France from the Germans. As the soldiers moved in to France the German army fought back and the fight for Hill 112 developed in to one of the fiercest battles of World War Two.
The hill was named 112 due to the fact that it was 112 metres above sea level, strategically it was a vital area of high ground near Caen in Normandy. High ground was always an advantage during a battle and Hill 112 was an advantage that the German Army desperately wanted to keep control of.
The British soldiers had the difficult task of trying to capture the hill. These British soldiers included many men from Cornwall; these men were the 5th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI). Already at a tactical disadvantage there was also the fact that the 5th Battalion was made up of ( mainly Cornish) men who were in the Territorial Army and volunteers…not even professional soldiers.
During the evening of the 10th July 1944 three hundred and eighty soldiers from the DCLI carried out attacks ascending up Hill 112, it was a fierce and difficult battle. The Germans launched twelve different counter attacks, but unbelievably the DCLI managed to fight off each and every attempt. An impressive feat considering that the Germans 10th Panzer (tank division) fought using stronger armour than the DCLI had and far more powerful guns.
German tanks were rolling constantly over the top of trenches in which the Cornishmen hid. All in all the fighting lasted for approximately nineteen hours with over two hundred soldiers from the DCLI killed. However, despite the tragic losses the Cornish soldiers had defeated one of the German Army’s most prolific tank divisions and The DCLI gathered triumphantly together at the top.
The DCLI soldiers then joined forces with more British soldiers to form a larger division; The 43rd Wessex Division, and from their advantage point they fought for weeks until the Germans retreated completely. From this division alone seven thousand men were killed in battle and it is likely that the German’s loss was even greater.
It is with great respect and pride that we remember our Cornish soldiers. The wood that the soldiers gathered once at the top of the hill was renamed ‘Cornwall Wood’. In a fitting tribute the local French people wanted to remember the brave Cornishmen who fought on Hill 112 and renamed the area ‘Cornwall Hill,’ here, to remember those who gave their lives stands a stone memorial.
It really was an unbelievable battle and its story goes to show that with the heart, might and the pure determination of a Cornish man, against all odds, we triumphed!