On the outskirts of Caen in northern France stands Hill 112. Now a calm and peaceful place of remembrance, just 75 years ago this Normandy landmark was, quite literally, worth dying for.

After coming ashore on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944, Allied troops pushed southwards as they sought to retake Europe from the Nazis.

The city of Caen had been a ‘week one’ objective for the Allies, but while newspapers back home spoke within days of “Fighting in Caen streets” it was to be two months before that was true.

For two months, the front line rested on Hill 112, a vantage point so significant that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is quoted as declaring: “He who controls Hill 112 controls Normandy”.
It was only after men from the 43rd Wessex, 53rd Welsh, 15th Scottish and 11th Armoured Divisions had finally defeated six crack SS Panzer divisions in a brutal battle that lasted ten weeks and cost 10,000 lives that the breakthrough came.

The key to victory after D-Day

With Hill 112 in Allied hands and the German forces prevented from launching a counter-offensive, US troops were able to strike south from the Cherbourg Peninsula into the heart of France for the first major breakthrough in the campaign.

With Hill 112 in Allied hands and the German forces prevented from launching a counter-offensive, US troops were able to strike south from the Cherbourg Peninsula into the heart of France for the first major breakthrough in the campaign.

Today, thanks to the tireless work of Sergeant Albert Figg, who served with the Royal Artillery during the struggle for Hill 112, this once blood-soaked piece of ground is a place of peace and reconciliation.

Albert, who died in 2017 at the age of 97, was determined to honour his fallen colleagues and ensure that their sacrifice was remembered. Thanks to his efforts and the support of a tireless committee led by his daughter Annette, the site now boasts a number of interesting features.

Between 1988 and 89, donors helped Albert buy and renovate a WWII Churchill Tank that was installed on the hill in 2000 as a memorial to all the tank crews who died, many burned to death inside their machines.

Sergeant Albert Figg

Royal Artillery

A statue of an infantryman, donated by Michael Whitely, was the next addition to the site, followed by 112 trees that have since been planted in the shape of a Maltese Cross, creating four Avenues of Remembrance where relatives and friends can place wooden poppy crosses. In July 2017, just a few days after Albert’s death, the statue of the infantryman was relocated to the centre of the trees and unveiled by HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO, who became the Foundation’s Appeal Patron in May 2019.


In 2018 the most recent addition to the site, a 25-pounder field gun purchased in part by Ben Oostra, was unveiled. Now the charity is looking to take on its most daunting challenge – raising the £375,000 needed to build the viewing platform, make the educational film and ensure funds are available to maintain and improve the site in the future.


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