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Title: Canada in Flanders, Volume III (of 3)
Author: Roberts, Charles G. D., Sir
Language: English
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[Illustration: Map--Canadian Operations on the Somme]






  By Major Charles G. D. Roberts





In writing this preface to Vol. III of "Canada in Flanders" I am saying
good-bye to my task as author of the first two volumes.  The increasing
pressure of other duties has made it impossible for me to pay those
prolonged visits to the Front which alone keep a writer in vivid touch
with the constantly developing realities of modern war, or to spare the
time for the proper study of the historical material.  Under these
circumstances it seemed better to retain the Editorship of "Canada in
Flanders," but to hand over the story of the Somme to the practised pen
of Major Charles G. D. Roberts, who was present with the Canadian Corps
during that Autumn Campaign.

But in doing this it is necessary to make good as far as possible the
errors and slips which have come to light and been pointed out by the
critics in the text of Vol. II.

As in the case of Vol. I., the majority of the mistakes is in the
misspelling of names or the confusion of identity between officers with
the same surname.  I particularly regret the mistake by which the
leadership of the advance on the lost craters at St. Eloi on the night
of April 6th is ascribed to Lieutenant V. P. Murphy, of the 25th
Battalion, instead, as it ought to have been, to Lieutenant G. D.
Murphy, of the 28th Battalion (pp. 129, 132).  Similarly, on p. 42, the
name of Sergeant-Major Benton should have been inserted as the
sergeant-major who went out with Private Donoghue to the rescue of the
wounded; while the commanders of the raiding party of the 19th
(Ontario) Battalion in August, 1916, should have been given as Captain
C. E. Kilmer and Lieutenant H. B. Pepler (p. 68).

In the description of the battle of Sanctuary Wood there are several
mistakes of the same character.  Lieutenant Glassco, of the P.P.C.L.I.,
has his name misspelt on pp. 181 and 182, and Captain A. G. Wilken, the
heroic chaplain of the 1st C.M.R.'s, is reported as being killed,
whereas in reality he was taken prisoner.  On p. 216 it should be made
clear that the Colt guns under Lieutenant Ziegler, which played so
important a part in the defence of the Hooge position on June 6th,
belonged to the Machine Gun Company of the 7th Brigade.  On p. 70
Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Hill, D.S.O., is wrongly given as the Colonel
of the Royal Canadian Regiment when the 3rd Division was formed in
January, 1916, instead of Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. MacDonnell, D.S.O.;
while the Commander of the 5th C.F.A. Brigade at the same period was
Lieutenant-Colonel W. O. H. Dodds, and not Lieutenant-Colonel E. A.

Among more general errors it may be noted that Lieutenant Elliot is
described on p. 104 as the "signal" instead of the "signalling"
officer, and that the German unit opposed to us at St. Eloi was the
214th Regiment, and not the 214th Battalion--a German regiment
consisting of three battalions and approximating more in numbers to our

On more general questions, such as the position and actions of units,
only one controversy has been raised, and that is concerned with the
early stages of the Battle of St. Eloi.  This difficulty is to some
extent inevitable, for with the exception of the Second Battle of Ypres
there has been no action in this history of the Corps in which the true
facts have been more difficult to obtain than in that confused fighting
in the mud on the dreary dawn of April 6th of 1916, which lost us the
craters and the advanced line.  But all the available evidence has been
sifted with the greatest care, and nothing has been brought to my
attention which makes me inclined to modify or alter the provisional
account given in the second volume.  This does not mean in the least
that in the future quite fresh material, both from Canadian and German
sources, may not become available after the war and throw a totally new
light on certain episodes.  With this additional evidence before him
the future historian may be able to rewrite parts of the story from the
standpoint of this fuller knowledge.  There is, however, one particular
correction which can be made at once.  I find that I have done
something less than justice to the work of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion
during the St. Eloi fighting.  Their task here was one of incredible
difficulty owing to the conditions of the weather, the state of the
ground, to the severe and continuous shelling to which the whole area
was subjected, and the uncertainty as to positions which wrapped the
whole action in a fog.  Yet the Pioneers' work was carried through with
great courage and energy.  In particular, the reconstruction of the old
front British line from Shelley Farm to No. 2 Crater, which is ascribed
on p. 144 to the infantry of the 5th Brigade, was in reality done by
the Pioneers, who also took a large share in placing No. 2 Crater
itself in an adequate state of defence.

There is an inevitable tendency to give to the work of the troops
immediately behind the firing-line less attention and credit than they

The infantry sustain most of the hard knocks when it comes to climbing
the parapet, and in return obtain the greater notice from the
historian.  But behind the thin and scattered lines, which wave after
wave fall or go plodding on, the gunners, the sappers, and the pioneers
are preparing or consolidating the victory.  The battle is no longer
between the opposing lines of the infantry, for to win a position you
must hold it, and to hold it you must have brought up swiftly and
safely from the rear bombs, ammunition, wire rations, and a means of
entry for the supporting and relieving troops, the area of the battle
is no longer the front line, it is behind this that the enemy barrage
descends, and over a wide field of fire the German shells are searching
for all those who would bring up succour and relief.  It is under these
conditions that the pioneers must do their work.  In the night, only
illumined by the fitful flare of the star-shells shedding a pale and
sudden luminance behind the front line and leaving the darkness more
intense than ever, the old and battered communication trench of the
Germans has to be made good to the front line.  The trench from
previous occupation is well known to the enemy, and as the pioneers
shovel out the mud and the dirt to the left and right a new
illumination is provided by the sudden glare and suffocating fumes of
the heavies bursting right or left or in the trench itself.  But night
at least gives the appearance, if not the reality, of safety.  As the
infantry go forward the work must often be done in the broad daylight,
the trench driven through to the new line, or a new resistance built to
face the counter-attack.  The men of the Pioneers who have to undertake
this task must do it in cold blood.  They are robbed of that excitement
of personal conflict which can carry the fighting man through the most
desperate dangers in a frame of mind which hardly remembers the horrors
through which he passes, and crowns the story of his achievements with
a halo and a fascination not granted to work less interesting but no
less vital.

The achievements of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion at the Somme will take
rank with any of those of the infantry.  At Courcelette their duty was
to follow on the heels of the 2nd Division, to drive communication
trenches through without delay to the new lines, and to relieve the
infantry immediately of the final consolidation of the captured
trenches.  In the darkness before the assault Lieutenants McGhee and
Davis crawled out into No Man's Land and pegged out the line of
trenches to be dug next day.  The moment the 2nd Division had taken the
German front line the Pioneers started out to drive these trenches
through in broad daylight and under a sweeping rain of heavies.
Lieutenant McGhee exhibited great courage and devotion to duty; he was
three times buried by the explosion of heavy shells close to him, and
three times dug himself out with his entrenching tool and continued to
mark out the line of the advancing trench for his men.  What the effect
of such shelling may be is illustrated by the extraordinary and
gruesome story of the death of Lieutenant Tracy of the same regiment
some days before.  While prospecting in advance of the line a German
shell burst right on him.  A rescue party of Pioneers went out
immediately to find him on the spot of the shell-burst.  Not a sign of
the unfortunate officer could be found, and the search was abandoned.
On the day of Courcelette his body was found by the advancing infantry
fifty yards from where he had been struck down.  For the Pioneers this
kind of work must be done, day in and day out, or night in and night
out, for weeks at a time.  When the infantry is too exhausted by its
efforts to make good the line, the Pioneers must be called up to
supplement their efforts.  If a strong point has to be built, it is to
the Pioneers that the engineer officer will look to carry out his
instructions, and in the achievement of all these tasks the Pioneer
Battalions of the Canadians have covered themselves with glory.

It is now my duty to hand over to my successor.  Major Charles G. D.
Roberts continues in Vol. III. of Canada in France and Flanders, for
France has now given us the names of the Somme and of Vimy, the story
of the Autumn Campaign of 1916.  I retire gladly in favour of one who
has a real claim to literary and historical fame.  The first and second
volumes were the hasty product of one who was an amateur in the art of
describing, but who, as an amateur, did his best.  Major Roberts is a
professional in the sphere of letters and of history, and therefore
sets up a new and higher standard for the volumes which are to follow.
In the sphere of letters he is well known throughout the Empire for his
stories of the life of the men and the denizens of the wild, through
which there blows, like the breeze shaking the pine-trees in the snows,
both the warm wind of romance and the cold breath of reality.  His
History of the Dominion is equally familiar to all Canadians who care
to consult the past of their country.  In his record of the great deeds
of the Canadian Corps on the Somme we shall find combined the two
qualities which make letters last, the imagination which can convey to
the future the agonies and heroisms of the past, and the chiselled
style shaping the rough outlines of the records into a clean-cut and
enduring narrative.


_Cherkley_, 1918.











COURCELETTE (_continued_)








REGINA (_continued_)







In the first and second volumes of this history Lord Beaverbrook has
told the war-story of Canada from the mobilisation of the 1st Canadian
Division at Valcartier in August, 1914, to the conclusion of our work
in the Ypres salient in June, 1916.  He has dealt progressively with
from one to three divisions, bringing the second and third in turn into
his narrative, recording the organisation of each as it came into
being, and then co-ordinating its military exploits with the exploits
of its sister divisions.

During all that time the 4th Canadian Division was on its way.  It was
struggling into existence.  Its battalions were forming, training,
being reduced to skeletons by the necessities of the veteran units in
France, and recovering strength by the absorption of raw material.  The
44th Battalion was mobilised in the winter of 1915, while the 1st
Division was still on Salisbury Plain; yet it was not until the autumn
of 1916 that it reached France as a unit of the 4th Canadian Division.
Between the date of its mobilisation and that of its first contact with
the enemy it supplied many drafts of officers and men to reserve and
fighting battalions in England and France, and absorbed drafts of all
ranks from junior units.  It was so with all the infantry battalions
which, in time, went to the composition of the new Division, only to a
lesser degree than in the case of the 44th.

Of the infantry brigades of this Division only the 10th is of purely
Western origin, its battalions--the 44th, 46th, 47th, and 50th--having
been recruited in Winnipeg, Southern Saskatchewan, British Columbia,
and Calgary respectively.  These battalions had comprised the 14th
(Reserve) Canadian Infantry Brigade during their period of training in
England previous to the formation of the 4th Division.  The brigade
sailed for France on August 10th, 1916, and took a place in the front
line for the first time twelve days later, when it relieved our 4th
Brigade in a section of our tortured defences before Ypres.

During the first five months of its active service the 10th was
commanded by Brigadier-General W. St. Pierre Hughes.  On January 18th,
1917, it was taken over by Brigadier-General Edward Hilliam, D.S.O.,
late C.O. of the 25th Battalion.  The story of this Brigade's offensive
and defensive operations is to be found in subsequent chapters of this
history incorporated in the general narrative of Canadian activities.

The 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade, organised in May, 1916, lost two of
its original battalions in the following month, owing to the great and
immediate need of reinforcements at the front in consequence of the
bitter fighting of June in the Ypres salient.  These units were
replaced by others; and when it commenced its actual war-service it
consisted of the 54th from Kootenay, the 75th from Toronto, the 87th of
Montreal, and the 102nd of Northern British Columbia.  This Brigade was
originally commanded by Brigadier-General F. O. W. Loomis, D.S.O., who
had previously commanded a battalion of the 1st Canadian Division; but
after Major-General Mercer was killed in action in June, the 2nd
Brigade contributed its G.O.C., Major-General Lipsett, to the 3rd
Division, Loomis was recalled to France to take the 2nd Brigade, and
Lieutenant-Colonel V. W. Odlum, D.S.O., of the 7th Battalion, was
promoted to the command of the 11th Brigade and the rank of

The 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade was organised from the 16th
(Reserve) Brigade in May, with Brigadier-General Lord Brooke in
command.  It originally consisted of the 51st, 72nd, 73rd, and 87th
Battalions, but in June twenty-four officers and more than seven
hundred other ranks of the 51st were drafted to France, and their place
in the Brigade was filled by the 78th.  The 87th was transferred to the
11th Brigade.  The final composition of the 12th Brigade was as
follows:--38th Battalion of Ottawa (its _personnel_ representing such
well-known Canadian Militia regiments as the Governor-General's Foot
Guards, the Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles, the Brockville Rifles, the
Lanark and Renfrew Regiment and the Stormont and Glengarry
Highlanders), the 72nd Battalion of Vancouver, the 73rd of Montreal,
and the 78th of Winnipeg.

Shortly after its arrival in France the command of the 12th Canadian
Infantry Brigade was transferred to Brigadier-General J. H. MacBrien,

From the date of its organisation the 4th Canadian Division has been
commanded by Major-General David Watson, C.B.

This Division has been fortunate from the first in the matter of the
_personnel_ of its higher commands and senior appointments.
Major-General Watson commenced his military service in this war in
August, 1914, as a Lieutenant-Colonel.  He did splendid work with his
battalion--the 2nd (Central Ontario)--during the Second Battle of Ypres
and until he was promoted to the command of the 5th Brigade in the
autumn of 1915.

Brigadier-General Edward Hilliam, who took over the command of the 10th
Brigade in January, 1917, has had a career of distinguished activity
since the first day of Canada's military participation in the war.  As
a Captain of the 5th Battalion he was wounded at Gravenstafel Ridge on
April 25th, 1915, while engaged on a service of exceptional danger and
importance.  The story is told in Vol. I. of this history.  After
months more of hard service with the 5th, and a step in rank, he was
promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and transferred to the 25th (Nova Scotia)
Battalion.  His success continued unfalteringly with his new command,
as the splendid work of the Nova Scotians at Courcelette on September
15th, 1916, has proved to the world.

Brigadier-General Loomis, who commanded the 11th Brigade for a time in
England, is another survivor of the Second Battle of Ypres.  His
original battalion was the 13th Royal Highlanders of Canada.  From the
11th Brigade he was recalled to France in June, 1916, to command the
2nd Brigade.  His Brigade-Major, Captain Gardner, a veteran of the 7th
Battalion, returned to France at the same time and took over the 7th
from Lieutenant-Colonel Odlum, who was appointed to the command of the
11th Brigade.

Brigadier-General V. W. Odlum, D.S.O., before his promotion to a
brigade had commanded the 7th (British Columbia) Battalion at the front
since the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Hart-McHarg in April, 1915.  To
those who know, this statement sufficiently explains Odlum's fitness
for any fighting command.

Brigadier-General J. H. MacBrien, commanding the 12th Brigade, was at
one time D.A.A. and O.M.G. of the 1st Canadian Division, and in
recognition of his services in this capacity he was mentioned in
despatches and made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order.  He
was afterwards promoted to the General Staff of the Canadian Corps.

Lieutenant-Colonel W. E. Ironsides, D.S.O., Major K. D. B. Murray,
D.S.O., and Captain A. A. Aitken, General Staff officers, first,
second, and third grade of the Division, all have served actively on
one or more of Britain's fighting fronts since the first days of the
war.  Captain R. M. Redmond was drawn from the Casualty Centre after he
had seen service with the 60th Battalion of the 3rd Division.  All
other officers of the Divisional Staff had seen previous service in
France, and a number of them had been decorated for their good work.
By hard work or hard fighting Lieutenant-Colonel E. B. Panet, Colonel
H. A. Chisholm, and Captain F. R. Burnside had won the D.S.O., and
Captain Meurling and Hon. Major the Reverend A. M. Gordon the Military
Cross, long before the materialisation of the 4th Canadian Division.

The 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery, which was organised and trained
in England during the spring and summer of 1916, and went to France
with the 4th Division, consists of the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th
Canadian Artillery Brigades and the Divisional Artillery Ammunition
Column.  The batteries and sections of which this force was formed came
originally from almost every corner of Canada, north and south, east
and west.

For a time the Brigades were composed as follows:--The 8th, of the
30th, 31st, 40th, and 41st Field Batteries; the 9th, of the 32nd, 33rd,
45th, and 46th Field Batteries; the 10th, of the 37th, 38th, 39th, and
44th Field Batteries; and the 11th (Howitzer) Brigade of the 29th,
35th, 36th, and 43rd Howitzer Batteries.  This organisation was not
satisfactory.  The 29th (Howitzer) Battery was left with the 11th
Brigade, and to it were added the 41st, 44th, and 46th Field Batteries.
To replace these field batteries in the other Brigades the 35th
(Howitzer) Battery went to the 8th, the 36th to the 9th, and the 43rd
to the 10th.  Thus each Brigade was composed of three field batteries
and one howitzer battery.

The 8th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, which was brought from
Canada to England by Lieutenant-Colonel Gillies, passed into the hands
of Lieutenant-Colonel D. T. V. Eaton, of the Royal Canadian Horse
Artillery, on March 9th, 1916.  Eaton had commanded the R.C.H.A. with
our 1st Division in France in 1915.  He is a professional as well as a
practical artillery officer, with years of theoretical and scientific
study behind his experience in the field.

The command of the 9th Brigade, C.F.A., went to Lieutenant-Colonel H.
G. Carscallen, who had long ago been mentioned in despatches for his
work at the Front with the 11th Battery; that of the 10th to
Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. Ralston, who distinguished himself as far back
as June, 1915, at the "Duck's Bill," when two guns of his battery were
established and fought in our front-line trench, seventy-five yards
distant from the German trench, with disastrous results to the enemy's
wire, parapets, and machine-gun emplacements (see Vol. I., p. 133).
Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. MacNaughton, late of the 2nd Brigade, C.F.A.,
was appointed to the 11th Brigade.

These four Brigades and their ammunition column went to France under
the command of Brigadier-General J. H. Mitchell, late of the 3rd
Brigade, C.F.A.  This officer had been mentioned in despatches and
awarded the Legion of Honour, Croix d'Officier, a year before.

The 4th Canadian Division went to France in August, 1916, the 10th
Infantry Brigade arriving on the 11th, the 11th Brigade on the 14th,
and the 12th Brigade on the 15th.  On the 17th they assembled, and
within the week were moved into positions on the war-torn front of the
Ypres salient.  There they remained until the first week in October,
when they joined the Canadian Corps on the Somme.  During their
occupation of the Ypres salient each of the three Brigades was
withdrawn in turn for a course of tactical training.

So it was that the autumn of 1916 saw the Canadian Army in France
flooding to and beyond the one hundred thousand mark.  Four Divisions,
according to the old establishment, which gave twenty-two thousand men
of all ranks and arms to a division, would account for eighty-eight
thousand Canadians in France at that time, but the development of the
machine-gun service and the creation of trench-mortar batteries long
ago caused the outgrowth and consequent revision of that establishment.
And still, without the addition of a further Division, the Canadian
Army Corps continued to grow, waxing greater daily to meet every
progressive need and condition of modern warfare.  By January, 1917,
Canada's man-power in France reached the significant total of one
hundred and twelve thousand.  This figure takes no account of the
wastage of battle.  The seriously wounded and work-worn who are
returned to England are, like the dead, immediately struck out of the
tally.  This figure stands for fit Canadians actively employed at the
moment in first-hand combat with the enemy.

In the past, great battles have been won and long wars brought to a
swift and violent end, tyrants have been broken, races enslaved, and
thrones overturned by armies far weaker in numbers and in spirit than
these fighting legions of Canada.

To enforce the significance of this Canadian Field Army of 112,000, we
may compare the numbers engaged in some of the decisive battles of the
past.  The army of Napoleon, for instance, numbered but 70,000 men when
he broke the power of Austria and Russia at Austerlitz.  Wellington won
the crushing victory of Vittoria, in the Peninsular War.  with a force
of 65,000; and at Waterloo he commanded rather less than 68,000.  The
terrific battle of Gettysburg, in the American Civil War, was fought by
78,000 Federals against the slightly smaller forces of the Southern
Confederacy.  Even at the great battle of Sedan, which decided the
issue of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the army of France, on which
all her hopes were staked--and lost--numbered but 150,000.  From such
figures may be estimated the importance of Canada's contribution in the
present gigantic struggle for liberty and right.

In the summer of 1914 Canada was a land of peace, of self-interest, of
political warfare, and commercial and agricultural prosperity; and now
her thousands lie dead on foreign battlefields; thousands of her sons
have returned to her, maimed, broken, and blind; her forward army
fights on, continually bleeding yet continually growing in strength,
reinforced from her trained troops in England; and to her own home
camps and garrisons her sons continue to gather from counting-house,
school, and farm.



The Battle of Sanctuary Wood was fought and endured throughout the
first two days of June, 1916.  Canada's resistance to that terrific and
overwhelming onslaught of metal and men will live as long and
gloriously as any victory in the great story of our arms.  During those
two fateful days Canadian trenches were obliterated--blown out of the
ground; dug-outs were buried and strong points crushed; woods in our
positions were mown and torn to earth; Major-General Mercer was killed
and one of our Brigade commanders wounded and taken prisoner.  The
Canadian front was crushed by that indescribable deluge of exploding
metal--but it was not broken.

Between the heroic actions in the Ypres salient in June (1st to 15th)
and the commencement of our strenuous thrusts on the Somme front in
mid-September, no unit of the Canadian Corps was in any major offensive
operation.  But the routine work of holding and strengthening our
positions continued with the full measure of that activity for which
the Canadians have become famous.  The vitality of our opposition to
the confronting masses of men and machinery did not lessen for an
instant.  Relieved from the recent terrific efforts of defence and
counter-attack, we were stationary yet aggressive.  Hostile trenches
and strongholds were raided and bombarded, wire was cut by hand and
smashed by shell-fire, and mines were sprung.  All arms continued to
carry on enthusiastically, and the mental peace and physical security
of the occupants of opposing positions were shattered constantly by
bayonet and grenade, trench-bomb, bullet, and shell.  The following
instances will serve to illustrate the nature of our activities
throughout this period of waiting, of preparation, and of so-called

Dominion Day (July 1st) was celebrated by the 26th (New Brunswick)
Battalion in a manner little appreciated by the grey ranks across the
way.  Supported by the fire of our artillery and trench-mortars, two
officers and twenty-five other ranks operated against a convenient
point in the German front-line trench.  The assaulting party were
observed and subjected to a brisk but inaccurate fire of machine-guns
and rifles before they had passed the enemy's inner wire.  They pressed
forward without a pause and rushed the parapet.  The garrison of the
trench immediately retired from this threatened point except for three
men, who stuck to their loopholes and continued firing.  Lieutenant
Fleming accounted for one of these by thrusting his revolver into a
loophole and returning the fire.  The trench was then entered and its
remaining defenders disposed of.  After our party had investigated
about forty yards of the trench they were driven out by a heavy
bombardment of rifle-grenades and mortar-bombs.  They then returned to
our own lines with a few slight casualties, some useful information,
and a quantity of German equipment.

An encounter in No Man's Land between a patrol of the 22nd (French
Canadian) Battalion and a German patrol on the night of July 4th
resulted in the dispersion of the enemy and our capture of two

Ten nights later a reconnoitring patrol from the 25th (Nova Scotia)
Battalion attacked an enemy listening-post at the moment of its being
strongly reinforced.  After a brisk exchange of grenades the Germans
ran for their trench, leaving the field and one of their wounded to us.

On the night of the 25th a large German mine was blown in our lines on
the Bluff.  This was not the enemy's first attempt to possess himself
of that advantageous position.  It will be remembered that he attained
his object in January of the same year and was not driven out until a
month later, and then only at a heavy cost of killed and wounded.
Fortunately the second attempt to secure a foothold on that ground
failed utterly, thanks to the alertness and prompt action of our troops
immediately concerned.  Briefly, the story of the foiled effort is

The 1st Canadian Division, which had taken over the Bluff sector on the
22nd of the month, received warning two days later from Major North, of
the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company, that the enemy might be depended
upon to blow a mine very soon somewhere in the vicinity.  The
localities which were considered with the liveliest suspicion were a
point known as the Bean and Trench 33.  The Division immediately warned
the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the menace; the G.O.C. the Brigade ordered
reductions in the garrisons of the threatened positions, the covering
of that section of front by machine-guns, and the detailing of parties
for counter-attack and of other parties for the vital work of
consolidation should a mine be blown.

The early hours of the night of the 25th were unusually quiet about the
Bluff.  Artillery was silent.  Snipers and machine-gunners seemed
half-hearted in their activities.  The 7th (British Columbia) Battalion
was engaged in preparing for a relief which was to be completed by

At ten o'clock the quiet was shattered by a tremendous convulsion.
Earth, fire, rock, and smoke belched to heaven.  Trenches vanished,
engulfed.  Instantly the S.O.S. rocket went up.  Our machine-guns
responded like crackling echoes of the explosion.

Within thirty seconds of the rocket-signal for help the guns of Dodd's
Group commenced a crushing bombardment of the German positions which
threatened the new crater.  Our counter-attacking parties advanced,
armed with rifles, grenades, and machine-guns.  They occupied the
forward lip of the crater, the flanking shell-holes overlooking its raw
depths, certain points commanding the canal, and a ridge running
between an historic old crater and the new.

The Germans, reinforced and ready for the dash from cover and the
occupation of the Crater swarmed to their parapets, and swayed and
seethed there for a little while like a headed wave about to break and
flood forward.  Then the wave broke and subsided--backward instead of

The great attack was dead, dead in the first half-minute of its furious
and painful life, killed by the smashing fire of our artillery and the
whipping hail of our machine-guns.

Within one and a half hours of the blowing of the mine the O.C. the 7th
Battalion reported to his Brigadier that the menace was past, and that
the new crater was being swiftly absorbed by our defensive positions.
Our artillery reduced its fire by one-half.  Five minutes later the
German artillery retaliation ceased, the fire of our machine-guns and
artillery dropped to normal, and the relief of our infantry--which had
been interrupted and delayed for nearly two hours--was calmly continued.

Owing to the precaution of thinning the garrisons in the threatened
locality, our casualties were wonderfully light--less than fifty all
told in killed, wounded, and missing.  It is safe to say that the enemy
casualties, caused by our artillery, machine-guns, Stokes and
trench-mortar batteries, were much heavier; and, in addition to their
loss of life and limb, the Germans lost their adventure.  The months of
toil devoted to the laying of the mine and the tons of explosive which
comprised it failed to strengthen their position by a tittle or to
weaken ours by a jot.

On the night of the 28th a patrol from the Nova Scotian Battalion
(25th), consisting of a lieutenant, a sergeant, and four men, carried
out a daring raid on a small scale.  They bombed the German trench at
the point where they intended to enter, and were about to negotiate the
parapet when a party of eight enemy bombers attacked them on the flank.
In the brief but desperate fight which followed this unexpected
distraction three of the Canadians were wounded and the eight Germans
were disposed of.  Lieutenant Wise, with Sergeant Anderson and Private
Johnson, then entered the hostile trench and discovered that their
preliminary grenade-fire had killed five of the garrison.  They drove
the enemy down the trench, until Anderson was wounded.  Lieutenant Wise
ceased his offensive to help the sergeant over the parapet, and while
thus engaged he received three wounds.  Johnson continued to drive the
enemy until all his grenades were thrown.  He then escaped from the
trench, returned to our lines, collected a rescue party, and led the
way back to the scene of action.  All our wounded were found and
brought in with the exception of Sergeant Anderson.

At half-past eight on the morning of the 29th the 19th (Ontario)
Battalion made a daylight raid into the enemy trenches on the St. Eloi
front between Ruined Farm and the Canal.  Two officers and the scouts
of the Battalion had devoted every day and night of the preceding week
to reconnoitring the ground over which the attack was to be made.
During the night of the 28th the enemy's wire in front of the point
selected for entry was hand-cut by two men of the Battalion.
Machine-gun fire on the hostile parapet at the threatened point muffled
the sound of the clipping of the wire.  The raiding party, consisting
of Captain C. L. Kilmer Lieutenant H. B. Pepler, and eighteen N.C.O.'s
and men, covered three-quarters of their journey between the lines by
way of an old ditch, doubled across the remaining forty-five yards,
passed through the gaps in the wire, and went over the parapet before
they were discovered by the enemy.  They moved to the right and left
along the trench, shooting and bombing.  Upon the approach of strong
German reinforcements along a communication trench, the signal to
retire was given and successfully obeyed.  During the evacuation of the
trench the raiders suffered a few slight casualties from grenade-fire,
and the two officers and a sergeant sustained shrapnel wounds.  Captain
Kilmer was the last to leave the trench.  One of his ankles had been
broken in the fight.  As he was unable to reach our lines unassisted,
and unwilling to delay the retirement, he crawled into a shell-hole
situated about eight yards in front of the German wire.  He was rescued
from this insecure retreat by Lieutenant Burnham, Corporal Wilson, and
Private Newton, who, covered by an accurate barrage from the guns of
Stewart's Group, moved out to the shell-hole and back to our lines
under a heavy fire of machine-guns and rifles.

In this, the first of our daylight raids, no prisoners were taken.  The
action was too swift and the encounters were too violent to permit of
the removal of a single living Hun; but the operation was highly
successful.  The occupants of the trench were identified as the Royal
Württembergers; valuable information of a technical nature was
obtained; two machine-guns were put out of action and other machine-gun
and trench-mortar emplacements located; many of the garrison of the
trench were shot, and four large dug-outs, crowded with men, were
effectively bombed; and it is reasonable to suppose that the casualties
inflicted by our artillery were severe.  Lieutenant H. R. Dillon,
Canadian Field Artillery, who acted as Forward Observation Officer
throughout the operation, did splendid service, especially during the
rescue of Captain Kilmer, when he stood fully exposed in No Man's Land
at a point within forty yards of the German trench, and from there
directed the fire of his battery.  Lieutenant Hooper, of the 19th
Battalion, whose active command during the raid included a Lewis gun,
snipers, and a telephonist, also did fine work.

On the night of August 5th-6th the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion
sent a raiding party into the enemy trenches opposite their front, with
the usual objects of obtaining prisoners and information and inflicting
casualties.  This raid was daringly executed; but the fighting in the
trench was so severe that no prisoners were taken.  Lieutenant Harris
was wounded while carrying a wounded German toward the point of entry.
Two unwounded Germans were caught, but owing to their struggles and the
depth of the trench the efforts of their captors to expel them over the
parapet were ineffectual.

Eight nights later Lieutenant Clarkson of this same Battalion led
another party into the enemy's lines and succeeded in bringing out a
prisoner.  The garrison of the invaded trench suffered heavily.  Of
Clarkson's party only one man was wounded.

A party from the 28th (North-West) Battalion, supported by the
artillery of Stuart's Group, our trench-mortars, and Stokes guns,
entered the enemy's trenches in the neighbourhood of Ruined Farm on the
night of August 10th-11th.  Lieutenant T. L. O. Williams, who commanded
the raiders, was wounded.  The enemy and his trenches were severely
knocked about and a prisoner was brought back.

A dummy raid on the hostile positions at the Hollandscheschuur Farm and
Quarante Wood salients was successfully practised by Dodd's Group,
C.F.A., and the 10th (Ontario) Battalion in the early hours of August
15th.  The object of this long-headed enterprise was to draw the
Germans in force into their front-line trenches and there drub them
thoroughly with the combined fire of our field batteries, Stokes guns,
and machine-guns.

At 3.45 a.m. three white flares were sent up from our lines, and at the
same time the enemy's entanglements were violently shaken by means of
strong wires which connected them with our forward positions.  The
Germans immediately took alarm and subjected their own entanglements to
a heavy grenade bombardment along the whole front from the Quarante
Wood to the Chemin de Poperinghe.  Our artillery and Stokes guns then
opened heavily and accurately on selected targets on the enemy front
and support trenches.  The Germans promptly attempted a retaliation
with the fire of a five-point-nine battery; but as their first two
shells fell in their own lines at the Farm, the third in No Man's Land,
and the next thirty-seven on various points behind and in their own
defences, they soon became discouraged.

In addition to the casualties and material damage inflicted by our
fire, the enemy must have suffered heavily from the erratic performance
of his own five-point nines.

On the 17th a new strong point in the system of enemy trenches known as
"the Loop," in Sanctuary Wood, about two thousand yards east of
Zillebeke, was subjected to a concentrated bombardment by our 6-inch
howitzers and partially destroyed.  To complete its destruction the
bombardment was resumed during the night of the 17th and 18th, and
under cover of this bombardment a raid was undertaken by a party from
the Royal Canadian Regiment against an advanced trench sector and
bombing post in the immediate neighbourhood of "the Loop."  The idea
was to take the enemy by surprise while their attention was occupied by
the bombardment, and to capture prisoners.  In both these respects,
however, the operation was a failure, as the Germans were found fully
prepared and "standing to," with the post heavily manned, and not only
were no prisoners taken, but not one of our men succeeded in getting
into the trench.  The affair was memorable, however, for the amazing
courage and audacity with which it was pushed, in the teeth of
overwhelming and ready numbers, and for the resourcefulness and heroic
devotion with which the three officers--Lieutenant Bole, leader of the
raiding party, and Lieutenants Churchill and Munn, who had come to his
assistance--succeeded in bringing all the wounded back to our lines.
It was remarkable, too, for the slaughter inflicted in the crowded
trench by this greatly daring handful of raiders.  The raiding party
consisted of sixteen N.C.O.'s and men under Lieutenant Bole.  A gap was
blown in the enemy wire by the explosion of an ammonal tube.
Immediately Lieutenant Bole, who had gathered his men at the head of
the sap running outward from our front line, led the way through the
broken wire in the hope of gaining the position in one rush.  They were
met, however, by a storm of bombs and machine-gun fire, and fell
rapidly.  But even the wounded, if not utterly disabled, kept on
hurling their bombs.  Lance-Corporal Reynolds, though already hit,
succeeded in reaching the enemy's parapet and delivering all his bombs
with deadly effect among the packed ranks.  Then, finding himself
alone, he withdrew, and dropped, with two more wounds, a few yards back
from the parapet.  By this time every member of the party was down
except Lieutenant Bole, who occupied himself calmly with the task of
rescuing his wounded.  Lieutenant Churchill came to his aid in this,
while Lieutenant Munn, taking his Lewis gun out into No Man's Land,
played it along the enemy's parapet to keep down their fire.  Under
cover of this gun, and of a trench-mortar barrage which was presently
dropped along the trench, Lieutenant Bole got all his wounded, one by
one, back through the sap and into our lines.  And so the affair
ended--not, indeed, with success, but with great distinction for all
concerned, and with the consolation of having exacted a heavy toll in
German lives.

It may be in place here to give an interesting instance of the work
that was being done by our Tunnelling Companies--work calling for not
only great courage and devotion, but also the highest technical skill
and resource.  The work of a tunnelling company at the Front is like a
duel with knives in a dark room, where one may feel at any moment the
stealthy adversary's knife in one's back.  The tunnellers' ears,
nerves, and intuition are ceaselessly on the strain.  And just when he
has successfully mined his opponents and is about to blow them up, he
may be counter-mined himself and hurled into eternity.  At the position
known as "The Bluff," overlooking the Canal, a mine had been blown by
the enemy on July 25th, forming a new crater of which we had at once
taken possession.  By the explosion a lip was formed on the east side
of the crater, which was capable of being transformed into an extremely
strong position.  But it was impossible to work on this position with
any degree of safety, as it was certain that the enemy's gallery, from
which he had laid the mine, ran somewhere beneath the lip, and was
occupied.  Any work we should attempt on the position would inevitably
be heard in the gallery and could be frustrated, disastrously for us,
by the explosion of another mine.  It was decided to try to tunnel into
the gallery from another direction.  Bore-holes, therefore, were driven
in the supposed direction of the gallery, in the hope of being able to
locate it exactly by listening.  In this the borers were so successful
that they came upon the gallery before they expected to.  The enemy
made them aware of their success by exploding a charge beneath the
bore-holes, killing three of our men and injuring others.  From this,
however, it was obvious that the main charge was not yet laid in the
gallery.  Plans were therefore made at once for endeavouring to sap
into the gallery from No Man's Land and blow it in, so as to cut it off
at some distance from the crater, and thus, if possible, gain the
crater end of it for our own use.  In order to begin the work far out
in No Man's Land it was absolutely necessary to obtain some cover
there, and cover of such a nature that the enemy should not recognise
its purpose.  The problem might well have seemed an insurmountable one;
but Major North, O.C. 1st Tunnelling Company, Canadian Engineers,
solved it successfully, outwitting the Germans by an ingenious ruse.
In the words of the Official Report:--"One hundred pounds of ammonal
were taken over the parapet, and, after a rather difficult
reconnaissance, were placed about fifty feet in front of the new
crater....  This charge was wired back to _Thames Street_.  In
co-operation with the 5th Battalion, two 60-pound trench-mortars were
fired at the German line in front at a prearranged time, and at one
minute interval.  A minute later our charge was exploded, and after
another minute another trench-mortar was fired, the object being to
make the enemy believe that our charge was a trench-mortar fallen
short.  This charge made a crater about 4 ft. deep and about 8 ft. in
diameter, breaking the tough surface layer of roots and gravel.  We
entered the crater immediately after it was blown, placed another
charge of 200 pounds of ammonal, and blew it.  The next night we
entered the crater, finding it about 8 ft. deep and about 25 ft. in
diameter."  From this effective cover our boring went on unsuspected,
and a number of charges were laid in different bore-holes close to
where the gallery was judged to run.  When these were simultaneously
exploded our calculations were proved correct.  A sector of the gallery
was found completely wrecked, effectually cutting the communications,
and we entered into possession of the undamaged portion, about 112 ft.
in length, extending up into the new crater.  We thus secured a
valuable post of vantage from which to conduct other mining operations,
and the crater was consolidated into a strong point of considerable
importance to our line.

By these and many similar small operations the enemy were kept at a
tension and subjected to continual harassing annoyance; and our own men
were encouraged and stimulated while perfecting themselves in the art
of modern war.



It is around the part played by the Canadian Forces in the gigantic and
long-drawn-out struggle known as "the Battle of the Somme" that the
interest of this third volume of our records must centre.  The
operations which began, on July 1st, 1916, with the ponderous thrusts
of the British and French Armies from before Albert and Bray, and ended
with the capture of Bapaume and Peronne on March 17th and 18th, 1917,
constituted, according to the nomenclature of war before these days of
Armageddon, not one battle, indeed, but a campaign of many great
battles.  In this war, however, all is on a scale so colossal that
standards and terms of comparison have to be enlarged in due
proportion.  All that unparalleled outpouring of agony and splendour,
of sacrifice and endurance, of heroism and destruction, which the
Germans have so poignantly--and significantly--designated as "the
blood-baths of the Somme," may be taken as one battle, a battle in
whose vast rhythm the old values of hours and days are supplanted by
weeks and months.  Yet never before in the world's history was there a
battle in which minutes have been held so priceless, the seconds
themselves so reckoned upon with meticulous precision.  To present an
adequate picture of the battle as a whole, or even of the specific part
played in it by this or that particular corps, is a task that will tax
the powers of the inspired historian, viewing the great subject at such
a distance that he can see it as a whole and in its true perspective.
He will need to be a new Thucydides, equipped, not only with grasp and
vision, but also with mastery of the magic of words.  And even so, the
story will never be half told.  Men will continue digging into the
records and unofficial accounts as an inexhaustible mine, forever
discovering new jewels of wonder and terror and pity.  The utmost that
can be attempted in this unpretending narrative is to set down the
salient facts as to the achievements of our own Divisions, with such
detail as can be sifted out, more or less at hazard, while the dust of
the stupendous conflict is still in the air.

On September 1st the Canadians began to move from their sector of
comparative calm toward the vortex of the gigantic struggle, which was
at this period raging with special fury around Mouquet Farm and over
the blood-soaked undulations between Pozières, Courcelette, and
Martinpuich.  The quality of our troops, and the estimation in which
they were held by the Higher Command, may be judged by the fact of
their being allotted to this vital area, which included the key
positions on the direct road to Bapaume.  How they justified this
confidence, and at what a cost, the sequel will show.

The 1st Canadian Division, General Currie's veterans of Ypres, was the
first to move south, and its headquarters were shifted to Rubempré, a
few kilometres due west from shell-torn Albert.  On the 3rd we find
certain battalions supporting the Australians at Tom's Cut; and by the
4th the whole division had moved up through Albert and out along the
Bapaume road into the stress of the conflict, taking over from the 4th
Australian Division under heavy shell-fire, a hotly-contested line of
trenches running from a little behind Mouquet Farm to the junction of
Munster Alley with Cameron and Highland trenches, about a mile to the
south of Courcelette.  On the following day the headquarters of the
Division were transferred from Rubempré to the precarious shelters and
dug-outs of Tara Mill, on the Bapaume Road, near the grim collections
of calcined rubble which had been La Boiselle and Ovillers.  On the 6th
the 1st Canadian Divisional Artillery arrived, and took over from the
2nd Australian Divisional Artillery in support of General Currie's
line.  All the time, from the moment of their arrival, our troops were
kept under a very destructive bombardment from 5.9, 8-inch, and 11-inch
guns, the enemy hoping thus to shake their morale before they could get
settled into their new positions; and the communication trenches were
so effectively blotted out that the front line could only be reached by
going overland.  The relief was no more than satisfactorily completed
when the war-worn old Division was given a chance to show that its
mettle had not deteriorated in the transfer from "the Salient" to the

In the early morning of the 8th an exposed section of our front trench,
about seventy-five yards in extent, held by Lieutenant G. B. Murray, of
the 14th Battalion, with Lieutenant B. L. Cook and twenty-four other
ranks under his command, was attacked with the bayonet by some two
hundred of the enemy, who succeeded at the first rush in forcing their
way into the position.  The little party of defenders, however, held
their ground with bomb, rifle, and cold steel till reinforcements came
up, whereupon the assailants were expelled with heavy loss.  On the
following day came the opportunity which the tried and seasoned
Division was waiting for.  But it came to one Battalion only--the
"Fighting Second" from Eastern Ontario, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel
A. E. Swift, D.S.O.

At exactly twenty-five minutes past one in the afternoon of September
9th, the 2nd Battalion relieved the 4th along the sector of trench, on
the right of the Canadian position, from which the attack was to be
made.  Some 250 yards to the front, south-east of the Windmill on
Bapaume Road and near the northern extension of the trench called
Walker Avenue, was a blunt salient of German trench, 550 yards or so of
it, which was strongly held and proving a thorn in our side.  It hung
doggedly and defiantly athwart our plans for the advance on
Courcelette, a mile away to the north.  It was this blunt salient that
the "Fighting Second" had been appointed to bite off in order to clear
the way for greater enterprises.  At a quarter to five precisely the
first wave of our attack went over the parapet behind an intense
barrage from all our guns.  The first three companies of the Battalion
only were engaged in the attack, No. 4 Company being held in reserve
close by, in Luxton Trench and Walker Avenue.  In spite of the
punishment which the Germans had been receiving from our barrage, the
assaulting wave encountered a sturdy resistance when it reached its
objective, and for a few minutes the enemy trench was a pandemonium of
savage hand-to-hand struggles with bomb and bayonet.  It was a
reversion to the ancient form of individual fighting, when great issues
so often hung upon the personal prowess of this or that one hero.  In
this mad encounter individual heroism was too universal to admit of
particularisation, but the exploit of Corporal Clarke lifts itself into
prominence even in that splendid company.  Attacking with a squad of
bombers on the extreme left of the wave, he jumped into the trench and
found himself alone among a swarm of extremely lively and unsubdued
Germans.  With the remainder of his bombs he cleared a way for himself.
Then with his revolver he accounted for eighteen opponents, two of them
being officers, and found himself undisputed master of two bays of the
trench.  Even more splendid, perhaps, by reason of its self-sacrificing
devotion, was the action of Lieutenant Pringle.  Leading his platoon
against the centre of the enemy's line, he caught sight of a
machine-gun hurriedly being mounted on the parapet in such a position
that it would be able to wipe out his platoon.  Pushing forward at top
speed through the storm of shell and bullets, he threw himself
single-handed upon the gun-crew before they could get their deadly
weapon into action.  It never came into action.  His men, following
close behind, found his body sprawled across the muzzle of the gun,
with the crew lying dead around him.  Along the rest of the sector the
fighting fervour of our men was not to be denied, and the survivors of
the enemy presently flung up their hands.  In just twenty-two minutes
from the beginning of the assault the whole objective was in our hands,
138 prisoners had been gathered in, and the second, or consolidating,
wave of the attack was settling itself to the task of making secure the
captured position, reversing parapets and firing-step, and commencing
new communication trenches back to the old line under the continuing
shelter of our barrage.  In the meantime, the assaulting wave, taking
their Lewis guns with them, moved on and occupied a strong line of
shell-holes in front of the trench, while the bombing parties, in the
face of desperate opposition, fought their way along the trench and
established their blocks some sixty yards to either flank.  The price
of this victory was two officers killed--Lieutenant Pringle and
Lieutenant Stuart--and nine wounded, the wounds of three--Major
Williams, Major A. E. McLaughlin, and Lieutenant Bishop--later proving
fatal; and of other ranks 69 killed and 190 wounded.

In view of the narrow frontage involved in the attack and the small
number of troops engaged, this operation must, of course, be classed as
a minor one.  But by reason of its soundness of conception, the
precision and completeness of its execution, and the importance of its
bearing upon our enterprise against Courcelette a few days later, it
takes rank with affairs of much greater magnitude and renown.  It
reflects unbounded credit upon the commanding officer Colonel Swift,
whose operation orders were remarkable for their clarity, foresight,
and exactness of detail, and upon his second-in-command, Major
Vanderwater, who led the attack and carried out those orders with such
accuracy.  The Battalion was congratulated by General Plunier, the Army
Commander, on the following day in terms of unusual commendation.

In the meantime, the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions, following hard
upon the heels of the 1st, had moved down from the north to Rubempré
and La Plouy, close behind the battle area.  On the 11th Major-General
Turner, V.C., C.B., D.S.O., commanding the 2nd Division, transferred
his headquarters to Tara Hill, and assumed command of the sector which
had been so ably controlled by General Currie since the 4th.
Throughout the nights of the 10th and 11th the 2nd Division was
occupied in relieving the 1st Division, the relief being carried out
under extremely trying conditions and at the cost of a good many
casualties; for not only the line to be relieved, but all the stripped
and tortured waste behind it, was swept by an unceasing storm from the
German gun positions across the Ancre and around Pys and Warlencourt.
Our communication trenches in many places had been pounded out of
existence and landmarks obliterated, with the consequence that some
platoons went astray in the darkness and the bewildering uproar, and
were hours late in reaching their allotted sectors of trench.
Moreover, along with their shrapnel and high explosive, the enemy were
sending over many gas and tear shells, which added greatly to the
strain of the situation.  But the nerve of our Battalions refused to be
shaken by this stern ordeal.  There was no going back, no wavering.  By
the morning of the 12th the relief had been completed, and our lines
were held by fresh units keen for the test which was already being
prepared for them.

On this day the 1st Division went into rest camp at Rubempré, and the
3rd Division, under Major-General L. G. Lipsett, C.M.G., moved up to
Usna Hill, their arrival being greeted that same night by a furious
attack from the Germans at Mouquet Farm.  The brunt of this attack was
borne by the 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Mounted Rifles.  The
assaulting waves were hurled back upon their entrenchments after heavy
punishment by our machine-guns and Stokes trench-mortars.

And now we come to COURCELETTE--and write the name in capital letters,
as it is one of the shining names in the story of Canadian valour.  The
storming of that heap of ruins which had once been a sunny Picardian
village nestling amid its orchards was an achievement which must make
its day--September 15th, 1916--for ever memorable in Canadian history.
Of course, as the men who fought and won at Courcelette would be the
first to protest, the action, splendid as it was, does not stand in the
same category with the Second Battle of Ypres.  It is necessary, in
writing of it, not to let one's sense of proportion be obscured by its
brilliancy and completeness.  In the final analysis it will show as a
great operation perfectly planned, and executed with a courage,
swiftness, and thoroughness calling for the highest praise.  Even so,
it constitutes but a single stride in the great advance known as the
Battle of the Somme.  Had it failed, the result would not have been
disaster to the Somme operations as a whole, but merely a costly, and
perhaps depressing, postponement.  The Second Battle of Ypres, on the
other hand, belongs not to Canada and the Empire alone, but to the
world.  It must rank among those few outstanding achievements of
uncalculated and self-sacrificing heroism which serve as an incentive
to noble spirits for all time.  There was that of the miraculous about
it which startles and grips the imagination.  There was that mingling
of high tragedy and terror and devotion which purges national pride to
the purest patriotism.  It tore victory--men hardly know how to this
day--from the jaws of overwhelming and seemingly inevitable defeat; and
had it failed, who can set a limit to the catastrophe that might well
have followed?  Finally, at the Second Battle of Ypres a young nation
came suddenly to full manhood through a well-nigh unparalleled
initiation of blood and splendour and tears.  It is right that the name
of YPRES should stand apart, and its imperishable glory not be
infringed upon when allotting their meed of praise to other notable
operations of the Canadian Forces.

The capture of Courcelette was the pre-eminent achievement of the
Canadians during the year 1916.  The glory of it belongs to the 2nd
Canadian Division, which, under happy augury, fought the battle on the
anniversary of its arrival in France.  The Division was highly trained
and well seasoned to war by a year of strenuous duty in the tormented
area of "the Salient."  It had learned all the lessons of endurance and
defence in the engulfing mud of Flanders, in the holding of shattered
trenches against unrelenting shell-fire and obstinate assault.  It had
played its part with distinction in the grim struggles around St. Eloi
and Hooge.  When, therefore, it was selected by Sir Julian Byng the
G.O.C. the Canadian Corps, for the great thrust against Courcelette,
the General felt that he was employing a weapon of tried keenness and
temper which could be depended upon neither to turn nor to break in his
hand.  The result, as will be seen, more than amply justified his

[Illustration: Map--COURCELETTE Sept. 15th to Oct. 3rd (incl.) 1916]

The capture of Courcelette, it must be borne in mind, was not an
isolated operation.  It was an enterprise carried out by the Canadian
Corps in conjunction with an attack by our Fourth Army, and by the
French Army operating on our right, south of the Somme.  The battle was
fought in two distinct actions, one in the early morning by the 4th and
6th Brigades, the other in the late afternoon and evening by the 5th
Brigade.  The first, properly speaking, was the action planned for the
day, its objective being the capture of the formidable defences known
as Sugar Trench and the Sugar Factory, which barred the way to
Courcelette itself.  It was, indeed, an ample undertaking for one day;
but the success of the attack was so swift and overwhelming, and our
troops so straining on the leash, that it was decided to thrust on
again at once for the greater prize without giving the dishevelled
adversary time to recover.  The second, and major, portion of the
operation, therefore, may be regarded as an improvisation on the
battlefield.  At 3.30 in the afternoon the order came for the 5th
Brigade, which had been held in reserve during the morning advance, to
take Courcelette that same day.  Brief as was the notice, within two
hours the new operation orders had been issued, and officers and
N.C.O.'s fully instructed as to their individual duties.  At 6.15 a.m.
the barrage lifted and the attacking battalions "went over."  Before
7.30 p.m. the whole of Courcelette, with some 1,300 prisoners and much
booty, was in our hands, and the position was being consolidated.  The
second phase of the operation, though planned out with such haste, had
worked no less smoothly and according to schedule than the first, and
had resulted in a success no less decisive.  All through the night, and
for several days thereafter, the Germans strove, by furious shelling
and desperate counter-attacks, to regain the stronghold from which they
had been so precipitately expelled.  But our troops proved no less
dogged in holding on than they had been dashing in attack, and all the
enemy's efforts to retrieve his loss resulted only in further loss of
ground and further punishment.

An added interest attaches to the action against Courcelette from the
fact that in this engagement appeared for the first time those amazing
engines of war known as the "Tanks."  The cold official designation of
these monsters is simply "Heavy Machine-Gun Battery."  But Tommy
Atkins, with his fine sense of the fitness of things and his gift for
apt nomenclature, could not possibly leave this most daringly original
offspring of our military inventiveness to labour under so commonplace
a designation.  He took this uncouth but invincible ally to his heart
at once, and in humorous appreciation christened it a "Tank."  And a
Tank the amazing creation will remain, except for the purpose of some
formal official documents.  How effectively the Tanks played their
novel _rôle_ in the fight for Courcelette will appear in succeeding
chapters in course of the detailed account of the individual units
involved.  Suffice it to say here that the high opinion formed on this,
their first appearance, as to the fighting value of this new engine of
attack has been more than justified by its later performances, which
have confounded the jeers of the pessimist and the sceptic.



When the Canadians came up to join the struggle on the Somme, they
arrived under happy auspices.  There was a sense of victory in the air.
This is not less true literally than as a figure of speech; for on
every hand the clear sky of early autumn in Picardy was dotted by our
stationary observation balloons, and threaded by our darting 'planes,
which scouted confidently far over the enemy lines or methodically
registered for the massed ranks of our guns.  Just at this period the
supremacy of our Air Service was hardly ever disputed.  The German
'planes rarely explored beyond our lines, and the German "sausages"
seldom ventured aloft, having learned that such a venture was
equivalent to speedy suicide.  Moreover, here on the Somme Front our
Battalions realised at once that, upon whatsoever hard undertaking they
might be launched, they would have the support of an overmastering
weight of artillery.  Shell-fire, however murderous, loses half its
effect upon the men's spirit when they feel that what they are enduring
is mild compared to the avalanche of destruction which their own
batteries, close behind them, are at the same moment letting loose upon
the enemy.  Altogether it was a tonic change for our Battalions, after
their long gruelling in "the Salient," where at times they had felt
themselves in much the position of the toad under the harrow, ground
down into the Flanders mire by bombardments from three sides at once,
and ceaselessly overlooked by an adversary holding superior positions.
Here at last they marched up into the fight over ground wrenched from
the enemy in spite of his most deliberate and desperate efforts to hold
on to it.  Here they felt that they would have a chance to "get a bit
of their own back"--and, as the event will show, they got it, full
measure and running over.

The terrain over which the attack was to be made is a gently undulating
expanse of farm lands stripped naked by the incessant storm of
shell-fire and closely pitted with shell-holes and craters.  Of grass
or herbage not a blade remained, of trees but here and there a bald and
riven stump.  Dividing this unspeakable waste runs the straight highway
from Albert to Bapaume, thick strung with ruined, or rather
obliterated, villages.  Of these the most advanced in our possession
was Pozières, with the great road running directly through it.  A mile
and a half further on the road runs midway between the twin villages of
Courcelette (on the left) and Martinpuich (on the right), which lie
about three-quarters of a mile apart.  A little nearer our line, and
flush with the left of the road--just about a mile from the eastern
limit of Pozières--stood a mass of partly demolished brick buildings
which had been a great sugar factory, and now, heavily entrenched and
fortified by all the arts of the German engineers, constituted the most
formidable outpost of Courcelette as well as an important flank defence
to the position of Martinpuich.  From the western extremity of
Martinpuich a strong trench known as Candy Trench ran north-west to the
Bapaume Road, skirted the west side of the Sugar Factory, continued in
the same direction for a couple of hundred yards past that stronghold,
and joined, at right angles, another deeply entrenched and strongly
held line called Sugar Trench, which ran south-west for a distance of
about twelve hundred yards and ended at McDonnell Road, a second-class
thoroughfare almost parallel to the Bapaume highway.  It was these two
great trenches, each nearly three-quarters of a mile in length, forming
two sides of a triangle with the Sugar Factory Fort in the apex, which
constituted the grand obstacle to any advance on Courcelette itself.
It was an obstacle of the first order, lavishly supported by bombing
and machine-gun posts, its flanks fully guarded by trench-works outside
of Martinpuich and along McDonnell Road.  Such and so formidable was
the objective which the 2nd Division set itself out to gain on that
memorable morning of the 15th.

The troops detailed for the attack were the 4th and 6th Brigades, the
5th being held in reserve.  The position from which the attack was
ordered to start was a line of trench covering the front of Pozières,
and something under half a mile in advance of the edge of the village.
This line, roughly speaking about a mile in extent, ran south-west and
north-west across the Bapaume Road, which divided it at right angles
into two almost equal sectors, the major sector being that to the north
or left of the road.  The extreme left of the line rested on McDonnell
Road, and joined up at that point with the 3rd Canadian Division.  The
right connected with the 15th British Division, which lay facing
Martinpuich and kept the enemy force there fully occupied.  The sector
to the right of the Bapaume Road was in the hands of the 4th Brigade,
under Brigadier-General R. Rennie, M.V.O., D.S.O., while the left
sector was allotted to the 6th, under Brigadier-General H. D. B.
Ketchen, C.M.G.  The attacking line of the 4th Brigade was made up as
follows:--On the right the 18th Battalion (Western Ontario), commanded
by Lieutenant-Colonel Milligan; centre, the 20th Battalion (Northern
and Central Ontario), commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Rogers; and
on the left the 21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario), under
Lieutenant-Colonel Elmer Jones.  In Brigade Reserve was the 24th
Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada), under Lieutenant-Colonel J. H.
Gunn.  The attacking line of the 6th Brigade consisted of the 27th
Battalion (City of Winnipeg), commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel P. J.
Daly, D.S.O.; the 28th (North-West), commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel J.
F. Embury, C.M.G.; and the 31st (Alberta), under Lieutenant-Colonel A.
H. Bell, with the 29th (Vancouver), familiarly known as Tobin's Tigers,
under Lieutenant-Colonel J. S. Tait, in Brigade Reserve.  The field
guns covering the attack consisted of the 1st Brigade of the 1st
Canadian Divisional Artillery and four Brigades of the 18th Divisional
Artillery, under Brigadier-General Metcalfe, D.S.O., on the right, and
on the left three Brigades of the 1st Canadian Divisional Artillery and
one Brigade of the Lahore Artillery, under the command of
Brigadier-General Thacker.  The barrage work of both these groups
throughout the attack was of a closeness and accuracy which left
nothing to be desired.  It covered both the advance and the
consolidation so effectually that our casualty list, though serious,
was much smaller than the difficulties of the operation and the
strength of the forces opposed to us had permitted us to hope.

The artillery preparation for the attack was begun, by the heavy guns
and howitzers, at 1 o'clock in the afternoon of September 14th.  From
that hour until 3 o'clock in the morning of the 15th the enemy's
position was subjected to a deluge of high explosive.  At 3 o'clock
this fire diminished in intensity.  At 4 o'clock it ceased abruptly.  A
sudden calm fell upon the opposing lines--a calm as full of menace in
its sinister suggestiveness, like the core of silence at the heart of
the cyclone, as the devouring roar of the bombardment.  At the highest
pitch of expectation our Battalions waited for the fateful hour of
"zero time" creeping up with the dawn.

During this slow hour of waiting, always so stern a test to the nerve
of the most seasoned troops, "occurred an incident which"--to quote
from Major F. Davy's spirited and picturesque account of the
battle--"had it not been promptly met by the vigour and resolution of
the Canadians, might have marred, perhaps prevented, the whole attack.
A determined attack by a strong enemy bombing party was made upon the
right sector of the 4th Brigade front.  A portion of the attacking
party had actually reached our trenches at the time the attack started.
It was overcome by vigorous bombing and rifle fire.  A bombing officer
in the disputed section, Lieutenant Hugh H. Sykes, 18th Battalion,
promptly organised his defence and effectually maintained his position.
Lieutenant Gidley, of the 19th Battalion, and parties of bombers from
that unit and the 20th Battalion also took part, and frustrated what
might have developed into a formidable attack had the initial attempt
been successful.  The enemy's preparations for this attack eventually
told against him, for the strong force he placed in his front trenches
to exploit any initial success suffered heavily as our barrage came
down upon it."

At dawn of the 15th the air was dry, crisp, and clear--the bite of
autumn in it.  Patches of pale sky glimmered abundantly between driven
fleeces of cloud with promise of fine fighting weather--high
visibility, and no baffling obstruction to the work of our airmen.  The
ground, tossed and furrowed though it was in every direction by the
demoniacal ploughshares of the high explosive, gave firm footing--for
the curse of the Somme mud had not yet fallen upon our operations.  It
was such an autumn morning indeed, as to turn men's hearts, with a
homesick pang, to the remembrance that this was the date when the
hunting season would open in far Canadian woods and swales and coverts.
But it was other hunting that opened this day for Canadians on the
Bapaume Road--the hunting of the dragon-spawn of treachery and rape.

"Zero hour" had been set for 6.20.  At last it came.  On the
minute--nay, on the second, so exact is now the synchronising of all
watches for this work--with a wide-flung, sky-splitting roar our
barrage-fire opened.  At the same instant all along our front appeared
the round, basin-like helmets of the men of our first wave as they
climbed over the parapets of the "jumping-off" trenches.  Their
appearance in itself marked an appreciable gain of ground already
secured, for these jumping-off trenches had been dug, with infinite
toil and secrecy and at heavy risk, at a distance of 100 to 150 yards
in advance of our established front-line trench, by so much shortening
the perilous path across the open to our objectives.  This arduous and
valuable work had been carried out by the 19th Battalion (Toronto and
Hamilton) on the right, and by the 29th (Vancouver) on the left.

At four minutes past zero time the barrage lifted to a line about 100
yards farther on, and in another minute our first waves (the attack was
ordered in four waves) was in possession of the first of the German
trenches.  This trench, which ran (as will be seen by the map) close
along our whole attacking front, was not very strongly held, and the
resistance offered by its defenders was no more than enough to warm our
men up for what was to follow.

From this point it is necessary to trace the progress of the battle
Brigade by Brigade rather than as a whole, for the problems confronting
the 4th Brigade, on the right (as will be seen from the map), were
different from those which the 6th Brigade, on the left, had to deal
with.  Suffice it to say here, by way of clamping the two sections of
the movement together, that by 8 o'clock both Brigades were receiving
the congratulations of the Divisional Commander, General Turner, upon
their swift success.  By 8.30 the last of our objectives was completely
in our hands and being consolidated, while the enemy, dazed by the
swiftness of their overthrow and demoralised to the point of panic by
the implacable onslaught of the Tanks, had fled behind the inner
defences of Courcelette.  The way into the stronghold lay wide open.

The waves of an attack, under the latest conditions of warfare, go
forward not in one long sweep, but in a succession of short advances
strictly regulated by the successive steps of the barrage fire.  Each
time the barrage lifts forward--which it does according to a scheme
previously worked out to the minute and the yard--the attacking lines
must instantly move up behind it, as close as possible to the shelter
of the appalling curtain of flame and death which it lets down before
them.  The progress of the wave being thus so strictly scheduled, it
must often leave small enemy posts in its rear, or dug-outs sheltering
furtive bands of machine-gunners.  To deal with these
"remainders"--which might easily become a serious menace, or even bring
about complete disaster--behind the waves come the "mopping-up"
parties, whose job it is to ferret out the hidden posts, clear the
dug-outs, and gather in prisoners.  The advance of the 4th Brigade on
all its fronts, and in spite of desperate opposition, was so rapid and
irresistible that it left behind plenty of work for its mopping-up

Within fifteen minutes of going over the Brigade was in possession of
another line of German trench, from three to four hundred yards behind
the first line, running south-east from the Bapaume Road towards the
Martinpuich Road.  In the deep bays of this trench the contention was
bitter and severe, and here occurred one of those instances of
treachery for which the German has shown such peculiar aptitude.  A
party of the enemy threw up their hands, with, the customary cry of
"Kamerad!  Kamerad!" and surrendered to a company of the 18th
Battalion, under the command of Captain S. Loghrin.  As Captain Loghrin
was accepting their surrender one of the party threw a bomb at him and
blew him to pieces.  The Captain's followers flung themselves forward
in a fury, and not one German in that sector of the trench escaped the

Throughout the advance the three assaulting Battalions of the Brigade,
in spite of varying obstacles, succeeded in maintaining an even
frontage.  When the 18th, on the right, and the 20th, in the centre,
fighting their way forward through the storm of shell and shrapnel and
the deadly sleet of the machine-guns, had reached and taken Candy
Trench, the final objective set them, it was still scarcely more than 7
o'clock.  Three or four minutes in advance of them the 21st Battalion
on the left, had reached the Sugar Factory and gained a footing there.

The Factory, though a redoubtable stronghold, had already been badly
knocked about by our big guns.  Now, within a very few minutes, it was
surrounded on three sides by our exultant troops, who were not to be
denied.  After a mad half-hour of hand-to-hand struggle in a hell of
grenade and machine-gun fire, from the dreadful turmoil of grunting,
cursing, and shouting, the blood and the sweat of savage bodily combat,
victory suddenly emerged, and the heap of ruins remained securely in
our hands--along with 125 prisoners, of whom 10 were officers. One of
the companies which distinguished themselves in this Homeric bout--"B"
Company of the 21st Battalion--was commanded and most efficiently
handled throughout the crisis of the affair by its senior
non-commissioned officer, Sergeant-Major Dear, every one of its
officers having fallen during its hard-fought advance along the Bapaume

The unexpectedly swift collapse of this stronghold of the Sugar
Factory--which the enemy had thought to make impregnable--was hastened,
no doubt, by the intervention of one of the "Tanks."  This monster,
apparently eyeless, its carapace a daub of uncouth colours, squat and
portentous as one of those colossal saurians which we picture emerging
from the Eocene slime, had wallowed its slow, irresistible way up over
the trenches and shell-holes, belching fire from its sides and its
dreadful, blind, blunt snout. Bullets and shrapnel fell harmlessly as
snowflakes upon its impervious shell.  Bombs exploded thickly upon it,
and, though wrapping it in flame, did no more than deface the fantastic
patterns of its paint. Its path, wherever it moved, was spread with
panic. In the teeth of the most concentrated fire it waddled
deliberately up to the barriers of the Sugar Factory, trod them down
without haste or effort, and exterminated a defending machine-gun with
its crew. Then, crashing ponderously through or over every kind of
obstacle, made a slow circuit of the Factory, halting stolidly here and
there to blot out a troublesome nest of machine-gunners or to preside
over the submission of a bunch of horror-stricken Huns. Its work done
at this point, it lumbered off to seek adventure elsewhere, its
grotesque--and, unfortunately, vulnerable--little tail bobbing absurdly
over the shell-holes.

The 4th Brigade, having gained all its objectives, was now in no mood
to rest content.  The task of consolidation being well in hand, the
20th Battalion, in the centre of the line, sent forward a patrol under
Captain Heron, M.C., the Battalion scouting officer.  With great
audacity and skill, Captain Heron worked his way along parallel to the
Bapaume Road for a distance of 800 yards, and broke into the trench
known as Gun Pit Trench.  This was an important work, protecting, and
in part coinciding with, the sunken road which forms the link between
Courcelette and Martinpuich.  Greatly daring--and profiting, no doubt,
by the demoralising effect of the Tank's peregrinations in the
neighbourhood--the little party bombed several dug-outs, and returned
with two captured machine-guns and two prisoners to show for their
splendidly insolent exploit.  They reported the trench lightly held,
whereupon the Brigade, promptly grasping the occasion, swept forward in
a new--and thoroughly impromptu attack.  Before 10 o'clock the trench
was in our hands, with 50 prisoners (including two officers), a
machine-gun, and three trench-mortars.  Still unwearied, still unsated
with success, the exultant Battalions pushed on and gained a line along
the eastern side of the sunken road, where by 1 o'clock they had
securely dug themselves in.  This handsome and unpremeditated gain
greatly simplified the consolidating of our position at Candy Trench
and the Sugar Factory, and immediately made practicable the main
operation against Courcelette itself.

With no less brilliancy and determination, meanwhile, the 6th Brigade,
on the left, had been carrying out its share of the enterprise.  From
the first of the attack, or at least from its first objective (the
first German trench) onward, it encountered a more stubborn resistance
than that with which the 4th had to contend.  Diagonally across the
path of their advance, from the point on the right where the first
German trench joined the Bapaume Road northwards to a juncture with
McDonnell Road on the westernmost edge of Courcelette, ran a sunken
road which had been strengthened by deep entrenching.  It is shown on
the map as Taffy Trench--and was so named by the troops doubtless in
recognition of its complete harmony with the system of Sugar Trench,
Candy Trench, and the Sugar Factory fitly presiding over all.
Furthermore, the Brigade's advance was flanked throughout by strong
enemy posts strung along McDonnell Road.  The Battalion on the left
(the 31st of Alberta) had not only to reduce these as it went, and to
accomplish the reduction rapidly so as not to delay the main advance,
but it had also to establish a defensive flank at the same time and
thoroughly secure it in order to cover the advance against an
enfilading assault from the network of German trenches spreading
towards the north and north-west.

The attacking line of the 6th Brigade was somewhat differently
organised from that of the 4th.  Instead of being divided into three
sectors, one for each of the three Battalions involved, it was divided
into two sectors only.  The 27th Battalion formed the attacking waves
on the right half of the line, the 28th took the left half, while the
31st supplied the "mopping-up" parties to both sectors.  The frontage
allotted to the Brigade was about 1,800 yards, and the extreme depth of
its attack, from the jumping-off trenches to the farthest objective,
was something over a mile.

As with the 4th Brigade, the first objective (the original German front
line) was carried swiftly and with little difficulty, and the whole
line swept forward behind our barrage as coolly and according to book
as if on the parade-ground.  The German fire, both artillery and
machine-gun, was fierce and effective, but as our bayonets came through
it the enemy, as a rule, either fled, or threw up their hands, or
scurried like rabbits into the dug-outs, refusing to face the cold
steel.  But on the left the wave of the 28th Battalion presently
encountered a rock of sterner substance in the form of a machine-gun
stronghold which had survived unscathed both our preliminary
bombardment and our barrage.  The little garrison here fought
stubbornly in the effort to stay our onrush.  The heart of their
defence was an officer who both fought and directed magnificently and
inspired his followers with his own courage.  Our line was in some
danger of being dislocated.  As Canadian river-men would say, it had
run up against a "snag" at this point.  But one of our officers,
Captain Bredin, of the 28th.  perceiving a worthy foeman, ran out of
the line and around the flank, and engaged him with a revolver.  The
German fell, and with his fall the spirit went out of his followers.
The post was carried almost at once.  Among the prisoners taken was a
machine-gunner who was chained to his gun.  It was a strange enough
sight to our men, this highly-trained soldier fettered to his duty like
a criminal, a steel stake driven into the ground on either side of him,
one chain around his waist and another locked to an iron ring on his
leg.  The psychology of a race which discerns in such treatment an
incentive to heroic endeavour is not unlikely to elude our apprehension.

By this time the German guns had realised the formidable nature of our
advance and the depth of our penetration into the outer defences of
Courcelette.  The storm of shell and shrapnel that swept our line
suddenly redoubled its fury.  But our men went straight on through it,
ignoring their casualties.  The deadly diagonal of the sunken road was
crowded with German troops, but our men flung themselves into it with
the bayonet, and left it packed with German dead.

The course of this savage hand-to-hand struggle was thronged with
incidents of individual heroism, so numerous as to make even a partial
chronicling of them impossible in these pages.  A couple of instances,
however, may be cited as showing that the huge development of the
mechanical element in modern warfare has not robbed the personal
element of its opportunity or of its decisive influence.  The case of
Private Stevens, of the 28th Battalion, is one in point.  His story may
be quoted as follows from the Brigade Report:--"Just prior to the
assault a party of six snipers from the 28th Battalion was posted in
the shallow jumping-off trench to keep busy an enemy detachment of
about 20 men which had been troubling our lines.  All the members of
this small party, except Private Stevens, were either killed or
wounded, and Stevens himself had two holes through his steel helmet, a
deep wound in his left shoulder, and a gash in his forehead.  Nothing
daunted, he kept on sniping and killed several of the enemy.  His rifle
was smashed by a shell just as the assault went forward.  He picked up
a rifle with fixed bayonet, and, dashing forward with the assault,
entered an enemy's strong point, and single-handed captured five Boches
and brought them back to our lines."  The exploit of Lieutenant
Clarkson, of the 27th Battalion, is, in another fashion, equally
significant by reason of the unquenchable dominance of spirit which it
displays.  To quote again from the same Report:--"Lieutenant Clarkson
was severely wounded in the knee, at the sunken road, and just as he
fell four Germans came out of a deep dug-out.  He at once covered them
with his revolver, and, ordering them to improvise a stretcher out of a
couple of rifles, made them carry him to our lines, and there handed
them over prisoners.  On the way in, as soon as his bearers showed the
least sign of any opposition to his wishes, he quelled it with his

By a quarter to eight, in spite of all opposition and an unexpected
addition to its task, the Brigade had gained its final objective and
set itself strenuously to the work of consolidation, anticipating
energetic counter-attacks.  The addition referred to was an enforced
extension to the left of about three hundred and fifty yards, which was
found necessary in order to secure the flank.  This operation, which
was stubbornly resisted by strong German detachments in the Courcelette
Road, was carried out with a rush by the 28th Battalion.  Immediately
the new line was secured three patrols were sent out beyond the line by
the 31st Battalion.  These patrols succeeded in establishing
themselves, for purposes of observation, close to the southern edge of
the village, and several of their scouts made their way into the
village itself.  The reports which they brought back were so sanguine
that the Brigade, its blood being up, begged permission to pursue its
success by an immediate assault upon the village.  This proposal,
however, was promptly vetoed, the Higher Command having already in view
the plans for the afternoon.  The impetuous 6th was obliged, therefore,
to content itself with its very handsome achievement, which was not
only so brilliant in itself as to deserve far more attention than it
has received, but was also of vital importance to the unfolding of our
final operations against Courcelette.  The great advance of the 5th
Brigade in the afternoon, with its swift success in bringing the whole
village permanently within our lines, was a more outstanding exploit by
reason of the conspicuousness of the goal gained thereby.  But it must
not be forgotten that Courcelette was fully half-won by the victories
of the 4th and 6th Brigades in the early morning.  The honours of the
2nd Division are fairly shared among all three Brigades.  It was wholly
because the morning triumph of the 4th and 6th Brigades went well
beyond the utmost that had been expected of it that the afternoon
attack was undertaken--and that September 15th became, in the Canadian


COURCELETTE (_continued_).

The afternoon battle, which gave Courcelette solidly into our hands,
was, as we have seen, the affair of the 5th Brigade, under
Brigadier-General A. H. McDonnell, C.M.G., D.S.O.  All the morning,
fired by the successes of the 4th and 6th, the Brigade, held in
reserve, had been fretting on the curb.  As the G.O.C., with his
Battalion Commanders, watched the fierce fighting and exultant progress
of the other two Brigades, they began to wonder uneasily if the _rôle_
of spectator was the only one that would fall to them in this great
adventure.  All doubts, however, were presently removed.  At 3.30 came
orders for the Brigade to take the village of Courcelette that same

It was what in commercial terms would be called a "rush order," but the
Brigade, already strung up to the highest pitch of expectancy, had no
hesitation in undertaking to fill it.  Operation orders were drawn up
in haste; but that there was no sacrifice of explicitness and detail,
on account of this haste, was proved by the accuracy and smoothness
with which they worked out in the application.  Officers and N.C.O.'s
had to be instructed in their parts, yet all was so expeditiously
managed that by 5 o'clock the advance, starting from its rendezvous
point, was working its way up across the open under heavy shell-fire to
the positions captured in the morning.  It was from these new positions
that the assault was to begin.

The three Battalions which made the attack--the three which actually
carried out the storming of Courcelette--were the 22nd
(French-Canadians, of Montreal), the 25th (Nova Scotia), and the 26th
(New Brunswick).  The 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada) was
held in reserve.  The right of the attacking line was allotted to the
French-Canadians, whose objective was the whole of the village to the
right of the main street, running north.  The left of the line was
taken by the Nova Scotians, whose task was to storm the left half of
the village.  The steeple of the village church formed the landmark
dividing the two objectives.  The New Brunswickers followed close
behind to support the assault, to deal with strong points which had
proved too obdurate for the attacking waves, and thoroughly to mop up
the whole village.

The action being a direct frontal attack, with no feints or flank
diversions, and carried to its triumphant conclusion along its whole
front, on schedule time and in precise accord with orders, the story of
it does not afford that intense dramatic interest, those soul-racking
fluctuations, those moments of terrible suspense, those snatchings of
victory out of defeat, which may be found in the accounts of many
lesser engagements.  There were practically no fluctuations; and there
was never, in the assailing waves, a moment of doubt as to the result.
From flank to flank the advance was so irresistible, so implacable and
undeviating, that within one hour and a quarter from the first lift of
our barrage, the report went back to Headquarters that Courcelette was
completely in our hands and that the work of consolidation was under
way.  Considering the distance and nature of the ground fought over and
the tremendous obstacles to be overcome, it is obvious that there was
no time for varying fortunes.  By the very perfection and glory of the
achievement the story of it must suffer.

Envisaged as a whole, the action may best be presented as the steady
onflow of our waves close behind the successive lifts of our barrage.
The movement was as deliberate and as strictly co-ordinated as if it
were being executed on the parade-ground; for the enemy's fury of shell
and machine-guns, though it could slash gaps in our lines, could not
either check or hurry their inexorable march.  Now here, now there, the
lines would break into a little seething vortex of body-to-body
struggle as they swept around and engulfed some rock of obstinate
resistance.  But for the most part these stubborn points were left to
the uncompromising attention of the New Brunswickers, whose "mopping
up" was thorough; and, having confidence in that thoroughness, the
attacking lines refused to be delayed, but bombed and bayoneted their
way straight on to their final objective.  They gained it, and the most
furious counter-attacks which an able and hardy enemy could afterwards
hurl against it never availed to shake their grip upon it.

To grasp the details of the action it is necessary to follow the
fortunes of the attacking Battalions individually.  The total depth
covered in the advance, as we have seen, was about 3,000 yards, and
every yard of it under heavy shelling.  The 22nd Battalion, on the
right, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Tremblay, the Battalion Commander, in
person, negotiated this portion of the advance in extended order at
three paces interval (that is, in non-technical language, in an open
line with a space of three yards between man and man).  The two leading
companies in this formation occupied a front of about 900 yards.  One
hundred and fifty yards behind them, in the same formation, came the
other two companies of the Battalion.  Two hundred yards behind them,
again, came two companies of the 26th Battalion, also in two lines, to
do the mopping up for their predecessors.

This first thin line, looking frail and inadequate indeed for the great
task before it, moved on through the storm of death as steadily as if
upon manoeuvres.  But even upon manoeuvres it is difficult enough for a
line so extended to maintain formation and direction.  Now, with great
gaps blown in it here and there, and each individual compelled to
thread his way between endless shell-holes, some old and cold, some
still smoking with poison fumes, the line took ground insensibly to the
right and fell off toward Martinpuich.  Its left was losing touch with
the 25th Battalion across the Bapaume Road.  Colonel Tremblay,
perceiving the error in time, doubled across the whole front, swung up
the right flank, and got the line once more facing its true objective.
Three times he was thrown down and half-buried by shells exploding near
him, but impatiently recovering himself he continued to guide the
attack.  The Battalion swept over the heads of the surprised 4th
Brigade in Candy Trench, and then, pivoting on the Sugar Refinery,
whirled to the left till its right rested on Gun Pit Trench.  Fronting
now due north, with shouts and cheers and shrill cries of exultation
the excited French-Canadians stormed forward into Courcelette.

In their eagerness, these dark little men from the docks of Montreal
were hardly to be restrained.  They entered the outskirts of the
village fairly on the heels of their own barrage, and suffered some
loss from it before it lifted forward.  The platoons of their extreme
right ran into a torrent of machine-gun fire, which took heavy toll of
them.  But as soon these guns were located the little men were on to
them like wild-cats, and from that quarter there was no further trouble.

The progress of the Battalion through the village was, in the main, one
irresistible rush, scarcely delayed by the savage hand-to-hand
encounters which developed all along its progress.  Here and there a
party of two or three would delay, perforce, to unearth and destroy a
dangerous sniper's post or to bomb a threatening dug-out.  But for the
most part the front waves passed straight on, their left bounded by the
main street running north, their right by the trenches outside the
sunken road which forms the eastern limit of the village.  They were
not in the mood for stopping to take prisoners in their haste, but they
gathered in about 300, unwounded, as they went.  By 6.45 they had
pushed clean through the maze of houses and established their lines
clear beyond the Stone Quarry, which occupies the extreme north-eastern
apex of Courcelette.  They had utterly overthrown, destroyed, or
captured a garrisoning force numerically superior to themselves and
holding all the advantages of position and preparation.

This kind of fighting, this battling through the maze of half-ruined
cottages, wrecked gardens, and tumbled walls was exactly to the taste
of these eager and wiry Montreal Frenchmen.  The variety of it, the
scope it offered to individual adventure, appealed to them.  Into such
individual adventure they threw themselves with zest.  A fiery
sergeant, having captured a store of German bombs, loaded himself with
them and set out to put them to the best possible use.  He bombed a
dug-out crowded with Huns.  He rushed on to another and cleaned it up
with equal effectiveness.  He then, still single-handed attacked a
third, but was shot down before he could throw his bomb.  In spite of
the heavy casualties which they suffered from beginning to end of their
advance, the French-Canadians carried it through at a pitch of
enthusiasm which made devotion easy and sacrifice of no account.  But
having thus gained their prize, the holding of it was presently to
prove a more searching test of their quality.  Throughout the next
forty-eight hours they were to show, under terrible trial, as we shall
see, a tenacity, an endurance, and a toughness of fibre no less
admirable than the fire and _élan_ of their attack.

Meanwhile, how had it been faring with the 25th Battalion, the men of
Nova Scotia, on the left?  The objective set them, it will be
remembered, was that portion of Courcelette--the larger portion, as
will be seen by reference to the map--which lay west of the principal
street running north and south.  Courcelette at this time, though much
damaged, was still recognisable as a village.  There were still streets
to fight through, still houses and walls to serve as ambush for
machine-gun or sniper.  And the village church in the main street still
stood, still held aloft its ancient spire, which was the landmark to
guide the right flank of the Nova Scotians' line.  It was the
ceaseless--and futile--German bombardment of the place, after it had
passed once for all into our hands, which pounded Courcelette into the
dust and made of her one stony desolation with Pozières, Ovillers, and
La Boiselle.

The first wave of the 25th Battalion was led by its commanding officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel E. Hilliam.  It was made up of "D" and "A"
companies, led by their respective company commanders, Major Brooks and
Major Tupper.  And it occupied, in extended order, a frontage of about
half a mile.  For the work before it this line was daringly thin, but
the coolness and steadiness of these Nova Scotian men fully justified
the confidence of their leader, and the wide extension of the line kept
down the casualties in passing through the heavy German barrage.  In
spite of this furious shelling; and the tortured ground to be traversed
(which was nothing more than a jumble of shell-holes), this difficult
formation was preserved as methodically as it on inspection parade, the
whole battalion responding to its leader as a well-tuned machine
responds to the touch of the operator.

At a distance of 600 yards from the village the advance came under very
heavy machine-gun fire, and Major Brooks, who was leading D Company,
the left half of the line, was killed, as was also Captain Dickey, the
Adjutant, who accompanied Colonel Hilliam.  Through this destructive
fire the line swept on unwavering, without either delay or haste, to
within 200 yards of the first houses.  It was from among these houses
that the stream of leaden death was issuing.  Colonel Hilliam gave the
word to charge, and the position--consisting of the whole southern
outskirts of the village from the main street on the right, to the
sunken road on the left--was captured with a rush.  In this rush one of
the enemy's machine-guns was taken, but the rest were successfully
carried off by the survivors of their crews into the more northerly
portion of the village.

The Nova Scotians were now somewhat ahead of their scheduled time--so
much so, indeed, that they were beginning to get peppered with
fragments from their own barrage.  Colonel Hilliam, therefore, halted
them, under cover of the cottages and garden walls, to take breath for
the next thrust.  He moved through the ranks, talking to each man
personally, and found that, in spite of their casualties, they had
small need of cheering or encouragement.  Amid toppling walls and
hurtling death and a pandemonium that no words can describe, they were
smoking and chaffing as if their halt was a mere route-march rest along
a peaceful roadside.  But under this gay and laughing surface was the
thrill of a fierce exultation, and, in the words of their commander,
they were "like hounds straining on the leash" for the renewal of the
attack.  A few minutes more and the barrage lifted.  The leash was
loosed.  The front line burst forward, and, bearing down all opposition
in its rush, swept straight through to its objective, 300 yards beyond
the northern boundary of the village.  Here they at once began to dig
in, and so judicious was the siting of their trenches that the enemy's
artillery did not succeed in locating them till the next day.  Colonel
Hilliam, though wounded, remained on duty, personally supervising the
task of consolidation.  The second line, some fifty yards behind, came
on more deliberately, finishing what its predecessor had left
half-done, and taking up its position in support of the first.  Numbers
of the enemy were seen fleeing wildly up the slope and over the crest
of the ridge beyond the village.  They were pursued at once by the
deadly individual fire of our sharpshooters and by the collective fire
of certain sections working as fire-units as deliberately as if at
range practice Though bomb and bayonet had been their chief weapons of
late, the men had not forgotten the fine points of their musketry, and
it was but a thin remnant of the fugitives that escaped over the ridge.
These sons of Nova Scotia had proved themselves to be of the same
indomitable temper as their forbears in "the land of the glens and the
mountains and the heroes."  They had displayed that blend of cold
resolution and fighting fire which we associate with such storied
Scottish regiments as the Gordons and the Black Watch.

Ten minutes later the Montreal men, enveloping the Stone Quarry, had
joined up on the right.  This was at 7 o'clock in the evening of the
15th.  The whole of Courcelette was in our hands, and our grip was
locked upon it, never to be shaken loose.



Meanwhile, the 26th Battalion, the men of New Brunswick, under
Lieutenant-Colonel A. E. G. McKenzie, though denied the exultation of
the first irresistible onward sweep to victory, were none the less
getting their fill of hard fighting and contributing their full share
to the splendid achievement of the day.  They came in for sharp
punishment, too in passing through the barrage which the enemy had
promptly put up for the purpose of walling off the assault from its
support.  And the task which had been set them, of "mopping up" behind
the assaulting waves proved to be a long, strenuous, and costly one.
As the first waves of our attack raged across the village, numbers of
the enemy flung away their rifles in panic, shouted the customary
Kamerad!  Kamerad!" and held up their hands in surrender.  They were
spared, and ordered to go back behind the lines.  But after the wave
had passed on, many of these, though essentially prisoners on parole,
picked up their rifles again and fell to sniping our troops in the rear
from convenient hiding-places in the gardens and cellars.  When the New
Brunswickers came along these traitors usually put up a desperate
fight, having little reason to expect further mercy.  The New
Brunswickers, however, in spite of their many casualties, were in a
triumphant mood and not inclined to inquire too closely into the
deserts of their captives; and those who made haste to surrender again
got the benefit of the doubt.  All this business of "mopping up" gave
opportunity for individual prowess, and the woodsmen and river-men,
small farmers and independent townsmen of the sturdy Loyalist province
threw themselves into it with peculiar zeal.  By nightfall their task
was nominally complete, and Colonel McKenzie was able to throw two of
his companies into the trenches on the right of Courcelette in support
of the 22nd Battalion, while the other two companies he posted on the
left to support the 25th.  But during all that night and the greater
part of the following day he had small parties out scouring the ruins
and the cellars, unearthing fresh dug-outs and discovering
craftily-hidden sniping-posts.  The Battalion suffered in all about 300
casualties, of whom 11 were officers.  But the casualties which they
inflicted upon the enemy, chiefly in their fierce bombing and bayonet
work, were very heavy, and of unwounded prisoners alone they took just
over 600, making a sufficiently handsome balance to their credit.
General McDonnell, in a letter to Colonel McKenzie immediately after
the relief of the Battalion, wrote: "New Brunswick may justly be
thrilled with pride at the deeds done by her lads in this particular

As the 25th Battalion had taken about 300 prisoners, and the 22nd
approximately the same number, during their final sweep through the
village, the total of prisoners to the credit of the 5th Brigade in
this brief and brilliant action amounted to about 1,200, exclusive of
the wounded.  Among these prisoners were two colonels, one a regimental
and the other a battalion commander.  There was also substantial booty,
including three 4.1 guns, seven machine-guns, seven trench-mortars, a
locomotive and several railway trucks, with quantities of bombs,
ammunition, and stores.

The village having thus been carried by storm, with such fine _élan_
and disciplined valour, by the men of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and
Quebec, the exultant victors had now an even sterner test to undergo.
During three nights and two days they had to hold what they had gained
against the most desperate efforts of a powerful and exasperated
adversary to retake it.  For this duty the 5th Brigade was reinforced
by two additional Battalions, the 18th from the 4th Brigade and the
27th from the 6th; and General McDonnell was given command of the whole
divisional front.  On their right the 15th Division (Imperials),
pounding their way onward through the twin village of Martinpuich, had
kept an even front with the Canadian advance.  But on their left the
progress of the 3rd Division had been delayed by a formidable trench
system known as the Fabeck Graben.  The captured village, therefore,
constituted the point of a dangerous wedge driven defiantly into the
heart of the German position.  It was not only a salient narrow and
awkward, therefore, which General McDonnell, on this night of the
triumphant September 15th, found himself called upon to consolidate and
to hold, but it was one which both invited assault by its exposure and
insistently challenged by its menace.  Throughout the night, however,
the enemy made no response to the challenge except by incessant
shelling, their infantry, apparently, being for the time too much
demoralised to face the conquerors again.  By the afternoon of the 16th
they had recovered, and being heavily reinforced, they made a desperate
effort to recover their lost ground.  From the trenches which they
still held on the right of our position, by the cemetery, and from the
direction of Destremont Farm, they launched no fewer than seven
counterattacks upon the apex and the eastern side of the salient.
This, as we have seen, was the frontage held by the French-Canadian
Battalion, worn and weary, but elated by its dashing successes of the
previous evening.  Supported by a portion of the New Brunswick
Battalion on their right, and by a strong advanced post from the Nova
Scotian Battalion on their left front, the French-Canadians beat off
all these assaults without yielding up a foot of their hard-won ground.
In the meantime the Nova Scotians were dealing drastically with four
counterattacks against their own front where they had hastily but
thoroughly consolidated themselves along a line several hundred yards
beyond the north-western outskirts of the village.  It was during this
consolidation that an adventurous Nova Scotian bomber--by name Private
McIntyre--went scouting up a section of German trench, encountered a
party of twelve Germans, coolly summoned them to surrender and marched
them all in as prisoners.  The results of these counter-attacks against
the Nova Scotians were so unsatisfactory to the enemy that he did not
repeat them, but turned his attention once more to the north-eastern
face of the position, where the fact that he still held, with abundance
of machine-guns, an obscure tangle of trenches between the Quarry and
the Bapaume Road seemed to offer him better prospects of success.  Here
the 22nd Battalion, and the 26th, who had taken over the frontage
between the Cemetery and the Bapaume Road to enable the diminished
companies of the 22nd to shorten their line, on the nights of the 16th
and 17th hurled back six more counter-attacks which were pressed with
fierce determination.  Upon the failure of these the Germans appeared
sullenly to accept the loss of Courcelette, and confined themselves to
harassing us with shell-fire and sniping.  They found themselves fully
occupied in blocking our ceaseless efforts to gnaw our way ever a
little farther along the left of the road.  On the afternoon of the
17th these efforts developed into a sharp attack by the 22nd and 24th
Battalions upon that troublesome maze of trenches already referred to,
just beyond the Cemetery.  This attack was successful upon its left and
centre, but was held up on its right by overwhelming machine-gun fire.
It resulted, however, in a decided improvement of our position on the
exposed eastern flank of the village.

While the 22nd and 24th Battalions were making this attempt on the
right the Nova Scotians threw forward one company and a party of
bombers on the left, endeavouring to seize a swell of ground just north
of their lines.  Though a minor attack, the men of Nova Scotia pressed
it with great determination, their recent successes having rendered
them unwilling to acknowledge that any obstacle could baulk them.  This
time, however, they found themselves held up, and were forced to draw
back into their trenches after heavy casualties.  Encouraged by this
small flicker of success, the enemy sought to follow it up by a series
of counter-attacks.  As these grew more and more severe the reserve
company of the New Brunswickers (the 26th Battalion) was thrown in to
take a hand in the strenuous game.  This went on throughout the night.
Finally, during the progress of the heaviest counter-attack of all, a
company of the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, came up to begin the relief;
and the enemy was hurled back with severe punishment.  On the morning
of the 18th, the 2nd Division, battle-weary but triumphant and covered
with distinction, was relieved, and drew off for a few days in rest
camp at Rubempré; while the veteran 1st Division took over its proud
lines on the left.

It is impossible to conclude the story of the winning of Courcelette
without paying tribute to the heroic and extraordinarily efficient work
of the Canadian Engineer and Pioneer companies throughout the whole
course of the struggle.  In consolidating our newly-won positions, in
siting and digging communication trenches, in running up light railways
to the new front, they laboured under the severe and incessant scouring
of shell and machine-gun fire and endured heavy casualties without the
stimulus of being able to strike back at their opponents.  The daring
and devotion of the Field Ambulance Service were such as to make all
praise seem poor; and the deeds of heroic sacrifice in the rescue of
the wounded were not less splendid than those enacted in the fighting
itself.  Among those who gave their lives in this noble work was the
gallant officer directing it in the forward area, Lieutenant-Colonel R.
P. Campbell, who fell in the hail of shrapnel.  The arduous duties of
carrying food and supplies for the fighting lines, throughout the
engagement, were performed, at heavy cost, by the 24th Battalion, which
thus contributed in fullest measure to the victory--and the casualty
list--though deprived, except during the operation on the afternoon of
the 17th, of its hoped-for share in the fighting.  The gratitude of
their fellow battalions, whose hands they so efficiently upheld, had to
compensate them for their loss of the acclaim and exaltation of the
great attack.

Of the 22 officers who went into the attack with the French-Canadian
Battalion (the 22nd), 6 were killed and 11 wounded; and the Nova
Scotian Battalion, by a curious coincidence, suffered the same number
of casualties among its officers, viz., 5 killed, 8 wounded, and 4
missing--in all, 17 officer casualties for each of the two Battalions.
With the 11 already noted in the 26th Battalion, 9 in the 24th,[1] 2 in
the 5th Canadian Machine-Gun Company, 1 brigade bombing officer, and 1
O.C. Trench-Mortar Battery, we have a total of 58 officer casualties in
the Brigade incurred during the actual operations of the 16th, 17th,
and 18th.  Of other ranks our casualties numbered 1,267.

[1] _Incurred during the perilous and essential duties of "carrying"
for the Brigade throughout the whole operation_.



Though it was to the 2nd Canadian Division the distinction fell of
taking Courcelette, this signal triumph would not have been possible
but for the simultaneous attacks of the 3rd Canadian Division on their
left, across McDonnell Road.  These attacks resulted, at the moment, in
no great gain of ground, but they effectually held the attention of the
Germans in the Fabeck Graben and Zollern Trench, and so protected the
flank of the 2nd Division's advance.  This, indeed, was all that it was
intended to accomplish, the duty assigned to the 3rd Division in orders
being merely to carry out such operations as might be necessary to
protect the left flank of the main offensive.  The task with which the
Divisional Commander (Major-General L. J. Lipsett, C.M.G.) found
himself confronted was an arduous one for he had peculiarly difficult
ground before him, and such formidable defensive positions as Mouquet
Farm and the Fabeck Graben and Zollern trenches; but it was
accomplished with complete success, though not without heavy cost in

It was on September 7th that the 3rd Division moved south from
Steenvoorde toward the region of the Somme, assembling in the
neighbourhood of Cramont and Colon Villers.  On the 10th they
transferred to the Reserve area at Rubempré; and on the 12th they moved
up into the fighting area, on the left of the 2nd Division, with
headquarters at Usna Hill.  On their left they had the 11th (Imperial)
Division.  The 8th Brigade (Brigadier-General J. H. Elmsley, D.S.O.)
went first into the trenches, beyond the ruins of Pozières; while the
7th Brigade held itself in readiness at Vadincourt, and the 9th at
Herissart.  The Brigade was made up of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th
Canadian Mounted Rifles.  The 2nd and 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles were
sent into the front trenches with the 1st in support at Chalk Pits, and
5th in reserve among the mounds of _débris_ which had been La Boiselle.
The task of taking over these front lines in the dark, by men totally
unfamiliar with the lay of the land, over a wilderness of shell-holes
and old, ruined trenches, where all landmarks had been obliterated, and
through a hell of shrapnel, gas and high explosives, was in itself
equivalent to a battle, and calculated to shake the morale of any
troops but those of the finest nerve.  It was accomplished not without
loss, and vicissitude, and much thrilling adventure.

That same night of the 12th, hoping to profit by the confusion
attending the taking over of the lines, the enemy launched a sudden
attack from Mouquet Farm, upon the left sector of the divisional front,
at the same time putting up a heavy barrage to prevent the supports
from coming up from the Chalk Pits.  The attack fell upon the 2nd
Canadian Mounted Rifles (under Lieutenant-Colonel Bott), who now, after
their fighting in the north, numbered only about 250 bayonets.  It was
a rude welcome to this fiercely contested line, where the struggle had
been wavering back and forth for days; but the battalion was a seasoned
one, and was not caught unready.  With the aid of the Artillery and
light trench mortars the assailants, after an obstinate effort, were
beaten back with heavy loss.

On the evening of the 14th, the 1st and 5th Battalions of the Canadian
Mounted Rifles were in the divisional front trenches (having relieved
the 2nd and 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles), when the 11th Division, on
our left, made an attack.  The Germans retaliated by a counter-attack
upon our sector.  Our men had hot work for a time; and the help of the
Canadian heavy guns was called in with effect.  By half-past nine the
attack had been beaten back, with much more loss to the enemy, on this
occasion, than to ourselves.

On the 15th began the long series of gruelling struggles which, with
varied fortunes and cruel losses, was to keep the 3rd Division under
almost ceaseless strain throughout the next four weeks, until its
withdrawal, with the 1st and 2nd Divisions, from the Somme area.
According to the plan of operations for the great offensive on the
15th, the part assigned to the 3rd Division was, as has been noted, to
form a protecting left flank to the offensive.  This was to be effected
by a thrust against the Fabeck Graben and Zollern trench systems; by
running out a trench and establishing a strong post on the extreme
right, so as to obtain an enfilading fire of machine-guns along the
front of the 2nd Division's objective (thus taking a direct hand in the
attack on Courcelette); and by raiding the trench system around that
ancient thorn in our side, Mouquet Farm, with a view to lessening the
German pressure further to the right.  The duty of carrying out these
operations was allotted to the 8th Brigade, which was already in
occupation of our front lines west of McDonnell Road.

At 6.30 on the morning of the 15th the first move in the attack was
made.  The 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles (Lieutenant-Colonel Draper), on
the right, rushed their first objective, the German front line, so
swiftly that it was gained with few casualties.  They jammed the enemy
back up his communication trench some distance and established a block.
Their gain was quickly consolidated and they set themselves to digging
a new communication trench back to our lines.  At the same time the 1st
Canadian Mounted Rifles (Lieutenant-Colonel Andross), on the left,
sprung their raid on Mouquet Farm.  They gained entrance, after a brief
resistance, and found the place full of German dead, the harvest of our
barrage.  Having hastily effected such damage as they could with the
explosives at their disposal, they made their way back to their
starting point, with one prisoner, having suffered only 25 casualties
in the affair, which had lasted just about one hour.  They had no
sooner evacuated the farm than the German artillery came down upon it
with a tornado of shells, which inflicted much more damage than our
raiders had been able to accomplish.

So far all had gone well; and now news came across of the unexpectedly
swift and brilliant success of the 4th and 6th Brigades in their attack
on the approaches to Courcelette.  Toward 10 o'clock it was decided, by
telephone conference between General Byng and the Divisional Commander,
that, as the 2nd Division was to proceed to the capture of Courcelette
in the afternoon, the 3rd Division should simultaneously undertake a
further advance, with the object of seizing, not only Fabeck Graben,
but the crest of the low ridge beyond it.  From this position, if they
could attain it, they would not only support and protect the further
advance of the 2nd Division on Courcelette, but overlook and threaten
the formidable lines of Zollern Trench.  For this venture the 8th
Brigade shortened its line toward the left, and the 7th Brigade,
hurrying up from Usna Hill, moved into the trenches on the right,
forming contact with the left of the 2nd Division at Taffy Trench.  The
greater portion of the responsibility for the new attack thus devolved,
very fittingly, upon the 7th Brigade, which came in fresh for the
contest while the 8th had already been under three days and nights of
trial.  The interest of the story at this point, therefore, centres
chiefly about the fortunes of the 7th Brigade under its able commander,
Brigadier-General A. C. MacDonell, C.M.U., D.S.O.

The disposition of the Brigade for the attack was as follows: The right
half of the attacking wave was taken by the "Princess Pats," under
Lieutenant-Colonel Pelly, the left half by the 42nd Battalion (the 5th
Royal Highlanders of Canada from Montreal), under Lieutenant-Colonel
Cantlie.  Immediately beyond the centre of the attacking line waited
the 49th Battalion (the Edmonton Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel
Griesbach).  The plan was for the 42nd and the "Princess Pats" to take
the first two objectives and consolidate them.  The 49th was then to
pass on through to the third objective and dig in.  Behind the 40th,
again, stood the Royal Canadian Regiment, in support, under
Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Hill.  The plan was well devised; but it was
destined to encounter obstacles which prevented its complete
accomplishment.  In one vital respect, however, its purpose was fully
attained.  It gave the enemy all he could do on its front, thus
perfectly, though at heavy cost, protecting the flank of the 2nd
Division, and rendering possible the triumphant assault on Courcelette.
The operation must, therefore, be accounted a complete victory for the
3rd Division, which thereby achieved what it was set to do in an
entirely adequate manner, although not gaining all the ground which it
had hoped to gain.

The task confronting the Brigade Commander at the very outset was a
sufficiently hard one.  He had to bring up his Brigade over five miles
of extremely difficult and confusing ground, through a succession of
destructive barrages, and deploy it for attack in broad daylight, in
the very teeth of an enemy in force and furiously alert, along an
almost shelterless frontage.  This was accomplished on time, at 6 p.m.
The attack was launched as planned, just at the moment when, to the
right, the 5th Brigade was starting its final victorious advance on
Courcelette.  The men of the 42nd Battalion reached their first
objective in fifteen minutes with comparatively light casualties; and
by half-past six they had gained their portion of the second objective,
the formidable Fabeck Graben.  The "Princess Pats" meanwhile had
carried their first objective with a rush; but running into a withering
machine-gun fire on their right, they were partially baulked of their
second objective.  Only the two platoons of their left succeeded in
getting into Fabeck Graben, where they established themselves in touch
with the 42nd.  On their right, for the next 200 yards or so, the
trench was still held by the enemy in force.  Beyond them again the
trench was occupied almost up to the outskirts of Courcelette, by
parties of the veteran battalion, which had burst their way, with
magnificent audacity, through the hell of the machine-guns, and were
holding on to the precarious gains with the tenacity of bulldogs.  The
heroism of these scattered groups was of incalculable service to the
men of the 25th Battalion, then fighting their way through the western
half of Courcelette.

Soon after 8 o'clock the 49th Battalion started up the sunken road on
its way to attempt the third objective; and the Royal Canadian
Regiment, supporting, took their places in the front line from which
the attack had been launched.  They got into Fabeck Graben, and held on
there; but concentrated artillery fire and the massing of the Germans
in Zollern Trench, and especially about its junction with the Fabeck
Graben, made further progress for the moment impossible.

To the 8th Brigade, on the left, had been set but a single objective,
namely, the more westerly sector of Fabeck Graben, running in the
direction of Mouquet Farm.  But one battalion, the 4th Canadian Mounted
Rifles (from Eastern Canada, and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel H. D.
L. Gordon), was appointed to this operation.  "B" and "C" Companies
formed the attacking waves.  But a heavy blow fell upon them at the
outset, which, but for the ready initiative of the captain in command
of "B" Company, would have upset the whole movement.  "B" Company
gained the jumping-off trench without mishap; but "C" Company, which
was a little way behind, was caught fairly by the German barrage, just
as it was deploying from the communication trench known as "Tom's Cut."
The result was disastrous.  Two of the platoons were practically wiped
out.  And the remaining two platoons were forced to draw back into the
shelter of the trench.  Perceiving that the whole operation of the
Brigade was in jeopardy through this misfortune, the captain of "B"
Company (Captain Coleman) came to a bold decision.  Extending his
company to occupy the whole frontage, he attacked at once, before the
enemy became aware of their advantage.  His thin wave made up for its
deficiency in weight by the fury of its charge, burst into Fabeck
Graben with bomb and bayonet, and carried the whole objective.  Having
secured his connection with the 7th Brigade on his right, he fought his
way some distance along the trench to his left, and established a block
to protect his heroic handful from interference from the direction of
Mouquet Farm.  It was an altogether notable feat, even among the many
achievements of that memorable day.  As soon as darkness fell, the
remaining two platoons of "C" Company moved up into the captured
position, a communication trench was dug back to our lines, and patrols
were sent out toward Zollern Trench to guard against a surprise
counter-attack.  Throughout the affair the support of our artillery
left nothing to be desired.  Had it not been for the fulness and
accuracy of our barrage the success of a single company extended over
so wide a frontage would have been impossible.

Fabeck Graben having been thus secured by the 3rd Division, it was
decided that the Division should, on the following day, the 16th, press
on to the assault on Zollern Trench and the strongly defended position
known as Zollern Redoubt, situated at a commanding cross-roads, about
half a mile due north of Mouquet Farm, which had been giving us trouble
for so long that it had acquired an evil fame out of all proportion to
its importance.  The ground about the farm was high, and peculiarly
exposed to the enemy's fire from north, north-east and east alike, so
that it was necessary to take not only the stronghold itself but the
rolling ground far in advance of it, in order to be secure in its
possession.  All previous attacks upon it had been made from the south
and south-east; but now the plan was to attack from the east.  To this
end it was absolutely essential that the eastern half of Zollern Trench
should first be in our hands.

The whole operation, as will be obvious from a glance at the map, now
depended on the gaining of our first objective, namely, the line of
Zollern Trench east, as far west as Grandcourt Road.  With that line in
our possession, the way would be open to attack both Zollern Redoubt
and Mouquet Far, with a reasonable chance of success.

The plan of operation was as follows: At 5 p.m. the 7th Brigade, which
occupied the right of the line was to capture Zollern Trench and secure
their hold upon it.  Then, but not till then, the 9th Brigade
(Brigadier-General F. W. Hill, D.S.O.) occupying the centre of the
line, was to swing its right northward till it rested on Zollern
Trench, and then move westward against Zollern Redoubt.  This attack
was not timed to start till 6.30, to allow for the completion of the
movement of the 7th Brigade, upon which it hinged.  The 8th Brigade,
meanwhile, on the left, was to undertake the task of encircling Mouquet
Farm on the east and north.

Throughout the afternoon all the proposed objectives were subjected to
a heavy bombardment, which at 4.30 was intensified to a close barrage,
behind the shelter of which the assaulting battalions of the 7th
Brigade formed up for the attack.  At 5 p.m. the first wave went over
the top, the Royal Canadian Regiment on the right, the 42nd Battalion
(Royal Highlanders, Montreal) on the left, with the 49th Battalion
(Edmonton) in support.

The attack was ably planned and launched with the greatest resolution,
but it met with an altogether unexpected weight and fury of opposition.
It found the enemy massed before it in unprecedented force, and ran
into a devastating storm of machine-gun fire from left and front.  It
turned out that the Germans had gathered all their available strength
on that sector for an overwhelming counter-attack on Courcelette.  The
result was an unforeseen one for both sides, a stalemate as far as
these operations were concerned.  The great counter-attack, which might
conceivably have wrenched Courcelette from the grasp of its weary
conquerors, was shattered before it even got under way, and nothing was
heard of it thereafter on any such scale.  At the same time our
attacking waves broke in vain upon the fiery parapets before them, and
none gained an entrance to the trench.

The 9th Brigade meanwhile had reached their jumping-off trench, and
were waiting impatiently to move on Zollern Redoubt.  The appointed
hour went by; but the Zollern Trench was still in the enemy's hands,
and they could not start.  In this crisis the commander of the 7th
Brigade ordered up his supporting battalion, the 49th, to add its
weight to the attacking line.  The enemy's barrages were so intense
that the signal wires were all broken, and the order had to be sent
through by runners.  For these runners, too, as ill chance would have
it, the barrages proved equally destructive, and the order never
reached the 49th till 11 o'clock.  By that time it was too late, and
the order had been already cancelled.  In the meantime, the leading
battalion of the 9th Brigade had sent three platoons to the aid of the
hard-pressed 42nd.  General Hill had not yet given up hope of getting
his blow in against the Zollern Redoubt and he asked that the artillery
should keep up their barrage on the redoubt till 7.30, which was done.
By this time, however, it was clear that the 7th Brigade had been
baulked.  Thus disorganised in its foundations the whole attack fell
through and was abandoned, and our battalions, angry and bleeding, drew
back into their own lines.

As far as the object with which it was undertaken is concerned, the
operation was a confessed failure.  But inasmuch as it brought to
naught the great German counter-attack the failure was not without its
compensations, and the account may be regarded as fairly squared.  At
the same time, while the major operation had thus missed its aim, a
very important success had been scored for the Division by the 8th
Brigade, on the extreme left.  The 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, during
the night of the 16th-17th, took Mouquet Farm.  A party, under Major
Foster, bombed the Germans out of a trench which covered the north side
of the Farm, consolidated it, and established two machine-gun and
bombing posts.  Then other parties of the battalion entered the Farm
itself, and blew up the dug-outs, wherein the garrison was sheltering.
Among these dug-outs one was discovered which threw light upon the
source of many past reverses.  A cunningly concealed tunnel led
northward from it to a maze of German trenches outside.  By this
tunnel, when Australians or Imperials had captured Mouquet Farm on
previous occasions, the Germans had been wont to steal in with
machine-guns and bombs and take them in the rear.  Now, this tunnel was
effectually closed by exploding a Stokes gun shell within it, and the
enemy beyond were sealed away from further mischief.

[Illustration: Map--MOUQUET FARM.  Progressive Stages, Sept. 3rd 14th

In a few hours a new trench was dug, completely surrounding the Farm,
and the stronghold so drenched with blood, so often won and lost again,
so long a menace to our lines on the south and east, was at last
securely in our hands.  Before daylight the Canadian Mounted Rifles
handed it over, with pardonable exultation, to a relieving Battalion of
the 11th (Imperial) Division.  On this day the 8th Brigade moved back
to the Brickfields at Albert, and the 7th to Tara Hill; and the 9th
Brigade took over their lines.  The next few days were occupied with
sharp but fluctuating struggles, carried out by the 1st Division on the
right around Courcelette and the 3rd Division on the left, which
yielded no permanent result except the improvement of our position
between Courcelette and the Bapaume Road, and a slight but valuable
gain of ground along the northern outskirts of the village, towards
Kenora Trench.  Zollern Graben still defied us.  Though it was taken on
the 20th, for an extent of 250 yards, by the 43rd (Cameron Highlanders
of Canada, Winnipeg), and 58th (Toronto) Battalions, we were not yet
able to maintain our hold upon it.  These confusing and sanguinary
struggles may be regarded as leading up to and preparing the way for
the next great series of operations, which aimed at, and at last, after
bitter cost, resulted in, the capture of Regina Trench.



The two outstanding features of the Canadian Corps operations on the
Somme in the late summer and autumn of 1916 are undoubtedly the capture
of Courcelette and the grim struggle for Regina Trench, but nothing
could be greater than the contrast between the two.  Courcelette, as we
have seen, was captured by a swift and sudden operation, perfectly
planned and brilliantly executed--a clear-cut victory without flaw or
hitch.  On the other hand, the Canadians fought for over a month to
obtain possession of Regina, attacking again and again according to
carefully laid plans, sometimes to gain by sheer valour a temporary
footing in the trench, only to be hurled back, fighting stubbornly, by
overwhelming numbers; at other times to face unsuspected and murderous
machine-gun fire which almost wiped the assaulting platoons out of
existence.  Yet each successive attack pushed won a little nearer to
the goal, until at last, after a month and more of harassing
vicissitudes, a final rush secured the victory.

Regina Trench first came within the scope of Canadian operations during
the offensive of September 26th and 27th, when it was the ultimate
objective of the attack.  At no time, however, did the attacking troops
get within striking distance of this last objective.

It was on October 1st that the first elaborate and comprehensive attack
was made, in conjunction with the III Corps on the right and the II
Corps on the left.  The Canadian line at this date ran from the
north-western corner of Destremont Farm in a general westerly
direction, with a large loop to the north around the North Practice
Trenches, to the junction of Grandcourt Road and the recently captured
Hessian Trench.  From this point the line followed Hessian Trench
westward to the Corps boundary on the left, a short distance west of
the junction with Courcelette Road.  The task set the Corps was to
occupy a line from the above-mentioned point at Destremont Farm
north-westerly to the junction of Regina Trench and East Miraumont
Road, thence along Regina to a road running north and south near the
Corps' left boundary, where the line bent back sharply to the Hessian
Trench line.

The portion of Regina Trench which lies to the east of the junction
with East Miraumont Road was not included in the scheme of operations.

There were seven Battalions in the line of attack.  These were, from
right to left, the 20th and 18th of the 4th Brigade, the 22nd, 25th,
and 24th of the 5th Brigade, and the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles and
the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles of the 8th Brigade.  Thus the 2nd
Division, on the right, had five Battalions of two Brigades in the
line, and the 3rd Division, on the left, had two Battalions of one
Brigade taking part in the assault.

It will be as well, perhaps, to describe the general result of the
action before attempting to follow the fortunes of each Battalion in
detail.  The greatest measure of success was attained on the right,
where the line was advanced some 500 yards in such a manner that both
flanks of the 4th Brigade line were brought up in line with the loop
around the North Practice Trenches in the centre of the Brigade area.
In the centre the 5th Brigade managed to maintain itself for a time in
Regina Trench, but was afterwards forced to retire.  It succeeded,
however, in capturing and holding Kenora Trench up to within sixty
yards of the junction with Regina, and held posts up Courcelette Trench
and the West Miraumont Road about half-way between their attacking line
and Regina.  The Canadian Mounted Rifles of the 8th Brigade on the left
also succeeded in reaching Regina at several points.  Heavily
counter-attacked, they managed to hold on for a considerable time, but
in the end they were driven back to their starting line in the Hessian

At 3.15 p.m. on October 1st--a clear, bright day--the attack was
launched.  The 20th and 18th Battalions, on the right, advanced
respectively 400 and 500 yards over the open.  This brilliant feat,
comparable to the famous advance over the open at Courcelette, was only
rendered possible by the cover afforded by the shell-holes.  In spite
of severe machine-gun fire from the direction of Pys and Le Sars, the
20th had established themselves in their position, with their flanks
formed, before their flanking battalions, the Imperial on the right and
the 18th on the left, had come up.  They had advanced to a point about
150 yards N.N.W. of their true objective, which would account for the
fact that the 18th Battalion appeared to be behind them to the left.
This was the situation on the morning of October 2nd.

Meanwhile, the 18th had advanced and dug in.  Their left, however, was
in a very critical position, for the 22nd Battalion--the right
battalion of the 5th Brigade--had not come up.  The French Canadians,
assaulting with their usual dash and intrepidity, had encountered a
withering machine-gun and rifle fire from the front and flanks.  A few
who reached Regina Trench were either killed or captured.  A few
wounded managed to return to our lines.  So badly had the Battalion
been cut up that the 26th (New Brunswickers), in close support, took
over that part of the line.

The 25th Battalion (Nova Scotians), the centre battalion of the 5th
Brigade, stormed Kenora Trench and moved on steadily towards Regina.
Machine-gun fire from front and flanks took heavy toll of them, but
those remaining reached the wire in front of Regina and started to dig
in.  A few odd parties actually succeeded in forcing their way into
Regina.  After fighting desperately for some time in an endeavour to
connect up with the 24th on their left, they were nearly all killed or
taken prisoners.  A few managed to return wounded to the lines.

The right company of the 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada)
crossed Kenora Trench and entered Regina east of the junction of Kenora
and Regina, and the centre and left companies succeeded in reaching
their objective in Regina Trench with their left on Twenty-three Road.
They were separated from the 25th on their right by a strong enemy
post, and on the left, owing to the repulse of the 5th Canadian Mounted
Rifles, their flank was in the air.  Furious fighting ensued in Regina
Trench from Twenty-three Road to Kenora.  "A" Company, which had
entered Regina just east of the junction with Kenora, fought fiercely
against superior numbers.  Eventually what was left of them--for the
majority were either killed or captured--retired foot by foot.  Batmen,
cooks, and servants were hurried up to help stem the overflowing tide
of Germans.  On the left the Battalion was pushed back from
Twenty-three Road to a short distance from the junction of Kenora and
Regina Trenches.  Here a dogged stand was made.  Meanwhile, a few small
parties of the 24th and 25th, who were digging in in front of Regina,
east of the trench junction, gradually retired to Kenora.  The whole of
Regina remained in the hands of the enemy with the exception of a post
held by the 24th between the point where Kenora and Regina join and
Twenty-three Road.  During this struggle the 26th, holding the original
line of the 22nd with the remnants of that Battalion, could spare very
little in the way of reinforcements, only some fifty of all ranks being

In the meantime, the 8th Brigade, on the left, had been having a very
rough time.  From reports received very shortly before the attack took
place it became evident that in many places the wire in front of Regina
had not been thoroughly cut by the artillery.  This was especially the
case on the front assigned to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, whose
left attack had to be modified in consequence.

The Brigade attacked with the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles on the right
and the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles on the left.  The right of the
right attacking company of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles was held up
by wire and ran into terrific machine-gun fire.  The left attack came
under heavy fire about 50 yards from its objective, but as no further
opposition was encountered, it effected a lodgment in Regina.  Work was
immediately started on the badly-damaged trench, and blocks were put in
on the flanks.  And not a moment too soon.  Repeated counter-attacks
were made, all of which were successfully repulsed, excellent use being
made of a captured machine-gun.

The right company of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles' attack, with the
exception of one platoon which was hung up by wire, apparently reached
its objective, but heavy counter-attacks from the direction of the
sunken road were too much for its depleted strength.

The left of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles was forced to modify its
assault on account of the uncut wire.  A very unusual scheme of attack
was adopted.  After moving down the communication trench the attackers
deployed on the German side of the wire.  Unfortunately, a heavy
enfilading machine-gun fire from the north-east and north-west wrecked
the attack.  One platoon, immediately to the west, advancing with the
greatest resolution, was almost wiped out, and a bombing party which
succeeded in effecting an entry into Regina was at length forced to

With the exception, therefore, of the successful advance of the 4th
Brigade on the right, the situation during the afternoon was that at
various points in Regina desperate hand-to-hand fighting was taking

At 6.30 p.m. the state of affairs was approximately as follows.  The
4th Brigade was consolidating its position and attempting to gain touch
with the 70th Brigade on the right.  Parties of the 24th and 25th
Battalions were in Regina Trench, fighting manfully against superior
numbers and bombing towards each other against the enemy, who appeared
to be in considerable strength at the junction of Kenora and Regina
Trenches.  Between the East and West Miraumont Roads the situation was
obscure, as the result of the attack of the 22nd Battalion had not yet
been accurately ascertained.  They were thought to be in their
objective, whereas, as we have seen, they encountered machine-gun and
rifle fire of such intensity that success was out of the question.  Yet
they had managed to push the assault home, for about 50 men entered
Regina and were only forced to retire after a short, sharp fight
against overwhelming odds.

At the same time the left company of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles
("A" Company), reinforced by parties from "C" and "D" Companies, was
fighting desperately to maintain its foothold in Regina.  Repeated
counter-attacks were heroically repulsed.

The situation was rapidly becoming clearer.  Reinforcements were
ordered to be sent up to all units which had succeeded in reaching
their objectives.  Bombing parties were to converge against the German
parties in the trench, and every effort was made to improve and
consolidate the positions won.

A determined attempt was made by the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles in
Regina to join up with the 24th on their right.  One company of the 1st
Canadian Mounted Rifles was placed at the disposal of the O.C. 5th
Canadian Mounted Rifles for the purpose, and two platoons, with the 5th
Canadian Mounted Rifles' bombers in front, pushed eastward along the
trench to the point at which they expected to get into touch with the
24th.  The trench they traversed was found to be exceptionally strong,
seven feet deep, with twelve-foot dug-outs every second bay.  It had
not been damaged by artillery.  On reaching their objective they
perceived a large body of men ahead of them, which they naturally
assumed to be the expected 24th Battalion party.  Unfortunately, this
was not the case; it was, in fact, a German counter-attack advancing in
force.  These Germans attacked and drove them back, foot by foot, to
their starting point.  A second attack was then organised, which again
succeeded in penetrating to the objective point.  This point, with the
intervening stretch of trench, was stubbornly held throughout the night
until 5 a.m. on the 2nd, when heavy counter-attacks pushed in both
flanks and compelled the evacuation of the trench.  Even then the forty
or so survivors clung to a line of shell-holes south of the trench for
some time before being forced to retire to Hessian Trench.  From this
time the 8th Brigade held the original line until it was handed over to
the 7th Brigade on the night of October 2nd-3rd.

On the right the dawn of October 2nd revealed the situation to be
approximately as follows.  The 20th Battalion, with the flanks secured,
was established, as has been described, about 150 yards N.N.W. of where
they were supposed to be with the 18th Battalion consolidating on their
left slightly to the rear.  The British on the right (70th Brigade, 2nd
Division, III Corps) had reached the southern position of the Le Sars
line on the previous evening and were apprehensive as to their left
flank.  Patrols were sent out by both British and Canadians in an
endeavour to establish contact; yet although they came into touch
during the evening of the 1st, it was not until the evening of the 2nd
that proper contact was effected and connecting posts planned.

The left flank of the 18th Battalion, left in the air owing to the
failure of the 22nd to come up, was secured by the Battalion Lewis guns.

The parties of the 24th and 25th Battalions of the 5th Brigade[1] which
had fought so strenuously in Regina were unable to maintain themselves
in the trench as long as did the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles on their
left, but were driven out during the night.

The 6th Brigade, waiting to relieve the 5th, was finally ordered?  in
the very early hours of October 2nd, to take over the line as it
stood--that is, the captured portion of Kenora Trench, the post in
Courcelette Trench, and the new trenches to the west of Kenora.

This Brigade also took over the 4th Brigade line as far east as the Pys

There were no fresh developments during the day.  Every nerve was
concentrated on strengthening and consolidating the positions won.  The
20th Battalion had already a shallow trench dug across their whole
front.  The 18th likewise were consolidating their position.  In the
centre the 6th Brigade, similarly engaged, had a rather quiet day, and
on the left the 8th Brigade, terribly depleted, was holding its
original line in the Hessian Trench.

The Battalions of the 4th and 8th Brigades which had borne the brunt of
the offensive were relieved as soon as possible--the 8th by the 7th on
the night of October 2nd-3rd, and the 4th and 6th on the night of the
3rd by the 9th Brigade.  The fresh Brigades were warned to prepare for
a renewed offensive.

In spite of the wretched weather which now set in, there was no
diminution in the active preparations for renewing the attack or in the
ardour of the troops.  Jumping-off trenches were constructed and orders
were expected from day to day.  Postponements, however, were
inevitable.  More time was required for adequate artillery preparation.
Wire had to be cut and ammunition to be accumulated in the forward
positions, which were now at a distance from any practicable roads.
The attack eventually took place on October 8th.

In the interval the most noteworthy incident was the occupation of
Kendal Trench on October 4th by the Royal Canadian Regiment, who
succeeded in establishing a post within 25 yards of the enemy.
One-third of this trench--nearest our lines--was found to be
practically obliterated.

On October 8th the offensive on a large scale was resumed.  In
conjunction with the 23rd and 25th British Divisions, on the right and
left respectively, the Canadian Corps attacked on a two-division
frontage, the 1st Division being on the right and the 3rd on the left.
Each Division had two Brigades in the line.  The Battalions engaged,
from right to left, were the 4th and 3rd of the 1st Brigade, the 16th
and 13th of the 3rd Brigade, the 58th and 43rd of the 9th Brigade, and
the Royal Canadian Rifles and 49th of the 7th Brigade.

The objective of the 1st Division was to depend upon the degree of
success attending the preliminary operation undertaken on the 7th by
the 23rd Division.  If this Division attained its second
objective--i.e., the remainder of Le Sars Village with its left on the
Chalk Pit--the 1st Division would attempt the whole objective assigned
to it.  In the event of partial failure on the part of the 23rd
Division, the 1st Division would not attempt to carry the
quadrilateral.  The 23rd, however, were completely successful, and
accordingly the objective of the 1st Division became as outlined below.

The 1st Brigade, on the right, was to capture and hold a line running
approximately north-west from a point in Below Support Trench just west
of the Dyke Road to the junction with Gallwitz Support Trench, thence
south-west to the junction of Regina and Farmer's Road.  At this point
the objective of the 3rd Brigade began.  It followed Regina Trench west
as far as the point M.13.b.6.1 (see map).

To the left of this lay the portion of the objective allotted to the
9th and 7th Brigades of the 3rd Division.  Of this the 9th Brigade was
to attack and occupy the line of Regina from M.13.b.6.1 west to the
junction with Pys Road, north-west to the German cross-trench between
Courcelette Trench and West Miraumont Road, and then due west along
this trench to, but not including, West Miraumont Road itself.

The 7th Brigade was to form a defensive flank from the junction of
Twenty-three Road to West Miraumont Road down the latter to Regina
Trench along the trench to the junction with the communication trench
(see map), at which point the flank was turned back to Hessian Trench.

In the event of success the 7th Brigade was to push out from West
Miraumont Road and establish a flank along Twenty-three Road after dark.

At 4.50 a.m. the long line of attack moved forward.  The 4th Battalion,
on the right, was held up by wire in front of the first Below Trench.
Compelled to work round to the left, thereby rather crowding the 3rd
Battalion, they entered the first, Below Trench just south of the
quadrilateral and proceeded to bomb south of Dyke Road.  Connection was
established with the 23rd Division on the right and with the 3rd
Battalion on the left.  Owing to the greater resistance which the 4th
Battalion encountered at first, their supply of bombs became exhausted
in spite of gallant attempts to replenish it.  In consequence, they
were compelled to borrow some from the 3rd Battalion, which had had
less resistance to overcome.  This generosity on the part of the 3rd
Battalion cost them dearly later on.  Having also lent bombs to the
16th Battalion on their left, they found themselves, when heavily
counter-attacked about 2.15 p.m., hopelessly short of munitions.  The
enemy attacked in great force and with great determination.  They
poured down the first and second Below and the first and second
Gallwitz Trenches, rushed the three posts which had been established in
the captured trenches, and drove a wedge through the quadrilateral,
even coming over the open from the second Below Trench.

The situation of the 3rd and 4th Battalions was now extremely
precarious.  Attacked by a superior force and without an adequate
supply of bombs, they fought tooth and nail to maintain their foothold.
The S.O.S. signals failed.  A wedge was driven between the two
Battalions.  The 3rd was bombed down Regina Trench with a few of the
4th, while the 4th was bombed down the first Below Trench.

On account of the congestion in Regina Trench which naturally resulted,
a number of men of the 3rd Battalion occupied shell-holes in front of
the trench, doing considerable execution with their rifles.

Lieutenant Chatterton behaved with the greatest gallantry.  He got some
of his men out on the north side of Regina Trench and attempted a
bayonet charge.  His charge was repulsed, and he himself was shot
through the shoulder.  Crawling back into the trench and tying up his
arm in a sling, he rallied some men and got out on the south side of
the trench.  Another bayonet charge was attempted, in which the
intrepid Lieutenant was killed.  Major Haddon, Major Mowat, and Major
Bennett led a similar charge, Major Mowat being killed.  All attempts
to stem the onrushing tide were unavailing.  In the end about 100 men
got back to the original line.

Meanwhile, the 4th Battalion was being bombed down the first Below
Trench.  For hours a desperate conflict raged in the trench.  Whenever
the 4th Battalion was able to borrow bombs from the 23rd Division on
their right, they gained ground; whenever the supply of bombs ran low
they were forced to give way.  This give-and-take combat lasted until
about 6 p.m., when the survivors, about 120 in number, dropped over
into the Dyke Road in the 23rd Division lines.

The attack of the 3rd Brigade, on the left of the 1st, developed along
very similar lines.  Early reports were to the effect that the
objectives had been gained by the 16th and 13th Battalions.
"Everything looks very well" and "Situation well in hand," were the
reports sent up to the Brigade.  Soon, however, a more unfortunate
state of affairs was revealed.  The 16th Battalion, it appeared, had
indeed reached its objective, but the left flank had been bombed cut.
The remainder, on the right, fought for a long time with great
stubbornness and tenacity.  Lieutenant Hall sent in a message about
7.30 a.m. to say that, so far as he was aware, he was me only unwounded
officer left.

The German counter-attack in the early afternoon which drove back the
3rd and 4th Battalions dashed itself in vain against the right flank of
the 16th.  The position of the Battalion was, nevertheless, far from
secure.  On the left the 13th Battalion had encountered heavy wire in
front of the German trench.  A few men of the Battalion apparently
managed to get in with the 16th.  The attack against a position
strongly held and protected by impassable wire was necessarily doomed
to failure, and a message from Major McCuaig, about 8 a.m., stated that
the 13th had been compelled to retire.  Their casualties were very
heavy.  They lay on the far side of the crest, in full view of the
enemy, whose snipers cut off communication.

The left flank of the 16th was thus left in the air throughout the day.
Their right flank was left exposed when the 1st Brigade was driven back
in the afternoon.  In this precarious situation they held on grimly,
even though, owing to the exposed nature of the ground, snipers and
machine-guns made it practically impossible to get a supply of bombs
up, until, late in the evening, all possibility of success elsewhere
having ceased to exist, they were ordered to abandon the position they
had so stoutly held and to retire to their jumping-off trenches.  The
situation had to be accepted as it stood; the battalions were
consolidated, removed as soon as possible in favour of the supporting
battalions, and the line generally linked up and strengthened.

The ill-luck which had attended the assault of the two Brigades of the
1st Division also dogged the gallant efforts of the 9th and 7th
Brigades of the 3rd Division.

During the few days' preliminary bombardment of the front-line wire,
careful reconnaissances of the wire were made.  Reports received just
prior to the attack indicated that the wire in front of the objective
had been well cut for the most part, and both Brigades expressed
confidence on this point.  But, as in the operations of October 1st, it
was discovered later that a considerable amount of wire remained.

This fact materially affected the success of the operations.  Yet the
reports were not, on the whole, inaccurate, as on the night before the
attack the Germans threw out large quantities of loose wire, which
formed an awkward obstacle, and a second line of staked wire was
encountered immediately in front of the trench at various points.
Direct observation of this wire, particularly between Twenty-three Road
and the junction of Regina and Kenora Trenches, had been particularly
difficult and uncertain.

In spite of adverse weather conditions, jumping-off trenches were
prepared along a large portion of the divisional front, and at 4.50
a.m., zero hour, the two Brigades advanced to the assault.  A heavy
rain, which commenced shortly afterwards and continued throughout the
greater part of the day, contributed largely to the difficulties of the

At zero hour the 9th and 7th Brigades moved forward with the rest of
the long line of attack.  From early reports, received from wounded
men, it seemed that both Brigades had obtained their objectives.
Unduly optimistic reports of this sort are easily explained.  A wounded
man sees his comrades advancing steadily within striking distance of
the objective, and in perfect good-faith reports that apparently his
unit has attained its objective.  Appearances, however, were never more
deceptive than in the present instance.

For some time after the attack began no definite news could be obtained
about the 9th (right) Brigade.  At 8.50 a.m. they reported that their
left Battalion (the 43rd) had been held up by wire, and that only a
portion of the right Battalion (the 58th) had effected a lodgment in
Regina, from which they were later driven out.  The left company and
left half of the centre company of the 58th suffered severely before
they reached Regina Trench.  At the trench itself all three companies
encountered heavy wire.  The wire had been very little damaged by our
artillery, and presented a formidable obstacle.  Heavy machine-gun fire
was brought to play upon the three companies in front of the wire.

The greater part of the right company were able to force an entry
through a small sally port.  Having gained a foothold in the trench,
our men worked along to the right and held for about thirty minutes
some 100 yards of the trench, up to a strong bombing post situated
approximately on the right flank of the Battalion's objective.

The left portion of this company meanwhile entered Regina through
another sally port, made their way as far as a communication trench on
the left, and on the right established contact with the remainder of
the company on the right.

All this time the centre and left companies were striving, heroically
but unsuccessfully, to penetrate the wire.  This left the right half of
the Battalion, in Regina Trench, most precariously situated.  Both
flanks were in the air; on the right of the 58th the left Battalion
(the 13th) of the 1st Division had been repulsed, and on the left the
left section of the Battalion had failed.  The Germans, taking
immediate advantage of the opportunity, attacked right and left from
the bombing post and communication trench already mentioned.  After a
fierce struggle the survivors of the 58th were expelled, and made their
way, as best they could, back to their lines.

The 43rd Battalion, on the left of the 8th Brigade, also managed to
establish themselves for a time in Regina Trench.  Uncut wire
effectually stopped the right and centre companies, even though a few
individuals here and there succeeded in getting into the trench, never
to return.  But the left company, like the right of the 58th, got in.
Some of them lost direction, and entered Regina with elements of the
Royal Canadian Regiment on the western side of West Miraumont Road.

A counter-attack in overwhelming force followed almost immediately, and
only about ten men of this company returned to our lines.

Meanwhile, on the left the 7th Brigade had also effected a lodgment in
Regina.  On the Brigade's right the Royal Canadian Regiment occupied
Regina for a distance of 100 yards west of the West Miraumont Road.
The enemy were still between them and the 49th on the left.

The 49th had also succeeded, according to reports, in pushing through
to their objective.  Two companies were reported to be at the junction
of Kenora and Regina Trenches with some men of the Royal Canadian
Regiment.  They were bombing eastward in an endeavour to connect with
the latter battalion.  This was the situation at 7 a.m.  As it appeared
altogether likely that complete success would result if supports were
brought up and the attack pushed resolutely home, the Princess
Patricias, in support, were moved close up (two companies in the
jumping-off trench and two in the Fabeck Graben), ready to advance
whenever called upon.

On the Brigade right the Royal Canadian Regiment attempted to reinforce
their troops in Regina by moving a company up the West Miramont Road.
Heavy machine-gun fire foiled this attempt.

More definite information regarding the situation now began to come in.
It was ascertained that the right and centre companies of the R.C.R.
had entered the trench without serious casualties, but that the left
company had been hung up by heavy machine-gun fire.  The two companies
which had entered Regina proceeded to mop up the numerous dug-outs in
this portion of Regina and pushed out a strong patrol along the West
Miraumont Road.  A bombing party also bombed their way westward along
Regina in an attempt to gain touch with the 49th, who were reported to
have effected a lodgment to their left.

This report, however, was unduly optimistic.  The right company of the
49th, bearing a trifle too far to the right, eventually reached Kenora
Trench and occupied it under heavy fire.  The centre and left
companies, advancing straight on their objectives, passed through a row
of well-cut wire, only to find further progress blocked by the presence
of an unsuspected new row of wire, entirely undamaged.  With dogged
resolution they made their way along the front of the wire, seeking a
gap.  None was found, and after losing heavily they finally got into
Kenora Trench.  Animated by the most intense determination to reach
their objective at all costs, they pushed three bombing parties up
Kenora Trench.  Every party met the same fate--wiped out by the Germans
concentrated at the junction of Kenora and Regina Trenches.

The situation on the 3rd Divisional front at 9 a.m. was therefore as
follows.  On the right the 58th Battalion of the 9th Brigade, had
effected a temporary lodgment from which they had shortly afterwards
been expelled.  The 43rd Battalion had failed to get in on the left,
the R.C.R. had got in with two companies, but the 49th, on their left,
reported successful at first, had failed to obtain any footing in the

At this stage of the operations the Corps Commander visited the 3rd
Divisional Headquarters.  After studying the situation, he gave orders
that every effort should be made to secure the portion of Regina Trench
held by the 7th Brigade westward from the West Miraumont Road, and
that, if necessary, supports and reserves were to be sent up to ensure
success.  With West Miraumont Road as the right flank, efforts were to
be made to gain as much ground as possible, but not beyond Regina
Trench.  If necessary, the 8th Brigade and the remainder of the 9th
Brigade would be used, as Regina Trench had to be gained at all costs.
All available reserves were pushed up.  The 60th, in support of the 9th
Brigade, moved up two sections of bombers.  The 43rd of this Brigade
was ordered to assist the R.C.R. on their left in maintaining their
position in Regina.  The support Battalion of the 7th Brigade, the
Princess Patricias, also moved up as close as possible.

Unfortunately, before a fresh offensive could be launched, reports
began to come in that the R.C.R. had been unable to maintain their hold
in Regina Trench.  The men of the Princess Patricias sent up to
reinforce the R.C.R. met the gallant defenders of the outpost returning
to our trenches.  A strong counter-attack had been too much for the
weakened and wearied garrison.  All returned together to Kenora Trench.

Early in the afternoon it became evident that the attack had failed all
along the Corps' front.  The line was consolidated during the night by
the wearied troops in the line, aided by the supports.  Little progress
could be made on account of the weakness of the garrisons.  On the left
flank the depleted R.C.R. and 49th were combined into a composite

On the following night the 8th Brigade relieved the 7th and 9th

The undeniable failure of the operations of October 1st and 8th did not
dishearten the Canadians.  Rather did it merely increase their
determination to "get" Regina, whatever the cost.  It was intolerable
that such a series of checks should follow the glorious triumph of
Courcelette.  Nevertheless, it is not to be wondered at that we should
have met with these temporary checks, which were, indeed, far from
diminishing the prestige of the Canadian Corps[2] as a fighting force.
The victories of the 15th and immediately following days had had a
double effect.  They had severely reduced the numbers of the Canadian
battalions while bringing them into contact with positions yet more
formidably defended.  At the same time they had forced the enemy to
concentrate upon this sector, so imminently menaced, great
reinforcements of men and guns.  Their task had doubled, while their
means of dealing with it had diminished.  The quality of an army is
sometimes manifested no less brilliantly in reverse than in success;
and the scant result of these sanguinary struggles before Regina Trench
in no way lessened the confidence of the Higher Command in the capacity
of our troops.

A renewal of the offensive was daily expected, and active preparations
were made in anticipation of the event.  Meanwhile, the arrival of the
new 4th Division during this period of waiting and recuperation was
hailed by the hardened campaigners of the three older Divisions with
feelings of liveliest satisfaction.

[1] The 5th Brigade began their tour in the line 1,717 strong (all
ranks).  Their casualties during the tour amounted to 944 all ranks,
making their strength on coming out 773 all ranks.

In the 5th Brigade on October 2nd the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, with
attached details, numbered only 250 effectives, and the 4th Canadian
Mounted Rifles but 175.

The casualties of the Canadian Corps from September 27th to noon on
October 4th were as follows:

       OFFICERS.             OTHER RANKS.

  Killed . . . .  25     Killed  . . .   847
  Wounded  . . .  89     Wounded . . . 3,364
  Missing  . . .   8     Missing . . . 1,176

  Total  . . . . 122     Total . . . . 5,387

      Grand total all ranks  . . . 5,509

[2] The casualties of the Canadian Corps from noon, October 4th, to
noon, October 11th, were as follows:--

       OFFICERS.             OTHER RANKS.

  Killed . . . .  20     Killed  . . .   344
  Wounded  . . . 109     Wounded . . . 1,793
  Missing  . . .  29     Missing . . .   390

  Total  . . . . 158     Total . . . . 2,527

      Total  . . . . . . . . . . . 2,685


REGINA (_continued_)

The 4th Division, commanded by Major-General David Watson, C.B.,
C.M.G., entered the Somme area on October 10th and 11th, 1916, during
the lull between the operations of October 8th and those of October

Though a new Division, which had never as yet taken part in any
concerted major operations, it soon proved itself no whit inferior to
the senior Divisions.  It had had practical experience in holding the
line in the Ypres salient in September, and it had already been
blooded, for on the night of September 16th it had carried out a
well-planned series of simultaneous raids which reflected the greatest
credit on the new Division.  There were seven raiding parties.

The first party consisted of one officer and forty men of the 22nd
Battalion.  Leaving the trenches at 11.22 p.m., the party moved
cautiously forward, great care being necessary owing to the bright
moonlight.  The scaling ladders and chicken wire were left behind, as
it was feared they might be seen too easily.  As soon as the enemy
trench was rushed the party split into two, working to the right and
left.  The enemy bolted so swiftly that only two were caught.  Dug-outs
were bombed and as much wire as possible destroyed by the covering
party.  At 12.25 a.m. the raiders left the enemy trench and found their
way back without difficulty by means of the white tape laid for that

The 46th Battalion party of one officer and thirty-one other ranks
carried out the second raid against the Hollandscheschuur Salient.  At
12.20 a.m. the raiders crawled over the intervening space of forty
yards, rushed the trench, and worked down to a supposed strong point.
This proved to be merely a large hole, unstrengthened in any way.
Explosives which had been brought to blow up this post were used
against an occupied dug-out, 62 lb. of guncotton being touched off for
the purpose.  Fifteen Germans were killed during the raid and one
captured.  No difficulty was experienced in penetrating the wire.

The third raid was entrusted to the 47th Battalion.  The raiding party
of one officer and twenty-eight other ranks had further to go than the
preceding parties and started five minutes earlier.  Complete success
was attained.  The party bombed south after entering the enemy trench,
making for a supposed strong point which turned out to be similar to
the one above.  Nine Germans were killed and ten taken prisoners.

The fourth raid was also undertaken by the 47th Battalion.  A
comparatively long distance separated the two trench lines, some 200
yards.  On this account an early start was imperative.  Scarcely any
resistance was encountered.  Six Germans were killed, and others were
pursued but not caught.  The artillery preparation, under
Lieutenant-Colonel McNaughton, and the trench-mortar work were all that
could be desired.

The 75th Battalion carried out the fifth raid.  Three officers and
thirty-one other ranks constituted the raiding party.  They moved out
just after midnight, formed up outside our wire, and were within twenty
yards of the German trench while it was still being bombarded.  Rushing
in as soon as the barrage lifted, they divided up into two parties,
which bombed right and left for fifty yards.  Some resistance was
encountered by the right party, but five of the enemy were killed,
three captured, and the rest escaped over the parados under fire from
the covering party.  The left party also experienced resistance, but
reached their objective in spite of opposition.  Dug-outs were bombed
and the enemy forced to escape over the parados.  After a successful
withdrawal the artillery was again turned on to the front line.  Of the
six prisoners taken four bolted on the way back and came to an untimely
end.  The 7th Belgian Field Artillery supporting the raid, rendered
excellent service, which earned the warm commendation of all concerned
in the operation.

The sixth raid, by the 54th Battalion was the most elaborate of all.
Four officers and fifty-eight other ranks took part.  The objective was
No. 2 Crater at St. Eloi.  Almost at the start the officers in charge
were wounded.  An unavoidable loss of direction and control naturally
resulted, though the parties succeeded in reaching their objectives.
An unfortunate _contretemps_ arose from the fact that the bugler who
was to have sounded the signal to retire fell into an exceedingly muddy
and unsavoury shell-hole and lost his bugle!  "A" party, on the left,
captured three prisoners and bombed several inhabited dug-outs.  A
machine-gun was also captured.  "B," "C," and "D" parties met with
little resistance, and saw nothing of the enemy.  "E" party bombed
northwards towards No. 3 Crater, met with little opposition and
captured one prisoner.  "F" party had a harder task to the south on the
far side of No. 3 Crater, but captured three prisoners and an automatic
rifle, which was unfortunately lost when the man carrying it was
wounded.  "G" party, also moving south, unsuccessfully chased a number
of the enemy towards the 75th raiding party.

As soon as the retirement began an undiscovered machine-gun opened up
unexpectedly.  Fifteen of the enemy were killed, including an officer
and two men who resisted all attempts to bring them back after capture.
Six prisoners were brought in.

The seventh raid, undertaken by the 87th Battalion, was unsuccessful.
The three officers and forty-seven other ranks who made up the party
got well away close under the barrage, but on reaching the parapet two
small mines were exploded beneath them.  In some way the enemy had
become aware of the approaching raid, probably owing to an attack
carried out by the Division on the left; the element of surprise, the
great factor in all successful raids, was thus lost.  Heavy fire was
directed against the attackers; and after a brisk exchange of bombs it
became evident that nothing could be accomplished.  The party
accordingly withdrew.

These raids, with the one exception noted, were eminently successful.
This success was due in no small measure to the very careful
preparation made beforehand.  The parties involved were withdrawn from
the line a week before the raid, all details were carefully worked out,
trenches dug to scale, the ground constantly patrolled, and the raiding
parties taken over it by night in small groups.  The excellent
artillery support and the thorough work of the covering parties all
contributed to the satisfactory result.

On their arrival in the Somme area the 4th Division was fortunate
enough to experience a few days of comparative quiet, with little more
than shell-fire and sniping to incommode them while getting themselves
shaken down into their new lines.  Owing largely to the wretched
weather, the conditions underfoot, and the state of the trenches, the
operations pending, major and preliminary, were from day to day
postponed.  In fact, the three senior Canadian Divisions were withdrawn
from the area before another attack in force was launched against the
blood-drenched barrier of Regina.  On October 17th the 4th Division,
remaining behind, came under the orders of the II Corps for the purpose
of future operations.  These operations, in so far as the 4th Division
was concerned, began on October 21st.

The general plan of operations was as follows.  The II Corps[1] was to
attack on the front between Courcelette Trench and the River Ancre in
order to capture Petit Miraumont, Grandcourt, and at Pierre Divion.
Afterwards the passages of the Ancre were to be forced and the II Corps
would co-operate with the V Corps by pushing north.  There were three
Divisions in line, the 18th, 19th, and 39th, from right to left.  The
dual _rôle_ of the 4th Canadian Division was to protect the right flank
of the 18th Division of the II Corps and to safeguard the left flank of
the III Corps on the right.

A preliminary operation was assigned to the II Corps before the general
action began.  This preparatory task was the capture of the Regina
Stuff line of trenches, to be undertaken by the 18th, 25th, and 39th
Divisions, from right to left.  In this operation the 4th Canadian
Division would co-operate by effecting the capture of Regina Trench
from Courcelette Trench to a point just before the intersection of the
Pys Road, thence approximately along an old German trench to join up
with the sapheads which were being built by the 10th Canadian Infantry
Brigade, under Brigadier-General William Hughes, D.S.O.

The 11th Brigade, on the left, under Brigadier-General V. W. Odlum,
D.S.O., undertook the capture of the portion of Regina Trench assigned
to the Division.  Meanwhile, the 10th Brigade was to co-operate by
pushing forward its saps so as to be able to support the 11th Brigade
by an enfilading fire.  Each Brigade, by the 19th, had completed a very
useful sap, close to the junction of their respective lines, up old
German trenches to within two-thirds of the distance to Regina.  The
11th Brigade placed the 87th and 102nd Battalions in the line, the
former on the right, each Battalion having two companies of the 75th in

At noon on the 21st the attack began.  The whole operation was an
unqualified success.  Before the afternoon was far advanced the
objectives had all been gained and consolidated, blocks established in
Regina and up the Pys Road, and contact effected with the equally
successful 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division on the left.  The
co-operation of the 10th Brigade on the right was all that could be
desired.  Altogether the result of the action was a welcome change from
the disappointments attending the hard-fought and determined attempts
against Regina earlier in the month.  The new and comparatively raw
Division had won its spurs with _éclat_.

On the 25th of the month a second preliminary operation was undertaken.
In preparation for this attack the right of the 10th Brigade was
extended to the Chalk Pit.

At 7 a.m. the attacking Battalion, the 44th, advanced to the assault,
supported by the 46th.  Early reports seemed to indicate that the
operation had been entirely successful.  It soon became evident,
however, that this was not the case.  The enemy was enabled to hold his
trenches in great force and to bring a devastatingly effective
enfilading machine-gun fire to bear upon the 44th from the vicinity of
the quadrangle.  There was nothing for it but to take such cover as was
available--old disused trenches and shell-holes, where many remained
until dark.  The Battalion suffered very heavily, having 3 officers
killed and 7 wounded, and of other ranks 29 killed, 152 wounded, and 23
missing.  The work of the stretcher-bearers in this action was
especially commendable.

A long period of very bad weather compelled the postponement of further
operation from day to day.  Numerous operation orders and amending
orders were issued, but nothing could be attempted until better weather
conditions prevailed.  It was decided that an attack on the remaining
right section of Regina Trench would be made as soon as the weather
should allow of two days' successful bombardment.  On November 9th and
10th fine weather permitted good shooting.  The plan of attack had been
ready for some time in anticipation, and accordingly an assault was
determined for the night of November 10th-11th.

From right to left the attacking line consisted of the 46th and 47th
Battalions of the 10th Brigade and the 102nd Battalion of the 11th
Brigade, attached for the purpose to the 10th Brigade.  The aim was to
capture and consolidate Regina Trench from the block established in
Regina on the right flank of the 11th Brigade attack of October 21st to
Farmer's Road.  The 46th Battalion, on the right, attacked the line
from the right boundary of the objective to the intersection of the
Practice Road.  The 47th Battalion was responsible for the central
section.  The 102nd Battalion, on the left, advanced against the
remaining portion of Regina and also from the right extremity of the
part of Regina already held in a north-easterly direction against the
new enemy line running north and north-west from Regina to the Pys Road.

The 46th and 47th Battalions attacked at zero hour, midnight, with two
companies each in line, in four waves.  The company of the 102nd which
advanced against Regina went forward in two waves, as did also the
three platoons which attacked from Regina north-easterly towards the
new German line.

The operation as a whole was very successful.  The enemy's barrage was
over the heads of the attacking troops, who stole a march on their
opponents, for zero hour found them 150 yards in advance of their front
trench, so that they were in amongst the Germans almost before the Huns
realised what was happening.  In the centre success was immediate and
complete, though the 47th suffered more severely than the other
Battalions for the reason that they were the only Battalion to run into
heavy machine-gun fire.  On the right the 46th was equally victorious,
but they encountered a stiffer resistance.  Good fortune also favoured
the attack of the 102nd Battalion on the left.  The specified portion
of Regina was captured, and the northern attacking party was also, at
first, completely successful; later, however, they were bombed back
some distance, and established a block about 85 yards in advance of
Regina.  This post was stoutly held against a number of determined

By 1.20 a.m. the 46th and 47th had overrun their objective, and dug in
some 100 yards beyond it.  Unfortunately, this new line came under our
own protective artillery fire, and had to be abandoned.  By 2.20 a.m.,
however, consolidation was well advanced.  The required posts were
established, and work started on new connecting saps and trenches.  The
working party which the O.C. 46th had been ordered to detail came up on
time, and everything was rapidly rounding into shape, including the new
connecting trench between Regina and Kling Trenches.

At daybreak a concentration by the enemy in Below and New Gallwitz
Trenches was dispersed by our artillery.  Conditions rapidly became
normal, and it was now possible to take stock of the position.
Altogether it had been a notable success for the 4th Division.

The casualties in the 10th Brigade were 3 officers killed and 4
wounded, and 41 other ranks killed, 156 wounded, and 26 missing.  The
majority of these were of the 47th Battalion.

The 102nd Battalion of the 11th Brigade had 4 officers wounded, 10
other ranks killed, 34 wounded, and 8 missing.

Three officers and 84 other ranks were captured, also 4 machine-guns.
About 50 German dead were found in the trench; and, in addition, they
lost a number of men who endeavoured to escape across country.

Regina Trench itself proved a disappointment.  It was knee-deep in mud,
and some of the dug-outs had only been commenced.  In addition to the
capture of Regina, the advanced salient shown on the map was pushed out
in order to secure observation of Coulée and Below Trenches.

All concerned in the operation received the congratulations of the
Higher Command.  The whole of Regina Trench, which had defied the
Canadian Corps for over a month, was now in British hands; and the 4th
Canadian Division had earned an enviable reputation for a young
Division---a reputation which was to be further enhanced by the
achievement of the 11th Brigade a week later.

On November 18th this Brigade, taking part in the resumed general
offensive, carried out its task of capturing and consolidating Desire
Trench.  The whole operation, which is described in the succeeding
chapter, was executed with dash and thoroughness, and brought to a
fitting conclusion the strenuous campaign of the Canadian Divisions on
the Somme.

[1] The II Corps consisted of the 18th, 19th, 25th, 39th British
Divisions, and 4th Canadian Division.



Throughout the closing operations against Regina Trench our Battalions
had been forced to pluck every hard success from the teeth of a new foe
who had come suddenly to the support of the German defence.  This foe
was the mud, the hated Somme mud, deep, slithering, tenacious as glue,
foul with all the filth left behind by the enemy as he gave back yard
by yard.  For the weather had turned against us.  The rains of the
rainiest autumn which had scourged their high plateaus for many a year
were a timely reinforcement to the hard-pressed enemy.  When it came to
the attack upon Desire Trench, on November 17th-18th, the disastrous
alliance of mud and rain-drench had reached such a pitch of obstruction
that the capture of this line was reluctantly recognised as marking the
limit of our possible advance, for the time, upon this sector.  The
light railways, spread over the vast, red, undulating expanses of naked
mud, between the engulfing and omnipresent pits of slime, were being
constantly scattered and put out of service by the German shells from
north and east--from beyond the Ancre and from the hidden batteries in
Lupart Wood; and they were utterly incapable of keeping up the
ammunition supply for our valiant advanced batteries of 18-pounders.
Our heavies, the great 9.2 howitzers lurking in and around the tossed
ruins of Pozières and behind Courcelette, were well supplied, thanks to
the indefatigable labours of the road-making companies along the great
and crowded artery of the Bapaume Road.  But the 18-pounders, in their
shallow gun-pits far out across the shell-swept stretches of the mud,
had to be fed by pack-mules, carrying shells in panniers slung across
the back.  Such a method of transport was torturingly slow, and
perilous to the last degree, but it was the only one capable of coping
with the situation.  Under the numbing strain the spirit and humour of
our men remained irrepressible, as instanced in the following retort to
a sentry's challenge.  Under the chill downpour of the unrelenting
rain, through the blind night, a soldier, just returned from four days'
duty in the front trenches, came stumbling in along the Bapaume Road
toward the billets of Albert.  Shrapnel helmet, overcoat, pack,
everything but his precious rifle, was covered thick with that chalky
mud which sticketh closer than a brother, and he waded heavily through
the mire of the tormented roadway.  He reached a dripping sentry.
"Halt!  Who goes there?" came the challenge, as the labouring figure
lurched up in the gloom.  "Submarine U13," grunted the traveller.
"Pass, Submarine U13," responded the sentry cheerfully; and the moving
shape of mud rolled on toward the shattered billets brooded over by the
falling Virgin and Child.

Under such conditions, but in such unshakable temper, the men of the
4th Canadian Division moved to the taking of the position known as
Desire Support Trench, on which for days they had been casting covetous
eyes.  Our objective lay across our whole Divisional front, from about
Farmer's Road on the right to some 600 yards west of the West Miraumont
Road on the left.  At this point our left flank made connection with
the 18th Division, which was to attack, simultaneously with our
advance, the western sector of Desire Trench, and other trenches which
were protecting the approaches to Grandcourt Village.  The right of our
attack--a frontage of only five or six hundred yards, but one offering
extreme difficulties--was confided to the 10th Brigade, under
Brigadier-General W. St. P. Hughes.  The left, and main, sector,
beginning at the Pys Road, was committed to the 11th Brigade, under
Brigadier-General V. W. Odlum, who had two Battalions from the 12th
Brigade, the 38th and the 78th, attached to his command.  There were
thus three Battalions engaged upon the right sector, and five upon the
left.  The 10th Brigade, with its restricted frontage and limited
objective, attacked with two companies of the 50th Battalion (Calgary
Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel E. G. Mason) and one company and one
platoon of the 46th (South Saskatchewan Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel H.
J. Dawson) in the assaulting waves, with one company of the 44th
(Winnipeg, Lieutenant-Colonel E. K. Wayland) in support.  General Odlum
made his attack with four Battalions, each represented by two companies
in the assaulting wave, and one Battalion, behind his centre, in
support.  The attacking Battalions, from right to left, were as
follows:--The 75th (Mississaugas Battalion, of Toronto,
Lieutenant-Colonel S. G. Beckett), 54th (Kootenay Regiment,
Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. H. Kemball), 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards,
Montreal, Lieutenant-Colonel R. W. Frost), and 38th of the 12th Brigade
(Ottawa, Lieutenant-Colonel C. M. Edwards); while the Battalion
supporting was the 78th (Manitoba, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Kirkcaldie),
also of the 12th Brigade.  The artillery supporting the operation
consisted of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery
(commanded respectively by Brigadier-General H. C. Thacker, C.M.G.,
Brigadier-General E. W. B. Morrison, and Lieutenant-Colonel J. H.
Mitchell), the Yukon Motor Machine-Gun Battery (Captain H. F. Murling),
and also by the 11th Divisional Artillery and the 2nd Corps Heavy

The barrage work of the artillery was admirably co-ordinated, and
effectually cleared the way for that success which so abundantly
rewarded the operation as a whole in spite of failure on the extreme
right.  While a concentrated standing barrage was flaming and crashing
along the whole line of the enemy trench, at the hour for launching the
attack (6.10 a.m.) a creeping barrage was put up along a line 200 yards
in front of our own parapets.  This line of roaring death rolled onward
at the rate of 50 yards per minute, with the first wave of our assault
following close behind it--so close, in their eagerness, that a
sergeant swore he might have lighted his pipe at it.  Presently this
barrage merged into the standing barrage along the German trench.  At
fourteen minutes after the launching of the attack the combined barrage
lifted from the doomed trench and rolled inexorably onward for another
250 yards, where it rested as a barrier against counter-attacks.  The
trench was seized, all opposition being swiftly overwhelmed, and our
men rushed on behind the barrage to a distance of 150 yards beyond the
captured line.  Here they hurriedly dug themselves in, knowing that the
Germans would begin to shell Desire itself as soon as it should be
reported that we had captured it.  In order that the enemy might not
discover our ruse in time to thwart it, a dense smoke-screen was flung
out by a special company of the Royal Engineers in front of the line
where our men were furiously digging.  The positions thus gained, about
150 yards beyond Desire, were consolidated and held; and they stood to
mark the limit of Canada's advance on the Somme.

So much, in brief, for the battle of Desire Trench.  Viewed as a whole,
it was a rounded and clean-cut success, and earned warm commendation
for General Watson and his hard-fighting 4th Division.  To get an idea
of the fluctuations of the struggle, it is necessary to take the
operations of the 10th and 11th Brigades separately.

The task assigned to the 10th Brigade, as already stated, was an attack
on a very narrow but extremely exposed and strongly defended objective.
The whole line of this objective lay open to concentrated artillery
fire from the enemy's rear, and was murderously cross-raked by the fire
from a number of machine-gun nests.  It proved, in the event, difficult
to carry and impossible to hold.  But this comparative failure,
happily, did not vitiate the success of the main operation, which lay
along the left front.

The 50th Battalion, occupying the Brigade left, made its advance
successfully to a depth of some 300 yards, and gained its objective
with small loss.  This objective was a line running east from the Pys
Road.  Here, however, it got involved in our own smoke barrage, lost
its direction (and consequently its touch with the troops on its left),
swerved to the right, and left an open gap of about 200 yards between
the two Brigades.  Then the German guns from Lupart Wood in front
opened an annihilating fire upon it, machine-guns swept it from both
sides, and it was forced back with a loss of 12 officers and 200 other
ranks--over half its total strength in the attack.

Meanwhile, the 46th Battalion, on the right, was faring no better.  The
attack was made by one company and one platoon, in two waves, on a
front of 100 yards.  There was a distance of 40 yards between the
waves.  The first wave, keeping a fair line in spite of the
shell-holes, escaped the German barrage, and got to within 70 yards of
the enemy's parapets with small loss.  Here, however, it was met by
massed rifle fire full in the face--for our own barrage at this point
was playing behind instead of upon the German trench, and the trench
was occupied in full force.  At the same time a torrent of machine-gun
fire opened up on the left.  The wave was broken.  The survivors took
refuge in shell-holes, where they had to lie all day under a ceaseless
storm of shell and bullets, till darkness enabled them to crawl back to
our lines.  The second wave fared even worse.  It was caught by the
enemy's barrage as it was coming over the parapet.  Torn and
diminished, it nevertheless rushed on, in the face of intolerable
punishment, till it was a line no longer.  Its remnants made their way
into a sap and crept back into Regina.  Later in the day, however, the
Brigade was able to thrust forward again for a short distance on the
left, toward the Pys Road, and so to contain the position which it had
failed to capture.  Thus contained the position ceased to be of service
to the enemy or any serious menace to our new line on the left; and day
or two afterwards it was simply pounded out of existence by a "combined
shoot" of all our heavy guns.

In the main attack, all along the line westward from Pys Road, things
went well from the start.  By 7.30 reports came back from the 75th,
54th, and 38th Battalions that all were in their objectives and busy
consolidating their gains.  The only mystery was in regard to the 87th,
which though apparently successful, had disappeared.  While this matter
was in doubt the Germans launched a counter-attack from Coulée Trench
against the 54th Battalion.  They advanced with a great show of
resolution several hundred yards, then suddenly, to our astonishment,
flung down their bombs and rifles, threw up their hands, and rushed
into our line as eager prisoners.  About 8.50 came news that the 38th
Battalion, not content with having captured its objective, had pushed
on and gained a section of Grandcourt Trench, where it was establishing
itself successfully.  Then about 9 o'clock the mystery of the 87th was
solved.  This Battalion also, feeling that it had not had enough had
gone on to try conclusions with Grandcourt Trench, and made good its
footing there.

These fine adventures of the 38th and 87th, however, were doomed to
prove fruitless of result.  The operation of the Canadians against
Desire Trench was, as we have seen, part of a wider movement, extending
far to the left, before Grandcourt Village.  The 18th Division, on our
immediate left, though worn with long fighting and far below strength,
had made good upon its right, where it joined our lines, but had been
held up by insurmountable obstacles near Grandcourt.  For this reason
the Higher Command decided that it would be inadvisable to attempt to
hold such an advanced position as the 38th and 87th had taken in
Grandcourt Trench.  In the course of the day, therefore, came orders
that all advanced units were to come back to their original first
objectives and consolidate there.  The line of Desire Trench, thus
gained and secured, was an admirable one, strong for defence, and
advantageous to attack from when next the occasion should offer itself.
And on this line the 4th Division rested until, at the end of the
month, they were relieved and moved back to Doullens.  The casualties
of the Division in this fine action amounted to 75 officers and 1,276
other ranks.  The prisoners taken numbered 625, of whom 17 were
officers.  The Division received warm congratulations from the
Commanders of the Corps and the Army upon the success of this its
concluding operation in the blood-drenched battlefields of the Somme.

From these fields the Canadian Forces, the four Divisions henceforth
united into an Army Corps in all respects complete within itself, were
removed to the north of Arras, to take into their competent keeping
that vital area lying under the menace of Vimy Ridge and the
impregnable outposts of Lens.

Welded now by sacrifice, endurance, prudent and brilliant leaderships,
and glorious achievements against the mightiest military Power in the
world's history, into a fighting force of incomparable effectiveness,
it was no less than their due that the most tremendous tasks should be
set to these fiery and indomitable fighters of the North.  To the
Canadian Battalions the impregnable and the invincible had come to mean
a challenge which they welcomed joyously.  They knew that the utmost of
which men were capable was now confidently expected of them.  How
gloriously they were to justify that high expectation, on the dreadful
Ridge of Vimy, amid the bloody slag-heaps of Lens, and along the
fire-swept crest of Passchendaele, remains to be told succeeding
volumes of their story.




_The Canadian Corps on the Somme._

_September 1st._

1st Canadian Division arrives at the Somme, with headquarters at
Rubempré.  1st Canadian Infantry Brigade takes over right section of
line south-west of Courcelette, under orders of the 4th Australian

_September 2nd._

2nd Infantry Brigade moves to Brickfields under orders of the 4th
Australian Division.

_September 3rd._

3rd Infantry Brigade is instructed to establish a line on the left
section from a point on the Mouquet Road to north of Mouquet Farm to
the north-west and round the farm to the south.  Command of the
Canadian Corps area in the Ypres salient passes to the G.O.C. 1st Anzac
Corps, and command of the line north-east of Albert is assumed by the
G.O.C. Canadian Corps.

Canadians very busy patrolling, reconnoitring, and locating enemy lines.

_September 4th._

1st Canadian Division relieves 4th Australian Division at Tara Hill.
The stubborn fighting round Mouquet Farm commences and our men repulse
an attack west of Mouquet.  Patrols from the 13th Battalion enter
enemy's line and block communication trenches.

_September 5th._

1st Divisional Artillery relieves the 2nd Australian Divisional
Artillery.  3rd and 1st Brigades in front line with reserves in Quarry
and Tom's Cut, Centre Way and Union Trench.  A very heavy hostile
artillery fire hampers our communications, and scores a direct hit on
3rd Brigade Headquarters.  The G.O.C. orders Mouquet Farm to be taken.

_September 6th._

The enemy shell the left sector heavily, later extending an intense
bombardment over the whole front line and area.  A large party of
Germans advancing from the direction of Courcelette is dispersed by our

_September 7th._

Preparations for operation on the 9th.  Our patrols very busy.  Enemy
shell Mouquet Farm sectors heavily, obliterating Kay Trench, and our
artillery retaliates on Zollern Redoubt.  The Royal Flying Corps
reports enemy communications full of troops and our guns open heavily
upon the Courcelette communication trenches.  2nd Division arrives at
the Somme.

_September 8th._

2nd Brigade relieves 3rd Brigade.  Early in the morning while relief is
in progress the enemy attack Mouquet Road and drive our men back.
Later in the day a strong attack is defeated by our bombers and
machine-gun fire.  The fighting round Mouquet continues in the
evening--the Germans repulsed.

EXTRACT FROM RESERVE ARMY S.G.  21/0/35 Sept. 8/16.--Object of Canadian
Corps operations is to advance our line in co-operation with III Corps
until we can obtain direct observation from as many points as possible
over German third line running Flers--Le Sars--Pys.

_September 9th._

At 4.45 p.m. the 2nd Battalion attacks successfully south-west of
Courcelette from vicinity of Windmill to Munster Alley, gaining
objectives and capturing two machine-guns and some eighty prisoners.
The enemy's counter-attacks repulsed and the captured area consolidated.

_September 10th._

Enemy massing troops and bombarding our line heavily.  Our artillery
barrage along the Pozières-Bapaume Road effectively breaks up hostile
formation against 1st Brigade.  On the left sector the 2nd Brigade
drives back several German raids, repulsing a strong and determined
attack from Mouquet Farm.  3rd Canadian Division arrived at the Somme.

_September 11th._

2nd Division relieves 1st Division in right sector.  Early in the
morning the 4th Brigade defeats an attempt to rush our posts
established in front of the line captured on the 9th.  Pozières
bombarded with gas shells.

_September 12th._

Canadian Corps takes over new area--the Ovillers-Courcelette Road and
the ground south of it to Moy Avenue.

An intense hostile bombardment causes many casualties amongst our
working parties.  On the Mouquet sectors the 2nd Brigade is relieved by
the 8th Brigade, 3rd Division, including the 2nd Canadian Mounted
Rifles, who repulse another strong attack from Mouquet Farm in the

_September 13th._

Our artillery preparing the way for the attack.  The Germans appear to
be very nervous and many deserters come into our lines at night.  The
4th, 6th, and 8th Brigade, 2nd and 3rd Division, holding the front line.

Orders issued for attack on the 15th.  The Canadian Corps Cavalry
anticipating work.  The enemy advance in numbers against the sector
held by the 1st and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, but the heavy
artillery effectively breaks up the attack.

_September 14th._

Artillery active, but little infantry work.  The 2nd Division to attack
Courcelette and the 3rd Division Fabeck Graben.  It was hoped that the
cavalry might penetrate the German lines east of Courcelette and
disable communications and guns round Pys and Grandcourt, but after
much reconnaissance and patrol work the country was found impracticable
for mounted men.

_September 15th._

General offensive at 6.20 a.m. by six battalions of the 2nd and 3rd
Divisions.  The whole objective secured by 10 a.m., and the attack
continues successfully in the afternoon, resulting in a line being
established from the point of the original salient east of Mouquet via
Fabeck Trench to west end of Courcelette then around north and east
side of village down to Gunpit Trench to the north-west corner of
Martinpuich.  The tanks, in action for the first time, help to secure a
brilliant success.

The Commander-in-Chief congratulates the Canadians.

_September 16th._

Consolidation of occupied areas.  The 4th Brigade in position along
Gunpit Trench with the 5th Brigade on its left, and the 8th Brigade
along the Mouquet Farm sectors.  Orders issued to the 2nd Division to
push forward and establish posts in advance trenches north-north-east
of Courcelette.  The 3rd Division to be prepared to capture the line of
the Zollern Graben to Festen Zollern--and Mouquet Farm.  The Germans
massing troops and hostile barrages damage our communications.  In the
evening the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles surround Mouquet Farm.  At 5
p.m. the Royal Canadian Rifles and the 42nd Battalion attack the
Zollern Graben Trench but are driven back.

The 46th British Infantry Brigade takes over the Gunpit Trench line to
the Bapaume Road, relieving the 4th Brigade.

_September 17th._

Our men repulse several counter-attacks.  Early in the morning the 34th
British Infantry Brigade relieves the 8th Brigade, taking over the
Mouquet Farm sector.  In the afternoon the 5th Brigade attacks east of
Courcelette, at the same time sending a bombing raid up Sunken Road.
Small successful offensives help to clear up our positions, though the
hostile artillery fire tries our men severely.  The 5th Brigade holding
frontage from Bapaume Road to Courcelette Cemetery, to Main Street to
Sunken Road to Cross Roads north-west of village.

EXTRACT FROM RESERVE ARMY S.G.21/0/45.--"Canadian Corps will establish
posts on all the high ground north and north-west of Courcelette and
gain observation over the Ancre Valley and especially over the enemy
trenches in R23 and 22, trenches round Courcelette Road, north of
Hessian Trench, Grandcourt Road and vicinity."

_September 18th._

2nd Division is relieved by 1st Division.  Our men establishing bombing
and machine-gun posts north of Courcelette under a heavy artillery
fire.  Hostile bombing parties driven back.

_September 19th._

At 9.30 p.m. the enemy attack north-east of Courcelette and gain a
footing in our trenches.  A counter-attack organised by the 4th
Battalion and the line recaptured, though a few advanced posts remain
in possession of the enemy.

_September 20th._

At 4 a.m. a further attack along this whole frontage is made by the
enemy, but is repulsed by machine-gun fire and bombs.  Later, the 58th
and 43rd Battalions, 3rd Division attack the Zollern Graben Line and
after severe fighting succeed in entering the trench.  Fighting
stubbornly, our men repulse four counter-attacks, until at last, after
an intense bombardment, the Germans come on in great numbers under
cover of a smoke barrage and force the Canadians back to their starting

_September 21st._

Our barrages check a very heavy enemy fire on Sunken Road and the right
front line, though a German battery succeeds in blowing up the
ammunition dump at La Boiselle.

1st and 9th Brigades holding front line.

_September 22nd._

In the evening an attack made by the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade against
the maze of German trenches immediately east of Courcelette.  This
objective secured and some prisoners taken.  Patrols from the 9th
Brigade establish posts in High Trench West.  The Canadians holding a
line from a point near Mouquet Road in the Fabeck Graben Trench to
north-west Courcelette, to north Courcelette, round the Quarry and east
of the village towards Martinpuich.

_September 23rd._

1st and 2nd Brigades in front line.  The Canadian Corps anxious to push
forward towards Le Sars line and 1st Division is instructed to work up
the trench north of Bapaume Road to join with the British 23rd Division
attacking north of Martinpuich.  (M.26).

_September 24th._

1st Brigade holding Bapaume Road to north-east Courcelette.  2nd and
3rd Brigades round Quarry, north of Courcelette to Fabeck Graben.
(R.28.c.3.6.) Continued severe bombardment of our lines.  A strong
enemy patrol attacks our new post on the Bapaume Road, but is repulsed,
though another attack gains him footing in our advanced posts near the

_September 25th._

1st and 2nd Divisions in front line preparing for offensive.  Canadian
Corps to co-operate with II. Corps in capture of ridge running
north-west of Courcelette to the Schwaben Redoubt.  The 2nd Division
objective a new German trench north of Courcelette--the 1st Division to
take the Kenora and Regina Trenches by way of the Zollern and Hessian
lines.  Later the 1st Division objective is shortened and changed to a
point on the West Miraumont Road.

_September 26th._

At 12.35 p.m. the 1st and 2nd Divisions attack and, after heavy
fighting, partially occupy the Zollern, Hessian, and Kenora Trenches.
On the right the 29th and 31st Battalions are held up in their
operations north of Courcelette, but after several determined attacks
succeed in gaining their objective.  The enemy resist stubbornly, and
during the night bombard Courcelette and the whole front line.  The
left of the 2nd Brigade is badly hampered in its operations by
machine-gun fire from Mouquet Farm and Stuff Redoubt.  Representations
made to the 11th British Division on the left, who, at 6.30 p.m.,
report the official clearing up to the Farm.

_September 27th._

In the morning the 2nd Brigade attacked the Hessian Trench and drove
the Germans back towards Regina Trench, only to lose the greater part
of their gain in a strong hostile counter-attack about 1 p.m.  A fresh
attack was made in the afternoon and the whole regained and held.  At
6.30 p.m. it was reported that the Germans had withdrawn from their
line between the Bapaume Road and the Courcelette Trench, and our
patrols were busy establishing posts in the North and South Practice
Trenches, along the Dyke Road, and towards Regina Trench between the
east and west Miraumont Roads.

On the left hostile reinforcements had arrived and driven the 14th
Battalion from Kenora Trench to a line of defence some 200 yards

_September 28th._

Cavalry reconnaissances find enemy in Destremont Farm and in strength
in the Le Sars line.  4th Brigade pushing forward north of Courcelette,
and bombing parties fighting their way towards Regina.  On the left the
1st Division repulses a determined attack against our Hessian Trench
and our posts about Kenora Trench.  Our line in process of construction
from Bapaume Road to Dyke Road to East Miraumont Road to a point 150
yards up Courcelette Trench and south to Kenora Trench, to Hessian as
far as the Courcelette Road.  The enemy massing troops, and an intense
bombardment by our artillery silences many batteries and breaks up
hostile formations.  4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Brigades in front line.

September 29th.

At 5.15 a.m. a further strong attack upon Hessian Trench repulsed by
our men, and about noon the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, in
co-operation with the British Brigade on the Canadian left, attack and
capture the German communication from Hessian Trench to Courcelette
Road.  A strong post established.  Very heavy hostile artillery fire
and incessant fighting for small gains.  2nd Division instructed to
occupy and consolidate a line from Destremont Farm and North and South
Practice Trenches.

_September 30th._

4th, 5th, and 8th Brigades in front line.  Enemy working hard building
defences.  8th Brigade takes over 5th Brigade lines to Twenty-three
Road, and preparations are made for new offensive.

EXTRACT FROM RESERVE ARMY S.G. 66/8. 30/9/16.--"The operations of the
Reserve Army will comprise two simultaneous attacks.

"(_a_) A southern attack by the Canadian Corps to capture Irles.  The
right of this attack will rest on the Bois Loupart (inclusive).  The
left of the attack will, in the early stages, be held back on the high
ground overlooking Miraumont.

"(_b_) A western attack by the V. and XIII. Corps...."

_October 1st._

4th, 5th, and 8th Brigades, 2nd and 3rd Divisions in front line.  At
3.20 p.m. the Canadians attack a line from Destremont Farm to the
junction of the Courcelette and Regina Trenches, thence the line of the
Regina Trench through Twenty-three Road to the Courcelette Road and
south to the Hessian Trench.

Our troops penetrate into this objective in certain localities, but
unable to maintain themselves.  The 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles on the
left succeed in bombing down Regina Trench nearly as far as the West
Miraumont Road, but a heavily-reinforced counter-attack drives them
back to Hessian Trench about 6 p.m.  However, our troops succeed in
establishing a new line from the Courcelette Trench across the Pys
Road, thence running north and north-east of the Practice Trenches and
across the Dyke Road to a junction with the British Division on the
Canadian right.  Kenora Trench held to a few yards from Regina and
posts established forward in Courcelette Trench.

_October 2nd._

Royal Flying Corps reports that the enemy is very strong along Regina
Trench on the west of the East Miraumont Road.  Special reconnaissance
ordered of Regina Trench from the East Miraumont Road to the Le Sars
line.  Our troops very busy establishing the new line and Regina Trench
is shelled heavily by our artillery.  A new line ordered to be
established from which to attack Regina Trench between Courcelette
Trench and Below Trench.

_October 3rd._

5th Brigade relieved by the 6th.  Our advanced post in Kenora close to
Regina Trench is abandoned temporarily in order to allow the artillery
a free hand.  A night reconnaissance of Regina Trench produced little
result owing to the intense darkness.  Reserve Army decides to postpone
operations planned for Oct. 5th as more time is required for artillery
preparation.  Work is actively continued on the new line in front of
Regina Trench in spite of the heavy rain.

_October 4th._

Zollern Trench and the front areas heavily shelled by the hostile
artillery.  The Royal Canadian Rifles occupy Kendall Trench and
establish posts within a few yards of the enemy.  3rd Division assumes
command of 2nd Division lines.

_October 5th._

4th Canadian Division arrives at the Somme.  Canadian artillery
bombards Regina Trench heavily.  Our men busy digging new jumping-off
trenches in preparation for a new offensive, and patrols and aeroplanes

_October 6th._

9th Brigade relieved by 7th Brigade.  3rd Division sends out patrols
along Regina Trench examining wire.

Reconnaissance made of Destremont line, 1st Division assumes command of
the Destremont Farm front.  The enemy bombarding Courcelette and Maple
Leaf Road.

_October 7th._

3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery arrives at the Somme and relieves the
Lahore Artillery.

1st and 3rd Divisions in front line.  Artillery active on both
sides--and our troops completing preparations for the attack.  Patrols
work along Twenty-three Road from the junction on Regina and Kenora
Trenches and report enemy's wire in fairly good condition.

_October 8th._

At 4.50 a.m. the 1st and 3rd Divisions attack the German positions from
Dyke Road around the Quadrilateral (the intersection of Gallwitz Trench
and support, and Below Trench and support), thence along Regina Trench
to the Kenora communication between the Grandcourt and Twenty-three
Roads.  The two right battalions reach their objectives and on the left
the 7th and 9th Brigades gained a footing in the German lines.
However, it is found impossible to hold the positions against the
vigorous counter-attacks of the enemy, and after stubborn fighting the
Canadians are forced back to their jumping-off trenches.

_October 9th._

The 1st Division constructs a new trench south of the Quadrilateral
from Dyke Road to Below Trench, at which point junction is made with
the British Brigade on the right.  The enemy shell the whole front area
with shrapnel and high explosive.

_October 10th._

8th Brigade patrols busy along the line of Regina Trench.  Hostile
bombardment of Dyke Road and North Practice Trenches, but our troops
actively continue the construction and consolidation of the new lines.
Patrols report the strong condition of the enemy wire.  2nd Division
leaves the Somme.

_October 11th._

Very heavy hostile bombardment of the 8th Brigade front and support
trenches from Twenty-three Road to north of the North Practice
Trenches, causing severe damage to the trenches and somewhat heavy
casualties.  Near the East Miraumont Road the Germans attempt an attack
from Regina Trench, but the barrage of the 2nd Divisional Artillery
prevents them from leaving their own parapet.  Parties of Germans
driven by our artillery fire from Regina Trench are caught on the Pys
and East Miraumont Road by our 18-pounders and engaged with excellent
effect.  Later on our artillery disperses another large party near the
Grandcourt Road.

The G.O.C. 4th Division assumes command of 3rd Division lines, with the
8th Brigade remaining under orders of the 4th Division.

_October 12th._

Our new trench south of the Quadrilateral between Dyke Road and Below
Trench suffers a heavy bombardment.  Our artillery active in wire
cutting and a deliberate shelling of the enemy defences.  Gas and
lachrymatory shells thrown into Courcelette and Pozières.

_October 13th._

Little infantry activity, though patrols are busy preparing for the
proposed offensive.  The enemy bombard Martinpuich, and our front and
support areas, with heavy retaliation by our artillery.

_October 14th._

4th Divisional sector shelled heavily, with the enemy throwing gas
shells into the 8th Brigade lines.  Left Brigade trenches damaged and
communications cut by an intense barrage during the afternoon.
Canadian Corps decides to postpone the planned attack.

_October 15th._

53rd British Infantry Brigade relieves 8th Brigade on the left of the
line.  Our heavy artillery directs an intense fire upon Regina,
Courcelette, Below, and Gallwitz Trenches, doing a great deal of damage
to the hostile defences and causing many casualties.  The village of
Pys bombarded also, and many enemy observation posts demolished.  A
large party of Germans observed near Achiet Trench and broken up by our
artillery fire.  Patrols from the 10th and 11th Brigades examine wire
in front of Regina Trench in spite of the heavy bombardment.

_October 16th._

Very satisfactory damage to the enemy's barbed wire reported by the 4th
Division patrols.  A quiet day for the infantry, but our artillery
silences several hostile batteries and causes many casualties in a body
of infantry observed north of Irles.  Regina, Coulée, and Courcelette
Trenches bombarded and machine-gun emplacements successfully located
and destroyed.

_October 17th._

10th Brigade, 4th Division, takes over 2nd Brigade, 1st Division,
lines.  4th Canadian Division comes under command of II. Corps and
receives instructions for the preliminary operations.  The 11th Brigade
to capture and consolidate Regina Trench from Courcelette Trench to a
point just before the junction with the Pys Road, then easterly to the
sapheads built by the 10th Brigade.  Strong blocks to be pushed out
along the East Miraumont Road and the German trenches running parallel
to it.  The 10th Brigade to push forward its saps towards Regina and
co-operate with the 11th Brigade with machine-gun fire.  The artillery
active on both sides, the enemy shelling the 10th Brigade front rather

_October 18th._

The arrangements for the offensive on the 19th practically completed.
The 11th Brigade moves up to its advanced headquarters in the North
Practice Trenches, and has a great deal of trouble establishing
satisfactory communications.  Artillery not very busy, though our guns
keep the enemy from repairing his damaged defences.

_October 19th._

A steady rain, making movement almost impossible over the heavy ground.
The 2nd Army decides to postpone the attack for twenty-four hours.  The
10th and 11th Brigades working hard driving saps towards Regina Trench
and establishing jumping-off positions.  The 11th Brigade lines shelled
heavily and continuously, despite the retaliation of the Canadian

_October 20th._

Operations postponed for a further twenty-four hours, and the artillery
takes advantage of the delay to complete the demolition of the enemy's
wire.  A quiet day for the infantry, but the trenches are full of water
and in very bad condition, necessitating ceaseless work.  The 3rd
Canadian Division leaves the Somme area.

_October 21st._

Attack made about noon by the 11th Brigade, excellent machine-gun work
materially aiding a most successful offensive.  The whole objective
gained, and by 2 p.m. our men are busy consolidating the captured area.
Enemy massing near the Coulée Trench dispersed by our artillery fire.
Further information received that the Germans are concentrating near
the Chalk pits east of the Quadrilateral, and artillery and machine-gun
barrages redoubled and a counter-attack prevented.

The 1st Canadian Division leaves the Somme area.

_October 22nd._

No attempt made by the enemy to counter-attack during the night, beyond
a few bombing raids which were easily repulsed.  The 10th Brigade to
complete the capture of Regina Trench.  The state of the front lines is
very bad and our men work under the most trying conditions.  The enemy
shell the captured areas heavily.

_October 23rd._

Preparations for the Big Push in process of completion.  The 10th
Brigade is instructed to extend its right to the Chalk Pit south of
Warlencourt, and the preliminary attack arranged for the 24th.  11th
Brigade to co-operate by pushing up the block in Regina Trench
eastwards.  Dyke Road heavily shelled.

_October 24th._

The 10th Brigade reports that the 44th Battalion, instructed to capture
the remainder of Regina, is very much exhausted by the severe
conditions, and the minor operation is postponed for twenty-four hours.
11th Brigade patrols push their block in Regina another 120 yards

_October 25th._

At 7 a.m. the 44th Battalion attack the portion of Regina Trench
remaining in German hands--between the Quadrilateral and the 11th
Brigade block east of the Pys Road--but meeting with very heavy
enfilading machine-gun fire from the Quadrilateral the men are quite
unable to reach their objective.  The 11th Brigade have bombed
eastwards from the block in Regina but as the 44th Battalion do not
arrive the Germans are enabled to concentrate a strong bombing
counter-attack and drive our men back to their original post.  The
Corps decides to make this portion of the Regina Trench part of the
objective in the later operation.

_October 26th._

The 12th Brigade relieves the 10th and 11th Brigades in the line.
Hostile artillery active south of the Albert- Bapaume Road.  German
troops observed in large numbers in the Grandcourt Trench and our heavy
guns concentrate on this point.

_October 27th._

Operations postponed once more.  The Germans endeavouring to complete
new defensive works between the Regina and Grandcourt Trenches, but
making little headway, owing to our continued artillery and machine-gun

_October 28th._

Enemy shelling vigorously in the area south of the Albert-Bapaume Road.
The 78th Battalion sends out patrols to locate new enemy lines.  The
roads are very bad, and great difficulty is experienced in transporting
the ammunition to the guns.

_October 29th._

The bad weather prevents operations, but our artillery and machine-gun
barrages effectually prevent the Germans from working on their new

_October 30th._

Gale blowing and artillery work hampered.  Operations postponed until
November 5th.  Heavy rain renders the condition of the front trenches
indescribable, and frequent reliefs have to be made.

_October 31st._

Weather improves, and the artillery fire becomes general.  The enemy
shell Albert, while our guns are busy wire-cutting and destroying
German defences.  Satisfactory reports received on the state of the
wire in front of Coulée and Below Trenches.

_November 1st._

Bad weather continues to hamper our artillery work, though the enemy
shell our support lines and communication trenches.  The 10th Brigade
sends out patrols to intercept and cut up hostile working parties.  The
roads are very bad, and operations are postponed until Nov. 7th.

_November 2nd._

Patrol penetrates north between Pys and Miraumont Road for some 500
yards.  Weather clears and aircraft and artillery correspondingly busy.
Enemy working parties dispersed and their defensive work prevented.

_November 3rd._

12th Brigade relieved by 10th and 11th Brigades.  Fair observation, and
artillery active on both sides.  Observation patrol reaches a point
north of the Destremont Road and reports that the German wire in front
of Gallwitz Trench is not a formidable obstacle.

_November 4th._

Hostile aerial activity, and much movement of troops and transport
observed in the German lines along the Irles-Miraumont Road.  10th and
11th Brigade patrols work up East Miraumont Road and to the east, some
of our men reaching Gallwitz Trench.  German wire appears to be badly
damaged by our artillery fire.  Enemy hard at work improving his

_November 5th._

British and Australians attacking the Butte de Warlencourt on the
Canadian right and the enemy place a barrage on the 10th Brigade lines.
Patrol report that the Germans have thrown out new wire in front of
their new trench north of the Quadrilateral, running east from Below
Trench--but that there appear to be no obstacles to our advance on a
line from Practice Road to a point 200 yards east of Farmer Road.

_November 6th._

The 10th Brigade establishes two posts close to Regina in the vicinity
of the Pys and Miraumont Roads.  Some heavy shelling on both sides.  At
10.45 p.m. it is reported that enemy aircraft have blown up an
ammunition dump near Meaulte.  A scouting party from the Right Brigade
work down Farmer Road to Dyke Road, patrolling as far as Aqueduct Road
and locating some machine-gun emplacements.  Other patrols work
westward along the whole front.  The Germans have thrown out a quantity
of new wire.

_November 7th._

Heavy bombardment of our line west of Dyke Road while our artillery
retaliates on Coulée and Below Trenches.  German wire appears very
thick and strong along the Below Trench between the Quadrilateral and
the Coulée Trench.  Enemy busy building new machine-gun emplacements on
Grundy Road, and placing wire.

_November 8th._

Courcelette shelled heavily during the afternoon.  Patrols report a new
trench connecting Desire Trench with East Miraumont Road.  Arrangements
made for attack by 10th and 11th Brigades as soon as weather permitted
two days' preliminary bombardment.

_November 9th._

It is proposed to capture and consolidate Regina Trench from the 11th
Brigade block east of the Pys Road, to Farmer Road and to establish
strong blocks at the junctions and beyond, north of Regina Trench.  A
fine day, and a most successful shoot was carried out upon Regina

_November 10th._

The heavy artillery bombardment of Regina continued and preparations
made for the attack.  Hostile aircraft attack dumps and depots behind
our lines.

_November 11th._

At midnight 10th-11th, the 10th and 11th Brigades attack and capture
the German portion of Regina Trench to Farmer Road.  All objectives
gained, though the 102nd Battalion, in the northern attack, unable to
maintain a post as far north of Regina as had been hoped.  A very
successful attack--the positions consolidated by 3 a.m. and later
several counter-attacks beaten off.  The 12th Brigade relieve the 10th
and 11th Brigades in the new line.

_November 12th._

The 12th Brigade pushing out advanced trenches to gain observation over
the Coulée and Below Trenches.  Our heavy guns bombard Desire Support
Trench successfully with little hostile shelling in reply.  A portion
of the trenches on the extreme right taken over by the 48th British

_November 13th._

The British Division attack on the Canadian left, and the enemy place a
barrage on our right Battalion lines and Dyke Road.  Our new salient in
Regina Trench heavily shelled.  Our patrols busy.

_November 14th._

The German artillery very active all day, throwing a quantity of gas
shells into our lines.  Enemy aircraft raid our camps and bases during
the night.  Our artillery retaliates on Below Trench and hostile

_November 15th._

10th Brigade patrols in touch with the enemy in the southern portion of
Below Trench.  It is proposed to extend our line in that direction.
Enemy shell 10th Brigade front, 10th Street, and Bapaume Road.

Preparations for an offensive on the 18th.

_November 16th._

Enemy place a heavy barrage on 10th Brigade sectors, and continue until
checked by the retaliation of our artillery.  The 11th Brigade takes
over the frontage of the 54th Brigade, 18th Division.

Instructions issued for the attack.  10th Brigade to advance their line
from the apex of Regina Trench on the right to the junction of the
German new trench with Desire Support.  The 11th Brigade to take over
the front now held by the 54th Brigade, 18th Division and advance their
line to the line of the Desire Support Trench as far west as a point in
the Ravine, 100 yards east of where the Ravine turns north.

_November 17th._

Our artillery bombarding the German line, the new trench north of
Regina, the southern portion of Below Trench and the Coulée Trench.

Some successful wire cutting accomplished.

_November 18th._

Barrage starts at 6 a.m. and the operations successfully carried out.
Our guns succeed in capturing Desire Trench from the Ravine to a point
about halfway between the Pys and East Miraumont Roads.  East of this
point our men have great trouble, meeting with heavy artillery and
machine-gun fire, and are ultimately driven back to Regina Trench.
Parties from the 38th and 87th Battalions advance into Grandcourt
Trench and take many prisoners, but later are ordered to retire and
assist in the consolidation of the new line running about 100 yards
north of Desire Trench.  The operation as a whole distinctly
successful, in spite of the reverse on the right.

_November 19th._

No sign of hostile artillery retaliation or counter-attack during the
day.  Our heavy artillery arranges a shoot to start at junction of New
Trench and Below Trench westward to Practice Road to the junction of
New Trench and Desire Trench--to clear out the Germans who held up the
right of our attack on the 18th.  In the meantime Coulée Trench is
bombarded with excellent results.  The 12th Brigade holding the left of
the line from the Ravine to the block in Desire Trench about 250 yards
west of the Pys Road, the 11th Brigade from the block along the curve
south by south-east to Regina Trench, and to the entrance right of the
Division position.

_November 20th._

The misty weather postpones the artillery action arranged on the 19th.
East of Pys Road the enemy attack our working party, capturing several
of the men.  Our patrols retaliate on hostile posts.  Corps Commanders
congratulate the Canadians on the success of the 18th.

_November 21st._

The Canadians busy placing the line in a strong defensive position.
The artillery offensive postponed owing to the proposed relief of our
guns, and the general artillery activity less than usual, though a
hostile bombardment of the Regina Trench Road Junction caused some
damage to our lines.  Enemy appears to be working hard upon his

_November 22nd._

184th Brigade, 61st Division, takes over the line from the Ravine to
the West Miraumont Road, held by the 12th Brigade.  Hostile bombardment
of our front line, while our artillery retaliates on a trench running
from Below to Desire Support Trench.  Many aerial combats, and several
planes brought down on both sides.

_November 23rd._

The Germans shell New Street, but cause little damage.

The heavy artillery have another and more successful bombardment of the
new enemy trench between Below and Desire Trenches, and disperse German
working parties in Crest Trench, along the Miraumont Road.

_November 24th._

4th Brigade relieves the 11th Brigade.  Enemy artillery less active
during the day.  German infantry observed on the Miraumont Road, and
badly cut up by our artillery fire.  Grevillers Trench and the junction
of Coulée and Below Trenches are shelled.

Orders received from the Corps for the relief and move of the 4th

_November 25th._

Preparing for relief, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery
relieved by the 51st Divisional Artillery, 10th Brigade relieved in the
line by the 12th Brigade, who will hold the entire front line until
final relief by the 51st Division.  Enemy working hard on defences of
New Gallwitz Trench, and our artillery disperses a working party in
Crest Trench.

_November 26th._

Preparations for move completed.  An offensive, arranged by the Yukon
Machine-gun Battery, to clear out hostile patrols and working parties.
The 10th and 11th Brigades commence their move to Canadian Corps area.

_November 27th._

The machine-gun action reported to have been very satisfactory.  Enemy
artillery quiet, though movement of troops is noted.  The 51st Division
relieves the 4th Division.

_November 28th._

The remainder of the 4th Division leaves the Somme area.

The Division joins the Canadian Corps with the 1st Army on the
Arras-Lens front.



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