Chaplains responding to the real needs of soldiers

The Canadian Corps attacked the city of Lens in August 1917 in order to relieve pressure on other Allied troops fighting near Passchendaele in Flanders. The first objective was to take the high ground, designated Hill 70, north of the city.

After a day of fierce fighting on 15 August, Canadians took Hill 70. In the next four days they would keep the hill in the face of 21 German counter attacks. In all. the Canadians lost more than 9000 soldiers, while the Germans reported 25,000 killed or wounded. Seven Chaplain coffee stalls with coffee, tea soup biscuits and cigarettes, were located at ammunition and ration dumps, at the heads of communication trenches, at aid posts and at other strategic points, some within 1.4 mile of the front. The stalls moved forward as the troops advanced. Chaplains also scoured the field, day and night, hunting for wounded men who had crawled into shell-holes and dugouts for shelter. It was officially reported: “their work has probably been the hardest the chaplains have ever been called upon to do. Those detailed to work at the regimental aid posts have won the very highest praise.”