From the summit of Vimy Ridge George Sharp could have seen the hummocks and pit bings that lie around the industrial towns of Loos and Lens. Most conspicuous is the ‘double crassier’- twin peaks of mine waste - that conceal from view the low hill on which George would lose his life.
The Germans had been pleased to hold this area as its coal was helping to fuel their industrial production but the loss of Vimy Ridge in April meant that these areas were now much more vulnerable. Throughout the summer, Canadian forces continued to push the Germans back and on the 15th August 1917 the 1st Canadian Division took part in an offensive known as the Battle of Hill 70.
George's Last Action
At 04.25 George Sharp would have witnessed an unusual bombardment in which drums of burning oil were launched at the Germans by specially trained Royal Engineers. These lit the dawn sky with yellow-orange flames and created thick clouds of smoke that drifted across No-mans land. Artillery guns and howitzers (short barreled guns) roared into action and shells whizzed over the heads of the Canadian infantry to smash into the German defences. As well as high explosives, smoke shells were used to provide cover for the advancing Canadians.
Despite earlier precautions the 13th Royal Highlanders were subjected to salvo after salvo from their own guns. The German guns soon joined in and George Sharp’s unit was shelled by both sides. To top it all, some of the German shells contained mustard gas. With morale at rock bottom the 13th was cheered by the skirl of the pipes as a piper of the adjoining 16th battalion marched along the parapet of their trench. He seemed to become a target of the gunners but despite toppling a couple of times he carried on and entered the trench further along, completely unscathed.
Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the 15th, the Germans carried out four counter attacks to regain their lost trenches. The Germans rapidly brought up additional battalions to double their strength and over the following three days, the Germans executed no less than 21 counterattacks. The Canadians held on but a lot of good men were lost including George Sharp.