7 Skipton POWs captured near Lens on 15 August 1917

On 15 August 1917 Canadian troops attacked Hill 70 which lay to the north of the town of Lens in northern France. The aim was to draw potential reinforcements away from the 3rd Battle of Ypres. The great British offensive there had almost ground to a halt in the mud of Passchendaele. Hill 70 overlooked the town of Lens. Its capture would force the Germans to attempt to regain it in order to effectively defend the town. In the event the Germans did suffer extremely heavy causalities, but the Canadians also failed to capture Lens itself.

DESTRUCTION ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918  The ruins of Lens. Before the War Lens was the chief coal-mining town in France, it was occupied by the Germans in 1914. Though enveloped on three sides from August 1917, Lens was not finally abandoned until 2 October 1918. Photograph taken on 15 January 1919. Copyright: © IWM (Q 9956). 

Seven German prisoners were captured. All were wounded, four of them seriously, and all were sent straight to hospital. Four were 2nd lieutenants; the other three were enlisted men.

Six of the men were from the same regiment  ̶  26th (1st Magdeburg) Infantry Regiment ‘Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau’ or 26.I.R. for short! Two men were born and bred in Magdeburg. They were Privates Hans Windolf and Wilhelm Meyer. On the other hand 2nd Lieutenant Stephan Matt came from the Black Forest in south-west Germany.

The odd man out was 2nd Lieutenant Wilhelm Schütte from the 155th Infantry.

Despite their injuries almost all the prisoners were sufficiently recovered to be admitted to Skipton Camp in January and February 1918.