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Full text of "Canada's hundred days : with the Canadian Corps from Amiens to Mons, Aug. 8-Nov. 11, 1918"

x 



JOHN 

CHANCELLOR 
BOYLEN 




^7 








C/ c 









CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



Canada s Hundred Days 

With the Canadian Corps from Amiens 
to Mons, Aug. 8 - Nov. 11, 1918. 



By 

J. F. B. Livesay 

With Portrait and Maps 



TORONTO I 
THOMAS ALLEN 

1919 



COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1919 
BY THOMAS ALLEN, TORONTO 



PRINTED IN CANADA 



CONTENTS 

PART I. AMIENS 

PAGE 

I. The Situation on the West Front 1 

II. The Canadian Corps Ready for Battle 6 

III. From Arras to Amiens 15 

IV. The Battle Opens 24 

V. Operations : Aug. 8 34 

VI. Operations : Aug. 8. Continued 42 

VII. Operations : Aug. 9-11 52 

VIII. Operations : Aug. 12-20 61 

IX. Operations : The Canadian Cavalry Brigade 70 

X. Sidelights of Battle ; 77 

XL Lessons of the Battle 86 

XII. French Scenes 96 

PART II. ARRAS 

I. Planning Attack on Hindenburg Line 109 

II. Wayside Scenes 116 

III. Operations : Aug. 26-27 122 

IV. Operations : Aug. 28 133 

V. Operations : Aug. 29 143 

VI. Operations: Sept. 1-3; Drocourt-Queant Line 151 

VII. Operations: Sept. 1-3; Drocourt-Queant Line. 

Continued 159 

VIII. After the Battle 168 

IX. No Man s Land 176 



v 



vi CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

PART III. CAMBRAI 

PAGE 

I. Confronting the Canal du Nord 185 

II. The First Battle of Cambrai 193 

III. The Plan of Attack 201 

IV. Marching up to Battle 211 

V. Operations : Sept. 27 219 

VI. Operations : Sept. 27. Continued 

VII. Operations : Sept. 28-29 240 

VIII. Operations : Sept. 30-Oct. 2 253 

IX. Operations : Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Continued 263 

X. After the Battle 274 

XL The Corps Commander 286 

XII. Capture of Cambrai 298 

XIII. Conclusion of the Battle of Cambrai 310 



PART IV. VALENCIENNES TO MONS 

I. Battle Pieces 319 

II. Operations : Oct. 6-16 326 

III. The Advance on Denain 

IV. Operations: Oct. 20-30 348 

V. Capture of Valenciennes 

VI. Welcome to the Deliverer 

VII. Capture of Mons 

VIII. The Mons Road 

IX. Into Germany 40 

Index 409 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Sir Arthur W. Currie, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., Canadian Corps 

Commander Frontispiece 

Map to illustrate Battle of Amiens 

Map to illustrate Battles of Arras and Cambrai 

Map to illustrate operations, Cambrai to Mons 384 



Vll 



PREFACE 

THIS book has been written to give the Canadian people 
a clearer, fuller, conception of the wonderful work of the 
Canadian Corps during the Hundred Days. To that 
consideration every other has been subordinated. 

By identifying so far as possible the actual battle position 
of individual battalions it is hoped to stimulate local pride 
and interest in their respective territorial or recruiting areas. 
Difficulties were here encountered, both through absence of 
detailed official narratives and limitations of space, but if full 
justice has not been done each fighting unit, it is not from lack 
of application and goodwill. 

With this prime consideration always in mind, it has been 
sought to make the book intelligible to the general reader as 
well as to the military student and pains therefore have been 
taken to explain at length for the former military technicalities 
and terminology that come within the common knowledge of 
the latter. 

Whenever practicable the original and official sources 
drawn upon for description of operations have been quoted. 
Such may at times be a little tedious but is preferable to loose 
paraphrasing which, while denying the reader an inspection 
of the documentary evidence, makes heavy drafts upon his 
credulity. Thus the Official Report of the Corps Commander 
covering these operations has been reproduced practically in 
full, paralleling in its proper place the general narrative. 
This might be expected to make for confusion and overlapping, 
but in practice it has not altogether worked out that way, for 
whereas the Official Report deals mainly with technical 
aspects, the book itself seeks to clothe these with the pulsating 
life and color of the battlefield. The alternatives must have 
been either to have buried the Official Report in a lengthy 
Appendix, or to have omitted it altogether. It is felt the 



IX 



x CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

right course has been followed because whatever the book may 
suffer from these occasional breaks in the story, this loss is 
overwhelmingly counter-balanced by placing before the reader 
in an accessible form this extremely valuable and compellingly 
interesting report, carrying with it the authority of an 
authenticated historic document. 

Among official or semi-official narratives of which free use 
has been made are those of the 1st Canadian Division, the 4th 
Canadian Division, the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, as 
well as several battalion narratives. Valuable material has 
been drawn from the narrative of the First Army, published 
by the London Times, entitled, "The Final Blow of the First 
Army in 1918." 

The author is greatly indebted to a number of friends of 
all ranks in the Canadian Corps for information and sugges 
tions. Special acknowledgement must be made of the very 
efficient work of Lieut. J. I. P. Neal, Canadian Corps Survey 
Section, who throughout these operations superintended the 
Corp Maps Section, and has now prepared the accompanying 
maps and plans. 

WINNIPEG, CANADA, 
AUG. 26, 1919. 

J.F.B.L. 



AMIENS 



AMIENS 



CHAPTER I 

THE SITUATION ON THE WEST FRONT 

ON July 18, 1918, Marshal Foch, supported by new 
American levies, struck his hammer blo\# on the Marne. 
We shall hear a good deal in history of Chateau Thierry 
and the great victory, but it remains that at the end of July 
the West Front the traditional West Front of Flanders, 
Picardy and the Somme was intact, unpierced, to all seem 
ing an impregnable wall built by German blood and iron. 
But it was not the line of 1917. The spring offensive had 
cramped its defenders into a narrower, a more perilous ring. 
In the north the enemy bivouacked on the field of Passchen- 
daele and from Mount Kemmel cast his shadow over the 
Channel ports; to the south he was knocking at the gate of 
Amiens and thrusting through Montdidier at Paris; only in 
the centre, at Souchez, on Vimy Ridge and before Arras, 
where through all those fateful days of March and April the 
Canadian Corps had kept watch and guard, the line of 1917 
stood firm. 

There is abundant evidence that at the end of July, while 
the enemy regarded the situation in the south as serious and 
was preparing to admit that his last great offensive had failed, 
he still held the West Front the Somme, the Hindenburg 
Line and the valley of the Lys to be invincible, and counted 
on the British armies frittering away their strength upon its 
formidable defenses as they had in 1916 and 1917. Further 
than that, he had actually in preparation a new offensive on 
the Amiens-Montdidier front with which he hoped to restore 
the military balance in his favor. It was only after the Battle 

i 
2 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of Amiens, in which the Canadian Corps took so glorious and 
leading a part, that he began to despair. 

Ludendorff clearly admits this in his book. "The defeat 
of our arms on Aug. 8 in the Franco-British offensive near 
Albert and north of Montdidier finally resulted in our losing 
hope for a military victory," he writes. "Conferences were 
held with Chancellor von Hertling, Admiral von Hintz, the 
foreign minister, and Field Marshal von Hindenburg, on Aug. 
14, 15 and 16, and there was also a meeting of the Crown 
Council at which I clearly stated that the war could not be 
won militarily." 

The "kick-off" of Aug. 8 at Amiens was the first general 
offensive attempted by the British armies in 1918, and the 
events leading up to it must be briefly rehearsed in order to get 
a true strategic picture. This can best be done in the words of 
Field-Marshal Haig, as contained in his famous "Victory Dis 
patch" of Dec. 21, 1918. After describing the weakened con 
dition of the forces at his command following the enemy 
offensive, he says : "The German attacks, though they had 
failed to break the Allied line, had stretched the resources of 
the Allies to the uttermost; while before Amiens and Haze- 
brouck they had brought the enemy within a short distance of 
strategic points of great importance. In these circumstances 
the possibility of an immediate renewal of the enemy s offensive 
could not but be viewed with grave anxiety. . . . 

"At the commencement of the period under review, early 
in May, the Allied High Command repeatedly expressed the 
opinion that the enemy would renew his attack on a large 
scale on the front Arras-Amiens-Montdidier. The strategic 
results to be obtained by the capture of Amiens, the separation 
of the French and British armies, and an advance toward the 
sea along the valley of the Somme, were very great, and might 
well have proved decisive. The enemy s opening offensive 
(in March and April) had already brought him within a 
measurable distance of success in this direction, and had car 
ried his armies through practically the whole of our organized 
lines of defense. 



THE SITUATION ON THE WEST FRONT 3 

"In short, the enemy still possessed a sufficient superiority 
of force to retain the initiative, and it was known he would be 
compelled to act within a comparatively limited time if he 
were to turn his superiority to account before it passed from 
him. These were the two main factors which had to be taken 
into consideration when deciding the policy of the British 
armies during the late spring and early summer. The com 
mon object of the French and ourselves was to tide over the 
period which must elapse until the growth of the American 
armies and the arrival of Allied reinforcements placed the 
opposing forces once more on a footing of equality." 

The situation was an anxious one, but, as it turned out, the 
enemy was in no condition to push a new offensive and when 
it did come at last he elected for a direct thrust at Paris from 
the Aisne front. Launched at the end of May, this great 
offensive swept steadily on until, despite the desperate resist 
ance of the French, reinforced by British and American troops, 
the Marne was reached, and it culminated on July 15 with 
the opening east and south-west of Rheims of what was to 
prove the last enemy blow on the grand scale. On July 18 
Foch struck his shattering counter-stroke. 

Meanwhile the British armies on the West Front had been 
engaged in what Field-Marshal Haig describes as a period of 
active defense. This included local attacks, the building of a 
new system of railways behind Amiens, and the digging of five 
thousand miles of trench. The lesson of the necessity for great 
depth of defense had been hardly learned in March. 

Coming to July he says: "Two months of comparative 
quiet worked a great change in the condition of the British 
armies. The drafts sent out from England had largely been 
absorbed, many of the reinforcements from abroad had 
already arrived, and the number of our effective infantry divi 
sions had risen from forty-five to fifty-two (this in addition to 
nine British divisions engaged on the Marne) . In artillery we 
were stronger than we had ever been." 

As a consequence we entered early in June on more ambit- 



4 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

ious local offensive operations, in which the Australians had a 
considerable share. "By the end of July," he goes on, l( the 
reconstitution of the British armies had been completed, and 
the success of their various local operations had had a good 
effect. I had once more at my command an effective striking 
force, capable of taking the offensive with every hope of 
success when the proper moment should arrive." 

That moment now approached. "At a conference held on 
July 23," Field-Marshal Haig writes, "when the success of 
the attack of July 18 was well assured, the methods by which 
the advantage already gained could be extended were discussed 
in detail. The Allied Commander-in-Chief asked that the 
British, French and American Armies should each prepare 
plans for local offensives, to be taken in hand as soon as pos 
sible, with certain definite objectives of a limited nature. 
These objectives on the British front were the disengagement 
of Amiens and the freeing of the Paris-Amiens railway by an 
attack on the Albert-Montdidier front. The role of the French 
and American armies was to free other strategic railways by 
operations farther South and East. . 

"It would depend upon the nature of the success which 
might be obtained in these different Allied operations whether 
they could be more fully exploited before winter set in. It 
was subsequently arranged that attacks would be pressed in a 
converging direction towards Mezieres by the French and 
American armies, while at the same time the British armies, 
attacking towards the line St. Quentin-Cambrai, would strike 
directly at the vital lateral communications running through 
Maubeuge to Hirson and Mezieres, by which alone the Ger 
man forces on the Champagne front could be supplied and 
maintained." 

Such a movement would also threaten the group of German 
armies in Flanders, and, therefore, "it was obviously of vital 
importance to the enemy to maintain intact his front opposite 
St. Quentin and Cambrai, and for this purpose he depended 
upon the great fortified zone known as the Hindenburg Line." 



THE SITUATION ON THE WEST FRONT 5 

It is necessary to keep this in mind, as it is the key to the extra 
ordinary fierce resistance the enemy maintained throughout 
the critical days of the Battle of Cambrai. 

Summing up the general scheme of British operations, 
Field-Marshal Haig says : "The brilliant success of the Amiens 
attack was the prelude to a great series of battles, in which, 
throughout three months of continuous righting, the British 
armies advanced without a check from one victory to another." 

This period was divided into two well-defined phases, the 
first being the breaking through of the Hindenburg Line, and 
the second the pushing of the enemy before us from his hastily 
prepared defenses. "The second phase had already reached 
its legitimate conclusion when the signing of the armistice put 
an end to the operations. Finally defeated in the great battles 
of Nov. 1 and 4, and utterly without reserves, the enemy at 
that date was falling back without coherent plan and in wide 
spread disorder and confusion." 



CHAPTER II 

THE CANADIAN CORPS READY FOR BATTLE 

IT is the purpose of this book to trace the leading part the 
Canadian Corps played in the Battle of Amiens and in the 

subsequent great offensives that carried it from Arras 
through the Drocourt-Queant Line, across the Canal du Nord, 
over the stricken field of Cambrai, and thence to Valenciennes 
and Mons. In those proud days of victory, no less than in the 
long stern years of trench warfare, it lived up to its great 
reputation. Its deeds speak for themselves. As that tried 
soldier, the King of the Belgians, remarked in Mons, there is 
no corps in Europe of higher renown. In the words of its 
commander Sir Arthur Currie: "In the last two years of 
strenuous fighting the Canadian Corps never lost a gun. never 
failed to take its objective, and has never been driven from a 
foot of ground it has once consolidated." 

What was the Canadian Corps doing in the spring and 
summer of 1918? Little was heard of it during the great 
spring drive, nor through May, June and July. People at 
home were asking what was the matter. Had it not yet got 
over its bloody wounds of Passchendaele? Was it not to be 
thrown in to stiffen the weakening line? On Aug. 8 it was to 
burst again upon their consciousness almost with the force of 
a blow. 

After the hard-won victory of Passchendaele in October, 
1917, the Canadian Corps returned to its old line before Lens 
and on Vimy Ridge, where an offensive had been planned just 
before it had been moved north. Corps Headquarters returned 
to Comblain 1 Abbe and remained there throughout the winter 
and spring months, the time being employed in holding and 
strengthening the Vimy front and in assimilating reinforce 
ments to make good the wastage. When the March offensive 



THE CANADIAN CORPS READY FOR BATTLE 7 

came, it was anticipated that the attack would develop north 
of Arras, and the sector became vitally important because if 
this pivot of our defense went, there might be no stopping 
short of the sea. 

Behind this there was another vital consideration. This 
story may be apocryphal it does not matter, for in essence it 
is true. Foch was asked to use the Canadian Corps to stem the 
tide of invasion. "No," came the reply so the story goes- 
"I cannot afford to do that. By their valor the Canadian 
troops won back at Vimy the most valuable of our remaining 
coal fields. These are the nerve centre of France. We can 
not afford to entrust their defense out of the hands of my Cana 
dians." 

In his despatch of July 8, 1918, Sir Douglas Haig wrote 
that behind Vimy Ridge "lay the northern collieries of France 
and certain tactical features which cover our lateral communi 
cations. Here . . . little or no ground could be given 
up." In the same connection the Canadian Corps Com 
mander, Sir Arthur Currie, in his Interim Report on the opera 
tions of the Corps during 1918, writes: "A comparative shal 
low advance beyond the Vimy Ridge would have stopped the 
operation of the collieries, paralysing the production of war 
material in France. . . On the other hand, a deep penetra 
tion at that point, by bringing the Amiens-Bethune railway 
and main road under fire, would have placed the British Army 
in a critical position by threatening to cut it in two and by 
depriving it of vital lateral communication. The tactical and 
strategical results to be gained by a moderate success at that 
point were so far reaching in effect that, notwithstanding the 
natural difficulties confronting an attack on that sector, it was 
fully expected (i.e., before the March offensive developed) 
that the German offensive would be directed against this, the 
central part of the British front." 

He goes on to tell of the great defensive works built up by 
the Canadian Corps on the Vimy front during the winter in 
anticipation of the 1918 enemy spring drive, a story of interest 



8 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

in itself, but not to be described in detail here. It must suffice 
to say that if the blow had fallen in this sector the result would 
have been far different to what befell at St. Quentin. 

After March 21 the pressure became very great and there 
was a tendency to throw in Divisions of the Canadian Corps 
wherever needed. "Thus, under the pressure of circum 
stances," writes Sir Arthur Currie of the situation at the end 
of March, "the four Canadian Divisions were to be removed 
from my command, placed in two different armies (Third and 
First), and under command of three different Corps (VI, 
XVII and XIII). This disposition of the Canadian troops 
was not satisfactory, and on receipt of the orders above referred 
to I made strong representation to First Army, and offered 
suggestions which to my mind would reconcile my claims 
(from the standpoint of Canadian policy) with the tactical 
and administrative requirements of the moment." 

As a consequence the 1st., 3rd. and 4th. Canadian Divi 
sions were reunited under his command and given a very 
extended line. "From April 10 until relieved (May 7) the 
Corps held a line exceeding 29,000 yards in length; the 2nd. 
Canadian Division, then with the VI Corps, was holding 6,000 
yards of front, making a total length of 35,000 yards of front 
by the four Canadian Divisions. The total length of the line 
held by the British Army between the Oise and the sea was 
approximately 100 miles; therefore the Canadian troops were 
holding approximately one-fifth of the total front. Without 
wishing to draw from this fact any exaggerated conclusion, it 
is pointed out that although the Canadian Corps did not, dur 
ing this period, have to repulse any German attacks on its 
front, it nevertheless played a part worthy of its strength dur 
ing that period." 

But although the Canadian Infantry did not take active 
part in repelling the great enemy drive, its other arms were 
worthily represented. At 1 1 p.m. on the night of March 22- 
23, in the blackest hours of the Somme fighting, word came to 
Canadian Corps Headquarters for the 1st. Canadian Motor 



THE CANADIAN CORPS READY FOR BATTLE 9 

Machine-Gun Brigade, then in the line on the Vimy sector, to 
be withdrawn and move south to the Fifth Army area. By the 
following midnight all its batteries were in action on a 35-mile 
front east of Amiens, having travelled over 100 miles during 
the day. 

Sir Arthur Currie describes its activities as follows : "The 
1st. C.M.M.G. Brigade (Lt.-Col. W. K. Walker), under 
orders of the Fifth and later of the Fourth Army, was ordered 
to fight a rearguard action to delay the advance of the enemy 
and to fill dangerous gaps on the Army fronts. For 19 days 
that Unit was continuously in action north and south of the 
Somme, fighting against overwhelming odds. Using to the 
utmost its great mobility, it fought over 200 square miles of 
territory. It is difficult to appraise to its correct extent the 
influence, material and moral, that the 40 machine-guns of that 
Unit had in the events which were then taking place. The 
losses amounted to about 75 per cent, of the trench strength of 
the Unit, and to keep it in being throughout that fighting, I 
authorized its reinforcement by personnel of the Infantry 
branch of the Canadian Machine-Gun Corps." 

Fighting over the same ground, and with equal gallantry, 
was the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, attached to the British 
Cavalry Corps. The brilliant work of both arms in the desper 
ate and successful effort to stem the enemy hordes will ever be 
a proud chapter in Canadian military annals. 

On May 7 the Canadian Corps, with the exception of the 
2nd. Canadian Division, still in the line in the Third Army 
area, was relieved and placed in General Headquarters 
Reserve in the First Army area. This movement is explained 
by the Times History as follows: "After consultation with 
the Commanders of the First and Second Armies at the more 
northern portions of our line, it was determined that each 
should contribute what divisions could be spared to form a 
General Reserve for the British Army for use where it might 
be required. The Canadian Corps formed part of this force 
and was intended for counter-attack in case the enemy broke 



10 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

through the British front. Its place of assembly was in front 
of Amiens." 

Early in May Canadian Corps Headquarters moved to 
Pernes and on May 25 to Bryas. There followed a period of 
intensive training in the tactics of the offensive, the three divi 
sions not in the line being concentrated in the area Monchy 
Breton-Lignereuil-Le Cauroy-Dieval-Auchel-Chateau de la 
Haie. While they are there we may enquire briefly into the 
causes that led to the recognition of the Canadians as a corps 
d elile, to be used as storm or shock troops in desperate or 
critical adventures. 

Canada s first contingent has been described as a mob of 
amateur soldiers passionately inspired to give their all for a 
great cause. Discipline was lax, the officers unproved, and 
though the stuff was there, it took time to transmute it into the 
perfect fighting machine it became. Take the simple matter 
of saluting. To men of democratic birth and habit of mind, 
saluting had in it something of kow-tow to the young officer 
it seemed an insult to his men, the tried comrades of his civil 
life, and they in turn might resent the implication of a social 
distinction that had no existence in fact. And so, for long, 
saluting was a perfunctory affair. 

But there came certain officers who explained patiently and 
carefully that saluting was of the essence of military life- 
that the constant exercise it affords of vigilance and smartness 
is part and parcel of the making of a good soldier. At the end 
of the war there was no smarter saluting in the British Army 
than that of the Canadians, as there were no better marching 
regiments, no superior Staff work, no alerter Intelligence, nor 
more scientific gunnery. 

The Canadian Corps owes an immense debt to its former 
Commander, Sir Julian Byng, who first welded it into a per 
fectly co-ordinated fighting machine, knit together in spirit 
and applying to all its problems and difficulties the idea of a 
common loyalty to the Corps. It was not long when in the 
shock of battle the Canadian Corps came into a full apprecia- 



THE CANADIAN CORPS READY FOR BATTLE 11 

tion of its own strength and superiority over the foe. Pass- 
chendaele had been the fast of these occasions. On that field 
fell many brave young Canadians, but the Corps went on to 
victory, not daunted by loss nor unduly elated by success. 

A number of special causes contributed to the pre-eminence 
of the Canadian Corps "As good as the old Guards," they 
said in London. One was that it was at full strength through 
out. Where owing to the waste of war other Corps were 
obliged to cut down the number of their bayonets, the Cana 
dian Corps always maintained its forty-eight Battalions of 
Infantry, divided into twelve Brigades and four Divisions, 
with unusual strength in Artillery and Corps Troops. Right 
up to the Battle of Cambrai reinforcements of trained men 
were always forthcoming, and this proved the wisdom which 
resisted proposals to create the Sth. Canadian Infantry Divi 
sion, and then a sixth, with the ultimate prospect of two weak 
Corps of three Divisions each. By a rather happy chance this 
proposal went so far as the actual formation in the depots in 
England of the 5th. Division, whose trained units proved 
highly valuable reinforcements, while the 5th. Canadian Divi 
sional Artillery was brought over to France intact and thus the 
Canadian Corps had at its disposal no less than five artillery 
divisions, besides a number of heavy artillery brigades, 
throughout these operations. 

Much of the success during the intensive fighting to follow 
was due to the great strengthening the Canadian Corps 
received during the winter and spring of 1918. On Aug. 8 the 
Corps went into action stronger numerically than any other 
Corps in Europe. How this was brought about, and in face of 
what dangers, is best explained in Sir Arthur Currie s own 
words: "At this time (i.e., the winter of 1917-18) the British 
Army was undergoing far-reaching alterations in its organ 
ization. The situation as regards man-power appeared to be 
such that, in order to maintain in the field the same number of 
Divisions, it was necessary to reorganize the Infantry Brigades 
from a four-battalion basis to a three-battalion basis. 



12 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Although the situation of the Canadians regarding reinforce 
ments appeared to be satisfactory so long as the number of 
Divisions in the field was not increased, a proposal was made to 
adopt an organization similar to the British, that is, to reduce 
the number of Battalions in the Canadian Infantry Brigades 
from four to three. Concurrently with this change, it was pro 
posed to increase the number of Canadian Divisions in the 
field from four to six. 

"I did not think that this proposal was warranted by our 
experience in the field, and I was quite certain that, owing to 
the severity of the losses suffered in modern battles, the man 
power of Canada was not sufficient to meet the increased 
exposure to casualties consequent on the increased number of 
Canadian Divisions in the field. 

"I represented very strongly my views to the Minister, 
Overseas Military Forces of Canada, and, on further consider 
ation, it was decided to drop this project and to accept instead 
my counter-proposal, viz., to increase the establishment of the 
Canadian Infantry Battalion by 100 of all ranks, to proceed 
with the reorganization of the Engineers and Machine-Gun 
Services, and to grant the various amendments suggested by 
establishments of other Arms and Branches. I am glad to be 
able to say that my proposals regarding the reorganization of 
Engineer Services, Machine-Guns, etc., as well as the increase 
of strength of the Infantry Battalions, received the favorable 
consideration and support of the Commander-in-Chief." 

Commenting on this, the Canadian Overseas Minister, Sir 
Edward Kemp, says: "The Canadian Corps in the existing 
formation had proved itself a smooth-running machine of 
tremendous striking power, and any radical alteration in its 
constitution might have resulted in a reduction of such power 
without any compensating advantages. At a time of national 
crisis, such as that in the spring of 1918, it would not have been 
permissible to allow sentiment to stand in the way of any 
change likely to further the common cause. Every soldier 
would have been prepared to sacrifice the pride which he had 



THE CANADIAN CORPS READY FOR BATTLE 13 

in his particular Brigade and in the Corps as a whole. At the 
same time it should be a matter of deep gratification to all 
Canadians that, for practical reasons, it was possible to avert 
what, from a sentimental point of view, would have almost 
amounted to a national calamity, namely, the breaking up of a 
Corps, which as such had gained a unique position among the 
armies of the Western Front." 

For six Divisions meant two weak Corps instead of one 
strong one. It must have meant loss of that corps spirit that 
made the Canadian Corps a thing apart. More valuable even 
than its material strength was the fact that it was perhaps the 
only corps in the British Army to maintain its identity through 
out all its units its Divisions, its Brigades, its Battalions, its 
leaders, its staff and the whole body of officers and rank and 
file. Other Corps had little about them permanent but their 
name and their staff. They became the clearing-house for 
Divisions brought from all quarters, used for a special pur 
pose, and then removed elsewhere. This resulted inevitably 
in lack of corps spirit, so conspicuously present throughout the 
Canadian Corps. 

The average Canadian citizen thinks in terms of the "Can 
adian Forces," or the "Canadian Army"; he does not appre 
ciate just how every Canadian soldier cherishes the idea of the 
"Canadian Corps." It may serve to make the point clear by 
quoting from the report of Sir Edward Kemp referred to 
above. "The word Corps is an abbreviation of the term 
Army Corps, and at present is a very uncertain and indefinite 
military term. In the military sense to-day it means a forma 
tion consisting of a Headquarters, from two to six Divisions, 
and a varying number of Corps Troops composed of all arms, 
and is ordinarily commanded by a Lieutenant-General. Army 
Corps in the British Army during this war have never been 
stable units, varying month by month (and often day by day) 
as to their composition, Division and Corps Troops being very 
frequently transferred from corps to corps. 

"The Units composing the Canadian Corps have, however, 



14 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

been so far fortunate as to have been mostly under the same 
Commander and administered by the same staffs. Canadian 
Units and Formations have been taught to look upon them 
selves as belonging to the Canadian Corps, and whilst away 
from the Corps have been spoken of as being attached to other 
Corps; and in consequence a very true esprit de corps has 
sprung up amongst all Canadian Units administered by the 
Canadian Corps Headquarters." 

We have seen how the Corps Commander fought hard to 
preserve the Corps as an entity. It meant something more 
than a hundred thousand men or so of all arms. In illustration 
a little digression may be permitted. At a later day a certain 
infantry unit had the honor of first entering Cambrai. A 
newspaper correspondent proceeded to congratulate a com 
pany officer on the work of his battalion. "Don t say that," he 
said. "It isn t the Fifth Canadian Mounted Rifles; it isn t 
even the Eighth Brigade or the Third Canadian Division- 
it s the good old Corps that s captured Cambrai ; you know our 
motto, One for all and all for one. There was something 
rather fine about this at such an hour, when men s emotions 
run high, but it was the instinctive spirit of the Canadian 
soldier. 



CHAPTER III 

FROM ARRAS TO AMIENS 

THE Canadian Corps was fortunate that it had in Sir 
Arthur Currie a chief it both loved and trusted, a bril 
liant citizen soldier it was proud to follow anywhere. 
But its greatest asset lay in the unconquerable spirit of the rank 
and file, bred to free open skies, adaptable to changing circum 
stances, seasoned by many battles, inured to hardship, sub 
mitting willingly to stern discipline thus transmuting these 
clerks, artisans, lawyers, farmers, railway-men, lumber-jacks 
and the like, into as fine a body of professional troops this war 
has produced but troops that all so happily sought only in 
victory the hour to lay aside the sword and return to the 
plowshare. 

And now before them was a splendid adventure. On July 
1, the 2nd. Canadian Division was at last relieved from the 
line, the 3rd. Canadian Division taking its place. It had passed 
under orders of the VI Corps on March 28, relieving the 3rd. 
British Division in the Neuville Vitasse Sector just south of 
Arras, and on the night of March 31 extended its front south 
wards by relieving the left battalion of the Guards Divi 
sion. The front held extended from south of the Cojeul river, 
east of Boisleux St. Marc, to the slopes of Telegraph Hill, 
6,000 yards. The 2nd. Canadian Division held this front for 
an uninterrupted period of 92 days, during which time it 
repulsed a series of local attacks and carried out no less than 
27 raids, capturing three officers, 101 other ranks, 22 machine- 
guns, and two trench-mortars, and inflicting severe casualties 
on the enemy. The aggressive attitude adopted by this Divi 
sion during those critical days and under such adverse con 
ditions had a most excellent effect on the troops generally, and 
it certainly reduced to the lowest point the fighting value of 

15 



16 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

two German Divisions, namely, the 26th. Reserve Division 
and the 185th. Division. 

On June 30, when the 2nd. Canadian Division was about 
to leave the Third Army Command, General Byng sent the 
following letter to M a j.- General Sir Henry Burstall: "I 
cannot allow the 2nd. Canadian Division to leave the Third 
Army without expressing my appreciation of the splendid 
work it has done. Knowing the Division of old, I had great 
anticipations of offensive action and thorough field defense 
work. These anticipations were more than realised and the 
2nd. Canadians have now added another page of lasting record 
to their history. I can only hope that they are as proud of their 
work as I was of again having them under my command." 

It returned under orders of the Canadian Corps on Domin 
ion Day, but its rest was brief, for on July 6 the Canadian 
Corps was warned to be prepared to relieve the XVII Corps 
in the line, being released from G. H. Q. Reserve on July 10 
and completing the relief by July 15. Disposition at that time 
was as follows : 

Headquarters Canadian Corps, Duisans (First Army 
Area) ; 2nd. Canadian Division, in the line, Telegraph Hill 
Section; 1st. Canadian Division, in the line, Feuchy-Fampoux 
Section; 4th. Canadian Division, in the line, Gavrelle-Oppy 
Section. 

Under VI Corps. (Third Army Area) . 

3rd. Canadian Division, in the line, Neuville-Vitasse Sec 
tion. 

The general policy adopted was to foster in the mind of 
the enemy the idea of a pending attack in order to retain or 
draw his reserves into this area, and consequently active patrol 
ling was carried out by day and night and raids were constantly 
engaged in. The artillery executed a vigorous programme of 
harassing fire and counter-battery work. From prisoners it 
was learned that the enemy expected an attack and that troops 
had been frequently rushed forward to defend the Drocourt- 
Queant Line. 



FROM ARRAS TO AMIENS 17 

On July 20 the Corps Commander was informed of the 
plan for the Amiens offensive. Then came the admirable 
piece of work that led the enemy to believe the Corps was 
going to Flanders. To quote Sir Douglas Haig: "Prelimin 
ary instructions to prepare to attack east of Amiens at an early 
date had been given to the Fourth Army Commander, General 
Sir Henry Rawlinson, on July 13, and on July 28 the French 
First Army, under General Debeney, was placed by Marshal 
Foch under my orders for this operation. Further to 
strengthen my attack, I decided to reinforce the British Fourth 
Army with the Canadian Corps, and also with the two British 
divisions which were then held in readiness astride the Somme. 
In order to deceive the enemy and ensure the maximum effect 
of a surprise attack, elaborate precautions were taken to mis 
lead him as to our intentions and to conceal our real purpose. 
Instructions of a detailed character were issued to the forma 
tions concerned, calculated to make it appear that a British 
attack in Flanders was imminent. Canadian battalions were 
put into line on the Kemmel front, where they were identified 
by the enemy. Corps headquarters were prepared, and 
casualty clearing stations were erected in conspicuous positions 
in this area." 

So much depended on the secrecy of the movement and in 
the deception of the enemy that the precautions taken were 
very elaborate. "On July 21," says Sir Arthur Currie, "I 
attended a conference at Fourth Army Headquarters, where 
the operations contemplated were discussed. The Fourth 
Army Commander dwelt upon the importance of secrecy. 
The operation as outlined at the conference was of lim 
ited scope, and was designed to relieve the pressure on Amiens 
and free the Amiens-Paris railway line, thus improving the 
situation at the junction of the French and British Armies. A 
large number of Tanks were to be made available for this 
operation. The methods for maintaining secrecy and mis 
leading the enemy were discussed. I pointed out that I had 
been considering a scheme for the capture of Orange Hill 

3 



18 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

(east of Arras), and it was agreed it would help materially to 
deceive everybody if preparations for this scheme were still 
continued. . . 

"The following day a conference of Divisional Com 
manders and members of the Corps Staff was held at Canadian 
Corps Headquarters, where the outline of the scheme for the 
capture of Orange Hill was explained, and the Divisional 
Commanders and heads of branches and services concerned 
were asked to make all preparations for this attack as quickly 
as possible. It was stated that Tanks would be available for 
the operation and it was therefore essential that all concerned 
should familiarize themselves with the combined tactics of 
Infantry and Tanks. I explained that demonstrations had been 
arranged with the Australians and that it was my wish that 
the greatest possible number of officers should witness them. 

"In the meantime the enemy was to be harassed on the 
whole Canadian Corps front by Artillery and Machine-Gun 
fire, and numerous raids were to be carried out to secure posi 
tive identifications (thus leading the enemy to anticipate an 
early attack in force). Further conferences were held from 
time to time at the Fourth Army Headquarters, where plans 
were made for the necessary reliefs and moves, and the neces 
sity of the maintenance of secrecy emphasized. 

"On July 26 the Fourth Army Commander stated that the 
plans originally put forward, and which had been approved 
by the Commander-in-Chief, had been modified by Marshal 
Foch, in that the First French Army would now co-operate 
with the Fourth British Army and be responsible for the right 
flank of the attack. On July 27 the general boundaries and 
the objectives of the first day were fixed, and movements of 
the Canadian Corps and Tank Units were arranged. It was 
decided notably that Units were to leave their areas without 
knowing their destinations, and that it would be given out 
freely that the Canadian Corps was moving to the Ypres front, 
where the Second Army expected a German attack. 

"With a view to deceiving the enemy, two battalions of the 



FROM ARRAS TO AMIENS 19 

Canadian Corps were to be put in the line in the Kemmel 
area, and two Canadian Casualty Clearing Stations were to be 
moved to the Second Army area. Canadian Wireless and 
Power Buzzer Sections were to be despatched to the Kemmel 
Sector, and messages were to be sent worded so as to permit 
the enemy to decipher the identity of the senders. 

"Meanwhile the Canadian Divisions were busy preparing 
their scheme of attack on Orange Hill, and numerous Tanks 
were ostentatiously assembled in the vicinity of St. Pol. . . 
On July 29 the XVII Corps was ordered by First Army to 
relieve the Canadian Corps in the line during the nights of 
July 31 -Aug. 2, reliefs to be completed by daylight on Aug. 2. 
. . This Army order stated plainly that the Canadian Corps 
would be prepared to move to Second Army, which, as indi 
cated above, was then holding the northern section of the 
British front. 

"The 27th. Canadian Infantry Battalion and the 4th. Cana 
dian Mounted Rifle Battalion respectively, from the 2nd. and 
3rd. Canadian Divisions, were moved by strategical train to 
Second Army area where they were placed in the line. They 
did not rejoin their Divisions until Aug. 6. On this day, July 
29, the Canadian Divisional Commanders were personally 
informed of the operations which were to take place on the 
Fourth Army Front, and they were instructed not to discuss 
the operations with any of their subordinate Commanders. 
On July 30 Canadian Corps Headquarters moved to Molliens- 
Vidame, and the transfer of the Canadian Corps from First 
Army area to Fourth Army area began. 

"When this move was well under way and in order to con 
tinue to deceive our troops as to their eventual employment, a 
letter issued by First Army was repeated to all Canadian Divi 
sions and communicated by them to their formations and 
Units, stating that the Canadian Corps was being transferred 
to the Fourth Army area, where it would be held in G. H. Q, 
Reserve and be prepared in case of attack to: 

"1. Move south at short notice to assist the French on the 
Rheims-Soissons front. 



20 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"2. Support either the First French Army or the Fourth 
British Army." 

It has seemed worth while to describe these measures at 
length for in their result they furnished the greatest surprise 
attack of the war. There were some curious developments. 
Certain foreign officers, attached for liason purposes to the 
Canadian Corps, hurried north to secure good billets at the 
new Corps Headquarters. An indignant message came to 
British G. H. Q .from the Belgian G. H. Q. staff to the effect 
that the Canadian Corps was being moved to Belgian territory 
without notice of any kind, whereas common courtesy should 
have suggested that the Belgian Army be notified in order that 
it might be in a position to make arrangements for the comfort 
and well-being of the Canadian troops. 

Necessarily the destination was a profound secret, and 
officers of even high rank within the Corps who knew it might 
be counted on the fingers. One by one the Divisions moved, 
roundabout routes being followed, and, until it developed the 
general direction was south, the men for the most part thought 
they were going back to the Salient. Thus at the end of July 
the 3rd. Canadian Division came out of the line and moved 
west to the vicinity of Doullens, where it entrained under 
sealed orders, battalion commanders even not knowing whether 
they were going north, south, east or west. 

As an example of how it was done, the 8th. Brigade, C. M. 
R., detrained at Prouzel and marched that night to Hebecourt, 
where they lay hid next day, marching the following night to 
the Bois de Boves, west of the Avre, arriving on Aug. 2, the 
rest of the division being behind them. On that night they 
moved up into the Gentelles trench system, behind the 
Australian support line, where there was accommodation for 
a large body of troops. Absolutely no movement was per 
mitted during the day, not a single man being allowed out of 
the trenches and dug-outs, except for reconnaissance. The 
7th. and 9th. Brigades joined the 8th. on Aug. 6. All roads 
were packed, the brigade taking five hours to get from Boves 
to Gentelles Wood an hour and a half s march. 



FROM ARRAS TO AMIENS 21 

Even the confidential men employed with the Corps Gen 
eral Staff were equally mystified. Corps Headquarters was at 
Duisans when early in the morning of July 30 they were 
ordered to prepare for an immediate move. There was much 
speculation. Some declared it was to Kemmel, others to Sois- 
sons; while one ingenious theory was that the Canadian Corps 
was to be shipped to Zeebrugge there to fall on the enemy rear 
in Flanders. The long train of sixty or seventy lorries moved 
off with no other guide than a transport officer on a motor cycle 
who declined to talk. That evening Corps Headquarters was 
established at Molliens-Vidame better known to the Cana 
dian soldier as "Molly-be-damned" -a dozen miles due west 
of Amiens. 

There followed a week of strenuous preparation. "Red 
tabs" are not popular in the army but no one who watched the 
staff officers of the Canadian Corps then and through the over 
charged weeks to follow could have anything but admiration 
and wonder. There is no Sunday in the army; and there are 
no specified hours, except that a man works until he can see no 
more, catches a few hours sleep, and goes at it again; fourteen 
hours a day week in and week out was quite normal ; in active 
operations officers of the General Staff and "A" and "Q" 
branches would work right through the 24 hours. All had not 
the wonderful physique of the Corps Commander whom one 
left studying battle reports at two in the morning and heard at 
breakfast that he had been in the field at six o clock. 

It was a breathless bustle at "Molly-be-damned," not least 
so for the staff of the Canadian Artillery, which had to work 
out in detail the ranges and the barrage of the great opening 
show. Then the Intelligence branch had the collection and 
collation of last-minute information, whether from our air 
craft or by prisoners. Three clerks of the General Staff 
worked in a tent by themselves all were under canvas and it 
rained a good deal engaged day and night in copying out 
operation orders, which in great detail must all be prepared 
and in the hands of the various commanders. These three 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

clerks for a whole week led the life of Trappist monks, refus 
ing converse with their fellows. Finally about noon of a 
Thursday "Come Sergeant, tell us when the show is to open, 
that s a good fellow," one wheedler petitioned. "The show 
opened at twenty minutes past four this morning and by now 
we are 6,000 yards inside the Boche lines," 

On Aug. 7 the first echelon of Corps Headquarters moved 
to Dury, a village on the Paris road three miles south of 
Amiens. A faint buzzing went round among the messes that 
there would be an attack within the next day or two Friday 
was generally selected. That afternoon the Corps Commander, 
Sir Arthur Currie, had a talk with the two Canadian corres 
pondents. Before him was a large scale map and the barrage 
map. It was all very clear and lucid. We take up our line 
here; our first objective is there; "zero" hour was named (and 
this of course a dead secret from all but the privileged few) ; 
our final objective for the day over there constituting a world 
record for a first day s advance! 

One was struck with the speaker s simplicity and his quiet 
confidence and certainty. He, of course, knew the Canadian 
Corps and what it could do. It was a finely tempered weapon. 
It had been proved before in the tightest corners in the 
Somme, at Vimy, and more recently at Passchendaele. where it 
had gone in and conquered; gone in against the better judg 
ment and advice of the Corps Commander himself but gone 
in where others had failed, to win. 

And now added to this war experience were the long 
patient intensive months of preparation; the knowledge that 
the artillery support was to be the greatest known; and that all 
units went into the field actually over strength, with ample 
reinforcements on the spot to make good casualties. He knew 
his men oh, abundantly he knew them and trusted them ; he 
knew, too, their leaders, from the Divisional Commanders 
down to the platoons, and had the assurance there would be no 
botching. 

And yet when all this was admitted there was something 



FROM ARRAS TO AMIENS 23 

astonishing in this calm certainty; for our Intelligence people 
had it straight the enemy was massed in that very sector for a 
new offensive had they not but the day before attacked in 
force the III Corps immediately north of the Somme? In all 
the history of the West Front nothing so ambitious had been 
proposed, let alone accomplished. The biggest things in which 
the Canadian Corps had been engaged were but small affairs 
beside this; and then there was the memory of other shows 
that had promised great things but had turned out but half- 
successes or flat failures, had we but had the courage to adrm t 
as much. 

But confidence of that kind is infectious. After the talk 
was over we agreed on our luck in being in for the biggest 
thing yet. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE BATTLE OPENS 

SO at last all is ready. The story goes that the Corps Com 
mander was asked how soon could he deliver the Corps in 

fighting trim at the appointed place. "By the tenth," he 
had said. "Too long; do it by the eighth." And he did it; an 
epic feat. 

It meant hardship. Some units only reached the ground 
to go straight into action. But everything was there. Every 
field battery in place, with ammunition to burn; all the 
imperial "heavies"; the tanks, great and small; cavalry, supply 
columns, signallers, ambulances everything. 

And it was all done secretly and by night. For an entire 
week the men of Canada were passing south from their old 
front, taking circuitous and puzzling routes. None knew 
where they went. They moved by night, sleeping by day, 
without gossip or undue curiosity. That was essential to the 
greatest surprise attack the war had produced. They were 
going into a fight, and they were ready. They sang as they 
marched a thing they had not done for two years. 

Foremost that night of nights was one s sense of wonder at 
how it had been done; how, by many tangled threads of rail 
way and lorry and march, all that great and intricate machine 
more complex far than Wellington had gathered on the field 
of Waterloo had been assembled in perfect order to the 
minute. 

From Canadian Corps Headquarters at Dury a cross-road 
runs through St. Fuscien and thence downhill into Boves, 
where we pass over the Avre. Except for a scurrying 
despatch-rider, all traffic is going the one way miles on miles 
of lorries and dark masses of marching men. The night pre 
sents a sky clear and starry, with light just sufficient to illumine 

24 



THE BATTLE OPENS 25 

the track and silhouette the regulated avenues of trees insepa 
rable from a French highway. Far above is the drone of our 
air craft. "Heine" is not over, or the curious scene could 
scarce escape his attention. The white roads are chequered 
with moving oblongs of black. All Canada is on the march. 

So down a steep hill into the interminable street of Boves 
that leads at length to the Avre. It is a puny stream, its 
ancient stone bridge no bigger than a good-sized western cul 
vert. Later on our men are to bathe in the Luce, waist deep 
in its biggest pool. These rivers are poor affairs but they have 
been inscribed by the blood of her sons upon the roll of 
Canada s history. Their trickling streams turn decrepit mill- 
wheels, but their names march on down the generations the 
Somme, the Avre, the Luce, the Scarpe, the Cojeul, the Sensee, 
the Scheldt, the Souchez or the Lys. 

On the far side lies the hamlet of St. Nicholas and thence 
it is a long climb over chalk uplands to the wood of Gentelles. 
Up the winding hill go all the impedimenta of war marching 
battalions, traction-engines towing great guns, ammunition 
trains, long lines of Red Cross lorries; everywhere the pungent 
odor of petrol. From every little wood belch forth men. They 
march silently. They might be phantoms, dim hordes of 
Valhalla, were it not for the spark of a cigarette, a smothered 
laugh. There is no talking. All is tense excitement. For 
miles and miles in a wide concentric sweep every road and 
lane and bypath is crowded with these slow-moving masses. 
Over the bare hillsides lumber the heavy tanks, just keeping 
pace with the marching men. Should the enemy of a sud 
den lay down a barrage, our losses must be appalling sheep 
for the slaughter. 

On these light chalky uplands the recent rain has drained 
away and the going is good. At length, somewhat footsore, we 
pass through a gaunt village unhappy Gentelles where 
stars shine down through skeleton rafters and all is ruin. Pre 
sently the troops are defiling into their appointed place, the 
Australian support line. For Australian units still man the 



26 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

trenches in front of us, lest an enemy raid give the show away. 
So rigid have been the precautions that none of the Canadian 
officers and men on leave have been recalled. Not for days 
later do some staff officers rejoin their headquarters, a bitter 
disappointed lot. Berlin thinks we are in Flanders; London 
that we are in the south. All is well. 

The sky is clear and empty. Only the stars shine down. 
These and an occasional flicker in the east and the long-delayed 
rumble of a bursting shell. For against the eastern horizon is 
the usual pyrotechnic of trench warfare neither more nor 
less. Once every few minutes one of our heavy howitzers send 
across a shell; a dull report and then a wobbling vibration, 
before it steadies down upon its course. More seldom Fritzie 
makes reply the perfunctory business of the night- -a shrill 
messenger ending in a roar of explosion. 

The night is very still. It seems incredible that all this 
unpreventable hum and bustle can have failed to reach an alert 
enemy. The watch hand is creeping round half past three- 
four ten past four an interminable laggard. It is to be the 
greatest barrage of the war. What will this stunning experi 
ence be like? One can only imagine. 

* 

"Zero" is set for four twenty, and the pointer has barely 
reached that figure when behind us there goes up a mighty 
flare, and simultaneously all along the line, ten miles to north 
and to south of us, other flares light up the countryside. At 
the same instant there breaks out the boom of our heavy guns, 
the sharp staccato of sixty-pounders, the dull roar of howitzers, 
and the ear splitting clamor of whizz-bangs a bedlam of 
noise. Shells whistle and whine overhead; they cannot be 
distinguished one from another, but merge into a rushing 
cataract of sound. 

In front, right athwart the horizon so far as the eye can 
reach spreads out a hell of flame and fire and bursting charge, 
reverberating back to us in mighty unison that the battle has 
begun. Bright from out this fiery furnace break out quick 



THE BATTLE OPENS 

flashes, shooting into the air and there dividing into twin red 
balls the S. O. S. call of the German trenches for artillery 
support. But answer there is none; our counter-battery work 
is too perfect; their batteries are neutralized; not an enemy 
shell comes across; in that murky inferno all is confusion and 
terror. 

For a minute the din is stunning, but the ear quickly 
becomes accustomed. The heavens are lighted up across 
their broad expanse by a continuous sheet of lightning, playing 
relentlessly over the doomed lines. Now the faint light of 
dawn shimmers in the east and soon blots out the fire-works. 
A lark rises high, carolling. Our own men can be plainly 
made out walking leisurely or so it seems forward, tanks 
lumbering ahead. Already some of our field batteries gallop 
past hard after the infantry. It is a perfect plan working out 
without a hitch. The heavy batteries behind raise the barrage 
step by step ahead of the men. All is co-ordinated to victory. 
Then down comes the fog, blotting out the spectacle, but sav 
ing many casualties. 

The attack is such a complete .and overwhelming surprise 
that the enemy s initial defense is feeble. Many of his batteries 
fall into our hands wearing their tarpaulin hoods, their crews 
deep in their dug-outs. Our own artillery comes off almost 
scatheless, except among the galloping whizz-bangs, one too 
venturous being put out of action by a direct hit at point-blank 
range. By nine o clock these field-guns are three miles inside 
the enemy front line. 

Six hours was set for the lifting of the barrage, but long 
before that its work is done and the enemy in headlong flight. 
After them go the whippet tanks little uneasy beasts of steel 
and petrol that can do their twelve miles an hour across country 
when the going is good, and here, over these great rolling up 
lands and gentle valleys, it is perfect. 

The fog lifts. It is eight o clock. The cavalry, a wonder 
ful sight, appear on the scene. They have come up from 
Hangest-sur-Somme and have lain over night in the great park 



28 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of Amiens. Like a jack-in-the-box they have sprung from 
nowhere miles on miles of gay and serried ranks, led by the 
Canadian Cavalry Brigade; Lancers too, and many famous 
British regiments. This is the day so long awaited; surely 
this is their chance to pass through the broken enemy line, to 
harry and raid his back area. As is the cavalry way, they do 
reckless and incredible things, and heavy is the price they are 
to pay. They pass south of Villers-Bretonneux Villers-Bre- 
tonneux of bright memory in darkest days of the March 
retreat, now in the hands of the stout Australians, neighbors 
on our left. 



Already prisoners are coming back, in little knots, in 
squads, in whole detachments, sometimes under guard, oftener 
left to their own device, mounting soon into the thousands- 
slouching figures in field-gray, among them grizzled veterans 
and mere striplings, but for the most part in the prime of life 
and of good physique. With them a number of officers, some 
swearing bitterly, others, jaunty and spruce, still rubbing the 
sleep out of their eyes, in good spirits. "You Canadians have 
no business down here," says one in excellent English. "We 
were told you were in Flanders ; how I would like to hang our 
fools of Intelligence officers!" 

Intermingled with them come our walking wounded. "A 
good blighty!" cried a grinning lad, wounded in the wrist. 
"How is it going? Fine. You can t see his heels for the dust!" 
He is in kilts, a Highlander from the Pacific Coast, one of the 
3rd. Brigade. He tells us how a piper, atop of the tank 
"Dominion," led into action his battalion, the 16th. Canadian 
Scottish. 

The battle has streamed away to the east and the battlefield 
of a few hours ago is as peaceful as an Ontario landscape after 
storm, whose bolts and flashes still play over the distant 
horizon. The most striking thing about the battleground is the 
extraordinary good target our gunners made. This was partic 
ularly so along the enemy front line and support. In our north- 



THE BATTLE OPENS 29 

ern area immediately west of Marcelcave this ran over a 
wide sweep of prairie, pock-marked throughout with shell 
holes in regular sequence, like one of those round boards on 
which children play at marbles. 

Nothing could have lived there. Nothing did live, as is 
attested by hundreds of Boche dead among the ungarnered 
wheat; it had afforded good cover to snipers and now to 
corpses. Here since March the tide of battle ebbed and flowed 
and the crop will not pay the reaping. Some of our men 
engaged in "mopping-up" are laden with great store of Boche 
gear. Hereabouts too we captured many heavy guns. 

Dead horses testify to the heavy shelling which caught our 
cavalry as they pushed forward. They offered a clear target to 
distant gunners. Where a line of infantry, patiently working 
its way along, is almost indistinguishable from the dun color 
of the landscape, horsemen stand out boldly against the sky 
line. 

This plateau, unlike the heavy wooded area on our centre 
and right, which fell only after a bitter struggle, offers no 
natural impediment. And the enemy, over-confident of his 
power in the open field and with the fixed idea of breaking 
away from trench warfare, had been to but small pains to dig 
himself in. His trenches were rudimentary and the barrage 
wiped out much of their outline. There was surprisingly little 
wire. More might have been done, because a vast amount 
of it was captured it lay in rolls everywhere. But the Boche 
was lazy and arrogant; the wondrous superman caught nap 
ping. 

It was over these trenches our air men performed so gal 
lantly. They were to aid the attack by bombing the front and 
support lines, but the mist came down in such dense folds that 
they must either abandon their job or take perilous risks. So 
they flew as low as fifty to a hundred feet, sweeping the 
trenches with their machine-guns. Their losses were heavy. 
Extraordinary to relate, an enemy trench-mortar secured a 
direct hit on one of them, cutting it in two. Their crumpled 



30 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

frames lie here and there upon the plateau. Plodding across 
the fields are little knots of stretcher-bearers and burial parties. 
Occasionally a shell breaks among them, but they carry on 
their task unheeding. 

From that high level one looks over what had been the 
smiling land of France, dotted with bosky villages and grace 
ful church spires. Along these roads children came singing 
from school, and from this plateau of Santerre was garnered 
much of the nation s agrarian wealth. Below that eminence in 
the distant days of peace the broad valleys shone in the sun 
like the bright pattern of a patchwork quilt the many hues of 
the ripening grain ; wheat, oats and barley, millet, vetch and 
beans, undivided by hedge or fence but melting one into the 
other in their erratic little squares and oblongs undistin 
guished indeed save by the bright hues of nature s pallette. 

Now all is desolation. The hand of the Hun lies heavy on 
the land. Tottering walls and empty shells are all that are left 
of the villages ; church towers are levelled in sad heaps of stone 
and mortar, or, less happy, expose to heaven scarred flanks and 
desecrated altars. Not a living soul is to be seen save men in 
khaki. Upon this road stands a monument : "To the heroes of 
the army who on this spot made their heroic stand in the war 
of 1870" -mentioning them lovingly by name, Officier this 
and Soldat that; it has been torn in two by a shell. 

Already in a dug-out, wherein a few hours before the 
Boche sat secure, a forward dressing-station is established. 
Here first aid is given to all and sundry, our men and Boche, 
stretcher cases and walking wounded. Prisoners reinforce our 
over-taxed stretcher-bearers, working in parties under their 
own officers, good-natured, ingratiating. The Y.M.C.A. is 
here too, and serves out indiscriminately hot tea, biscuits, cho 
colate and cigarettes. There is a little grumbling because the 
Boche fare as well as our own men, but it is a free hand-out 
and the supply seems inexhaustible. Especially are the tired 
troops grateful for the cigarettes, a scarce commodity. 



THE BATTLE OPENS 31 

A young farmer from the Ottawa Valley, a walking case, 
tells of his experiences. He is full of the battle and with diffi 
culty is persuaded to go back three or four days it is all so 
long ago! "Our battalion, the Second, was at rest a few 
miles west of Arras," he says. "We knew something was in the 
air. Two days before we moved, all the pay-books were col 
lected, and when we got them again a notice was pasted on the 
back warning us to be careful in our talk with the French 
people and ending up with, Keep Your Mouth Shut. 

"On the evening of Aug. 4 we got our moving order and 
marched about three hours to a small station where we en 
trained in box cars, labelled, forty men or sixteen horses. We 
had our rations and bunked on the straw. No, we hadn t the 
faintest notion where we were going, but the talk was back to 
Ypres. 

"Next morning we passed through a biggish town and some 
one said it was Abbeville, and from there until noon the rail 
way followed a river valley. We detrained at a little station 
where we had tea with our bully beef and then marched two or 
three hours. It was very warm, and raining. Finally we came 
to a village we knew not what. There we had tea and expected 
to spend the night, but were ordered to march again. We 
rested once in a field and all of us, officers included, supple 
mented our ration with raw turnips. 

"At about ten that evening we crowded on to lorries. Once 
going up a long hill we stuck in the mire and got off to lighten 
the load. Away back on the main road behind us we could see 
a solid line of headlights, like a gigantic serpent endless lor 
ries laden with troops. Early next morning, just after dawn, 
we got off at a village and marched into a wood, where we 
bivouacked all day. It was full of troops and guns and horses. 
Showers kept sweeping over us and the ground was sodden, 
but we were dead tired and slept most of the day. 

"That evening a few men were picked out from each 
platoon to stay behind as a reserve about enough from the 
whole battalion to make up a company. For the first time we 
were served out fresh meat which we packed along. Then 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

when evening came we started a long heavy night march. The 
roads were choked with moving columns of men, guns and 
lorries. We passed down a steep hill through a village and at 
two o clock in the morning came to a wood where we were to 
stay. Dog-tired we lay down in the damp and pulled our 
ground-sheets over us. Shortly after sun-up the Boche started 
to shell the wood. The whole wood was packed with men like 
sardines. We ran across the 38th. Battalion, another Ottawa 
unit, and sang out to them. We met many of our old chums 
and had a good time. We hoped for a day s rest but that fore 
noon were put on fatigue, packing up water and ammunition. 
We slept in that afternoon. 

"In the evening a canvas bag was handed round to each 
man and we were given two days iron rations, with Mills and 
smoke bombs. I was getting pretty well loaded down, for 
being one of the machine-gun unit I was carrying twenty 
pounds of ammunition there were seven of us : the N. C. O. ; 
No. 1 , carrying the Lewis gun ; No. 2, carrying the spare parts ; 
and the rest of us the ammunition. Each platoon was given a 
map and our officer and sergeant explained the lie of the land 
and our objective, and we were told to take particular note of 
the Luce river, which we were to cross. This was the first hint 
we had as to where we were ; some of us had an idea that we 
were due east of Amiens, but we were further south. Batteries 
were coming up and taking their positions. 

"At half past ten we were off again and marched up towards 
the line, getting to our positions at one in the morning of Aug. 
8. We understood the British were holding the sector, and 
were surprised when we heard it was the Australians. Rising 
ground lay between us and the front line a mile away. We 
were tired out and opened cans of bully beef and beans and 
had a little breakfast. Then we lay down but it was bitter 
cold. No body of men could have been fitter physically; we 
were in fine trim and excellent spirits, and had confidence the 
Canadians would go through anything they were up against. 
But we knew we were in for a hard job and a lot of us wouldn t 
be there next night. We weren t exactly keen on going in, 



THE BATTLE OPENS 33 

but meant to do the job right. Our officer was out in front 
reconnoitering while we were asleep. He was a fine chap and 
we felt he knew what he was about and we could follow him 
with confidence. At about a quarter to four the corporal came 
around with a shot of rum, which was welcome, for we were 
cold all through. 

"At four twenty a 6-inch naval gun set the ball rolling, 
followed by 12-inch howitzers and the terrible racket of a 
whizz-bang battery right in the valley behind us. We waited 
twenty-five minutes, our Third Brigade jumping-off first 
they were the Canadian Highlander battalions. The tanks 
were a great sight. All night long we had heard them puffing 
and groaning as they took up their position and wondered why 
the Boche didn t too. But our bombing planes flew overhead 
drowning their noise. 

"We couldn t see anything of the battle because of the slope 
in front of us, but soon we were off, and as we reached the 
front line we passed the time of day with the Australian boys. 
The mist came down but lifted again an hour or two later and 
by that time we were working along through wheat fields. 
Over on our flank we saw some Boche machine-gunners beating 
it back, fighting as they went, and we started to work round 
them. Our own gun was now in action. Suddenly I spotted a 
Boche machine-gun 75 yards dead ahead of us. We threw 
ourselves down and tried to outflank him, but he got me here 
and killed our No. 1. Our N. C. O. took the gun and another 
man my harness and ammunition. Our section commander 
was hit and had to go out, but he took out with him a Boche 
machine-gun officer, who had surrendered. He was hit in the 
leg and was leaning on his arm. I beat it out too and ran 
across this dressing-station. There won t be room in the lorries 
so after my arm is dressed I shall hike back to a Casualty 
Clearing Station." 

He didn t say much about himself, this lad, but he had been 
through some of the hottest fighting of the war. "Our bar 
rage," he said, "didn t seem anything like so bad as what the 
Boche put down on us in March 1917." 

4 



CHAPTER V 

OPERATIONS : AUG. 8 

THE impressions of an onlooker recorded above are of a 
rather confused scene, the rough and tumble of battle, 
where but a fraction of the canvas comes under the eye 
and no just estimation can be formed of the picture as a whole. 
In reality it has been all worked out beforehand in minutest 
detail and every piece falls into its place almost automatically. 
The plan and course of the first day s operations can be best 
followed in the words of the Corps Commander : 

u The front of attack was to extend from Moreuil to Ville- 
sur-Ancre on a front of approximately 20,000 yards. The 
dispositions of the troops participating in the battle were as 
follows : 

"(a) On the right from Moreuil to Thennes (inclusive) 
-The First French Army under orders of Com- 
mander-in-Chief, British Army. 

" (b) In the centre from Thennes (exclusive) to the 

Amiens-Chaulnes Railway The Canadian Corps. 

"(c) On the left from the Amiens-Chaulnes Railway to 

the Somme The Australian Corps. 

"(d) The left flank of the Australian Corps was covered 
by the III (British) Corps attacking in the direc 
tion of Morlancourt. 

"The object of the attack was to push forward in the direc 
tion of the line Roye-Chaulnes with the least possible delay, 
thrusting the enemy back in the general direction of Ham, and 
so facilitating the operations of the French on the front 
between Montdidier and Noyon." 

The French on our left were not to attack until our move 
ment had been well advanced. The battle front of the Cana 
dian Corps exceeded 8,500 yards in a straight line, from a point 

34 



OPERATIONS : AUG. 8 35 

about half a mile southwest of Hourges to the Amiens- 
Chaulnes Railway, crossing the Luce river about half a mile 
north of Hourges and then trending in a northerly direction 
west of Hangard, through the western edge of Hangard Wood, 
to east of Cachy, whence it swung off to the northeast, joining 
the Australian line on the railway just east of Villers-Breton- 
neux. 

For the purpose of the operation the following units were 
placed under the Canadian Corps Commander: 3rd. Cavalry 
Division (including the Canadian Cavalry Brigade) ; 4th. 
Tank Brigade; and 5th. Squadron, Royal Air Force. A 
mobile force was organized consisting of the 1st. and 2nd. 
Canadian Motor Machine-Gun Brigades, the Canadian Corps 
Cyclist Battalion, and a section of 6-inch Newton Mortars 
mounted on motor lorries. This force was named the Cana 
dian Independent Force, placed under command of Brig.- 
General R. Brutinel, and given the task of co-operating with 
the cavalry in the neighborhood of the Amiens-Roye road, 
covering the right flank of our right division and maintaining 
liason with the French. 

"I was notified," continues Sir Arthur Currie, "that two 
British Divisions were held in Army Reserve, and could be 
made available in the event of certain situations developing. 
The total Artillery at my disposal amounted to 17 Brigades of 
Field Artillery and nine Brigades of Heavy Artillery, plus 
four additional batteries of long-range guns." 

The Canadian Corps was disposed as follows :-- -On the 
right the 3rd. Canadian Division, Major-General L. J. Lip- 
sett, in liason with the French; in the centre, the 1st, Canadian 
Division, Major-General A. C. Macdonell; on the left, the 
2nd. Canadian Division, Major-General Sir Henry E. 
Burstall, in liason with the Australians ; in reserve, behind the 
3rd. Canadian Division, the 4th. Canadian Division, Major- 
General Sir David Watson. 

The Australian Corps, Lieut.-General Sir J. Monash, had 
two divisions in line, the 2nd. Division on the right in liason 



36 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

with our 2nd. Division, and the 3rd. Australian Division on 
the left, resting on the south bank of the Somme, with the Sth. 
and 4th. Australian Divisions in support. North of the 
Somme the III (British) Corps had the 58th. and 18th. Divi 
sions in line and the 12th. Division in support. It may be 
explained here that in recording all dispositions, objectives 
and the line held, it is the practice to name Units as from the 
right flank, on the south in the present case, to the left, or north. 
The objectives of the Canadian Corps for the first day 
were : 

(1) The Green Line, just east of the line Hamon Wood- 

Courcelles - Marcelcave - Lamotte en Santerre 
(north of the Amiens-Roye railway). 

(2) The Red Line, just east of Mezieres-Maison 

Blanche-Camp Vermont Farm and the high 
ground east of Guillaucourt, on the Amiens- 
Chaulnes railway. 

(3) The Blue Line, comprising the outer defenses of 

Amiens, which ran east of the line Hangest-Ques- 
nel-Caix-Harbonnieres. 

The latter was not intended as the final objective for the 
day, and the Cavalry was to exploit beyond it if possible. The 
average depth of penetration necessary to capture the Blue 
line was 14,000 yards. 

The ground was very difficult, most of our forward area 
consisting of bare slopes exposed to enemy observation from 
the high ground south of the Luce River and east of Hourges. 
On our right the Luce river and its marshes, from two to three 
hundred yards in width, provided an obstacle impassable to 
troops. Here the only practicable access to the jumping-off 
line was by the bridge and road from Domart to Hourges, a 
narrow defile about 200 yards long commanded throughout 
by the high ground immediately to the east and especially 
from Dodo and Moreuil woods. These conditions rendered 
the assembly of troops prior to the attack very difficult, Some 
distance west of our front line, woods, villages and sunken 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 8 

roads gave a certain amount of cover in the preparatory stage, 
and in Gentelles Wood space was found for tanks as well as 
troops. 

"Opposite our front," says Sir Arthur Currie, "the ground 
consisted of a rolling plateau cut diagonally by the deep valley 
of the River Luce. This river flows almost due west through 
a strip of wooded marsh land some 300 yards wide, from which 
the sides of the valley rise steeply. Numerous ravines, gen 
erally running north and south, cut deep into the plateau, the 
ground between these ravines forming, as it were, tactical 
features difficult of access and more or less inter-supporting. 
Woods and copses are scattered over the area and many com 
pact and well-built villages surrounded by gardens and 
orchards formed conspicuous landmarks. The remainder was 
open, unfenced farm land, partly covered with fields of stand 
ing grain. The hostile defenses consisted chiefly of uncon 
nected elements of trenches, and a vast number of machine- 
gun posts scattered here and there, forming a fairly loose but 
very deep pattern." 

Our Intelligence had reported that the enemy had 24 bat 
talions (less than three Divisions) in the forward area and 
about six battalions in support, the latter belonging to Divi 
sions on the French front, but known to be situated within the 
area we were to attack. It was believed that the enemy had 
four Divisions in reserve immediately available, and that two 
of these were west of the Hindenburg Line. 

The Canadian Corps Commander outlines the battle plan 
as follows: "The general scheme of attack was to overrun 
rapidly the enemy s forward area to a depth of about 3,600 
yards under cover of a dense artillery barrage which would 
begin at "zero" hour; then without halting to seize the Red 
Line, relying on the help of tanks to overcome the machine-gun 
defenses. At that moment the cavalry was to pass through the 
infantry and seize the area so far as the Blue Line, supported 
on its right flank by the Canadian Independent Force. The 
cavalry was to be followed as quickly as possible by the 4th. 



38 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Canadian Division, passing through the 3rd. Canadian Divi 
sion on the right, and by reserve Brigades of the 1st. and 2nd. 
Canadian Divisions in the centre and on the left. Every effort 
was to be made to exploit success wherever it occurred. Spe 
cial arrangements had been made to support the attack beyond 
the Green Line as long as possible with heavy artillery, and 
sections of field artillery were detailed to advance in close 
support of the attacking infantry. 

"The attack had been synchronized with the Australians, 
who were to jump off at the same hour as the Canadian Corps. 
The First French Army was to submit the Bois de Moreuil to 
a 45-minute bombardment before developing infantry action, 
but the General Officer Commanding had agreed that the 
bombardment should only begin at "zero" hour. 

"The Canadian Corps being, as it were, the spearhead of 
the attack, the movements of other formations were to be syn 
chronized with ours." 

It will be seen from the above that a great deal depended 
upon the artillery, and before detailing the work of the 
infantry, it will be well to give some little account of this 
triumph of scientific gunnery. Between six and seven hundred 
guns were massed on the Canadian Corps front, and the bar 
rage laid down was the greatest of the war to date, far exceed 
ing that at Vimy Ridge. 

In the first place, the difficulties attending the accumulation 
of all kinds of ammunition for the operation in such a short 
space of time were very great. The nearest Army dump from 
which our gunners could draw ammunition was so far away 
that lorries could not make more than one trip a day. Advance 
refilling points had not been selected, and the dumping of 
ammunition at these points did not really begin until Aug. 3. 
There was a great shortage of lorries, a considerable number 
of the heavy Artillery Brigades (Imperial) arriving only two 
or three days before the attack. When the lorries of these 
brigades became available there was not sufficient petrol to 
keep them in operation. It may be said in parenthesis that 



OPERATIONS : AUG. 8 39 

there was a shortage of petrol throughout this operation, the 
Canadian Independent Force in particular being put out of 
action for a considerable time from this cause. 

Add to this the fact that all traffic had to go over two roads 
the Amiens-Roye road and the Amiens-Villers Bretonneux 
road, the latter being also used for Australian supply and the 
general congestion can be realized. Nevertheless, though only 
after incredible exertions, many lorries running continuously 
for forty-eight and even sixty hours, a great quantity of 
ammunition was gathered together, six hundred rounds per 
gun being available. Great credit is due the administrative 
branches of the Canadian Corps of whom the D.A. and 
Q.M.G., Brig.-General G. J. Farmar, was an Imperial officer 
of outstanding talent and energy. 

The barrage would have been wonderful if the ground had 
been known and prepared and every feature of the artillery 
problem carefully studied out in advance. It was nothing less 
than marvellous when the facts are taken into account that 
many of the batteries were only brought up a few hours before 
the engagement opened, that it was impossible for them to 
expose their presence by any attempt at registration, and that 
the barrage had to be plotted out entirely from maps and by 
triangulation. The guns were in dormant batteries, unregis 
tered and without permanent emplacements when "zero" hour 
struck. 

It was a triumph for Canadian gunnery. Five days only 
were available for preparation, and great credit is due the 
G.O.C., Major-General E. W. B. Morrison, his Staff and 
Divisional Brigade and Battery Commanders, with their rank 
and file. The Canadian Divisional Artillery Commanders 
were as follows: 1st, Brig.-General H. C. Thacker; 2nd., 
Brig.-General H. A. Panet; 3rd., Brig.-General J. S. Stewart; 
4th., Brig.-General W. B. M. King; and 5th., Brig.-General 
W. O. H. Dodds. Great credit is also due the Imperial and 
Canadian Heavy Artillery, Brig.-General R. H. Massie, 
whose counter-battery work was so magnificent that the enemy 
artillery was smothered, and we overran many batteries that 



40 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

never got into action and whose crews were deep in dug-outs. 
Much of the credit for this was due the Corps Counter-Battery 
Officer, Lt.-Col. A. G. L. McNaughton, and his staff. 

Sir Arthur Currie describes the first day s operations in the 
following terms : "At 4.20 a.m., Aug. 8, the initial assault was 
delivered on the entire Army front of attack, and the First 
French Army opened their bombardment. The attack made 
satisfactory progress from the outset on the whole front. 

"East of Hourges, opposite the 3rd. Canadian Division, the 
high ground which dominated our front and a portion of the 
French front had been seized quickly by the 9th. Canadian 
Infantry Brigade (-Brig.-General D. M. Ormond), and the 
way was opened for the Canadian Independent Force and the 
4th. Canadian Division. 

"The very complete arrangements made by the 3rd. Cana 
dian Division to keep the bridge open, and to repair the road 
completely, allowed the reserves to go forward without delay. 
The heavy task of the Canadian Engineers was remarkably 
well carried out. 

"By the afternoon the Canadian Corps had gained all its 
objectives, with the exception of a few hundred yards on the 
right in the vicinity of Le Quesnel, where stiff resistance was 
offered by unexpected reserves, but this was made good the 
following morning. The day s operations, in which the four 
Canadian Divisions took part, represented a maximum pene 
tration of the enemy s defenses of over eight miles and included 
the capture of the following villages : Hangard, Demuin, 
Beaucourt, Aubecourt, Courcelle, Ignaucourt, Cayeux, Caix, 
Marcelcave, Wiencourt, 1 Equipee and Guillaucourt. In 
addition to these, the Independent Force assisted the French 
in the capture of Mezieres, which was holding up their 
advance. 

"The surprise had been complete and overwhelming. The 
prisoners stated that they had no idea that an attack was 
impending, and captured documents did not indicate that any 
of our preparations had been detected. An officer stated that 
the Canadians were believed to be on the Kemmel front. 



OPERATIONS : AUG. 8 41 

It will be interesting to reproduce here the following 
extract from Sir Douglas Haig s "Victory Dispatch": "At 
4.20 a.m. on Aug. 8 our massed artillery opened intense fire on 
the whole front of attack, completely crushing the enemy s 
batteries, some of which never succeeded in coming into action. 
Simultaneously British infantry and tanks advanced to the 
assault. The enemy was taken completely by surprise, and 
under cover of a heavy ground mist our first objectives on the 
line Demuin-Marcelcave-Cerisy, south of Morlancourt, were 
gained rapidly. 

"After a halt of two hours on this line by the leading troops, 
infantry, cavalry and light tanks passed through and continued 
the advance, the different arms working in co-operation in a 
most admirable manner. At the close of the day s operation 
our troops had completed an advance of between six and seven 
miles. The Amiens outer defense line, including the villages 
of Caix, Harbonnieres and Morcourt, had been gained on the 
whole front of attack, except at Le Quesnel itself. Cavalry 
and armored cars were in action well to the east of this line and 
before dawn on Aug. 9 Le Quesnel also had been taken. North 
of the Somme the enemy was more alert, as the result of the 
recent engagements in this sector, and succeeded by heavy 
fighting in maintaining himself for the time being in the vil 
lage of Chipilly. 

"East of the line of our advance the enemy at nightfall was 
blowing up dumps in all directions, while his transport and 
limbers were streaming eastwards towards the Somme, offer 
ing excellent targets to our airmen, who made full use of their 
opportunities. Over 13,000 prisoners, between 300 and 400 
guns, and vast quantities of ammunition and stores of all kinds 
remained in our possession. 

"The brilliant and predominating part taken by the Cana 
dian and Australian Corps in this battle is worthy of the 
highest commendation. The skill and determination of these 
troops proved irresistible and at all points met with rapid and 
complete success." 



CHAPTER VI 

OPERATIONS: AUG. 8. CONTINUED 

IN years to come the Canadian historian will be amply 
repaid for a patient and minute exploration of the Canadian 

battalion narratives. Written on the field, expressed in the 
terse and concise language of the soldier, these when collected 
together must form an invaluable body of information, and 
from that storehouse of tactical movements and isolated acts 
of gallantry a complete and detailed picture of every battle in 
which Canadian troops have taken part can be correctly 
portrayed. But. even were the material immediately available, 
such a work must fill many volumes. And yet all the life and 
color, the spirit and the essence of battle is contained super 
latively in these annals of the battalion, of the company, and of 
the platoon the true infantry fighting unit; and therefore it 
is proposed within the circumscribed limits of the present 
volume to incorporate so far as may be practicable occasional 
accounts of the performances of individual units, as being 
typical of them all. 

As has been seen above, the 3rd. Canadian Division had a 
particularly hard task on our right flank, where the ground was 
not only extraordinarily difficult, but the plan of the battle 
imposed that the French attack on our right should be en 
echelon to our success if the term may be used rather than 
parallel to our advance. 

At the kick-off the 9th. Brigade, Brig.-General D. M. 
Ormond, was on our extreme right, along the Roye road, with 
the 8th. Brigade on the left of the Divisional area (in contact 
with the 3rd. Brigade of the 1st. Canadian Division), the 7th. 
Brigade being in support. The 9th. Brigade had very hard 
fighting from the start, having to make good along the narrow 
causeway from Domart After crossing the Luce the ground 

42 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 8. CONTINUED 43 

rose up steeply to the edge of the plateau, here intersected by 
many gullies, swept by heavy machine-gun fire from Dodo 
wood on the opposing slope. 

Owing to the fog many of the tanks lost direction, and the 
infantry were left to their own resources. Both the 43rd. Bat 
talion, Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg, and the 116th., 
Central Ontario, had stiff fighting through the woods, being 
for a time held up by machine-gun posts. When the mist lifted, 
however, the tanks put in very effectual work, reducing these 
strongholds, while our intensive barrage prevented the enemy 
sending up reinforcements. The Brigade captured many 
prisoners and guns of all calibres. This advance was pushed 
on down the Roye road through Hamon Wood, where heavy 
opposition was again encountered, but the troops engaged were 
not to be denied and secured their objectives on the Red Line 
on schedule. 

On the Brigade left the 58th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 
had very heavy fighting, being confronted by many machine- 
gun nests. In reducing these gallant deeds were accomplished. 
Thus Cpl. Harry Garnet Bedford Miner, of Ridgetown, Ont, 
rushed an enemy machine-gun single-handed, killing the entire 
crew and turning the gun on the enemy. Later, with two 
others, he attacked another enemy machine-gun post and suc 
ceeded in putting the gun out of action. Although wounded, 
Cpl. Miner refused to withdraw, and rushed single-handed an 
enemy bombing post, bayonetting two of the garrison and put 
ting the remainder to flight. He was mortally wounded in the 
performance of this deed. 

On the left of the 9th. Brigade the objectives of the 8th. 
Brigade lay through the village of Hangard across the Luce 
river at Demuin. This brigade, Brig.-General D. C. Draper, 
had been formed in Dec., 1915, from the 1st. and 2nd. Cana 
dian Mounted Rifle Brigades, when the exigencies of trench 
warfare demanded the service of every available infantryman, 
and, unlike the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, continued as 
infantry throughout the war. It consisted of the 1st., 2nd., 



44 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

4th., and 5th. C. M. R. Battalions, and with it will always be 
associated the terrific fighting of Sanctuary Wood in June, 
1916. 

On the morning of Aug. 8 the 1st. C. M. R., recruited from 
the Canadian prairie west, led off the attack, capturing their 
objective of Hangard village. The artillery barrage moved at 
the rate of 100 yards every three minutes, thus allowing the 
infantry to deal with any enemy encountered. Stubborn 
resistance was offered in places, but for the most part enemy 
machine-guns and trench-mortars had been done in by our 
artillery fire. Owing to the heavy mist the tanks assigned in 
support failed to reach the assembly positions in time to jump 
off with the infantry, but the barrage had destroyed the wire 
and the assault was pushed home with relatively slight loss. 
Indeed, the battalion suffered only 63 casualties though they 
captured 375 prisoners besides inflicting heavy casualties. 

Hangard village being gained, the 2nd. C. M. R., a British 
Columbia unit, leap-frogged over and proceeded to attack 
Demuin which lay just south of the Luce river in a very strong 
position, flanked by a high range of hill to the east and south. 
Canadian Engineers under heavy fire built a footbridge over 
the river and the village was carried after hard fighting. Here 
the attack was taken up by the 7th. Brigade, Brig.-General H. 
M. Dyer, that had come up in support, and so fast was the 
assault pushed ahead that each of the two battalions in the 
line, the 42nd., Royal Highlanders of Canada from Montreal, 
and the 49th., from Edmonton, captured an entire enemy bat 
tery. Tanks now took part in the advance over the open roll 
ing land eastward and all objectives were gained on time. 

The 4th. Canadian Division followed the 3rd. Canadian 
Division down the Roye road, crossing the Luce at Domart, 
and attacked through the 3rd. Division, after the latter had 
gained its objective of the Mezieres-Cayeux Road. The 
advance was continued with the llth. Brigade, Brig.-General 
V. W. Odium, on the right, the 12th. Brigade, Brig.-General 
J. H. McBrien, on the left, and the 10th. Brigade, Brig.-Gen- 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 8. CONTINUED 45 

eral R. J. F. Hayter, in reserve in the centre. Before the 
infantry jumped-off at 12.10 p.m., the cavalry and some tanks 
had gone through, towards the old Amiens defense system. 
The guns had shot themselves out over the 3rd. Canadian Divi 
sion s advance, and therefore the only artillery support for the 
troops was that of a few batteries which had followed them 
along, coming into action when the advance was held up. 

The first real opposition came from Beaucourt village, but 
this was overcome, and our men pushed forward to Beaucourt 
wood, held by the enemy in force, his very heavy machine-gun 
fire holding up both our advancing Brigades. Here a very 
gallant infantry attack finally cleared up the situation and the 
line went forward once more. Considerable opposition was 
met and overcome by the 12th. Brigade before they finally 
reached the Blue Line. On the right the enemy was making a 
stout stand at Le Quesnel, and the fact that here the French 
were not abreast of us made the situation more difficult, and 
that evening this village remained in the hands of the enemy. 

The 1st Canadian Division, the "Old Red Patch," occupied 
the centre of the Corps line of attack, and in describing its 
operations free use will be made of the very interesting narra 
tive of the operations of the Division in the battles of 1918, 
prepared and published by its Staff, though considerable con 
densation is necessary to keep within available space limits. 

The valley of the Luce, after bisecting the 3rd. Division 
front, ran in a generally easterly direction for 2,500 yards, 
made a sharp bend to the northeast for 1,000 yards, and then 
east again to its source, approximately 14,000 yards from the 
front line of the 1st. Division, or practically the final objective 
of the first day. For a thousand yards in breadth, in front of 
our line, lay Hangard Wood, strongly fortified by the enemy. 
To reach the first objective, the Green Line, 6,000 yards dis 
tant, the troops must attack down a slope, through Hangard 
Wood and the enemy front and support trenches, across a 
wooded valley known as Morgemont Wood, then capturing 
the high ground on which was situated the German main line 



46 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of resistance, then through a sharp valley known as Pantaloon 
Ravine in which were many machine-gun positions, and fin 
ally on to the forward slope of the north bank of the Luce. On 
the extreme right of the divisional area, a thousand yards short 
of the Green Line, northeast of Demuin, was the little village 
of Aubercourt. 

Between the Green and the Red Lines on this sector was 
the valley of the Luce, heavily wooded, and throwing off deep 
ravines, with the village of Ignaucourt on the river 1,000 
yards beyond the Green Line and 2,000 yards short of the Red 
Line. The Blue Line throughout our front followed the old 
Amiens Defense Line, a single trench line, disused and shallow 
for the most part. On the 1st. Division front, between the Red 
and Blue Lines, the frontage narrowed to 1,200 yards and 
offered a depth of 5,000 yards. For the first 3,000 yards was 
the river, then the considerable town of Caix, and 1,000 yards 
east the old Amiens Defense Line, the final objective. 

The 1st. Canadian Division attacked on a one Brigade 
front, the tasks allotted being the capture of the Green Line 
by the 3rd. Brigade, Brig.-General G. S. Tuxford, the Red 
Line by the 1st. Brigade, Brig.-General W. H. Griesbach, and 
the blue line by the 2nd. Brigade, Brig.-General F. O. W. 
Loomis. Thus the attack was to take the form of three 
separate, distinct blows. 

The 3rd. Brigade attacked with the 16th., 13th. and 14th. 
Battalions in line and the 15th. and 5th. Battalions in support 
-the latter being detached from the 2nd. Brigade, detailed to 
take the final objective, if absolutely necessary. Twenty-two 
tanks supported the Brigade in its attack. Three batteries 
from the Machine-Gun Battalion advanced with the infantry, 
and at 5.20 a.m. the 2nd. Brigade of Canadian Field Artillery 
followed in support. Little serious fighting took place until 
the main resistance line was reached. Here in his trenches the 
enemy put up a stiff fight, casualties being heavy on both sides, 
but the Highlanders were not to be denied, and the Green 
Line was reached well on time. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 8. CONTINUED 47 

The character of this fighting is illustrated by the heroic 
deed of Pte. John Bernard Croak of the 13th. Battalion, a 
native of Glace Bay, Cape Breton. Having become separated 
from his section he encountered a machine-gun nest, which he 
bombed and silenced, taking the gun and crew prisoners. 
Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded but refused to 
desist Having rejoined his platoon, a very strong point was 
encountered, containing several machine-guns. Pte. Croak. 
however, seeing an opportunity dashed forward alone and was 
almost immediately followed by the remainder of the platoon 
in a brilliant charge. He was the first to arrive at the trench 
line, into which he led his men, capturing three machine-guns 
and bayonetting or capturing the entire garrison. He was 
again severely wounded, this time mortally. 

When his company was held up by heavy fire from three 
machine-guns, which were seriously delaying the advance, Cpl. 
James Herman Good of the same battalion, a native of 
Bathurst, N.B., realising the gravity of the situation, dashed 
forward alone, killing several of the garrison and capturing 
the remainder. Later on, Cpl. Good, while alone, encountered 
a battery of 5.9-inch guns, which were in action at the time. 
Collecting three men of his section he charged the battery 
under point-blank fire and captured the entire crews of three 
guns. 

The 13th. Battalion, Montreal Highlanders, was recruited 
in part from the Maritime Provinces. Equally stiff fighting 
was encountered by the 16th. Battalion, Canadian Scottish of 
Western Canada, and the 14th. Battalion, Royal Montreal 
Regiment. The battalions supporting this successful attack of 
the 3rd. Brigade, the 15th., recruited from the 48th. High 
landers of Toronto, and the 5th., Saskatchewan, had sharp 
work mopping up, the wood being full of enemy dug-outs. 

The 1st. Brigade began to move forward at 5.10 a.m., and 
at 8.20 crossed the Green Line and carried the attack forward. 
This brigade also attacked with three battalions in line, the 
2nd., from Ottawa, the 3rd., recruited from Toronto district, 



48 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

and 4th., Central Ontario, with the 1st, Western Ontario, in 
support. Its attack was carried out without artillery support, 
except for the bombardment of distant points by heavy guns. 
Six tanks were allotted to it, but 18 actually went in, as 12 of 
the 22 that attacked with the 3rd Brigade were still in action. 
The objective, the high ground east of Cayeux and the cross 
ings of the Luce at this village and at Ignaucourt, was secured 
between 11 and 11.30a.m. 

In the meantime the 2nd. Brigade had been marching for 
ward, and attacked with the 7th. Battalion, British Columbia, 
and 10th. Battalion, of Alberta, on the right and left of the 
Luce river, with the 8th. Battalion, recruited from the Prov 
ince of Manitoba, in support, and the 5th. Battalion, recruited 
from the Province of Saskatchewan, in reserve. Fourteen 
tanks advanced with the infantry, of which six reached the 
final objective. Except on the extreme left, little resistance 
was encoutered by this Brigade, the enemy being demoralized. 

The 2nd. Canadian Division, on the left of the Canadian 
line and in liason with the Australians, launched its attack 
from a narrow front, but widened out from Marcelcave to the 
north of the Amiens-Chaulnes railway toward Lamotte-en- 
Santerre, in order to obtain freedom of manoeuvre for its 
attack on the towns of Wiencourt and Guillaucourt on this 
railway. It had here to follow high open ground over a 
plateau cut by deep valleys and resistance was very deter 
mined. The 2nd. Canadian Division was on a single Brigade 
front, the 4th. Brigade in the line, the 5th. Brigade behind, 
ready to pass through, and the 6th. Brigade in reserve. The 
4th. Brigade, Brig.-General R. Rennie, was to capture Marcel- 
cave and establish a line 500 yards east. With it were two com 
panies of the 14th. Battalion Tank Corps, one Army Brigade 
of Artillery, and two batteries of machine-guns. There were 
also Canadian Engineers for investigating and repairing dug 
outs. 

The troops moved forward in a mist, and instead of fol 
lowing the tanks, they found it necessary to lead the way. On 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 8. CONTINUED 49 

the right was the 18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, with the 
19th. Battalion, Central Ontario, on the left, in close touch 
with the Australians. At 6.23 a.m. the barrage lifted from 
Marcelcave and the troops rushed the village. Its capture 
was completed by 7.20 by the 19th. and 21st. Battalions, the 
latter being from Eastern Ontario. While leading his Bat 
talion into action, Lt.-Col. Elmer W. Jones was killed by 
machine-gun fire, the command of the 21st. Battalion devolv 
ing upon Maj. H. E. Pense. 

Meantime the 18th. Battalion had done good work towards 
Morgemont wood. All battalions in the Brigade had hard 
fighting, the 20th Battalion, of Toronto, though in support, 
suffering heavy casualties while mopping-up. 

The 5th Brigade, Brig.-General J. M. Ross, advanced in 
support of the 4th. Brigade. Owing to the very heavy fog 
prevailing at the kick-off, units of the latter advanced rapidly 
without encountering opposition, passing in this way over 
wooded areas where the enemy lay hid until they had gone 
through. As a consequence the 5th. Brigade, following up at 
about 6 a.m., ran into heavy and quite unexpected machine- 
gun and rifle fire, progress being slow and its units losing 
heavilv in both officers and men. The tanks were on ahead and 

tt 

the infantry had to fight it out alone. 

In this way the 26th. Battalion, New Brunswick, Lt.-Col. 
A. E. G. McKenzie, was badly cut up in Snipe Copse, south of 
Marcelcave, losses of officers being very great. A Lieutenant, 
a junior subaltern in his company, found himself in command 
of it before reaching his objective and was later recommended 
for the greatest bravery and skilful leadership, inspiring his 
men to fresh exertions. So heavy were the casualties in the 
Battalion, that at one time it was seriously checked. The 
Officer Commanding, however, gathered together the battalion 
staff, including cooks and batmen, and led them into the 
assault, thus saving the situation, and the Battalion continued 
on to its objective. 

The 24th. Battalion, Victoria Rifles of Montreal, of the 

5 



50 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

same Brigade, was also in line, and lost heavily in the early 
morning. The tanks suffered heavily, as the open, level coun 
try made them fair targets once the mist had lifted. The 5th. 
Brigade, in face of stiffening opposition, pushed on its attack, 
and captured its objective of the Red Line, Wiencourt and 
Guillaucourt. All its units had hard fighting, Lt.-Col. Wyse 
of the 25th. Battalion, Nova Scotia, being wounded, while the 
22nd., French Canadians, though in support, had a number of 
casualties. 

Towards evening the 6th. Brigade, Brig.-General A. H. 
Bell, went through the 5th. Brigade and captured its final 
objective, the old Amiens defense line, with the 31st. Battalion, 
Southern Alberta, on the right, and the 29th. Battalion, British 
Columbia, on the left. In close support were the 27th. Bat 
talion, Manitoba and 28th. Battalion, Saskatchewan. The 
fighting was stiff and the 28th. was drawn into it before the 
Blue Line was won. 

Notwithstanding the very hard going, the 2nd. Canadian 
Division thus captured all its objectives on time. Although, 
owing to its prolonged period in the line, it had not had the 
same months of training in open warfare as our other Divi 
sions, its troops proved themselves readily adaptable to the new 
conditions. 

The 2nd. Australian Division, on our immediate left, made 
good progress, advancing beside us through Bayonneviller to 
east of Harbonnieres, but south of the Somme the 3rd. 
Australian Division was held up a good deal by the failure of 
the III British Corps to make any substantial progress north 
of that river. This Corps had been subjected to a heavy attack 
two days before and had only succeeded on Aug. 7 in regaining 
ground lost and was in no condition to push with vigor a new 
offensive on the grand scale. 

Thus ended the first day of the battle, in which all four 
Canadian Divisions had been engaged, the greatest penetra 
tion, east of Caix, representing a depth of 16,000 yards from 
the jumping-off line and thus constituting a record first day ?. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 8. CONTINUED 51 

advance on the West Front. Over six thousand prisoners had 
been captured, exceeding our total casualties, with a vast quan 
tity of guns and material of all kinds, including two complete 
enemy Divisional Headquarters, with valuable plans and 
documents. As had been done at Vimy, where captured bat 
teries had been renamed the 1st., 2nd., and 3rd. Tan-Ger 
manic" Batteries, we put to immediate use the captured guns, 
with their great store of ammunition, but in this case every gun 
on our front being captured, two complete "Pan-Germanic" 
Artillery Brigades were formed, a Colonel of Artillery being 
sent up to take command. Captured documents confirmed 
what this massing of artillery in the front line indicated, 
namely, that we had anticipated the enemy offensive against 
Amiens by two days only. Had it been otherwise, and the 
line been held lightly but in depth, our captures must have 
been far less and we should not have so overwhelmed the 
defense in our first rush. Tougher righting was ahead. 



CHAPTER VII 

OPERATIONS: AUG. 9-11 

WE have seen how on the opening day all the objectives 
had been captured except the town of Le Quesnel on 
our extreme right, a strong position the enemy was able 
to hold because the French were not up on our flank. Plans 
for the renewal of the attack next day depended on an early 
clearing up of this situation by the 4th. Canadian Division, and 
accordingly the llth. Brigade was entrusted with the task. 
The 75th. Battalion, recruited from Central and Western On 
tario, advanced by night to the assault, while the 87th. Bat 
talion, the Grenadier Guards of Montreal, was to make a flank 
march across the enemy front, passing south of the Roye road, 
and thence falling on the enemy s flank. 

These battalions had to take up their positions for the 
attack in the dark by the stars and their maps and compasses, a 
difficult operation, but, starting off at 4.30 a.m., they were on 
their appointed ground by six o clock, when aided by an 
intensive barrage, the attack was successfully pushed home. 
An amusing incident was the wager made between the 
Brigadier and Lt.-Col. C. C. Harbottle of the 75th. as to which 
should first occupy the enemy divisional headquarters known 
to be in Le Quesnel. The battalion commander won out by a 
short space and the Brigade had to be content with less pre 
tentious headquarters. 

To return to the narrative of the Corps Commander : "On 
the following day, Aug. 9, the advance was continued with the 
3rd., 1st. and 2nd. Canadian Divisions in the line, the 4th. 
Canadian Division being held in Corps Reserve. Substantial 
progress was made, and by evening the average depth of our 
advance was about four miles, with a maximum of six and a 
half miles at some points. The following additional villages 

52 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 9-11 53 

were captured : Le Quesnel, Folies, Bouchoir, Beaufort, 
Warvillers, Rouvroy, Vrely, Meharicourt and Rosieres. The 
Infantry and Tanks of the 3rd. Canadian Division and the 
Canadian Independent Force co-operated with the French in 
the capture of Arvillers. 

"During the day the enemy s resistance stiffened consider 
ably, and whatever gains were made resulted from heavy 
infantry righting against fresh troops, with only a few tanks 
available for support. This advance had brought our troops 
within the area of the trenches and defenses occupied prior to 
the Somme operations of 1916. These trenches, while not in a 
good state of repair, were, nevertheless, protected by a consid 
erable amount of wire, and lent themselves readily to a very 
stubborn machine-gun defense." 

The battle had indeed assumed an entirely different char 
acter. Although an average of six thousand yards was gained 
during the day, it was only at cost of very heavy ding-dong 
fighting. With the best will in the world it took time to bring 
up the artillery. Canadian railway troops were engaged in 
pushing up the rail-head from Amiens but progress was slow. 
In face of fresh enemy divisions, it w r as necessary to proceed 
with utmost caution and not expose our troops to needless 
losses unless the gain was positive. But the spirit of the men 
continued wonderful. In fact Sir Arthur Currie found in his 
visits to advanced dressing stations many of our wounded 
anxious to get back into the line. 

The day s attack had been designed to open early in the 
morning, the glimmer of dawn being the favorite hour of the 
Canadian Corps. But until Le Quesnel fell this plan had to be 
postponed, and changes were also necessary in the alignment 
of the divisions, our 2nd. Division extending its area further 
south, forcing the 1st. Division to side-slip south about 5,000 
yards. All this took time and the kick-off did not therefore 
take place until well on in the day. 

The task assigned the Corps on Aug. 9 was not so formid 
able to all seeming as that accomplished on the previous day. 



54 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

It meant an attack on a five-mile front to a depth of about 
three and a half miles. The objective was the Bouchoir-Rouv- 
roy-Meharicourt road. The country was almost flat, very 
open, with only a few villages and small woods scattered over 
it. The attack was to be carried out by the 3rd., 1st., and 2nd. 
Divisions from right to left. The 3rd. Division had to advance 
down the Roye road and capture Folies and Bouchoir. The 
1st. Division had the villages of Beaufort, Warvillers and 
Rouvroy on its front, while the 2nd. Division was responsible 
for Vrely, Rosieres and Meharicourt. 

On the right, as has been seen, the 3rd. Division not only 
secured their objectives but went out of the Corps area to assist 
the French in capturing Arvillers. 

In the centre, on the 1st. Division front, the 1st. Brigade 
was sent in to capture Beaufort and Rouvroy and the 2nd. 
Brigade against Warvillers. The 1st. Brigade attacked with 
the 1st. Battalion, Western Ontario, and 4th. Battalion, Central 
Ontario, in the line, the 2nd. Battalion, Ottawa, in support, 
and the 3rd. Battalion, recruited from Toronto district, in 
reserve. The attack was supported by two batteries of 
machine-guns and the 1st. Brigade of Field Artillery covered 
the advance. From the outset the attacking troops came under 
heavy machine-gun fire, from the high ground on the right. 
In order to deal with it the right-flank troops of the 1st. Divi 
sion were deflected south, the 2nd. Battalion being pushed 
forward to fill the gap, thereafter fighting right through to 
the objective. 

The 2nd. Brigade was able to make rapid progress in the 
early stage of the attack, outstripping the troops on its right by 
the time Warvillers was reached. This village and the woods 
immediately to the south of it were captured by the aid of 
tanks with but little difficulty. But on the extreme right in the 
early stage of the attack, serious resistance was encountered, 
coming from a nest of machine-guns in Hatchett Wood. The 
2nd. Brigade attacked with the 5th. Battalion, Saskatchewan, 
and the 8th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, and there came up in 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 9-11 55 

support two battalions of the 3rd. Brigade, the 15th., recruited 
from the 48th. Highlanders of Toronto, and the 14th., Royal 
Montreal Regiment. 

The intensive fighting on this front was fruitful of many 
individual deeds of gallantry. Thus, when his platoon came 
unexpectedly under fire of numerous machine-guns, Acting- 
Sergeant George Frederick Coppins of the 8th. Battalion, a 
native of London, England, finding that it was not possible 
to advance nor retire, and when, no cover being available, it 
was apparent that the platoon must be annihilated unless the 
machine-guns were at once silenced, called for four volunteers 
to follow him and leapt forward in the face of intense machine- 
gun fire. With his comrades he rushed straight for the 
machine-guns. The four men with him were killed and Cpl. 
Coppins wounded. Despite his wounds he reached the hostile 
machine-guns alone, killed the operator of the first gun and 
three of the crew, and made prisoners four others. 

Bold initiative on the part of Sergt. D. Zengal, 5th. Bat 
talion, of Woolford, Alta., saved the lives of many of his com 
rades. He was leading his platoon forward gallantly to the 
attack, east of Warvillers, but had not gone far when he 
realized that a gap had occurred on his flank, and that an 
enemy machine-gun was firing at close range into the advanc 
ing line. Grasping the situation, he rushed forward some 200 
yards ahead of the platoon, tackled the machine-gun emplace 
ment, killed the officer and operator of the gun, and dispersed 
the crew. Later, when the battalion was held up by very 
heavy machine-gun fire, he displayed much tactical skill and 
directed his fire with destructive results. Shortly afterwards 
he was rendered unconscious by an enemy shell, but on recover 
ing consciousness he at once continued to direct harassing fire 
on the enemy. 

Twelve tanks supported the 1st. Canadian Division this 
day, six with each Brigade, and all did valuable service. In 
addition the Divisional Commander secured some whippet 
tanks from the Cavalry Corps, and these were of assistance in 
clearing Beaufort wood. 



56 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Meanwhile on our left, in touch with the Australians, the 
2nd. Canadian Division had exceedingly stiff fighting. At 11 
a.m. the 5th. Brigade attacked on the right, and the 6th. 
Brigade on the left, with the 4th. Brigade in reserve. The 
5th. had in line the 25th. Battalion, Nova Scotia, on the right, 
and the 22nd. Battalion, French Canadians, on the left, and 
advanced under very heavy fire on Meharicourt. Earlier in 
the day this town had been ridden over by the 8th. Hussars, 
but it was again in the hands of the enemy. The position was 
studded with machine-gun posts, the enemy being in great 
strength along the ravine from Vrely to Meharicourt, and the 
men fought their way forward slowly, reducing these strong 
holds in succession. 

The two battalions worked their way forward with the 
greatest gallantry, and finally stormed Meharicourt at 5 p.m., 
clearing the village and establishing a line in front of it. They 
were here, however, exposed to the point-blank fire of a battery 
at Maucourt. The 24th. Battalion, Victoria Rifles of Mont 
real, and the 26th. Battalion, New Brunswick, came up in sup 
port and the line was consolidated. Brig.-General J. M. Ross 
was severely wounded, being incapacitated for several months, 
command of the 5th. Brigade devolving upon Lt.-Col. T. L. 
Tremblay, of the 22nd. Battalion. 

On our extreme left the 6th. Brigade had before it the con 
siderable town of Rosieres, supported by the railway embank 
ment, and here the enemy was in great force, having estab 
lished numerous machine-gun posts in the suburbs. Although 
the general attack of the 2nd. Canadian Division was not to 
take place until 1 1 a.m., the battalion on our left, the 27th., of 
Manitoba, attacked at 8 a.m., in conjunction with the Aus 
tralians and not to hold up their advance. In its advance the 
battalion was exposed to enfilade fire from both flanks and 
fought its way forward with the greatest difficulty but with 
grim determination. It was indeed one of the hardest fights of 
its history, and it suffered heavy casualties before its troops 
entered the town at a quarter past one that afternoon. Here 
many prisoners and much booty was captured. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 9-11 57 

On the Brigade right, the 29th. Battalion, of Vancouver, 
did not kick-off until 11 a.m., synchronizing its advance with 
that of the Sth. Brigade on its right. It was held up too by 
heavy flank fire from the direction of Rosieres, and had a hard 
battle all the way, suffering 250 casualties. In Rosieres the 
battalion captured an 11 -inch naval gun mounted on a railway 
truck. In the afternoon the 6th. Brigade proceeded to the 
capture of its final objective for the day. 

In the high church tower of Rosieres one of our Batteries 
established an "O-Pip" (Observation Post), and this elevation 
gave a fine view of the battle both north and south. About a 
mile east of Rosieres could be seen lying on the track an entire 
enemy train, which, laden with reinforcements, had been cap 
tured by Imperial cavalry. This church tower was a conspic 
uous mark to the enemy batteries further east and not many 
hours passed before they brought it down. 

On our left Australian troops had stormed Lihons, thus 
thrusting a sharp salient into the enemy defense, and their line 
thence fell back northwesterly through Rainecourt and Proyart 
to Morcourt on the Somme. The enemy, however, attacked in 
great force, and the Australians were obliged to fall back from 
both Lihons and Proyart, converting for the time being our 
position at Meharicourt into a salient. 

Fighting of the same character continued next day, Aug. 
10. "The attack was continued on the morning of Aug. 10," 
says Sir Arthur Currie, "with the 3rd. Canadian Division on 
the right and the 4th. Canadian Division on the left, the 1st. 
and 2nd. Divisions being held in Corps Reserve. After the 
3rd. Canadian Division had taken the village of Le Quesnoy, 
the 32nd. (British) Division, which had come under the Cana 
dian Corps on the night of Aug. 9-10, passed through it and 
advanced the line somewhat further from the old British 
trenches west of Parvillers and Damery. The 4th. Canadian 
Division during the day succeeded, after very hard fighting, in 
occupying Fouquescourt, Maucourt. Chilly and Hallu." 

The capture of Fouquescourt was particularly valuable in 



58 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

view of preparations in progress for an attack on the strong 
enemy positions between that village and the Roye road. 
Desperate fighting took place on the 4th. Canadian Divisional 
front, where our left flank still presented a pronounced salient. 
On the Divisional right, the 10th. Brigade fought its way for 
ward through a maze of enemy machine-gun positions, in face 
of intensive artillery fire. All its battalions were heavily 
engaged at one stage or another, these being the 44th., New 
Brunswick, but originally recruited in the West; the 46th., 
South Saskatchewan; the 47th., Western Ontario; and 50th., 
Calgary. 

The 12th. Brigade, Brig.-General J. H. McBricn, carried 
on the attack on the left of our line from the neighborhood of 
Meharicourt, storming Maucourt and Chilly with the railway 
at Hallu the objective. The going was extraordinarily diffi 
cult, through a maze of trenches and wire, studded with 
machine-gun posts. The 78th. Battalion of Winnipeg fought 
its way right through to Hallu. The 38th. Battalion, Ottawa, 
also saw very heavy fighting in this sector, and in fact the whole 
Brigade greatly distinguished itself, the other battalions being 
the 72nd., British Columbia, and the 85th., Nova Scotia. 

The 1 1th. Brigade came up in support and was also heavily 
engaged, and here the 102nd. Battalion, British Columbia, 
held a critical position in face of very heavy loss. But the 
enemy was able to bring up more artillery and the salient was 
found untenable. "During the night of Aug. 10-11 a strong 
enemy counter-attack developed against a part of the front of 
the 4th. Canadian Division east of Hallu," says the Corps 
Commander. "This counter-attack was beaten off, but owing 
to general conditions the line at that point was slightly with 
drawn to the railway embankment immediately to the west of 
Hallu. Subsequent upon this slight withdrawal, and with a 
view to reducing the existing salient forward to Chilly, the 
line was further withdrawn to the eastern outskirts of that 
village. 

"On Aug. 11, at 9.30 a.m.," he goes on, "the 32nd. Division 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 9-11 59 

launched an attack against Damery. but was not successful. 
The 4th. Canadian Division improved their line by advanc 
ing it locally to reduce the Chilly salient, which was still very 
pronounced. During the night of Aug. 11-12 the 32nd. Divi 
sion and 4th. Canadian Division were relieved by the 3rd. and 
2nd. Canadian Divisions respectively." 

On. Aug. 13 Sir Arthur Currie addressed a special order 
to his Command, as follows : 

"The first stage of this Battle of Amiens is over, and one 
of the most successful operations conducted by the Allied 
Armies since the war began is now a matter of history. 

"The Canadian Corps has every right to feel more than 
proud of the part it played. To move the Corps from the 
Arras front and in less than a week launch it in battle so many 
miles distant was in itself a splendid performance. Yet the 
splendor of that performance pales into insignificance when 
compared with what has been accomplished since "zero" hour 
on Aug. 8. 

"On that date the Canadian Corps to which was attached 
the 3rd. Cavalry Division, the 4th. Tank Brigade, the Sth. 
Squadron, R.A.F. attacked on a front of 7,500 yards. After 
a penetration of 22,000 yards the line to-night rests on a 10,000 
yard frontage. Sixteen German Divisions have been identi 
fied, of which four have been completely routed. Nearly 150 
guns have been captured, while over 1,000 machine-guns have 
fallen into our hands. Ten thousand prisoners have passed 
through our cages and Casualty Clearing Stations, a number 
greatly in excess of our total casualties. Twenty-five towns and 
villages have been rescued from the clutch of the invaders, the 
Paris-Amiens railway has been freed from interference, and 
the danger of dividing the French and British Armies has been 
dissipated. 

"Canada has always placed the most implicit confidence in 
her Army. How nobly has that confidence been justified, and 
with what pride has the story of your gallant success been read 
in the homeland! This magnificent victory has been won 



60 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

because your training was good, your discipline was good, 
your leadership was good. Given these three, success must 
always come. 

"From the depths of a very full heart I wish to thank all 
Staffs and Services the Infantry, the Artillery, the Cavalry, 
the Engineers, the Machine-Gunners, the Independent Force 
(consisting of the Motor Machine-Gun Brigades and the 
Cyclists), the Tank Battalions, the R.A.F., the Medical Ser 
vices, the Army Service Corps, the Ordnance Corps, the 
Veterinary Corps, and the Chaplain Services, for their splen 
did support and co-operation, and to congratulate you all on 
the wonderful success achieved. Let us remember our gallant 
dead, whose spirit shall ever be with us, inspiring us to nobler 
effort, and when the call again comes, be it soon or otherwise, 
I know the same measure of success will be yours." 



CHAPTER VIII 

OPERATIONS : AUG. 12-20 

THE heroic though fruitless assault of the 32nd. British 
Division upon the immensely strong enemy positions in 
front of Parvillers and Damery is worth recording in 
more detail, because it opened the way for a magnificent feat 
of arms on part of troops of the 3rd. Canadian Division. 

Two and a half miles northwest of Roye right athwart the 
Amiens-Roye road rises the 100-metre eminence known, from 
the singular shape of the wood at its foot, as the Bois-en-Z, or 
Zed Wood. It formed an. important feature of ancient 
defenses in this region and to this day the galleries hewn from 
the living rock still exist in the base of the hill. The enemy 
when on the defensive prior to the battles of the Somme in 
1916, was quick to seize its value and made of it the pivot of 
his defense in front of Roye, a considerable railway centre. 
Linked up with the villages to the north it formed a chief out 
work of his Roye-Chaulnes line. Its importance was so 
generally recognized that in the early stage of the present 
battle a squadron of the Fort. Garry Horse had made a reckless 
dash down the Roye road in the hope of galloping the position 
-a fatal ride described in detail on a subsequent page. 

The enemy held in force Andechy, a village a mile south 
west of the Zed Wood (which for a few hours had been in 
the hands of our cavalry on Aug. 10), Damery, three-quarters 
of a mile to the northeast of the wood, and Parvillers, the same 
distance due north of Damery. His right flank, though some 
what compromised by the capture of Fouquescourt recorded 
above, a village a mile and three-quarters north and a little 
east of Parvillers, still rested firmly on the wood immediately 
north of Parvillers with the little hamlet of Maison Bleu just 
beyond, and received additional support from the fortified 

61 



62 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

village of La Chavette, a mile and a quarter northeast of 
Parvillers and therefore the same distance southeast of 
Fouquescourt. Running for a thousand yards south of 
Damery and so northeast of Zed Wood, is Damery Wood. 

For military purposes of an earlier age this old Roman 
road had been led right over the crest of Zed Wood, and on 
each side for a mile or two west the enemy had lined it with 
trenches and wire, with machine-gun positions sweeping what 
was in effect a natural glacis. The same defense system, with 
a double line of trench, had been carried from the Roye Road 
west of Damery and thence west of Parvillers. 

As is usual in this part of the country, each of these villages 
is perched upon a slight elevation, rising from 90 metres at 
Damery to 95 at Parvillers, crowned with the dense foliage 
of the village park. Immediately east of this line the ground 
rises gently up, to fall away in a little dip and then rise again 
to the villages of Goyencourt and Fresnoy-lez-Roye, the 
former being about 1,200 yards and the latter 2,000 yards 
northeast of Damery, and these could not have been placed 
better to afford support to both Damery and Parvillers, either 
by infantry or artillery. Goyencourt is on a slightly higher 
level than Damery, but the ridge intervening prevents direct 
observation and was to form the key to the battle tactics of our 
troops who finally captured it. 

The weakness of the position is that immediately in front 
of it lies a wide plateau, with a uniform elevation of 100 
metres, distant about a thousand yards from both Damery and 
Parvillers, and, what was worse from the point of view of the 
defense, thrusting in a tongue between them. On this higher 
ground is situated the old British front line of the Somme, but 
it is bare and open affording no natural cover. To make a 
frontal attack necessitated descending from the plateau and 
then advancing up the reverse slope against the villages, 
everywhere exposed to artillery and machine-gun fire. The 
only shelter was an old but still deep support trench running 
east and west and leading directly out of our defense system 
into Damery village. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 12-20 63 

It was against this immensely strong position that the 32nd. 
Division was sent in to attack. This British Division had 
been brought hastily down from the north, covering part of 
the distance by marching, and the troops were tired out when 
they took over from our 3rd. Division on the night of Aug. 
9-10. During Aug. 10 elements of the Division improved the 
line with a view to securing a better jumping-off ground. 
There was no sleep at night for the enemy kept up a deluge of 
artillery fire liberally besprinkled with gas shells. 

At half past nine in the morning of Sunday, Aug. 11, the 
Division launched an attack extending over its whole front, 
supported by a not very successful barrage. The troops 
attacked with the utmost gallantry but were met by a withering 
and crushing fire, and at no point made an advance of more 
than a hundred yards beyond our trench system. The Units 
engaged included Devon troops and Highland Light Infantry, 
and our men who witnessed the slaughter said it was an inspir 
ing sight to see these attempting to dig in under the hail and 
fury of fire. 

Finally the Division fell back, having suffered nearly two 
thousand casualties, and the following night was relieved by 
the 3rd. Canadian Division. The heavy loss was due 
primarily to the Divisional Artillery putting down their bar 
rage too far ahead of the troops, with the result that their men 
were not following the barrage sufficiently closely. No troops 
in the world could have shown greater fortitude or pertinacity, 
the attack being persisted in long after its hopelessness was 
revealed. 

The 3rd. Canadian Division took over again therefore on 
Sunday night, Aug. 11-12. The Divisional Commander, 
Major-General L. J. Lipsett, at once set about his preparation 
for the attack. He decided that our left sector in front of 
Parvillers, offered best prospects for an initial success. Plans 
were carefully prepared for a massing of artillery and for this 
purpose the divisional artillery had the support of the 5th, 
Canadian Divisional Artillery, with some heavy batteries. 



64 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Monday and Tuesday were devoted to fighting the way 
step by step through the old trench system up to the northern 
and western edge of Parvillers and Damery. This was done 
under unremittant and intense enemy fire, both day and night, 
our troops continually having to put on their gas masks. Nor 
was this all. On Monday the enemy made two determined 
counter-attacks, and on Tuesday night counter-attacked three 
times, but on each occasion was beaten off. Finally all was 
ready and it was decided to open the attack on Parvillers on 
Wednesday night. 

The assault was assigned to the 7th. Brigade, and one bat 
talion, the 42nd., Royal Highlanders of Montreal, Lt.-Col. R. 
L. H. Ewing, started in by making a detour north of Parvil 
lers, bombing as they went. So soon as this movement was 
well under way, the Princess Patricia s Light Infantry, Lt.- 
Col. C. J. T. Stewart, initiated a similar attack south of 
Parvillers, thrusting in along the high spur alluded to above. 
By dawn both battalions were established on the northern and 
southern outskirts of the village respectively. 

At a quarter past six our massed artillery laid down a 
hurricane barrage for fifteen minutes. The two battalions 
then rushed the village, joining hands fifteen minutes later, 
with combined casualties of but five men since the kick-off of 
the previous night. But the heavy fighting was yet to come. 

Leaving the 42nd. to mop up the village, the P. P.L.I. 
pushed on to the east, and prepared to fight off a determined 
counter-attack developing from La Chavette to the northeast; 
but they were immediately appraised of another attack coming 
at their rear from Damery. Nothing daunted, they formed 
front both ways and fought their way back into Parvillers, 
though the enemy was coming on four deep from two direc 
tions. The 42nd. came up to their support, and soon the other 
two battalions of the Brigade, the Royal Canadian Regiment 
and the 49th. of Edmonton, were on the ground helping to 
consolidate the position. 

During the course of the day the enemy attacked again and 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 12-20 65 

again but finally desisted, the P.P. L.I. estimating 500 dead on 
their front. The village was honeycombed with subterranean 
passages, and in mopping up these three platoons of the 42nd., 
about 90 men, not only killed a hundred of the enemy as they 
strove to fight their way out, but captured and sent to the rear 
402 prisoners. These two battalions suffered heavy casualties 
but they were incurred after the village had been stormed. 
One officer remarked that there had been no harder infantry 
fighting since Mouquet Farm. 

Many individual feats of valor characterised this fight for 
Parvillers, such as that of Pte. Thomas Dineson, of the 42nd. 
Battalion, a native of Denmark but who enlisted in Montreal. 
During ten hours of hand-to-hand fighting, which resulted in 
the capture of over a mile of strongly garrisoned and stub 
bornly defended enemy trenches, he displayed conspicuous and 
continuous bravery. Five times in succession he rushed for 
ward alone and single-handed put hostile machine-guns out of 
action, accounting for twelve of the enemy with bomb and 
bayonet. His sustained valor and resourcefulness inspired his 
comrades at a very critical stage of the battle. 

At a critical period of the counter-attack, when his platoon 
was isolated and almost surrounded, Sergt. Robert Spall, of 
the P. P.L.I., seized a Lewis gun and jumping upon the para 
pet of the trench his platoon was holding, poured in a wither 
ing fire on the oncoming enemy ranks, inflicting many casual 
ties. He then led his men along the trench into a sap, 75 yards 
from the enemy, where picking up another Lewis gun, this 
gallant N.C.O. again climbed the parapet and by his fire at 
point-blank range checked the enemy advance. He was here 
fatally wounded, but his courage and resourcefulness had 
saved his platoon. Born in Suffolk, England, he was brought 
by his parents to Montreal when a child, and at the outbreak 
of the war was engaged in business in Winnipeg. 

In the meantime another battle had developed almost unex 
pectedly at Damery, on the front of the 9th. Brigade. The 
52nd. Battalion, for the most part lumbermen and prospectors 



66 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

recruited at Fort William and Port Arthur, held the line 
immediately opposite the village. On Wednesday night the 
enemy made a half-hearted attack, and at nine o clock next 
morning, Aug. 15, a platoon was sent up the support line, 
described above, bombing as they went, to test out the enemy s 
resistance. They reported back all clear. The Battalion Com 
mander, Lt.-Col. W. W. Foster, made a personal reconnaisancc 
with one runner, and, satisfied that the village could be carried, 
ordered an attack at five minutes notice. One company on 
the right went forward south of the village, a second company 
followed up the support trench and a third skirted the village 
on the north, with the remaining company in support. Very 
shortly Damery was in our hands. A few of the enemy were 
found in dug-outs and one of these lunged his bayonet through 
the sleeve of Col. Foster s tunic before the latter shot him 
down. 

Suspecting a trap, he led his battalion east of the village 
and formed up behind the ridge, with one company pushed 
well out on either flank. In the meantime the 1 16th. Battalion, 
Centre Ontario, was pushing forward on his left and the 43rd. 
Battalion, Winnipeg, in close support of the 52nd. 

The movement was carried out barely in time for there 
broke on the doomed village an intense enemy cannonade of 
heavy and light guns. But not a shell touched our men, lying 
behind the ridge. Gas, laid down in the village, floated back 
on a west wind over their heads. Then, after the preparation 
was considered complete, dense waves of field-gray, converg 
ing on Damery from both Goyencourt and Fresnoy, flooded in 
to an easy victory. They came in full marching equipment 
with their blankets, evidently expecting to break through. Not 
less than four enemy battalions came against our little force. 
They came confidently on to one of the most terrible slaughters 
of the war, for our magnificent artillery, assisted by French 
batteries on our right, laid down an intense barrage in the cen 
tre of their massed advance, and right across its entire length, 
extending as far back as the Goyencourt-Fresnoy road. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 12-20 67 

The front waves were caught between the barrage and the 
village and must either fight their way through or surrender. 
They fought with desperate courage. Our centre fell back a 
little to the edge of the village, while both our flanks, some 
what advanced and wheeling in, poured a murderous rifle and 
machine-gun fire into the penned enemy mass. He was 
doomed. A few fought through to the village and fell beneath 
our bayonets; some 250 surrendered; the rest died. The dead, 
conservatively estimated at over one thousand, were piled up 
rampart high, for our range was never more than 200 yards. 

This was at one o clock in the afternoon. At four o clock 
the enemy again made a massed attack, so vital was the position 
to the defense of Roye. But by this time the Cameron High 
landers of Winnipeg had come up in support with a company 
on either flank of the 52nd. and secured Damery Wood. The 
enemy was driven back with further slaughter. Among our 
wounded was Lieut-Col. Urquhart, who had so gallantly 
brought up his Battalion, the 43rd. Assistance too had been 
rendered from the direction of the Roye road by the "Inter 
national Company," half French and half Canadian, who 
formed the liason between us. Our gallant French neighbors, 
indeed, fired by our success, pitched in that evening and 
stormed Zed Wood. By a singular chance the immediate 
neighbors of the 52nd. Canadian Infantry Battalion were the 
52nd. French Chasseurs, and an interchange of compliment 
and congratulation took place on the very fine work of both 
sides. 

The remainder of the Battle of Amiens, so far as the Cana 
dian Corps is concerned, is thus described by the Corps Com 
mander: "On the nights of Aug. 15-16 and 16-17 the 1st. 
Canadian Division relieved the 3rd. Canadian Division, the 
latter being withdrawn to Corps Reserve. Progress was made 
during the night of Aug. 16-17, the enemy being driven out of 
Fransart by the 4th. Brigade, Brig.-General R. Rennie, and out 
of La Chavette by the 1st. Canadian Division, our line on the 
right being advanced in co-operation with the French. 

The relief of the 2nd. Canadian Division by the 4th. Cana- 



68 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

dian Division was carried out on the nights of Aug. 15-16 and 
16-17, the former being withdrawn to Corps Reserve on Aug. 
17. The operation which had been projected for Aug. 16, had 
been postponed and it had been decided to transfer the Cana 
dian Corps back to the First Army, the move to begin by 
strategical trains on Aug. 19. 

"Aug. 18 was quiet along the front, but on Aug. 19 the 4th. 
Canadian Division carried out a minor operation near Chilly, 
which greatly improved our line in that neighborhood. Four 
hostile counter-attacks to recover the newly-won ground were 
beaten off during the night. 

"On Aug. 19, the 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian Divisions started 
their move to First Army, and on the night of Aug. 19-20 the 
relief of the 1st. Canadian Division commenced. This relief 
was completed on Aug. 22, and the 1st. Canadian Division was 
placed in Corps Reserve. On Aug. 22 I handed over command 
of the Canadian Corps front to the G.O.C., Australian Corps, 
and my headquarters moved north to Hautecloque, opening 
there at 10 a.m. on the same day. 

"Between Aug. 2 and 22 the Canadian Corps fought against 
15 German Divisions; of these 10 were directly engaged and 
thoroughly defeated, prisoners being captured from almost 
every one of their battalions; the five other divisions fighting 
astride our flanks, were only partially engaged by us. 

"In the same period the Canadian Corps captured 9,131 
prisoners, 190 guns of all calibres, and more than 1,000 
machine-guns and trench mortars. The greatest depth pene 
trated approximated to 14 miles, and an area of over 67 square 
miles containing 27 towns and villages had been liberated. 

"The casualties suffered by the Canadian Corps in the 14 
days heavy fighting amounted to- 

Officers Other Ranks 

Killed 126 1,688 

Missing 9 436 

Wounded 444 8,659 

Total 579 10,783 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 12-20 69 

"Considering the number of German Divisions engaged, 
and the results achieved, the casualties were very light." 

The capture of Fransart by the 2nd. Canadian Division 
was a brilliant piece of work. On Aug. 19 orders were issued 
to the 4th. and 5th. Brigades, to push forward and establish a 
line which should deny to the enemy the defenses of the rail 
way east of Fransart, and also clear the village, thus enabling 
the 1st. Canadian Division, which was attacking on the right 
in co-operation with the French, to obtain their objective of 
La Chavette. The 19th. Battalion, Central Ontario, Lt.-Col. 
L. H. Millen, attacked at half past four in the afternoon and 
successfully carried out the operation, establishing a line well 
forward of the village, capturing many prisoners and machine- 
guns and much material. By half past seven the line had been 
consolidated. 

This Battalion was assisted by two companies of the 18th. 
Battalion, Western Ontario, on the right, who after the attack, 
were used to protect and hold the extended right flank, caused 
by the Division on the right not having been able to advance 
simultaneously. 

During these operations since Aug. 8 casualties among 
officers were very heavy. In addition to casualties among 
Battalion Commanders mentioned previously, Lt.-Col. C. E. 
Bent of the 15th. Battalion, of Toronto, was severely wounded, 
the command devolving until his return some weeks later on 
Maj. J. D. Garvan. Lt.-Col. W. S. Latta of the 29th. Bat 
talion, of Vancouver, was also severely wounded. 



CHAPTER IX 

OPERATIONS : CANADIAN CAVALRY BRIGADE 

REFERENCE has been made to the wonderful spectacle 
afforded by the British Cavalry Corps when on the morn 
ing of Aug. 8 it rode up on to the plateau of Santerre. 
This arm had done good service in the first Battle of Cambrai, 
and had proved of vital value in the great retreat of the pre 
vious March, and now it looked as if they were to have the 
opportunity of breaking through the enemy line. That was not 
to be, but they nevertheless by their dashing tactics contributed 
very materially to the demoralization of the enemy, partic 
ularly on Aug. 8 and 9. 

In making his acknowledgements Field-Marshal Haig, 
himself a brilliant cavalry leader, writes as follows:- The 
fine performance of the cavalry throughout all stages of the 
operation deserves mention. Having completed their assem 
bly behind the battlef ront by a series of night marches, on the 
first day of the attack they advanced 23 miles from their points 
of concentration and by the dash and vigor of their action, 
both on this and subsequent days, rendered most valuable and 
gallant service." And again : "The cavalry were again able 
to demonstrate the great advantage their rapid power of con 
centration gives them in a surprise attack. Operating in close 
contact with both armored cars and infantry, they pushed 
ahead of the latter and by anticipating the arrival of the Ger 
man Reserves assisted materially in our success." 

The Third Cavalry Division was placed in this operation 
at disposition of the Canadian Corps Commander, but as the 
battle developed, with the opportunity for exploitation offer 
ing more and more in the Canadian sector, Corps Boundaries 
were not strictly observed. Thus, on Aug. 9 the First Cavalry 
Division, led by the 8th Hussars, came into the Corps area on 

70 



CANADIAN CAVALRY BRIGADE 71 

our left flank and took Meharicourt at the gallop, while a little 
to the east of Rosieres Imperial Cavalry captured a whole 
train of enemy reinforcements, some five or six hundred Sax 
ons, that had been rushed up the line. 

The Third Cavalry Division was led into battle by the 
Canadian Cavalry Brigade, Brig.-General R. W. Paterson, 
consisting of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lt.-Col. Van 
Straubenzee (afterwards killed in action during the advance 
on Le Cateau), Lord Strathcona s Horse (Royal Canadians), 
Lt.-Col. MacDonald, and the Fort Garry Horse, Lt.-Col. 
Stephenson. Both the R.C.D s and the Strathcona s form part 
of the Canadian permanent force, the former with depot in 
Toronto and a distinguished fighting record going back to the 
North-West Rebellion of 1885 and including South Africa; 
while the latter is the famous force recruited and maintained 
by Lord Strathcona during the South African war, its depot 
originally being at Winnipeg but more recently removed to 
Calgary. While in the militia list the 34th. Fort Garry Horse 
of Winnipeg is only a junior organization, its war record 
entitles it to rank as a veteran force. One of its notable exploits 
was in the First Battle of Cambrai, November, 1917, when one 
of its squadrons was the only cavalry unit to get across the 
Scheldt canal, its wonderful fight there being a matter of 
public record. 

A number of other mounted units sailed from Canada, 
including the various battalions of the Canadian Mounted 
Rifles, later formed into the 8th. Canadian Infantry Brigade, 
and never remounted. But the three regiments named, while 
all demounted and taking their part as infantry in the early 
defensive days of trench warfare, were reorganized as the 
Canadian Cavalry Brigade when the prospect of our offensives 
on the west front opened the way for cavalry co-operation. The 
brigade formed a complete unit with its own Canadian Royal 
Horse Artillery, machine-gun squadron and field ambulance, 
and the intensive training in shock tactics it had received made 
it admirably fitted for the work ahead of it. 



72 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

The Third Cavalry Division, also including the 5th. and 
6th. Brigades, was billeted in the area of Hangest-sur-Somme, 
when on the night of Aug. 6-7 it moved up to Amiens, reaching 
there at three in the morning, and lying all next day in the city 
park. At eight o clock in the evening of Aug. 7 the Canadian 
Cavalry Brigade took the road through Longeau up to the 
woods west of Villers-Bretonneux, where it remained until 
after the battle opened. At a quarter to six on the morning of 
Aug. 8 the advance began, passing south of Marcelcave across 
the Luce River at Ignaucourt, and then taking up a battle-line 
west of Beaucourt and Cayeux, the R.C.D s being on the right 
at the former point with the Strathcona s on the left and the 
Fort Garry s in reserve, each regiment engaged having two 
squadrons in line and its third in support. 

The enemy occupied Beaucourt in force, holding up the 
advance of our infantry along the Roye road. At noon the 
R.C.D s were lying in shelter behind the ridge about a thou 
sand yards northwest of the village when the order came to 
attack. Picketing their horses "A" and "C" squadrons ad 
vanced on foot and fought their way into the outskirts of the 
village. But enemy machine-gunners, strongly fortified in the 
church tower, could not be dislodged. Word was passed back 
to a battery of the R.C.H.A., who galloped up into action, 
unlimbering their guns under a storm of machine-gun fire, but 
quickly reducing the stronghold by shell fire at point-blank 
range. Many prisoners and much booty were captured with 
the village, which was held by the R.C.D s until relieved at 
three o clock by our infantry. 

Meanwhile the Strathcona s had not been idle. Riding 
down from Cayeux and refusing Beaucourt on their right, they 
attacked the considerable village of Le Quesnel, but the charge 
was stopped by the enemy s machinC-guns in a sunken road. 
The two squadrons swung right and left, and here the major 
leading the charge got in advance of his men and with one 
corporal defended himself in the scrub for eleven hours, finally 
rejoining his command under cover of night. 



MAP SHOWING 
ADVANCES MADE BY 

FRENCH, 

AND 

AUSTRALIAN CORPS. 

DURING 

BATTLE OF AMIENS 

T? AUGUST 1918. 

Scale ofiiilea 



I o I 2 3 

LEGEND 

Advances made by I^CanadianDivisionshownthus 



.. 32 Imperial 




CANADIAN CAVALRY BRIGADE 73 

The squadron that had swung off to the right crossed the 
Roye road and galloped into Fresnoy-en-Chaussee, surprising 
the garrison in rear and rounding up 150 prisoners. The 
enemy came back in force and the troop withdrew, rejoining 
the regiment with all its prisoners. In this village was pre 
sented the curious spectacle of a trooper leading a pack of 
ammunition mules, galloping with his reins over his arm ind 
emptying his carbine into the enemy. 

All next day, Aug. 9, the Brigade lay in support in the 
wood south of Cayeux. On Aug. 10 it was supposed the enemy 
was falling back on Roye and at noon the Brigade advanced to 
the high ground looking down over the battlefield on the east, 
the Fort Garry s and R.C.D s being in line and the Strathcona s 
in support. They advanced through Le Quesnel, Warvillers, 
Beaufort, Folies, Bouchoir and Le Quesnoy, taking up a posi 
tion across the Roye road west of La Cambuse, a hamlet fifteen 
hundred yards southwest of Damery. 

In front was the formidable 100-metre hill and wood 
known as Zed Wood, an immensely strong position, as has been 
described above. Erroneously as it turned out, General Pater- 
son was informed that our infantry had taken Damery and the 
French were in possession of Andechy, and on the supposition 
that the enemy was falling back on the Somme through Roye- 
when the capture of the position must be of immense import 
ance as enabling us to push in on his rear and thus secure a 
considerable tactical success he was in his own mind quite 
justified in ordering that Zed Wood be taken at all costs. 

A squadron of the Fort Garry s was detailed for the job 
and its commander went forward to reconnoitre. The terrific 
fire he thus drew only confirmed the hazard of the enterprise, 
but the attempt must be made. The squadron swept down the 
road with the intention of galloping the wood. But it was to 
certain destruction. The enemy held strong trench lines, 
crowded with infantry and studded with machine-guns, along 
each side of the highway, while from the encircling heights 
they poured in a withering shell fire. Owing to the trenches 



74 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

and wire it was impossible to get off the road. The men rode 
on. One trooper got within a hundred yards of the wood 
before he too fell. Some empty saddles returned and at night 
half a dozen wounded men crawled back into our lines. 

"Nothing like it s been seen in this war," said a veteran 
Canadian infantryman who was a spectator. "Neither Regina 
Trench nor Passchendaele was a patch on it. Those boys rode 
as if they were demented. Death stared them in the face before 
they had gone a hundred yards; but they just kept going." 

Better fortune came to the other squadron of the Fort 
Garry s, Major Strachan, V.C. Advancing along the fatal 
road, the squadron while still west of Le Quesnoy came under 
very heavy machine-gun fire from the direction of Damery. It 
swung off the road south crossing into the French infantry 
lines, and then, galloping over trench and wire, captured the 
village of Andechy, and with it a very large enemy supply 
depot and a considerable number of prisoners. The squadron 
held the village in the face of repeated counter-attacks until 
ordered to withdraw, bringing off all its prisoners. 

Mention may be made here of the brilliant exploit of a 
sergeant and five men of the Canadian Light Horse, recruited 
in the west, but which did not form part of the Canadian 
Cavalry Brigade, being included in the Canadian Corps 
Troops, and as such accompanied the Corps throughout these 
operations. On Aug. 9, while co-operating along the Royc 
road with Lancers and Scots Grays, this little party dashed 
out, shot up and stampeded an entire enemy convoy. Two of 
the men were killed, but the sergeant and the other three 
rejoined their troop. 

On the night of Aug. 11 the Canadian Cavalry Brigade 
went back to Amiens and two days later returned to its depot 
at Hangest-sur-Somme. This was to be the last occasion it 
was to fight on the same field with the Canadian Corps. There 
after it vanished into the blue, though from time to time reports 
came through of gallant deeds, notably its capture of Le 
Cateau. 



CANADIAN CAVALRY BRIGADE 75 

The purpose of the cavalry was to push on through the 
anticipated break in the enemy lines and cut loose in his back 
areas, destroying dumps and communications. The opportu 
nity never came. What was accomplished, gallant though it 
was, had little more than a localized effect, and after three 
days, when it was clear the line could not be broken, the 
cavalry was withdrawn. It had suffered heavily, but it had 
given proof of the greatest dash and initiative, tackling jobs 
that perhaps could have been accomplished at less cost by the 
slower-moving infantry. 

It has been said that the day of the Cavalry is over; that in 
the execution of its chief functions it has been either super 
seded or neutralized; that whereas the work of reconnaissance 
is now carried out by aircraft, assisted by the telephone and 
wireless telegraphy, the opportunity of using cavalry in shock 
tactics becomes less and less as modern weapons are perfected, 
together with the now universal system of defense by trench 
and wire systems, supported by concentrated machine-gun fire; 
and finally it is pointed out that if the battle fronts of the future 
are to be continuous as in this war, the scope of the cavalry 
must be confined to two periods; the preliminary, before the 
opposing lines are joined in battle; and the final, when one side 
is giving way and the cavalry can be used with advantage to 
harry his retreat and raid his communications. 

In this war the value of the cavalry in the early stage in 
the retreat from Mons was fully demonstrated ; but the armis 
tice cut short its fast developing opportunities which it was 
hoped would turn the retreat into a rout. Nothing developed 
in the Battle of Amiens to seriously impair the force of these 
criticisms. A few of the brilliant cavalry exploits have been 
noted above, but even the most hardy champion of the cavalry 
will not contend that the battle was won by the cavalry, or that 
it would have been lost without them that the general result 
of the first two day s fighting would even have been seriously 
compromised had they been absent altogether. Apply the 
same test to the claims of the infantry and the artillery, and the 



76 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

answer is obvious; and in lesser degree the tanks also proved 
indispensable above all the tanks economized infantry losses. 
In the last analysis it was the man with the machine-gun, the 
man with the rifle and the man with the bomb and bayonet, 
that won our battles; always predicating powerful artillery 
support. 






CHAPTER X 

SIDELIGHTS OF BATTLE 

THE first fury of the battle being spent, there comes a pause 
ten days have been continually on the move or in the firing 
and a rest for many of the tired troops who for a week to 
line. The battalions rest on the line they have reached, troops 
relieving them carrying on forward. Throughout these opera 
tions weather has been perfect and for once in our favor. 
There are no rains to ruin the operation as happened in the 
Salient a year before. Reinforcements and supplies, all gath 
ered beforehand, are brought up with automatic regularity; 
but over everything is a sheet of white dust. 

The men lie now in the shelter of woods, many sleeping in 
enemy blankets in enemy dug-outs, but the majority bunk on 
the ground, each man scooping for himself a shallow trench, 
as it might be the first excavation for a grave, proof against 
flying shrapnel. With night bombing going on and by day 
the enemy s heavy artillery searching likely bits of cover, safety 
lies in the open ground, but human nature feels less exposed 
under shelter of trees, and so the woods are populous. Bone- 
weary, they sleep off their fatigue. 

But soon the battalion band strikes up; animated groups 
gather, talking over the battle and exhibiting their souvenirs- 
iron-crosses, automatic pistols, field-glasses, old-fashioned key- 
winding watches, officers swords, regimental rings, shoulder- 
straps and buttons cut off protesting prisoners, queer wooden 
tobacco pipes quaintly carved all manner of gear. A knot 
of men are gambling with sheafs of boldly printed paper 
marks ten marks to the franc is their rate of exchange, not 
foreseeing the time but a few months away when in Belgium 
each of those marks is to be worth one franc thirty centimes. 
The men are in the best of moods and willingly talk about their 
exploits. 77 



78 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

First we come across Brutinel s Independent Force. This 
consists of two Canadian Motor Machine-Gun Brigades, a 
six-inch Newton Mortar Section and a Wireless Section, all 
mounted in armored cars, together with the Canadian Corps 
Cyclist Battalion. The Force came straight up to the line and 
went into action with no rest. For three days they were hard 
at it and Saturday night was their first sleep. "It was good 
fun," said one of them. "The first chance we ve had to do any 
fighting in our proper capacity. Did you hear how one of our 
cyclists took a village down on the Roye road? He was 
scouting and rode through the village full tilt, steering with 
one hand and with the other emptying his automatic into the 
flabbergasted Fritzies; he kept going right through and when 
one of our armored cars came up behind the whole garrison 
surrendered. Good sport it was along the Roye road that 
day some real hunting." 

The Amiens-Roye road here traverses a difficult country, 
bisected by ravines and bordered by woods offering excellent 
positions for machine-gun nests. Here at times the armored 
cars were held up and lost heavily. An enemy gun made a 
direct hit on one car, killing three of the crew and cutting off 
the arm of the gunner. Removing the body of the driver, 
this man, Corp. Cruise of Ottawa, swung round the shattered 
car, bringing it safely back into our lines. Then he died. 

Less tragic was the experience of the crew of a ration 
lorry which in the twilight ran through our lines on the Roye 
road and only pulled up when challenged by an enemy sentry. 
Him they bayonetted. But it was too good to last. The Boche 
came back with bombs and put the lorry out of commission. 
Our men, however, though all wounded, crawled back to our 
lines in the darkness. Faced with loss of their rations, the 
unit advanced and recaptured the lorry, towing it back in 
triumph. 

Padres are strictly non-combatant and unarmed. But 
when the 78th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, captured Hallu they 
found their chaplain, Capt. d Easum, already in possession 



SIDELIGHTS OF BATTLE 79 

with eight prisoners. "I went up there to help the boys 
through," he said, "with cigarettes and things, but found I d 
blundered in ahead of the battalion. There was nothing else 
to do but put a bold face on it and these fellows here thought 
they were surrounded." The padre had a bullet wound in 
his cheek and four through his tunic "a perfectly good coat 
ruined!" "Old Front Line" they called him, and told how at 
Passchendaele strictly against orders he was in the front line 
burying our dead when up comes the divisional senior chap 
lain. A reprimand was due, but "Have you another 
spade?" -was all the Colonel said. 

Here is another story of a Padre. Father R. MacGillivray 
of Antigonish, N.S., chaplain of the 5th Brigade, while minis 
tering to the wounded where they fell on the field of battle 
south of Vrely, was forced to take shelter in a shell-hole, where 
he found the remnants of a company of which all officers 
were casualties. An enemy field battery a few hundred yards 
away was firing over open sights. Grasping the situation, 
Father MacGillivray called out, "Boys, we may as well die 
fighting." He leaped from the shell-hole and rushed the 
battery, followed by his brave boys. The boys say he terrified 
the Huns as with a wild war whoop and brandishing his cane 
he landed in their midst. The rest of the story is short as all 
hands went up with the cry of "Kamerad." The prisoners 
were numbered off and the guns were marked, "Captured by 
the 26th. Battalion." Some wag remarked it should have been, 
"Captured by Canadian Chaplain Service." 

In the dense mist of the kick-off on Thursday, a section 
of five men of the 13th. Battalion, Montreal Highlanders, 
got separated from their unit and groping their way about 
came suddenly upon an enemy trench fully manned. The 
corporal, no whit abashed, gave the word to fire, when one 
after another over a hundred Boche came tumbling out of 
the trench, hands up. The five men safely delivered the batch 
at the divisional cage. 

So great was the number of prisoners on the first day that 



80 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

we could not spare escorts. They were told to go to the rear 
and for the most part went quietly. Two mounted men marsh 
alled back over a thousand from the Divisional to the Corps 
cage. But they were not all like this. Three stout Wurtem- 
burgers seized a broken-down tank and turned its guns on the 
back of our men, inflicting casualties. They put up a stiff 
defense, but presently out of the blue a bombing plane 
swooped down and dropped a bomb neatly on top of the tank. 

Nothing was more inspiring to our men than the fine co 
operation of the tanks, commanded by Imperial officers. 
Each ran his own show, and although there was a good deal 
of confusion in the fog, a gallant and resourceful lot they 
were. Many were our tried comrades, for they had fought 
with us at Vimy. "We will go anywhere with the Canadians," 
said one of them. "Such a show as you put on has never been 
seen in this war." Much the same thing was said on a later 
day by an officer of an Imperial heavy battery. "We would 
sooner be with you than with anyone, for we know that your 
wonderful infantry will exploit to the last yard the work of the 
gunners." 

But the tanks suffered heavily, particularly in the wooded 
country. This is what a staff officer of the llth. Brigade 
witnessed. A tank section of three was advancing in line ahead 
of our infantry when from the next field a battery opened 
at point-blank range. The first tank burst into flames its 
course was run; the second stopped and the third also burst 
into flames. Then the second tank moved forward again- 
stopped burst into flames. Out of the man-hole crawled 
two men, suffocating. A third thrust his arm from a gun-port, 
waving back the infantry; flames licked out to his hand 

In the early stage of the advance the 54th. Battalion from 
the Kootenay came upon a wood alive with Boche, strongly 
entrenched in defenses the tanks had overrun. It was im 
possible to pass by without being mown down by flank fire. 
Seeing that his three companies in line were closely engaged, 
the battalion commander, Lt.-Col. A. B. Carey, of Nelson, 



SIDELIGHTS OF BATTLE 81 

B. C., took personal command of the reserve company, or 
ganized it for defense and then led it in attack on a corner 
of the wood in face of heavy machine-gun fire. That por 
tion of the wood thus cleared, the other companies were 
enabled to outflank it, capturing the garrison and proceeding 
to their objectives. 

These incidents, selected at random, might be multiplied 
an hundredfold, and they leave untouched the record of public 
honors, of V.C. s and the like. They were garnered from 
these tired men, gathered round their campfires, stitching 
rents made by barbed wire or drying out their sweaty shirts. 
Wonderful indeed their spirit. For the most part they went 
into battle after long marches and sleepless nights, and only 
their superb condition, fine discipline and unquenchable 
ardor carried them through. To go perhaps two or three 
days without sleep and but little food will try the stoutest 
heart. It was precisely into such a state of mind that during 
a lull in the battle one s enquiries were directed. Crossing 
the Channel but a few days before one had been struck by the 
fact that the nearer one got to the front line, the clearer was the 
note of confidence. In London as in Montreal or Winnipeg 
-the defeatist had been at work. One had met but a day or 
two before a highly-placed Canadian officer who despaired of 
victory; and as for the politicians, with them it had become 
a question whether the "Sammies" were to be in time to save 
us whether we could keep going till the spring of 1919. 
But these fellows had taken the measure of the Boche. and 
they knew that he was beaten, if not this year, then surely 
the next. 

But even here are discriminations. Hot-blood youth 
doesn t care how long the war goes on ; it is his great adventure ; 
to him it is "a lovely war." But fathers of families, staid 
citizens enlisted only from an imperative sense of duty; these 
have a different angle. "Shan t we have peace this fall?" asks 
a tough old Blue-nose. One points out that we can have a 
peace at any time, but such a peace as is only a truce. "Never 
7 



82 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

that," he replies. "We ll fight it out here and now; I 
can t leave it to my boy." 

"We re all fed up with the war, that s a cinch," says the 
N. C. O. of a Saskatchewan battalion. "None of us like it, 
but we ll carry through to October, 1919 if that s your 
date or 1920 if we must; but the peace must be the real 
thing. We must rub Fritzie s nose in the dust good and 
plenty." 

And then there is the company of adventurers, old pros 
pectors from the mountains, trappers of the wild, shanty-men 
from the back-woods, men whose whole life has been a gamble 
with death; and for these, war is the greatest game of all. 
"This is a real good show and we shan t be satisfied till we re in 
again," says one. And there is a private who fought with the 
52nd. Battalion in front of Damery military medal and bar, 
who works on survey parties out of Edmonton, Alta. "The 
best fun I ever had," he said. "I ve had many a moose fight 
and have tussled with the grizzly in the Rockies, but this 
beat all. I used up two of our rifles and then grabbed a 
Boche fired all my ammunition and two bandoliers more, 
borrowing off the men who came up in support. My rifle 
got so hot I had to work the bolt with my foot. The longest 
range was two hundred yards, most of it seventy-five to a 
hundred and every shot a bull. One of our Lewis guns fired 
off thirty-four pans. I d never seen so many dead in my life; 
it was like spraying a potato patch. Our colonel is a real 
general or our number would have been up. 

The men are wonderful; so too are the battalion officers, 
and one cannot withhold one s admiration from the juniors, 
who shared the dangers of the rank and file as their casualties 
show and yet carried the added responsibility of leader 
ship. Here is the story of a posthumous V. C., Lieut. Brill- 
ant of the 22nd. Battalion, French-Canadians: "For the most 
conspicuous gallantry and almost superhuman devotion to 
duty during the operations of Aug 8 and 9," the official record 
goes. "He was in charge of a company which he led during 



SIDELIGHTS OF BATTLE 83 

the two days with absolute fearlessness and extraordinary 
ability and initiative. At about one o clock in the afternoon 
of Aug. 9, just after the day s attack had begun, his company s 
left flank was held up by an enemy machine-gun. He rushed 
in and captured the gun, personally killing two of the gun 
crew. While doing this he was wounded in the thigh but 
he refused to be evacuated. A little after three o clock 
the same day his company was held up by heavy machine-gun 
fire from a machine-gun nest in a group of houses. He per 
sonally reconnoitred the ground, organized a party of two 
platoons and rushed straight for the machine-gun nest. Here 
150 Germans and IS machine-guns were captured. The Lieu 
tenant personally killed five Germans and being wounded 
a second time, now in the shoulder which he had immediately 
dressed, again refused to be evacuated. 

"About six in the evening of the same day he saw a field gun 
firing on his men with open sights from a neighboring wood. 
He immediately organized and led a rushing party towards 
the gun. After progressing about 600 yards he was seriously 
wounded in the abdomen. In spite of this third wound, he 
continued to advance some 200 yards when he fell uncon 
scious from exhaustion and -loss of blood. His wonderful 
example throughout the day fired his men with an enthusiasm 
and fury which largely contributed towards the battalion s 
noble achievements." This was in the attack on Meharicourt. 
He died that night. 

Another posthumous V. C. was Lieut. James Edward Tait, 
of the 78th. Battalion of Winnipeg, "for most conspicuous 
bravery and initiative in attack." The advance on Hallu 
having been checked by intense machine-gun fire, Lieut. Tait 
rallied his company and led it forward with consummate skill 
and dash under a hail of bullets. A concealed machine-gun, 
however, continued to cause many casualties. Taking a rifle 
and bayonet Lieut. Tait dashed forward alone and killed the 
enemy gunner, crying, "Come on boys: the 78th. don t mind 
machine-guns!" Inspired by his example his men rushed the 



84 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

position, capturing 12 machine-guns and 20 prisoners. Later, 
when the enemy counter-attacked our positions under intense 
artillery bombardments, this gallant officer displayed outstand 
ing courage and leadership, and, though mortally wounded by 
a shell, continued to direct and aid his men until his death. 

Owing to the exigencies of the British Press censorship 
in France, whose instruction from G. H. Q. was that for a 
certain period the participation in this great battle of the 
Canadian Corps must not be published, the people of Canada 
learned of the victory two or three days before they became 
aware of the conspicuous part taken in it by their sons 
and brothers. It was indeed a Canadian Corps battle, planned 
by the Corps and "zero" hour fixed by the Corps. What that 
part was is best summed up in the words of an impartial 
critic, the special correspondent in France of the London 
Times. Reviewing the course of events a few weeks later 
he says: "In the first scene of our offensive, which began 
Aug. 8, the actors were chiefly overseas. Men from the British 
Isles took only a small part of the attack north of the Somme 
to protect the flank of the Australians. South of the river, 
below here on the main battlefront. the honor of the first ad 
vance was shared by the Australians and Canadians. In 
structure it was chiefly a Canadian battle. It was their ad 
vance on the Luce that was the core and crux of the operation, 
and on their progress depended the advance of the Australians 
on their left and that of the successive French armies on their 
right, each of which was thrown in only as the advance above 
it prospered. The Canadians, I think, are right in claiming 
that the fighting of these first two days was the biggest thing 
Canada has done in the war, not excepting the recapture of 
Vimy Ridge. Certainly nothing could have been better." 

The Canadian Corps, flushed with victory, was to go 
on to bigger things yet. The impression one bore away of the 
Amiens show was of a kind of picnic; there, indeed, the 
viands were war rations, and the skittle-alleys, machine-gun 
emplacements; but where, nevertheless, there was, after the 



SIDELIGHTS OF BATTLE 85 

dreary months of the trenches, a sense of change and holiday; 
sight of green fields and growing things ; a clatter of movement 
and good humor. We were going back to quite a different 
thing to the long road stretching from Arras to Cambrai, 
a field of bloody footsteps, mire and death. 



CHAPTER XI 

LESSONS OF THE BATTLE 

WAR is the last thing to go according to programme," 
said Thucydides, and the maxim never had a more 
striking application than in this battle of Amiens. 
The enemy were preparing to attack when upon them fell the 
avalanche. It was all very disconcerting. For the moment 
they were overwhelmed. Those of their front line troops who 
escaped capture "had their wind up," and spread consternation 
behind. Besides they had lost all their guns. Except stout 
machine-gunners in strictly localized defenses, we met very 
little organized opposition the first day. And our great store 
of prisoners, guns and material of all kinds was precisely due 
to the enemy having been massed forward for the assault set 
for a couple of days later. 

But as we went forward, conditions began to change in their 
favor. It is another maxim of war that an attack weakens 
in its thrust as it progresses; so at the end of the third day, 
our blow having lost some of its first impetus, being restricted 
in its full swing by the course of the battle on either flank, 
and meeting more and more determined resistance from the 
enemy who had thrown in a number of fresh divisions and 
again gathered together a respectable body of artillery our 
advance perceptibly slowed down. We were coming too into 
a bad country. Hitherto, as we have seen, the enemy s organ 
ized defense had been rudimentary; he had paid little atten 
tion to his trench system and there was a minimum of wire. 
But now we were to advance into the old Somme battlefield, 
traversed by ancient trench lines, festooned by rusted wire, 
and passing off solid ground to marsh lands, while in our 
immediate front lay the strong defense line linking up Roye 
and Chaulnes. 

86 



LESSONS OF THE BATTLE 87 

It was with these considerations before him that Sir Arthur 
Currie made very strong representations to the high command 
to the effect that the Canadian Corps having successfully 
accomplished its allotted task as storm troops, should be pulled 
out of that area before its bright temper became dulled, to be 
used in a similar operation on another front, for which he 
suggested the Bapaume sector as most suitable. 

However, it was decided that the Corps should do more 
spade work until at least the French offensive had developed 
further in the direction of Roye. There was a prospect, too, 
that the offensive on our left flank, reduced north of the Somme 
to a static condition before Bray, and thus in turn holding 
back our immediate neighbors, the Australians, might develop 
more favorably; when the attacking front would broaden and 
the Canadian Corps be relieved from its salient, offering 
new opportunities for further successful exploitation towards 
the Somme. 

The desultory righting that followed desultory not that 
it was easy but because it led nowhere in particular proved 
very expensive for the Canadian Corps, whose task, subjected 
as it was to a galling enfilade fire, resolved itself into the storm 
ing of individual villages. In fact there was the prospect 
that we were going to run into another blind alley after the 
fashion of the offensive of 1916. "On to the Somme", was the 
talk in the ranks, but without a true appreciation of the 
difficulties. 

When therefore the word reached us that we were to be 
relieved by French divisions, there was general satisfaction. 
We understood of course that it meant we were to have a go 
in elsewhere. It is worth noting here that Field-Marshal Haig 
in his "Victory Dispatch" endorses the opinion submitted 
by the Canadian Corps Commander. "By the evening of 
Aug. 12," he writes, "our infantry had reached the old Ger 
man Somme defenses of 1916, on the general line west of 
Damery, east of Lihons, east of Proyart, having repulsed with 
severe loss determined counter-attacks in the neighborhood 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of Lihons. North of the Somme we were on the western 
outskirts of Bray-sur-Somme. 

"The derelict battle area which now lay before our troops, 
seared by old trench lines, pitted with shell holes, and crossed 
in all directions with tangled belts of wire, the whole covered 
by the wild vegetation of two years, presented unrivalled 
opportunities for stubborn machine-gun defenses. Attacks 
carried out on Aug. 13 proved the strength of these positions, 
and showed that the enemy, heavily reinforced, was ready 
to give battle for them. I therefore determined to break off 
the battle on this front, and transferred the front of attack 
from the Fourth Army to the sector north of the Somme, 
where an attack seemed unexpected by the enemy. My inten 
tion was for the Third Army to operate in the direction of 
Bapaume so as to turn the lines of the old Somme defenses 
from the north. The French First Army now ceased to be 
under my command. 

"Meanwhile, south of the Somme, our pressure was to be 
maintained, so as to take advantage of any weakening on the 
part of the enemy and encourage in him the belief that we 
intended to persist in our operations on that front. During 
the succeeding days, local attacks gave us possession of Dam- 
ery, Parvillers and Fransart, and made progress also at other 
points." 

In fact, our whole conduct of the war had changed under 
the masterly direction of Foch. Our attacks henceforth 
were to be restricted in their objectives and only to be devel 
oped as their successful progress opened out without too great 
cost further fields for exploitation, In effect, the Battle of 
Amiens was now broken off, so far as the British forces went, 
and there immediately opened the less ambitious but locally 
successful attack in the direction of Bapaume. Then in turn 
came the Battle of Arras and the breaking of the Hinden- 
burg Line by the Canadian Corps. Thereafter the whole 
fabric of the enemy defense began to give way and it was the 
beginning of the end. 



LESSONS OF THE BATTLE 89 

Before leaving the battlefield some tactical considerations 
are worthy of note. It cannot be said that in its broad aspects 
the battle presented any new tactical features; it merely ap 
plied successfully the plan Sir Julian Byng had originated for 
his Third Army in the First Battle of Cambrai of the preced 
ing November. He failed, relatively at least to his hopes, 
because he had not at his disposal sufficient forces to exploit 
his initial success, nor even to properly defend the ground won. 
But that did not invalidate his plan, which consisted of a sur 
prise attack, unaccompanied by artillery preparation, the 
free use of tanks being counted on to break the road for the 
infantry, combined with an intensive barrage laid down on 
the enemy front and support lines and battery positions. 

That plan changed the nature of the combat on the West 
Front, converting it from trench fighting to open warfare; 
the enemy was quick to adopt it in his March offensive; and 
with perfect success, his means being adequate to his purpose. 
It was now for the first time successfully employed by the 
British arms. The plan was developed to its highest extent by 
the employment of a tremendous barrage, designed to carry 
the infantry deep into enemy territory; by the presence of an 
unprecedented number of tanks, including the newly perfected 
"whippets" ; by the bringing up of the Cavalry Corps ; and last, 
but not least, by the co-operation of the Independent Force 
under General Brutinel of Canadian Motor Machine-Gun 
Brigades and Cyclists. 

Brutinel s Independent Force, as we have seen, did valuable 
and particularly gallant work along the Roye road, where in 
the early stage of the battle it acted as the liason between the 
French and our own Third Division. But it too was denied 
the chance of breaking through, and because its operations 
were necessarily confined to metalled roads, held everywhere 
in great strength by the enemy, its offensive role was limited. 
Its 1st. Brigade was fighting over the same ground where it 
had won imperishable fame in the March retreat. 

Over one hundred heavy tanks were assigned to the attack, 



90 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

and of these two-thirds had become casualties from one cause 
and another by the end of the third day. Some were "walk 
ing wounded" cases only, but many were destroyed by direct 
hits. Without question the tanks played a great and formid 
able part in this battle, and if the war had continued another 
year no doubt they would have become a still more effective 
arm. But that they were not vital to success was proved by the 
Canadian Corps later on, when its supply of tanks, at first 
scanty, rapidly was reduced to the vanishing point. 

The tank indeed, and its tactical management, was still 
in process of evolution even up to the close of hostilities. 
It was perhaps Britain s greatest material contribution to 
the war. Early tanks failed, or achieved but a moiety of 
success, because they were too slow and too vulnerable. The 
enemy, after his first shock of surprise, affected to take them 
lightly, but nevertheless captured documents proved that he was 
anxious, commanders being warned to be prepared, to pay spe 
cial attention to anti-tank defense, and to train men with the 
anti-tank guns a magnified rifle weighing thirty-five pounds 
of which several fell into our hands in the Amiens show. The 
great width and depth of the Hindenburg ditch was design 
ed to stop tanks. After the considerable French success with 
tanks southwest of Soissons in July and our own in the present 
battle, his alarms increased. His own tanks were a failure, 
because of poor design, the flat underbody preventing the 
climbing of obstacles. And he never had enough to make them 
really formidable. 

In the Amiens show the tanks were massed and the wast 
age was so great that replacements on the same scale were 
difficult, especially as the widening of the battle line made an 
effective tank concentration more and more out of the question. 
In the Arras offensive very few tanks were in our line, and in 
the Battle of Cambrai, because of the impassable nature of 
canals and rivers encountered, they were almost entirely 
absent. Very few in fact were left at all in the closing stages 
of the great offensive, and a localized concentration to over- 



LESSONS OF THE BATTLE 91 

come machine-gun resistance became impossible. Had it 
been otherwise our casualties would have been lighter. 

For the tank is the ideal weapon for destroying machine- 
gun nests. Time after time in the Amiens show tanks were 
driven right over these emplacements, either killing or captur 
ing their garrisons. If war comes again in our time, the tank 
has a great future. The "whippets" have a special mission of 
their own, the up-to-date cavalry. But the heavy tank must 
also have sufficient speed to keep well ahead of infantry on 
necessity, strong enough armor-plating to resist all but direct 
hits by field-guns, powerful offensive armament to overcome 
strong fortified posts, and such bulk and engine-power as 
can traverse not only natural obstacles (except canals and 
rivers) but the protective ditches dug by the enemy. 

Above all they must have wider range of vision and be 
in direct communication not only with their own units but 
with other arms, especially infantry. For at present the tank, 
once started, is a law unto itself and too often becomes de 
tached. In the darkness and fog of the early morning of Aug. 
8 they often lost their way, overrunning their objectives or 
missing them altogether. Compasses were useless because 
of the mass of metal and shut in that fiery box a general sur 
vey is impossible. One tank was observed coming back from 
the front line when its commander supposed he was working 
forward. 

Even in the last days of the war, there appeared to be 
two schools of thought in regard to tank tactics. One, as 
exemplified in the Amiens show, was that long lines of tanks 
should go in ahead of the infantry and overrun the enemy. 
In manycases theysailed right overdug-outs and past machine- 
gun posts they could not see in the mirk, so that our infantry 
following up had a hard time of it. And the trouble was 
that when a tank was wanted to reduce such a fortified point, 
the infantry had no means of making their need known. The 
other was that the tanks should be held in leash close up behind 
the infantry, to be employed on individual work as required. 



92 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

A quite possible development might be that each brigade, or 
even each battalion, would have its own tank section, to work 
in tactical conjunction. Extraordinary gallant men, these 
tank crews; the "suicide club" our boys called them; one of 
our officers, a very brave man, went forward in one of them 
to reconnoitre. When finally he was let out he shook his fist 
at his hosts; "Never again, demon, will I enter your scalding 
bowels!" 

Tank crews, indeed, were under a terrible strain, both 
physical and mental, greater even than that of the stokers of 
a battleship in action. In that confined space, filled with 
poisonous gases, the atmosphere was all but insupportable. 
Tank crews have been known to come out of their fortress 
and thrown themselves on the ground in utter exhaustion 
amid the full fury of an enemy barrage. A full day s battle 
such as Aug. 8, played them out, and there was great difficulty 
in getting the tank crews back into shape for the battle of 
the following day. That, indeed, was to some extent the cause 
for our delay in continuing the offensive on Aug. 9. In such 
a case the strategist, laying out his battle for the morrow, is 
apt to overlook the purely physical element of his problem. 
Where the fighting is to be continuous over a period of days 
it is necessary to furnish relief crews for the tanks. 

A good number of Canadians were scattered through the 
tank crews, but it was an Imperial service, the great majority 
of officers and men being Old Country. If the war had gone 
on a Canadian Tank Division would have been created. As 
it was, complete mutual confidence existed between our in 
fantry and the tanks. As explained, these were limited in 
their scope, but that was the inherent defect of the machine 
and not of the crew. 

So important was the part of the tank in the battle that this 
rather lengthy digression may be permitted. We have seen 
that there was nothing particularly novel about the tactics 
of the Amiens show, but the whole plan was brought to the 
highest perfection and the employment of a fresh and thor- 



LESSONS OF THE BATTLE 93 

oughly trained body of troops such as the Canadian Corps 
assured success in advance. 

As it turned out, the weight of the battle fell on the Cana 
dian Corps, but that was not the original design. The Fourth 
Army was to advance on its entire front, with British troops 
on the left, the Australians in the centre and Canadians on 
the right, the most difficult ground perhaps being assigned to 
the latter. When this movement had well developed, the 
French First Army was to take up the battle on our right. 
But this programme was diverted by reason of the situation 
north of the Somme. Here the enemy had attacked the III 
British Corps in great strength two days before, and was 
bringing up reserves for a further thrust in the development 
of his intended general offensive against Amiens. It turned 
out therefore that instead of making much progress, troops 
in this sector had all they could do to hold their own. The 
hope of recovering the strong point of Bray needlessly given 
up in March fell to the ground. As a consequence the left of 
the Australian Corps was obliged to conform, and though its 
centre pushed well forward and its right kept pace with our 
selves, it was unable to attain tactical freedom of manoeuvre. 

On the other hand, our right, the French battle went so 
well after it had gained momentum, that it spread far to the 
south, eventually including Montdidier, and the effect of this 
was to make the Canadian area the pivotal centre of the en 
tire battle front. At all stages, and until we gave over to the 
French, our line was in greater or less degree a marked 
salient, and this of course exposed our men to enfilade artill 
ery fire, now from one flank, now from the other, and some 
times from both. It is necessary to have a clear picture of 
this in order to appreciate the sterling character of their work, 
especially in such tactical adventures as the capture of Chilly, 
Hallu, Parvillers, Damery, Fransart and La Chavette. 

Their success was not brought about by accident. Skilled 
and patient staff work, perfect organization by both "A" and 
"Q" branches, the devoted efforts of the Canadian Engineers 



94 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

and Army Service Corps, fine qualities of leadership from 
divisional commanders right down to the veteran N. C. O s- 
all these contributed; but the greatest factor of all were the 
men themselves, highly disciplined, fresh from a period of 
intensive training, and conspicuous in the qualities of initi 
ative and resource that had stood the Canadian soldier in 
such good stead on many a hard-fought field. One need not 
speak of their courage the common heritage of the nations 
but they possessed in a peculiar degree the quality of the race 
that declines to envisage defeat and will not be denied victory. 

The moral effect of this great victory was far-reaching. For 
the first time for many a long day troops of the British armies 
had taken the offensive on the grand scale and had demon 
strated that man for man, in leadership and technical equip 
ment, they were the superior of the enemy. That was the great 
contribution that the Canadian Corps and with them the 
Australians made to the cause of the Allies on Aug. 8; they 
restored confidence in the British arms weakened in morale 
and repute in the sight both of our Allies and the enemy 
since the sad days of March not only to the rank and file 
of the armies themselves but to the world at large. 

Looking back over but a few months yet this nevertheless 
a gulf fast obliterating memory and almost impassable to the 
imagination from the sure vantage ground of British vic 
tories in every theatre of the war, it seems all but incredible 
that in those days immediately preceding Amiens, and not 
withstanding the demonstration of the French on the Marne, 
doubts actually existed of the ability of the British armies 
to carry out a successful offensive. Yet so it was. These 
doubts, totally without justification as the event proved, 
were finally dispelled on Aug. 8. 

Thus ended the "L. C. Operation," as it was named by the 
Canadian Corps Staff, for the battle-cry on the morning of 
Aug. 8 was, "Remember the Llandovery Castle" -the hospi 
tal ship sunk in the Irish Sea just before with Canadian medi 
cal officers and nurses on board. 

And what did the enemy think of it? Von Hutier, who 



LESSONS OF THE BATTLE 95 

commanded in this front, was brother-in-law of Ludendorff, 
and the best face must be put on it. "We were up against the 
elite of the French Army and the celebrated Canadian Corps," 
said the German Higher Staff. 

It is not generally known that this great Battle of Amiens 
was intended to be the last British offensive on the West Front 
in 1918, and it was only because of the unexpected success 
attained that our offensives were everywhere continued. The 
original programme granted a reasonable measure of success 
such as should free the Amiens-Paris railway was that there 
after the troops should settle down into winter quarters, and 
await the coming of the American armies to renew the offen 
sive in the spring of 1919. This bold stroke, in which the Ca 
nadian Corps had so striking a part, not only opened the flood 
gates of victory but saved for us the long weary months of 
trench warfare and the heavy casualties they entail. 

With Ludendorff Aug. 8 is obviously an obsession. We 
have seen above something of his opinion. "The eighth of 
August," he says in another place, "marked the downfall of 
our righting strength and destroyed, our hopes of strategic 
amelioration. To continue the war was to start a gamble. The 
war had to be ended." 

He returns again and again to the fatal day. "The eighth 
of August (1918) is the black day of the German Army in the 
history of the war. I have experienced none worse except 
during the events beginning with Sept. 15, which took place on 
the Bulgarian front and sealed the fate of the Central Powers. 
The English Colonials and the French broke deep into our 
line between the Somme and the Luce, where our Divisions 
were completely overrun. Six or seven German Divisions, 
which could be described as thoroughly fit for battle, had been 
defeated. Two or three Divisions and the remnants of the 
defeated forces were ready to close the wide gap between 
Bray and Roye." And he concludes by speaking of the con 
templated retirement in this section of the line. "This move 
ment," he says, "was decided upon the night of Aug. 9-10. If 
it did not succeed a great allied victory was possible." 



CHAPTER XII 

FRENCH SCENES 

ON the morning of Aug. 8 the first echelon of Canadian 
Corps Headquarters moved to Gentelles, but already 
this was too far behind the lines and almost at once an 
other move was made to Demuin, on the Luce. In a ravine 
about a thousand yards south of the village as had been plot 
ted out by our Intelligence long before the battle opened was 
an enemy regimental headquarters, and here the Corps stayed 
a full week. As usual there were some elaborate dug-outs, but 
not enough to accommodate all the staff, most of whom slept 
under canvas. 

This ravine winds among the folds of chalk hills, trending 
south to the Roye road. A little further on lies a broken tank, 
hit by an enemy gun that still stands a couple of hundred yards 
away. The tank had been working its way along the ravine 
when its career was stopped. Beside it are three graves. Arti 
ficers are busy repairing its shattered treads and in an incred 
ibly brief time it will trundle on its way again. 

From the upland is a wonderful sunset, painting the heav 
ens the color of blood. Upon the crest of the western slope, 
black against the glow, is the scarred outline of Hamon wood, 
where a few days before our Third Division had a tough fight. 
Once it was gay with flowers but there lie now in the stained 
pools of shell-holes only corpses rotting in their field-gray. 
Our burial parties are over-taxed. 

Descending the hill we come upon a lonely pit where a 
gunner stands silent beside his "Archie," for these moonlight 
nights "Heine" has a regular schedule of bombing visitations. 
He is glad to talk and confesses himself something of a poet; 
he produces a copy of verses, scribbled on the back of an 
envelope happy soldier, spinning rhymes beneath the stars, 

96 



FRENCH SCENES 97 

themselves his theme, and love of country and hate of the 
destroyer ! 



We are dozing off in our tent sunk three feet beneath the 
ground for safety from the flying shrapnel of these bombing 
raids when on the silence a bugle rings out, a note weird as 
that of the coyote under a prairie moon. "Lights out; lights 
out!" passes the word. "Heine s coming." Sure enough he is. 
But before we hear his angry insect hum, miles it seems above 
us, there comes the quick rattle of the "Archies," the anti-air 
craft guns. As heads poke out, shafts of light long beams of 
whitest light shoot up from a dozen unexpected quarters, 
searching the sky methodically for the bold intruder. 

They sweep the sky indefatigably. Some one with night 
glasses cries they are below him now they are nearer they 
have got him! They focus on one spot and he stands out clear 
enough, a flitting iridescent glow-worm. The "Archies" 
redouble their fire ; we see the flashes bursting round him. His 
machine-gun rattles back down the avenues of white light. 
They lose him and catch him again. Suddenly a series of dull 
explosions crrmp crrmp crrmp; as quick as you can 
count. He is getting rid of his bombs; it is too hot for him. 
Soon his drone dies away in the east, but not before there have 
been more dull thudding reports, distinguishable from all 
kinds of shell fire. 

It is seldom they get him. In the air the vertical plane is 
added to the gunner s problem, whereas on the surface his 
equations are confined to the lateral and horizontal. But the 
defense, especially the search-lights, captured by us from the 
Boche, keep him high up, where his bombing becomes a thing 
of chance, hit or miss. But on another occasion he gets a 
bunch of our horses, picketed round the corner. 

He is going back to his base to tell his story of destruction 
-on a bare hillside and in a couple of hours he ll be back 
reloaded. But the air is chill and blankets warm. 



8 



98 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Not content with their brilliant capture of Zed Wood, 
recorded above, the French First Army are pushing on south 
of us, now well up to our right flank. They are putting on a 
little show of their own this afternoon in front of Roye. They 
have taken Caesar s Camp west of the town, and now seek to 
exploit their success from the south. Armed with a pass from 
General Demetz, Commander of their 56th. Division, one has 
the privilege of seeing something of it under guidance of a 
charming French officer of Intelligence. 

Roye lies low down in the valley and from the plateau on 
which we stand nothing can be seen but the smoke of bursting 
shells in its northern quarter, where already the French have 
established themselves in the railway station. The battle itself 
is in progress at our feet in the marshy tree-studded valley of 
the Avre, being directed against the strongly fortified village 
of St. Mard-lez-Triot. We can see nothing of it, save for an 
occasional rocket marking the progress of the infantry, signal 
for the barrage to lift; and for the angry explosions of enemy 
shells along the trench lines on the opposing plateau, where 
presumably are massed the French reserves. 

It does not matter. In these bright weeks villages such as 
this so recently impregnable strongholds are stormed every 
day. Of greater interest is the spirit of -the French soldier, the 
"poilu>" from whose soul speaks the ardent voice of France. 
Our guide is explaining the difficulties of the attack up the 
valley, past concrete machine-gun emplacements hidden in the 
marshes. "We hardly hope to succeed here," he says, "But 
it is a demonstration in aid of our advance further south." He 
is wrong; soon a rocket goes up from the village itself. "Yes, 
they have given us a tight corner; but what would you? some 
one has to have it." 

We have called him "Captain"; no, he is only lieutenant. 
"A simple soldier, Monsieur, who at the outbreak of war was 
a wine merchant in Burgundy. I had served my three years of 
course, and joined as a sergeant. Now I have charge of the 
Intelligence of the regiment." 



FRENCH SCENES 99 

"You have very gallant men," he goes on. "You are fresh 
and full of go. We have been at it so long we are tired ; our 
hearts are sad, but now before us is the end and we will see it 
through. Alas ! for the poor people of this country. In March 
I was in Montdidier and the women of the town crowded 
round us. Are the Boche coming? they ask. We do not 
know but it is better you should move out. Then comes the 
question, What shall we take? What can they take? Their 
men and their horses are all in the army; there remain only the 
push-cart and the wheel-barrow. They take next to nothing. 
And in a few days the Boche have destroyed everything 
everything; wantonly, where their shelling has not completed 
the ruin. On your way back go and see the ribs of Montreuil." 

We are standing on top of an "O-Pip" (observation post), 
built up by the Germans amid the trees on the valley slope. 
Below lies a shattered village and ruined church St. Aurin. 
"It is horrible to see all this," one says, "and to think that we 
in Canada have escaped scot free only the lives of our men." 
"Ah," he says, "but is not sorrow a strength to the character, a 
completion of experience shall we not emerge a stronger 
people for it all?" 

We are in a trench examining a bayonet, a beautiful rapier- 
like piece of polished steel. "How you bring your sense of art 
and beauty into everything," one cannot help remarking. 
"Look at your camouflage, what art it is, suiting itself per 
fectly to the changing aspects of soil and landscape; while ours 
too often is a matter of rule of thumb." 

"That may be so." he replies. "But you have your admir 
able perseverance. To each nation its own qualities. To the 
Hun that of the beast." 

Of a saddened countenance is the French soldier. The 
tragedy of war has transmuted the once merry fellow. They 
lack too the outward smartness of our infantry. But the spirit 
is there. "On to the Rhine!" we cry to one of them. He 
lights up at once. "That is the perfect word, Monsieur," he 
says with a grin. 



100 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

One takes away a sense of what the French Army has suf 
fered and endured. Compared with ourselves, they lack 
deplorably all manner of material and equipment their guns 
worn out, ammunition depleted, their horses emaciated and 
with few lorries for transport, the "poilu" himself a pack-mule 
on the march. But after all these long years, when they have 
borne the brunt in defeat and in victory, their men are incom 
parable, their spirit unquenched. 



It is Aug. 19 and we are back again in Dury, just twelve 
days since we left this sad and dreary village. Nothing but 
dust and troops and lorries. Occasionally through a tall gate 
way is the glimpse of an old woman, doubled under a load of 
straw. Much more rarely a child. One little estaminet is 
open where they sell red and white wine of the sourest vintage. 

All the villages of this part of France are ugly. Built right 
out to the street are the stables and out-houses blank walls 
pierced by inhospitable double gates. You enter your billet 
through what is essentially the backyard, a manure pile in its 
centre and cart shed on either hand. Back is the decent little 
house, two-storied, very old, weather-stained, sadly lacking a 
coat of paint and a rambler rose. You walk through across 
the inevitable tiled floor to the back. Hey, presto! what a 
change is here. A charming garden, stocked with good things 
to eat, fruit trees and flowers, and behind a hedge and a field 
rolling down into a green valley. 

Nevertheless the cobbled streets are ugly beyond compare, 
high gray blank walls, shuttered windows, smokeless chimneys 
and clouds of dust shrouding the passing transport. Beyond 
the village the landscape is bare, for not here are the nestling 
red-roofed farmhouses of old England. It is a communal life, 
dear to the French peasant heart. Madame may chat over the 
wall to her neighbor, knitting the while and keeping an eye on 
the simmering pot. The French peasant likes company and 
he sits of an evening in the village park, sipping his glass and 
swapping news with his cronies. Thus is explained the utter 



FRENCH SCENES 101 

ruin the invader has wreaked upon the countryside. His 
target is not isolated farms but densely populated villages, con 
taining within their scant area all the rural population. Better 
for the French peasants if they had lived in scattered home 
steads. 

We have been away a bare fortnight. When we return all 
is changed. Gossips and laughing children enliven the street. 
Dury has little to show of scars. Here and there the Boche has 
left his mark screaming bombs from out the night, or the 
devastation of a long-distance gun. But it has suffered in fore 
boding. Last spring the tide of battle lapped very close to its 
thresholds. At any hour the enemy might select its humble 
area for bombardment. All the bigger houses the Chateaux 
-are long closed, their owners in happier climes. Only the 
village folk have clung to their village. They had nowhere 
else to go to their village and their poor chattels, their cow 
and their waddling geese. The good Cure remains to watch 
over his flock and deplore the ruined tower of his gray old 
church. But now the foe is many miles away and the village 
saved saved with the wrecked city of Amiens. 

In those days we saw many villages in far worse plight. 
There was Domart, a ruin swaddled in dust; dust, dust every 
where, red dust from the brick of broken homes, bathing the 
passing lorries along the Roye road. There was Marcelcave, 
a cemetery of houses, only the skeletons, instead of decent 
burial, loom white and gaunt against the sky. Constructed of 
century old timber f raming, these still stand after the tiles and 
plaster have melted into dust. Such stricken villages do not 
present the magnificent ruin of Ypres > nor are they a flat and 
disregarded desert like Neuville St. Vaast, at foot of Vimy 
Ridge. But they are very horrible. There is something inde 
cent about their stark ribs. 

* 

At midnight of Aug. 21-22 comes the moving order. 
"Secret and Confidential Lorry No. so-and-so will be at 
the door of your billet at 5.45 a.m. no breakfasts served in 



102 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

messes after 6 a.m. destination unstated." On such occasion 
the Camp Commandant is the best hated man in Corps, for 
there seems a certain malignity in these midnight alarums. At 
last one was going to put in a good night s sleep to catch up 
needed arrears; but no, there will be little sleep this night, 
with the problem of squeezing a gallon of gear into a quart 
pot; treasured "souvenirs" must go into the discard. 

Once again on the move, we discover we have a full day for 
the relatively short jaunt to Hautecloque, south of St. Pol, and 
can spend some hours in Amiens, a year ago the joyous con 
gregation of young officers on leave, but now deserted, empty 
streets echoing to the passing hoof-beat. 



A truly pious nation, the French; a people of reverence 
for the fine things of life. Their piety today takes other direc 
tion than that of yesterday. It kneels at the shrine of an idea, 
of France. In all their churches is to be seen the shining 
figure of Jeanne d Arc. Their national heroine broods over 
them, an idea that has triumphed in this war over material 
fact, over 450-centimetre guns. 

Every cross-road has its shrine, and in every little hamlet 
the village church stands a monument of ancient art and piety, 
the treasured storehouse of the community from generation 
to generation, enriched by free fancy. However dull the 
village street, there lifts out of its foliage a slender fretted 
spire, or, maybe, a hoary tower, sign manual of the spiritual 
life below. War has quickened that life. Not in vain calls 
the church bell to matins and vespers. In no land is the beauty 
of sacrifice as well understood as in France. 

Thousands of these humble altars lie in ruin, more ruinous 
than the ruined villages, singled out malignantly. It was not 
by his design that the great cathedral of Amiens escaped almost 
unscathed. Its topmost pinnacles are far below the level of the 
immediate hills and yet for four months it has been the target 
of long-range guns and bombing planes. Draw a circle of a 
hundred yards around it and everywhere is destruction. The 



FRENCH SCENES 103 

glorious Gothic west front, still sandbagged many feet up, is 
pitted with shrapnel. Good saints in their niches have lost 
arms and legs. It is a miracle that it has so escaped, to be for 
generations to come a shrine for pious pilgrims who may see 
in its scarred but stately lines the symbol of the indomitable 
nation that kept alight through storm and ravage and woe the 
torch of civilization. 

Only an ecclesiastical architect can write of such things at 
every turn the layman exposes himself. But it is impossible 
to pass by Amiens cathedral without catching something of its 
spirit and its meaning. 

The popular, the picture-postcard, view is the west front, 
with its irregular twin towers, its great rose window and all 
the lavish ornament of decorated Gothic. It is a fine example 
of that kind of thing such an impression is here deliberately 
cultivated as might be that of a woman attired for the chief 
event in her life. But this ornate richness and luxury of treat 
ment is not what appeals in the particular connection. Cur 
iously enough it is restricted entirely to the west facade, for 
the rest is art reduced to the finest simplicity of free-springing 
perpendicular columns and arches, delicate tracery, flying 
buttresses and high-shouldering roofs. Here and there this 
austere and chaste expression breaks out into rebellious phan 
tasies of gargoyle and quaint grotesque, roughly carved from 
the solid block. 

The aspect one loves is the intimate view of the basilica 
from the foot of Rue Victor Hugo, a vista of gray stone and 
purple slate, an impression of devout aspiring feeling that 
deliberately carries the eye unchecked and unencumbered by 
superfluous ornament up and up and up to the pinnacle of the 
wonderful little Gothic spire super-imposed upon the cross of 
the building that from any other view it is not visible from 
the west front seems unmeaning and even absurd. From 
earth to the high elysium is its message, and to pass thence into 
the square and thus confront the florid elegance of the west 
facade is to fall from heaven to earth again^ 



104 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

The same pure and simple beauty is to be found within. 
Most of the old glass has been removed, and gone too is much 
of the gilt and tinsel that too often obscure and distract the 
noble lines of these buildings. The interior is reduced to its 
simplest values, without ornament, such as it was conceived and 
executed by its monk builders. It is a house cleansed by war 
like unto the people of France. There is little but the bare 
beauty of form and light, but the impression is of an immensity. 
The nave is subdivided by lofty shafts and bold arches, simple 
variations of the trefoil prevailing. Its surpassing beauty is 
due to these gracious lines and their high uplift to the vault 
ing of the ceiling. Wide untrammelled spaces and the clear 
sunlight streaming through the tracery of great unglazed win 
dows give the impression of open skies and "the wind upon 
the heath." Not here the mystery of stained glass, dim per 
spectives and glorious shrines, but the flinging wide of doors, 
the sweeping down of cobwebs. 

Back of the high altar and facing the rich frescoes of the 
Lady Chapel is a simple relief dated 1628, "To the worthy 
memory of Johannis Delagrange, one time episcopal ambas 
sador and cardinal." He lies there in stone effigy and his 
cardinal s hat at his feet. Another slab perpetuates the charity 
he established for the poor children of the diocese. A worthy 
man, this Lord Archbishop of Amiens; and a proud, without 
doubt. 

In and about this great temple Canadian and Australian 
soldiers reverently wander; they see in it something mystic, 
the pledge of their victory, its vast echoing spaces peopled by 
their comrades who have laid down their lives. 

Against this pile of gray stone wherein lies enshrined the 
feeling of all the ages the Hun hurled his implacable hate. In 
its drive of Aug. 8 and 9, the Canadian Corps captured half a 
dozen 5.9-inch naval guns, with a range of 25,000 yards, and 
there is reason to suspect some of these were the very long 
distance rifles that sought to destroy the cathedral of Amiens. 
Of direct hits possible to identify two at least are of this calibre. 



FRENCH SCENES 105 

One destroyed the northeast chapel of the ambulatory; another 
the organ platform under the rose window, but the organ, a 
famous piece, had been removed to the crypt. 

Amiens cathedral is now safe. Yet another bond was thus 
knit between the peoples of France and of Canada. Over the 
great altar hang the flags of French regiments, and among 
them the Stars and Stripes. The ensign of Canada might here 
well find a worthy resting place. 



ARRAS 



107 



ARRAS 

CHAPTER I 

PLANNING ATTACK ON HINDENBURG LINE 

WE have seen that Canadian Corps Headquarters moved 
from Amiens to Hautecloque on the morning of Aug. 
22. Its stay here was of the briefest, a move being 
made early next morning to Noyelle Vion, and the interest of 
Hautecloque in the annals of the Corps lies solely in the fact 
that here the plan of battle on the Arras front was prepared. 
Great as had been the moral effect of the successful Amiens 
offensive, followed up immediately by the attack of the Third 
Army between Albert and Arras, what was to follow was 
designed to be much more far-reaching in its effect, namely, 
the breaking of the Hindenburg line and the driving in of 
the enemy on territory he had occupied uninterruptedly since 
1914. * ^ 

Sir Douglas Haig thus explains the design: "As soon as 
the progress of the Third Army had forced the enemy to fall 
back from the Mercatel spur, thereby giving us a secure south 
ern flank for an assault upon the German positions on Orange 
Hill and about Monchy-le-Preux, the moment arrived for the 
First Army to extend the front of our attack to the north. 
Using the river Sensee to cover their left, in the same way as 
the River Somme had been used to cover the left of the Fourth 
Army in the Battle of Amiens, the right of the First Army 
attacked east of Arras, and by turning from the north the west 
ern extremity of the Hindenburg Line compelled the enemy 
to undertake a further retreat. It was calculated correctly that 
this gradual extension of our front of attack would mislead 
the enemy as to where the main blow would fall, and would 
cause him to throw in his reserves piecemeal." 

109 



110 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

As we shall see, the entire operation was entrusted to the 
Canadian Corps, strengthened at times by the addition of 
British Divisions. The recommendation of the Canadian 
Corps Commander made after the successful initial operations 
of the Battle of Amiens, namely, that those operations should 
be slackened to give time to organize a set piece attack on a 
broad front in a surprise attack elsewhere, had therefore borne 
its full fruit. 

In this connection it is interesting to follow Sir Arthur 
Currie s observations upon the general situation at this date. 
"In sympathy with the severe reverses suffered on the Marne," 
he says, "and consequent upon the actions now fully developed 
in the Somme salient, signs were not wanting that the enemy 
was preparing to evacuate the salient of the Lys. This evacua 
tion began under pressure of the First Army on Aug. 25. 

"All these attacks and results, direct or indirect, enabled 
the Allies to recover the ground they had lost in the course of 
the German offensive operations (of the spring and summer). 
The recapture of the ground was, however, of secondary im 
portance as compared to the moral results of these successive 
victories. The German Armies had been impressed in the 
course of these operations by the superiority of our general 
ship and of our organization, and by the great determination 
of our troops and subordinate commanders. 

"The Hindenburg System, however, was intact, and the 
enemy Higher Command hoped and believed that behind this 
powerfully organized area the German Armies might be col 
lected and reorganized. Fighting the most determined rear 
guard action in the Somme salient, they expected that our 
armies would be tired and depleted by the time they reached 
the forward area of the Hindenburg System. 

"The Battle of Cambrai, now about to be begun, shattered 
their hopes. By breaking through the Drocourt-Queant Line, 
itself but a part of the Hindenburg System, the Canadian 
Corps carried the operations forward to ground that had been 
in the hands of the Germans since 1914. This advance con- 



PLANNING ATTACK ON HINDENBURG LINE 1 1 1 

stituted a direct threat on the rear of the German Armies north 
and south of Cambrai. 

"Dominated at all times, paralysed by the swift and bold 
strokes on vital points of their line and by the relentless press 
ure applied everywhere, the German Higher Command was 
unable to take adequate steps to localize and stop our advance. 
After the Drocourt-Queant Line was broken, the retreat of the 
enemy became more accelerated, and our attacks met every 
where with less and less organized and determined resistance. 
The moral effect of the most bitter and relentless fighting 
which led to the capture of Cambrai was tremendous. The 
Germans had at last learned and understood that they were 
beaten." 

The operations now about to open, and which were not con 
cluded until the fall of Cambrai on Oct. 9, regarded as one 
great battle, ranks foremost in all the operations of the "Hun 
dred Days." It entailed six weeks continuous righting, often 
surpassing in intensity any battle in which Canadian troops 
had ever been engaged, and never falling below the standard 
of bitterest trench warfare; for when, as in mid-September, 
there was a pause in the forward movement, our troops in the 
front line were exposed in a sharp salient and had no rest by 
day or night. Throughout this great battle the Canadian 
Corps held the centre of the field, and was often dependent 
eh ti rely upon its own exertions and resources. Its work con 
tributed more than any other combined operation of this period 
to the final downfall of the enemy arms. These are consider 
able claims but they will be amply supported by the ensuing 
narrative. 

The task before the Canadian Corps is described by Sir 
Arthur Currie as follows : "On Aug. 22 I received the details 
of the operation contemplated on the First Army Front. The 
plan was substantially as follows :- 

"The Canadian Corps, on the right of the First Army, was 
to attack eastwards astride the Arras-Cambrai road, and by 
forcing its way through the Drocourt-Queant Line south of 



112 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

the Scarpe to break the hinge of the Hindenburg System and 
prevent the possibility of the enemy rallying behind this 
powerfully organized defended area. 

These operations were to be carried out in conjunction 
with the operation of the Third Army then in progress. This 
attack had been fixed for next Sunday, Aug. 25. It was repre 
sented that this gave barely 48 hours to concentrate the neces 
sary artillery, part of which was still in the Fourth Army area, 
and that, furthermore, the Canadian Corps had sentimental 
objections to attacking on the Sabbath Day. It was then 
agreed the attack should take place on Monday, Aug. 26. 

"On the evening of Aug. 22 I held a conference of Divi 
sional Commanders at Corps Headquarters (Hautecloque) 
and outlined the projected operation and my plans for carrying 
it out. 

u ln addition to a detailed knowledge of the ground, which 
we had held before, we were particularly benefited by all the 
reconnaissances and plans made for the capture of Orange Hill 
during the period of simulated activity at the end of July. The 
excellence of trench railways, rear communications, and 
administrative arrangements in the area were also of great 
value, and enabled the Canadian Corps to undertake to begin, 
with only three days notice, the hardest battle in its history. 

"Reinforcements had come up, and although all units were 
not up to strength, they were all in fighting condition. The 
efficiency of the organization peculiar to the Canadian Corps, 
and the soundness of the tactical doctrine practised, had been 
proved and confirmed. 

"Flushed with the great victory they had just won, and 
fortified by the experience acquired, all ranks were ready for 
the coming task." 

The first step must be the recapture of the territory over 
run by the enemy in his spring offensive. The most important 
feature was the conical hill rising out of the plateau between 
the Scarpe and the Cambrai road known as Monchy-le-Preux. 
This had been captured from the enemy by a very fine opera- 



PLANNING ATTACK ON HINDENBURG LINE 113 

tion of British troops who in April, 1917, had turned the posi 
tion in a driving snowstorm as part of the programme carried 
out south of the Scarpe immediately following the capture of 
Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps. 

In the face of furious counter-attacks lasting several days 
the hill had then been held by the gallant Newfoundland 
Regiment, who although cut to pieces clung desperately to the 
position until support was forthcoming. It was one of the 
tragedies of the spring of 1918 that Monchy-le-Preux was per 
haps needlessly surrendered to the enemy. Those were days 
of panic and the loss of the hill seriously embarrassed the 
troops, including the 2nd. Canadian Division, holding the line 
in front of Arras during the summer. It was certain that the 
enemy would not give it up again without a desperate struggle. 

There were other strong features, for the ground to be 
attacked lent itself peculiarly to defense, being composed of a 
succession of ridges, rivers and canals, which formed natural 
lines of defense of very great strength. These natural posi 
tions, often mutually supporting, had been abundantly forti 
fied. Their organization was the last word in military engi 
neering, and represented years of intensive and systematic 
labor. Barbed wire entanglements were formidable, machine- 
gun positions innumerable, and large tunnels had been pro 
vided for the protection of the garrison. 

"The four main systems of defense," says the Corps Com 
mander, "consisted of the following lines :- 

1. The old German front line system east of Monchy-le- 
Preux. 

2. The Fresnes-Rouvroy line. 

3. The Drocourt-Queant line. 

4. The Canal du Nord line. 

"These, with their subsidiary switches and strong points, as 
well as the less organized but by no means weak intermediate 
lines of trenches, made the series of positions to be attacked 
without doubt one of the strongest defensively on the Western 
Front. 

9 



114 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"Broad glacis, studded with machine-gun nests, defended 
the immediate approaches to these lines, and this necessitated 
in each case heavy fighting to gain a suitable jumping-off line 
before assaulting the main position. 

"In addition to these systems, and as a preliminary to the 
attack on the old German trench system east of Monchy-le- 
Preux, it was necessary to capture the very well organized 
British defenses which had been lost in the fighting of March, 
1918. These defenses were intact to a depth of about 5,500 
yards, and were dominated by the heights of Monchy-le-Preux, 
from which the Germans were enjoying superior observation. 

"Throughout these operations there could not be any ele 
ment of surprise, other than that afforded by the selection of 
the actual hour of the assaults. The positions to be attacked 
formed the pivot of the movements of the German Army to 
the south, and the security of the Armies to the north depended 
also on these positions being retained. There was consequently 
little doubt that the enemy was alert, and had made every dis 
position to repulse the expected attacks. Therefore the plan 
necessitated provision for very hard and continuous fighting, 
the main stress being laid on the continuity of the operations. 

"To carry this out, I decided to do the fighting with two 
Divisions in the line, each on a one-brigade front, thus enabling 
both divisions to carry on the battle for three successive days ; 
the two other Divisions were to be kept in Corps Reserve, rest 
ing and refitting after each relief. (The severity of the fight 
ing did not, however, allow this plan to be adhered to, and on 
many occasions the Divisions had to fight with two brigades 
in the front line.) It was understood that British Divisions 
from Army Reserve would be made available as soon as addi 
tional troops were required. 

"To maintain the utmost vigor throughout the operation, 
the Divisions were directed to keep their support and reserve 
brigades close up, ready to push on as soon as the leading 
troops were expended." 

Six terrible weeks were to follow. They were to test the 



PLANNING ATTACK ON HINDENBURG LINE 115 

Corps as it had never been tested before. Days were to come 
in which it was to envisage defeat and triumph only by its 
stern denial of such a possibility. 

For all it was to be a fiery ordeal; but for none more than 
the Corps Commander. He had taken on the task and for the 
honor of the Corps, of Canada, and the good of the cause, he 
must push it through to a victorious conclusion. Be sure there 
were for him days of doubt and sorrow. But his lofty spirit, 
certain of itself even as it was certain of the Canadian soldier, 
triumphed over all. Some few in intimate touch with the 
Corps Commander in the dark days may have guessed at a 
burden that at times was almost overwhelming, of responsibil 
ities that troubled the humane man; but to those who relied 
upon him he showed only a serene fortitude, and quickened 
their drooping spirits by the vitality of his faith. 

One of his Divisional Commanders has written of "the 
grateful thanks of all ranks of the Division to our chief, Sir 
Arthur Currie, for the extraordinary skill and ability with 
which he conducted these battles. And especially do we wish 
to place on record our appreciation of the care and solicitude 
which he has evinced at all times for our lives and general 
well-being." 



CHAPTER II 

WAYSIDE SCENES 

MEANTIME preparations are going busily on. On the 
night of Aug. 19 the 2nd. Canadian Division began to 
move back to its fighting-ground in front of Arras, 
where it had arrived on March 30 in time to halt the enemy 
assault on Arras, remaining in the same line with a brief inter 
val until the move south was made. Units of this division now 
found themselves back in the identical trenches they had held 
so many weeks. 

The 3rd. Canadian Division began its move the following 
night and was followed immediately by the 1st. Division. But 
our 4th. Division remained in the line in front of Roye until 
Aug. 25, when it was relieved by the 34th. and 35th. French 
Divisions, and did not rejoin the Corps until Aug. 28, after 
the battle had opened. 

The Canadian troops had been fighting in a country rela 
tively little war-scarred, where green fields and growing things 
were to be seen ; they had had the luck of an unbroken spell of 
fine weather; granted the hard toil and ever present danger of 
the soldier s lot, their excursion south had been something in 
the nature of a break in the dull monotony of trench warfare, 
an adventure full of life and color and movement. 

Now they were coming back to No Man s Land, to the 
pitiless desolation wrought by the static warfare of years, to 
mud and wire and the clang of the gas alarm. Such was 
to be their life until long weeks ahead they had passed over the 
Canal du Nord, through the scarred wood of Bourlon, and 
had fought their way again to green fields across the Scheldt 
Canal. 

But not the hardiest optimist nor the most imaginative 
soldier in their ranks could at that time guess that anything 

116 



WAYSIDE SCENES 117 

lay in front of them but another winter in the trenches. Pass 
ing in trains and busses through August harvest scenes, their 
eyes were blinded to the great panorama presently to unroll 
before them the towers of Valenciennes, the slag-heaps of 
Hainault, the belfry of Mons, the dark forests of the Ardennes 
and the shining ribbon of the Rhine. They had had their 
little excursion, their adventure, their holiday, and now, some 
what grimly, they returned to a landscape rent by war from 
the very form of nature, and to the dreary round of raid by 
night and alarums by day. 

.... 
We are camped in the orchard of Noyelle Vion, ten miles 
west of Arras. It is unscourged by war and its people go 
about their daily avocations, habituated to the continual shift 
ing military population. We follow hard on an American 
divisional staff their footprints are still fresh in the damp 
orchard mould and they in turn some British troops. The 
tradition of French Units there in the early months of the war 
is already indistinct. English is the language of barter and 
children lisp it. 

One wonders whether this movement is welcome to the 
peasants. The idea of being their saviors has passed into his 
tory; we must be something of a nuisance. True, they are paid 
for their billets; but in turn they must evacuate their homes or 
crowd into narrow quarters. Home life ceased for these 
peasants four years ago. They are the mere appendage of a 
vast and complex military movement, restless, seeming pur 
poseless, that at an hour s notice picks up the major population 
of the village, whisks it from sight and memory (save perhaps 
in a shy maiden heart), and before nightfall deposits a new, 
strange, but still alien multitude in khaki. 

Shops, houses, estaminets, have sunk their identity in the 
bold conspicuous numbering of the billets. The maiden sisters 
Dubuc, whose little dress-making parlor stood just back from 
the street and was a favorite corner for gossip among the good 
wives, have disappeared, God knows where. Peace will bring 



118 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

them back, but the gate that looked down the cobbled street as 
they plied their busy needle is now disfigured by the sign, "No. 
37 billets for 18 men." 



Mankind has the instinct to climb upward, survey what 
lies below of the countryside, and catch maybe the sun s declin 
ing rays. Back of the orchard gently rising ground leads one 
up to one of the finest prospects in France ; not bold indeed, like 
the view from Cassel, but on every hand undulating into purple 
distances. 

Peace here reigns. In the foreground women with kilted 
skirts are milking. An old man steadily follows his plow. Up 
the road, perched sideways on a farm horse, her sabots click 
ing against the chain traces, rides a young girl, a white kerchief 
bound coquettishly over her dark hair; going home to prepare 
the evening meal. At the hour of vespers for countless genera 
tions these same people have been doing these same tasks. The 
war has not touched them visibly, save that it has snatched 
from the village sturdy manhood and lusty youth. 

Below lies a vista of dark plowed land, yellowing fields of 
sugar beet, tender green of sprouting grain, and umbrageous 
clumps enclosing trim villages. Nothing could be more syl 
van, more caressing to the eye. But at our very feet is a line of 
trench, leaving its white serrated scar, hastily thrown up in 
those feverish spring days when it seemed Arras too must fall 
in the general ruin. 

What is that mass that gleams on the eastern skyline? The 
glass shows the familiar lines of the broken towers of the great 
church of Mont St. Eloi, a landmark for miles around, to be 
seen at a later date quite as distinctly from the hilltop of 
Monchy-le-Preux. 

And then that faint outline must be Vimy Ridge with its 
crowding memories. To the left stand out the wooded sum 
mits bordering Notre Dame de Lorette. War is not so dis 
tant. From an aerodrome in the valley rises a solitary airman 
and awhile he disports himself in the blue. Soon the sharp 



WAYSIDE SCENES 119 

purr of his engine is overhead. He turns, careening his 
machine, whose belly gleams ruddy in the blazing western sky, 
a darting dragon-fly. Presently he is joined by the rest of his 
bombing squadron. In perfect alignment, like flight of geese 
over northern lake, they turn eastward on their grim errand. 

a 

In the little town of Duisans but a stone s throw west of 
Arras a procession of clergy and pious laymen bearing banners 
and tall candles pass up the hill to the church. This is a day of 
thanksgiving for the villagers. The legend goes that in those 
fateful days of August, 1914, when the Hun swept through 
Arras into the country beyond, the aged Cure called together 
the devout and earnestly they besought Our Lady that if She 
would shield them from the invader, annual offerings would 
be made at the shrine. A party of Uhlans rode up to the town 
octroi post, enquired if troops were there, and then returned 
whence they came. Shells fell about the outskirts, neighbor 
ing villages were shattered, but not a pagan finger-mark 
touched Duisans. Worn out with the load of the terrible 
years the old priest died, but still the parish pays its annual 
tribute. Presently are heard strains of Gregorian music. 

* 

In our orchard is much speculation as to when and where 
the Corps will go in again. It rains a good deal, the ground is 
clayey, and rash folk say any move will be to the good. 

It is Sunday night, Aug. 25, "Heine" has been over, and one 
of our fellows after him. An officer with a night glass claims 
he saw him come down. An orderly comes to the tent with an 
urgent message. . . In a few minutes we are pulling boots 
on again and going down the hill to the Corps garage. 

It is after midnight; the attack is to be at three o clock; 
there is little time to spare. Soon Noyelle Vion is behind us 
and we pass through Habarcq, famous, we have been told, for 
its beautiful women. Presently we come out upon the broad 
St. Pol-Arras highway; and broad it need be to take care of the 
traffic this night. No lights are allowed, for all this road is 



120 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

under direct observation; the moon, just past the full, keeps 
slipping behind clouds, and we crawl forward slowly. We 
pass gun-limbers pulled by six horses apiece, whose black feet 
make a pattern on the wet shining road. Dense columns of 
four swing steadily forward the identification patch is 
French grey, and therefore the 3rd. Canadian Division, but 
we can make out nothing further. 

No stretch of the imagination can render Arras beautiful; 
but there is a certain picturesqueness in the narrow streets 
exposing to the night their gaping wounds. It is a tortuous 
passage, and just where traffic space is most needed, a wall of 
sand-bags has been built across the street. Past the ruined rail 
way station we go; across a bridge and then up a long hill; 
through ruins that once were the Faubourg Ronville and so 
into other ruins that once was the village of Beaurains. In a 
dug-out here is a Company Headquarters, where men going 
up the line are being served hot tea, grateful and refreshing. 

The car can go no further, but it is only a matter of a mile 
to Telegraph Hill, which offers a good view of the battle. It 
has begun to rain a driving rain from the west, cold and 
cheerless and it is slow work picking one s way through wire 
and trenches, stumbling over a soldier s grave or slipping into 
a shell hole. "Zero" hour, in fact, bursts on our ear from a 
field-battery unnoticed in a little wood a few yards behind us. 
The battle is on, but nothing can be made out in the darkness. 
The barrage we have been told is more intense than that even 
of the opening of the Amiens show, but somehow it is not so 
impressive. The front is narrower, and the horizon limited 
by ridges ; there is not the same wide sweep of vision that made 
the spectacle from Gentelles ever memorable. 

Nevertheless it is effective, as the enemy s flares show. Very 
soon there is the glimmer of dawn and gradually the battlefield 
unfolds, as through a transparency. Getting back to the road 
that runs from Beaurains to Neuville Vitasse, we meet already 
some of our walking wounded. One of these drives before him 
thirty prisoners. "They expected us today," he calls out, "but 



WAYSIDE SCENES 121 

we were an hour too early for them. These lazy beggars were 
asleep in their dug-out. How is the battle going? Why, fine; 
we re away over the hill by now." But he adds that the 
machine-gunners are stout chaps and gave it his section bad. 



Over the entrance to a dug-out is a boldly painted sign: 
"THIS IS NEUVILLE VITASSE/ That ruin needed identifica 
tion. Our 31st. Battalion, Southern Alberta, had captured 
part of the village or the trench system that goes under that 
name but the previous night, and fighting was still going on 
in the other end. Further to the right we now bcc our men, a 
straggling line, making good progress a mile or so inside the 
enemy line. 

But the enemy is shelling the sunken road going through 
the village and one is well advised to take to a trench. In fact 
it is a very different affair to Amiens, where our men sailed off 
into the blue and were not brought up until they had got in 
four or five miles. Our counter-battery work then silenced his 
guns, but now he is putting up a fight for every yard of ground 
and sending over big stuff on our support lines. Against the 
skyline a tank lies derelict, and our line, now very thin, is 
scattered into little groups, answering the enemy machine-gun 
fire. Slowly troops in support work forward. 

An Advanced Dressing Station is busy in the fold of the 
hill just behind Neuville Vitasse. Long lines of our wounded 
wait patiently, lying in the open on stretchers. Nearby is a 
Brigade Headquarters. News that men of the 3rd. Division 
have captured Monchy-le-Preux evokes a cheer. "Good old 
C. M. Rs.," whispers a private of the 31st. One wonders if he 
can make blighry his face is the color of parchment but he 
lies there, waiting his turn, without complaint. A big fellow 
in field-gray next him groans horribly. 

Down the shell-torn road come long lines of stretcher-bear 
ers. One of these little parties is scattered by a bursting charge. 
The surgeons in their white aprons work on impassively. 



CHAPTER III 

OPERATIONS : AUG. 26-27 

THE attack on the morning of Aug. 26 was to be launched 
by the 2nd. Canadian Division, Maj. -General Sir Henry 
E. Burstall, on the right and the 3rd. Canadian Division, 
Maj. -General L. J. Lipsett, on the left, with a total frontage of 
6,000 yards. The jumping-ofT line began at the Sugar Factory, 
just south of Neuville Vitasse, passing north through that vil 
lage, then a little east of Telegraph Hill, across the Arras- 
Cambrai road (the Divisional boundary) just east of Tilloy- 
lez-Mofflaines, thence northeast to the Scarpe river at Fam- 
poux, north of which the line was taken up by the 51st. Divi 
sion, for the purpose of this operation placed under orders of 
the Canadian Corps Commander. This famous Highland 
Division, as part of the XXII Corps, had been through all the 
hard righting on the Marne in July, and had good reason to be 
a little battle weary. To protect the flank of our 3rd. Division 
the 51st. Division was to advance towards Mount Pleasant and 
Roeux. 

On our right the XVII Corps, the left Corps of the Third 
Army, during the offensive of the preceding week had ad 
vanced its line well forward of our right flank to the outskirts 
of Croisilles, whence its front trended back northwesterly to 
join up with us at Neuville Vitasse. This Corps was to follow 
up any advantage the Canadian Corps might gain. 

On the previous night, Saturday, Aug. 24, our 2nd. Divi 
sion had secured a better jumping-off line by advancing its 
outposts into the western edge of Neuville Vitasse, pursuing 
this advantage by capturing the Sugar Factory and some 
elements of trenches south of the village. 

The original design was that our two Divisions should push 
their attack due east, but after the battle was initiated this was 
changed, the Cambrai road being made the Divisional bound- 

122 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 26-27 123 

ary line, the direction being southeast. The first task set for 
the 2nd. Division was the capture of Chapel Hill, and it was 
then to work south through the old British support system and 
join up with troops of the XVII Corps on the right on the 
northern end of Wancourt Spur, the object being to throw a 
drag-net round the enemy troops in their forward area towards 
Neuville Vitasse. The left of the Division was to push for 
ward simultaneously and capture the southern end of Monchy- 
le-Preux. The 3rd. Division was to capture Orange Hill 
first and then pass on to the attack on Monchy-le-Preux. 
Both Divisions were to exploit their success as far as possible. 

"After mature consideration, zero hour, which had been 
originally set at 4.50 a.m. was changed to 3 a.m.," says Sir 
Arthur Currie, "in order to take advantage of the restricted 
visibility produced by moonlight and so to effect a surprise; 
the attacking troops would thus pass through the enemy s for 
ward machine-gun defenses by infiltration, and be in posi 
tion to assault at dawn his line of resistance on the eastern 
slopes of Orange Hill. 

"The initial assault was to be supported by 17 Brigades of 
Field and nine Brigades of Heavy Artillery. (Throughout 
the Arras-Cambrai operations the Artillery allotted to the 
Canadian Corps was at all times adequate, varying at times in 
accordance with the tasks assigned. In the operation against 
the Drocourt-Queant line the attack was supported by 20 
Brigades of Field and 12 Brigades of Heavy Artillery.) 

"The following Troops were attached to the Canadian 
Corps for the operations : 

"5th. Squadron, R. A. F. 

"3rd. Brigade, Tank Corps (about 45 tanks to a Brigade). 

"As a result of lessons learned during the Amiens opera 
tions, it was laid down, as a general principle, that Tanks 
should follow rather than precede the Infantry. The 3rd. 
Tank Brigade was asked to supply, if possible, nine Tanks to 
each attacking Division each day, and the necessity of exer 
cising the greatest economy in their employment was impressed 
on Divisional Commanders. 



124 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"On Aug. 26, at 3 a.m., the attack was launched under the 
usual artillery and machine-gun barrages. It made good pro 
gress, the village of Monchy-le-Preux being entered early in 
the day, after a very brilliant encircling attack carried out by 
the 8th. Brigade (Brig.-General D. C. Draper). The trenches 
immediately to the east of Monchy-le-Preux were found to be 
heavily held, and were not cleared until about 11 a.m. by the 
7th. Brigade (Brig.-General H. M. Dyer). 

"Guemappe was captured at 4 p.m. and Wancourt Tower 
and the top of Heninel Ridge were in our hands at 10,40 p.m. 
The defenders of the latter feature fought hard, but eventually 
succumbed to a determined attack delivered by the 6th. Bri 
gade (Brig.-General A. H. Bell), under cover of an extem 
porized barrage fired by the 2nd. Canadian Divisional Artil 
lery (Brig.-General H. A. Panet). During the night this 
Brigade captured in addition Egret Trench, thus securing a 
good jumping-ofl line for the operation of the following day. 

"The situation along the Arras-Cambrai road was at one 
time obscure, following a change in the Inter-Divisional 
boundary ordered when the attack was in progress. A gap 
occurred for a few hours, but it was rilled as soon as discovered 
by the Canadian Independent Force. 

"The enemy fought strenuously and several counter-attacks 
were repulsed at various stages of the righting, three German 
Divisions being identified during the day and more than 2,000 
prisoners captured together with a few guns and many 
machine-guns. 

"North of the Scarpe the 51st. (Highland) Division had 
pushed forward east of the Chemical Works and Gavrelle 
without meeting serious opposition." 

Our average advance the first day was thus about 6,000 
yards, converting what had been the sharp enemy salient thrust 
to within two miles of Arras into a fairly uniform line pro 
jected forward by our two Divisions on our right to within a 
thousand or fifteen hundred yards of the old German front 
line; and on our left, south of the Scarpe at Pelves, actually a 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 26-27 125 

little over that line, thus giving us virgin territory he had held 
since 1914. It was an auspicious beginning. 

On our right the XVII Corps, after some delay, had con 
formed to our advance through Heninel. But on our left, 
north of the Scarpe, the situation was not quite so satisfactory; 
for the 5 1st. Division had orders to co-operate but not to 
attack, and during the day did not advance more than a 
thousand yards on the river, thus being at least as much behind 
our men who had established themselves in the western out 
skirts of Pelves. 

Although the task of our 2nd. Division was not so spectac 
ular as the work allotted to the 3rd. Division on their left, it 
was far from easy. The enemy, alert to meet attacks already 
developing in this sector, had pushed forward reinforcements. 
Our advance developed well along the Cambrai road, but 
when our troops sought by a turning movement to link up with 
the XVII Corps, the fighting became very severe, each ridge 
providing a separate battlefield, and already the enemy was 
showing what lay in store for us when his main line of resist 
ance was reached. 

On the right, the 6th. Brigade, Brig.-General A. H. Bell, 
attacked with the 29th. Battalion, of Vancouver, on the Bri 
gade right, and the 27th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, on its left. 
These battalions pushed forward due east on each side .of 
Neuville Vitasse, the 27th. swinging round and closing in on 
the back of the village, and then continued the advance to 
Wancourt village, which was taken on schedule. Meantime 
the 29th. Battalion had swung off at right angles in an endeavor 
to secure contact with troops of the Third Army. This diffi 
cult manoauvre was well carried out, a number of prisoners 
and guns being captured in Neuville Vitasse. 

Advancing to capture Wancourt Ridge, both battalions 
were held up by terrific machine-gun fire, and proceeded to 
make good a line of defense. The 31st. Battalion, Southern 
Alberta, and the 28th. Battalion, Regina, now came up in sup 
port, and with aid of an admirable shoot put on by the 2nd. 



126 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Divisional Artillery, the ridge was finally cleared and Wan- 
court Tower captured at half past four the same afternoon. 
That night the Brigade pushed forward and captured a line 
of trench ahead to furnish the 5th. Brigade with a good jump- 
ing-off line next morning. The right battalion of the Brigade 
was obliged to build up a flank to the south, as the British 
troops had not come up. 

Meantime the 4th. Brigade, Brig.-General R. Rennie, on 
the left of the 6th. Brigade, after storming Chapel Hill, 
had pushed on south of the Cambrai road, with Brutinel s 
Brigade now on their left, overcoming heavy opposition at 
Guemappe and along the swampy valley of the Cojeul. The 
4th. Brigade attacked at 3.20 a.m. and by 6 a.m. had reached 
its first objective, the 21st. Battalion, Eastern Ontario, on the 
right, and the 20th. Battalion, Central Ontario, on the left. 
The final objective was reached at 7.30 a.m. with Guemappe 
captured later by the 21st. Battalion. The 19th. Battalion, 
Central Ontario, and the 18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 
now came up in support and by seven in the evening the line 
had been carried forward to the northern slope of the Heninel 
Ridge. 

On our left, on the 3rd. Canadian Division front, the 
dramatic feature of the day was the capture of Monchy-le- 
Preux, the commanding height known to every soldier on the 
Arras front, and this brilliant exploit is deserving of descrip 
tion in some detail. The attack was entrusted to the 8th. 
Brigade, (Brig.-General D. C. Draper). At "zero" our 
artillery put down a heavy rolling barrage, moving forward 
at the rate of a hundred yards every four minutes, on the 
enemy s front line and defenses, in conjunction w r ith defensive 
barrages designed to prevent the enemy bringing up reinforce 
ments. The 5th., 4th., and 2nd. C. M. R. Battalions jumped off 
exactly at "zero," following closely upon the rolling barrage. 
At twenty-five minutes past five, when visibility was good, the 
1st. C. M. R. Battalion, Western Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 
passed through the 4th. and 2nd. C. M. R. Battalions on our 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 26-27 127 

left, attacking the enemy positions between the Scarpe river 
and the northern slopes of Monchy-le-Preux. The attack was 
pressed with vigor, and by seven o clock our men had accom 
plished their tasks and the final objectives were in their hands, 
but they did not stop until they had advanced some distance 
further east. The right flank swung round behind Monchy-le- 
Preux, joining hands at eight o clock with the Sth. C. M. R., 
Eastern Townships, which had attacked on the right, captur 
ing Orange Hill and then drifting parties up to the southwest 
of the village. Seeing themselves thus cut off from support, 
the garrison surrendered. 

During the advance our troops encountered and overcame 
stiff resistance, chiefly machine-gun fire and particularly from 
the village. No sooner were they in possession of the hill than 
the enemy turned upon it a furious bombardment, with trench 
mortars and heavy guns. At eleven o clock, units of the 7th. 
Brigade passed through the line and pressed on the advance, 
leaving the Sth. Brigade to consolidate the position they had 
so gallantly won. 

In this brilliant encircling movement the 1st. C. M. R. 
inflicted severe casualties on the enemy besides capturing a 
large number of prisoners. Several heavy and light trench- 
mortars, a great number of heavy and light machine-guns, 
together with two 77mm. guns, fell into their hands. 

There remains to be recorded a notable personal exploit. 
After the encircling movement was completed but while the 
enemy still held the hill crowned with the ruins of Monchy-le- 
Preux, Lieut. Charles Smith Rutherford, Sth. C. M. R., a 
native of Colborne, Ont., went forward alone to reconnoitre, 
some distance ahead of his assaulting party. Entering the out 
skirts of the village he walked straight into an enemy machine- 
gun section, holding a pill-box, but which was not looking for 
an attack from that quarter. "Surrender," he cried without a 
moment s hesitation, though covered by enemy rifles. "You 
are completely surrounded and our machine-gunners will open 
fire on you if you do not surrender immediately." The enemy 



128 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

officer disputed the fact and invited Rutherford to enter the 
pill-box, but this he discreetly declined. There was a 
moment s discussion and then the German officer said they 
would surrender. "You have another machine-gun further up 
the hill; order them to surrender or we ll blow them to bits." 
And they did ; the entire garrison, consisting of two officers and 
43 men with three machine-guns, surrendered to him. 

His men then coming up, Lieut. Rutherford observed that 
the right assaulting party was held up by heavy machine-gun 
fire from another pill-box. This he attacked with a Lewis-gun 
section and captured a further 35 prisoners with machine- 
guns, thus enabling the party to continue their advance. 

Orange hill, west of Monchy-le-Preux, was covered by a 
strong enemy trench line, and some of the numerous dug-out* 
were not mopped-up thoroughly as our infantry pushed ahead. 
Father James Nicholson of Kingston, Ont, chaplain of the 5th. 
C. M. R., went over with his Medical Officer and stretcher- 
bearers after the infantry. Coming to a dug-out, the Padre 
shouted down. "Don t shoot," cried a Boche officer; "we sur 
render." And up tumbled seven officers and 40 men, piling 
their arms. "But where are your men?" asked the leader, 
looking round suspiciously. "Never mind; prepare to go to 
the rear." They began to whisper together. At this moment 
the M. O. arrived with his stretcher-bearers, but all unarmed. 
"That is quite enough from you; one word more and off goes 
your block," he said walking up to the Boche. Fortunately at 
that juncture two of our men with rifles came up. "Shoot the 
first man that opens his mouth," said the M. O., Capt. H. B. 
McEwan, and they marched off to the rear. 

After passing through the 8th. Brigade, the 7th. Brigade 
had very stiff fighting along the valley of the Scarpe and also 
towards the Bois du Vert and the Bois du Sart, from which the 
enemy launched heavy counter-attacks during the course of 
that afternoon and evening. But these were beaten off and our 
line consolidated for the attack next morning. 

"The attack," says the Corps Commander, "was renewed 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 26-27 129 

at 4.55 a.m. on Aug. 27 by the 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian Divi 
sions, in the face of increased opposition, under a uniformly 
good initial barrage. 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division pushed doggedly forward 
through the old German trench system, where very stiff hand- 
to-hand fighting took place, and crossed the Sensee river, 
after capturing the villages of Cherisy and Vis-en-Artois. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division encountered very heavy 
opposition, but succeeded in capturing Bois du Vert, Bois du 
Sart, and reaching the western outskirts of Haucourt, Remy, 
Boiry-Notre-Dame and Pelves. 

"The enemy throughout the day pushed a large number of 
reinforcements forward, bringing up Machine-gun Units in 
motor lorries in the face of our accurate Field and Artillery 
Fire. Hostile Field Batteries in the open, firing over open 
sights, showed remarkable tenacity, several remaining in 
action until the personnel had been destroyed by our machine- 
gun fire. 

"Our casualties were heavy, especially on the 2nd. Cana 
dian Division front, and after discussing the situation with the 
G. O. C., 2nd. Canadian Division, and taking into considera 
tion the uncertainty of the right flank of this Division, the 
operations were, after 5.45 p.m., restricted to the consolidation 
of the line then reached east of the Sensee river. 

"North of the Scarpe, the 51st. (Highland) Division had 
pushed forward and gained a footing on Greenland Hill, but 
were forced to withdraw slightly by a heavy German counter 
attack. During the night of Aug. 27-28 the 8th. Division (VII 
Corps) took over the northern half of the 5 1st. Division front. 

"As the enemy was still holding Plouvain and the high 
ground north of the Scarpe, the 3rd. Canadian Division had 
been compelled to refuse its left flank, and the front now held 
by this Division was increased from about 3,700 yards to 
about 6,000 yards." 

The fact was that while during this day the Canadian 
Corps advanced a maximum of about 4,000 yards along the 
10 



130 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Cambrai road, there was no corresponding advance by the 
British troops on either flank, particularly on the north, where 
the failure to hold Greenland Hill was a sad loss, as enemy 
batteries on this elevation directed at us an enfilade fire 
throughout this and the following days. 

This situation was very clear to the onlooker on top of 
Monchy-le-Preux, at times itself a warm spot. The main 
supply of ammunition for both our Divisions was along the 
Arras-Cambrai road, and this was subjected to a harassing fire 
along its entire length. Several ammunition lorries were hit 
south of Monchy, and casualties were suffered by our Ad 
vanced Dressing Station in that vicinity, all the fire coming 
from the north right across the supports of our 3rd. Division, 

On our right the 2nd. Canadian Division had a hard day of 
it right from the kick-off. The attack was made by the Sth. 
Brigade on the right, which during the night had relieved the 
6th. Brigade; and the 4th. Brigade on the left, immediately 
south of the Arras-Cambrai road. 

The Sth. Brigade had a terrible gruelling, fighting its way 
through a dense maze of trenches and wire, and with its right 
flank in the air. All its battalions were engaged and lost very 
heavily, these being the 24th., recruited from the Victoria 
Rifles of Montreal, the 22nd., French Canadians, the 25th., 
Nova Scotia, and 26th., New Brunswick. 

Lt.-Col. W. H. Clark-Kennedy of the 24th., enlisted at 
Montreal, showed this day conspicuous bravery and brilliant 
leadership. He led his Battalion with great bravery and skill 
from Crow and Aigrette trenches in front of Wancourt to the 
attack on the Fresnes-Rouvroy line. From the outset the Sth. 
Brigade, of which the 24th. was a central unit, came under 
very heavy shell and machine-gun fire, suffering many casual 
ties, especially among the leaders. Units became partially dis 
organized and the advance was checked. Appreciating the 
vital importance to the Brigade front of a lead by the centre 
and undismayed by annihilating fire, Lt.-Col. Clark-Kennedy, 
by sheer personality and initiative, inspired his men and en- 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 26-27 131 

couraged them forward. On several occasions he led parties 
straight at the machine-gun nests, which were holding up the 
advance. By controlling the direction of neighboring units 
and collecting men who had lost their leaders, he rendered 
valuable services in strengthening the line, and enabled the 
whole Brigade front to move forward. 

By the afternoon, very largely due to the determined leader 
ship of this officer and disregard for his own life, his Battalion, 
despite its heavy losses, had made good the maze of trenches 
west of Cherisy and Cherisy village, had crossed the Sensee 
bed, and had occupied the Occident trench in front of the 
heavy wire of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line. Under continuous 
fire he then went up and down his line until far into the night, 
improving the position, giving wonderful encouragement to 
his men, and sending back very clear reports. 

On the left of the 2nd. Canadian Division front the 4th. 
Brigade had equally hard fighting. It captured Vis-en-Artois, 
on the Arras-Cambrai road, early but was unable to cross the 
Sensee river until late in the day. Undeterred by their losses 
these fine Ontario Units fought their way literally step by step 
until they had made good the east bank of the Sensee. The 
fighting was very bitter in character, and the 21st. Battalion in 
particular was little inclined to mercy after a Bochc prisoner 
had shot down one of their officers. 

From Monchy it was clear that a stern battle was in pro 
gress up over the high ridge from Wancourt and Guemappe 
and then down into the valley of the Sensee river, through the 
strongly fortified villages of Cherisy and Vis-en-Artois. From 
the opposite slope the enemy poured in a terrific fire, and from 
time to time he threw in counter-attacks with his infantry. It 
was slow and expensive work, but it was vitally necessary to 
unmask the Fresnes-Rouvroy line, the last line of resistance 
which lay between us and our immediate goal, the Drocourt- 
Queant Switch, itself an integral part of the Hindenburg 
system. 

Equally intense but of a different character was the fighting 



132 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

on the front of the 3rd. Division on our left. We were now 
fighting in the No Man s Land of 1917 and the ground was 
everywhere torn up by shell fire and littered with old wire. 
The 7th. Brigade had carried the line overnight in front of 
the Bois du Vert and Bois du Sart, two woods crowning twin 
heights a thousand yards apart north and south, Monchy being 
two thousand yards west. A thousand yards northeast of Bois 
du Sart lies Jigsaw Wood, with Hatchett Wood between. 

The 9th. Brigade took up the attack at zero hour, the 
immediate objective being these two woods, and if possible the 
advance was to be pushed on into Boiry-Notre-Dame, a mile 
further east. The two woods were taken in the first rush, but 
the enemy meanwhile had brought down heavy reinforce 
ments from Douai and counter-attacked three times in suc 
cession from Jigsaw Wood, compelling us to refuse our left, 
which here, as already explained, exposed a long flank to the 
north. 

In order to cope with the resistance, it was determined to 
lay down a hurricane barrage on Jigsaw Wood, and for this 
purpose four Brigades of Field Artillery and a dozen batteries 
of heavy guns were concentrated on Orange Hill and opened 
fire simultaneously. As luck would have it, the enemy had 
just pushed in strong supports to their troops holding Jigsaw 
Wood, and the slaughter was very great. Our bombing 
planes, flying over the wood at the same time, added to the 
destruction and confusion. 

The enemy, however, had a strong second line of defense 
and both Boiry and Jigsaw Wood remained in his hands this 
day. On its right however, the 3rd. Canadian Division suc 
ceeded in advancing its line north of the Cambrai road abreast 
of our 2nd. Division at Vis-en-Artois. The battle was intensi 
fying as it progressed, but there was harder fighting yet to 
come. 



CHAPTER IV 

OPERATIONS : AUG. 28 

(( T T was intended," says Sir Arthur Currie, "to continue 

the battle on Aug. 28, with the 1st. Canadian Division on 

the right and the 4th. (British) Division, then coming 

under my command, on the left; the latter Division, however, 

was unable to reach the battle position in time. As it was 

undesirable at this stage to employ a fresh Division alongside a 

Division which had been already engaged, the orders issued 

were cancelled and the battle was continued by the Divisions 

then in the line." 

In fact there was no choice in the matter. As we have seen, 
the 4th. Canadian Division was then only moving back from 
Amiens. The enemy was pushing up reinforcements from 
both Douai and Cambrai and evidently meant to throw every 
available ounce into the scale to check us before the Drocourt- 
Queant line was reached. He held an immensely strong posi 
tion on the eastern slopes rising up from the Sensee river which 
was continued by the Boiry defense line to the Scarpe. He had 
shown a disposition to attack in force and the positions we 
had won offered no facilities for a passive defense. We must 
either go on or fall back on Wancourt Ridge and Monchy. 
thus throwing away the fruits of two days hard fighting and 
all the advantages of our surprise attack. It was not to be 
thought of, and so until two fresh divisions could be brought 
into the line the following night at earliest there was noth 
ing for it but for our tired troops to press on. 

The day s operations are described by the Corps Com 
mander as follows : "At 9 a.m. on Aug. 28 the 3rd. Canadian 
Division resumed the attack, followed at 12.30 p.m. by the 2nd. 
Canadian Division. The objective for the day was the cap 
ture of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line, the possession of which was 
vital to the success of our further operations. 

133 



134 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"On the left the 3rd. Canadian Division had pushed for 
ward, capturing the Fresnes-Rouvroy line from the Sensee 
river to north of Boiry-Notre-Dame, and had secured that 
village, Jigsaw Wood and entered Pelves. They had, how 
ever, been unable to clear the village of Haucourt." 

In order to shorten their front and reduce to a minimum the 
risk of a counter-attack from the north (the 51 St. Division 
being still at Roeux), our 3rd. Division opened the day by an 
assault at seven o clock on their extreme left, when by the cap 
ture of Pelves they secured that bridgehead over the Scarpe. 
This was brilliantly carried out by the 7th. Brigade, Brig.- 
General H. M. Dyer, whose elements fought their way through 
an intricate maze of trenches, despite the galling fire poured in 
on them from the heights bordering the river valley further 
east. 

It was the scene of a very brilliant exploit. Sergt. John 
Hutchinson of the 49th Battalion, of Edmonton, a native of 
Newcastle, but who enlisted at Edmonton, led the way up an 
enemy communication trench, which projected forward at 
right angles from their main system. Bombing as he went, he 
fought along the trench to the T point where it joined the main 
trench, where he established himself and sent back word that 
the left of the enemy sector based on the river was now in the 
air. Reinforcements were rushed up and our men divided 
right and left, along the main trench, and soon were in com 
plete possession. 

Across the bare open ground from the east the enemy sent 
over three massed counter-attacks in order to restore their 
line, but our men turned on them their own trench-mortars, 
and the divisional artillery, being now apprised of the situa 
tion, laid down so effective a barrage that the enemy was cut 
to pieces, many dead being left on the field. 

Combined with the operations of the 9th. Brigade, Brig.- 
General D. M. Ormond, on the divisional right, this move 
ment had the effect of turning the flank of the very strong 
enemy position in Jigsaw Wood, which the previous day had 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 28 135 

resisted all our efforts. The garrison streamed back from the 
wood across the open plateau and were mown down by the 
rifle fire of our men in the main trench, the range being so 
short that the shooting was exceedingly effective. Few of 
them reached their support line. 

Further to the right, the 9th. Brigade pushed ahead, and 
the 52nd. Battalion, New Ontario, which the previous day 
had captured Bois du Vert, now stormed Boiry village. This 
was the battalion that had taken Damery in the Amiens show, 
but probably its work on this day will rank in its annals as a 
greater achievement, for the men had lost heavily on the 
previous day and expected relief that night. Yet they went in 
with a will and a cheer and nothing could stand before them. 
Since Aug. 8 the Battalion had lost over half its effectives. 

On the night of Aug. 28-29 the 3rd. Canadian Division was 
relieved by the 4th. British Division and went out of the line 
for a brief rest, after three days ding-dong righting in which 
every Brigade was used to the uttermost, following close on the 
hard work along the Roye road in the Amiens show. But 
although not actually in the line, the general situation de 
manded they should remain in close support, where they were 
still exposed to enemy shell fire. 

One of the most remarkable features of the present fighting, 
indeed, arose from the fact that the enemy immediately before 
us was in superior strength, as during the course of the battle 
between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 he brought into action no less 
than eleven divisions, all of which were beaten in turn. Cou 
pled with this the fact that at this stage we were but fighting 
our way up through the fringe of his defense in an effort to 
grapple with his main line of resistance, and it will be seen 
that the situation of our divisions in the line weakened num 
erically by their heavy losses, incessantly straafed by the 
enemy s artillery and machine-gun fire, and subjected to suc 
cessive waves of determined counter-attack from fresh troops 
thrown into his line must have afforded constant anxiety to 
the Corps Commander. 



136 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

It followed inevitably that an exhausted division, so far 
from going out to rest in a back area when relieved, must 
"stand to," close up in support, ready for any event, and thus 
be exposed to bombardment by day and bombing by night. 

Curious indeed was the spectacle presented by every little 
vale and depression in this area that lay separated by but a 
single ridge from the battle line and the direct observation of 
the enemy, but which nevertheless was crowded with infantry 
in support, massed batteries of artillery, heavy and light, 
trains of supply and field ambulances; with cheek-by-jowl 
Divisional, Brigade and Battalion Headquarters, in dug-outs 
and under canvas. 

Such an area was included south of the Cambrai road be 
tween Neuville Vitasse and Guemappe and from the com 
manding vantage of Monchy-le-Preux lay spread out like a 
map. It seemed impossible the enemy could fail to note this 
great concentration, where a division lay within the compass 
of a good-sized western ranch, and to pour down upon it a 
devastating bombardment. But his gunners were fully occu 
pied in dealing with our assaults on his front area, and beyond 
throwing over occasional heavy stuff and maintaining a per 
sistent searching fire along our lines of communication, there 
was nothing in the way of a concerted artillery demonstration. 
During these and the next few following days, too, our airmen 
had so established their supremacy that hostile scouts durst 
not venture over our lines in daylight. These conditions, how 
ever, brought about relatively heavy casualties among troops 
lying in support, and particularly among our burial parties. 

The situation on our left, the 3rd. Division front, has been 
dealt with first because the kick-off took place in the early 
morning, while on the right, to which we now come, the 2nd. 
Canadian Division did not open its attack south of the Cambrai 
road until a little after noon. 

"On the front of the 2nd. Canadian Division the fighting 
was most severe," savs Sir Arthur Currie. "The wire in front 

7 

of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line was found to be almost intact. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 28 137 

and although at some points the 5th. Brigade (Brig.-General 
T. L. Tremblay) had succeeded in penetrating the line, the first 
objective could not be secured, except one short length on the 
extreme right. Subjected to heavy machine-gun fire from 
both flanks as well as frontally, the attacking troops had suf 
fered heavy casualties, which they had borne with the utmost 
fortitude. 

"At nightfall the general line of the 2nd. Canadian Divi 
sion was little in advance of the line held the night before, 
although a few parties of stubborn men were still as far for 
ward as the wire of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line. Enemy rein 
forcements were seen dribbling forward all day long." 

The 5th. Brigade staff had suffered severely in the Amiens 
show, when one shell had wounded Brig.-General Ross, and 
killed the Brigade Major and a Staff Major of the 2nd. Divi 
sion present, besides wounding the Brigade Intelligence 
Officer. Lt.-Col. T. L. Tremblay, who had led the 22nd. 
Battalion with such distinction at Courcelette and elsewhere, 
was now Acting-Brigadier, later to be confirmed in that ap 
pointment. The Brigade, exhausted and depleted though it 
was by the hard fighting of the previous days, could not have 
been handled with more resolution, and the response of the 
men was magnificent, but they were up against an impossible 
task. 

All the battalions engaged lost very heavily, the casualties 
of the Brigade during the two days fighting being about one 
hundred officers and 2,500 other ranks. Every officer engaged 
of the 22nd. Battalion, French Canadians, was a casualty by 
nightfall of Aug. 28, including the Acting O. C., Major A. E. 
Dubuc, with the entire headquarters staff of the battalion, 
mostly by shell fire. 

Lt.-Col. Clark-Kennedy, of the 24th. Battalion, whose bril 
liant leadership the preceding day has been recounted above, 
was seriously wounded. He again showed valorous leadership 
in the attack on the Fresnes-Rouvroy line and Upton Wood. 
Though severely wounded soon after the start, he refused aid, 



138 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

and dragged himself to a shell hole, from which he could 
observe. Realising that his exhausted troops could advance 
no further he established a strong line of defense and thereby 
prevented the loss of most important ground. Despite intense 
pain and serious loss of blood he refused to be evacuated for 
over five hours, by which time he had established the line in a 
position from which it was possible for the relieving troops 
to continue the advance. 

Lt.-Col. John Wyse of the 25th. Battalion, Nova Scotia, 
was wounded severely while leading his men, the command 
devolving upon Major F. P. Day, Lt.-Col. A. E. G. Mc- 
Kenzie, 26th Battalion, New Brunswick, was killed while 
gallantly rallying his men, and thus every unit of the 5th. 
Brigade lost its commanding officer, besides extremely heavy 
casualties both among officers and rank and file, losses to the 
26th. being nine officers and 350 men. 

"I never saw so many machine-guns in my life," said the 
Trench-Mortar Officer of the New Brunswickers after the 
battle. "They were in three tiers, three miles wide, protected 
by dense wire, their front plastered by shell fire. We attacked 
again and again and in the intervals beat off enemy counter 
attacks. If we d had tanks we d have been all right. What we 
want is tanks, tanks and yet more tanks." 

"It isn t rifles that shoot them guys," said a stretcher-bearer 
at the Advanced Dressing Station. "Pretty well every man 
that comes down here is done in by machine-guns. But most 
of them are good blighties, with clean bullet wounds." 

A good idea of the character of the fighting throughout the 
day of Aug. 28 is given by the narrative of a soldier of the 22nd. 
Battalion, as told the following day. "On Monday," he said, 
"we were in support. Our total strength was about 850 of all 
ranks, but when fifty men had been detached as stretcher- 
bearers and burial parties, and a few men from each company 
left in reserve as a nucleus at Battalion Headquarters, our 
battle strength was reduced to 675. 

"Ten o clock Tuesday morning we moved up to the attack 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 28 139 

between Guemappe and Cherisy, but were held up on the 
ridge and lost heavily, by machine-gun fire, as did the 20th. 
and 21st. of the 4th. Brigade, alongside of us. In the afternoon 
we attacked again, taking our objective, Cherisy, and crossed 
over the dry creek bed, where the Boche plastered us with fish 
tails, gas and machine-guns. 

"The Colonel and our Majors were wounded that day and 
next day the battalion was run by subalterns. The command 
went down to a Captain, but at nightfall of Wednesday not an 
officer was left and the Sergt.-Major of one of the Companies 
brought the battalion out. 

"Courcellete was child s play to this. It was machine-guns, 
not shell fire, and they raked us as we pushed up from Cherisy 
and the river over the ridge. This was about two o clock 
Wednesday afternoon. We got our first objective, the chalk 
pit, and then went on to our final objective, the Fresnes-Rouv- 
roy line, a thousand yards beyond and fifteen hundred from 
the jumping-ofT line, but they caught us on the wire and only 
15 or 20 reached it. We fell back because we had no officer, 
bringing away our wounded." 

Only three officers were left of the 35 this Battalion brought 
out of the Amiens show, and they were in reserve. Up to bat 
talion headquarters came a gunner, still carrying his machine- 
gun, with two bullet holes through it. "Hallo! Lieutenant," 
he cried. "Here we are again, the glorious 22nd.!" ("Hallo! 
Lieutenant. Hein le v l a le glorieux 22ieme!") 

The glorious 22nd. ! The Battalion will go on. The body 
perisheth but the spirit dieth not. 

At Brigade Headquarters that evening there came a tele 
phone call from the Sergeant-Major. "I am holding the line 
with 15 men. What shall we do?" 

"Carry on until your supports come up." 

The following account is taken from the story of this Bat 
talion: "The Epic of the 22nd.," by Sergt.-Major Corn- 
eloup; La Presse, Montreal: "Col. Dubuc fell at head of his 
men; Major Vanier lost a leg; Majors Routier, Roy and 



140 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Archambault, Capt. Morgan, Lieutenants Lamothe and Lem- 
ieux: such is the entire list of those who had been decorated 
who were now extinguished, all the glory of the past being 
aureoled in a bloody apotheosis. In spite of numerous desper 
ate efforts to bring him in, Capt. Morgan remained for 36 
hours in the sad No Man s Land. Out of the 22 officers who 
took part in this homeric struggle, not one was spared. Of the 
600 "shock troops" who went into battle, only 70 uninjured 
answered the roll-call. 

"The position won was held. A non-combatant, one of 
those great natures of the elect, born for devotion, Dr. Albcric 
Marin, Captain in the Medical Corps, saved the situation. He 
was following the battle as a spectator, giving first aid to the 
wounded, when he noticed that our soldiers, deprived of their 
leaders, were hesitating. In a bound he leapt over the dead, 
the wounded, those caught in the wire. Rallying this handful 
of brave men, still hot from the ardor of combat, he carried 
them along, electrifying them and inspiring them to hold their 
ground among the resounding crashes which churned the 
riven earth. In his own turn he fell, victim of gas. 

"Our Chaplain, Father Desjardins, worthy successor of 
the noble Father Crochetiere, was surrounded while smothered 
in a gust of evil fumes." 

Left of the 5th. Brigade, just south of the Arras-Cambrai 
road in the valley of the Sensee, the 4th. Brigade, Brig.-Gen- 
eral R. Rennie, made its third successive attack, having been 
continuously in the line since the battle opened on Monday 
morning. But the fighting strength was much reduced, and 
for this reason the Brigade frontage was limited to 700 yards. 
Attacking across the open slope, these fine Ontario troops 
fought their way forward with the utmost gallantry, but the 
men were tired, and the wire in front being uncut it was 
impossible to reach the objective, and in face of strong enemy 
resistance progress was slow. Casualties to officers were very 
heavy. Every battalion was in line and suffered severely. In 
addition the 31st. Battalion was sent up in support from the 
6th. Brigade, which was in reserve. 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 28 141 

Tales of heroism and sacrifice were common these three 
days, but one example must suffice. At one time when the 
right flank of the 18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, was held 
up by machine-gun fire, Lance-Cpl. W. H. Metcalf, a native 
of Dennysville, Maine, realising the situation, rushed forward 
under intense fire to a tank passing on the left. With his signal 
flag he walked in front of the tank, directing it along the trench 
in a perfect hail of bullets and bombs. The machine-gun 
strong points were thus overcome, heavy casualties inflicted on 
the enemy, and a very critical situation relieved. Later, 
though wounded, he continued to advance until ordered to get 
into a shell-hole and have his wounds dressed. This occurred 
in the advance of the 4th Brigade on Vis-en-Artois. 

But the men of the 2nd. Canadian Division did not die in 
vain. If they had not done much to improve the line, they 
had still held fast and had beaten back all through the day 
wave after wave of hostile counter-attacks, intent on driving 
them back over the Sensee. Our fresh troops now coming up 
were to jump-off from the line they had so stoutly maintained, 
were to carry on the battle into the heart of the enemy s defense, 
and there establish the Canadian Corps as the first of the Allied 
troops to break through the Hindenburg system, at no point so 
formidable or so bitterly defended as here. 

Their failure, glorious as it was, was due largely to matters 
over which they had no control. We fought that day with our 
right flank exposed, for the British had not come up to our 
support. It was only late in the day that London troops 
stormed the village of Croisilles. 

This village was 4,000 yards southwest of our right flank, 
and the 56th. British Division had fought their way up to its 
outskirts during the battle of Bapaume on Aug. 24. Thus, for 
four days, this line had remained static, and, whereas at the 
opening of the battle of Arras on Aug. 26 the general line of 
the Third Army was considerably in advance of our jumping- 
off line, it was now refused. On Aug. 26 Scottish and London 
troops, indeed, on our right flank, had captured the high 



142 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

ground between Croisilles and Heninel, in face of strong 
resistance, chiefly from machine-gun posts. But this did no 
more than conform to our advance and, there being no corres 
ponding advance on the following days, our right flank was 
much exposed, particularly from the direction of Hendecourt. 
The battle, in fact, was throughout a Canadian Corps battle, 
receiving little or no support on either flank. 

On the night of Aug. 28-29 the 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian 
Divisions were relieved by the 1st. Canadian Division on our 
right and the 4th. British Division on our left. This Division 
consisted of first-rate English County troops, and, as we shall 
see, their contribution to the general success of the Canadian 
Corps through the hard fighting of the following days was in 
every respect worthy of their reputation. And none could be 
higher than that of the famous "Fighting Fourth," distin 
guished even among the "Old Contemptibles," veterans of a 
hundred well-fought fields. They still maintained their name 
as "storm troops," and in the Canadian Corps found worthy 
company. 



CHAPTER V 

OPERATIONS : AUG. 29-3 1 

THE next four days were devoted to improving our line so 
as to afford suitable jumping-ofl ground for the great 
attack on the Drocourt-Queant Switch. It resolved it 
self into desperate and often detached struggles for isolated 
positions and sections of the enemy s defense. Before entering 
into some of the details of these operations it will be well to 
quote Sir Arthur Currie s narrative :- 

"During the days succeeding the capture of Monchy-le- 
Preux the enemy s resistance had been steadily increasing, and 
it became clear that the Drocourt-Queant line would be very 
stubbornly defended. 

"On Aug. 28 instructions had been received fixing tenta 
tively Sept. 1 as the date on which the Drocourt-Queant line 
was to be attacked by the Canadian Corps, in conjunction with 
the XVII Corps. The intention was to capture also the Canal 
du Nord line in the same operation. 

"It was therefore essential to secure, before that date, a 
good jumping-off line roughly parallel to, and approximately 
600 yards west of, the Drocourt-Queant line. 

"This was indeed a very difficult task, entailing the capture 
of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line, of the Vis-en- Artois Switch, and 
of a number of defended localities of very great strength, not 
ably the Crow s Nest, Upton Wood and St. Servin s Farm. 

"The 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian Divisions were now ex 
hausted, and during the night of Aug. 28-29 they were relieved 
by the 1st. Canadian Division on the right, the 4th. (British) 
Division (which had been placed under my orders on the night 
of Aug. 26-27) on the left, and Brutinel s Brigade (formerly 
the Canadian Independent Force) on the extreme left flank. 

"The Heavy Artillery from now on concentrated on the 

143 



144 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

cutting of the broad belts of wire in front of the Drocourt- 
Queant line, and the Engineers prepared the bridging material 
required for the crossings of the Sensee river and the Canal du 
Nord. 

"During the day (Aug. 29) our line had been considerably 
improved by minor operations. Brutinel s Brigade had 
pushed forward on their front and captured Bench Farm and 
Victoria Copse, north of Boiry-Notre-Dame. The 4th. (Brit 
ish) Division in the face of strong opposition, had advanced 
their line in the vicinity of Haucourt and Remy. North of 
the Scarpe the 51st. Division had captured the crest of Green 
land Hiii. : 

"The command of the 51st. Divisional front now passed 
to the G. O. C., XXII Corps; and during the night, Aug. 29- 
30, the 1 1th. Division, which had been transferred to the Cana 
dian Corps from I Corps, relieved Brutinel s Brigade in the 
line, the command of that Division also passing to the G. O. 
C., XXII Corps, on completion of the relief. 

"This shortened the line considerably and relieved me of 
the anxiety caused by the length and vulnerability of the north 
ern flank. 

"On Aug. 30, following the reported capture of Hcnde- 
court by the 57th. Division, the 1st. Canadian Division attacked 
the Vis-en-Artois Switch, Upton Wood and the Fresnes-Rouv- 
roy line, south of the Vis-en-Artois Switch. The attack, a 
daring manoeuvre organized and carried out by the 1st. Cana 
dian Infantry Brigade (Brig.-General W. A. Griesbach), 
under cover of very ingenious barrages arranged by the C. R. 
A., 1st. Canadian Division (Brig.-General H. C. Thacker), 
was eminently successful, all objectives being captured and the 
entire garrison either killed or taken prisoner. Heavy counter 
attacks by fresh troops were repulsed during the afternoon and 
following night. 

"On Aug. 31 the remainder of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line 
south of the Arras-Cambrai road, including Ocean Work, was 
captured by the 2nd. Canadian Infantry Brigade (Brig.-Gen 
eral F. O. W. Loomis) . 



OPERATIONS : AUG. 29-3 1 145 

"In the meantime the 4th. (British) Division had doggedly 
pushed ahead, crossing the valley of the Sensee river and cap 
turing the villages of Haucourt, Remy and Eterpigny. This 
advance was over very difficult, thickly wooded country, and 
the righting was very heavy, particularly in the vicinity of St. 
Servin s Farm, which, after changing hands several times, 
remained in possession of the enemy until Sept. 2." 

The brilliant fighting on the part of the 1st. Canadian 
Division, Maj.-General Sir Archibald C. Macdonell, in the 
days immediately preceding the great assault, is admirably 
described in this Division s own narrative of its operations, as 
follows: "On the night of Aug. 28-29 the 1st. Division 
relieved the 2nd. Division, the G. O. C. of the 1st. Division 
taking over the command of the line at midnight. The relief 
was most difficult. The position of the 2nd. Division front 
line was uncertain and it was necessary for the relieving troops 
to form up in extended order and march forward until the 
foremost troops of the battalion in line was reached. The 3rd. 
Brigade, Brig.-General G. S. Tuxford, took over the right 
sector, the 2nd. Brigade, Brig.-General F. O. W. Loomis, the 
left, and the 1st. Brigade, Brig.-General W. A. Griesbach, 
came into Divisional Reserve. 

"The next day, Aug. 29, passed without incident, except for 
fairly heavy shelling that was maintained on forward areas and 
roads. On this day the plans of the Army Commander for an 
extensive operation tentatively set for Sept. 1, were communi 
cated to the Division. This new attack was to be made by 
three Divisions, the object being to break the Drocourt-Queant 
line, overrun the crossings of the Canal du Nord, and also seize 
Bourlon Wood and the high ground to the north of it. In 
the meantime the divisions in line were ordered to secure by a 
series of minor operations the jumping-off line running from 
Chateau Wood, on the right, crossing the Vis-en-Artois Switch, 
and to the village of Eterpigny, on the left. 

"In order to understand the task before the Corps as a 
whole, and the 1st. Canadian Division in particular, a brief 

11 



146 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



description of the ground and the enemy defenses is necessary. 

"On the evening of Aug. 29 our front line followed roughly 
the valley of the Sensee river from Fontaine-lez-Croisilles to 
Haucourt, where it bent back over a small ridge between this 
river and the valley of the Cojeul, then over the high ground 
east of Boiry-Notre-Dame, and continued in a generally north 
westerly direction to the valley of the Scarpe. North of the 
Scarpe the operations were carried out merely to protect the 
flank of the main attack south of the stream, and need not be 
considered here. While the valley of the Scarpe began to bend 
to the northeast practically at our front line, the valley of the 
Trinquis river began almost at once, and ran due east, joining 
the Sensee valley 5,000 yards east of our line. 

"From ten to twelve thousand yards beyond our line was 
the valley and the waterway of the Canal du Nord, running 
almost due north and south. Cutting the Canadian Corps front 
in halves and running in a southeasterly direction straight to 
Cambrai, a distance of thirteen miles, was the tree-lined Arras- 
Cambrai road. 

"The natural features, then, were these: Two valleys con 
verging on our northern flank, forming an isolated triangle of 
ground to be dealt with; then two more convergent valleys, 
those of the Sensee and the Canal du Nord, with the high 
ground between, forming a plateau on the right flank, with a 
distance of 10,000 yards to go before the canal was reached, 
and on the left breaking into more sharply defined valleys and 
ridges as the junction of the valley was approached. 

"With the exception of one small jog, the Arras-Cambrai 
road formed the left flank of the 1st. Canadian Division. The 
right flank ran 3,500 yards south of and parallel to this road. 

"On the front of this division, therefore, the ground feat 
ures were simple. First came the gradual upward slope along 
the crest of which ran the Hendecourt-Dury road, and roughly 
paralleling our front line. Then came a gentle valley, and in 
this depression was the village of Cagnicourt on the right and 
Villers-lez-Cagnicourt on the left, each being about 6,000 yards 



OPERATIONS: AUG. 29-31 147 

from our front line. Immediately east of Cagnicourt were two 
small woods the Bois de Bouche and the Bois de Loison. 
Then another ridge, and a sharp valley running in a north 
easterly direction, with the villages of Buissy and Baralle 
straggling through it across the entire 1st. Division front. And 
finally the wooded valley of the Canal du Nord. 

"While the natural features presented no great difficulties 
-until the canal was reached the enemy had strongly forti 
fied this ground, and it was these heavily-wired and strongly- 
held trench systems that formed the great obstacle. 

"Coming back to the preliminary task of Aug. 30, immedi 
ately in front of the 1st. Canadian Division was the Fresnoy- 
Rouvroy line, sited on the slope leading up to the Hendecourt- 
Dury road. Two or three thousand yards east of this line was 
the famous Drocourt-Queant line, a switch off the Hindenburg 
line, which at this point ran in a generally southeasterly direc 
tion some 1,500 yards south of our frontage. Running in a 
southeasterly direction from Vis-en-Artois. and connecting the 
Fresnes-Rouvroy and Drocourt-Queant lines, was the trench 
system known as the Vis-en-Artois Switch. And, beginning at 
the point where the Drocourt-Queant line crossed the Arras- 
Cambrai road, and also running east, was a fourth line, known 
as the Buissy Switch. This system of trenches ran immediately 
southwest of the villages of Villers and Buissy, joining the 
Hindenburg line in the vicinity of Inchy-en-Artois, a village 
situated near the Canal du Nord and just south of the Canadian 
Corps boundary. 

"It will be seen, therefore, that the trenches to be taken by 
the 1st. Canadian Division ran, in zig-zag fashion, practically 
to the canal. 

The Canadian Corps plan for the attack on the Drocourt- 
Queant line depended on the divisions in line securing a jump- 
ing-off position within reasonable distance of this objective. 
The first thing, therefore, that the 1st. Canadian Division had 
to do was to take the Fresnoy-Rouvroy line, the greater part of 
the Vis-en-Artois Switch, Upton Wood and the two strong 



148 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

obstacles known as Chateau Wood and the Crow s Nest, or, in 
other words, to advance its line some 3,000 yards before launch 
ing the big attack. 

"As the Divisional Commander did not wish to incur any 
risk of dissipating the strength of the two brigades earmarked 
for the breaking of the Drocourt-Queant line, he decided that 
the 1st. Brigade in Divisional Reserve should carry out this 
preliminary operation. The date set was at dawn on Aug. 30. 

"The task confronting the 1st. Brigade was no light one. 
There was the strong Fresnes-Rouvroy trench line that already 
had stopped one attack by the Canadians ; there was the Vis-en- 
Artois Switch line, cutting this system diagonally; there was 
the fortified obstacle presented by Upton Wood, lying between 
the Fresnes-Rouvroy line and the Hendecourt-Dury road, 
there was Cemetery Trench, running in a northeasterly direc 
tion from our right flank and passing just east of Upton Wood. 

"At first it was decided to attack this area f rontally. Later, 
however, when the Brigade Commander heard that British 
troops had captured the village of Hendecourt, thus breaching 
the Fresnes-Rouvroy system just south of his right flank, he 
evolved a daring plan for the attack. Two battalions, the 1st., 
Western Ontario, and 2nd., of Ottawa, were to assemble in the 
vicinity of Hendecourt and attack northeast and north respec 
tively, the first going up Cemetery Trench and the other roll 
ing up the Fresnes-Rouvroy Trench from the south. The 3rd. 
Battalion, recruited from Toronto district, was ordered to 
attack astride the Vis-en-Artois Switch and burst the Fresnes- 
Rouvroy line at its junction with that trench. The artillery 
then worked out a complicated barrage, or rather two, one pro 
tecting each of the attacks from the flanks, and then merging 
together and sweeping eastwards. 

"The attack opened at 4.40 a.m. All went smoothly and 
the objectives were taken. Heavy fighting continued through 
the greater part of the day, however, for soon after noon the 
enemy launched a determined counter-attack under cover of an 
organized barrage, and penetrated some portions of Upton 



OPERATIONS : AUG. 29-3 1 149 

Wood and Cemetery Trench. A portion of the 2nd. Battalion 
in the Fresnes-Rouvroy line at once started another counter 
attack, and so brought the enemy to a standstill, but did not 
drive him out completely. 

"An attempt on the part of the 3rd. Battalion patrols to take 
the remainder of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line that lay between the 
Vis-en-Artois Switch and the Arras-Cambrai road was not suc 
cessful, owing to the strength with which the enemy was hold 
ing it. Towards evening a portion of the 4th. Battalion, Cen 
tral Ontario, was thrown into the fight to re-establish our new 
line. By nightfall this was accomplished, and the enemy 
driven out of those positions he had secured as a result of his 
attack at midday. 

"The next day, Aug. 31, the 2nd. Brigade, using the 8th. 
Battalion, Winnipeg, completed the capture of the Fresnes- 
Rouvroy line as far north as the Arras-Cambrai road, and then 
in daylight and in the face of heavy machine-gun fire patrols 
were rushed well forward of the captured line." 

The enemy fought with desperate courage, throwing in his 
reserves lavishly, these including Prussian Guard divisions and 
a stout Marine division. Thoroughly alarmed by the manner 
in which our advance was pushed steadily forward despite all 
obstacles, he brought against us all his available reserves, from 
both the Douai and Cambrai areas. This was the crucial point 
of his whole line of defense, and once pierced, the entire Hin- 
denburg System, north and south, the fruit of years of work in 
which the lives of tens of thousands of Russian prisoners had 
been squandered, would be turned and rendered worthless. 
At this juncture it was worth to him, depleted of men as he 
was, an Army Corps to prevent us crossing the Canal du Nord 
and driving a wedge through his West Front at Cambrai. 

To add to the difficulties of our troops in these days of fierce 
preparation for the great assault, things were not going well on 
our right flank. On Aug. 30 London and West Lancashire 
troops had taken Bullecourt and Hendecourt, the report of 
which had reached us and encouraged the attack on Upton 



ISO CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Wood detailed above. "But the Germans," -so runs an 
account "being unwilling to give up points so near their main 
lines of defenses, attacked in great force, and by the evening 
had driven back our troops to the western outskirts of these 
villages and to the German trench line between them." 

While our 1st. and 4th. Divisions were pushing forward 
their line on the two following days, the situation on our right 
was not improved, and when the great attack finally opened on 
Sept. 2, the left brigade of the XVII Corps fell in line behind 
our right brigade, and followed up its advance until the oppor 
tunity opened of turning off south and capturing Queant. 



CHAPTER VI 

OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3, DROCOURT-QUEANT LINE 

WE have now come to the morning of Sept. 1, the date of 
the great assault as originally designed. But a change 
had to be made in the plan. "On the night of Aug. 3 1 - 
Sept. 1," says the Corps Commander, "the 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion came into the line on a one Brigade front between the 1st. 
Canadian Division and the 4th. (British) Division. 

"The G. O. C. 4th. (British) Division having now reported 
that he considered his Division unable successfully to attack 
the Drocourt-Queant line on the front allotted to him, in view 
of the losses suffered in the preliminary fighting for the jump- 
ing-off line, I decided that the 4th. Canadian Division would 
extend their front and take over 1,000 yards additional front 
age from the 4th. (British) Division. This necessitated a 
change of plan on the part of the 4th. Canadian Division, who 
a few hours before zero had to place an additional Brigade 
in the line for the initial assault. Accordingly, the 12th. 
Brigade (Brig.-General J. H. McBrien) carried out the 
attack on the right and the 10th. Brigade (Brig.-General R. J. 
F. Hayter) on the left Divisional front, having first advanced 
the line to conform with the 1st. Canadian Division. 

"It was necessary to postpone the attack on the Drocourt- 
Queant line until Sept. 2 on account of the additional wire 
cutting which was still required, and the day of Sept. 1 was 
employed in minor operations to improve the jumping-off line 
for the major operation. The important strong point known as 
the Crow s Nest was captured by the 3rd. Brigade. 

"During the afternoon and evening of Sept. 1 the enemy 
delivered violent counter-attacks, directed against the junc 
tion of the 1st. and 4th. Canadian Divisions. Two fresh divi 
sions and two divisions already in the line were identified in 

151 



152 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

the course of the heavy fighting. Our troops were forced back 
slightly twice, but the ground was each time regained and 
finally held. The hand-to-hand fighting for the possession of 
the crest of the spur at this point really continued until zero 
hour the next day, the troops attacking the Drocourt-Queant 
line as they moved forward, taking over the fight from the 
troops then holding the line." 

For the doings of the 1st. Canadian Division on this day 
there is still no better guide than the narrative already so freely 
quoted, "Owing to the strength of the wire in front of the 
Drocourt-Queant line, the date of the major attack was post 
poned for one day, in order to give the heavy artillery further 
time to carry out wire-cutting operations. In order, also, to 
thicken the infantry attack, the frontage of the 1st. Division 
was reduced by some 1,500 yards on the night of Aug. 31, the 
2nd. Brigade side-slipping south. The 1st. Brigade was 
relieved during the night, the 3rd. Brigade taking over the 
right sector with the 15th. Battalion. 48th. Highlanders of 
Toronto, and the 14th. Battalion, Royal Montreal Regiment, 
and the 2nd. Brigade the left sector with the 5th. Battalion, 
Saskatchewan. On the same night the 4th. Canadian Division 
came into line between the 1st. Division and the 4th. British 
Division. 

"Once again, at dawn the next day, the whole infantry line 
on the Corps front moved forward. This time the advance of 
the 1st. Division front was only for a distance of 1,000 yards, 
the new line being established within the same distance from 
the Drocourt-Queant line a suitable striking distance for the 
great attack set for Sept. 2. In spite of the short advance the 
fighting was of the most bitter character. As soon as the pro 
tective barrage died down the enemy commenced a series of 
determined counter-attacks down an old trench against the 
14th. Battalion. Four such attacks were beaten off by the gar 
rison of the trench during the day, captured stick grenades and 
Stokes mortars being used freely. 

"On the left, on the front captured by the 5th. Battalion. 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3 153 

the enemy flung two battalions against the position at 11.30 
a.m., a heavy machine-gun and artillery barrage being used. 
The two companies in the forward position were slowly forced 
back to their original line. The Battalion Commander, Lt.- 
Col. L. R. O. Tudor, however, at once counter-attacked with 
his remaining two companies. After four hours of heavy 
righting the whole position was regained and 125 prisoners 
captured. The enemy was not satisfied, however, and once 
again, at six o clock in the evening, he developed a strong 
attack. This effort was beaten off except on the extreme left, 
where two posts were captured by the enemy. Fighting in this 
area continued intermittently throughout the night, and, as a 
matter of fact, when the barrage opened in the morning for the 
major attack on the Drocourt-Queant line, and the 7th. Bat 
talion, Vancouver, passed through, the 5th. Battalion was even 
then engaged in hand-to-hand fighting for the possession of 
these posts. 

"During the night of Sept. 1 and in the early morning hours 
following, while the front was in a turmoil of shell-fire and 
bombing, attack and counter-attack, swift rushes or stubborn 
resistance, the infantry, artillery, machine-guns and tanks were 
moving forward along the whole Corps front into their assenv 
bly positions for the thrust that was designed to break the Dro 
court-Queant line and secure the crossings of the Canal du 
Nord." 

Much the same situation was being combatted by the 4th. 
Canadian Division, Maj.-General Sir David Watson, north of 
the Cambrai road. Except for the tremendous finale of the 
barrage, the night of Sept. 1 and the dawn next day might be 
described as one continuous battle. Thus from the time the 
leading Brigades of the 4th. Canadian Division took over the 
line right up to "zero" hour they were involved in almost 
continuous fighting, due to enemy counter-attacks and isolated 
enemy posts, which were calculated to hamper our jump-off 
and must therefore be reduced. It was in such a situation that 
a valorous act was performed by Pte. Claude Joseph Patrick 



154 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Nunney, of the 38th. Battalion of Ottawa. When his battalion 
on this day was in the vicinity of Vis-en-Artois, preparatory to 
the advance of the following morning, the enemy laid down a 
heavy barrage and counter-attacked. Pte. Nunney, who was 
at this time at company headquarters, immediately and of his 
own initiative proceeded through the barrage to the company 
outpost lines, and going from post to post encouraged the men 
by his own fearless example. The enemy were repulsed and a 
critical situation saved. 

The 4th. Canadian Division had in the line the 10th. Bri 
gade, Brig.-General R. J. F. Hayter, on the right, resting on 
the Arras-Cambrai road, and on the left the 12th. Brigade, 
Brig.-General J. H. McBrien, with the llth. Brigade, Brig.- 
General V. W. Odium, in support, prepared to go through 
after the attack had well developed. The left of the Division 
was in touch with the 4th. British Division, which carried on 
the Canadian Corps line north to the Scarpe. 

** 

It is a dark and stormy night and at times the artillery of 
heaven drowns out even the roar of the guns. Making our way 
on foot from Wancourt up over that ridge towards Cherisy, 
we pass through seeming endless tiers of guns of all calibres 
brought up in the night and waiting now impatiently upon 
"zero." It was to be the greatest barrage of the war, and if 
the artillery could not succeed in cutting lanes for the infantry, 
we were bound to sustain a disastrous defeat. 

Before every show one had been impressed with the faith 
of our men in the victory of the morrow. For them it was not 
a thing even debatable; certain objectives had been set the 
Canadian Corps and they would be taken. It was perhaps 
natural enough to men who had never known failure in attack, 
but this was an occasion somewhat different. Exactly a week 
ago the first phase of this battle had opened. For the first two 
days it had gone well, a wedge 11,000 yards deep at its apex 
being driven into the heart of the enemy s defense. But day 
by day the task had hardened, until the whole line was involved 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3 155 

in a furious battle not so much, often, to win more ground as 
to hold what we had. There can be now no element of sur 
prise, save in so far as the enemy cannot anticipate the weight 
and fury of our bombardment. He is thoroughly on the alert 
and his trenches swarm with men, brought up day by day fresh 
from his reserves. He is fighting a last ditch battle on which 
must depend the trend of events many miles beyond sound of 
these guns. And, moreover, admitting the unquenched spirit 
of the men, there remained the question of whether their 
reserves of physical vitality can endure this last ordeal. 

Such thoughts as these occur to one waiting upon the hill 
side a little back of the charred village of Cherisy. Below us, 
but indistinguishable in the night, lies the valley of the Sensee 
river; beyond it, on the right, is a veritable graveyard of Cana 
dian soldiers they await only the burial parties. We have 
come so far, fought so hard, paid so dear, perhaps here for 
the first time to meet defeat. And that in its most sanguinary 
form, for it is a battle that can not be broken off at will of the 
attacking force. Defeat and retreat is the only alternative of 
victory. 

The night wears away. Towards morning the sky clears 
but mist still hangs low in the valley. On our left a furious 
cannonade is in progress, but quite local in character; and 
there is none of that tense stillness preceding a surprise attack. 
"Heine" is overhead, flying boldly, and only darkness saves 
the batteries massed behind the hill. 

The night has turned to a gray obscurity when "zero" hour 
strikes; when pandemonium is let loose. There is here again 
something different from that famous morning at Gentelles 
Wood twenty-five days ago a shrillness of concentration, a 
ferocity of intense purpose, in our barrage; for the front is nar 
row and the guns, set so close, are registered on a target even 
more limited. And there is also the quick, the instant reply 
from across the valley, as it might be a rolling echo, beating 
back into our ears the roar of our own guns. 

Shells come from all directions. They plow up our hill- 



156 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

side and search systematically every sunken road, every line of 
trench, where our supports are congregated. The wicked 
crack of high explosive mingles with the soft purring explo 
sion of gas shells to the uninitiated hardly to be distinguished 
from the harmless "dud"; from the opposing slope reverberate 
the dread rattle of machine-gun volleys; and at times these 
minor notes are smothered by the tremendous detonation of 
heavy guns. 

The mist lifts a little and dimly can be seen the "trained 
elephants," the life-saving tanks, making their way on the far 
slope among the wire and the machine-gun posts. Two have 
passed up and over the enemy defense and for a moment are 
silhouetted against the dawn moving heavily forward. Then 
their career comes to a sudden end. One, hit in the flank, 
swings half round. For days to come they are to lie upon the 
crest, smashed almost beyond recognition by a battery on the 
reverse slope. 

Daylight now picks out one familiar feature after another 
-the Crow s Nest, a pyramidal hill half a mile north of 
Hendecourt, Upton Wood, and the serrated outline of the 
Hendecourt-Dury road. Our infantry are nowhere to be seen ; 
they have passed over the crest; instead, dark in the valley, is a 
moving mass soon to be distinguished as cavalry. The Dro- 
court-Queant line is won. 

* 

We have won the Drocourt-Queant line, but the battle is 
not over. All day long it sways to and fro, and only as dusk 
gathers is victory secure. Here is the story in the words of the 
Corps Commander: "At 5 a.m., Sept. 2, the major operation 
against the Drocourt-Queant line was launched. Preceded by 
an intense barrage and assisted by Tanks, the Infantry pushed 
forward rapidly, and the Drocourt-Queant line (the first 
objective) and its support line (the second objective), includ 
ing the village of Dury, were captured according to pro 
gramme. With the capture of the second objective the Field 
Artillery barrage was shot out, and the attack further east had 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3 157 

to be carried forward without its assistance. The enemy s 
resistance, free of the demoralizing effect of our barrage, stif 
fened considerably, the open country being swept continually 
by intense machine-gun fire. In addition, the Tanks soon 
became casualties from enemy guns firing point-blank, and the 
advance on the left and centre was held up. 

"Brutinel s Brigade, reinforced by a Regiment of Cavalry 
(10th. Royal Hussars) and armored cars, endeavored to pass 
through to capture the Marquion bridge on the Canal du 
Nord. Wire, trenches and sunken roads, however, confined 
the movements of the force to the Arras-Cambrai road; and 
this was rendered impassable by machine-gun fire and by bat 
teries firing over open sights. 

"On the right, however, the 1st. Canadian Division pushed 
forward despite very heavy machine-gun and direct artillery 
fire, and captured the villages of Cagnicourt and Villers-lez- 
Cagnicourt, and the Bois de Bouche and Bois de Loison to the 
east of Cagnicourt. 

"Taking advantage of the breach thus made by the Cana 
dian Divisions, a Brigade of the 63rd. (Naval) Division, 
XVII Corps, which had followed the attack behind the right 
Brigade of our right Division, now turned south and advanced 
in the direction of Queant. 

"Further progress made by the 1st. Canadian Division in 
the afternoon resulted in the capture of the heavily wired 
Buissy Switch line as far south as the outskirts of Buissy; this 
largely outflanked the enemy still holding out in front of the 
Canadian 4th. Division, and compelled their retirement dur 
ing the night behind the Canal du Nord. 

"Although the crossings of the Canal du Nord had not 
been captured, the result of the day s fighting was most gratify 
ing. The Canadian Corps had pierced the Drocourt-Queant 
line on the whole front of attack, and the extension of our 
attack by the XVII Corps on the right had further widened 
the breach and made possible the capture of a large stretch of 
territory to the south. 



158 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"To stem our advance, and hold the Drocourt-Queant line, 
the enemy had concentrated eight fresh divisions directly op 
posite the Canadian Corps, but the unparalleled striking power 
of our Battalions and the individual bravery of our men had 
smashed all resistance. 

"The number of unwounded prisoners captured exceeded 
5,000, and we had identified every Unit of the seven Infantry 
Divisions and the one Cavalry Division engaged. Our In 
fantry had penetrated the enemy s defenses to a depth exceed 
ing 6,000 yards. 

"In prevision of the attack on the Canal du Nord taking 
place the same day, the Engineers had rapidly prepared the 
bridges and roads, advanced the light railways, and pushed 
forward the personnel and all material necessary for future 
construction." 



CHAPTER VII 

OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3; DROCOURT-QUEANT LINE CONTINUED 

WE will let the 1st. Canadian Division again tell its own 
story: "The attack of the 1st. Canadian Division was 
carried out by the 3rd. and 2nd. Brigades from right 
to left respectively, the 1st. Brigade being held in divisional 
reserve. 

"On the morning of Sept. 2, at five o clock, the artillery and 
machine-gun barrage opened, and the infantry at once began 
to move forward into what proved to be a day of bitter fight 
ing. The 3rd. Brigade, at the time of the opening of the attack, 
had two battalions holding the line, the 15th., recruited from 
the 48th. Highlanders of Toronto, and 14th., the Royal Mont 
real Regiment. The two remaining battalions, the 16th., Cana 
dian Scottish of the West, and 13th., Montreal Highlanders, 
carried out the assault on the Drocourt-Queant line, and were 
then to be leap-frogged by the 15th. and 14th., who were to 
capture Bois de Bouche, Bois de Loison and Cagnicourt. The 
2nd. Brigade, on the left, were attacking on a one battalion 
front, and were using two battalions the 7th., of Vancouver, 
to capture the Drocourt-Queant system on their front, and the 
10th., of Alberta, to carry the attack as far as the western 
outskirts of Buissy. The 1st. Brigade was to continue the 
attack from this point and secure the crossings of the Canal du 
Nord. 

"The attack proceeded rapidly, and according to plan up 
to the time of the capture of the Drocourt-Queant line on the 
Divisional front, in spite of a very heavy enfilade fire from the 
right flank, southwest of the village of Cagnicourt. The 
Tanks, of which there were 18 operating on the divisional 
front, did great service in the capture of the Drocourt-Queant 
system. 

159 



160 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"Strong resistance was met with by our troops east of this 
trench line, and the attack slowed up very considerably. The 
battle devolved upon platoon, company and battalion com 
manders, and it was only by the initiative and determination 
of all ranks actually engaged in the foremost lines that the 
enemy was slowly but surely pressed back. On the right the 
chief obstacle was the flanking fire from the south ; on the left 
the strongly fortified village of Villers-lez-Cagnicourt and an 
isolated factory on the Arras-Cambrai road were the centre of 
resistance. By four o clock in the afternoon, with the assist 
ance of batteries of artillery attached to battalions, and under 
cover of machine-gun and Lewis gun fire, our line had been 
established east of the villages of Cagnicourt and Villers-lez- 
Cagnicourt. 

"A supplementary barrage was arranged for six o clock 
that evening, and under cover of it the infantry again advanced. 
By this time the leading battalions of the 1st. Brigade the 
3rd., recruited from Toronto district, and the 4th., Central 
Ontario had become involved in the fighting. The struggle 
for the capture of the Buissy Switch and for the sunken roads 
leading south from Buissy was long and desperate, but by in 
dividual perseverance our troops, at eleven o clock that night, 
had reached a line running roughly north and south just west 
of the village of Buissy. 

"The 3rd. Brigade had suffered very heavy casualties dur 
ing the day, and were therefore relieved during the night by 
the 1st. Brigade, the 4th. Battalion going into line with the 2nd. 
Battalion, Eastern Ontario, in support and the 1st., Western 
Ontario, and 3rd. in reserve. 

"At dawn, therefore, of Sept. 3 our line ran along the rail 
way and road east of Bois de Bouche, as far as the Buissy 
Switch, and then due north to the Arras-Cambrai road, with a 
defensive flank thrown back along this road for a distance of 
nearly 2,000 yards. 

"After a day of intense hand-to-hand fighting this was a 
result of which the Division was proud. In spite of the fact 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3. CONTINUED 161 

that the enemy was very strong numerically as witness the 
2,746 prisoners captured in 48 hours of battle and that he 
fought desperately- a fact amply proved by the 500 dead in 
the area in front of the Drocourt-Queant line and around the 
villages of Cagnicourt and Villers-lez-Cagnicourt; in spite of 
these obstacles and the high number of machine-guns with 
which the enemy was armed, the line reached by the leading 
troops of the 1st. Division was well in advance of that reached 
by the flanking Divisions. In fact, throughout most of the day 
the Division fought with both flanks in the air, although troops 
of the 63rd. British Division succeeded in reaching Inchy that 
evening. 

"The Infantry was well supported by all the other arms of 
the service. The Artillery, both in its concerted barrage fire 
and in the work of its advanced batteries, was responsible for 
the creation of many openings in the enemy s defenses. The 
attached machine-gun batteries operating with the leading in 
fantry had many opportunities of inflicting casualties on the 
enemy opportunities that were seized and made the most of. 
The tanks, too, were a great factor in the forcing of the Dro 
court-Queant line. After our artillery barrage died down, 
however, every one of the 1 8 tanks became a casualty. 

"So ended the fight for the Drocourt-Queant line. There 
still remained the Canal du Nord to be crossed." 

Many a gallant deed was done that day, but none finer than 
that of Lt.-Col. C. W. Peck, M.P. for Skeena, B.C., a man 
well into middle-age who commanded the 16th. Battalion, 
Canadian Scottish, recruited from Winnipeg to the Coast. 
The 16th. Battalion, as has been seen, was given the task of cap 
turing the Drocourt-Queant line on our extreme right flank, 
which was in the air. Lt.-Col. Peck s command quickly cap 
tured its first objective but progress was held up by enemy 
machine-gun fire on his right flank. The situation being 
extremely difficult, he rushed forward and made a personal 
reconnaissance under heavy machine-gun fire. Having recon 
noitred the position, he returned and reorganized his battalion, 

12 



162 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

and acting upon his knowledge thus personally gained, pushed 
them forward and arranged the protection of his flank. 

He then went out under the most intensive artillery and 
machine-gun fire, intercepted the tanks, and gave them neces 
sary directions, pointing out where they were to make for and 
thus a way was opened for his battalion to push forward. He 
subsequently gave the requisite support to his men by his mag 
nificent display of courage and fine qualities of leadership. He 
personally led the advance, although always under heavy fire, 
and contributed largely to the success of the Brigade attack. 

Col. Peck rallied his battalion at a critical moment by in 
structing his piper always attached to his person to march 
ahead with him into action, skirling his pipes. The piper was 
wounded but another took his place. Some days later this 
piper in the Casualty Clearing Station at Duisans, when asked 
how he did, interrupted thus: "How is old Cy Peck?" and on 
being told he was uninjured, cried, "Then if he s all right, I m 
all right!" . 

In its assault on the Drocourt-Queant line on the morning 
of Sept. 2, the 7th. Battalion, of Vancouver, had, as we have 
seen, a very hard task, and it was by the individual initiative 
and daring of the rank and file that the positions were taken. 
Thus Cpl. Walter Leigh Rayfield, a native of Redmond, 
Wash., rushed ahead of his Company a trench filled with the 
enemy, bayonetting two and taking 10 prisoners. Later he 
located and engaged with great skill, under constant rifle fire, 
an enemy sniper who was causing many casualties. He then 
rushed the section of trench from which the sniper had been 
operating, and so demoralized the enemy by his daring and 
coolness that 30 surrendered to him, Again he left cover and 
under heavy machine-gun fire carried in a badly wounded 
comrade. 

The 10th. Battalion, of Alberta, passed through the 7th. 
at Villers-lez-Cagnicourt, but for a time were held up. After 
an unsuccessful attack, Sergt. Arthur George Knight, a native 
of Redhill, England, led a bombing section forward under a 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3. CONTINUED 163 

very heavy fire of all descriptions, and engaged the enemy at 
close quarters. Seeing that his party was still held up, he 
dashed forward alone, bayonetting several of the enemy 
machine-gunners and trench-mortar crews and, directing his 
fire on the retreating enemy, inflicted heavy casualties. 

In the advance of his platoon in pursuit, Sergt. Knight saw 
a party of about 30 of the enemy go into a deep tunnel which 
led off the trench. He again dashed forward alone and having 
killed one officer and two N. C. O s, captured twenty other 
ranks. Later on he routed single-handed another enemy party 
opposing the advance of the platoon. 

Sergt. Knight, who enlisted at Regina, died ot the wounds 
he here received. In this brilliant action he was assisted partic 
ularly by Pte. Eddie Hume, of Calgary. Corp. W. Paget, of 
the same battalion, performed an exceptional bombing feat in 
front of Cagnicourt on the same day, breaking up a strong 
enemy point of resistance. 

North of the Cambrai road, our troops, after their initial 
success, had before them an extraordinarily difficult task. The 
4th. Canadian Division attacked in the first place the Dro- 
court-Queant line in front of Dury. in itself a veritable fort 
ress. This village is situated on the crest of a slope, which 
here presents all the character of a smooth glacis, and across 
this, each 75 yards deep, were three solid tiers of wire. Be 
hind them, and on a higher plane, ran the sunken road from 
Hendecourt to Dury, and in this road enemy machine-gunners, 
ensconced in steel and concrete posts, swept the entire field of 
approach. 

Walking over this slope a day or two later, a British staff 
officer remarked that the position was impregnable had the 
enemy chosen to defend it. Ah, no! our dead tell the tale. 
Extraordinary gallantry was shown by the troops. In storm 
ing the sunken road, where tank aid was lacking, the 75th. Bat 
talion, recruited from the Missisauga Horse of Toronto, suf 
fered very severely, its loss in two days being 24 officers and 310 
other ranks. 



164 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

The 4th. Canadian Division attacked at 5 a.m. In spite of 
numerous machine-gun nests inside our barrage, good progress 
was made, and by dint of stiff fighting in many places the Dro- 
court-Queant line in this sector was captured on time. Just 
beyond the last trench of this system the 1 1th. Brigade and cer 
tain battalions of the other two brigades were to leap-frog and 
continue the advance, but the approach to the leap-frog line 
and the ground for a great distance beyond it was swept by 
terrific machine-gun fire from several angles. Our barrage 
here had shot itself out in the first phase of the attack, and the 
only other weapons left were powerless to support further 
advance of the infantry under the circumstances. The second 
phase of the attack was therefore postponed until the next 
morning, but during the night the enemy retired to the far side 
of the Canal du Nord. 

The 1 1th. Brigade, while waiting to go through, was badly 
cut up on the Arras-Cambrai road, where enemy machine-gun 
ners lined the trenches on the slopes on either hand, just east of 
Vis-en-Artois. The 10th. and 12th. Brigades lost heavily in 
their advance, coming under enfilade fire from the flank. 

But the spirit of the men was unconquerable, and even the 
walking wounded had no thought but of victory. "The Boche 
is fighting damned hard," said a Seaforth Highlander of Van 
couver, 72nd. Battalion. "But our lot have taken three 
trenches and are still going strong." 

Beyond Dury the ground slopes back into a depression and 
then over another bare hillside down again into a rolling val 
ley, commanded from the right by the heights held in strength 
by the enemy immediately west of the Canal du Nord and 
north of Marquion, and from the left by the fortified triangle 
of the three villages, Saudemont, Rumaucourt and Ecourt St. 
Quentin, while the whole was swept by the enemy s heavy bat 
teries situate on the east side of the canal on the commanding 
eminence of Oisy-le-Verger, whence direct observation was 
obtained west to Dury and along almost the entire Cambrai 
road. 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3. CONTINUED 165 

In front of these defenses, on the open ground which no 
where afforded cover of any kind, was an elaborate system of 
trench and wire, with permanent machine-gun posts, and it 
was before these that the Division found it could make but very 
slow progress. 

Further to the left, the 4th. British Division had a task no 
less difficult though different in character. On its immediate 
front was a high bold hill strongly fortified, and its left flank 
lay down in the valley of the Trinquis river and amid swamps 
and marshes. The enemy clung all day in great force to the 
village of Etaing which was not captured by this Division until 
the following morning. In the first rush forward good pro 
gress was made, many prisoners being captured. The men of 
the Division were delighted to find themselves alongside of the 
Canadians. "We helped you Canadians save Arras last 
April," said a wounded man of the 1st. Hants. Battalion, "and 
now we are pushing in with you again, but to a very different 
tune." 

After the close of the battle Sir Arthur Currie addressed a 
message of congratulation to the 4th. British Division, as fol 
lows: "Your task from the beginning was an exceedingly 
difficult one. You took over in the middle of the battle and 
advanced steadily each day over very bad ground against most 
serious opposition, finishing up by what must be for you one of 
the most satisfactory engagements in which you ever partici 
pated. Your success on Monday last was in keeping with your 
best traditions. The 4th. Division testified in the most forcible 
manner to the fine fighting qualities of the troops comprising 
it. To me it was a peculiar satisfaction to have the 4th. Divi 
sion associated with us, because it was with them the 1st. Cana 
dian Division received its first instructions in the art of war. 
Monday s battle was not merely a success; it was a glorious 
victory." 

In the hand-to-hand fighting which characterized much of 
this day s battle, loss among regimental officers and N.C.O s 
was severe. Among the wounded were Lt.-Col. L. T. Me- 



166 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Laughlin, of the 2nd. Battalion, of Ottawa, and Lt.-Col. C. C. 
Harbottle, of the 75th Battalion, of Toronto. 

Casualties in this fighting were very heavy, and it was only 
by the greatest exertions and contempt of danger that our 
stretcher-bearers were able to bring in our wounded. Thus 
Pte. John Francis Young was acting as stretcher-bearer at 
tached to D Company, 87th. Battalion, Grenadier Guards of 
Montreal. This company in its advance over the ridge suf 
fered heavy casualties from shell and machine-gun fire. Pte. 
Young, in spite of complete absence of cover, without the least 
hesitation went out and in the open fire-swept ground dressed 
the wounded. Having exhausted his stock of dressings, on 
more than one occasion he returned under intense fire to his 
company headquarters for a further supply. This work he 
continued for over an hour, displaying throughout absolute 
fearlessness, and his courageous conduct saved the lives of 
many of his comrades. Later, when the fire had somewhat 
slackened, he organized and led stretcher-parties to bring in 
the wounded he had dressed. 

Our medical officers too displayed the greatest gallantry, 
of which the following is an example. Capt. Bellender Sey 
mour Hutcheson, who enlisted at Toronto, went through the 
Drocourt-Queant line with his battalion, under most intense 
shell, machine-gun and rifle fire. With an utter disregard to 
personal safety he remained in the field until every wounded 
man had been attended to. He dressed a seriously wounded 
officer under terrific machine-gun fire, and with the assistance 
of prisoners succeeded in evacuating him to safety. Immedi 
ately afterwards he rushed forward, in full view of the enemy, 
under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, to attend a wounded 
sergeant, and placing him in a shell hole proceeded there to 
dress his wounds. 

Similar devotion to duty was exhibited by the Chaplain 
service. Thus Capt. Graham, chaplain of the 13th. Battal- 
lion, Montreal Highlanders, when that unit suffered heavy 
losses in front of Upton Wood, went out repeatedly in front of 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 1-3. CONTINUED 167 

our infantry line, carrying in our wounded from off the wire. 
He was subsequently wounded. Casualties among the Bat 
talion Chaplains were particularly heavy during these opera 
tions. 

So ended the great battle. Following its conclusion the 
Third Army south of us were able to march ahead, rescuing 
village after village without firing a shot. Everywhere south 
of us the enemy was falling back. Only to the north, behind 
the flooded valley of the Scarpe and the Sensee, he clung to his 
line. 



CHAPTER VIII 

AFTER THE BATTLE 

FIGHTING went on during Sept. 3, 4 and 5, when the 
enemy was forced back to the east bank of the Canal du 
Nord all along the line, and the Canadian Corps came 
into possession of the watery triangle formed by the Canal on 
the east and the Sensee river on the north. 

On our right, south of the Arras-Cambrai Road, the 1st 
Canadian Division had not much difficulty during the day of 
Sept. 3 in pushing forward to the line of the canal, to which the 
western bank sloped gently down through water-meadows, the 
only shelter being a few gnarled old pollards on the bank. 
From Sains-lez-Marquion north the area was flooded and the 
enemy had good protection for his machine-gunners in the 
woods that thickly clothed the steep eastern bank. 

North of the road our 4th. Division had a much harder 
task and had sharp fighting before the area was cleared. On 
the Divisional right the 10th. Brigade fought its way forward 
to the canal through the enemy defense system resting on the 
three villages of Saudemont, Ecourt St. Quentin and Rumau- 
court, the latter being captured by the 44th. Battalion, formerly 
of Winnipeg but now recruited from New Brunswick. These 
villages had been untouched by war and contained great store 
of ordnance and material, with a complete hospital train. 
Tucked away behind the impregnable Drocourt-Queant line 
and beyond the area we shelled, he had built up there a great 
depot. 

From a distance it looks as though a pocket handkerchief 
might cover them. They stand intact, the churches rising 
above the red-tiled roofs, the whole nestling in wooded groves. 
The sight of these villages amid green fields is more eloquent 
than anything that has gone before of the success of the battle, 

168 



AFTER THE BATTLE 169 

for here, as in former years, the Boche had settled down for 
the winter. He had filled them with his material of war. 

But intact though they seem from a distance, on entering 
there is evidence on every hand of the process of ruin. For 
hardly is the enemy driven out than he pours upon them the 
whole fury of his rage and disappointment. From across the 
canal guns great and small keep up a ceaseless cannonade, and 
for days gas hangs heavy in their narrow streets. A beautiful 
spire is that of the church of Ecourt St. Quentin, but even as 
one admires, a shell hits it fair and square and it disappears in 
a cloud of dust. Nevertheless the fields are still green. Our 
soldiers gather pumpkins in the village gardens. It is an 
astonishing experience to pass into these lush pastures from out 
the blight and the taint of No Man s Land. 

Ecourt St. Quentin must ever figure in Canadian history as 
the village where Canadian troops first rescued the unhappy 
imprisoned French people. "Vive les Canadiens! Vive les 
braves Canadiens!" -it was a glad cry from the heart soon to 
grow familiar to our ears, but it was first heard at this village. 
Forty-six persons, for four years held in slavery, hid for sev 
eral days in one small cellar when the order had gone out for 
the villagers to be evacuated. Half-starved, emaciated, but 
very happy and voluble we found them. 

Their deliverance was actually effected by Major-General 
E. W. B. Morrison, G.O.C., Canadian Royal Artillery. A 
young girl, a slender brunette, embraced him, kissing him on 
either cheek. "In me," she cried, "my General, the French 
people salute our savior!" With saddened hearts these poor 
folk passed back through the desolation of No Man s Land, 
where they had been wont to visit the fetes and feast days of 
neighboring smiling villages Cagnicourt and Dury, Cherisy 
and Vis-en-Artois, now not to be distinguished from the gen 
eral ruin. 

The llth. Brigade had some hard fighting, mopping up 
along the canal bank, where enemy posts held out obstinately. 
Brig.-General Odium finally cleared up the situation after he 



170 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

had made a personal reconnaissance during which he was 
wounded slightly. 

Our 12th. Brigade had a very difficult task in the marshy 
area between Ecourt St. Quentin and the Sensee River. The 
85th. Battalion, Nova Scotia, in particular suffered heavy 
casualties fighting its way through swampy ground, here 
bisected with ditches and swept by the fire of enemy machine- 
gun posts north of the river. They finally cleared the area 
with the capture of Palluel, a village situate at the juncture of 
the Canal du Nord and the Sensee, which from here east is 
canalized. 

But we were up against a dead wall. "The enemy had 
blown up all the bridges on the night of Oct. 2-3," says Sir 
Arthur Currie, "and was holding a commanding position on 
the eastern bank of the Canal with a large number of machine- 
guns. His artillery was very active, more especially from the 
north, and it was impossible to send bodies of troops by day 
light over the long and bare slopes bordered by the Canal. 

"Our left flank was now very exposed to artillery fire from 
the north, and the nature of the ground we were holding, the 
strength of the obstacle in front of the Corps, and the resolute 
attitude of the enemy, forbade any attempts to further exploit 
our success. 

"It was necessary to prepare minutely the details of the 
operation required to attack successfully the Canal du Nord 
line. Accordingly, no further attempts were made at this 
time. 

"In the night of Sept. 3-4 the 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian Divi 
sions relieved the 1st. and 4th. Canadian Divisions respectively, 
and the 4th. (British) Division was relieved by the 1st. (Brit 
ish) Division, which had come under the Canadian Corps on 
Sept. 1 and had been concentrated after that date in the 
Monchy le Preux-Vis en Artois-Guemappe area. 

"The left flank of the Corps was again very long, and in 
accordance with the policy adopted the 1st. British Division 
was transferred in the line from the Canadian Corps to the 



AFTER THE BATTLE 171 

XXII Corps. I handed over command of that sector 
extending from Palluel (exclusive) to Etaing (inclusive) and 
facing north to the G. O. C. XXII Corps at midnight, Sept. 
4-5. 

"The enemy had flooded the valley of the Sensee river and 
all the bridges had been destroyed. Our Engineers were very 
actively engaged in an effort to lower these floods and wrest 
the control from the enemy. 

"On the right flank the XVII Corps was engaged in heavy 
fighting in and around Mosuvres, and all their attempts to 
cross the Canal du Nord at that point had been repulsed. 

"A thorough reconnaissance of our front had shown that 
the frontal attack of the Canal du Nord line was impossible; 
the eastern bank of the Canal du Nord was strongly wired and 
was generally much higher than the western bank. 

"The whole of our forward area was under direct observa 
tion from Oisy-le- Verger and the high ground on the northern 
flank, and any movement by day was quickly engaged by hostile 
artillery. 

"No battery positions within a range sufficient to carry on 
the preparation of the attack, or to support it, were available, 
and any attempt to bring guns forward of the general line Vil- 
lers lez Cagnicourt-Buissy was severely punished; the battery 
positions south and west of this general line were subjected to 
intense gas shelling every night. 

"The Canal du Nord was in itself a serious obstacle. It 
was under construction at the outbreak of the war and had not 
been completed. Generally speaking, it followed the valley of 
the River Agache, but not the actual bed of the river. The 
average width was about 100 feet and it was flooded as far 
south as the lock, 800 yards southwest of Sains-lez-Marquion. 
just north of the Corps southern boundary. South of this and 
to the right of the Corps front the Canal was dry, and its bot 
tom was at the natural ground level, the sides of the canal con 
sisting of high earth and brick banks. 

"The attack of the Canal du Nord could not, therefore, be 



172 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

undertaken singly by the Canadian Corps, but had to be part 
of a larger scheme. 

"This required considerable time to arrange, and until 
Sept. 27 no changes developed on the Corps front. 

The obstacle which had stopped our advance also made 
our positions very strong defensively, and advantage was taken 
of this fact to rest and refit the Divisions. As much of the 
Corps Artillery as could be spared was withdrawn from the 
line to rest the men and horses. 

"The line was held very thinly, but active patrolling at 
nights and sniping were kept up. A complete programme of 
harassing fire by Artillery and Machine-Guns was also put in 
force nightly. The Corps Heavy Artillery (Brig.-General R. 
H. Massie) carried out wire-cutting counter-battery shoots and 
gas concentrations daily, in preparation for the eventual opera 
tions. 

"Light railways, roads, bridges and water-points were con 
structed right up to the forward area, and the bridging 
material which would be required for the Canal du Nord was 
accumulated well forward. Ammunition dumps were estab 
lished at suitable places. 

"Detailed reconnaissance of the Canal and trenches were 
carried out by aeroplane, and also by daring patrols, and all 
available documents regarding the Canal construction were 
gathered with a view to preparing the plans for the future 
attack. 

"On Sept. 13, Maj.-General (then Brig.-General) F. O. 
W. Loomis took over command of the 3rd. Canadian Division 
from Maj.-General L. J. Lipsett, who went to command the 
4th. (British) Division; the former was succeeded in command 
of the 2nd. Canadian Infantry Brigade by Brig.-General (then 
Lt.-Col.) R. P. Clark." 

The direct observation from Oisy-le- Verger to which ihe 
Corps Commander alludes was very annoying to our troops. 
The Arras-Cambrai road was still the main line of our com 
munications, roads to the north being shot up by enemy bat- 



AFTER THE BATTLE 173 

teries now commanding our left flank from north of the river 
for miles back, while the secondary roads further south had 
been blown to pieces and it took time to repair them. A lorry 
could not pass along the Cambrai Road without being sub 
jected to shell fire and high explosive. But nothing could 
daunt these lorry-drivers, the personnel of the Army Service 
Corps, men bringing up ammunition, and the drivers of am 
bulances. The road was strewn with wrecked lorries, but they 
carried on their task, driving steadily at a speed of not more 
than five or six miles an hour, picking their way among shell- 
holes in the "paves" and giving no more heed to the dangers 
encompassing them than if they were teaming in their own 
home towns. 

And this was not all. With the quieting down of the battle, 
the air force with the Corps was reduced to the artillery observ 
ation "busses" and a few scouting machines. The enemy took 
advantage of this to send over an occasional "circus" which 
for the time held command of the air in this sector. 

Late in the afternoon of a September day one of these made 
its appearance from the direction of Douai, flying high above 
the plateau just west of the Canal. Against the leader a lone 
fighting plane, whose wings bore the familiar red, white and 
blue circles of the British R.A.F., launched his attack. Fast 
and high he flew, but the enemy was higher still. Attacking 
the enemy leader from an angle below, he fired off his machine- 
gun, missed, and swung around. But at that instant the enemy 
caught him with a volley, and his machine burst in flames. 
Slowly it fell, and before it had fallen far, our gallant airman 
jumped out and began to fall faster, faster, and still faster than 
his machine, which followed him as might a leaf floating 
gently to the ground. He fell into a swampy place and was 
buried from human ken. 

Encouraged by this success, the entire "circus" swooped 
low down on to the Cambrai Road, flying westward just over 
the tops of the trees, machine-gunning as they went. Then, 
when they reached the crossroad to Dury, they swung off south, 



174 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

down the Drocourt-Queant trench system, but a few feet above 
the ground, blazing away into our men, crowded there in sup 
port. Our "Archies" and even field batteries directed on them 
a tremendous fusillade, and our men could be seen firing their 
rifles. But only one shot seemed to take effect, an enemy 
machine limping off like a wounded duck back over the canal. 
The rest of the "circus" passed out of sight south. 

But it was not always thus. "Old Joey," a slow-flying 
artillery observation plane, was loafing one day along the 
Canal du Nord, when down on him swooped an enemy fighting 
machine, of far greater power and speed. "Old Joey" pursued 
his course unperturbed until "Heine" was upon him then 
swung smartly around, bringing the only gun to bear, and in a 
minute "Heine" went crashing. 

We had time to count the spoils. Since Aug. 26, the Cana 
dian Corps and the British Divisions fighting under it, had 
encountered and overwhelmed no less than eleven enemy divi 
sions, while four other divisions had been engaged partially 
and identifications secured of elements of three more. Five 
complete trench systems were taken and the captured area 
approximated 56 square miles, with an average penetration of 
twelve and a quarter miles. Ten thousand, three hundred and 
sixty prisoners of all ranks were captured and 22 villages, 
while the material was great beyond reckoning, chief being 
two 4.1 inch long naval guns, 89 heavy and field guns, ],016 
machine-guns, 73 trench mortars, two searchlights and one 
helio, besides wagons, horses, and vast quantities of ammuni 
tion and engineering supplies. 

But war is not all victory. There is the agony and sacrifice. 
Busy across this rolling plain are our burial parties and it is 
not only the Hun they bury. Some of our men lie stark and 
huddled under lee of enemy machine-gun posts; others still 
hang in the fastnesses of the wire. Long lines of Red Cross 
lorries move to the rear. 

Far across the seas, from Cape Breton to Vancouver Island, 
from the International Boundary to remote northern outposts, 



AFTER THE BATTLE 175 

soon will flutter little yellow messages, bringing sorrow and 
anguish to quiet firesides. But they have not suffered in vain; 
by their exertions and their sacrifice they have brought the war 
appreciably nearer its close. 

It is a melancholy scene. Down the Cambrai road through 
Vis-en-Artois, past Dury on the left and Villers-lez-Cagni- 
court on the right, all is desolate. It is a typical No Man s 
Land landscape. The countryside is pitted with shell-holes 
and scarred with trenches. Avenues of trees along the road 
show only blasted stumps. There is not a green thing. Every 
where is the debris of war, the litter and the ruin. Broken 
lorries, shattered remnants of an armored car, the twisted rails 
of a light railway, scrap-iron of all descriptions, ammunition 
boxes piled high these things cumber the roadside. Every 
where are horses in various stages of decomposition. Here and 
there are rows of our dead, awaiting burial parties. Over all 
is a brooding stench of decay and stale gas. 



CHAPTER IX 

NO MAN S LAND 

ON Sept. 3, the day after the Drocourt-Queant line is 
smashed, the 1st. Echelon of Canadian Corps Head 
quarters moves up from Noyelle Vion to Neuville 
Vitasse. 

We follow the headquarters of the 1st. Canadian Division, 
and that in its turn had taken possession of a captured enemy 
headquarters. Two miles east of Neuville Vitasse lies the 
village of Wancourt, low-lying on the banks of the Cojeul. and 
between them is the valley where our troops in support are 
crowded. A secondary road, in shocking bad condition, runs 
east from Neuville Vitasse downhill through this valley, and 
so up over the Wancourt Ridge to drop down into the valley of 
the Sensee at Cherisy. Continuing, it switchbacks over one 
ridge after another through Hendecourt and Riencourt to 
Queant. From the eastern suburbs of Arras, through its entire 
length to Queant, the road bisects No Man s Land, which here 
therefore has a depth of twelve miles. That is the segment of 
total destruction and does not include the tattered fringe west 
of Arras and east of the Canal du Nord to Cambrai. 

About a thousand yards east of Neuville Vitasse, where this 
road debouches from the slope into the valley, what is little 
more than a track turns off to the right, passing up over the 
Heninel Ridge in a general southeasterly direction. Like so 
many roads in the district, this track, by the wear of centuries, 
has become so worn down as to present the characteristics of a 
sunken road or defile. A few hundred yards toward the ridge 
the enemy had here established his divisional headquarters, 
with an elaborate system of dug-outs on the west side of the 
road, protected by the high bank from all but plunging fire. 

The disadvantage of taking over enemy dug-outs in any 

176 



NO MAN S LAND 177 

situation at all is that the defense is exposed in reverse, or, in 
other words, enemy shells may explode right in their mouths, 
facing that way. Nothing of the kind indeed happens here, 
but it is a fact worth bearing in mind as a constant feature of 
our advance. In the old days of trench warfare, when we thus 
captured and consolidated an enemy trench system, we pro 
ceeded at once to dig shelters on the opposite side, as being 
less exposed. But in the advance that was now beginning and 
was to gain more and more impetus as the weeks went by, there 
was no time for anything of the kind. Not until we cleared the 
entire trench system, and began to billet in inhabited villages, 
did our men get any kind of comfort or shelter. For the most 
part they slept in the open field, each man scooping out for 
himself a shallow shelter, digging a pit at the bottom for drain 
age. 

This track leading up to Corps Headquarters is a villainous 
mud-hole, and in the days to follow the most distinguished 
visitors, including high French officials and our Army Com 
manders, come to congratulate the Corps on its achievement, 
as well as parties of Canadians from London, are all too apt 
to mire their cars in its treacherous bottom. The dug-outs do 
not accommodate all the staff, and some of its higher ranks live 
and work in Armstrong huts erected along the sunken road, 
but most of us are under canvas, the whole camp being neatly 
camouflaged with particular view to the aspect from the sky. 

We remain in this hideous spot, the very heart and core of 
No Man s Land, most of September. For days on end it rains. 
Tents are crowded close on every available piece of high 
ground, but the floor of each must be sunk below the surface 
and in effect becomes little better than the bottom of a shell 
hole. Canadian Engineers are soon at work laying duck-walks 
along the road, but whole sections disappear at night, passing 
surreptitiously into these tents to afford an uneasy footing 
above the standing water. Such mysterious depredations daunt 
the indefatigable engineer not one whit, and about the time we 
move on to Queant, the camp presents a neat and ordered ap- 

13 



178 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

pearance, with a solid roadbed built up from the ruins of 
neighboring villages. 

In early September, however, a worse situation cannot be 
imagined. "Heine" is a fairly regular visitor at night and no 
lights are allowed. The bugle call and the dreary cry of 
"lights out lights out," is as regular as dinner hour. It is 
impossible to take two steps in the dark without falling into a 
shell hole or stumbling over wire. Very early in the morning 
Fritzie has an uncomfortable habit of waking us up with a 
fusillade, and during all these weeks he continues sending long- 
range shells into Arras, plastering the railway station and 
yards. At set intervals there is a whine overhead, and long 
after comes the muffled sound of the explosion. 

Back behind the camp, on top of Heninel Ridge, is the 
Corps wireless plant, where Signals is at work day and night 
From here a wide view of the surrounding country presents 
itself. Northeast, across the valley, Monchy-le-Preux stands 
out, a sentinel. At sunset a few misshapen tree trunks, stripped 
of their foliage, etched sharp against the western glow, mark 
the ridge of Neuville Vitasse. 

* 

For four years this desolated strip east of Arras has been 
the battlefield. We are situate indeed in midst of the original 
Hindenburg line. 

In the dim days of creation there might have been such a 
scene as this the earth void and formless. But to it are added 
the despair and the melancholy of the blotting out of what once 
was a smiling countryside. Villages dotted these hills, but 
where once was the village park, now only are the maimed and 
blackened stumps of trees and below a rubble of brick and 
charred timber. Even the street outlines have disappeared; 
ruthless necessity of military roads has cut straight through 
the debris. 

The soil is a good light loam on chalk. Generations ago 
so it seems these broad uplands were intensively cultivated 
by their thrifty peasant proprietors. Now the most careful 



NO MAN S LAND 179 

search fails to reveal the mark of a plow or any trace of the 
hand of man. It is as if a malignant subterraneous power had 
fretted the surface and robbed it of all form and meaning. 
Pock-marked by shell holes, great and small, scarred by deep 
trench systems old and new, each sunken road lined with the 
foul mouths of dug-outs ; these once bright fields are as inani 
mate as a corpse, shrouded in cerements of rusted barbed wire. 

* 

Dreary, desolate and gray, it is a landscape that crushes the 
imagination and torments the spirit. In all these years of 
trench warfare there has been only this nothingness in front of 
the heroic defenders. Overhead screamed messengers of 
death, plowing up the land around them. The filthy trench 
and verminous dug-out was their sole alternative. It is in 
credible that they should have endured, have fought on, have 
abandoned themselves to such a life in such a place for an idea ; 
with no hope, no prospect of alleviation or change save through 
death and the hospital cot. In their miry squalor they could 
not see the bright dawn of today. Yet they took everything in 
trust. They grumbled ; they suffered ; but they endured ; they 
fought on. 

* 

This frayed fringe of battle stretches from Flanders to the 
Vosges, varying only in comparative terms of ruin. The Hun 
may take of the life but not of the character of the French 
people. There is something cosmic in their mute unconscious 
resistance, not so much of the men, nor of the admirable women 
and children, but of the soul of a nation that suffers but does 
not despair. 

In this brooding area are to be marked the distinctions 
between the waning and cessation of life. Before us all has 
gone, but in Arras still is some sign of life, and further back 
the villagers, their roofs untiled and windows unglazed, carry 
on the daily task, dulled even to a sudden burst of long-range 
shelling or the rain of blind hate from a starry sky. 

This No Man s Land is a technical term of the war whose 



180 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

significance can be captured only through the imagination. 
Here once a village flourished; mill-wheels turned and hither 
creaking wagons drew loads of grain; here processions wound 
up to the village church, gay for the marriage festival, or 
white-bannered for the solemn pledge of youth and maid ; here 
wended also the decent funeral cortege; here on his appointed 
day M. le Maire made his oration on France and her free 
spirit; here the good citizens chatted at evenings upon the 
benches in the square ; and here worthy pupils, duly garlanded, 
received their modest honors. 

It is necessary to reconstruct these humble scenes to appre 
ciate the devastation. The areas of such villages are wiped 
out. Their familiar features have vanished. Vanished too are 
their children. Some are dead. Some cower in cellars at the 
fringe of No Man s Land. Some have been taken by the Hun, 
homeless and afraid. 

Here are fair lands of France. Here to the cry of the 
plowman the yoked oxen strained and in due season the binder 
reaped of the earth her abundance. Ordered stacks peopled 
the valleys and into their fastnesses drove the threshing- 
machine. In and out that pleasant scene ran the shuffle of 
children s feet, and the bright thread of children s laughter. 

All are obliterated. Blotted out are the village and the 
countryside. There remains the anguish of a people that 
would not be subdued. And in its hoarse note of defiance there 
mingles as bitterest seed from the trodden grape the piti 
able note of stricken childhood. Four years of war is an im 
measurable span in the life of a child. It is an implacable 
generation France is rearing on this borderland. 

* 

The scene is on the road from Valenciennes to Mons, long 
weeks after. Our troops, streaming forward, crowd against 
the left ditch another current trickling westward. It is the 
French evacuees, returning from liberated Mons to seek their 
homes but much against the wish and advice of the civil 
authorities. 



NO MAN S LAND 181 

A woman, old and bent, is pushing a two-wheeled cart, 
piled high with bedding, all she saved when evacuated. A 
sturdy lad is yoked in front, throwing his weight on the rope. 
We ask some questions. . . "And where are you going?" 
"Back to our home, Monsieur," he cries joyfully, "back to our 
home in Wancourt." 

"In Wancourt!" These, too, must pass through the Dro- 
court-Queant line. 



CAMBRAI 



CAMBRAI 



CHAPTER I 

CONFRONTING THE CANAL DU NORD 

THERE comes a time when the spent athlete, having 
passed his goal, throws himself panting on the ground and 
relaxes his strained muscles; his heart labors visibly under 
his bared chest. Thus the Canadian Corps, after nine days 
intense fighting culminating in the capture of the Drocourt- 
Queant line, abandoned itself to rest. 

But it is rest of a comparative kind only; the cessation of 
hand-to-hand fighting but not relief from the perils of war. 
We have fought our way into this watery triangle or, one 
should rather say, peninsula formed by the flooded area of 
the Canal du Nord on the east and the Sensee and its marshes 
on the north. On the east we have settled down to sniping, 
raids and local shoots, and the enemy is equally active. On the 
north he holds the entire country south and southwest of Douai 
to the borders of Roeux, Gavrelle and Oppy, for here his great 
system of defense is still intact and the British line has hardly 
advanced from where it lay on Aug. 26. 

Our troops holding the line have a lively time, and have to 
improvise both defense and shelter. Daring things are done 
in the way of reconnaissance, and Canadian Engineers in 
particular spend the day and night crawling on their bellies 
along the canal side, exploring for practical crossings, or flying 
low over its course, careless of death. But relatively few 
troops are actually in the line, because the position is one of 
great natural strength, and the enemy is in no mood to attack 
in force. 

Exposed as they are, lying out for the most part in the 

185 



186 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

open, our troops in the line have a bad time of it. The 2nd. 
Canadian Division is in line on the right, from Inchy to the 
Arras-Cambrai road, and from there north the line is held by 
the 3rd. Canadian Division. Casualties are heavy. Thus the 
6th. Brigade has in the line from Sept. 6 to 16 the 31st. and 
27th. Battalions, and the latter has 75 casualties in that period, 
the loss of the former being even heavier, with a number of 
men gassed. 

The character of the fighting is well illustrated by the 
following extract from the narrative of the 4th. Brigade, whose 
command was here taken over by Brig.-General G. E. 
McCuaig, Brig.-General R. Rennie having been appointed to 
a command at Bramshott:- "The 2nd. Canadian Division was 
held up at the Canal du Nord, with the enemy patrols on the 
near (western) side. The troops then settled down to the work 
of building a main line of resistance. The possession of Inchy 
and Moeuvres was still in dispute and a counter-attack was 
possible from that direction. On Sept. 12-13 the 4th. Brigade 
relieved the 6th. Brigade in the front line. . . 

"The occupied line extended from a few hundred yards 
north of the Arras-Cambrai road along the Canal du Nord to 
the lock, just north of Inchy. It was about two miles in length 
and there were practically no trenches. Rifle pits and shelters 
had been made by the other troops, but these were very meagre 
and unconnected. There could be no movement from one pit 
to another during the day. The enemy machine and field guns 
were very busy, and for a while the troops suffered heavily, 
despite the splendid camouflaging of their positions with 
boughs and other covering. 

"The first task was to build a support line. This was sited 
on top of the ridge in front of the Buissy Switch. Large work 
ing parties from both reserve and support Battalions were 
engaged on this every night under direction of the Engineers. 
When this support line was finished a front line was begun, a 
section being built at a time. It was a period of dangerous and 
difficult work by night and for lying low by day. There were 



CONFRONTING THE CANAL DU NORD 187 

several fierce patrol encounters by night around Baralle wood 
and the big German dump." 

Similar conditions exist north of the Arras-Cambrai road, 
a particularly nasty spot being in the neighborhood of Ecourt 
St. Quentin, where the enemy has direct observation from the 
commanding heights east of the canal. 

Of units not in the line, some are lucky enough to go back 
to rest at Arras and beyond. But many are held in close sup 
port in the old trench lines, living in enemy dug-outs. For 
there is a continual straafing of this area day and night, and 
our troops, though far removed from the battle line, suffer 
many casualties. Thus Lt.-Col. G. R. Pearkes, V.C., of the 
116th. Battalion. Central Ontario, was severely wounded by a 
stray shell on the afternoon of Sept. IS in the Guemappe area. 

"Rest" is no picnic in No Man s Land. In the first days 
after the battle there is a listlessness among such battalions. 
The men, thoroughly tired out, lie about among the trenches 
and dug-outs they occupy, sleeping a great deal or gossiping 
about the battle. Losses have been so heavy that there is not 
the same elation that accompanies such a victory as Amiens. 
Indeed, the men are decidedly pessimistic. 

"Well, I guess the old Corps is pretty well done in this 
time," says a grizzled miner from the Porcupine. "You just 
mark my words ; we ll go out to rest in a day or two and shan t 
do another tap till next spring. It s just like Passchendaele all 
over again." 

There is, in fact, a general sense of depression. We have 
won our victory, but where have we landed? In the heart of 
No Man s Land, stretching to our strained imagination in all 
its horror through many bitter weeks of winter. For we have 
no notion in our head but that the war is going on well into 
1919. Presently perhaps where we lie the Boche will make 
a stand; and we shall "dig in" for the winter the winter, the 
winter, the abominable winter. 

Such a feeling in early September is natural, inevitable. 
But it may be here noted that much the same idea obtained 



188 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

until well on into October, until indeed weeks after the Boche 
had made his first proposals for an armistice. To take a still 
greater leap ahead, few men in the Canadian Corps believed in 
the armistice as an accomplished fact on the very night before 
it was promulgated. The reason for this lay, no doubt, in the 
fact that it was the fortune of the Canadian Corps to be fight 
ing its way hard right up to what one may term the "zero 
hour" of peace. 

But the view of the man in the field is extraordinarily cir 
cumscribed. His platoon is his home or, perhaps, you may 
extend it to his company; other companies in his battalion are 
next-door neighbors; he has a pretty good guess as to just what 
they are about, and once in a while stops in his own work to 
take a look over the fence into their yard. But the battalion 
-we are speaking of the private soldier is the limit of his 
range. And, indeed, company officers have but slightly wider 
vision, and it is only the battalion officers who know about the 
doings of the brigade. These limitations, but in widening 
eddies, are to be found as one mounts progressively through 
the brigade to the division, to Corps, and to the bright emi 
nence of Army. Army knows it all, of course, or it wouldn t 
be Army. 

The point of all this is just simply that, in the varying 
degree of one s opportunity whether one be private or cap 
tain or colonel one is so engrossed in the immediate battle 
picture that one fails to grasp the significance of the war map 
as a whole. One may be certain that no battalion commander 
engaged in the Drocourt-Queant line affair, gave a thought for 
several days to what was going on north or south. So far as he 
was concerned, the war was being fought and won or lost- 
right then and there. 

And how much more does not this apply to the private, 
who has not seen a daily paper for a month and has not the 
privilege of reading the news bulletin telegraphed dqily by 
Army a fount of information that irrigates in its pnssage 
thirsty minds at Corps, Division and Brigade; but has become 






CONFRONTING THE CANAL DU NORD 189 

a trickling stream before it reaches the Battalion, and dries up 
entirely as it gets to Company H.Q.? He does know, though, 
that over half his platoon are casualties, and the world is very 
black. 

Rumors of disaster chase each other round. "Let me tell 
you sumpthin on the strict Q.T. The bally Brigade is all so 
cut to pieces that its mother s son wouldn t know it. The 
Sergeant, he says, we ll have to go out to Boulogne to refit- 
good old Boulogne the sooner the better." 

But there is a more hopeful note. "I hope to God they 
won t leave us stuck here," says another. "Four days rain ; I m 
fed up on No Man s Land, They say there s fine billets in 
Cambrai. Why don t they let us have a go at that and put in 
the winter there? Thai ud be something worth fighting for." 

Cambrai exercises a curious psychological influence on the 
Corps. It is the subject of talk in the mess, and the man in the 
ranks regards it as some vague El Dorado. From the Bois de 
Bouche, a considerable height about a mile southeast of Cagni- 
court, we have a plain view of Bourlon Wood and hill, and we 
know that right behind, in the valley of the Scheldt, lies the 
fair city of Cambrai. 

Cambrai, in fact, dominates our imagination. Ask a sol 
dier its population, and he will say offhand, "Oh, about a 
quarter of a million or so." And he has some idea of cambric 
looms and that it was the capital of the old Frankish kings. 
This interest is because it is the first considerable city confront 
ing us that has lain hid in the enemy grip since 1914. Amiens 
and Arras were familiar enough; familiar as the gay trysting 
places of men on leave; less familiar in ruins. But Cambrai 
has for us all the charm of the unknown, a name that stirs the 
imagination and quickens our interest. We conceive a city of 
beautiful streets and ancient palaces crowded with monuments 
of art and war. No disappointment could have been greater 
than Cambrai as at last we came to see it 

But we have wandered afar from our gossiping soldiers. 
In such case as this the veteran N.C.O s are invaluable. 



190 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Eternal grumblers themselves, they will not allow it in their 
men. "What re you talking about?" cries one. "The old 
Brigade done in? Why, you wooden-head, this Brigade at 
only half its strength can lick the tar out of any other brigade 
in the Corps, and throw in a Boche division at that! This 
battle was nothing. You should just have seen Regina Trench, 
my boy, and then you could talk!" 

With so many commissioned officers casualties, the value of 
these tried and tested old Sergeants becomes more and more 
apparent. Just about this time the Corps receives for the first 
time reinforcements who, to make no bones about it, are con 
scripts, drafts under the compulsory service act passed at 
Ottawa a year ago, though they are to prove themselves as good 
soldiers as any. It would seem that these men many of whom 
were only held back by family circumstances from voluntary 
enlistment had been snubbed and bullied on their training 
grounds. They meet here a very different reception, for they 
enter at once the brotherhood of arms. They are welcomed on 
precisely the same footing as had been the volunteer reinforce 
ments it was made very plain to them by these old Sergeants 
that despite their intensive training in England they were very 
green, nothing more than rookies, and must learn all over 
again for which (with becoming modesty) they were dead 
lucky to have come to the best school in France. 

The N.C.O s enjoyed immensely this business of the break 
ing in of the young idea young in war if not in years. But, 
beyond the hazards of battle, their own ranks are depleted 
because many of them are over in England taking the officers 
course, to fill vacancies in their respective battalions. In the 
recent fighting the percentage of casualties among officers has 
been out of all proportion, and this loss made itself felt 
throughout the fighting to follow. Anticipating a little again, 
this curious fact may be recited. A certain battalion received 
on Sept. 26 back from England 16 of its old N.C.O s who had 
successfully taken their course, and all went into battle next 
morning. Next day every one of them was a casualty, and 



CONFRONTING THE CANAL DU NORD 191 

within 48 hours the bulk of them were back again in Blighty. 

But in a day or two there is a marked change. The men 
begin to sit up and take interest in their immediate surround 
ings. The Y.M.C.A. has opened up a canteen nearby and long 
lines of men gather, a patient queue, waiting their turn for 
cigarettes and biscuits and chocolate. Mail comes in won 
derful is the efficiency of the Corps post-office throughout 
these operations; mail comes in and there are letters from 
home to be answered, letters one may be sure from mothers 
and sweethearts, never more welcome than now. There are 
other letters to write not so easy, taking much thought, but 
inspired by such a loving kindness for the chum who died upon 
the field, that when at last they reach a distant sorrowing heart, 
they bring a brave message of comfort "He was the best pal I 
ever had and he died a Hero; all through the battle I felt safe 
because he was by me; and then I had to go on alone," ran one 
we were privileged to see long afterwards. 

But now a battalion band strikes up, a group of men gather, 
a football makes its appearance. Laughter breaks out in the 
crowd; the battle and anguish are forgotten; these again are 
bright Canadian boys intent on having a good time. The 
Y.M.C.A., "Soldiers Friend" indeed, produces the para 
phernalia of baseball, and soon two picked teams are at it 
hard, battling for the honor of the battalion, the men crowding 
in behind the plate, yelling support and making side-bets on 
each inning. Battalion officers umpire, and it is not hard to 
see they have the confidence of their men. 

It is a merry scene in the waning light. The Corps has 
come to life again. "When you see this going on," remarks an 
officer whose battle experience dates from Ypres in April, 
1915, "you may be sure the men are ready to go in again. 
These two battalions would put up a great scrap right tonight. 
But 24 hours ago they were a pretty sad looking outfit." 

We have seen how the 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian Divisions 
had taken over the line of the Canal du Nord on the night of 
Sept. 3-4. They pushed right down to the west bank, but this 



192 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

being exposed to direct fire from the opposing wooded slopes, 
it was held only by light patrols. The enemy showed a good 
deal of activity and particularly in the region of Sauchy- 
Cauchy did not hesitate to push his raiding parties across 
under cover of night. Our outposts were thus continually en 
gaged. Later on our 2nd. Division took over the entire Corps 
front. 

South of the Corps boundary, from Inchy-en-Artois to 
Moeuvres, the situation of the XVII Corps was not so good, 
for the enemy still clung fast to a strip on the west side of the 
canal, and to the canal bed itself, in this sector unfinished and 
dry. The enemy was in great force, and it seemed, indeed, as if 
we were definitely held up on the west side of the canal. 

It was in these circumstances that the Corps Commander 
came to a momentous decision. Sir Arthur Currie was asked 
to attack on the present Corps front, and thus turn the canal 
from the north. He refused to make what he regarded as a 
useless sacrifice of his men, pointing out the difficulties of the 
position, the flooded area immediately in front of us, backed 
by wooded slopes, and our exposed northern flank. But he 
submitted instead alternative proposals, which finally were 
adopted and led to the great battle of Cambrai. 



CHAPTER II 

THE FIRST BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 

FROM the Bois de Bouche, five miles distant, southeast by 
east, Bourlon Wood looms up to view, dark and threaten 
ing, precisely as it looms up from any surrounding pros 
pect whatever. Between us lies the valley of the Canal 
du Nord, with beyond the ground sloping up to Bourlon, bare 
save for an occasional little wood, such as that of the Quarry. 
Standing on the 75-metre elevation of the Bois de Bouche 
and facing Bourlon, a little to the right and on the west side of 
the canal lies the village of Inchy- en-Artois, and as far to the 
left, 2,000 yards northeast of Inchy but on the east side of the 
canal, is the village of Sains-lez-Marquion. Two thousand 
yards south of Inchy, on the west side of the canal, is the vil 
lage of Moeuvres, which not only proved impregnable during 
every stage of the first battle of Cambrai, but only recently had 
withstood the assaults of troops of the Third Army on our 
right. 

Immediately east of Inchy a canal stretch of 3,000 yards 
was still uncompleted, and therefore dry. These works are not 
situated in the valley bottom, but form an embankment on its 
eastern slopes, and this stronghold is reinforced by a series of 
lifting locks, each in itself a fortress, from 40 to 60 feet in 
depth, edged by steep banks and masonry. Opposite Inchy, 
from the top of the east bank, presenting an elevation of about 
60 metres, the hill slopes steadily back and up to where at the 
crest of Bourlon Wood it attains an extreme elevation of 110 
metres, thus commanding a clear view of all movements west 
of the canal as far as the Bois de Bouche. 

All this slope presents for enemy machine-gunners a 
natural glacis. Paralleling the Canal, running from two to 
five hundred yards east of it, is the heavily-wired trench sys- 

193 

14 



194 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

tern known as the Canal du Nord line. Midway between this 
and the summit is the strongly fortified Marquion line. Over 
the crest of the slope and back of Bourlon Wood is the Mar- 
coing line. Bourlon Wood is a fortress in itself, its batteries of 
artillery and machine-guns dominating the approach. 

We are already familiar with the features north of Inchy 
the flooded area, with all bridges demolished, and any 
attempted crossing entirely dominated by the superior east 
bank. Impregnable to assault from the west, the chain of vil 
lages lying along the east bank, Sains-lez-Marquion, Marquion 
and Sauchy-Lestree, screened by woods and swamps and ex 
tending north to the high ground of the town of Oisy-le- 
Verger, has to be reckoned with by an attacking force crossing 
the canal further soutii and striking thence eastwards for 
until this strip has been cleared of its garrison, it presents a 
highly vulnerable flank. 

Immediately south of Moeuvres runs the Bapaume-Cam- 
brai road, a first-class highway though now shell-torn, passing 
just under the southern slope of Bourlon Wood, through the 
village of Anneux, and thence east to Cambrai through the 
village of Fontaine-Notre-Dame, 1,500 yards east of the wood. 
Three or four thousand yards further east the road parallels, 
but at some little distance north, the Scheldt Canal, or, to give 
it its French name, the Canal de 1 Escaut, and known also. 
south of Cambrai, as the Canal St. Quentin. 

A mile and a half north and a little east of Fontaine-Notre- 
Dame is the village of Raillencourt, situate on the Arras-Cam- 
brai road. This road, after crossing the Canal du Nord at 
Marquion, runs in a straight line southeast through Raillen- 
court and St. Olle into the Faubourg Caritimpre, where it joins 
the Bapaume road at an acute angle, the combined road then 
passing east across the Scheldt Canal into the City of Cambrai. 

Two thousand yards east of Fontaine-Notre-Dame, the 
Scheldt Canal, which up to now has followed a general north 
erly course, swings off almost sharp to the east, and then, 2,500 
yards further on, as it reaches the Faubourg Cantimpre, trends 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 195 

off again to the north. At the point where it turns east, the 
strongly fortified Marcoing line, the last organized trench 
system west of Cambrai, passes from the east to the west side of 
the canal, and then takes a northerly course just east of Raillen- 
court and between that village and Sailly, adjoining it to the 
northeast. Thence it passes in a northeast direction to a little 
west of Sancourt, where it joins up with another strong trench 
system, running off at right angles west to link up with the 
Canal du Nord line south of Sauchy-Lestree. 

Forming a strong pivot of defense, the village of Hayne- 
court lies at the junction of the Marcoing line and this western 
trench line, 5,000 yards northeast of Bourlon village, itself 
situate against the northwest slope of Bourlon Wood. Between 
Bourlon and Haynecourt passes the Arras-Cambrai road, and 
on this line, a thousand yards south of the road, is the consider 
able elevation known as Pilgrim s Rest. One more tactical 
feature may here be noted, this being the railway that after 
crossing the Canal du Nord at Sauchy-Lestree, winds up the 
hill through many deep cuttings, skirting Bourlon village on 
the north and joining the Bapaume-Cambrai road a little east 
of Fontaine-Notre-Dame, whence it follows the course of the 
road into Cambrai. 

There are thus three distinct trench systems, all running 
more or less parallel to the Canal du Nord in a north and south 
direction; first, the Canal du Nord line; then, midway up the 
slope, the Marquion line; and, finally, behind Bourlon Wood, 
the very strong Marcoing Line. Between these trench systems 
the enemy had organized many series of fortified shell-holes, 
protected by "spider-web" wire, and it was in fighting through 
this maze, rather than in the actual storming of the trenches, 
that our heaviest losses were to be incurred. 

In these September days of waiting we are all studying the 
campaign of the previous November, now known as the First 
Battle of Cambrai. But different indeed are the plans and exe 
cution of such operations one gathers from the men who fought 
them from the stereotyped accounts of the contemporary his- 



196 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

tones of the war ; for embalmed in the official reports, on which 
these are necessarily founded, are often misstatements of fact 
and distortions of perspective. The patient historian of the 
future must dig below this surface if he is to discover truth in 
all her aspects, unclouded by prejudice and untarnished by 
self-interest 

Bourlon Wood and the whole surrounding battlefield is to 
enter so sharply, so poignantly, into the history of the Canadian 
Corps, that a sketch of this first battle is an essential prelimin 
ary to what is to follow. We shall be concerned not so much 
with its course from day to day as with its general scheme and 
the reasons for its relative failure. 

After his brilliant success with the Canadian Corps at 
Vimy Ridge, Sir Julian Byng received well-deserved promo 
tion to the command of the Third Army, then vacant by the 
removal of General Allenby to Palestine. It was not in his 
nature to sit down to passive defense while hard fighting was 
going on elsewhere; and so he evolved the plan of attack, 
which, as we have seen in the account of the Amiens show, un 
successful in result though in some degree it was, was neverthe 
less destined to revolutionize conditions on the West Front, 
sounding the death knell of trench fighting and preparing the 
way for open warfare. Oddly enough that brilliant plan was 
not only the germ of our present success, but seems also to have 
supplied the inspiration for the great German offensive of the 
spring of 1918. 

Struck by the fact that the battle in the north was not going 
so well as had been hoped. Sir Julian Byng, in July, 1917, 
came to the conclusion that a diversion on the right flank of the 
Third Army might not only draw enemy troops from the north 
but might seriously interfere with any plans the enemy might 
have for a counter-offensive on the large scale. He therefore 
laid his plan before the British Commander-in-Chief, asking 
that his divisions in the line be supported by six fresh divisions, 
all the tanks and the whole of the cavalry; the idea being a 
secret attack unheralded by the alarum-bell of a heavy and pro- 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 197 

tracted artillery preparation, as then was the fashion; a rolling 
artillery barrage and the tanks being relied upon to break 
down the way for the infantry, while the cavalry were to seize 
any opportunity of passing through. 

It is to be presumed that Sir Douglas Haig was sym 
pathetic, but it was a new idea, never popular at G.H.Q., and 
the dreadful righting in progress on the north seemed to deny 
the diversion of the necessary troops. Shortly after this the 
6th., 35th., 40th. and 50th. Divisions were sent north, and for 
the time being the project was out of the question. 

But Sir Julian, enamored of his idea, was not to be discour 
aged, and early in the autumn he advanced it again. This 
time he received encouragement, and was told he should have 
the Canadian Corps for the operation. For just 36 hours the 
Third Army Commander saw his great plan fructifying, with 
to his purpose the Corps he had done so much to make what it 
was, when there came the news that the Canadian Corps too 
was ordered north. Passchendaele destroyed any chance it 
had of taking part under its old leader in these new battle 
tactics. 

After this a rot set in for our cause; Russia had gone to 
pieces and Italy was invaded; divisions had to be hurried to 
her support from the West Front. But whatever the cause- 
perhaps because there was need for desperate measures, and 
the plan, while offering minimum risks, held out great pros 
pects it came about that in mid-October Sir Douglas Haig 
was finally converted and the Third Army authorized to go 
ahead with its preparations. Instead of six fresh divisions, 
however, the battle must be fought with divisions already bat 
tle-weary, though all the tanks and cavalry were promised. 

It is not to our purpose to deal with this very interesting 
operation at length, except insofar as it has a direct bearing on 
the second battle of Cambrai. The battle opened at dawn of 
Nov. 20, so soon as there was light enough for the tanks to see. 
There was a tremendous concentration of these, no less than 
460 being on the line, and the whole attack had been carefully 



198 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

rehearsed, each tank having its track at the jumping-off place 
marked out with its number; while the troops to follow were 
trained beforehand to manoeuvre with that particular tank. 
These tanks were of an early model, and could not cross un 
aided the Hindenburg line, here 14 feet wide and eight deep. 
So the idea was conceived of a fascine or faggots suspended 
from their bows, to be dropped into the trench, and over which 
they climbed up the other side. This plan worked out per 
fectly in practice. 

The surprise was complete, and for a time everything went 
well, the barrage jumping from trench to trench and the de 
fense being overwhelmed. But the troops engaged, stoutly as 
they fought, did not present a heavy enough mass of infantry 
to accomplish the full purpose; nor, as their advance spread 
out into an ever-deepening salient, had they sufficient reserves 
to defend the line they had won. 

The general direction of the attack was northeast, in the 
direction of Cambrai across the Scheldt Canal between Mas- 
nieres and Cantaing and through Marcoing; and north along 
the Canal du Nord with the commanding heights of Bourlon 
Wood as an early objective. Three possibilities were present. 
One was the unlimited ; that is to say, such a surprise might be 
effected that the Boche would be rolled back a considerable 
distance. The second was that the Hindenburg Support line 
(i.e., the Marcoing line) might be captured and consolidated. 
And the third, more limited in scope, was for a raid on a glori 
fied scale, capturing trenches and inflicting considerable loss 
upon the enemy. In its result what was actually achieved lay 
somewhere between the second and third possibilities. 

At first everything, :is we have seen, went according to pro 
gramme. On the right good progress was made, our troops at 
one point establishing themselves across the Scheldt Canal. 
But in the centre we were hung up for vital hours in front of 
Flesquieres. On the left the attack went better, being pushed 
forward astride the Canal du Nord to the Bapaume-Arras 
road. 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 199 

But the advance, considerable though it was, had not gone 
so far and fast as had been hoped. The enemy brought up 
great masses of reserves, and was able to hold the Masnieres 
line. No opportunity had been furnished the cavalry to break 
through though, as h?,s been previously noted, one squadron 
of the Fort Garry Horse actually crossed the Scheldt Canal. 
Nevertheless the local success of the first two days was great, 
the attack reaching the line of the Scheldt, Cantaing, Anneux 
and Moeuvres. 

It is possible enough that left to his own judgment Sir 
Julian Byng would have been content to consolidate this posi 
tion, offering as it did a favorable line as a future jumping-off 
ground. But on Nov. 23 Sir Douglas Haig, no doubt anxious 
to exploit as far as possible such a striking success, ordered that 
Bourlon Wood be attacked from the south. The tired troops 
again went forward and stormed the wood. There followed 
five or six days fighting of a ding-dong nature, with varying 
fortunes, during which the wood changed hands several times. 
We seized but failed to hold the village of Fontaine-Notre- 
Dame, which then established itself a tactical feature of first 
importance to any force consolidating itself in Bourlon Wood. 

Every student of the war will remember the thrill of pride 
and hope of Nov. 20, 1917, and the following days; how at last 
a ray of light seemed to have penetrated those dark months; 
how the news was hailed with joy in every allied capital and 
with corresponding foreboding in enemy countries; but how, 
after ten days heroic effort, the storm broke upon the weary 
but devoted troops, when five or six fresh enemy divisions 
burst up the Banteux Valley, capturing Gonnelieu and pushing 
in to Gouzeaucourt. Only the extraordinary gallantry and 
tenacity of some of the divisions engaged, especially the 
Guards, the 2nd., and the 47th. and 56th. Divisions, prevented 
a disaster. 

These three divisions held the Bourlon Wood line against 
eight enemy divisions altogether, five in the frontal attack and 
three in reserve. They held on throughout the day. In some 



200 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

places the enemy drove in seven distinct attacks, but not one of 
them reached our main line, although forward posts changed 
hands. The great slaughter the enemy suffered there was at 
that time regarded the most serious he had had in the war. 

As it turned out, the success, limited though it was, proved 
of very great strategic value at a critical time. The enemy was 
thrown out of his stride for the rest of the year. Tactically, 
too, the Third Army had the best of it. The Hindenburg 
line south of Moeuvres was not only captured but held. They 
suffered indeed 42,000 casualties in the fortnight s battle, los 
ing 7,800 prisoners. But on the other hand they inflicted 
casualties estimated at 80,000, capturing 11,000 prisoners and 
170 guns, though against these must be set the 150 guns the 
enemy captured on Nov. 30. But he used up in the battle 30 
divisions against the 11 British divisions engaged, and many of 
these were either brought down from the north or deflected 
from Italy. 

Altogether, disappointing as the final result might have 
been, the battle was a real victory. Had the Third Army been 
permitted to embark on it with the support requested, includ 
ing the Canadian Corps, and at a time of year when the days 
were long, it is pretty certain that the highest expectations of 
Sir Julian Byng would have been realized. As it was, labor 
ing under every disadvantage, the soundness of his tactical 
theory not only proved itself, but has served as the model for 
all future operations on the grand scale. 



CHAPTER III 

THE PLAN OF ATTACK 

THE problem of the Canadian Corps was entirely differ 
ent. In front of us, across the canal, lay the high ground 
from which Sir Julian Byng s men had been beaten back. 
But the weakness of his position had not developed from 
failure to push home those attacks. It came from the increas 
ing exposed flank his drive north created for an active enemy 
east of the Scheldt Canal. 

On the other hand, provided we could cross the Canal du 
Nord, overwhelm the enemy defense on the opposing slope and 
seize the high ground, we should have attained a position not 
only practical for defense but commanding the valley of the 
Scheldt and the city of Cambrai lying within it. Once estab 
lished on the high ground north of the city beyond the Mar- 
coing line, and its fall must come about inevitably, without the 
necessity of storming it, which would have involved not only 
heavy casualties for ourselves, but must have resulted in its 
partial destruction, from every point of view to be avoided so 
far as possible. 

But to carry out this operation successfully, it was essential 
that our drive, necessarily of the spearhead type, be assured, 
first, a degree of protection along its exposed left flank; and, 
second, that there must be adequate support by troops operat 
ing immediately on our right so as to prevent the creation of an 
equally vulnerable right flank. On the left, therefore, any 
plan of attack must include the mopping-up of the whole 
peninsula east of the Canal du Nord and south of the Sensee, 
thus placing that river between us and the enemy s army based 
on Douai. But on the right all that was necessary was that as 
our line advanced north of Cambrai, the ground should be 
cleared as far east as the Scheldt Canal. 

201 



202 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

We have seen how the Corps Commander declined to com 
mit his troops to a frontal attack on the Canal du Nord from 
the area we were holding throughout September north of 
Sains-lez-Marquion, where the flooded condition of the canal 
and the high banks opposing us denied success, and how he 
submitted an alternative plan. That plan is best explained in 
his own words, as follows :- 

"On Sept. 15 I received the details of a large operation to 
be carried out later in the month by the Third and Fourth 
Armies, in which the Canadian Corps was to co-operate by 
crossing the Canal, and by capturing Bourlon Wood and the 
high ground to the northeast of it, to protect the left flank of 
the attack. 

"The XXII Corps on the left was to take over the front 
held by the Canadian Corps to a point 1,200 yards north of the 
Arras-Cambrai Road, and the Canadian Corps was to take 
over part of the front held by the XVII Corps (Third Army) 
as far as Moeuvres (exclusive), which was to be the Canadian 
Corps right boundary for the attack. 

"By this side-slip to the south the right of the Canadian 
Corps was to be placed opposite a dry portion of the Canal du 
Nord on a front of about 2,500 yards. The Germans were 
then holding in strength a strip of ground on the west side of 
the canal, and every effort made by the XVII Corps to clear 
this ground and reach the Canal banks had been repulsed. 

"On Sept. 22 the task of the Corps was enlarged so as to 
include, in addition to the objectives already mentioned, the 
capture of the bridges over the Scheldt Canal, north of Cam- 
brai, and the high ground overlooking the Sensee Valley. The 
right boundary was not altered. To assist in carrying out the 
above additional task, the llth. British Division and the 7th. 
Tank Battalion were placed under my orders. 

"The date of this operation was definitely fixed for Sept. 
27, 1918, at dawn. 

"It was decided that the 4th. and 1st. Canadian Divisions 
would carry out the initial attack, capture the villages of 



THE PLAN OF ATTACK 203 

Bourlon and Marquion respectively, and immediately there 
after seize Bourlon Wood and east of Bois-de-Cocret and 
Dartford Wood. 

"At this stage the 3rd. Canadian Division would pass 
through the right of the 4th. Canadian Division and advance 
from the line east of Bourlon Wood in an easterly direction 
towards Neuville-St. Remy, in liaison with the XVII Corps. 

"The llth. Division was to come up on the left of the 1st. 
Canadian Division and advance in a northeasterly direction 
toward Epinoy and Oisy-le- Verger. The 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion on the right centre was to advance towards Blecourt and 
the 1st. Canadian Division on the left centre was to advance in 
the direction of Abancourt 

"This attack was fraught with difficulties. On the Corps 
battlef ront of 6,400 yards the Canal du Nord was impassable 
on the northern 3,800 yards. The Corps had, therefore, to 
cross the Canal du Nord on a front of 2,600 yards, and to 
expand later fanwise In a northeasterly direction to a front 
exceeding 15,000 yards. This intricate manoeuvre called for 
most skilful leadership on the part of commanders, and the 
highest state of discipline on the part of the troops. 

"The assembly of the attacking troops in an extremely con 
gested area known by the enemy to be the only one available 
was very dangerous, especially in view of the alertness of the 
enemy. A concentrated bombardment of this area prior to 
"zero/ particularly if gas was employed, was a dreaded pos 
sibility which could seriously affect the whole of the opera 
tion and possibly cause its total failure. 

"To meet such an eventuality careful arrangements were 
made by the counter-battery staff officer to bring to bear a 
specially heavy neutralizing fire on hostile batteries at any 
moment during the crucial period of preparation. These 
arrangements were to be put into effect, in any case, at "zero" 
hour, to neutralize the hostile defensive barrage on the front 
of attack. 

"With the exception of the 2nd. Canadian Division, which 



204 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

was now holding the entire front and would be in Corps Re 
serve at the time of attack, every resource of the Canadian 
Corps was to be crowded in that narrow space. 

"The provision of an effective Artillery barrage presented 
considerable difficulty owing to the depth of the attack and its 
general direction. On the 4th. Canadian Division front partic 
ularly, the depth to the initial objective was such that the bat 
teries were compelled to move forward into captured ground 
and continue firing the barrage from these new positions. Pro 
vision was made for the advance of a number of batteries with 
their Echelons to the Canal line and beyond whilst the attack 
was in progress. 

a A large number of Machine-Gun batteries were detailed 
to supply the initial barrage and, later, to advance in support 
of the Infantry. 

"Provisions were also made for Engineer Units to move 
forward immediately following the assaulting troops, to effect 
immediate repair to the roads and crossings of the Canal in 
order to enable the Artillery to move up in support of the 
Infantry. 

"The greatest precautions had been taken to ensure secrecy, 
and camouflage had been used extensively to prevent detection 
of the preparations of all kinds that were in progress. 

"Further to conceal our intentions, i< was decided that no 
preliminary fighting to secure a jumping-off line would take 
place, and that the Germans would be left in possession of 
their positions west of the Canal until the hour of the attack. 
It was also hoped that, by letting the Germans retain this 
ground, their defensive barrage would remain well west of the 
Canal instead of being placed on the Canal itself, where the 
banks offered a serious obstacle and reduced very considerably 
the rate of advance of the assaulting troops. 

"On our right the XVII Corps was to advance and capture 
Fontaine-Notre-Dame, in conjunction with the capture of 
Bourlon Wood by the 4th. Canadian Division. 

"On the night of Sept. 25-26 the XXII Corps on the left 



THE PLAN OF ATTACK 205 

took over the front as far south as the Arras-Cambrai road, 
and arranged to extend the Artillery and Machine-Gun bar 
rage to their front so as to deceive the enemy regarding actual 
flanks of the attack. 

"The 4th. and 1st. Canadian Divisions went into the line on 
their respective battlefionts. 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division, on completion of the relief, 
passed into Corps Reserve. 

"During the night of Sept. 26-27 all final adjustments and 
moves were made, and everything was ready before "zero" 
hour. 

"This was for everybody a night full of anxiety, but apart 
from the usual harassing fire and night bombing nothing 
untoward happened." 

Before proceeding to the attack itself, a review of the gen 
eral strategic plan of which it formed so vital a part, is not out 
of place. The Fourth and Third British Armies were about to 
launch a frontal attack on the Hindenburg System, hitherto 
unbroken, from St. Quentin north to Cambrai. It was to be 
the honorable function of the Canadian Corps, having already 
passed through the Hindenburg line west of the Canal du 
Nord, to press forward on the extreme left of this general 
attack and thus turn the Hindenburg System from the north. 
Its task was not so much to capture Cambrai which in fact 
was outside our southern boundary as to drive forward along 
the northern bank of the Scheldt and thus compromise enemy 
communications north and south. 

In our opening chapter sufficient extracts were made from 
Sir Douglas Haig s Victory Dispatch to outline the general 
plan. We may now with advantage follow him again : "The 
details of the strategic plan . . upon which future opera 
tions should be based were the subject of careful discussion 
between Marshal Foch and myself. Preparations were al 
ready far advanced for the successful attack by which, on Sept. 
12, the First American Army, assisted by certain French Divi 
sions, drove the enemy from the St. Mihiel salient and inflicted 



206 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

heavy losses upon him in prisoners and guns. Ultimately, it 
was decided that as soon as possible after this attack four con 
vergent and simultaneous offensives should be launched by 
the Allies as follows : 

"By the Americans west of Mezieres; 

"By the French west of Argonne in close co-operation with 
the American attack and with the same general objectives; 

"By the British on the St. Quentin-Cambrai front in the 
general direction of Maubeuge; 

"By the Belgian and Allied forces in Flanders in the direc 
tion of Ghent. 

"By these attacks, it was expected, as already indicated, that 
the important German forces opposite the French and Ameri 
cans would be pressed back upon the difficult country of the 
Ardennes, while the British thrust struck at their principal 
lines of communication. It was intended to take advantage of 
the weakening of the German forces on this front to clear the 
Belgian coast by a surprise attack. Success in any one of these 
offensives might compel the enemy to withdraw to the line of 
the Meuse. 

"The results to be obtained from these different attacks de 
pended in a peculiarly large degree upon the British attack in 
the centre. It was here that the enemy s defenses were most 
highly organized. If these were broken, the threat directed 
at his vital systems of lateral communication would of necessity 
react upon his defenses elsewhere. 

"On the other hand, the long period of sustained offensive 
action through which the British Armies had already passed 
had made large demands both upon the troops themselves and 
upon my available reserves. Throughout our attacks from 
Aug. 8 onwards our losses in proportion to the results achieved 
and the prisoners taken had been consistently and remarkably 
small. In the aggregate, however, they were considerable, and 
in the face of them an attack upon so formidably organized a 
position as that which now confronted us could not be lightly 
undertaken. Moreover, the political effects of an unsuccessful 



THE PLAN OF ATTACK 207 

attack upon a position so well known as the Hindenburg line 
would be large, and would go far to revive the declining 
morale not only of the German Army but of the German 
people. 

"These different considerations were present to my mind. 
The probable results of a costly failure, or, indeed, of anything 
short of a decided success, in any attempt upon the main de 
fenses of the Hindenburg line were obvious; but I was con 
vinced that the British attack was the essential part of the 
general scheme and that the moment was favorable. 

"Accordingly I decided to proceed with the attack, and all 
preparatory measures, including the preliminary operations 
already recounted, were carried out as rapidly and as thor 
oughly as possible." 

He then proceeds to describe the difficulties of the task 
confronting the Fourth and Third Armies, continuing:- :< The 
Battle of Cambrai, which on Oct. 5 culminated in the capture 
of the last remaining sectors of the Hindenburg line, was com 
menced by the First and Third Armies. 

"Between the neighbourhood of St. Quentin and the 
Scheldt, the Fourth, Third and First Armies in the order 
named occupied on the evening of Sept. 26 a line running from 
the village of Selency (west of St. Quentin) to Gricourt and 
Pontruct, and thence east of Villeret and Lempire to Villers- 
Guislain and Gouzeaucourt, both exclusive. Thereafter the 
line continued northwards to Havrincourt and Moeuvres and 
thence along the west side of the Canal du Nord to the floods 
of the Sensee at Ecourt St. Quentin. 

"On the First and Third Army fronts strong positions cov 
ering the approaches to Cambrai between the Nord and 
Scheldt canals, including the section of the Hindenburg line 
itself north of Gouzeaucourt, were still in the enemy s posses 
sion. His trenches in this sector faced southwest, and it was 
desirable that they should be taken in the early stages of the 
operation, so as to render it easier for the artillery of the 
Fourth Army to get into position. On the Fourth Army front. 



208 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

where the heaviest blow was to fall, the exceptional strength 
of the enemy s position made a prolonged bombardment neces 
sary. I therefore decided that a very heavy bombardment, 
opened during the night of Sept. 26-27 along the whole front 
of all three Armies, should be followed on the morning of 
Sept 27 by an attack delivered by the First and Third Armies. 
In this way the enemy might be deceived as to the main point 
of the attack, the First and Third Armies would be enabled to 
get nearer to their final objective, and the task of the Fourth 
Army artillery would be simplified. 

"On the morning of Sept. 26 French and American forces 
attacked on both sides of the Argonne, between the Meuse and 
Suippe rivers. 

"At 5.20 a.m. on Sept. 27 the Third and First British 
Armies attacked with the IV, VI, XVII and Canadian Corps 
in the direction of Cambrai on a front of about 13 miles from 
Gouzeaucourt to the neighborhood of Sauchy Lestree. The 
success of the northern part of the attack depended upon the 
ability of our troops to debouch from the neighborhood of 
Moeuvres, and to secure the crossings of the Canal du Nord in 
that locality. The northern portion of the Canal du Nord 
was too formidable an obstacle to be crossed in the face of the 
enemy. It was therefore necessary for the attacking divisions 
to force a passage on a comparatively narrow front about 
Moeuvres, and thereafter turn the line of the canal farther 
north by a divergent attack developed f anwise from the point 
of crossing. This difficult manoeuvre was carried out success 
fully, and on the whole front of our attack our infantry, assisted 
by some 65 tanks, broke deeply into the enemy s position." 

This testimony to the work of the Canadian Corps from so 
high a quarter is very satisfactory, though it was Inchy and not 
Moeuvres that furnished the jumping-off spot. As has been 
explained, this difficult manoeuvre had originated in the brain 
of the Canadian Corps Commander. It was a daring plan 
that success alone could justify. Every commanding officer in 
the Corps to whom the secret had been entrusted was well 



THE PLAN OF ATTACK 209 

aware of that. Thus, the narrative of the 1st. Canadian Divi 
sion, after an appreciation of the general strategic situation, 
says : "The battle was divided into three main phases : 

"First, on the left, the storming of the Canal du Nord and 
the advance on Cambrai ; followed immediately by the second 
phase, the great blow which shattered the Hindenburg line and 
outflanked the defenses of St. Quentin; and, third, came the 
general attack on the whole front which resulted in the capture 
of Cambrai and St. Quentin, and forced the enemy to retire 
behind the line of the river Selle. 

"It was in the first phase of this battle that the Canadian 
Corps was chiefly interested, for to the Corps was given the 
task of forcing the Canal du Nord, capturing Bourlon Wood 
and the high ground to the north of it, and then advancing on 
Cambrai and seizing the crossings of the Scheldt Canal and 
the Sensee river to the east and north of that city. This would 
afford complete protection for the main attack to the south- 
and this was the real objective of the Canadian Corps. . . 

"The attack presented many unusual features. In the first 
place the Canal du Nord was passable on the Corps sector on a 
front of 2,500 yards only. This meant that four divisions had 
to be got through this narrow defile, and in addition there 
were engineers, artillery, machine-gunners and all the supply 
trains of various descriptions. To add to these difficulties the 
canal had to be bridged in many places, especially to permit 
the passage of guns and limbers. . . 

"At the very outset, therefore, the success of the battle 
devolved upon the Engineers. While the infantry, under 
cover of the artillery barrage, might carry the canal in the first 
rush, it was essential that guns and ammunition be brought 
forward across the canal as soon as possible. To do this bridges 
were a necessity. The task set the Engineers was of vital 
importance." 

The plan, of course, was confided to the Army Command 
ers. Sir Julian Byng, as has been seen, was in command of the 
Third Army on our right, and on one of these September days 

15 



210 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

he came over to Corps Headquarters at Neuville Vitasse to 
talk it over with Sir Arthur Currie. Mutual confidence and 
esteem existed between the past and present Canadian Corps 
Commanders. Sir Julian could speak with peculiar authority, 
for no one knew this battlefield so intimately, had studied it to 
such good purpose, nor could more fully appreciate its dangers 
and difficulties. He had heard, he said, of the proposed plan 
of attack, and as an old friend he could not refrain from point 
ing out its hazards. Did Sir Arthur Currie think he could 
really carry out the operation, because in his opinion the Cana 
dian Corps was attempting the most difficult manoeuvre yet 
attempted on a battlefield in this war? 

They discussed the plan in detail, and Sir Julian went 
away, if not convinced, at least immensely struck by its 
audacity and brilliance. 



CHAPTER IV 

MARCHING UP TO BATTLE 

WE come to the evening of Thursday, Sept. 26, the feast 
of St. Cyprian. Our valley east of Neuville Vitasse is 
now crowded with troops. On many occasions dur 
ing the past four years men have massed here ; friend or enemy, 
for attack or defense ; but never have they been so thickly, so 
openly congregated. Nor will they be again, one may hazard, 
so long as history is in the making. 

But, until nightfall, there is little sign on the surface. No 
place in the world is so empty as No Man s Land. It is 
populated only as is a desert plain by an advancing horde of 
locusts. They pass over, stripping every green thing as they 
go, and leave it even more waste than it was before. One 
recalls a little scene on the plateau just to the north a month 
ago. 

It was in the early afternoon, very hot and not a sign of 
life, except that shells were bursting around Monchy-le-Preux 
and a tremendous uproar was in progress over the slope to the 
northeast, where the gray fog of our barrage was fast blotting 
out the dark outlines of Sart Wood, But not a sign of life. 

Suddenly a shrill whistle, and immediately men in kilts, 
covered with khaki aprons, begin tumbling up, literally, from 
the bowels of the earth ; from unexpected and unseen mouths 
of dug-outs, so cunningly contrived by their late occupants, 
the Boche, that they are quite unnoticeable even a few yards 
away, for they lie flush with the ground, with no betraying 
litter of excavation. 

They stumble up awkwardly, for they are laden down 
with their kit. The roll is called, a brief order, and they trudge 
off toward the smoke and the uproar an extraordinary prosaic 
business. In a few minutes the little plateau is as empty again 

211 



212 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

as a warren after the drumming alarm has sent the conies 
scurrying to cover. But presently a flare goes up from the 
wood. 

Then it was the matter of a platoon, moving up from sup 
port into line. Now it is battalions, brigades, whole divisions, 
for the Corps is marching up to the great assault on the Canal 
du Nord. The days are growing short; the sun sets by six 
o clock, and an hour after it is dark. In the gloaming is a 
scene of bustle and ordered confusion. The men laden down 
for the battle, stand by in companies, waiting the word. A 
great concentration of artillery is going forward and engineer 
trains are pushing up with pontoons and bridging material, 
steel and heavy timber. 

It has been our good fortune to dine if such may be 
termed the hasty meal in a bomb-proof shelter with the head 
quarters of a battalion whose adjutant is a particular friend. 
This battalion is to move into support and next day its objective 
is Bourlon Wood. We gladly accept an invitation to march up 
some way with it. 

It is a long and tedious march of some dozen miles over 
secondary roads and traversing ridge after ridge. The move 
ment is diagonal, because we pass southeast out of our own 
area into that of the Corps on our right to the jumping-off line 
astride Inchy-en-Artois. The men whistle and sing, in the 
best of spirits. They march by companies in column of four, 
strung out over the white road tramp, tramp, tramp, under a 
starlit sky. They march through the ghostly outlines of Wan- 
court, over a plank road our engineers have built across the 
Cojeul, and so up the steep climb of Wancourt Ridge. Here 
the Colonel, who is riding ahead, orders a halt, and the men 
have a ten-minute rest. They line the roadside, lighting cigar 
ettes and chaffing one another. 

On the left the Arras-Cambrai road around Vis-en- 
Artois is being straafed by distant enemy batteries, and occa 
sionally he turns a searching fire on our battery positions. But 
it is nothing more than normal. Some bombing is going on 



MARCHING UP TO BATTLE 213 

north of the Scarpe, but it is too dark for effective work, or 
our marching units would offer a conspicuous target. The 
night is mild with a southwest wind. The moon, entering its 
last quarter, a late riser, is hidden by scudding cloud. We 
watch the battalion march by, a fine sight, for it has been 
recruited up to strength. Steaming cook kettles bring up the 
rear, with a hot meal ready for the men. Then we turn back, 
for we too must be getting to our appointed place. 

It is after midnight when we start out. It has begun to 
rain, at first a drizzle and then a pitiless downpour, and it is 
pitch dark. But as we climb out of Cherisy on the road to 
Hendecourt, a stray enemy shell ignites one of our ammuni 
tion dumps and makes the going better. From Hendecourt 
the road runs over another ridge to Cagnicourt, whence it 
turns sharp south, past the Bois de Bouche, then southeast 
towards Inchy, becoming little better than a track. Midway 
and on the right are Henley Copse and Bois d Inchy, on an 
elevation but two thousand yards from the village and com 
manding a view of the canal and battleground beyond. 

This road is a quagmire, lined with trenches facing south, 
part of the Hindenburg Support line taken by us three weeks 
before. We are early and shelter for a time in a dripping dug 
out. Our troops, wearied by their long march, are crowded 
close in the trenches, in the woods, and behind the hill crests, 
with perhaps a tarpaulin stretched over their heads. But at 
four o clock the rain stops and a clearing sky promises a fine 
day. We walk on to the little hill crowned by the Bois d Inchy, 
where are some trenches and great variety of shell holes. 

Two of our battalions lie in this little wood. The troops 
are packed very close, the attacking divisions being squeezed 
into a perilously narrow frontage, because the line of assault 
is confined to less than a mile and a half on either side of 
Inchy-en-Artois, which indeed is the boundary between our 
4th. and 1st. Divisions. From where we stand the canal is but 
3,000 yards away, and the Boche are holding this side of it, 
their line running due north from the northwest corner of 



214 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Mceuvres (taken recently by the XVII Corps), midway 
between Inchy and the canal to west of Sains-lez-Marquion. 
The first task of our infantry, therefore, is to overwhelm them 
and thus make good the west bank of the canal itself. 

But the limited area is also restricted in depth. Close 
behind is a great concentration of artillery, which is about to 
lay down what for its limited area is the most intense barrage 
of the war. All the Canadian Corps artillery is here, with 700 
rounds to each gun, as well as a large number of imperial 
heavies." The attack offers an extraordinary difficult prob 
lem. In the first place the character of the initial barrage is in 
itself unique, for it is not the usual straight-away affair. Cov 
ering first the actual crossing of the Canal du Nord, it is 
designed then to protect the advance of the infantry on Bourlon 
Wood on the one hand, while on the other it is to fan out in a 
wide sweep to the north until finally it shall return from the 
east on to the east bank of the canal, pinning in by its arc the 
enemy garrison holding that side of the canal as far north as 
Oisy-le-Verger. 

But that description hardly succeeds. It is more than that. 
The intention is that our 1st. Division, after crossing the canal, 
shall swing off first northeast, then north, and gradually close 
back on to the east side of the canal, thus taking from the rear 
the enemy garrison whose position from frontal attack, west of 
the canal, as has been before explained, is impregnable. To 
provide a protective flank for this complicated operation a sta 
tionary barrage is to be laid down some little distance east of 
and parallel to the canal. As the sweep of the infantry 
develops, a creeping barrage is to advance from south to north 
between the canal and this stationary barrage, the latter being 
lifted step by step as it is reached. It is extraordinarily ingen 
ious and intricate, to be understood best by reference to the 
barrage map itself. 

Starting with a barrage 3,000 yards in width, it is to fan out 
to 9,000 yards, changing form as it goes, and the least error in 
synchronization by either gunners or infantry must result in 



MARCHING UP TO BATTLE 215 

disaster to our own men. This calls for an unprecedented con 
centration of artillery in a restricted area, a little arc back of 
Inchy, so hazardous in itself that should the enemy discover it, 
and lay down a counter-barrage on these massed batteries, they 
must be wiped out; and yet it is a risk in all its gravity essential 
if the daring tactical manoeuvre as a whole is to have any pros 
pect of success. 

In order to give our troops room to deploy for the attack it 
is necessary to leave them a clear space of 2,000 yards deep 
west of the enemy line, and our battery positions are therefore 
just that much further from the canal line. If adequate sup 
port is to be given our men as they advance up the long slope 
against Bourlon Wood, our batteries must crowd down as close 
as possible to the canal so soon as its line is secure. From the 
canal our field batteries can command a range to the extreme 
limit of Bourlon Wood. 

In order to accomplish this a novel device has been deter 
mined upon and worked out in detail. This has been styled 
an "extension barrage." Four brigades of our field batteries 
are all limbered up, and at "zero" hour go off on the heels of 
the infantry. By six o clock, forty minutes after the battle 
opens, these are actually in position on the west side of the 
canal, an hour ago in the enemy s hands. They thus extend the 
effective range from the kick-off line from 6,500 to 8,500 
yards, and as a back battery goes out of action through exhaus 
tion of its effective range, its area of fire is taken over by one of 
these front batteries, and then it too comes up to the canal 
bank. This manoeuvre is made possible by the very effective 
smoke barrage we lay down to screen enemy observation from 
Bourlon Wood. 

But the final objective lies considerably east of Bourlon 
Wood, and it therefore becomes the imperative task of our 
engineers to push practical crossings over the canal so that the 
guns can follow up the infantry. Three hours was the utmost 
they could be allowed for this task. For without efficient 
artillery support, our attacking lines are apt to be driven back 



216 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

down the slope, and in the final analysis the success of the 
operation devolves upon the engineers. 

But more even was required from the artillery than this 
intricate and fanlike barrage. Enemy counter-barrage work 
must be smothered, and for this purpose a great concentration 
of "heavies" was provided both of our own and Imperial bat 
teries. For three weeks our artillery observation planes had 
been spotting the enemy s battery positions, and it had been 
found that he was continually moving his batteries about, 
having in all 105 battery positions in front of our attack. In 
order to smother these by our counter-battery work it might be 
presumed it would be necessary to concentrate fire on every 
one of them, an impossible task. The problem was in fact and 
practice solved in a brilliant fashion. Immediately the battle 
opened our observers flew low over the enemy positions, re 
porting by wireless not where his batteries were, but what posi 
tions were empty, thus enabling our artillery to concentrate 
their fire on occupied positions only, with what success will be 
seen. 

There are always tense minutes before "zero." It is a preg 
nant hour. But never more so than this morning, for we are 
packed so close that if the enemy is apprised of the attack and 
lays down a barrage our slaughter must be fearful. For several 
days he has been nervous. But our jumping-off line has been 
camouflaged by deliberately destroying his wire far to the 
north and south. 

As the rain clears off the men make shift to get a meal. A 
tot of rum warms their chilled limbs. Mist still hangs low in 
the valley, but beyond the outline of the slope can be made 
out. Officers consult their maps and compasses and get their 
men to their jumping-off ground. Engineers are there with 
infantry floats. The men carry scaling ladders. All is ready, 
but the minutes are interminable. 

At five o clock there is a faint flutter of dawn in the east. 
Just then the enemy starts throwing up twin red balls of fire 
the S.O.S. call he used in the Amiens show. But nothing 



MARCHING UP TO BATTLE 217 

comes of it. At last, at twenty minutes past five of the morning 
of Friday, Sept. 27, the barrage opens. Some batteries are so 
close that the noise is stunning. Five minutes later the men 
push forward to secure the west side of the canal. The enemy, 
complete though is his surprise, pours in a heavy shell fire. 
This morning his S.O.S. signal is twin green balls, and soon 
his entire front line for miles north and south becomes twink 
ling green. He does not know where the main stroke is to 
fall. 

Within a very short time the canal is crossed, our men scal 
ing the locks, bombing as they go, and soon the battle is stream 
ing away up the eastward slopes. Prisoners, captured this side 
of the canal, come in at once and testify to the complete sur 
prise. They are from the 63rd. Naval Division and the First 
Prussian Guards Reserve Division. Big fellows these, but 
they do not look so terrible. We had been warned of them, for 
two days before enemy aircraft had dropped leaflets among 
our men: "Spare this terrible bloodshed," one read. "It is 
time for peace, Canadians; you will be only slaughtered if you 
go against our terrible Guards." The entire staff of an enemy 
battery was captured before it had fired a shot. 

One of our own gunners performed a wonderful exploit. 
Realizing how essential it was to get the guns up as near the 
canal as possible, Lt. H. H. Phinney of the 1st. Battery, C.F. 
A., made a personal reconnaissance along the canal over-night, 
and then under cover of darkness took his section of 18-pound- 
ers in front even of our outpost line. He lost half his horses 
and ammunition, but was able when "zero" struck to direct his 
fire on an enemy machine-gun position across the canal at 
point-blank range with open sights, destroying it entirely. 

Canadian Engineers now work feverishly constructing 
bridges, and the work goes forward with a will. Before nine 
o clock the first battery crosses the canal. Prior to this, Lt. 
J. A. Davin, of the 1st. Canadian Divisional Ammunition 
Column, immediately after "zero" and under heavy shell fire 
made a reconnaissance of the Canal du Nord in front of Inchy, 



218 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



located a practical crossing, and by his persistance, disregard 
of danger and good leadership took over a column of wagons 
and established his A. R. P. 1,000 yards east of the canal, where 
he kept up a much needed supply of ammunition for the for 
ward batteries until the bridges were built. Since Aug. 8, in 
every battle, this officer had thus pushed forward his ammuni 
tion dumps into the heart of the fighting. 

Sergt. Chas. Glaysher, of the 1st. Canadian Division Signal 
Column, had the honor of taking the first vehicle over the 
canal. He established a report centre well east of the canal, 
laying wires under heavy fire to the Brigade and Batteries. 
His wireless aerials were shot down three times in half an 
hour but on each occasion he re-erected them himself. 

Our smoke barrage has now blotted out the distant scene. 
At half past nine the tanks come back, their day s work done. 
About noon, clear above the smoke, a gold and silver shower 
goes up. It is the signal that Bourlon Wood is in our hands. 



CHAPTER V 

OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 

PREPARATIONS for this battle have been entered into 
at length because after all it was the plan and the arrange 
ments for carrying it out that mattered ; those perfected, 
as we have seen, and granted such an instrument as the Cana 
dian Corps, efficiently supported by the veteran troops, ably 
commanded, of the llth. British Division, and the battle 
itself, up to a certain stage at least, went according to pro 
gramme. The different puzzle-parts, all carefully worked 
out beforehand, fell into their place in the picture until it pre 
sented a perfected example of the art of war. It was not until 
difficulties arose on our right flank that the scene became 
blurred, and for a time threatened to ruin the general effect. 
Sir Arthur Currie thus describes the opening operations : 
"At 5.20 a.m., Sept. 27, the attack was successfully launched, 
and in spite of all obstacles went well from the first. 

"The barrage was uniformly good, and the 3rd. and 4th. 
Canadian Divisional Artilleries, commanded respectively by 
Brig.-General J. S. Stewart and Brig.-General W. B. M. King, 
were successful in advancing into captured ground, and con 
tinued the barrage as planned. 

"Early in the afternoon the First Phase of the attack was 
substantially over, and the readjustments of the fronts pre 
paratory to the Second Phase were under way. 

"On the extreme right, however, the XVII Corps had 
failed to keep pace with our advance, and our right flank, sub 
mitted to a severe enfilade machine-gun fire from the vicinity 
of Anneux, had to be refused for a considerable distance to 
retain touch with the left of the XVII Corps; therefore, the 
encircling movement which was to have given us Bourlon 
Wood could not be developed. 

219 



220 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"Fully alive to the gravity of the situation which would be 
created on the flank of the Third Army by the failure to cap 
ture and hold Bourlon Wood, the llth. Brigade (Brig.-Gen- 
eral Odium) of the 4th. Canadian Division attacked from the 
north side of the Wood and captured all the high ground, 
pushing patrols as far as Fontaine-Notre-Dame. 

"It is recalled here that Bourlon Wood, which is 1 10 metres 
high, dominates the ground as far south as Flesquieres and 
Havrincourt; and that its loss after very heavy fighting in 
Nov., 1917, during the first battle of Cambrai, caused eventu 
ally the withdrawal of the Third Army from a large portion 
of the ground they had won by their surprise attack. 

"A severe counter-attack launched from the direction of 
Raillencourt, against the left of the 4th. Canadian Division, 
was repulsed in the afternoon with heavy losses to the enemy. 

"Owing to the situation on our right flank, already ex 
plained, the 3rd. Canadian Division could not be engaged this 
day. The 1st. Canadian Division and the llth. (British) 
Division, however, made substantial gains after the commence 
ment of the Second Phase, the former capturing Haynecourt 
and crossing the Douai-Cambrai road, and the latter pushing 
on and taking Epinoy and Oisy-le-Verger by evening." 

To get a clear picture it is necessary to trace the Corps and 
Divisional boundaries. The southern boundary of the Cana 
dian Corps, and therefore of our 4th. Division, was to start 
from the northwest corner of Mceuvres, and then run east 
5,000 yards, trending a little south all the way, to a point mid 
way between Anneux and Bourlon Wood. Thence it took a 
wide sweep, following the south and southeastern slope of the 
wood, to a point about 500 yards northwest of Fontaine-Notre- 
Dame. 

Thence the Canadian Corps southern boundary ran in 
almost a direct line a little north of east to the Faubourg Can- 
timpre, skirting Cambrai on the far side of the Scheldt, but 
crossing over the canal at Neuville-St. Remy, north of the 
City. Thus not only Anneux and Fontaine-Notre-Dame, but 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 221 

the line of the Scheldt Canal southwest of Cambrai, were left 
in the area of the XVII Corps. 

The inter-divisional boundary between the 4th. Canadian 
Division, Maj. -General Sir David Watson, and the 3rd. Cana 
dian Division, Maj. -General F. O. W. Loomis, started east 
from Inchy, and then trended off more to the northeast, pass 
ing through Pilgrim s Rest and following the general direction 
of Haynecourt. The northern boundary of the 1st. Canadian 
Division, Maj. -General Sir Archibald C. Macdonell, will be 
outlined when we come to a particular description of its opera 
tions. For the time being we will confine ourselves to the 4th. 
Division. 

Draw a line from the point northwest of Fontaine-Notre- 
Dame described above, a little west of north to 500 yards east 
of Pilgrim s Rest, and we have the Third Objective of the 4th. 
Canadian Division, marking the end of the First Phase. At 
this point the 3rd. Canadian Division was designed to come up, 
taking over the southern half of the area of advance marked 
out for the Second Phase, roughly represented by the line from 
Neuville-St. Remy to Sancourt, both inclusive. The 4th. Divi 
sion was to continue its advance on the left of the 3rd. Division, 
and therefore between the latter and the 1st. Division. 

Owing to failure of the XVII Corps to come up on our 
right flank, this plan never matured. The 4th. Division could 
do no better than reach its Third Objective, from Fontaine- 
Notre-Dame to Pilgrim s Rest, and the opportunity for fur 
ther exploitation northwest of Cambrai by the 3rd. Division 
was thus denied on the opening day. Better fortune attended 
the 1st. Canadian Division, finely supported by the llth. Brit 
ish Division, a deep salient being pushed into the enemy de 
fense through Haynecourt and between Sancourt and Epinoy. 

On the 4th. Divisional front the 10th. Brigade, Brig.-Gen- 
eral R. J. F. Hayter, was entrusted with the storming of the 
canal. The attacking units had been highly organized for the 
work and the men went at it with a zip. The 50th. Battalion, 
of Calgary, on the right and the 46th. Battalion, of Regina, on 



222 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

the left the latter being in contact with the 4th. Battalion, 
Central Ontario, of the 1st. Division jumped off at five min 
utes past "zero" and carried the enemy line on the west side of 
the canal in their first rush. Fixing their scaling-ladders, the 
46th. climbed down into the dry bed of lock No. 4, where the 
garrison was bombed into surrender, and the advance con 
tinued unchecked. 

The 44th. Battalion, New Brunswick, and 47th. Battalion, 
Western Ontario, of the same brigade, now came up in sup 
port. So soon as the canal was crossed, our troops, under cover 
of a very efficient smoke barrage, rushed the Canal du Nord 
trench system and then advanced up the slope to their first 
objective, the Marquion line. 

A pause was here made for fifty minutes, when the attack 
was carried on by the 1 1th. Brigade on the right, and the 12th. 
Brigade on the left, until the second objective was secured, 
this being a line just west of Bourlon Wood but also including 
Bourlon village, stormed by the 12th. Brigade. Owing to the 
difficulties of the ground, no tanks got up here, though several 
were employed further north by the 1st. Division, and the 
infantry depended on the barrage and their own exertions. 

No sooner had the llth. Brigade on our extreme right 
reached the Marquion line than it became subject to a very 
heavy enfilade fire from its right flank, owing to failure of 
neighboring Imperial troops to take their objectives, as they 
were held up in front of the formidable Hindenburg Support 
line. Particularly galling machine-gun fire came from the 
factory on the Bapaume-Cambrai road just east of this support 
line, which here takes a bend south. This inflicted many 
casualties, and the 1 1th. Brigade already was obliged to detach 
elements to form a flank in this direction. As it advanced to 
its objective of Bourlon Wood, it offered a more and more 
exposed flank, into which the enemy poured a heavy artillery 
and machine-gun fire, and launched a number of counter-at 
tacks from the southeast. The 102nd. Battalion, British Col 
umbia, was forced to swing south a thousand yards outside the 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 223 

Canadian Corps area, taking the strongly-fortified factory on 
the Bapaume-Cambrai road. 

The 1 1th. Brigade lost very heavily, chiefly from machine- 
gun fire, but pushed steadily on. Reaching their second ob 
jective, immediately in front of Bourlon Wood, the brigade 
held a line with on the right the 102nd. Battalion, in the cen 
tre the 54th. Battalion, of the Kootenay, and on the left, 
towards Bourlon village, the 87th. Battalion, Grenadier 
Guards of Montreal. The 75th. Battalion, recruited from the 
Missisauga Horse, of Toronto, was in reserve, but pressure was 
so great on the right flank that it was brought up in support of 
the 102nd., the battle headquarters of both battalions being 
established together 1,000 yards west of Bourlon Wood. In 
side of half an hour an enemy 5.9-inch shell made a direct hit 
on the combined headquarters, Lt.-Col. F. Lister of the 102nd. 
being badly wounded, as well as his adjutant, while the bat 
talion signal officer was killed. The adjutant of the 75th. was 
wounded and its signal officer also killed, and four or five other 
battalion officers became casualties, as did four officers of the 
British Divisional staff on our right who had come up to see 
how the battle was going. The same shell killed or wounded a 
number of signallers and runners. 

The command of these two battalions now devolved upon 
Lt.-Col. Thompson, of the Canadian Engineers, who had 
joined the 75th. Battalion over night, having been recalled 
from London for that purpose just as he was about to sail for 
Canada on leave. 

The 54th. Battalion on the immediate left fared equally 
badly, for a single shell wounded Lt.-Col. A. B. Carey, killed 
Major McDermott, Capt. Garland Foster, the adjutant, and 
Capt McQuarrie, while two other officers were wounded. 
This and the fighting of the succeeding days took very heavy 
toll of our battalion officers, several units losing their first and 
second officers in command, and company leaders right down 
to the subalterns. 

After the disaster referred to above, Lt.-Col. Thompson 



224 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

moved his headquarters to the top of the hill. In the meantime 
the 54th. had made a frontal attack on Bourlon Wood and got 
through to its eastern slope. Here they were strongly counter 
attacked, and came under a very heavy enfilade fire from Fon 
taine-Notre-Dame, and therefore sent back for further assist 
ance. Lt.-Col. Thompson detached two of the companies of 
the 75th. in support, and these came under orders of Col. 
Carey, whose wound was slight, enabling him to carry on his 
command. 

The remaining companies of the 75th. were held in reserve, 
though exposed to very heavy fire, while the 102nd. worked 
along the south and east of the wood, seeking to join hands 
with the 54th., but were prevented by the commanding position 
the enemy held at Fontaine-Notre-Dame. From here enemy 
machine-gunners trickled back into the southeast corner of 
the wood and inflicted heavy loss on our men clinging to its 
southern outskirts, and the third company of the 75th. was 
therefore sent up to form a defensive flank. During the course 
of the afternoon and the evening the 102nd. beat back success 
ive counter-attacks thrown in from the direction of Cantaing, 
2,000 yards to the southeast. 

About midnight information was received from head 
quarters of the llth. Brigade that some of the enemy had re 
established themselves in Bourlon Wood. As the 3rd. Cana 
dian Division was to jump off at dawn from a line east of the 
wood the third objective of Sept. 27 it became vitally 
important to protect their rear by clearing out these enemy 
elements. So the last remaining company of the 75th. Bat 
talion was sent in to drive them out and establish a defensive 
flank against Fontaine-Notre-Dame. Groping their way for 
ward in the pitch dark, bombing as they went, and more than 
once coming to close grips with cold steel, this company accom 
plished its difficult task well before dawn broke, and Bourlon 
Wood was at last finally in our hands. 

While this was going on the 87th. Battalion had cleared 
the southwest corner of the wood and held it throughout the 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 225 

day. At night the Battalion attacked again with the object of 
driving back the enemy into Fontaine-Notre-Dame, and this 
was the scene of a very gallant exploit on part of Lt. E. M. 
Preston, who, realizing that his platoon was under very heavy 
machine-gun fire from the railway embankment to the east 
and that unless this was silenced the entire advance must be 
held up, called for two volunteers. Though under continual 
heavy fire, directed by flares the enemy threw up, they crawled 
on their hands and knees until they got within bombing dis 
tance of the enemy post. Ordering his men to throw their 
bombs, Lt. Preston rushed the post, killing or capturing the 
garrison, and sending back word that the advance could go on. 

On the left of the llth. Brigade, the 12th. Brigade, after 
storming the stoutly held village of Bourlon, passed on up the 
high ground, their right penetrating Bourlon Wood from the 
north, while their left established contact with the 1st. Cana 
dian Division at Pilgrim s Rest. 

The 12th. Brigade did not achieve this success without very 
hard fighting all day, and especially during the afternoon, 
when as its elements were fighting their way up on the high 
ground through wire and concrete machine-gun posts, the 
enemy counter-attacked time after time, but was always beaten 
back. This Brigade suffered too from the exposed right flank, 
but the men clung stubbornly to the ground they held, exposed 
though it was to heavy fire from Raillencourt in front and from 
all along the Marcoing line as far south as the Bapaume-Cam- 
brai road. All its battalions were engaged during the day, 
these being the 38th., of Ottawa, 72nd., Seaforth Highlanders 
of Vancouver, 78th., of Winnipeg, and 85th., of Nova Scotia. 

The position then on the night of Sept. 27-28, so far as our 
right was concerned, was that it held a semi-circular position 
from southwest of Bourlon Wood, along its base to the east, 
west of Fontaine-Notre-Dame, and thence running north to a 
little east of Pilgrim s Rest. Around this whole area the 
enemy s fire was concentrated, every foot of ground held being 
raked from one or more directions. Losses of the troops en- 
16 



226 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

gaged, especially of the 1 1th. Brigade, were very heavy. None 
but troops of the first class could thus have not only stood their 
ground but consolidated the position under cover of night. To 
a certain extent the plan had miscarried, but this was because 
of events over which the Canadian Corps could exercise no 
control. It went amiss through lack of support on our right, 
but notwithstanding this the gain had been very substantial, 
and in Bourlon Wood we held the key to the defenses of Cam- 
brai. 

Before proceeding to an account of what was going on in 
the northern area of the Corps, a detailed account of the won 
derful work of the Canadian Engineers will contribute to a 
better view of the battle as a whole. 

The engineer preparations for the operation were under 
taken at five days notice, and were exceedingly difficult owing 
to the nature of the ground. The problem involved the repair 
of roads demolished by shell fire; the building of cross-coun 
try tracks for infantry and horse transport to the front line; the 
pushing forward of light tramways to the front line to facilitate 
the delivery of ammunition, stores and supplies; the provision 
of engineer material of all sorts and the construction of new 
headquarters for battalions, brigades, divisions, etc., and dug 
out accommodation and shelter for the troops as quickly as 
they could be improvised. A difficult question was the provi 
sion of water supply for the large number of horses, approxi 
mately 40,000, assembled in a very congested area. 

The great problem was to get the infantry and the guns 
over the canal in the face of the enemy barrage, and to provide 
sufficient facilities in the way of roads, bridges and tramways 
as would ensure the supply of ammunition for the artillery 
being sustained, and the supply of munitions, stores and rations 
for the large number of troops engaged. 

As it was clear that the enemy s barrage would fall natur 
ally on the canal and be maintained there, the following were 
provided for: Seven infantry footbridges of an unsinkable 
type; ten crossings for guns and horse transport, five of which 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 227 

had to be developed at once for heavy traffic even while the 
continuous stream of guns and ammunition wagons was pour 
ing over them. At least ten times Canadian Engineer officers, 
flying at a height of about 500 feet, and subjected to heavy fire, 
traversed the length of the canal involved, reconnoitering for 
the best spots for tank crossings, bridge sites and infantry 
crossings. 

Such was the preparation. Following were the results: 
Before "zero" hour 18 miles of roads had been repaired up to 
the front lines and seven miles of tramways constructed. On 
these tramways over 3,000 tons of ammunition per day were 
being delivered to advanced dumps and battery positions. The 
huge concentration of horses was provided with the necessary 
water supply. 

After "zero" all crossings were put through successfully in 
spite of heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, the first guns 
crossing the canal at 8.40 a.m. The engineers went over with 
the infantry to get their footbridges across and the engineer 
wagons with their six-horse teams were pushed forward so 
rapidly that in several cases all the horses were killed by 
machine-gun fire and the men got their material down to the 
bridge sites by man-handling the wagons. 

In one case a party of Boche machine-gunners, who had 
been overlooked by the mopping-up parties, emerged from a 
concealed tunnel and attacked the engineer party attempting 
to bridge the canal. The engineer officer in charge took part 
of his men and beat off the attack and at the same time kept the 
work of construction going without interruption. 

The bridges constructed were of all types ; pontoon, trestle, 
heavy pontoon and heavy steel bridges for all traffic. A re 
markable record was made in the erection of two heavy steel 
bridges of 1 10 feet span under heavy fire. The materials were 
got on the sites at two o clock in the afternoon, and the ap 
proaches prepared and the bridges erected in 12 hours actual 
work. 

By early afternoon three new pumping installations had 



228 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

been established on captured ground with sufficient horse 
troughs to water 5,000 horses an hour. All materials were got 
forward to the infantry and the positions gained consolidated. 
About three miles of tramways had been constructed and were 
in operation, and over 1,000 of our wounded were evacuated 
on returning ammunition trains operated by Canadian Corps 
Tramways. 

The battle of the Canal du Nord was an Engineers battle. 
The success of the whole operation depended upon the speed 
with which the crossings of the canal were provided, and the 
way in which they were repaired and improved during the 
day, so as to enable the guns and infantry to be maintained in 
the positions reached in their advance. The re-organization 
the previous spring of the Canadian Engineers was thus fully 
justified, and in the open warfare now about to open, the value 
of their work became ever increasingly apparent. 



CHAPTER VI 

OPERATIONS : SEPT. 27. CONTINUED 

NO better account of the operations on Sept. 27 of the 
1st. Canadian Division is available than its divisional 
narrative, already quoted so extensively. While the 
difficulties of an exposed flank did not present themselves to the 
same extent as were faced by the 4th. Division, this Division 
was given a task so intricate in execution that the carrying of 
it out to the letter must ever be a justifiable source of pride for 
members of the famous "Old Red Patch." 

"The Boundary," says this narrative, "between the 4th. and 
1st. Divisions for the First Phase ran due east of Inchy, just 
north of Quarry Wood, then, swinging slightly to the left, it 
ran from 1,000 to 1,500 yards of Bourlon. The 1st. Division 
left boundary was the Canal du Nord. 

"The 1st. Canadian Division, then, had to cross the Canal 
du Nord, seize the high ground to the north of Bourlon Wood 
and "mop up" the valley of the canal as far north as the village 
of Sauchee Lestree. Then, in the Second Phase of the battle, 
it was to capture Haynecourt and the high ground north and 
east of that village. 

"The 1st. Division, therefore, in the First Phase of the 
battle, had to attack from a front of 1,100 yards, gradually 
extend this front until it became 6,000 yards when the final 
objective was reached, and advance over 6,000 yards. 

"The Divisional Commander decided to make the initial 
attack with the 1st. Brigade on the right and the 3rd. Brigade 
on the left. When the general line, Bourlon-Marquion, was 
reached, the 2nd. Brigade would enter the fight between the 
1st. and 3rd. Brigades, and would carry the battle right 
through the Second Phase to the capture of Haynecourt and 
the high ground north and east of that place. This meant that 

229 



230 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

each brigade had before it a distinctly different task. On the 
right, the 1st. Brigade had before it a series of frontal assaults. 
First it must cross the canal, then capture the Canal du Nord 
trench, advance 2,000 yards and take the Marquion line; then 
advance 1,500 yards to the railway cutting and embankment 
that formed a natural trench line, and then across open country 
to the final objective a total advance of 6,000 yards ending 
with a frontage of 1,500 yards. 

"The 3rd. Brigade attack on the left resolved itself into a 
series of out-flanking and turning movements. After the first 
rush across the canal on a 300 yard front, the brigade would 
break the Canal du Nord trench line and then swing north and 
even west in the attack on Sains-lez-Marquion, thus presenting 
the unique spectacle of our troops attacking directly toward 
our own lines. As a matter of fact, the artillery barrage here 
first of all travelled forward in the usual way and then began 
to drop back towards the guns the result being that our own 
barrage was between our infantry and the guns. After the 
capture of Sains-lez-Marquion the Brigade continued its 
"rolling up" tactics by taking the Marquion line in enfilade 
and attacking both Keith Wood and the village of Marquion 
from the east in other words, taking the garrisons of these 
places in the flank and rear. After crossing the Arras-Cambrai 
road the brigade continued its flank attack on the Canal du 
Nord and Marquion lines as far as the final objective for the 
First Phase a total advance of 6,000 yards, and an extension 
of front from 300 to 2,500 yards. 

"The 2nd. Brigade had a still different task. Its units had 
a four-mile march from the assembly position before they 
entered the fight. Once in the battle, it had practically open 
country before it, and attacked frontally, being required to 
make an advance of roughly 3,500 yards on a front of 1,800 
yards. 

"The Division, as a whole, staged forward on Sept. 19, and 
on Sept. 24 and 25 completed the march to the assembly areas. 
On the night of Sept. 25 the 1st. and 3rd. Brigades relieved 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 CONTINUED 231 

units of the 2nd. Division in the line, taking over their respec 
tive battle fronts. Divisional Headquarters moved on Sept. 
26 to battle headquarters in dug-outs in a railway cutting, 
2,500 yards west of Inchy. 

"Sept. 27 was the day set for the attack. The 10 previous 
days had been spent by all units in a careful study of the coun 
try, in planning their work and in outfitting for the battle. 
The artillery were engaged in selecting battery positions and 
in getting ammunition forward, while the Engineers had to 
plan their share of the bridging of the canal. 

"On the night of Sept. 26 all units moved forward to their 
assembly positions. The night was exceedingly dark and a 
steady rain fell until nearly dawn, which not only added to the 
difficulties and discomforts, but made the going very slippery 
all the morning. 

"Owing to the extremely narrow front from which the 
Division had to jump off, attacking infantry and machine-gun 
ners, supporting artillery and bridging details of Engineers, 
all had to be crowded into a small area. A heavy enemy con 
centration on this front would have jeopardized the success of 
the attack, but the enemy appeared to suspect nothing, and the 
night was normal. 

"The 1st. Brigade was assembled in depth on a front of 
about 700 yards. The leading Battalion, the 4th. Central On 
tario, was in the northeastern end of Inchy-en-Artois. The 
1st. Battalion, Western Ontario, was in the lower end of the 
Buissy Switch, some eight hundred yards in rear of the 4th. 
The 2nd. Battalion, Ottawa, was behind the 1st. and the 3rd., 
recruited from Toronto district, behind the 2nd. The 3rd. 
Brigade had to attack through a 300 yard defile, and so assem 
ble on a one-battalion front. The 14th. Battalion, Royal Mont 
real Regiment, assembled in Paviland Wood, with the 13th., 
Montreal Highlanders, 1,000 yards in rear in the Buissy 
Switch. The 15th. Battalion, 48th. Highlanders of Toronto, 
was north of the 13th., and the 16th., Canadian Scottish of 
Western Canada, was holding the front line north of the assem- 



232 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

bly area of the 14th. The 2nd. Brigade, as it did not come 
into action until four hours after the opening of the attack, was 
assembled just east of Cagnicourt, some 3,000 yards in rear of 
the 3rd. Brigade. 

"At twenty minutes after five on the morning of Friday, 
Sept. 27, the attack opened under cover of an intense shrapnel 
and smoke barrage. Some idea of the concentration of artil 
lery may be gained from the fact that there was an 18-pounder 
gun to every 21 yards of barrage on the front of the 1st. Divi 
sion and that there were ten brigades of Field Artillery alone 
whose 240 guns fired 118,062 rounds on this first day of the 
battle. Supporting this Division, in addition to this, there 
were 160 machine-guns firing in the barrage, while special 
companies of Engineers were projecting smoke and boiling oil 
into the village of Marquion, and on the high ground further 
to the north. The sight, when the first gleams of daylight 
revealed the battle, was weird in the extreme. The horizon, 
as far as the eye could see, was nothing but masses and long 
lines of leaping, billowing smoke dense white smoke shot 
through at intervals with the flicker of bursting shrapnel, or 
the black smudge of high explosive. 

"The battle, as far as it concerned the 1st. Division, can be 
visualized best by following the fortunes of the individual 
brigades. 

"The 1st. Canadian Infantry Brigade launched its attack 
with the 4th. Battalion. The 4th. Battalion advanced 2,000 
yards and captured the Canal du Nord and Marquion trench 
systems on its front. The 1st. Battalion then passed through 
it, taking up the fighting and carrying the line forward a dis 
tance of 1,500 yards. Just as this Battalion completed its 
allotted task, its right flank came under heavy machine-gun fire 
from the railway 1,000 yards north of Bourlon village. At 
this time the 2nd. and 3rd. Battalions, which had been follow 
ing closely, passed through the 1st. Battalion. They were held 
up almost at once by the enemy in the railway cutting and 
embankment, but by hard fighting managed to clear this 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 CONTINUED 233 

obstacle without assistance other than that offered by batteries 
of the machine-gun battalion that came into action at this time. 
Alhough the 4th. Division on the right was held up more or 
less definitely on a line just east of Bourlon, the 2nd. and 3rd. 
Battalions pushed on to the objective set for the conclusion of 
the First Phase, and even succeeded in working patrols for 
ward to within 1,000 yards of the villages of Raillencourt and 
Haynecourt. 

"The 1st. Brigade was assisted in its attack by four tanks 
that did valuable service in the early stages of the attack, and 
had attached to it three batteries of No. 1 Company of the 1st. 
Battalion Canadian Machine-Gun Corps. 

"While the infantry, tanks and machine-guns were advanc 
ing along the whole front and while the canal was even under 
machine-gun fire, the Engineers were rushing the work of 
bridge building. With such speed was this done that at eight 
o clock that morning batteries of the Divisional Artillery 
began to cross in support of the infantry. By 10.30 o clock all 
batteries of both brigades were east of the Canal. 

"From zero hour on, the 1st. Brigade C.F.A. was attached 
to the 1st. Infantry Brigade, and advanced with it throughout 
the day. 

"In the meantime the attack of the 3rd. Brigade was meet 
ing with stiff opposition on the left. The 3rd. Brigade had 
only a narrow gap of 300 yards on its front in which the Canal 
du Nord could be crossed. The opening attack of this Brigade 
was made by the 14th. Battalion. This Battalion cleared the 
Canal on its front, and while one Company advanced with the 
1st. Brigade the remainder swung to the left and cleared the 
Canal du Nord line by attacking it in enfilade, and finally, 
following the local backward barrage already referred to, 
attacked the village of Sains-lez-Marquion from the east, cap 
turing it soon after nine o clock. 

"The 13th. Battalion here took up the battle, following the 
same general plan put into operation by the 14th. Battalion. 
The leading company carried on with the general attack to the 



234 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

east, while the following companies, turning to the north, 
attacked Keith Wood and the Marquion line. The resistance 
was severe, the righting very heavy and progress was slow. In 
fact, the 7th. Battalion, British Columbia, of the 2nd. Brigade, 
and the 15th. Battalion, as well as a battalion of the 1 1th. Divi 
sion, which were following in order to carry on the advance, 
became involved in the fighting here. 

"Although the Marquion line east of the village of that 
name was captured, the village itself was still in the hands of 
the enemy. As a result, the 15th. Battalion and Units of the 
1 1th. Division, as well as the Engineers engaged in bridge con 
struction, came under heavy machine-gun fire in crossing the 
Canal north of Sains-lez-Marquion. Eventually, however, all 
the area in the canal valley up to Marquion was cleared by the 
15th. Battalion. A combined attack by the 13th. and 15th. Bat 
talions then resulted in the capture of Marquion itself. The 
15th. then pushed on rapidly, and by two o clock in the after 
noon had reached the final objective of the First Phase. 

"Four tanks assisted the 14th. Battalion in the initial attack 
but were unable to proceed beyond the Canal du Nord line. 
Three batteries of the Machine-Gun Battalion were attached 
to the 3rd. Brigade for this operation. 

"While this fighting was going on units of the 2nd. Brigade 
were marching forward ready to intervene in the battle at the 
appointed hour. The 7th. Battalion, the first to enter the fight, 
had to leap-frog the 13th. Battalion, after that unit had cap 
tured the Marquion Line. The 7th. found the 13th. hotly en 
gaged, and assisted it in breaking the Marquion line. By this 
time the artillery barrage had left the infantry far behind. A 
local barrage was arranged and supplied by the 2nd. Brigade, 
C.F.A., and under cover of this the 7th. Battalion was able to 
move forward, the enemy s resistance rapidly weakening as our 
troops advanced. The chief resistance beyond the Arras-Cam- 
brai road was met with from machine-guns just north of Bois 
de Crocret. Patrols were pushed forward and reached a line 
over 2,000 yards north of the Arras-Cambrai Road. During 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 CONTINUED 235 

the afternoon a small counter-attack by the enemy on the cen 
tre was repulsed. The 8th. Battalion, Winnipeg, had followed 
the 7th. in support, but were not called on for help. 

"This ended the First Phase of the battle. By two o clock 
in the afternoon, we had Bourlon Wood, and our line then ran 
north and east from Bourlon village to within 500 yards of 
Raillencourt, then north practically to Haynecourt, and then 
swung back westward, meeting the Canal du Nord just north 
of Sauchy-Lestree. 

"The Second Phase called for an advance by four Divisions 
in line, the 3rd., 4th. and 1st. Canadian and the llth. British 
Division from right to left being ordered to continue the 
attack. The 3rd. Division on the right and the llth. on the 
left had followed the attacking divisions closely and were 
ready to carry on the fight. The intervention of a new division 
on each flank meant that the 4th. and 1st. Division would have 
to close on the centre. It was found late in the afternoon that 
the 4th. Division could not continue the advance that day. The 
1st. and llth. Divisions, however, attacked about four o clock 
in the afternoon according to programme. 

"The continuation of the attack on the 1st. Division front 
was carried out by the 2nd. Brigade. The 5th., Saskatchewan, 
and 10th., Alberta, Battalions had assembled ready to advance, 
and at 3.20 o clock the 5th. Battalion swept over the outpost 
line and advanced very rapidly, meeting little resistance. 
Haynecourt was soon captured. The 10th. Battalion here con 
tinued the advance, but soon began to meet opposition. Owing 
to the fact that the troops on the right were not advancing, the 
5th. and 10th. Battalions had a heavy enfilade fire poured into 
their flank. The enemy here were in great numbers appar 
ently, and soon had field-guns as well as machine-guns firing 
on our troops. In spite of this the 10th. Battalion pressed for 
ward until held up by a heavy and continuous belt of wire just 
west of the Douai-Cambrai road. Patrols, although under 
heavy machine-gun fire, cut gaps through this wire by hand, 
and then, in a sudden rush, overpowered the gun crews and 



236 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

crossed the Douai-Cambrai road. East of the road, however, 
five belts of wire were encountered, and, as the enemy fire was 
steadily increasing, the advance was halted. 

"The llth. British Division had advanced on the left and 
had captured Epinoy, but on the right the situation was far 
from secure. Here the Brigade found itself with an exposed 
right flank of 4,000 yards. The responsibility of guarding this 
flank developed upon the 5th. and 8th. Battalions, the 7th. be 
ing in reserve. On the front of the 5th. Battalion the enemy 
made three unsuccessful attacks at nightfall. 

u The 1st. and 2nd. Brigades of field artillery supported the 
2nd. Brigade throughout the afternoon s operations, and sup 
plied protective fire throughout the night. 

"This concluded the actual fighting on the first day of the 
battle. But during all this day the engineers had been busy 
bridging the Canal. This task was entrusted to the 3rd. Bat 
talion Canadian Engineers. Five traffic crossings had to be 
constructed and four footbridges. The first traffic crossing was 
completed at 8.40 o clock that morning. All bridges, with one 
exception, were completed by 6 o clock in the evening. The 
early stages of the work were carried out under machine-gun 
fire, many casualties being suffered." 

After the 1st. Canadian Division had secured the east line 
of the Canal du Nord as far north as Sauchy-Lestree, the 1 1th. 
British Division was given the task of going through them at 
this point and exploiting the success along their left or north 
ern flank. Comprising the veteran 32nd., 33rd. and 34th. 
Brigades, it did its job in a thorough businesslike way, captur 
ing first Sauchy-Lestree, then on its left the high ground of 
Oisy-le-Verger, and on the right pushing on into Epinoy. 
Their left flank some little distance east of the canal was pro 
tected by a barrage, and, after crossing over the canal, the 56th. 
Division of the XXII Corps on our right, pushed up between 
the Canal and the barrage, preceded by a rolling barrage and 
mopping up the defenses. 

The fighting in this important corner, which united at once 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 CONTINUED 237 

the north and the south of the Sensee and the east and the west 
of the Canal du Nord, was very severe. The Bois de Quesnoy 
was full of machine-gun nests and concrete pill-boxes. The 
enemy had a good field of fire, and the marshes, organized for 
defense, assisted him. But the 56th. Division was not to be 
denied and reached its objectives. 

On our right the Third Army had crossed the canal and 
captured part of the Hindenburg line. For the reasons set 
forth above, opportunity had been denied the 3rd. Canadian 
Division to go through the 4th. Canadian Division and storm 
the Marcoing line, but the Division was brought close up in 
support on the east side of the canal, and suffered many casual 
ties. It was now to move up during the night to be prepared 
to jump off at dawn. 

Failure to carry the Marcoing line on the opening day gave 
the enemy time to bring up reserves from Douai and elsewhere. 
Aware now of our strategic plan to cut in north of Cambrai, he 
massed his divisions in front of us, and for the next four days 
contested the field with great determination and even at times 
wrested from us ground we had won but had been unable to 
consolidate. Had the battle gone as planned without impedi 
ment he would have been obliged to fall back at once over the 
Scheldt Canal northeast of Cambrai, abandoning the city, and 
thus avoiding for the Canadian Corps the terrific struggle that 
was now to ensue. 

Many noteworthy feats of arms by all ranks were per 
formed this day, both in the actual crossing of the Canal du 
Nord and the advance on Bourlon Wood. Of these the follow 
ing examples are selected from numerous cases as being char 
acteristic of the conditions encountered and the spirit by 
which they were overcome. 

Brig.-General G. S. Tuxford, in command of the 3rd. Can 
adian Infantry Brigade, found that his task was to cross the 
Canal du Nord on a front of but 450 yards and then fan out on 
a Brigade frontage facing due north as well as east, totalling 
5,500 yards. While very gallant officers commanded the three 



238 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Battalions engaged in the attack, these were all seconds-in-com- 
mand and had not previously commanded their respective Bat 
talions in an attack. This greatly increased the responsibilities 
of the Brigadier, who kept in the closest touch throughout, 
crossing the canal shortly after the attack was launched, under 
heavy shell and machine-gun fire, while the enemy still held 
part of the eastern bank. With an utter disregard to personal 
danger he remained in the vicinity of the three Battalions, 
directing their operations and dealing with difficult situations 
as they arose. Much of the success of the work of this Brigade 
resulted from its commander s conspicuous gallantry, splendid 
initiative and fine leadership. 

In the attack on Bourlon Wood by the SOth. Battalion, of 
Calgary, Pte. R. Bloor, finding that heavy rifle fire was coming 
from Quarry Wood, alone and of his own initiative attacked 
the position, driving the enemy into his dug-outs and holding 
him there until help came, when 146 officers and men, includ 
ing an entire Battalion Headquarters staff, surrendered. He 
died later of his wounds. 

Capt. George Fraser Kerr, of the 3rd. Battalion, recruited 
from Toronto district, while leading the left support company 
in the attack on Bourlon Wood gave timely support by out 
flanking a machine-gun nest holding up the advance on the 
railway embankment, when he rushed up two platoons, out 
flanking the enemy and capturing the garrison. When almost 
on the Arras-Cambrai road the advance was again held up by 
a machine-gun post, which he rushed single-handed, captur 
ing four machine-guns and 31 prisoners, his men then being 
100 yards behind him. This brilliant exploit prevented the 
enemy withdrawing a number of guns which fell into our 
hands. 

During the attack of the 8th. Battalion, when a line of hos 
tile machine-guns opened fire suddenly on his platoon, which 
was in an exposed position and no cover available, Cpl. Alex 
ander Brereton, of Winnipeg, at once appreciated the critical 
situation and realized that unless something was done at once 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 27 CONTINUED 239 

the platoon would be annihilated. On his own initiative, with 
out a moment s delay, and alone, he sprang forward and 
reached one of the hostile machine-gun posts, where he shot 
the man operating the machine-gun and bayonetted the next 
one who attempted to operate it, whereupon nine others sur 
rendered to him. Inspired by this heroic example, his platoon 
charged and captured the five remaining posts. 



CHAPTER VII 

OPERATIONS : SEPT. 28-29 

^TM3E attack was continued on Sept. 28," says Sir 
Arthur Currie. "The 3rd. Canadian Division cap 
tured Fontaine-Notre-Dame (one of the XVII Corps 
objectives), and, penetrating the Marcoing line, reached the 
western outskirts of St. Olle. The 4th. Canadian Division cap 
tured Raillencourt and Sailly, and the llth. (British) Divi 
sion established posts in Aubencheul-au-Bac and occupied the 
Bois de Quesnoy. The 1st. Canadian Division, in view of their 
advance of the previous day which had produced a consider 
able salient, did not push forward." 

In other words, the day was spent by the Corps in straight 
ening out its front by bringing up the right to a level with the 
left. Developments of the previous day compelled a change 
in the area allotted to the Canadian Corps. Instead of push 
ing on in a northeasterly direction towards Neuville-St. Remy, 
the 3rd. Canadian Division, with the 7th. and 9th. Brigades in 
line, after passing through the 4th. Division at dawn, turned 
south out of the original Corps area and stormed Fontaine- 
Notre-Dame, whose possession was essential if the advance 
were to be continued. Assisted by a hastily arranged but effi 
cient barrage, the village was quickly reduced, and thus a 
movement began which resulted in the Corps right being 
extended still further south until it took in the west bank of the 
Scheldt Canal. 

As the battle developed our troops stormed and consolid 
ated the tongue of land lying between the Bapaume-Cambrai 
road and this canal, and thus, instead of leaving Cambrai on 
our right, as originally intended, we advanced against its west 
ern outskirts, faced by the canal. It is necessary to keep this in 
mind that this change of Corps front bringing us under the 

240 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 28-29 241 

walls of Cambrai was due to the inability of the XVII Corps 
to make good our right flank from Anneux through Fontaine- 
Notre-Dame to the canal because when we finally captured 
the city some little feeling seems to have developed among our 
neighbors on the ground that it was supposed by them that 
the Canadian Corps was outside of its proper area and had no 
business to seize that honor. As a matter of fact, as the pro 
gress of the battle will show, Cambrai was taken not by any 
local success along the canal front, but because in the great 
battle now developing north of it on the plateau east of the 
Marcoing line, the Canadian Corps in the course of several 
days fighting defeated in detail every available force the enemy 
could bring up to its defense. 

Fontaine-Notre-Dame once reduced, the 3rd. Canadian 
Division pushed on to the assault on the Marcoing line, the 
attack being entrusted to the 9th. Brigade, Brig.-General D. 
M. Ormond. The line of attack was down a slope as smooth 
and open as an artificial glacis, swept by enemy machine-gun 
fire and by his artillery in well-placed battery positions behind. 
The line itself was immensely strong, sown thickly with 
machine-gun posts and covered by wide belts of wire. No 
harder fighting had been seen since the storming of the Dro- 
court-Queant line, and it resolved itself into a battle of 
detached and often isolated infantry groups. 

The attacking battalions lost very heavily; thus, the 52nd. 
Battalion, of Fort William and Port Arthur, losing during the 
day from 300 to 400 of its effective strength. This battalion 
had seen very hard fighting ever since the kick-off of Aug. 8, 
and its total casualties to the evening of this day were 50 
officers and 900 other ranks. Weakened though it was and 
exposed to more than one determined counter-attack, this bat 
talion held the ground gained until evening, when it was re 
lieved by the 58th. Battalion, Western Ontario, which went 
through and after a bitter struggle captured that portion of the 
Marcoing line fronting it. 

The remaining battalions of the 9th. Brigade, the 43rd., 

17 



242 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg, and the 116th., Central 
Ontario, encountered similar conditions and fought with the 
utmost tenacity. Once the Marcoing line was stormed, our 
troops battled their way forward into the valley lying between 
it and the Arras-Cambrai road, though commanded by enemy 
batteries on the heights beyond. 

Meantime the 7th. Brigade, to the command of which 
Brig.-General J. A. Clark had succeeded, on appointment of 
Brig.-General H. M. Dyer to a command in England, was 
encountering equally desperate resistance and suffering 
severely, particularly in officers. That very gallant soldier, 
Lt.-Col. C. J. T. Stewart, was killed while leading into action 
Princess Patricia s Light Infantry. But this Brigade, whose 
other units were the Royal Canadian Regiment, the 42nd. Bat 
talion, Royal Highlanders of Canada from Montreal, and the 
49th. Battalion of Edmonton, once again proved its mettle and 
fought its way forward to its objective. 

On the left of the 3rd. Division, the 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion advanced their line generally and succeeded in practically 
wiping out the salient in which our 1st. Division found itself, 
but only after sanguinary fighting. The 10th. Brigade, Brig.- 
General R. F. Hayter, attacked, leap-frogging over the 12th. 
Brigade, and advanced to the Arras-Cambrai road, storming 
the villages of Raillencourt and Sailly, between which ran the 
Marcoing line. These two villages lie just under the brow of 
the plateau and were veritable fortresses, to be won only after 
hand-to-hand fighting, our men bombing their way along 
trenches and reducing enemy strong points in succession. 

In this heavy fighting Lt.-Col. R. D. Davies of the 44th. 
Battalion, New Brunswick, who on the previous day had per 
sonally led his battalion in its successful attack in front of 
Inchy, again led the battalion, and notwithstanding heavy 
casualties, took every objective. Towards evening the enemy 
launched very heavy counter-attacks against the Brigade front, 
and especially against the 44th. Losses were so heavy that the 
line temporarily fell back. After having made a personal 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 28-29 243 

reconnaissance, Col. Davies organized all elements of the Bat 
talion, and, in co-operation with other units of the Brigade, 
counter-attacked, driving the enemy out, re-establishing our 
position and recovering our wounded lying on that front. His 
personal example, disregard of danger and initiative inspired 
all ranks to the greatest efforts under very difficult conditions. 

The 50th. Battalion, of Calgary, of the same Brigade, when 
attacking the Marcoing line in front of Raillencourt on the 
same day, found itself up against heavy uncut wire and 
machine-guns. Pte. W. H. Smith, finding that a machine-gun 
crew and its supports was inflicting heavy casualties on the 
Battalion, went forward voluntarily alone, sniping as he went, 
until he was close enough to rush the post, capturing the gun 
and 20 prisoners. 

In work of this nature the support of our Machine-Gun 
units was of vital importance, and magnificently did they 
respond. Thus, Capt. Kenneth Weaver, 4th. Battalion, Cana 
dian M. G. Corps, of Prince Albert, Sask., displayed conspic 
uous gallantry on this day in front of Raillencourt. He com 
manded three batteries of machine-guns, two suffering severely 
early in the attack. He personally reorganized the batteries 
under heavy fire, established strong defensive positions with 
part of his guns, and after making a daring reconnaissance, 
established the remainder of his guns in advanced positions, 
bringing direct fire to bear on the enemy, and thereby establish 
ing the advanced line of our troops at a most critical time. 

Events on the front of the 1st. Canadian Division this day 
may be summarized in the words of its own narrative, as fol 
lows: "On Sept. 28 the 3rd. and 4th. Canadian Divisions 
opened their attack on the right at six o clock in the morning. 
The attack on the 1st. Division front was set for 9 o clock and 
was to be carried out by the 10th. Battalion, of Alberta. 
When 9 o clock came, although troops on neither the right nor 
the left had caught up, and in face of very heavy artillery and 
machine-gun concentration on their front, the 10th. Battalion 
went bravely forward and calmly commenced to cut lanes 



244 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

through the heavy enemy wire by hand. For two hours this 
unequal fight went on in spite of swiftly dwindling numbers. 

;< The fight was marked by many instances of individual 
dash and gallantry, but none finer than the example set by 
Capt. Jack Mitchell, M.C., of Winnipeg, who though 
wounded twice by machine-gun fire, continued to pass up and 
down in front of the wire, seeking a point of entry, and cheer 
ing and helping his men. He was hit for the third time, this 
time mortally, and carried out dying. 

"When it was found late in the morning that the 4th. Divi 
sion was held up some distance west of the Douai-Cambrai 
road, the attack of the 10th. Battalion was given up. That 
night the 8th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, relieved the 10th." 

This was the scene of a brilliant exploit on part of Pte. 
John Patrick Collins of Edmonton. When the 10th. Battalion 
was held up by wire southeast of Epinoy he went ahead alone 
and of his own initiative and although under heavy shell and 
machine-gun fire and with no cover, proceeded laboriously to 
cut a lane through 30 yards of wire. He was wounded ser 
iously in the leg just as his task was completed, but our men 
charged through the gap and captured their objective. 

Very gallant work this day was that of an artillery officer, 
Capt. James Creswell Auld, 1st. Brigade, C.F.A. Following 
up the barrage he established his "O-Pip" (Observation Post) 
on the right flank of the infantry near Sailly. Seeing that the 
infantry were held up by machine-gun fire from the village, he 
went forward, laying a telephone wire, until he could direct 
the fire of his battery on the houses and barns where the enemy 
was fortified. The battalion on the right was holding a line 
with its flank exposed for some thousand yards to enfilade 
enemy machine-gun fire, and had lost heavily both in officers 
and men. Rushing forward he called upon the infantry to 
follow, and carried the machine-gun post whence came the 
fire. He was hit in the leg but refused to be evacuated until he 
was unable to walk. 

Further north the llth. British Division consolidated its 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 28-29 245 

position along the south bank of the Sensee from the Bois de 
Quesnoy, where it had established posts over night, to Auben- 
cheul-au-Bac, where the enemy had an important rail crossing 
over the river, defended by a strong trench system. 

Throughout the day the enemy put up a very stubborn 
resistance, throwing in fresh Divisions and endeavoring at all 
hazards to prevent our forces debouching on to the high 
ground between Cambrai and the Sensee marshes. Measured 
by depth of penetration, the day s advance had been relatively 
small, but the capture of the Marcoing line had been a great 
feat in itself, and it left us with a practical jumping-off line, 
from the outskirts of St. Olle on the south, through Sailly, 
Haynecourt and Epinoy to the Sensee at Aubencheul-au-Bac. 

East of this line and on considerably higher ground, ran 
the Douai-Cambrai road, passing in a southeasterly direction 
from Aubencheul-au-Bac a little east of Epinoy to 1,200 yards 
east of Haynecourt, thence 2,000 yards east of Sailly to where 
it crossed the canal into Cambrai at Neuville-St. Remy, 2,000 
yards east of St. Olle. The Douai-Cambrai railway, after leav 
ing the Sensee, takes a wide loop east of Epinoy, to a point not 
far from the western outskirts of Abancourt, and thence, pass 
ing through Sancourt, runs east of and practically parallel to 
the road through Tilloy into the sharp northern angle of Cam 
brai. This railway, with its high embankments and deep cut 
tings, was to prove a strategic feature of the first importance 
both to the attacker and defender, in both of which roles Cana 
dian troops were to figure at one time or another during the 
next few days. 

"Heavy fighting characterized Sept. 29," says the Corps 
Commander. "The 3rd. Canadian Division, the 4th. Cana 
dian Division, and the 1st. Canadian Division all made pro 
gress in the face of severe opposition. The 3rd. Canadian 
Division pushed the line forward to the junction of the Arras 
and Bapaume Road, the western outskirts of Neuville-St. 
Remy and the Douai-Cambrai Road. They also cleared the 
Marquion line from the Bapaume-Cambrai road southwards 



246 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

towards the Scheldt Canal. These trenches were in the XVII 
Corps area, but it was difficult for our attack to progress leav 
ing on its flank and rear this strongly held position. The 4th. 
Canadian Division captured Sancourt, crossed the Douai- 
Cambrai Railway and entered Blecourt, but later withdrew 
to the line of the railway in the face of a heavy counter-attack. 
The necessity for this withdrawal was accentuated by the situ 
ation on the left. The 1 1th. Division, in spite of two attempts, 
had been unable to occupy the high ground northeast of 
Epinoy. This had interfered materially with the progress of 
the 1st. Canadian Division, and had prevented their holding 
positions gained early in the day in the neighborhood of Aban- 
court Station, the relinquishment of which, in turn, endan 
gered the flank of the 4th. Canadian Division." 

The 3rd. Division attacked with all three brigades in line, 
the 9th. on the right, righting its way down to the Scheldt 
Canal, the 8th. in the centre, and the 7th. on the left. Very 
brilliant work was done by the 1st. C. M. R., of Saskatchewan, 
in storming St. Olle in face of intensive machine-gun fire both 
from that village and Neuville-St. Remy beyond, where one of 
our staff officers described the rattle of machine-guns as 
drowning out the roar of the artillery. In this attack the bat 
talion lost 350 men but by two o clock in the afternoon had 
cleared the village and pushed its line forward to the banks of 
the canal at Cambrai. 

Co-operating in the capture of St. Olle was the 116th. Bat 
talion, Central Ontario, the assault gaining materially from 
the very brilliant action of Lieut. Bonner who with one man 
worked behind an enemy trench and bombed their way up it 
from the rear. Two whizz-bang batteries, a dozen machine- 
guns and a large number of prisoners were gathered in here. 

From a church tower in St. Olle a clear view was offered of 
the city lying in the valley across the canal, where clouds of 
smoke indicated that the enemy was burning his dumps. In 
the dip of ground to the west of St. Olle lay a number of our 
field batteries in the open field, suffering heavy casualties from 



OPERATIONS : SEPT. 28-29 247 

enemy counter-battery fire. Overhead our battle planes pur 
sued and drove back enemy scouting machines, bringing down 
two within our lines, while a third was sent crashing by our 
machine-gun fire. Behind the ridge, along a sunken road, 
passed all manner of lorries, including our motor ambulances, 
paying no heed to bursting shells. Well up to our battle line, 
and marking by its curved formation the depth of the salient 
we had pushed home, were our observation balloons the fam 
iliar "sausages"; once in a while the intrepid observers not 
inaptly named "balloonitics" -were forced to descend sud 
denly by parachute, when their floating homes had been rent 
by high explosive or set afire by the flaming arrows of a daring 
enemy aviator. Back of all lay Bourlon Wood. 

On the left of the 3rd. Division the 4th. Canadian Division 
pushed in a very vigorous attack. Supported by a fine barrage 
the 12th. Brigade attacked at 5.20 a.m. through the 10th Bri 
gade, with the 38th. Battalion, of Ottawa, on the right, and the 
72nd., the Seaforth Highlanders of Vancouver, on the left. 
The 38th. Battalion was held up because troops on its right 
were not up and it was exposed throughout the day to a flank 
as well as frontal fire. Though suffering many casualties, this 
battalion consolidated its line and beat off enemy counter-at 
tacks. It suffered a severe loss when Lt.-Col. S. D. Gardiner, 
whose brilliant leadership had been a great stimulus to all 
ranks, sustained a broken hip and other wounds from which he 
subsequently died. 

The 72nd. Battalion pushed forward very gallantly, cap 
turing Sancourt, and compelling the surrender of its garrison, 
numbering more men than the entire battalion strength. Ad 
vance was then made in the direction of Blecourt, where the 
enemy was established in strong underground works with a 
formidable system of machine-gun posts. Lieut. J. Mac- 
Knight of B. Company, with five men, penetrated into the 
village, and to this little advance party a hundred of the enemy 
surrendered, being marched out in column of four. The com 
pany coming up the rest of the garrison laid down their arms. 



248 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

350 in all. An overwhelming counter-attack then developed 
from down the Bantigny Ravine and our men fell back on San- 
court, but taking with them 240 prisoners. "It is the first time 
we ve had to chuck anything we ve once got hold of, and we 
don t like it," said one of these Vancouver Highlanders. As 
they fell back, four of our men too seriously wounded to be 
brought back, could be heard putting up their last fight. 

Lt.-Col. Kirkpatrick of the 72nd. Battalion set a fine exam 
ple, rallying his men in the front line when the position was 
critical in face of determined enemy counter-attacks. 

The 85th. Battalion was pushed up in support, and passing 
through Sancourt beat off two or three enemy counter-attacks. 
During this period Lt.-Col. J. L. Ralston was wounded in the 
cheek, temporarily losing the sight of one eye, but refused to 
be evacuated, staying with his battalion until it came out of 
the line some days later. The attack on the left had not devel 
oped as well as had been expected, and both the 72nd. and 85th. 
Battalions held a very exposed position. Our position in San- 
court was however consolidated and provided an advanced 
jumping-off point for the next day s battle. 

At a critical period in the day s fighting Brig.-General J. 
H. McBrien made a personal reconnaissance on horseback, 
during the course of which he was slightly wounded in the leg, 
but carried on until he had obtained the information required 
to continue the attack. 

Every battalion in the 12th. Brigade was engaged during 
this day of exceedingly stiff fighting, the 78th. Battalion, of 
Winnipeg, coming up in support and equally distinguishing 
itself in beating off the overwhelming forces launched by the 
enemy in his effort to prevent our securing footing on the 
plateau. This battalion pushed out far on the plateau and for 
a time was almost cut off. Most of its officers were casualties 
and Brig.-General McBrien sent up two of his Intelligence 
officers in support. Staff Capt. Barrie, formerly of the 72nd. 
Battalion, and recalled after only three days leave to take part 
in this battle, found himself isolated with 17 men south of 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 28-29 249 

Cuvillers, but notwithstanding his wounds, from which he 
afterwards died, he held the position against all assaults until 
support came up. Staff Capt. Merston of Vancouver also did 
very fine work. 

Here once again the stubborn qualities of the Canadian 
soldier were brought into full play, for it was only by the fine 
tenacity of all ranks that the ground consolidated was held. 

On the left, on the fronts of the 1st. Canadian and llth. 
British Divisions, the attack was generally held up. The 2nd. 
Brigade, to the command of which Brig.-General R. P. Clark 
had succeeded on promotion of Maj. -General Loomis to com 
mand the 3rd. Canadian Division, attacked with the 8th. Bat 
talion, of Winnipeg, in the line, and good progress was at first 
made in the direction of Abancourt, but as the troops on our 
left failed to capture the high ground northeast of Epinoy, 
this temporary success had to be abandoned. 

The struggle for the plateau was now about to open. The 
positions attained by the intensive fighting of the three first 
days, Sept. 27-29, had brought us to the fringe of this plateau 
whose possession must be followed by the fall of Cambrai and 
the turning of the entire enemy line south in the direction of 
St. Quentin. The position on our right had been made more 
secure by the advance of the XVII Corps, which had captured 
the village of Proville, across the Scheldt Canal, southwest of 
Cambrai, and the anxiety regarding our vulnerable right flank 
was at length removed. Before entering on a detailed account 
of the fighting of the next two days Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 a 
description of the battlefield is necessary. 

As already explained, the ground in front of our line was 
bisected first by the Douai-Cambrai road, and then, further 
east, by the Douai-Cambrai railway. East of this railway lies 
a rough quadrilateral or triangle, bounded on the west by the 
railway and on the north by the Canal de la Sensee, while its 
base is formed by the Scheldt Canal running generally north 
east from Cambrai to the point beyond Estrun where it con 
nects with the Sensee. The Canadian Corps front along the 



250 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

line of the railway from the Scheldt to the Sensee extended 
over about 10,000 yards, and its attacking direction was north 
east, its objectives being on the right to seize the bridges of the 
Scheldt and in its centre to seize the high land contained 
within this triangle. The depth of the attack from Sancourt 
northeast to Estrun is about 9,000 yards. 

Superficially the ground favored the direction of the attack, 
for the ridges all trend away to the northeast. Beginning at 
the Scheldt the ground sloped gradually up towards the north 
west over a bare slope to a ridge on the 75-metre level running 
some 3,000 yards northeast from Tilloy. Roughly parallel to 
this ridge 1,000 to 2,000 yards northwest, but with a little dip 
intervening, is a high bare plateau running fmgerlike from the 
railway between Tilloy and Sancourt northeast past Cuvillers 
to midway between that village and Paillencourt. Two thou 
sand yards east and a little south of Tilloy is the hamlet of 
Morenchies, with the wood of the same name, low-lying on the 
Scheldt. Following the Scheldt another thousand yards east 
is the Pont d Aire, a very important tactical feature, being a 
series of bridges over the Scheldt and its spillways, connecting 
the northern bank with the industrial suburb of Escaudoeuvres. 
Northeast another thousand yards is the town of Ramillies. 
Still following down the bank of the Scheldt, 2,000 yards 
northeast of Ramillies is the village of Eswars, whence a 
ravine cuts due west into the plateau towards Cuvillers. 

In the fighting to follow the area thus described, namely the 
Scheldt on the right and the plateau on the left, fell within the 
3rd. and 4th. Canadian Divisional areas respectively, the im 
mediate objectives of the former being Tilloy, Morenchies and 
Ramillies, and of the latter Eswars on the right and Cuvillers 
on the left. 

The dividing line between the 4th. Canadian Division and 
the 1st. Canadian Division on its left was provided by the 
strongly marked feature known as the Bantigny Ravine, run 
ning northeast from Sancourt through Blecourt, 1,500 yards 
distant, thence through Bantigny, 1,800 yards from Blecourt, 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 28-29 251 

and so to the Sensee. Along the bottom of this defile runs a 
wooded highway, affording excellent cover for enemy 
machine-gunners, who were able to sweep the bare ridges and 
plateaux on either side. 

Rising gently up from Bantigny Ravine to the northwest, 
a series of small detached spurs fill in the ground to where it 
slopes down again on the north to the Sensee Canal, and in the 
heart of these the strongly fortified village of Abancourt, 1,500 
yards northwest of Bantigny, offered a formidable pivot of 
defense. Between Abancourt and Epinoy, 3,000 yards west, 
lies very high ground, commanding Abancourt and the Ban 
tigny Ravine. 

The position offered a tactical peculiarity in that its 
strength lay rather with the ravines than on the ridges, whose 
exposed surface was everywhere dominated by artillery and 
machine-gun fire. It thus came about that our troops found 
that their task had but begun when they stormed the ridges, 
and that it was an infinitely harder task to cling on to the 
ground they had won in face of a withering fire that at times 
caught them in rear as well as in flank. 

The skill with which the enemy continually filtered fresh 
troops, for the most part machine-gunners, along the ravine 
bottoms into the very heart of our defense, and in face of ter 
rible punishment, was in its way a tactical masterpiece. But 
the truth was he was prepared for the greatest sacrifices in 
order to hold the plateau. He had actually brought divisions 
out of the active battle line in front of the Third Army to the 
south of us and in front of our neighboring Corps on the north 
to throw in against the Canadian Corps. 

It was a last ditch business. The spirit that animated him 
is shown by the following Corps Order captured by us a few 
days later : "Soldiers of the Corps : Up to the present time we 
have given up to the enemy a certain amount of foreign land 
of little value for military reasons, while causing him heavy 
casualties. The British are seeking a decision and we, of this 
Corps, have a most important section from the point of view of 



252 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

a decision. Remember that here you are now defending your 
home, your family and your dear Fatherland. Remember 
how your homes will look if war is carried there and with it 
invasion of the enemy s hordes. If you will stand fast, victory 
will be ours as before, for you are superior to the enemy, who 
now only shows a desire to attack with tanks, and these tanks 
we shall destroy. Therefore: Carry-on! Use your rifle cold 
bloodedly and cold steel with courage. I expect that every 
man will do his duty in the decisive battle coming, from the 
general to the youngest private." 

It is curious to note how yet once again the German soldier 
is told that it is only the tanks he has to fear. As has been seen, 
in this great battle of Cambrai the Canadian infantry de 
pended almost entirely upon their own efforts and their admir 
able artillery. Nevertheless it is beyond question that the tank 
became something of an obsession with the German soldier. 
His morale in this direction was supported by every kind of 
mechanical device, of which the anti-tank rifle was perhaps 
the most efficient. At the crossings of the Canal du Nord south 
of Marquion Canadian Engineers located 245 anti-tank mines, 
which were destroyed by gun-cotton. Various devices were 
used, a favorite being a loose plank left lying in the road which 
required however the weight of a tank before setting off the 
detonator. One of the few tanks at our disposal fell victim to 
a mine of this character. 



CHAPTER VIII 

OPERATIONS : SEPT. 30-OCT. 2 

^TAHE operation of Sept 30 was planned in two 
phases," says Sir Arthur Currie. "In the first, the 
3rd. and 4th. Canadian Divisions were to push for 
ward across the high ground between the Scheldt Canal and 
the Blecourt-Bantigny Ravine, when Brutinel s Brigade was 
to pass through them and secure bridgeheads at Ramillies and 
Eswars. The second phase, to take place on the success of the 
first, provided for the seizing of the high ground overlooking 
the Sensee river by the 1st. Canadian Division and the llth. 
(British) Division. The attack commenced well, and the vil 
lages of Tilloy and Blecourt were captured by the 3rd. and 
4th. Canadian Divisions respectively. A heavy counter-attack, 
however, against the 4th. Canadian Division and the left flank 
of the 3rd. Canadian Division, assisted by exceptionally severe 
enfilade fire from the high ground to the north of the Blecourt- 
Bantigny Ravine, forced the line on the left bank to the eastern 
outskirts of Sancourt. The second phase of the attack was not 
carried out, and the net gains for the day were the capture 
of Tilloy and some progress made on the right of the 3rd. 
Canadian Division from Neuville-St. Remy south. Prisoners 
taken during the day testified to the extreme importance, in the 
eyes of the enemy, of the positions held by him and the neces 
sity that they be held at all costs." 

"Zero" hour was set for 6 a.m., before dawn. It was de 
signed to lay down a rolling barrage on the narrow front 
selected for the initial attack, and to protect the flanks by smoke 
barrages, to blot out enemy observation in the ravines and on 
the high ground to the north. For this purpose there was a 
considerable concentration of our artillery. All our field bat 
teries had suffered severely in the fighting of the previous days, 

253 



254 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

as the guns had to be pushed up in the open, taking advantage 
indeed of what natural cover offered, but without prepared 
emplacements. Casualties were proportionately severe. Thus 
on one day the 12th. Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, lost 
one officer, Capt. Ross, and four other ranks killed, and 18 
wounded, and the llth. Battery, in an exposed position on the 
Cambrai road, suffered a direct hit and had 27 casualties in 
one day. 

The gallant work of our gunners under these trying con 
ditions is well illustrated by the following extracts from the 
diary of the 13th. Battery, C.F.A. 

"Sept. 27 Bourlon Wood show. Took position just after 
dawn between Inchy and Canal du Nord ; i.e., across No Man s 
Land, and from there took part in second phase of attack. This 
was only possible by the smoke barrage which screened enemy 
observation from Bourlon Wood, which had not at that time 
been taken. Moved position same evening to just north of 
Quarry Wood. Gunner McCallum wounded at guns, later 
killed on way to dressing station. Corpl. R. Cameron, Corpl. 
J. Mitchen, Bombadier King and Gunner A. Patterson 
wounded at guns. 

"Sept. 28 Moved guns to north side of Arras-Cambrai 
road by a farmhouse one and a quarter miles west of Raillen- 
court. Gnr. Painter wounded at guns, later died of wounds. 
Same night bomb lit in wagon lines one and a half miles west 
of guns, killing 28 horses and wounded Drivers Dawson, Mel 
ville, Blackmore, Monroe, Baird, Clarke, Nelson, Hogg and 
Cpl. Riddel ; Dawson died of wounds. Signallers Murray and 
Klock wounded on Officer s Patrol ; Klock died of wounds. 

"Sept. 29 Another show. Severe fighting, little progress. 
Shell in wagon lines killed Driver Gagne and wounded Dvr. 
W. Lawson, also killing eight horses. Moved up one section 
in afternoon under Lieut. Stubbs and Simonds. At 1 1 p.m. 
received orders to move up remainder of Battery to forward 
section position on sunken road just south of Haynecourt for 
show before dawn next day. 



OPERATIONS : SEPT. 30-OCT. 2 255 

"Sept. 30 Show "zero" hour 4.30 a.m. Enemy had 
planned his decisive counter-attack with eight divisions on our 
two division front to commence this morning at 5 a.m. Coun 
ter-battery fire very intense; two guns out of action by shell 
fire. Gnr. R. Leitch killed at guns; Sergts. H. Murray and 
Foster and Gnr. W. Hershall wounded at guns. Terrific fight 
ing by Infantry; attacks, counter-attacks, etc.; terrific casual 
ties, especially in Infantry. Moved guns back in afternoon to 
former position. Gnr. Spearn wounded during night by stray 
shell at guns. 

"Oct. 1 Another show. Progress slight on account of 
reduced strength of units. Advanced battery 1,000 yards to 
next little dip in front." 

This battery was recruited in 1914 from Hamilton and 
Brantford, Ont, and it is interesting to note that 34 "originals" 
were still on strength at the armistice, while the democratic 
character of the Canadian army is shown by the fact that 22 of 
its N.C.O s obtained commissions. 

The attack went well at first, but with dawn came a heavy 
gale from the west which resulted in the failure of our smoke 
barrage, and our men who had pushed out along the ridges 
became exposed to a tremendous concentration of enemy fire, 
presently supported by massed counter-attacks. 

"They have a machine-gun to every ten yards of front," 
said a Brigade staff officer. "There has been nothing like it in 
this war. From the ravines they pick off our men on the 
ridges like crows. Over ninety per cent, of our casualties are 
from machine-gun bullets." 

The task assigned the 3rd. Canadian Division was to cap 
ture Tilloy and Morenchies, and then push on to Ramillies. 
In close conjunction the 4th. Canadian Division was also to 
push out due east with Eswars as the final objective. The 
attack on our right prospered from the start, troops of the 7th. 
Brigade, including the P.P.L.Ps on the right and Royal Cana 
dian Regiment on the left, capturing in succession Tilloy and 
Morenchies, with elements even pushing on to the outskirts of 



256 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Ramillies. Our position along the Scheldt Canal was thus 
consolidated and a wedge driven in between the garrison of 
Cambrai and the German forces massed about the northern 
plateau. 

Unfortunately the same good fortune did not attend our left. 
The attack was undertaken by the 1 1th. Brigade, to which the 
85th. Battalion had been detached from the 12th. Brigade in 
support. The 102nd. Battalion, British Columbia, was also 
held in reserve, but was under very heavy fire throughout the 
day and came into action at a later stage. The attack was car 
ried out by the 87th. Battalion, the Grenadier Guards of Mont 
real, on the right, the 75th. Battalion, Central and Western 
Ontario, in the centre, and the 54th. Battalion, British Colum 
bia, on the left. 

A good advance was made along the plateau under cover 
of darkness, but with dawn and the failure of our smoke bar 
rage as related above, the attacking force was subjected to a 
tremendous enfilade machine-gun fire from Blecourt and 
Abancourt. The men in little knots began digging themselves 
in on the bare upland, and there withstood wave after wave 
of enemy infantry, advancing with the utmost courage to the 
attack, although great holes were torn in their ranks by our 
artillery and machine-guns. The position on our left was un 
tenable and our men fell back fighting every step to the line of 
the railway. This in turn brought to a halt troops on our right 
and finally led to their partial retirement, but although at one 
stage Tilloy was lost, we recaptured it before the end of the 
day. 

Tilloy will go down in the history of the P.P.L.I. as one of 
its most famous fights. After every senior officer had fallen, 
Capt. James Nesbit Edgar assumed command of the battalion. 
At a critical hour, when three companies on the left were badly 
disorganized under tremendous machine-gun fire, and had 
even begun to withdraw from the position won, he went for 
ward and rallied the men, leading them on to their objective. 
By his cheerfulness, energy and disregard for danger he so 



OPERATIONS : SEPT. 30-OCT. 2 257 

inspired all ranks that they willingly followed him through the 
most intensive shell and machine-gun fire, and it was due to his 
unflagging work that enemy counter-attacks were beaten off 
and Tilloy remained in our hands at the end of the hard- 
fought day. 

The character of the righting, described by those who took 
part in it as the stiffest Canadian troops had ever faced, can 
best be gathered by following the fortunes of one of the bat 
talions engaged, this being the 75th. This unit, as we have 
seen, had lost heavily in the successful attack on Bourlon 
Wood. On the morning of Sept. 29 it moved up from Bourlon 
to the Lillas farm on the Arras-Cambrai road 1,500 yards west 
of Raillencourt and about as much southwest of Haynecourt, 
bivouacking there for the night. Guides reported at 2.30 a.m. 
for the attack on the Douai-Cambrai railway, the first objec 
tive. On the way in to the jumping-off line two company 
officers were killed at head of their companies, and only four 
officers per company were left. In the darkness there was some 
confusion but three minutes before "zero" every company was 
in its appointed place, 500 yards in advance of our outposts 
holding the line, and just west of the railway itself. 

Our barrage opened 20 yards short of the railway and then 
settled for ten minutes on the line of the embankment, follow 
ing which our men went over. Three minutes later the enemy, 
who had massed a number of divisions for an attack in force, 
laid down an intensive barrage of 5.9-inch guns and Yellow 
Cross gas on the very area our men had just left, but causing 
not a single casualty. It was a much heavier barrage than our 
own, but ours was magnificently uncannily even accurate, 
destroying entirely the enemy s line of defense along the steep 
railway embankment. 

The second in command, Captain Duncan, a company com 
mander, was killed almost at once as the battalion swept for 
ward. A hail of machine-gun fire came from the exposed left 
flank all along the Bantigny Ravine, and although a screen of 
defensive posts was thrown out against Blecourt, no troops 
18 



258 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

could long stand up against such punishment. The battalion 
fell back to the railway and clung there all day. Towards 
evening Col. Thompson was ordered to withdraw his men to 
the Marquion line, 2,000 yards back, but only 50 men were 
left unwounded and every officer but himself had become a 
casualty. Nevertheless what remained of this battalion went 
into action again on the following day. The 54th. and 102nd. 
Battalions took over the posts established. 

In Blecourt besides numerous machine-guns were four 

o 

heavy guns and a special battalion of Wurternburger marks 
men, stout fellows who made great play with their machine- 
guns. The attack had failed, but nevertheless the line of rail 
way had been attained and held, and the enemy s evident inten 
tion of driving us back into Bourlon Wood had been frustrated 
by our bold offensive. But it was clear that the battle was far 
from won. We must either abandon what had been gained 
with so much heroism and at such great cost, thus crippling 
the general advance, or face the alternative of pursuing the 
battle with weakened forces until we had gained a decision and 
established ourselves upon the plateau. The issue is plainly 
set forth by Sir Arthur Currie who then proceeds to trace the 
fortunes of the crucial battle of Oct. 1, in the following 
terms :- 

"The tremendous exertions and considerable casualties con 
sequent upon the four days almost continuous fighting had 
made heavy inroads on the freshness and efficiency of all arms, 
and it was questionable whether an immediate decision could 
be forced in the face of the heavy concentration of troops which 
our successful and, from the enemy s standpoint, dangerous 
advance, had drawn against us. On the other hand, it was 
known that the enemy had suffered severely, and it was quite 
possible that matters had reached a stage where he no longer 
considered the retention of this position worth the severe 
losses both in men and morale consequent upon a continuance 
of the defense. It was therefore decided that the assault would 
be continued on Oct. 1, the four Divisions in line attacking 



OPERATIONS : SEPT. 30-OCT. 2 259 

simultaneously under a heavy barrage, co-ordinated by the 
G.O.C., R.A. During the night the XXII Corps took over a 
portion of the front held by the 1 1th. Division, the 56th. Divi 
sion becoming responsible for the defense of the relieved front 
at 6a.m., Oct. 1. 

"The attack made excellent progress in the early stages, and 
the troops reached the general line, Scheldt Canal (east of 
Neuville-St. Remy)--Morenchies Wood Cuvillers Ban- 
tigny (all inclusive). 

"The decision of the enemy to resist to the last quickly 
manifested itself. About 10 a.m. heavy counter-attacks 
developed up the Bantigny Ravine from the direction of Pail- 
lencourt. These, supplemented by enfilade fire from the high 
ground just south of Abancourt, which still remained in the 
enemy s hands, due to a certain extent to the inability of the 
llth. Division on the left to make progress, were sufficient to 
press back our advanced troops. Pockets of the enemy in Ble- 
court and Bantigny continued to give trouble, and our line was 
ultimately forced by greatly superior numbers out of Cuvillers, 
Bantigny and Blecourt. 

"To continue to throw tired troops against such opposition, 
without giving them an opportunity to refit and recuperate, 
was obviously inviting a serious failure, and I accordingly 
decided to break off the engagement. The five days fighting 
had yielded practical gains of a very valuable nature, as well 
as 7,059 prisoners and 205 guns. 

"We had gone through the last organized system of de 
fenses on our front, and our advance constituted a direct threat 
on the rear of the troops immediately to the north of our left 
flank, and their withdrawal had now begun. 

"Although the ground gained on Oct. 1 was not extensive, 
the effects of the battle and of the previous four days fighting 
were far-reaching, and made possible the subsequent advances 
of October and November, in so far as the Divisions engaged 
against the Canadian Corps drew heavily on the enemy s re 
serves, which had now been greatly reduced. 



260 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"It is worthy of note that the enemy employed six Divisions 
to reinforce the four Divisions already in the line, making a 
total of ten Divisions engaged since Sept. 27 by the Canadian 
Corps. In addition to their 10 Divisional Artilleries and large 
number of heavy guns, these German Divisions had been rein 
forced by 13 Marksmen Machine-Gun Companies. 

"In the same period only three additional Divisions and 
one Regiment were employed by the Germans to reinforce the 
front from Honnecourt to Cambrai, a front of approximately 
18,000 yards in length. 

This comparison of employment of reserves showed 
clearly that the enemy was greatly perturbed by the success of 
our advance, and the serious threat it offered especially to his 
northern defenses. 

Throughout this phase very heavy calls had been made on 
the Corps Artillery ( Major-General E. W. B. Morrison) and 
the Canadian Engineers. 

"With the exception of the advances of the 1st. Canadian 
and llth. (British) Divisions in the second stage of the attack 
of Sept. 27, all operations carried out during the five days took 
place under cover of Artillery barrages. The amount of am 
munition fired was exceptionally large, and it was only by the 
most strenuous efforts on the part of all ranks of the Artillery 
that the supply could be made to keep pace with the expendi 
ture. 

The success in this respect was to a large extent due to the 
exertion and skill displayed by the Canadian Engineers 
(Major-General W. B. Lindsay) in every branch of their 
activities, notably in bridge-building and repair of roads." 

The night of Sept. 30-Oct. 1 was bitter cold with torrential 
rains, and for the most part the troops detailed for the attack 
next morning had to tough it out in the open. "Zero" hour 
was set for 5 a.m., while it was still dark, and it was hoped 
that by a broad attack covering the entire Corps front between 
the Scheldt and the Sensee the disastrous enfilade fire, which 
had stopped and thrown back our attack on a relatively narrow 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-OCT. 2 261 

front of the previous day, would be blanketed. This plan 
postulated success all along the line and the development of a 
weak spot anywhere must seriously compromise success else 
where. 

The attack at first succeeded admirably. On the right ele 
ments of the 3rd. Division pushed on through Morenchies, 
seized the bridgehead at Pont d Aire and established posts in 
Ramillies. 

The attack was entrusted to the 9th. Brigade, with the 43rd. 
Battalion, Winnipeg, on the right, and the S2nd. Battalion, 
Fort William and Port Arthur, on the left, advancing under 
heavy machine-gun fire on the crest of the hill down the slope 
towards Ramillies. The 58th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 
and the 1 16th. Battalion, Central Ontario, came up in support, 
all four battalions being very heavily engaged. The 116th. 
pushed on into Ramillies, the attacking force rushing the 
bridgehead in face of the point-blank fire of a whizz-bang 
battery. Major Carmichael, who had succeeded to the com 
mand of the battalion after Lt-Col. G. R. Pearkes had been 
wounded and who himself had been wounded in the Amiens 
show, led his men throughout, and even after he had been ser 
iously wounded refused to be evacuated, staying with his com 
mand for two hours until he was no longer able to direct his 
men. 

On the left of our 3rd. Division the 4th. Canadian Division 
also drove home its attack, the 1 1th. Brigade advancing across 
the plateau and storming Cuvillers. But, as has been related by 
the Corps Commander, a weakness developed on the extreme 
left, and in turn the 1st. Canadian Division fell back, forcing 
the withdrawal of the 4th. Division, which found itself with 
its left flank in the air. The 102nd. Battalion, British Colum 
bia, which had led the attack with great gallantry, was for a 
time in perilous danger of being isolated and cut off, and it 
was only the utmost heroism of its men, supported by flanking 
outposts promptly thrown out against Blecourt and Bantigny 
by Brig.-General Odium, that saved it from disaster. 



262 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

In a day of wonderful deeds, particularly striking was the 
leadership of Lieut. Fraham Thomson Lyall, 102nd. Battalion, 
a native of Lancashire who had enlisted at St. Catharines, Ont. 
Finding himself in command of the company on the right 
flank, now only 50 strong, by skilful dispositions he captured a 
strong enemy position east of Blecourt, and with it 17 machine- 
guns and 80 prisoners. This he fortified and clung steadfastly 
to it until relieved, thus preventing the turning of our flank. 
This officer had had a wonderful record throughout this battle. 
After leading his platoon against Bourlon Wood, he rendered 
invaluable support to the leading company, capturing a strong 
point which held it up by a flank movement, taking one field 
gun, four machine-guns and 13 prisoners, the rest of the gar 
rison being killed. Later his platoon, much weakened by 
casualties, was held up by machine-guns at the southern end of 
Bourlon Wood. Collecting every man available, he led them 
toward the strong point. Springing forward alone, he rushed 
the position, killing the officer in charge, when the garrison 
surrendered with five machine-guns. Having made good his 
objective, capturing 47 more prisoners, he consolidated his 
position and thus protected the remainder of the company. 
During this battle Lieut. Lyall captured in all three officers 
and 182 other ranks, one field gun and 26 machine-guns, 
exclusive of heavy casualties inflicted. 



CHAPTER IX 

OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-ocr. 2. CONTINUED 

WHAT had happened on the left is described in the nar 
rative of the 1st. Canadian Division, already drawn 
upon so copiously: "Orders were issued on the night 
of Sept. 30 for a synchronized attack on Oct. 1 by the four 
divisions in line. The 1st. Divisional front was extended a 
thousand yards to the south, making a total front of attack of 
about 3,000 yards. During the night the 3rd. Brigade, Brig.- 
General G. S. Tuxford, moved forward to the right and 
assembled behind the 12th. Brigade, through whom they were 
to attack. The attack of the 1st. Division was to be made by 
the 3rd. and 1st. Brigades. 

"The barrage opened at 5 o clock. On the right, the 13th. 
Battalion, Montreal Highlanders, attacked and captured Ble- 
court after very heavy fighting. On the left the 1st. Battalion, 
Western Ontario, and 4th. Battalion, Central Ontario, 
launched the attack for the 1st. Brigade, Brig.-General W. A. 
Griesbach. The 1st. Battalion secured the line of the railway 
north of Blecourt, but were unable to get beyond owing to the 
intense fire from Abancourt. On the left the 4th. Battalion got 
to within 200 yards of the railway, but were definitely held up 
there. Further on the left the attack of the llth. (British) 
Division had been stopped at the very start. 

"In the meantime the 16th. Battalion, Canadian Scottish 
of Western Canada, and 14th. Battalion, Royal Montreal 
Regiment, passed through Blecourt and attacked on the right 
and left. Cuvillers and Bantigny were captured by eight 
o clock by these battalions respectively. Enemy activity on 
the exposed left developed into counter-attacks against the 
14th. Battalion, three being driven off. Both battalions were 
now in untenable positions, enemy machine-gun concentrations 

263 



264 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

on the high ground west of Abancourt sweeping their left rear 
and artillery firing at point-blank range from their front. 
Under the circumstances a retirement was ordered, the enemy 
being made to pay dearly for every foot of ground given up. 
A short stand was made at Blecourt, but fresh enemy attacks 
forced our line back to west of this village a line held with 
the aid of artillery and machine-gun fire against continued 
enemy attacks." 

The fighting to which the 1st. Canadian Division was thus 
exposed was peculiarly bitter and gave opportunity for many 
deeds of heroism. Thus Capt. Chester Francis Cummins of 
the 1st. Battalion, Western Ontario, while leading in his com 
pany found that owing to the darkness his men were pushing 
in ahead of our own barrage. He ran forward and under 
heavy machine-gun fire checked and reorganized the men. In 
the subsequent advance, in which his company suffered many 
casualties, he was severely wounded in the arm, but with 
indomitable spirit and almost superhuman effort he forced his 
way forward, cheering and inspiring his men until again hit. 
He nevertheless still pressed on, cheering and exhorting his 
men, until he received a third and fatal wound. 

In the attack on Abancourt, the 4th. Battalion, Central 
Ontario, found itself held up by wire and machine-gun posts. 
Sergt. William Merrifield of Ottawa, finding that his men 
were being shot down by the deadly fire coming from two 
enemy machine-gun posts on high ground on the flank, attacked 
them both single-handed. He dashed from shell hole to shell 
hole until he had sniped three of the crew of the first post, and 
then killed the fourth with the butt of his rifle. He fell 
wounded into the post, but presently recovering, he clambered 
out and attacked the second post, throwing a bomb, and under 
cover of the explosion dashed in and killed the three men 
working the gun. He then returned to his platoon, refusing 
to be evacuated and leading his men with great skill until 
severely wounded. 

In this battle Major Roderick Ogle Bell-Irving, command- 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-OCT. 2. CONTINUED 265 

ing the 16th. Battalion, Canadian Scottish, fought his last 
fight. He skilfully led the attack in the darkness, fearlessly 
exposing himself in all phases until the objective of Cuvillers 
was taken. The battalion had suffered severely, but he went 
along the line, reorganizing his men and consolidating the 
position. While he was engaged on this at his outposts a heavy 
enemy counter-attack developed on the left flank of the Bat 
talion. He personally directed the fire of two machine-guns 
until the ammunition was exhausted, when, seeing his left flank 
was in danger of being enveloped by the masses of the enemy, 
he ordered the withdrawal of the outpost line. He remained 
until every man had left the outpost, but while retiring on the 
main line of resistance he was fatally wounded. He refused 
to allow his men to stay with him as the enemy was rapidly 
surrounding the spot where he lay. His body was afterwards 
recovered by the battalion. 

The narrative of the 1st. Canadian Division continues as 
follows: "That night the 6th. Brigade of the 2nd. Division 
relieved the 3rd. Brigade, and the 2nd. Brigade relieved the 
1st. Brigade on the left. The next day passed without incident, 
and on the night of Oct. 2 the 2nd. Brigade was relieved by a 
Brigade of the llth. British Division the relief of the 1st. 
Division being completed by ten o clock on the morning of 
Oct. 3, the Division then coming into Corps Reserve." 

As a matter of fact the 6th. Brigade was engaged during 
the day of Oct. 1, the 27th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, 28th. Bat 
talion, of Regina, and 29th. Battalion, of Vancouver, all taking 
part in the battle, as did other elements of the 2nd. Canadian 
Division, Maj. -General Sir Henry E. Burstall. This Divi 
sion, which, as has been recorded before, had seen fighting all 
through the early summer months in the line before Arras 
while the other Canadian Divisions were in G.H.Q. Reserve, 
and had actively held the line of the Canal du Nord through 
out September, was now brought up to renew the vigor of our 
attack on the following morning, the intention being for the 
5th. Brigade to go in on the right and the 6th. Brigade on the 
left, relieving troops holding the centre of our line. 



266 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

These two Brigades came up during the early afternoon 
and for some hours lying in close support. They were here 
exposed to very heavy fire, and suffered heavy casualties. Thus 
the 6th. Brigade was in support of the 9th. Brigade along the 
line of the Scheldt, and though it had no actual fighting in this 
sector, one of its Battalions, the 27th., of Winnipeg, lost nine 
officers and 125 men. Nothing is harder on troops than this 
passive exposure to a galling fire, and when the order came to 
move up in active support there was general relief. Pressure 
was so great during the afternoon that it became necessary to 
use some of the elements of the 2nd. Canadian Division in the 
line, and thus for the last time in the history of the Canadian 
Corps all four of its Divisions were engaged in a common 
battle line on the same day. 

The description given above makes clear the reasons for 
the relative failure of this cumulative effort. There was here 
all the material for a striking success, and in the early morning 
all the objectives had been attained. But the weakness of our 
left flank, due to failure of the 1 1th. Division to take and hold 
the heights between Epinoy and Abancourt, reacted all along 
the line. But this was only one cause. The other was our own 
weakened ranks together with the unprecedented number of 
men at this stage in the war the enemy did not hesitate to 
throw in against us. His losses were tremendous. Our artil 
lery had never had such a day. From dawn until dark they 
poured in their fire often at point-blank ranges, and the litter 
of enemy dead upon the battlefield, as it was afterwards ex 
posed to our view, was nothing less than appalling. If we had 
fallen short of victory, the sequel was to show that we had 
beaten the enemy to a standstill and that he had no stomach 
left for further fight with the Canadian Corps. 

Allusion has been made before to a published narrative of 
the First Army, under which the Canadian Corps fought all 
the way from Arras to Mons. It is entitled, "The Final Blow 
of the First Army in 1918," and what it says about this partic 
ular day is interesting:- 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-OCT. 2. CONTINUED 267 

"Oct. 1 and 2 On these days the fighting was extraordinar 
ily severe. The Canadians, who are experts at tough fighting, 
acclaim it the stiffest they have ever been up against. The 
object was to take the bridgeheads over the canal northeast of 
Cambrai. That once done, the enemy would be out of the com 
manding and extremely valuable high ground which, on the 
south, commanded Cambrai with its railway junctions, and 
on the north rested on the Sensee marshes and overlooked the 
country to the north of them. In many ways a key-position to 
the whole line. 

"Here, then, on ground admirably suited and organized 
for defense, and necessary to the Boche line, the Germans put 
up a desperate fight. Up the ravines from the northeast, espe 
cially up the hollow leading to Bantigny, they brought division 
after division; 13 divisions are known to have been thrown into 
the fight, only to be smashed by our tireless guns and our in 
domitable troops. One battery of heavies on Oct. 1 fired 1,600 
rounds. 

"The enemy s cleverly placed machine-guns fought hard. 
Round Blecourt, as a centre, the battle raged. But machine- 
gun positions were hunted down, the masses of the enemy were 
torn by our artillery fire with awful slaughter, to be replaced 
by others who suffered the same fate. The Canadians and the 
llth. British Division, though suffering from heavy losses and 
wearied with days of fighting and advancing, held and im 
proved their ground. Pressed in front and with his retreat 
threatened by the advance of the Third Army from the south, 
the Hun began sullenly to withdraw, though still fighting, his 
shattered divisions. The ground was ours; the capture of 
Cambrai was now only a matter of time. Patrols had already 
entered its outskirts." 

It is difficult to give a true picture of this day s fighting. 
Did space permit, official records of deeds of individual 
officers and men who this day earned military honors would 
fill in the sketch. A few of these have been given above. The 
following cases illustrate how the men fought day after day 



268 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

almost without pause until they were tired and battle weary, 
but still refused to admit defeat. 

Lieut. Milton Fowler Gregg, Royal Canadian Regiment, 
a native of Mountain Dale, N.B., when the advance of the 7th. 
Brigade on Sept. 28 against the Marcoing line was held up by 
heavy machine-gun fire on both flanks and thick uncut wire in 
front of the enemy trench system, crawled forward alone and 
explored the wire until he found a small gap. Through this 
he led his men, organizing bombing parties, which went right 
and left along the trench. The enemy counter-attacked in 
force, and through lack of bombs the situation became critical 
for his company. Although wounded in the head and weak 
ened by loss of blood, he started back alone to our attacking 
line, and going from one company to another collected a fur 
ther supply of bombs which he carried back, suffering a second 
wound, this time in the side. He found but a handful of his 
men left, but he quickly reorganized them and started to bomb 
the enemy out of his defense system. This consisted of a series 
of short trenches, three to seven yards long, and the enemy ad 
vanced over the top to the attack time after time But at length 
he cleared the system, himself killing 1 1 and taking 25 prison 
ers. Notwithstanding his severe wounds he steadfastly refused 
to be evacuated. On Sept. 30 he again led his company in to 
the attack, but was severely wounded and was ordered out by 
his senior officer. He made his report at Battalion Head 
quarters and then collapsed. 

Lieut. Honey, who had risen from the ranks of the 78th. 
Battalion, of Winnipeg, particularly distinguished himself. 
On Sept. 27, in the attack on Bourlon Wood, when his company 
officer and all other officers had become casualties, he took 
command and skilfully reorganized under severe fire. He 
continued the advance with great dash and reached the objec 
tive. Then, finding that his company was suffering casualties 
from enfilade machine-gun fire, he located the machine-gun 
nest and rushed it single-handed, capturing the guns and 10 
prisoners. Subsequently he repelled four enemy counter-at- 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-OCT. 2. CONTINUED 269 

tacks, and after dark went out alone, and having located an 
enemy post, led a party and captured the post and three 
machine-guns. On Sept. 29, in the fight for the plateau, he 
led his company against a strong enemy position with great 
skill and daring and continued in the succeeding days of the 
battle to display the same high example of valor and self- 
sacrifice. On the last day of the attack by his battalion, he was 
wounded in both legs, but carried on, doing wonderful work. 
Finally he received w r ounds from which he died. 

Capt. John MacGregor, 2nd. C.M.R., who enlisted at Van 
couver but is a native of Nairn, Scotland, during the attack of 
the 8th. Brigade on Sept. 30, although wounded, led his com 
pany under intense fire. When held up by a machine-gun post, 
he seized a rifle, and single-handed and in broad daylight 
attacked with the bayonet, killing four and capturing eight of 
the enemy. His prompt action saved many casualties and 
enabled the attack to go forward. Later on, he gathered his 
men together under intense fire and organized a party to fill 
in a gap in the flank and reinforce our troops attacking Tilloy. 
Hearing that two commanders of companies attacking on the 
right had become casualties, and seeing that the stubborn 
resistance of the enemy was holding up our advance, with 
absolute disregard of danger, he went along the line, organized 
the platoons, and taking command of the leading waves, con 
tinued the advance. Later, after a personal daylight recon 
naissance, he established his company in Neuville St. Remy, 
thus greatly assisting the advance into Tilloy. 

During the attack on the Canal du Nord on Sept. 27, Lieut. 
Thomas Easson Miller, 8th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, led his 
platoon with great skill and gallantry. His company com 
mander became a casualty early in the engagement, and though 
he himself was wounded, he remained on duty, showing splen 
did judgment and coolness in command of the company, taking 
it to its objective. That evening, just west of Haynecourt, the 
enemy counter-attacked on the exposed right flank of the 2nd. 
Brigade, but Lieut. Miller succeeded in building up a right 



270 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

flank, and that night he made a daring reconnaissance. Dis 
regarding his wound, next day when troops on his right failed 
to keep up with the advance, he established contact by cover 
ing the gap and thus secured a very dangerous situation. On 
Sept. 29, when at nine o clock in the morning his battalion 
attacked east of the Douai-Cambrai road, all the officers of the 
two companies on the right having become casualties., he took 
command and led the attack successfully through two belts of 
wire, and under heavy fire attacked alone a group of the enemy 
and captured 22 prisoners. When troops on either flank failed 
to keep up he consolidated a line and beat off three enemy 
counter-attacks. At half past two that afternoon he was 
knocked unconscious by a shell, but recovering two hours later 
resumed command and protected the right flank against re 
peated attacks, refusing to leave the line until the battalion was 
relieved. His determination and coolness won a glorious 
fight. 

Sergt. Theodore Martin, in the same operation, when all 
the officers in his vicinity had become casualties, and though 
himself severely wounded in the leg, recognizing that the situ 
ation was most serious and must be controlled, remained in a 
shell-hole, where, although unable to move, he continued to 
direct his men for 10 hours, refusing to be evacuated until 
relieved. Not only did he display great fortitude, but his cool 
and accurate messages telephoned in to Battalion Headquarters 
throughout the day saved a very tight corner. 

Great heroism was displayed by the auxiliary services in 
this terrible battle, and by none more so than the Chaplain 
Service. Once again the Padres gave proof of their devotion 
upon the field. Thus, Capt. Albert Edward Andrew, chaplain 
of the Royal Canadian Regiment, when our men were forced 
to withdraw, for 40 hours, without an interval for rest, made 
repeated trips into No Man s Land, often in face of intensive 
machine-gun fire, bringing in our wounded. When all the 
officers of this Battalion had become casualties, he remained 
in the front line, carrying food and drink to groups of our men, 



OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-OCT. 2. CONTINUED 271 

and inspiriting them, so that even in the midst of beating off 
an enemy counter-attack, they raised a cheer for his gallantry. 

In this battle Canon Scott of Quebec City, beloved senior 
chaplain of the 1st. Canadian Division, was wounded by a shell 
which exploded beside him, wounding him in many places, 
in arms, legs and body. When he was wounded the expression 
of surprise that he had so long escaped was very general, as it 
was frequently remarked that he "was looking for it." On the 
route of evacuation, despite his painful wounds, through aid 
posts, Dressing Station and Casualty Clearing Station, he car 
ried his large crucifix in his hand and preached to those about 
him impressive sermons on patience, Christian fortitude and 
resignation. A wounded soldier remarked how edifying it was 
to see how happy he was in his sufferings. 

Gallant work too was done by the Medical Service. The 
conduct of the stretcher-bearers, working continuously under 
fire, was beyond all praise, and nothing could surpass the devo 
tion of the drivers of the ambulances. Magnificent work 
throughout was done by our field ambulances, and also by 
Medical Officers attached to fighting units. Thus on Sept. 27 
Capt. Albert R. Hagerman, M.O. of the 78th. Battalion, fol 
lowed close behind the attacking infantry and established a 
regimental aid post in the open under heavy shell and machine- 
gun fire. On Sept. 29 he established a dressing-station in a 
forward trench, and for two days he worked unceasingly under 
shell fire in this position, dressing hundreds of wounded. 

In the intensive fighting of these days casualties among 
regimental officers were particularly severe, these exposing 
themselves fearlessly in order to hearten their men. Among 
the wounded was Lt.-Col. C. R. E. Willets of the Royal Cana 
dian Regiment. 

In this battle the Canadian Corps touched its pinnacle of 
fame. Beyond question the battle, and especially the fighting 
of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, was the most savage and sustained in 
which the Canadian Corps ever engaged. Only the utmost 
heroism and tenacity of our infantry, ably supported by our 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

gunners, enabled us to cling on in the salient we had driven into 
the heart of the enemy s defense in face of withering fire and 
there withstand wave after wave of counter-attacks by almost 
overwhelming numbers. In this wonderful stand against 
enemy masses determined to wrest from them their conquests, 
gallant and heroic episodes were innumerable. Battalions, 
companies and little knots of men stood their ground unflinch 
ingly, though often detached and even cut off for a time from 
all support. 

It is the penalty of storming troops, such as the Canadian 
Corps, that they sometimes create for themselves, in their 
impetuous advance, unprotected flanks. The salient they drive 
into the enemy line becomes enfiladed, and if power is not at 
hand to widen it out into a practical front, the troops in the 
apex must either fight it out against overwhelming odds or fall 
back. The latter is not the lesson the Canadian Corps had 
learned, and it was this desperate clinging to positions tacti 
cally untenable that contributed to our heavy casualties. 
There is the case of a sergeant who refused to fall back when 
ordered by his superior officer, and fought his company all day 
until night descended. In those five days of battle the Cana 
dian Corps dealt such a blow at the enemy that he reeled back 
to final defeat. Above everything else it was the unconquer 
able spirit of all ranks that gained the decision. Notwith 
standing his lavish outpourings of blood, he had not shaken a 
whit our strangle-hold on his vital pivot of Cambrai. 

But that we had gained the decision was by no means clear 
on the evening of Oct. 1. Our losses had been so severe, our 
reserves had been so freely drawn upon, that there was anxiety 
on all hands that night as to whether the morning might not 
see a last final thrust such as we might be in no condition to 
fight off. Logic was against it. He had used up against us on 
this day no less than 33 battalions; our Intelligence reported, 
that since the battle opened he had been forced to send to the 
north five reserve divisions he might still have drawn upon; 
and it was difficult to see where he could get fresh troops to 









MAP SHOWING 

OF DIVISIONS 

WITH THE 

CORPS 

26T^AUG.TO IITf OCT. 1918. 

Scale of Miles 



I 2 

LEGEND 

Advances made bv I?? Canadian Division shown thus 



Brut/ne/s Brigade 

Divisional Boundaries shown thus .._._. 




OPERATIONS: SEPT. 30-OCT. 2. CONTINUED 273 

continue the battle. It was a night of anxiety indeed, but 
there was the cheering sight of enemy dumps being blown up 
and burning in his immediate rear. 

But we were taking no chances. At five o clock in the 
morning of Oct. 2 our artillery laid down a tremendous coun 
ter-preparation along the whole line, designed to catch his 
waves should they be advancing to the assault. Nothing devel 
oped. Dawn broke and the enemy line was suspiciously quiet. 
Then the word began to go round that he was falling back- 
that he had mistaken our barrage for another attack such as he 
had had to face in each of the five preceding mornings. The 
battle was won. 



19 



CHAPTER X 

AFTER THE BATTLE 

TJfE S beat it!" The word passed with incredible 
I rapidity. His wind was up and he had gone back to 
the canal. From Corps Commander to the men in 
the ranks it was a tremendous relief. The battle was won ; our 
sacrifices had not been in vain. Cambrai, sign manual of our 
victory, lay within our grasp and might be taken at any hour. 

As a matter of fact this was not quite the case. His power 
for offense was indeed broken, but for some days yet he lay 
sullenly on his line running across the Bantigny Ravine. Only 
at night great fires could be seen far in his rear. Some stiff 
fighting had still to be done before Cambrai fell and the enemy 
was cleared out of the triangle on the hither side of the Scheldt. 

But on Oct. 2, after five days of the hardest continuous 
fighting in which the Canadian Corps had been ever engaged, 
knowledge came to us that the victory was ours. Four Cana 
dian Divisions, with the llth. British Division, had met and 
overwhelmed twelve enemy divisions. The fight had been 
over his chosen ground where he had lavished every art of 
defense. After the initial surprise of the morning of Sept. 27, 
it had all been ding-dong uphill work, a battle entirely of 
infantry and artillery. So great importance had the enemy 
attached to the position that he had squandered men in its 
defense on a scale that recalled the early years of the war. 

But not then nor for weeks afterward did we realize the 
magnitude of the victory. It was the last battle on the grand 
scale in which the Canadian Corps was engaged. Thereafter 
followed much hard fighting, particularly before Valen 
ciennes, and even up to the very gates of Mons, but it was on a 
Divisional rather than on a Corps scale. The corner was 
turned. The enemy was so badly beaten that hereafter his one 

274 



AFTER THE BATTLE 275 

desire was to get away, and though he fought stout rearguard 
actions, they were but in the nature of delaying battles. Pres 
sure was too great and continuous for him to attempt to make 
a permanent stand. He had had his bellyful of the Canadian 
Corps. His best divisions had been "washed-out" and could 
never again take their place in the battle line. The vaunted 
Hindenburg System was no more. Skilful use though he made 
of the country, he had no prepared line, no elaborate system of 
trenches and wire, no nests of concrete machine-gun posts, on 
which to rally his retreating forces and make a last bid for 
victory. He was bankrupt both in resources and plan; he had 
lost so many guns that his gunners were chary of working their 
batteries from advanced positions; his efforts indeed were de 
voted to getting back his heavy batteries to safer positions in 
the rear, and more and more he depended upon his devoted 
machine-gunners. 

The victory was complete indeed; so far as the Canadian 
Corps was concerned it definitely ended Field Marshal Haig s 
"first phase"; and its repercussion along the West Front heart 
ened our battling armies and brought dismay to the counsels 
of the enemy; more perhaps than any other battle of this 
period, it broke his spirit, weakened his stomach for the fight, 
and set up that general rot which so soon was to convert his 
retreat into what was little better than a rout. 

But on Oct. 2 we knew nothing of this. The historian, with 
before him the results of a battle, cannot enter into the feelings 
of the men who fought it; he cannot envisage their tired bodies 
and weary spirits; from his wide survey he fails to realize that 
even as they congratulate themselves on a victory and lick their 
sores, they are girding themselves for the next great battle. 
Certainly few in the Canadian Corps could then grasp its full 
significance. Indeed, we had had such a gruelling, had lost so 
heavily, that common talk was that we should go out of the line 
to refit it was said that already our 1st. Division had been 
taken out. We knew the Boche was beaten, because, given 
everything in his favor on that never-to-be-forgotten night of 



276 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Oct. 1-2, he had failed to come again, and next day had aban 
doned to us the bloody field. But we quite expected him to 
bring up new divisions and throw them in once more. 

Battle vision is extremely limited. Every one is intensely 
engaged on his own particular job; his concentration and pre 
occupation do not permit him to survey intelligently the front 
as a whole; he hears, but immediately forgets, that so-and-so 
on our right is doing great things, and down south the Boche 
have fallen back many miles ; for him the enemy immediately 
in front is everything; that is the fellow he has to tackle and 
overcome; and his experience is that when he has done it once 
he will have to do it all over again a few miles further on. He 
respects the enemy because he has come to know him as a good 
fighting man. He cannot understand his psychology; he can 
not understand how his machine-gunners, after putting up a 
desperate resistance and taking terrible toll of our ranks, throw 
up their hands to the cry of "Kamerad" directly we are on 
them with bombs and cold steel; but, brave man himself, he 
admits that up to a certain point and particularly in those 
long waves of counter-attack the Boche is brave too. He 
cannot, in a word, conceive that the enemy he has fought four 
years under all sorts of conditions, is about to crumple up and 
in six weeks time will be content to sign a shameful armistice. 
He sees going over his head our propaganda balloons and has 
heard they are doing good work; but then he has picked up 
German propaganda, and lit his pipe with it. 

Such then was the attitude of mind of the regimental officer 
and the men in the ranks. They were mighty pleased to have 
given the Boche such a licking but on Oct. 2 they were more 
intent on righting their way into comfortable winter quarters 
in Cambrai than on anything else. Word went round that the 
British Corps on our left was to winter in Cambrai -we were 
very peeved. 

What then did we think about it all? We thought that so 
long as fine weather lasted we should punish the Boche as hard 
as we could, and finish the job next spring, when the American 



AFTER THE BATTLE 277 

army would have attained great strength and gained real battle 
experience. Let us try to put ourselves back into that state of 
mind. 

Captured enemy orders had exhibited desperate efforts to 
return to the battle tactics of the successful years by abandon 
ment of the principle of the thinly-held screen of machine- 
guns backed by great depth of defense. This system was 
adopted as the consequence of weakened man-power resulting 
from his abortive offensive of the previous summer the final 
bid for victory. 

His plans were then so perfected, his preparations on such 
a scale, that he was convinced failure was impossible. He did 
fail we are not here concerned with the causes but he came 
so perilously near success that the strategic situation on the 
Marne warranted his throwing in every available bayonet. 
When it developed that all this tremendous sacrifice of man 
power had been in vain, so far from losing heart he took best 
measures possible to avert defeat and the annihilation of his 
armies. For his offensive he substituted a mobile defensive, 
shortening his lines and seeking in every way to economize and 
augment his depleted man-power. 

His chief surprise packet of 1918 was the enormous number 
of his machine-guns. He proposed in fact to base his defense 
on machine-gun posts instead of rifles and a better illustration 
of his system could not offer than the character of the opposi 
tion encountered by the Canadian Corps during the Battle 
of Cambrai. Theoretically a machine-gun every ten yards 
should have stopped infantry attacking over open ground but 
in practice it failed. 

Failure thus demonstrated he sought to return to defense 
by the counter-offensive of field-gray masses, as was shown on 
Oct. 1. Passive defense proved ruinous to his morale; to re 
gain even local initiative he must have something like equality 
of man-power where its need is supreme on the shock-front 
of battle. 

A document we captured at Cambrai instructs commanding 



278 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

officers that they must no longer depend on a perfunctory front 
line of resistance, nor on outposts of machine-gunners, with 
infantry supports and reserves deeply echeloned in the rear. 
The danger is pointed out that the driving in of the light front 
line tends to create disorder and spread consternation behind. 
Front lines must be held in force with supports and reserves 
well forward. Particular attention is to be given to the protec 
tion of positions by anti-tank contrivances. Finally the troops 
are exhorted to die at their posts if they hope to keep the enemy 
out of the Fatherland. 

The result of these admonitions was seen in the Battle of 
Cambrai. There was a return to infantry counter-attacks. 
These, in turn, could be afforded only by a shortening of the 
line. This fierce battle, therefore, which seemed to our men 
engaged in it but the opening of the most intensive fighting of 
the campaign, in reality compelled the enemy to begin the 
retreat he was so soon to inaugurate. We had exhausted his 
reserves and he must shorten his line. With his back to his 
own frontier not only would his own line be considerably 
reduced but he might feel he could count on a corresponding 
betterment in the morale of his men. From that new orienta 
tion he might reason with some plausibility that he could 
return with success to the counter-offensive and teach the Allies 
such a lesson that they would be glad to conclude what he con 
sidered a reasonable peace. 

Well on in October, after his retreat had begun, that was 
how the situation appeared. If that train of reasoning had 
hung together, we had still before us some of the hardest fight 
ing of the war. The question was whether the German soldier 
was capable of such incessant retreats without loss of fighting 
spirit could the German psychology, fed on superman doc 
trines, resist such constant sapping of its faith in its own in 
vincibility? And, again, had Foch the power to turn this 
ordered retreat into a rout? The answers to these questions 
were given in the "second phase," now opening for the Cana 
dian Corps. 



AFTER THE BATTLE 279 

Such were the obscurities through which we moved, but a 
great ray of illumination was about to break upon us had we 
the wit to seize its significance. This was the first enemy pro 
posal for an armistice. 

With the material facts accumulating, the publication of 
official reports, memoirs and diaries, and those intensely inter 
esting human documents wherein unsuccessful leaders seem 
compelled to take the world into their confidence, already the 
task of the historian grows easier and he is able to pierce the 
veil of mystery that hung before us in early October of 1918. 

A notable contribution of this nature is that of Col. Bauer, 
head of the artillery department at Great General Head 
quarters, but who is also credited by German public opinion 
with having been the special confidant and political inspirer of 
Ludendorff. He has published in pamphlet form the German 
General Staff s version of the events which led up to the 
armistice, and from the facts he relates the London Daily 
Telegraph has deduced that it is clear that Ludendorff real 
ized as early as the first half of August, 1918, that the war was 
lost, and that the request for an armistice was the result of 
urgent and repeated demands from General Headquarters. 

There is nothing in this new to the reader, for we have seen 
in the account of the Amiens show how after the events of Aug. 
8 Ludendorff made up his mind that all hopes of gaining a 
military decision must be abandoned. But it is extremely 
interesting and instructive to gather from Col. Bauer s narra 
tive how the immediate effect of the storming of the Canal du 
Nord by the Canadian Corps was to convince Ludendorff that 
not a day must elapse if any part of all that had been now lost 
in battle could be saved by negotiation. Col. Bauer s pamphlet 
is in part as follows : 

"On June 30, 1918, Herr von Hintze had succeeded Herr 
von Kuhlmann. It was hoped that he would succeed in spin 
ning peace threads. But nothing became known, although the 
Government that is to say, also Herr von Hintze- were 
thoroughly acquainted with the internal and military situation. 



280 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

In his judgment of the situation, General Ludendorff was in 
complete agreement with the departmental chiefs concerned. 
As early as Aug. 13, that is to say as soon as he had a clear pic 
ture as the result of the reports received as to the inglorious 
Aug. 8, Ludendorff invited the Chancellor and Herr von 
Hintze to a sitting, and gave them a clear picture of the mili 
tary situation. On Aug. 14, a fresh discussion took place under 
the presidency of the Emperor. The Chief Army Command 
emphasized the necessity of an early conclusion of peace, as we 
were at the time still strong, but had to reckon with an increas 
ing deterioration of the military situation. Herr von Hintze 
renewed his promise to initiate peace overtures. 

"All through September, the Chief Army Command 
waited full of anxiety as to what fruits the presumed activity 
of the Foreign Office would bear. But when four weeks had 
passed without result, Ludendorff decided, on September 28, 
1918, in complete agreement with all the responsible depart 
mental chiefs of the Operation Section, to report to the Field- 
Marshal that the moment had come to submit to the Imperial 
Government the demand that peace negotiations should be 
inaugurated immediately, and for this purpose an armistice 
proposed to the Entente. The Field-Marshal agreed. 

"On Sept. 29 Admiral von Hintze and Count Roedern 
(Imperial Ministry of Finance), who had been summoned to 
Spa, arrived at General Headquarters. From utterances of 
General Ludendorff as to his negotiations with the Secretary 
of State for Foreign Affairs, it became known that Hintze had 
sketched a very gloomy picture of the internal political situa 
tion, had described revolution as being at the door, and had 
proposed an immediate reconstruction of the Government. 
After this had been confirmed, the military situation and the 
promotion of the peace step were discussed. 

"Thereupon the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs de 
clared that a peace offer could only be made by a new Govern 
ment, which must be supported by the confidence of the entire 
people. The old Government, he said, was compromised both 



AFTER THE BATTLE 281 

at home and abroad; it was regarded as mendacious and insin 
cere. Herr von Hintze expressed the opinion that a new Gov 
ernment could be formed by Oct. 1. His Majesty the Emperor 
charged Count Roedern to take in Berlin the necessary steps 
for the formation of a new Government. The Chief Army 
Command asked for an acceleration of the formation of the 
Government. This the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs 
promised; he said that he anticipated no special difficulties. 
The Imperial Chancellor, who had arrived at Spa on the after 
noon of Sept. 29, took no further action. 

"As LudendorfT received news that the negotiations for the 
formation of the new Government were dragging, he called up 
his representative in Berlin on Oct. 1, and urged him to put 
pressure on the Vice-Chancellor, Von Payer. Now that the 
Chief Army Command has come to this grave decision, he 
said, we must insist that no time is lost. Payer replied to the 
representations made to him that there was no one who could 
sign a peace offer, as the new Chancellor had not yet been ap 
pointed, and that he was still uncertain whether he could suc 
ceed in forming a Cabinet. He asked whether Headquarters 
would not agree to a postponement of the peace offer. This 
suggestion brought him the same day the following peremptory 
telegram from Hindenburg: 

" If by between seven and eight o clock this evening there 
is the certainty that Prince Max of Baden will form a Govern 
ment, I agree to a postponement until to-morrow forenoon. 

" Should, on the other hand, the formation of the Govern 
ment be in any way doubtful, I consider it necessary to issue 
the statement to the foreign Governments tonight. 

"Prince Max arrived in Berlin on the afternoon of Oct. 1, 
but now a new difficulty arose. Before he could accept the 
Chancellorship it was necessary for him to have the permission 
of the Grand Duke of Baden. This could only be obtained 
through the mediation of the Emperor, who was on the journey 
from Spa to Berlin. However, the Imperial train was stop 
ped at Cologne, and, by a strenuous use of the telephone, the 



282 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Grand Duke s consent was received by midnight. On the 
following morning at nine o clock, the representative of Head 
quarters submitted to the leaders of the Reichstag parties, who 
met under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor, a report 
on the situation containing the following notable passages : 

The Chief Army Command has been compelled to take a 
terribly grave decision, and declare that, according to human 
probabilities, there is no longer any prospect of forcing peace 
on the enemy. 

" Above all, two facts have been decisive for this issue. 
First, the tanks. The enemy has employed them in unexpect 
edly large numbers. Where, after a very liberal clouding of 
our positions with artificial mist, they effected a surprise, our 
men s nerves were often unequal to them. Here they broke 
through our first line, opened a way for their infantry, ap 
peared in the rear, created local panics, and threw the control 
of the fighting into confusion. When they had once been iden 
tified, our tank-defense weapons and our artillery quickly set 
tled with them. Then, however, the misfortune had already 
happened, and solely the successes of the tanks explain the 
large numbers of prisoners which so painfully reduced our 
strengths, and brought about a more rapid consumption of 
reserves than we had hitherto been accustomed to. 

" We were not in a position to oppose to the enemy equal 
masses of German tanks. Their construction would have 
exceeded the resources of our industry, which was strained to 
the uttermost, or other more important things would have had 
to be neglected. 

" But it is the reserve situation which has become ab 
solutely decisive. The Army entered the great battle with 
weak complements. In spite of all the measures adopted, the 
strength of our battalions sank from about 800 in April to 
about 540 at the end of September. Moreover, this number 
could only be maintained by the dissolution of twenty-two in 
fantry divisions, the equivalent of sixty-six infantry regiments. 

" The Bulgarian defeat devoured seven further divisions. 



AFTER THE BATTLE 283 

There is no prospect of bringing the strengths to a higher level. 
The current enrolments, the convalescents, and the combings- 
out will not even cover the losses of a tranquil winter cam 
paign. Only the embodiment of the 1900 class will give the 
battalion strengths a single increase of 100 men. Then our 
last reserve of men will be exhausted. 

" The losses in the battle now in progress have been unex 
pectedly high, especially in officers. More than ever the 
troops require the example of their officers, whether in defense 
or attack. The officers had to, and have, recklessly risked and 
sacrificed themselves. The regimental commanders and higher 
leaders fought in the front line. Only one example: In two 
days of battle, one division lost all its officers, killed or wound 
ed. Three regimental commanders were killed. The small 
body of active officers still available has melted away. The 
building-up of the divisions coming from the great battle is 
now hardly practicable. What is true of officers is also true of 
non-commissioned officers. Through American help the 
enemy is in a position to replace his losses. American troops 
as such are not of special value, to say nothing of being super 
ior to ours. Where they attained initial successes by mass tac 
tics they were repulsed in spite of their superiority in numbers. 
It was, however, decisive that they were able to take over wide 
stretches of front, and thus give the English and French the 
possibility to set free their own battle-tried divisions and create 
for themselves almost inexhaustible reserves. 

" So far, our reserves have sufficed to fill the gaps. The 
railway brought them up promptly. Assaults of unparalleled 
severity were repulsed. The battles are described as of un 
exampled severity. Now our reserves are coming to an end. 
If the enemy continues to attack, the situation may demand 
that we retire fighting along large stretches of the front. In 
this way, we can continue the war for an indefinite time, im 
pose heavy losses on the enemy, and leave behind us devastated 
country, but that can no longer give us victory. 

" These perceptions and events brought to maturity in the 



284 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

minds of the General-Field-Marshal and General Ludendorff 
the decision, to propose to the Emperor to attempt to break off 
the struggle, in order to spare the German nation and its allies 
further sacrifices. 

; Just as our great offensive of July 15 was immediately 
broken off when its continuation was no longer commensurate 
with the necessary sacrifices, even so it has now become neces 
sary to abandon the continuation of the war as hopeless (aus- 
sichtslos). We still have time for this. The German army is 
still strong enough to delay the enemy for months, to attain 
local successes, and to confront the Entente with fresh sacri 
fices. But every additional day brings the enemy nearer to the 
goal, and will make him less inclined to conclude a peace 
which would be tolerable for us. 

" Therefore no time must be lost. Any twenty-four hours 
may change the situation for the worse, and give the enemy a 
chance of clearly recognizing our present weakness. That 
might have the most disastrous consequences for the prospects 
of peace as for the military situation. 

Commenting on this, the Daily Telegraph says: "From 
Col. Bauer s narrative and the documents which he cites, it is 
established beyond controversy that Prince Max s request for 
a cessation of hostilities, sent off on the night of Oct. 4-5, was 
the result of the action not of the politicians, but of the gen 
erals, and that the motive behind it was the realization that 
Germany had been beaten in the field and could only escape 
appalling military disaster by the transfer of the struggle from 
the battleground to the green table." 

Any hopes that Ludendorff may have had of being able to 
stem the tide were finally wrecked in this battle of Cambrai. 
The Canadian Corps had done far more than break down the 
defense on their front; they had pierced through his entire 
system, had cut off his armies in the north from his armies in 
the south, and had turned the Hindenburg Line so that there 
after our Third and Fourth Armies were able to march for 
ward, capturing towns and villages, and encountering for the 



AFTER THE BATTLE 285 

most part but enemy rearguards, fighting delaying actions. 
Only at St. Quentin was a real organized defense offered, and 
that soon broke down before the valor of British and 
Australian troops. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE CORPS COMMANDER 

ON Oct. 3 the Corps Commander issued the following 
special order to the troops of his command :- 

"I wish to express to all troops now 1 fighting in the 
Canadian Corps my high appreciation of the splendid fighting 
qualities displayed by them in the successful battle of the last 
five days. 

"The mission assigned to the Corps was the protection of 
the flank of the Third and Fourth Armies in their advance, 
and that mission has been carried out to the complete satisfac 
tion of the Commander-in-Chief. 

"In your advance you overcame the very formidable ob 
stacle of the Canal du Nord ; you carried by assault the forti 
fied Bourlon Wood, the Marcoing line, and seized the high 
ground extending along the Douai Cambrai road. The 
towns of Oisy-le-Verger, Epinoy, Haynecourt, Marquion, 
Sains-lez-Marquion, Sancourt, Bourlon, Fontaine-Notre- 
Dame, Raillencourt, Sailly, St. Olle, Neuville St. Remy, and 
Tilloy are now ours, and your patrols have entered Cambrai 
itself. 

"How arduous was the task assigned to you, and how valu 
able to the enemy was the ground that you captured, can be 
judged by the fact that whereas in the operations of the First, 
Third and Fourth British Armies 36 enemy divisions have 
been engaged to this date, 12 of those divisions, supported by 
1 1 independent machine-gun units, have been met and 
defeated by the Canadian Corps. 

"As you formed the flank you suffered enfilade and frontal 
artillery fire all the way, and the hundreds of machine-guns 
captured testifies to the violence of the opposition from that 
source. Every evidence confirms the fact that the enemy suf- 

286 



THE CORPS COMMANDER 287 

fered enormous casualties. He fought stubbornly and well, 
and for that reason your victory is the more creditable. 

"You have taken in this battle over 7,000 prisoners and 200 
Field and Heavy guns, thus bringing the total captures of the 
Canadian Corps since Aug. 8 of this year to 28,000 prisoners, 
500 guns, over 3,000 machine-guns, and a large amount of 
stores of all kinds. 

"Even of greater importance than these captures stands the 
fact that you have wrested 69 towns and villages and over 175 
square miles of French soil from the defiling Hun. 

"In the short period of two months the Canadian Corps- 
to which were attached the 32nd. Division for the Battle of 
Amiens, the 4th. and the 51st. Divisions for the Battle of Arras, 
and the 1 1th. Division for this Battle of Cambrai has encoun 
tered and defeated decisively 47 German divisions that is 
nearly a quarter of the total German forces on the Western 
front. 

"In the performance of these mighty achievements all the 
arms and branches of the Corps have bent their purposeful 
energy working one for all and all for one. 

"The dash and magnificent bravery of our incomparable 
Infantry have at all times been devotedly seconded with great 
skill and daring by our Machine-Gunners, while the Artillery 
lent them their powerful and never failing support. The 
initiative and resourcefulness displayed by the Engineers con 
tributed materially to the depth and rapidity of our advances. 
The devotion of the Medical personnel has been, as always, 
worthy of our praise. The administrative services, working 
at all times under very great pressure and adverse conditions, 
surpassed their usual efficiency. The Chaplain Services by 
their continued devotion to the spiritual welfare of the troops 
and their utter disregard of personal risk have endeared them 
selves to the hearts of everyone. The incessant efforts of the 
Y.M.C.A. and their initiative in bringing comforts right up 
to the front line, in battle, are warmly appreciated by all. 

The victories you have achieved are the fruit of the iron 



288 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

discipline you accepted freely and of the high standard you 
have reached in the technical knowledge of your arms and the 
combined tactical employment of all your resources. 

You must therefore with relentless energy maintain and 
perfect the high standard of training you have reached, and 
guard with jealous pride your stern discipline. 

"Under the lasting protection of Divine Providence, united 
in a burning desire for the victory of right over might, unselfish 
in your aims, you are and shall remain a mighty force admired 
by all, feared and respected by foes. 

"I am proud of your deeds and I want to record here my 
heart-felt thanks for your generous efforts and my unbounded 
confidence in your ability to fight victoriously and crush the 
enemy wherever and whenever you meet him." 

The great spirit and high purpose of Sir Arthur Currie 
shine out through these words. He had reason indeed for 
pride in the achievements of his command, and he gives gen 
erous and unstinted praise to all arms. In a great measure, as 
we have seen, it was his own battle, planned by himself, a 
daring piece of strategy whose even partial failure must have 
meant ruin almost irretrievable. That risk he faced because 
of his faith in the men they led, in their courage and high 
state of efficiency, but in those five critical days he must have 
passed many anxious hours. For long victory hung in the 
scales. It was such a crisis as Grant had in his mind when he 
wrote in his memoirs that in every well-contested battle there 
comes a moment when the combatants on both sides become 
exhausted, and the general who at that moment first finds it in 
his heart to make one more effort will generally succeed. By 
nightfall of Oct. 1 the enemy was exhausted and the battle won. 

The men of the Canadian Corps were very wonderful, but 
they owed much more perhaps than the Canadian public 
realize to their Commander. "Even a professional army of 
long standing and old traditions is what its commander makes 
it," wrote the late Col. G. F. R. Henderson in his history, 
Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War. "Its char- 



THE CORPS COMMANDER 289 

acter sooner or later becomes the reflex of his own; from him 
the officers take their tone; his energy or his inactivity, his 
firmness or vacillation, are rapidly communicated even to the 
lower ranks; and so far-reaching is the influence of the leader, 
that those who record his campaigns concern themselves but 
little as a rule with the men who followed him. The history 
of famous armies is the history of great generals, for no army 
has ever achieved great things unless it has been well com 
manded. If the general be second-rate the army also will be 
second-rate. Mutual confidence is the basis of success in war, 
and unless the troops have implicit trust in the resolution and 
resources of their chief, hesitation and half-heartedness are 
sure to mark their actions. They may fight with their accus 
tomed courage; but the eagerness of the conflict, the alacrity 
to support, the determination to conquer, will not be there. 
The indefinable quality which is expressed by the word moral 
will to some degree be affected. " And the writer goes on to 
quote the proud words of Jackson, so applicable to the Cana 
dian Corps: "My men sometimes fail to drive the enemy from 
his position, but to hold one, never!" 

Foch, that great master of the art of war, once said in the 
course of his lectures to the French Staff College : "Who says 
Chief means a man of character; that goes without saying; but 
means also a man capable of understanding and contriving in 
order to obey."* And in another place: "To be disciplined 
does not mean that the soldier commits no fault against discip 
line, that he commits no disorder. To be disciplined does not 
mean that the soldier executes the orders received in such mea 
sure as seems convenient, just, rational or possible; but that 
he enters frankly into the thought and into the views of the 
Chief who has given the order, that he takes all the steps 
humanly practicable to give his Chief satisfaction. To be dis 
ciplined does not mean to keep silence, to abstain from action, 
or to do that only which the soldier thinks he may do without 

*"The Philosophy of General Foch", by Charles Whitley. Blackwood s Maga 
zine, June, 1918. 

20 



290 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

compromising himself; it is not the art of avoiding respon 
sibilities, but rather of acting in the sense of the order received, 
and for that purpose of finding in the mind, by research and 
reflection, the possibility of carrying these orders out, of find 
ing in the character the energy to face the risks which the 
execution of the orders involve." 

Foch quotes with approval the saying of Joseph de 
Maistre: "A battle lost is a battle which the army believes to 
be lost, for a battle cannot be lost materially." Conversely: 
"A battle gained is a battle in which the army refuses to admit 
itself beaten." 

Foch goes on to say: "No victory can be won without a 
vigorous command, greedy of responsibilities and ready for 
bold enterprises, possessing and inspiring in all the energy and 
resolution to go to the very end; without personal action ren 
dered in good will, without judgment, without freedom of 
spirit (in the midst of danger) gifts natural in the highly 
endowed man, in the general born; advantages acquired by 
work and reflection in the ordinary man." 

Sir Arthur Currie took his life and reputation in his hands 
when he decided to attack the Canal du Nord at Inchy. If 
he had failed he would have been covered with shame and 
obloquy. He had been warned, as we have seen, by Sir Julian 
Byng of the formidable nature of his self-appointed task; 
indeed it is not too much to say that at that time no other troops 
in Europe could have undertaken with confidence that aston 
ishing feat of arms. Not only did the device meet with entire 
success, but it saved many thousands of casualties that must 
have been fruitlessly incurred if the Corps Commander had 
stuck by his book by the letter of his orders and thrown the 
Corps into a second Passchendaele at the flooded triangle of 
the Sensee and the Canal du Nord. 

He thus gave proof of the highest discipline and obedience 
as defined by Foch himself, but, to put it mildly, this was not 
the definition that prevailed in the British armies, where the 
bad old tradition, "Theirs not to reason why," too often and 



THE CORPS COMMANDER 291 

too completely obtained. The Canadian Corps, with its 
aggressive Commander, could not therefore have been popular 
with the higher command. It was always stepping out of its 
routine course, its prescribed battle area, and butting into 
other people s territory and field of activity; and in so doing 
it was inevitable that certain corns were trodden upon, certain 
susceptibilities bruised, certain reputations imperilled. 

In time the people of Canada will come to realize how 
great a figure Sir Arthur Currie was on the west front, how his 
commanding personality on the one hand, his passionate devo 
tion to his men on the other, coupled with the unique reputa 
tion the Canadian Corps had won as storm troops and its inde 
pendence of command in the sense that it was not perman 
ently attached to any particular army, but was thrown in wher 
ever need was greatest made him something more than a 
Corps Commander in the ordinary sense; made him in the 
closing months of the war a force to be reckoned with and 
even on occasion placated. Had the war continued he might 
have gone far, his military genius recognized, his vigorous 
leadership proved, save that there must have still attached to 
him the proud disability of being a Canadian citizen-soldier. 

But according to the letter of the law, he is not a good 
subordinate. He cannot be popular with the powers that be; 
he is always complaining about something; getting his own 
way or making it unpleasant for people if he doesn t. Thus, 
when ordered to abandon his planned offensive at Lens and 
take the Corps up to the Salient, he refuses point blank to 
serve under the Commander of the Fifth Army. He is placed 
under his old chief of First Army, looks over the ground before 
Passchendaele and then protests against the whole operation 
as being useless in itself and likely to cost the Corps 15,000 
casualties. But he is told it must be done there are compel 
ling political reasons; for after the terrible battles of 1917 the 
morale of both the British and French armies is low, and it is 
essential to finish the season with a victory. The thrice-ac 
cursed Passhendaele Ridge must be taken. So he sets about to 



292 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

make of it the best job possible, and on that stricken field the 
Canadian Corps plants again the standard of hope in the heart 
of the Allies. 

Then, in the panic of the following March, he finds the 
Corps is being torn to pieces, its Divisions hurried here, there 
and everywhere; orders given and countermanded and then 
issued again. He protests strongly; the Canadian Corps 
whose value is tested must be kept together ; and he wins out. 

Again, in the Amiens show, he protests at the strength of 
the Corps now it has performed its allotted task being 
whittled away in secondary but expensive operations in front 
of Roye; and proposes instead a drive on Bapaume. He ven 
tures to make the suggestion that he believes, "if we made an 
attack on the Third Army front in the direction of Bapaume, 
and in conjunction with an attack by the French from their 
present line, we could force the Boche to evacuate the positions 
he holds on this side of the Somme without ever attacking 
him." And this is exactly what did happen, though, as we 
have seen, the Canadian Corps was transferred to the Arras 
rather than the Albert sector. 

Finally we arrive at that "neck of the woods," the flooded 
triangle of the Sensee and Canal du Nord. He says that it 
cannot and will not be done by the Canadian Corps. But he 
proposes an alternative ; and goes in and wins. After the battle, 
a British Army Commander, in no way connected with the 
operation, said that the attack of the Canadian Corps across 
the Canal du Nord, with the subsequent extension of our line, 
was the most brilliantly executed manoeuvre in the history of 
this war. 

Is all this insubordination? If so it is a quality that makes 
for victory. The average Canadian is always willing "to take 
a chance," because he has confidence in himself. And the 
Corps Commander is very much a Canadian. He was not 
to be bound by precept, nor tradition nor red tape. If he has 
a job to do, he must go about it his own way and no other. 
As Zenophen puts it: "The art of war is to guard one s liberty 
of action." 



THE CORPS COMMANDER 293 

Clausewitz in his book, "On War," enters very fully into the 
qualities of the successful commander. "Military genius," he 
says, "consists in a harmonious association of qualities of which 
one or another may predominate, but none must be in opposi 
tion. It is not the possession of one single quality such as 
courage, for this might exist whilst other necessary qualities 
of mind and soul were wanting." 

After discussing physical and moral courage, he proceeds : 
"The next requisites for war are a certain strength of body 
and also of mind, both of which are necessary to overcome the 
physical exertion and suffering inseparable from war. 
Another essential is good, sound common sense. With the 
above qualifications a man is fairly equipped for war, but to 
be a great commander he requires to have his understanding 
highly developed. Now, if a commander is to succeed in this 
perpetual conflict with the unexpected, two essential qualities 
are what the French call coup d oeil and resolution. By 
coup d oeil is meant a correct survey not only by the physical 
but also by the mental eye. A more modern expression for 
this is a quick and correct appreciation of the situation. Reso 
lution is courage in the face of responsibility and springs from 
the understanding, but mere intelligence is not courage, and 
many clever men are often without resolution. We must 
always guard against the fact that in great emergencies a man 
is apt to be swayed more by his feelings than by carefully 
reasoned thought. Resolution is the child of the intellect and 
the outcome of reasoned thought backed up by a will deter 
mined to carry out what reason dictates. . . . 

"If we take a general view of the four elements composing 
the atmosphere in which war moves, namely, danger, physical 
effort, uncertainty and chance, it is easy to conceive that con 
siderable moral forces are necessary to confront them, and 
these qualities are best described as energy, firmness, staunch 
ness and strength of mind and character. All these qualities 
are nearly related but are by no means the same thing. Energy 
is an active quality and one which a commander who is him- 



294 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

self imbued with it can infuse into his subordinates. Firmness 
denotes the resistance of the will in relation to the force of a 
single blow, staunchness in relation to a continuance of blows. 
A strong mind is one which though capable of deep feelings 
never loses its self-command and in which the perception and 
judgment are able, under all conditions, to act with perfect 
freedom, like the needle of a compass in a storm-tossed ship, 
and which can retain its serenity under the most powerful 
excitement. Strength of character means tenacity of convic 
tion, whether it be the result of our own or others views." 

Clausewitz goes on to say how necessary it is for the com 
mander to have "an eye for country" and he points out the 
difference between the qualities for subordinate and high com 
mand in the following terms : "It is true that a man may be a 
brave, plain, honest soldier without being possessed of much 
power of reflection, resource or fine education, but these 
qualities do not by any means suffice for a man who aspires 
to acquit himself creditably in the higher ranks of the army. 
Each grade of command demands different qualities in differ 
ent proportions, and an extra step in rank often loses for a man 
the reputation he had justly earned in a subordinate position." 

By these standards General Currie measures high as soldier 
and leader. At the beginning of the war it would have seemed 
incredible that a civilian could within so short a space rise to 
such military eminence. 

In this connection a sketch of his pre-war military career 
is of interest. Born at Napperton, Ont., Dec. 5, 1875, Arthur 
William Currie is of Irish-Canadian parentage, his father s 
family emigrating to the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 
1830. In 1893 he went west, teaching school at Sydney, B.C., 
and then followed some years of active business life, in real 
estate and finance. 

In 1897 he enlisted in the 5th. Regiment of Canadian 
Garrison Artillery, and three years later qualified for his 
commission as a gunner, obtaining his captaincy in 1902. 
Always keen on the rifle, in 1905 he was elected president of 



THE CORPS COMMANDER 295 

the British Columbia Rifle Association, and in the following 
year was awarded his majority. Four years later Lt.-Col. 
Currie was appointed to the command of the 5th. C. G. A., 
and in 1913 he took command of an infantry battalion, the 
50th. Regiment, Gordon Highlanders. 

A few days after the war opened, he took his battalion to 
Valcartier, training ground of the First Canadian Contingent, 
and next month was appointed Brig.-General of the 2nd. 
Canadian Infantry Brigade. In February, 1915, he crossed 
over with his command to France. Mentioned in despatches 
in June for his conduct on the battlefield, General Currie in 
the following September was appointed commander of the 
1st. Canadian Division, which he held until when, after Vimy 
in 1917, he succeeded Sir Julian Byng in command of the 
Canadian Corps. 

Given a natural military genius, confirmed by long years 
of study of military problems, and such continuity of training 
as our militia cadres afford, and add to these four years of 
actual battle experience, and the thing is not so impossible. 
Sir Arthur Currie, indeed, is not the only example the war 
offers of a great citizen soldier, but he was fortunate that 
throughout his successive steps in command he had at his con 
trol a weapon inferior to none. When at last he came into 
command of the Canadian Corps, he had the imagination to 
look ahead and foresee the day when it might be called upon 
to break down the seeming impregnable wall the enemy had 
built across the western front, and this purpose he kept always 
before him. Hardly had the bloody wounds of Passchendaele 
healed than he is at work training reinforcements, and infusing 
through all ranks the theory and spirit of the offensive, making 
ready for the day that even in those dark weeks of March he 
saw faintly adumbrated upon the battle scene. 

Nothing, indeed, is more characteristic than the special 
order he issued his troops on March 27, 1918, at an hour when 
many stout hearts quaked. It ran as follows : 

In an endeavor to reach an immediate decision the enemy 



.1 



296 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

has gathered all his forces and struck a mighty blow at the 
British Army. Overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers 
the British Divisions in the line between the Scarpe and the 
Oise have fallen back fighting hard, steady and undismayed. 

"Measures have been taken successfully to meet this Ger 
man onslaught. The French have gathered a powerful Army, 
commanded by a most able and trusted leader, and this Army 
is now moving swiftly to our help. Fresh British Divisions 
are being thrown in. The Canadians are soon to be engaged. 
Our Motor Machine-Gun Brigade has already played a most 
gallant part and once again covered itself with glory. 

"Looking back with pride on the unbroken record of your 
glorious achievements, asking you to realize that today the 
fate of the British Empire hangs in the balance, I place my 
trust in the Canadian Corps, knowing that where Canadians 
are engaged there can be no giving way. 

"Under the .orders of your devoted officers in the coming 
battle you will advance or fall where you stand facing the 
enemy. 

To those who will fall I say, You will not die but step 
into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate but 
will be proud to have borne such sons. Your names will be 
revered forever and ever by your grateful country and God 
will take you unto Himself. 

"Canadians, in this fateful hour, I command you and I 
trust you to fight as you have ever fought with all your strength, 
with all your determination, with all your tranquil courage. 
On many a hard fought field of battle you have overcome this 
enemy. With God s help you shall achieve victory once 



more. 



This sincere simple piety is an essential part of the man. 
It is the fibre of his being and in the hour of distress he turns 
naturally and with complete faith to a higher power. It is 
impossible to be long in contact with him without being con 
vinced that here is a rock of a man, strong of soul, direct, 
straightforward, marching straight to the goal, abhorrent of 



THE CORPS COMMANDER 297 

devious paths, yet very human, stern of purpose but with a 
deep well of tenderness that suffers with his men and seeks 
continually to spare them on any terms short of treachery to 
the cause. Big in mind and spirit as in body, he is actuated 
through all these hard days by but a single motive the honor 
of the Canadian Corps and the defeat of the enemy. 



CHAPTER XII 

CAPTURE OF CAMBRAI 

FOR some days now we had held the west side of the 
Scheldt Canal, from south of St. Olle through Neuville 
St. Remy, and continual sniping went on between troops 
of the 8th. Brigade, C. M. R. s, Brig.-General D. C. Draper, 
and enemy machine-gunners posted opposite in the suburbs 
of Cambrai. But to storm the city by a frontal attack across 
the canal, and then to fight our way through its narrow streets, 
must have proved a very expensive operation without any 
commensurate gain. Great flares showed that the enemy was 
systematically destroying his stores, and in two or three dis 
tricts fire seemed to have hold of the houses. 

The city itself is dominated by the height to the southeast 
lying between the villages of Biergnies and Awoignt, and it 
was decided that our attack should await the capture of this 
height by the XVII Corps on our right. Progress here, how 
ever, was slow, and the combined operation set for Oct. 8 failed 
to come off on that account. Had the troops on our right suc 
ceeded in capturing Awoignt in their attack of that morning, 
the Canadian Corps was to attack at nine o clock the same 
evening the bridgeheads from the north under cover of dark 
ness. But though Awoignt was not taken, it was pretty certain 
that the attention of the enemy was focussed on that battle 
front, and the occasion therefore appearing propitious, it was 
decided late the same night to attack in the small hours of next 
morning. Arrangements had to be completed in a great hurry. 
The Corps Commander describes the events of this period as 
follows : 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division had been in close support 
throughout the day of Oct. 1, and during the night, Oct. 1-2, 
relieved the 4th. Canadian Division and parts of the 3rd. and 

298 



CAPTURE OF CAiMBRAI 299 

1st. Canadian Divisions in the line from the railway south of 
Tilloy to Blecourt, inclusive. On relief, the 4th. Canadian 
Division came into Corps Reserve in bivouacs in the Inchy- 
Queant area. 

"The relief considerably thinned out the Infantry, and 
in anticipation of possible counter-attacks a large number of 
Machine-Gun Batteries were placed in the line. 

"Oct. 2 passed without any substantial change in the situa 
tion. The enemy s Artillery was very active throughout the 
day, and at 6. 15 p.m. he delivered a determined counter-attack, 
with a force estimated at about a Battalion strong, against the 
ridge northeast of Tilloy, on the 2nd. Canadian Division front. 
This counter-attack was repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy. 

"During the night, Oct. 2-3, the 1 1th. Division extended its 
frontage to the right as far as Blecourt (inclusive), relieving 
the remainder of the 1st. Canadian Division, who came into 
Corps Reserve west of the Canal on completion of the relief. 

The dispositions of the Canadian Corps at noon, Oct. 3, 
were as follows : 

"In the line the 3rd. Canadian Division on the right on 
a one-Brigade front, from the Arras Cambrai railway to the 
Cambrai Douai railway south of Tilloy; the 2nd. Canadian 
Division in the centre, on a two-Brigade front, extending to 
the northern outskirts of Blecourt, and the llth. Division on 
the left continuing the line to a point 1,000 yards south of 
Aubencheul-au-Bac. 

"In Corps Reserve the 1st. and 4th. Canadian Divisions. 
The latter was moved to billets in the Haute Avesnes Arras 
area on the night of Oct. 7-8 to give more opportunity to rest 
and refit. 

"The period from Oct. 3 to 8 passed without any material 
changes on the Corps front. An enemy counter-attack was 
beaten off by the 2nd. Canadian Division opposite Bantigny on 
the morning of Oct. 4, and the llth. Division considerably 
improved the line on the northern flank by successful minor 
operations on Oct. 5 and 6. 



300 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"Many patrol encounters took place, in which some 
prisoners were captured, and our Artillery and Machine-Guns 
kept the enemy under continual harassing fire day and night. 
In addition, our Heavy Artillery carried out a daily pro 
gramme of gas concentrations and counter-battery shoots. 

"Orders were received on Oct. 3 for the relief of the Corps 
by the XXII Corps. Concurrently with this relief, and as 
it progressed, the Canadian Corps was to take over the front 
of the XXII Corps. 

"Plans for further operations having been formulated to 
take place on the Third Army front, the Canadian Corps was 
ordered on Oct. 5 to co-operate by forcing the crossings of 
the Scheldt Canal north of Cambrai, and the relief contem 
plated was, therefore, postponed. 

"The Third Army had been successful in crossing the 
Scheldt Canal south of Cambrai between Crevecoeur and Pro- 
ville. The operation now contemplated had for object the cap 
ture of Cambrai by envelopment. This was to be carried out 
in two phases. 

"In the first phase the XVII Corps was to capture Awoignt 
by attacking from the south, the Canadian Corps was to co 
operate by an Artillery demonstration. In the second phase 
the Canadian Corps was to cross the Scheldt Canal and, 
advancing rapidly, capture Escaudoeuvres, joining hands with 
the XVII Corps northeast of Cambrai. 

"The positions occupied by the 3rd. and 2nd. Canadian 
Divisions were not favorable for an attack by day; the 3rd. 
Canadian Division was in front of Cambrai, and house-to- 
house fighting was out of the question; the 2nd. Canadian 
Division was separated from the Canal by glacis-like slopes, 
devoid of cover, and on which the enemy had good observa 
tion from the numerous houses on the east side of the Canal 
as well as from the high ground east of Escaudoeuvres. In 
addition, Morenchies, Pont d Aire, Ramillies, and the villages 
to the north were strongly held by the enemy. 

"In spite of the difficulties of a night operation it was 



CAPTURE OF CAMBRAI 301 

decided that the 2nd Canadian Division would attack by 
night, and attempt to seize the bridges before they were blown 
up by the enemy. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division was to cover the right of the 
2nd. Canadian Division by capturing the railway embank 
ment, and entering Cambrai as soon as possible to prevent any 
action of the enemy against the right flank of the 2nd. Cana 
dian Division, which, under the best circumstances, was bound 
to be in the air for some time after the crossing of the Canal. 

"Brutinel s Brigade was to cross the Canal as soon as 
possible, and extend the gains of the 2nd. Canadian Division 
by seizing the high ground east of Thun St. Martin. Ten 
Brigades of Field Artillery were available for the operation." 

During the previous weeks we had made a number of set 
attacks just before dawn, but an attack at dead of night was a 
novelty. The 2nd. Canadian Division held a line from Tilloy 
to just west of Blecourt, and the direction of their attack, with 
"zero" at 1.30 a.m., was to be due east. In order to distinguish 
one another all the troops attacking were equipped with white 
brassards on both arms. The pass-word of "Cambrai" was 
first selected, but owing to possible confusion with the familiar 
cry, "Kamerad," it was changed to "Borden." There had 
been a careful preliminary rehearsal, in anticipation of the 
attack set for the previous evening, with a plotting out of 
positions for each platoon, for the advance must be made by 
compass alone and everything depended on its orderly progress 
and the avoidance of confusion. 

The 5th. Brigade, Brig.-General T. L. Tremblay, was 
entrusted with the attack on the right on the bridgeheads, the 
Battalions in the line being the 25th., Nova Scotia, and 26th., 
New Brunswick, with the 22nd., French Canadians, in support 
and the 24th., Victoria Rifles of Montreal, holding the line in 
reserve. In the dark it was impossible to mop-up and garri 
sons were left at stated intervals to deal with pockets of the 
enemy. 

Advance of the infantry through the pitch dark of a rainy 



302 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

night could not be synchronized to anything in the nature of a 
creeping barrage, and so instead the artillery laid down crashes 
on selected areas. Everything went well from the start. Our 
patrols had reported that the Boche were holding the sunken 
road west of Ramillies and the road thence running along the 
left bank of the canal to Morenchies Wood. On this area our 
Artillery laid a crash for ten minutes, then lifting their fire 
on to the line of the canal itself. 

Our men found that the enemy garrisons had been either 
wiped out or had fled, and advanced without opposition to the 
canal, the first objective, which was reached on the minute. It 
was of the greatest importance that a crossing should be made 
practical immediately, so that the attack could be pushed for 
ward behind Cambrai itself. For this purpose Canadian 
Engineers advanced with the infantry, bringing cork floats and 
bridging material. Pont d Aire is a series of three bridges, 
leading directly into Escaudoeuvres, and this was the scene of a 
brilliant exploit by an Engineer officer, Capt. Coulson Norman 
Mitchell, commanding the Tunnel Company, 4th. Battalion, 
Canadian Engineers, and a native of Winnipeg, Man. He 
led a small party ahead of the first wave of infantry in order 
to examine the various bridges on the line of approach, and, 
if possible, prevent their destruction. Coming to the Pont 
d Aire, he found the first bridge already blown. Under a 
heavy barrage he crossed to the next bridge where he cut a 
number of "lead" wires. Then, in total darkness and unaware 
of the position or strength of the enemy at the bridgehead, he 
dashed across the main bridge over the canal. This bridge was 
found to be heavily charged for demolition and whilst Capt. 
Mitchell, assisted by his N. C. O., was cutting the wires, the 
enemy attempted to rush the bridge in order to blow up the 
charges, whereupon he at once dashed to the help of his sentry, 
who had been wounded, killed three of the enemy, captured 
twelve and maintained the bridgehead until reinforced. Then, 
under heavy fire, he continued his task of cutting wires and 
removing the charges that he well knew at any moment might 



CAPTURE OF CAMBRAI 303 

have been fired by the enemy, hurling his party and himself 
into the air. He had thus saved two of the bridges, and short 
ened by some hours the work of repair. 

The artillery now laid down a barrage for two hours along 
the far side of the canal, giving our Engineers time to lay their 
crossings. Both the 25th. and 26th. Battalions crossed over the 
Pont d Aire before 4.30 a.m., and proceeded to their final 
objective, which was reached an hour later, before dawn. This 
was 4,000 yards beyond the Scheldt with outposts pushed out 
another 1,000 yards. Strict orders had been given the 5th. 
Brigade that none of its troops were to enter Cambrai; other 
wise they could have penetrated from the north at the same 
time, as will be seen later, that the 8th. Brigade was making 
good its entry from the west. In this very brilliant night 
operation over 300 prisoners were captured and many 
machine-guns, our own casualties being practically nil. 
Many more prisoners were mopped-up by the garrisons as soon 
as daylight appeared. 

But this feat of arms by no means exhausted the work of 
the 2nd. Canadian Division that night. The 4th. Brigade, to 
which Brig.-General C. E. McQuaig had succeeded to the 
command on the appointment of Brig.-General R. Rennie to a 
command in England, was held in reserve, but the 6th. Bri 
gade, now commanded by Brig.-General A. Ross, Brig.- 
General A. H. Bell having been wounded, was set the impor 
tant task of forming a left flank for the operation against the 
canal. The Brigade kicked-ofT from a line east and southeast 
of Sancourt, and advanced to its first objective, a line a thou 
sand yards southeast of Blecourt, and then started to build up 
a flank from that point in a straight line to Ramillies. 

The advance began shortly after the attack of the 5th. 
Brigade had developed, with the 31st. Battalion, of Alberta, 
on the right, and the 27th. Battalion, of Winnipeg, on the left, 
the 29th. Battalion, Vancouver, in close support, and the 28th. 
Battalion, Regina, mopping-up. The 27th. pushed right on 
into Ramillies, where a number of prisoners were captured. 



304 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

This important bridgehead being secured, the 29th. and 31st. 
built up the flank facing northeast, but as it was apparent that 
the enemy was taken completely by surprise by this unexpected 
night attack, our advantage was exploited to the utmost, and 
our troops by noon had pushed on and captured in succession 
Blecourt, Bantigny, Cuvillers and Eswars. At the same time 
the llth. British Division on our left attacked and took the 
high ground and the hitherto impregnable village of Aban- 
court. Thus, at one stroke we secured the plateau which had 
been the scene of such terrible fighting the previous week. The 
enemy had withdrawn the bulk of his forces across the Scheldt 
and his rearguard was driven in with very little loss to our 
selves. 

Meanwhile the 3rd. Canadian Division had crossed the 
canal and captured the city itself. The 8th. Brigade was hold 
ing the west side of the canal, the 5th. C.M.R., Eastern Town 
ships, being at St. Olle, when at three o clock of this same 
morning orders came to send a patrol across the canal with 
the view of establishing a bridgehead beyond. Two of our 
men swam the canal, landed on the other side, and proceeded 
to bomb out the enemy machine-gun post known to be estab 
lished at the railway bridgehead. But they found the post 
deserted. The enemy had evacuated the city half an hour 
after midnight. Linked arm in arm, our infantry streamed 
over this broken-down bridge and by 4.30 a.m. two companies 
were across. 

By six o clock Canadian Engineers had constructed a pon 
toon bridge, over which our field batteries crossed, and by 6.30 
a.m. we had penetrated the Place d Armes and an officer s 
patrol was sent to inform our surprised neighbors, troops of 
the XVII Corps on our right, that we were in possession. The 
4th. C.M.R., Central Ontario, had been simultaneously 
engaged in penetrating the city from the northeast and by 
10.30 a.m. we had pushed through to the southern and eastern 
outskirts. Captures consisted of an officer and 35 men of a 
Guards Reserve Division, left behind to complete the destruc- 



CAPTURE OF CAMBRAI 305 

tion of the city, with five guns, a pineapple and a number of 
machine-guns. The rest of his material the enemy had either 
removed or destroyed. The capture of Cambrai was accom 
plished without a single casualty. 

But Cambrai had been delivered over to destruction. We 
had been compelled to level with our artillery a street of houses 
along the canal, and had sprayed shrapnel on commanding 
points whence the enemy had kept up a harassing machine-gun 
fire, but otherwise we had been careful not to damage the city. 
As we entered it the darkness of night was lit up by incendiary 
fires. The Place d Armes, a noble square, on which faced the 
Hotel de Ville and other fine buildings, was already bursting 
into flames and in a few hours was a crumbling ruin. Explo 
sions detonated in almost every quarter of the city. Walking 
down the Rue de Noyon and the Rue de Paris past the Cathe 
dral one noted a dozen in a bare half hour, each followed by 
an outbreak of fire. Before long Canadian Engineers were 
on the scene, searching buildings for incendiary shells set with 
a time fuse, the method of destruction adopted. 

By noon the Place d Armes was a scene of desolation, of 
charred brick and smoldering timbers. The sun hung a fiery 
ball amid the smoke and an atmosphere surcharged with the 
dust of rocking walls and charred particles. Through this 
ruddy haze passed Canadian soldiers wearing "pickel" hel 
mets found in an abandoned quartermaster s stores and loaded 
down with enemy gear; through it hurried Canadian 
Engineers, now bent on blowing up burning houses clustering 
round the ancient belfry that that at least might be saved; 
through it paced a little party headed by a venerable figure, 
M. Thuliez, Abbe of St. Drouin, surveying the ruin that had 
overtaken his diocesan capital. The inhabitants had been 
evacuated but a few days before the miserable remnant that 
was left but he had refused to go, although they threatened 
to shoot him, because he must stay by the bedside of a dying 
woman. Now he was accompanied by half a dozen shadowy 
figures who had remained hid in cellars, and by a bearded 

21 



306 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

French officer, who had arrived as representative of the 
French Government. 

"France can never forget nor forgive this," remarked this 
officer with tears in his eyes. "Torch in hand he comes offer 
ing us peace." It was a vile, purposeless act of vandalism, for 
which General von Marwitz was the Army Commander 
responsible. A west wind was then blowing and the entire 
city with its suburbs appeared doomed. A shift of wind 
that night, together with the tireless efforts of Canadian 
Engineers, assisted by two of our infantry battalions detailed 
for the work, finally checked the conflagration. But the heart 
of the city was gone. Everything of interest, of historical 
value, save the belfry, was destroyed. The Boche had deliber 
ately blown up the museum, the gallery of art and the Bishop s 
Palace, but one may be certain it was not until every article 
of value had been removed. All industries had been wrecked 
and the machinery of the lace factories removed to Germany. 

And this malignant spite was by no means confined to pub 
lic institutions. No sooner was the civilian population eva 
cuated, than their homes were given over to sack by the sol 
diery. Outwardly the streets and houses bore a respectable 
appearance; within all was litter and ruin where the lust of 
loot led to senseless and wanton destruction, the kicking-in of 
furniture too heavy to move, the smashing of heavy mirrors, 
the slashing of family portraits. Almost every little back 
garden was the scene of brutal vandalism. Women s clothing, 
children s toys, pictures ripped from their frames, broken 
services of china, feather-beds ripped open, books, bed linen, 
private papers scattered from their files all are piled in one 
common ruin. On this debris everything portable in the house 
has been piled, no doubt with the intention of setting it on 
fire. But search the heap and you will not find a single article 
of intrinsic value that could have found its way into a soldier s 
knapsack, into a Prussian officer s kit. In the parks even the 
statues had been taken from their pedestals. We had heard of 
these things ; now we saw them. 



CAPTURE OF CAMBRAI 307 

While Cambrai burned, the enemy was falling back. The 
5th. Brigade had meantime pushed through the northern 
suburbs of Cambrai and Escaudoeuvres and crossed the rail 
way to where late in the day at the factory northwest of Cauroir 
our troops joined hands with elements of the XVII Corps, 
who, after taking Awoignt, had worked round east of the city. 
Patrols were pushed out but had difficulty in getting in touch 
with the enemy. On the left the 6th. Brigade had pushed out 
by nightfall to the outskirts of Thun St. Martin and Thun 
1 Eveque. Earlier in the day Brutinel s Brigade had seized 
the high ground of Croix-St Hubert. As the Canadian Inde 
pendent Force this Brigade, with its powerful armored cars, 
had done much good work in the Amiens show and elsewhere. 
Its mobile characteristics were to become increasingly valu 
able in the open fighting to follow. 

With the fall of Cambrai the battle proper of that name 
may be regarded as having ended, though, as we shall see, 
during the next few days the 2nd. Canadian Division was to 
continue the pursuit of the beaten enemy. Sir Arthur Currie s 
despatch covering the operation of Oct. 9 is as follows :- 

"At 4.30 a.m., Oct. 8, the Third Army attacked, and at the 
same hour an artillery demonstration was carried out on the 
Canadian Corps front. 

"The XVII Corps on the right did not reach Awoignt, 
but in the evening they were ordered to continue their advance 
on the morning of Oct. 9 to capture this town; concurrently 
with this advance the Canadian Corps was to secure the cross 
ings of the Scheldt Canal. 

"In spite of the darkness of a rainy night the assembly was 
completed, and the attack was launched successfully at 1.30 
a.m., Oct. 9. Rapid progress was made, and at 2.25 a.m. the 
2nd. Canadian Division had captured Ramillies and estab 
lished posts on the Canal there, and patrols were pushing out 
to the northeast. On the right the Infantry, assisted by a party 
of Engineers, rushed the crossings at Pont d Aire, and, after 
sharp fighting, captured the bridge intact, with the exception 



308 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of the western spillway, which had been partially destroyed. 
Two cork bridges were thrown across, and by 3.35 a.m. our 
Infantry were well established on the eastern side of the Canal. 
The 3rd. Canadian Division had cleared the railway, and their 
patrols were pushing into Cambrai, while the Engineers were 
commencing work on the bridges. 

"By 8 a.m. the 2nd. Canadian Division had captured 
Escaudoeuvres, and had established a line on the high ground 
immediately to the north and east. Detachments of the 3rd. 
Canadian Division had by this time completely cleared 
Cambrai of the enemy, and troops of the Third Army could 
be seen coming up towards it from the south. 

"Cambrai was to be deliberately set on fire by the enemy. 
Huge fires were burning in the Square when our patrols went 
through, and many others broke out in all parts of the city. 
Piles of inflammable material were found ready for the torch, 
but the enemy was unable to carry out his intention owing to 
our unexpected attack and rapid progress. A party of one 
officer and a few men, which had been left with instructions 
to set fire to Cambrai, was discovered and dealt with before it 
could do any further damage. The fires were successfully 
checked by a large detachment of Canadian Engineers who 
entered the city with the patrols. A considerable number of 
road mines, booby traps, etc., were also located and removed. 

"An air reconnaissance at dawn indicated that the enemy 
had withdrawn from the area between the Scheldt Canal and 
the Canal de la Sensee, and that all bridges over the latter had 
been destroyed. Brutinel s Brigade, passing through the In 
fantry of the 2nd. Canadian Division, seized the high ground 
at Croix St. Hubert and pushed Cavalry patrols into Thun 
1 Eveque. 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division, east of the Canal, progressed 
towards the north and occupied Thun 1 Eveque, Thun St. 
Martin, Blecourt, Cuvillers, and Bantigny, and the llth. 
Division occupied Abancourt and reached the outskirts of 
Paillencourt. 



CAPTURE OF CAMBRAI 309 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division was withdrawn at 7.10 p.m. 
when the 24th. Division (XVII Corps) passed through and 
joined up with the 2nd. Canadian Division, and Cambrai and 
our positions to the east were taken over or occupied by the 
XVII Corps. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division was moved on the following 
day to bivouacs in the Inchy-Queant area to rest and refit after 
12 days of battle." 



CHAPTER XIII 

CONCLUSION OF THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 

ALTHOUGH Cambrai had fallen, the battle itself is not 
officially regarded by the Canadian Corps as concluding 
until Oct. 12, when we were five miles east of the city and 
the relief of the 2nd. Canadian Division our last Division in 
the line was effected. It will be well to describe these con 
cluding days before turning to the new field of operations 
opened up for the Corps north of the Sensee by the 1st. Cana 
dian Division. 

On Oct. 10 the attack was continued with the 2nd. Cana 
dian Division on the right and the llth. British Division on 
the left. The front of the 2nd. Division was changed to north 
of the Cambrai-Salzoir road, and at midnight, Oct. 9-10, the 
4th. Brigade advanced through the 5th. Brigade, with their 
right flank on this road. The 19th. Battalion, Central Ontario, 
on the right jumped off at 7 a.m. from the railway cutting in 
front of Escaudoeuvres, and captured the village of Naves at 
7.45 a.m. At 8 a.m. the 18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 
jumped off on the left and attacked towards Iwuy. The 4th. 
Brigade was in touch on the right with the left Brigade of 
the Third Army just north of Rieux. 

At two o clock in the afternoon the 19th. Battalion 
advanced another 1,000 yards and got two companies across 
the Erclin river. At 7 p.m. they advanced another 1,500 yards, 
and took possession of the high ground, which was to be the 
assembly point for the attack on the following day. That 
night a relief of the troops by the 49th. British Division was 
ordered, and the 4th. Brigade was to side-slip and attack on a 
narrow front along the roadway east of Iwuy. The 20th. 
Battalion, Central Ontario, and 21st. Battalion, Eastern 
Ontario, were ordered to make the attack at 8 a.m. of Oct. 1 1, 

310 



CONCLUSION OF THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 311 

with the 18th. Battalion in support. As it was impossible to 
relieve the 19th. Battalion properly, the troops of the 49th. 
Division were to pass through them and they were then to go 
into reserve. 

Meantime, on Oct. 10, the 6th. Brigade had attacked on 
the left of the 4th. Brigade, the 28th. Battalion, of Regina, on 
the right capturing the village of Thun St. Martin, in the face 
of very heavy opposition, especially in the northern end of 
the village, just south of Iwuy, where the enemy had an 
immense munition dump; while on the Brigade left the 29th. 
Battalion, of Vancouver, stormed Thun 1 Eveque. 

Enemy defense had now hardened, and it was apparent 
that the strongly held position of Iwuy could be taken only by 
a set battle. A narrow neck of water, an affluent of the Scheldt, 
lies on the front of Iwuy, and surrounding it was a network of 
railway yards and sidings. Advantage of these obstacles had 
been taken to establish numerous machine-gun posts. 

The attack was made at 8 a.m. by the 49th. Division on the 
right and the 2nd. Canadian Division on the left, the latter 
with the 4th. Brigade on its right and the 6th. Brigade on its 
left. To deal with Iwuy first. A frontal attack was made by 
the 28th. Battalion, while the 29th. Battalion pushed forward 
on the left of the village. Very hard fighting ensued but by 
noon the village was in our hands. "It was the hardest piece 
of fighting the 28th. ever did," said one of its officers. "The 
place was full of machine-guns, and it took us three or four 
hours to clean it up. It was all hand-to-hand fighting, the 
Boche being stout fellows. The battalion was broken up into 
small parties, fighting their way from house to house. One 
section under Lieut. White, of Saskatoon, captured the crews 
of five machine-guns itself." Altogether about 500 prisoners 
were captured with over 50 machine-guns in this very brilliant 
little affair. 

At noon the remaining battalions of the 6th. Brigade, the 
27th., of Winnipeg, and the 31st., Southern Alberta, pushed 
through the 28th. and 29th. Battalion, on the right and left 



312 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

respectively, establishing a line 1,200 yards beyond Iwuy. 

While this was going on, the 49th. British Division on the 
right had fought its way forward to the high ground east of 
the village. Our 4th. Brigade, advancing between this Divi 
sion and Iwuy, had a very trying time, for until the village 
was reduced both the attacking Battalions, the 20th. and 21st., 
were exposed to heavy enfilade fire from Iwuy. Their casual 
ties were heavy, totalling 700, but nevertheless they pushed 
their line forward along sunken roads east of the village and 
finally made good the top of Iwuy Spur. 

This fighting was the scene of a brilliant exploit by Lieut. 
Lloyd Wallace Algie, 20th. Battalion, of Toronto, who showed 
conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice when his troops came 
under heavy enfilade fire from Iwuy. Rushing forward with 
nine volunteers, he shot the crew of an enemy machine-gun, 
turning it on the enemy and thus enabling his party to reach the 
outskirts of the village. He then rushed another machine-gun, 
killed the crew and captured an officer and 10 men, and 
thereby cleared the end of the village. Lieut. Algie, having 
thus established his party, went back for reinforcements, but 
was killed when leading them forward. 

In the course of the day the enemy made a strong counter 
attack against the front of both the 49th. Division and our 
4th. Brigade, supported by a number of tanks. The line fell 
back some distance but was later re-established. Against the 
4th. Brigade the enemy sent five tanks, four being captured 
British tanks. These were beaten off by our artillery and 
machine-gun fire, but the fifth, an uncouth German monster, 
was disabled, and remained stranded on the ridge, an object of 
curiosity to our men, its crude pattern exciting a good deal of 
chaffing. All these tanks fired case shot. Lieut. Crombie, 
when the advance of the enemy tanks had momentarily thrown 
our line into confusion, used an anti-tank rifle with good effect, 
until he was mortally wounded. 

When the 4th. Brigade fell back before this attack, the 
27th. Brigade was left for the time in front of Iwuy with its 



CONCLUSION OF THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 313 

right flank in the air, but Lt.-Col. H. J. Riley, who had estab 
lished his headquarters in Iwuy itself, speedily built up a 
protective flank with his reserve companies. 

During the afternoon and night Iwuy and our entire line 
was heavily and steadily shelled by the enemy, so that it was 
exceedingly difficult to relieve or support units in advance 
of the village, but, though suffering heavy loss, the 27th. held 
the ground they had won until relieved in due course. Our 
troops of both the 4th. and 6th. Brigades were worn out by 
long marching and hard fighting, and had lost heavily, espe 
cially in officers and experienced N. C. O. s. The news that 
the 2nd. Canadian Division was to be relieved on the follow 
ing day by the 51st. British Division was therefore welcome. 

On the morning of Oct. 12, on our left, the 5th. Brigade 
sent the 24th. Battalion, Victoria Rifles of Montreal, through 
the 6th Brigade, and this Battalion, in conjunction with troops 
of the 51st. Division, attacked in a northerly direction, captur 
ing Hordain and pushed on to the outskirts of Bouchain, 
where the flooded area of inundations and marshes put a stop 
to our farther advance in this direction. Patrols of the 26th. 
Battalion, New Brunswick, and 25th. Battalion, Nova Scotia, 
actually pushed across the inundated area west of Bouchain, 
but nothing more could be done in this direction until further 
progress had been made south of Douai in the operation that 
had now opened along the Scarpe River. 

That night the 2nd. Canadian Division was relieved and 
transferred to the new Corps area. This change of front is 
described by Sir Arthur Currie as follows: "The attack was 
continued at 6 a.m., Oct. 10, by the 2nd. Canadian and llth. 
(British) Divisions, and good progress was made. The 2nd. 
Canadian Division captured Naves, and by nightfall reached 
a point one and a half miles northeast on the Cambrai-Salzoir 
road. From there our line ran westwards to the Scheldt 
Canal, exclusive of Iwuy, where we were held up by machine- 
gun fire. 

"In this attack Brutinel s Brigade operated along the 



314 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Cambrai-Salzoir road, but finding the bridge over the Erclin 
River destroyed could not get their cars further forward. 

"This bridge, although on the outpost line under heavy 
fire, was immediately replaced by the Engineers, a covering 
party being supplied by BrutineFs Brigade. Machine-gun 
crews from the cars went forward on foot, however, and mater 
ially assisted the Infantry advancing at this point, and the 
Corps Cavalry, by a brilliant charge, helped in the capture 
of the ground east of the Rieux-Iwuy road. 

"On the left, the 1 1th. Division cleared the enemy from the 
area between the Scheldt Canal and the Sensee Canal, captured 
Paillencourt and Estrun, and reached the outskirts of Hem- 
Lenglet, which they occupied during the night. 

"The 49th. and 51st. Divisions were released from Army 
Reserve and transferred to the Canadian Corps on Oct. 10. 
During the night of Oct. 10-11 the former relieved that part of 
the 2nd. Canadian Division east of Iwuy, and the 51st. (High 
land) Division moved to the Escaudoeuvres area. 

"At 8 a.m., Oct. 11, the Canadian Corps resumed the attack 
with the 49th. Division on the right and the 2nd. Canadian 
Division on the left. The enemy laid down a heavy Artillery 
barrage and both Divisions encountered stiff opposition. After 
fierce fighting, however, our attack made good progress, the 
49th. Division gaining the high ground east of Iwuy, and the 
2nd. Canadian Division capturing Iwuy and the high ground 
to the north. 

"About 10.30 a.m. the enemy delivered a heavy counter 
attack under an Artillery barrage and supported by seven 
Tanks, from the direction of Avesnes-le-Sec, against the 49th. 
and 2nd. Canadian Divisions. Our line was forced back 
slightly at first, but six of the Tanks were knocked out by our 
Artillery, the assaulting Infantry dispersed by our machine- 
gun and rifle fire, and the attack repulsed. 

"Meanwhile, on Oct. 7-8, the 1st. Canadian Division had 
relieved the 4th. (British) Division (XXII Corps) on the 
frontage between Palluel and the Scarpe River, and passed 
under the command of the G. O. C, XXII Corps. 



CONCLUSION OF THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI 315 

"At 5 p.m., Oct. 11, I handed over command of the Corps 
front (less the llth. Divisional sector) to the G. O. C., XXII 
Corps, and the 2nd. Canadian and the 49th. and 51st. Divi 
sions were transferred to the XXII Corps. 

"At the same hour I assumed command of the former 
XXII Corps front, and the 56th. and the 1st. Canadian Divi 
sions were transferred in the line to the Canadian Corps. 

"During the night of Oct. 11-12 the 2nd. Canadian Divi 
sion was relieved in the line east of the Iwuy-Denain railway 
by the 51st. (Highland) Division, and on completion of the 
relief I assumed command of the remainder of the 2nd. Cana 
dian Divisional front, extending from the Iwuy-Denain rail 
way (exclusive) to the Scheldt Canal. 

"The battle of Arras-Cambrai, so fruitful in results, was 
now closed. Since Aug. 26 the Canadian Corps had advanced 
23 miles, fighting for every foot of ground and overcoming 
the most bitter resistance. 

"In that period the Canadian Corps engaged and defeated 
decisively 31 German Divisions, reinforced by numerous 
Marksmen Machine-Gun Companies. These Divisions were 
met in strongly fortified positions and under conditions most 
favorable to the defense. 

"In this battle 18,585 prisoners were captured by us, to 
gether with 371 guns, 1,923 Machine-Guns and many Trench 
Mortars. 

"Over 1 16 square miles of French soil, containing 54 towns 
and villages, and including the city of Cambrai, were liber 
ated. 

"The severity of the fighting and the heroism of our troops 
may be gathered from the casualties suffered between Aug. 22 
and Oct. 11, and which are as follows:- 

Officers Other Ranks 

Killed 296 4,071 

Missing 18 1,912 

Wounded 1,230 23,279 

Total 1,544 29,262 



316 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"Considering the great number of German Divisions en 
gaged and the tremendous artillery and machine-gun fire 
power at their disposal, the comparative lightness of our 
casualties testified to the excellence of the precautions taken 
by Divisional, Brigade, and Regimental Officers to minimize 
the loss of life, having ever in mind the performance of their 
duty and the accomplishment of their heavy task." 

Such was the battle of Cambrai. There remains only to 
quote the telegram sent to the Corps Commander on Oct. 1 by 
General Sir Henry E. Home, commanding the First Army: 
"I wish to express to you and the troops under your com 
mand my high appreciation of the determined fighting of the 
Canadian troops during the last five days. During this time 
Canadian troops, assisted by the llth. Division and portions 
of the 56th. Division, successfully carried through the difficult 
manoeuvre of forcing the crossing of the Canal du Nord in 
face of a determined enemy, and have captured Bourlon Wood 
and the high ground north and northwest of Cambrai. The 
importance which the enemy attached to these positions is 
shown by the number of Divisions which he has employed 
and by the violence of his counter-attacks during the last two 
days. Troops of no less than 12 hostile Divisions have been 
engaged during this period in the attempt to stem the suc 
cessful advance of the Corps." 



VALENCIENNES TO MONS 



VALENCIENNES TO MONS 



CHAPTER I 

BATTLE PIECES 

ON Sept. 28 Canadian Corps Headquarters moved from 
Neuville Vitasse into what had been an enemy head 
quarters situated in the heart of the Drocourt-Queant 
line half a mile east of Queant. The new camp is on rising 
ground and remains fairly dry even in wet weather, a pleasant 
change from our previous quarters. The enemy had here 
constructed elaborate dug-outs, 30 feet below the surface, with 
commodious canvas-lined rooms. But for the most part the 
staff works and sleeps in tents grouped in and about a little 
wood, the whole camouflaged against air observation. 

The enemy persistently shells our railhead at Queant with 
a long-distance gun, whose shell at stated intervals goes whin 
ing over the camp. Trainloads of prisoners standing over 
night in the yards waiting to be moved to the base protest at 
our inhumanity. Little damage is done, though one shell 
lands in the lines of the Corps Garage. Several Canadian 
Ambulances are located at Queant but escape injury. 

There joins the Canadian Corps about this time a young 
staff officer lent by the British Army who at once makes 
himself very popular. This is H. R. H. the Prince of Wales. 
Some of us had apprehensions of an atmosphere of "swank" 
and embarrassment, but these are speedily set at rest. He 
lives like any other staff officer in an Armstrong hut, and 
soon he is a familiar figure, chatting freely with both officers 
and men, and it is not long before "G.S.O. No. 2" is regarded 
as a distinct acquisition to Corps. He brings with him a 
charm and vivacity of manner one thought of his Grand- 

319 



320 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

father, King Edward that sets us all at our ease, an unstudied 
courtesy and friendly interest that breaks down the most 
crusted reserve, with a keenness for his work that at times 
must be a source of anxiety to those responsible for his well 
being, for he is never so happy as when "rotting round the 
front line," and has a way of slipping off by himself and pay 
ing unexpected visits to battalion and company headquarters. 
It is after one of these, when his host was clearly overcome 
by the honor unexpectedly thrust upon him, that he remarks : 
"He couldn t have been afraid of me] it must have been of 
the name." 

So through several weeks he weaves his unconscious 
charm, and when he comes to leave us, it is with reluctance on 
his part and regret on ours; for not even the sternest democrat 
among us, whether officer or man in the ranks, can long resist 
a winning personality whose frankness disarms while his 
natural unassuming bearing wins confidence and even affec 
tion. It is a valuable experience on both sides. Citizens of 
a democratic country like Canada are accustomed to the aloof 
detachment and cultivated superiority of their great ones- 
in a word, to the snobbishness of wealth and power and it 
is a delightful contrast to find in the heir to the throne a fine 
simplicity and the easy assumption of equality as among sol 
diers and friends. 

This impression is so genuine, so spontaneous, that one 
hears his praises on every hand. "Gentlemen, the Prince of 
Wales will dine with us tomorrow night, and I want you all to 
be in your places." The injunction of the mess president was 
not needed and that evening will always be remembered by 
members of friendly "C Mess as a most delightful experi 
ence most of us might be described by the ungenerous as 
"old fogies," but that night we refurbished our youth and gave 

the Prince a good old-fashioned Canadian welcome. 


It is at Queant that news comes to the Canadian Corps 
of the armistice proposals. "Enemy accepts unconditionally 



BATTLE PIECES 321 

Wilson s terms, agrees to evacuate and asks for an immediate 
armistice." 

"I don t think we ll listen to that for a while; everything 
is going fine and the spirit of our men is splendid," comments 
an officer of the 5th C.M.R., first to enter Cambrai, where 
the news reached him. "We must have an unconditional 
surrender, or in two months time he will be ready to start 
at us again." And one of his men adds : "We lads have been 
at it a long time but we want to see it through even if we 
stay six months or a year." 

It is interesting to collect these views while the news is 
yet hot. "He knows he s beaten; we ll have our own peace 
this winter," says a private from the Ottawa Valley. A 
Tommy from the W 7 est Riding: "When Gerry comes knock 
ing at the door with his pride in his pocket, he must be in 
a pretty bad way." A cook of our 87th. Battalion: "We ve 
got him going and must keep pushing him along. If he had 
us where we had him he wouldn t listen to soft soap peace 
ofrers. It s the Rhine for us. When we get there next year 
he ll knuckle down." Another man of the same battalion 
(Grenadier Guards of Montreal) : "They ll know how to 
deal with him. Bullets are the only peace argument the 
Boche can understand." 

A Sergeant who was reputed to have charged a machine- 
gun nest in Blecourt with his bare fists : "The Hun is bank 
rupt. We must make him liquidate to the last cent of his 
assets. Our widows and orphans demand it. That can be 
done only by the sword." 

The Captain of an imperial heavy battery, working his 
guns from the slope of Bourlon Wood, is of the same opinion. 
"I don t like it," he says. "The enemy is short of men and 
material. He is crippled for lack of field-guns and his ammu 
nition seems running low. He ll drag on peace negotiations 
for three months and then go at us again." 

Indeed, this news excites more apprehension than hope. 



22 



322 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

For the Canadian soldier the cherished approach to Bour- 
lon Wood must ever be from Inchy-en-Artois over the Canal 
du Nord and then up winding slopes past Quarry Wood, 
crossing the Marquion line, and so through Bourlon town. 
This village, still beautiful, clings beneath the brow of the 
wood. The walls of the great chateau remain, and something 
of the handsome church tower. Its condition, better than its 
neighbors, offers a practical foundation for rebuilding. Seen 
against the dark mass of up-climbing wood, even the white 
flake of ruin adds a decorative touch to the charming picture 
of red roofs and gray stone. The town is very old. For cen 
turies it has looked out over the vale to the western heights 
crowned by the Bois de Bouche. 

On the very crest of the wood, where the road runs south 
to Anneux, lies a tank of the C 2 class, the "Ceylon," No. 
2724, flotsam of the first battle of Cambrai. One of her end 
less chains broken by a direct hit, she must have run off the 
roadbed, for she lies tilted at an extravagant angle over an 
enemy dug-out. Another shell struck the roof. The Boche 
have stripped her engines and all internal fittings. Nature 
has taken her to herself and in her mossy decrepitude she is 
part and parcel of the soil. For the revolving treads carry 
on their upper surfaces deposits of earth; on these little gar 
dens have sprung up, the seed borne by birds and the wind. 
They resemble miniature kindergarten classes, for on this 
roof of steel now flourish grass and clover, bindweed and 
buttercup, daisies and Ragged Robin. Even through her 
broken tractor a little beech tree struggles. Good tank 
"Ceylon." You did not achieve that eminence and there 
render your life until your task was done, for even as you 
floundered and stopped, there came the sharp yell of the 
infantry as they fell upon the Boche gunners with bayonet 
and bomb. 

Within a stone s throw to the left, where the raised road 
gives protection, lies an enemy 5.9-inch battery position. 
Shells already fused stand in place, but the guns are on their 



BATTLE PIECES 323 

way to the Canadian Corps captured-gtm park. A light 
railway runs up to the battery from Fontaine-Notre-Dame. 
Most of the dug-outs are unfinished and blind the Boche 
was packing-in for the winter even as we fell upon him. 

On the west end of the wood is a wonderful "O-Pip," 
built up into the trees, commanding a wide sweep of country 
in front of the Marquion line and the Canal du Nord. Near 
by are two 8-inch guns, captured by Byng the previous 
November but not removed and still lying there, rusted and 
impressive. 

The top of the wood, intact though it seems from a dis 
tance, is blasted. Only splintered trunks remain and these 
too must die. "The trees in this wood have been nurtured 
with blood," remarked a captured German officer. But on 
the southern and eastern slopes the ancient growth of oak 
and beech is unscathed, clothing the steep hillside. Black 
berries are thick in the underbrush. A rabbit pops in and out. 
"What a show-place for the British tourist," says our com 
panion. "A franc a head to see the famous wood and the 
graves. Let them here amid their sandwiches and orange 
peel pour out a libation to the heroes of England and of 
Canada who died upon these slopes." 

Standing on the crest of Bourlon Wood one surveys the 
battlefield not alone of today but of November, 1917. From 
dawn and until dark, in and around Bourlon Wood, four 
British divisions here withstood overwhelming masses of the 
enemy, and so saved the army from disaster. For them, per 
haps, weary and bleeding, it was sufficient that they had done 
their duty as became British soldiers. Modest, steadfast and 
cheerful in adversity, his ingenuity constantly at work to 
belittle his own part in the show, the British soldier, whether 
of the old army or the new, is instinct in eminent degree with 
those qualities of mind and spirit that alone enabled him to 
hear undaunted the brunt of battle, the anguish of the long 
years of trench warfare, and so, his spirit unshaken, win 
through to final victory. 



324 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Such thoughts arise as one looks over the famous field 
and comes to a German military cemetery where lie honor 
ably buried many of these gallant British soldiers who fell 
in November, 1917. Canada s share in this now common 
heritage of Bourlon Wood has been recorded in the preced 
ing pages. In no battle where her armies were engaged was 
there greater need for, nor more successful application of, 
those special qualities of personal initiative and resource such 
as become second nature to men inured to the free life of the 
farm, the mining-camp or the shanty; in a land where even 
the city dweller from his boyhood up is accustomed once a 
year to take down his rifle from its rack and disappear for 
a treasured interval into the silent fastnesses of the red deer 
or moose. 

For these the long winter evenings glow with reminis 
cences of the chase, of toil and hardy adventure ; they exhibit 
proudly their trophies. They have now been engaged on 
more bitter sport, and in the years to come those of them who 
came through will carry a vivid picture of the dark outline 
of Bourlon Wood, and will cherish the memory of their com 
rades who lie close and ordered in the Canadian cemetery 
behind Bourlon town at foot of the wooded slope. 

* 

The sad news comes to the Corps at Queant one day that 
Major-General L. J. Lipsett, who had so brilliantly com 
manded the 3rd. Canadian Division until after the close of 
the battle of Arras the preceding month, had been killed 
by a sniper s bullet on Oct. 14, while reconnoitering in the 
front line of his new command, the 4th British Division. 

At the outbreak of the war General Lipsett, who was an 
officer of the British Army and had been lent to the Cana 
dian Militia, was stationed at Winnipeg, and proceeded 
immediately to recruit the 8th. Battalion from the 90th. Win 
nipeg Rifles "Little Black Devils" of Riel Rebellion fame 
-taking his unit overseas with the 1st. Canadian Division. 
It was this battalion that in April, 1915, held the line in the 



BATTLE PIECES 325 

Second Battle of Ypres in face of the enemy s first gas attack. 

General Lipsett was successively promoted to command 
of the Brigade and the 3rd. Canadian Division, where his fine 
leadership, a courage that amounted to recklessness, his con 
sideration for his officers and care for his men, soon endeared 
him to all ranks. The war, however, was clearly drawing 
to a close, and there could be no future for a professional 
soldier of his rank with the reduced Canadian Militia, and so 
he accepted the offer of the command of the 4th. British Divi 
sion, regretfully parting from his old comrades, but with 
ahead of him the fairly certain and speedy prospect of a 
Corps Command in the British Army. 

And now he is dead. The Canadian Corps buries him 
at Queant, where the civil cemetery had long overflowed 
its bounds to give shelter to friend and foe alike. It is a 
great and impressive gathering, in the drizzling rain of an 
autumn afternoon. A hollow square of men from every 
branch of the Canadian Corps, and particularly from his be 
loved 3rd. Division, encloses the open grave, lying there in the 

heart of No Man s Land. All round about are sombre hills, 

( 

their bare outlines pitted by shell-holes and serrated by the 
white line of trenches, while across them stretch dark and 
forbidding belts of wire. 

Presently are heard the poignant strains of a funeral march 
and the cortege approaches. His old battalion, the 8th., fur 
nishes the firing party, the men marching with dragging feet 
and arms reversed. Behind walk with bowed head the Corps 
Commander, the Prince of Wales, officers of the 4th. British 
Division and many of his tried comrades of the Canadian 
Corps. There is something strikingly impressive, even bar 
baric, about the rites of a military funeral, and this is height 
ened by the time, the place and the circumstance. But at 
length all is over; the funeral oration pronounced, the last 
volley fired, the Last Post sounded ; a great soldier and good 
citizen has been laid to his rest. 

It was the last we were to see of No Man s Land. Next 
day Corps Headquarters move to Lewarde. 



CHAPTER II 

OPERATIONS: OCT. 6-16 

SIR ARTHUR CURRIE describes the general situation 
at this period as follows: "While the Canadian Corps 

was tenaciously fighting to break through the hinge of the 
Hindenburg System of defense, the Third and Fourth British 
Armies were pushing forward through the devastated areas 
in the Somme, meeting everywhere strong and determined 
rearguards. The outer defenses of the Hindenburg line were 
captured by them on Sept. 18 and 19, and a good position 
secured for the assault on the main defenses. 

"The storming of the Canal du Nord line, which brought 
the Canadian Corps definitely behind the areas organized for 
defense, was immediately followed by the capture of the main 
Hindenburg line on the fronts of the Third and Fourth 
Armies, and on Oct. 8 and 10 the Scheldt Canal was crossed 
north of Cambrai. Cambrai was seized and the German 
rearguards pushed back in open country to the Selle river. 

"The Germans were falling back everywhere; they had 
now evacuated completely the Lys salient and a portion of the 
ground east and south of Lens, but they were still holding a 
line west of Lille-Douai and along the Canal de la Sensee. 

"The Canadian Corps, although tired and depleted in 
numbers, began to push forward as soon as it had taken over 
the new front on the Canal de la Sensee south of Douai. On 
Oct. 14 the Second Army, in conjunction with Belgian Armies 
and French Detachments, attacked the northern part of tbe 
salient and precipitated the German retreat." 

While Cambrai was falling and our 2nd. Division was 
pushing out east of the city, the 1st. Canadian Division had 
taken over its new ground north of the Scarpe and was making 
headway on a front that had remained practically static since 

326 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 6-16 327 

the Canadian Corps at the end of August had opened the battle 
of Arras. North of the Scarpe and of the Sensee the line of 
enemy defenses was still intact, that is to say the Hindenburg 
line proper, the Drocourt-Queant line, and subsidiary trench 
systems. It was the possession by the enemy of this terrain that 
so greatly added to the difficulties encountered by the Cana 
dian Corps throughout their progress from Arras to Cambrai. 

The time had now come to break through and bring the 
northern flank into line with our advance east of Cambrai, an 
area now transferred to the XXII Corps, the Canadian Corps, 
led by the 1st. Canadian Division, moving into the area that 
Corps had hitherto held. It followed therefore that while 
hitherto the XXII Corps had occupied the centre of the First 
Army front and the Canadian Corps its right, the positions 
were reversed, the Canadian Corps becoming the centre and 
the XXII Corps, instead of being on our left, were henceforth 
to be our neighbors on the right, a position hitherto occupied 
by the XVII Corps of the Third Army. Our neighbors on 
our left were now the VIII Corps, this being the left of the 
First Army. Its remaining Corps, the I Corps, had been 
transferred with its sector on Sept. 20 to the Fifth Army, 
operating north of Lens. 

On the night of Oct. 6-7 the 1st. Canadian Division took 
up their new line south of the marshes of the Sensee and 
Scarpe from Paillue, where the Canal du Nord crosses the 
Sensee, west to Sailly-en-Ostrevent and thence northwest to 
Biache-St. Vaast, but keeping south of the Little Trinquis 
brook. The Division therefore faced north, the 2nd. Brigade 
being on the right and the 3rd. Brigade on the left, with the 
1st. Brigade in support. They signalled their presence by a 
night raid across this watery waste into enemy territory, return 
ing with an officer and 23 other prisoners, the first prisoners, 
by the way, captured in this sector during October. 

At 5 a.m. on Oct. 8 a "Chinese attack" was put on all 
sound and fury with no intention of attacking in force, the 
object being to discover the enemy s strength. However a 



328 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

post was pushed over and established across the river for pur 
poses of observation. 

Oct. 9 the line remained quiet but early next morning our 
patrols pushed over and captured Sailly, and then advanced 
some distance along the Queant-Drocourt line, capturing an 
officer and 47 other ranks. The object of this demonstration 
was if possible to pin the Boche down to that front. He coun 
ter-attacked in great strength, and our object being gained, we 
recrossed the river, leaving Sailly again in his hands. 

These preliminaries had disclosed his dispositions, and at 
three o clock next morning, Oct. 11, a concerted night attack 
was made, in conjunction with the VIII Corps on our left, 
under cover of a great concentration of artillery. On our 
right, the 2nd. Brigade crossed the Sensee at Tortequenne, 
from which the enemy had been blasted by our artillery, and 
seized the dominant feature, Mont Bedu, a hill to the north 
west, the attacking troops being the 8th. Battalion, of Winni 
peg, on the right, the 5th. Battalion, Saskatchewan, in the cen 
tre, and 7th. Battalion, British Columbia, on the left, with the 
10th. Battalion, of Alberta, in support. Canadian Engi 
neers speedily built bridges across, all the country being 
flooded, with only two practical causeways. 

On our left the 3rd. Brigade attacked with the 16th. Bat 
talion, Canadian Scottish of Western Canada, on the right, 
and the 15th. Battalion, 48th. Highlanders of Toronto, on the 
left, both crossing the Triquis and then advancing, the former 
in the direction of Noyelle-sous-Bellonne and the latter in the 
direction of Vitry-en-Artois, on the Scarpe, where contact was 
established with the VIII Corps, which had advanced from 
its line easterly whereas our advance was due north, the design 
being to cut the enemy out of the triangle formed by the Tri 
quis and the Scarpe. 

The advance was continued throughout the day and by 
nightfall the 2nd. Brigade had captured Hamel, Estrees and 
Bellonne, from two to three thousand yards east, northeast and 
north respectively, while the 3rd. Brigade had pushed up to a 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 6-16 329 

line 1,000 yards south of Brebieres, only 5,000 yards south- 
west of Douai. Thus, on the same day that the 2nd. Canadian 
Division was capturing Iwuy about IS miles to the south 
east the 1st. Canadian Division, holding 14,000 yards of front 
and attacking on a 12,000 yard frontage, employing only two 
Brigades, carried its line across a watery waste and penetrated 
in a northerly direction five to six thousand yards, thus threat 
ening to cut off the enemy s retreat through Douai. 

On our left the 8th. British Division had also a very suc 
cessful day. Since Oct. 7 it had fought its way from just east 
of Oppy through the Fresnes-Rouvroy line and now made a 
frontal attack on the Drocourt-Queant line north of the 
Scarpe, simultaneously with the turning movement of the 1st. 
Canadian Division from the south. "At 5.10 a.m. the Mid 
dlesex and Devons attacked," says the First Army narrative, 
"and at 7 a.m. the Drocourt-Queant line opposite was taken 
except for the town of Vitry on the Scarpe. The way in 
which this formidable line was taken was ingenious and 
psychological. A heavy barrage was put down, not on the 
whole line attacked, which would have pinned the enemy to 
fighting or his dug-outs, but only on the extreme southern part 
of the line. Then slowly, very slowly 100 yards in eight 
minutes but surely and inevitably it crept northwards, 
extending along the German trenches. The men in those 
trenches, still free from death and destruction raining down 
further south, saw it creeping, creeping, creeping nearer and 
more near. The tension was increased by the slowness of the 
barrage extension. It was too much; and the Boche decided 
not to wait for what was coming but to get out while the 
opportunity offered." 

A moving description, but the psychology of the enemy 
seems to have changed somewhat since those bitter days six 
weeks before when the Canadian Corps drove him out of the 
Drocourt-Queant line on the south side of the Scarpe. 

"Meantime a platoon of the Middlesex had crossed the 
Scarpe at Vitry," this narrative continues, "and taken Mont 



330 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Metier, a commanding position about 1,000 yards south of the 
river. This was trespassing, for south of the river was the 
Canadian sector. So to them it was handed over, and its pos 
session much assisted their advance. 

"Our attack followed up the retiring enemy, and by night 
fall the line ran from well beyond Beaumont, round Cuinchy 
(a very pronounced central salient), and back to the Scarpe 
about 600 yards east of Vitry. The advance ranged from 
4,000 yards on the flanks to 8,000 in the centre (the Berkshires 
were here) and gave us much material and stores, which the 
enemy had no time to remove or destroy. From this moment 
until the 8th. Division in its victorious advance crossed the 
Scarpe and entered Douai, the enemy fought for every bit of 
ground, using many concealed artillery and machine-gun posi 
tions, while we had a great deal of wire to pass. Booby-traps 
of varied and ingenious kinds were everywhere odd bits of 
timber apparently thrown carelessly down, helmets, strands 
of wire, all among the harmless debris and material left by 
the retreating enemy." 

On Oct. 12 the attack was continued, our 1st. Brigade com 
ing into the line, and a wide pivoting movement being carried 
out, based on Arleux, which had been captured by the 56th. 
British Division, now under the Canadian Corps command. 
All three Brigades of the 1st. Canadian Division advanced in 
line, their left flank sweeping the south bank of the Scarpe, 
until by nightfall they had cleared the enemy out of the tri 
angle formed by the Scarpe, the Canal du Nord and the 
Sensee, and held a line on the west bank of the Canal du Nord 
between Arleux and Corbenham. This marked in 30 hours 
an advance on the pivoting wing of 9,000 yards, many prison 
ers and a considerable number of machine-guns being cap 
tured. 

The next few days were spent in preparing for a concerted 
attack by the Canadian Corps, whose Divisions were now 
reunited. On the right, the 2nd. Canadian Division, which 
had relieved the llth. British Division and held a line from 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 6-16 331 

Bouchain west to Aubencheul-au-Bac, was to cross the flooded 
area of the Sensee, attacking in a northerly direction; in the 
centre, the 4th. Canadian Division, which was coming up in 
relief of the 56th. British Division, was to make a similar 
attack from Aubencheul-au-Bac west to Arleux; and on the 
left, the 1st. Canadian Division was to storm the line of the 
Canal du Nord north of the Sensee and advance in an easterly 
direction. The 3rd. Canadian Division was under orders to 
relieve our 1st. Division, but in the event, so swift was our 
advance that the relief could not be made until some days 
after the date determined. 

Sir Arthur Currie in his despatch thus describes the events 
of these days: "The new Front of the Canadian Corps (at 5 
p.m. Oct. 1 1 ) extended from Iwuy-Denain Railway, north of 
Iwuy, to the Scheldt Canal at Estrun, thence following the 
southern bank of the Canal de la Sensee to Palluel, thence 
crossing the Sensee River at Hamel to the Scarpe River east 
of Vitry. The front was held by the 2nd. Canadian Division 
from the right to the Scheldt Canal the llth. Division from 
Estrun (inclusive) to Aubencheul-au-Bac (exclusive) the 
56th. Division from Aubencheul-au-Bac (inclusive) to Pal 
luel (inclusive), and the 1st. Canadian Division from Palluel 
(exclusive) to the western boundary. 

"The Fronts of the llth. and 56th. Divisions were then 
stationary, but on the Front of the 1st. Canadian Division 
crossings had been forced over the Sensee and Trinquis Rivers 
that morning, and the enemy was retiring, closely followed by 
battle patrols of the 1st. Canadian Division. 

"The 1st. Canadian Division had relieved the 4th. British 
Division in the line along the south side of the valleys of the 
Sensee and Trinquis Rivers, from Palluel (exclusive) to the 
Scarpe, during the nights Oct. 5-6 and 6-7, coming under 
orders of the XXII Corps. 

"The front had been a quiet one, the river valleys having 
been flooded by the enemy to an average width of from 300 to 
400 yards, and the bridges destroyed. 



332 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"On the morning of Oct. 8 the Division carried out a 
Chinese attack with a view to ascertaining the enemy s prob 
able action if attacked. Under the cover of the barrage, 
patrols succeeded in enlarging the small bridgehead across 
the river at Sailly-en-Ostrevent, capturing 24 prisoners and 
two machine-guns. 

The enemy was expected to withdraw shortly, and this 
barrage was repeated daily at dawn with the object of harass 
ing the enemy and testing his strength. At 3 a.m., Oct. 10, 
battle patrols were pushed out by the 3rd. Canadian Infantry 
Brigade (Brig.-General G. S. Tuxford) from the bridge 
head at Sailly, and after capturing the village they entered the 
Drocourt-Queant line to the northeast. Thirty prisoners and 
six machine-guns were sent back from Sailly at daylight; a 
strong enemy counter-attack (estimated at two battalions) 
overran the force in the Drocourt-Queant line and recaptured 
Sailly, driving our line back to the line previously held. 

"On Oct. 11, in conjunction with an attack on the left by 
the 8th. Division, our troops forced their way over the nar 
row crossings of the Sensee and Trinquis Rivers in the face 
of considerable machine-gun fire and pushed northwards and 
eastwards, meeting only resistance from isolated machine-gun 
nests. The performance of the first patrols in forcing their 
way across the narrow causeways, all stoutly defended by 
machine-guns, was a splendid achievement. 

"By the night of Oct. 1 1 the 1st Canadian Division, on the 
left, had reached the line Hamel-Estrees-Noyelles (all inclu 
sive), and at dawn, Oct. 12, pushed forward, clearing Arleux 
and reaching the west bank of the Canal from Palluel to the 
Scarpe. 

"On Oct. 12 the line remained stationary between the 
Canal du Nord and the Scheldt Canal. East of the Scheldt 
Canal the 2nd. Canadian Division attacked at noon in con 
junction with the XXII Corps on the right and captured 
Hordain. Attempts to push forward to Basseville were, how 
ever, stopped by machine-gun fire. The restricted area and 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 6-16 333 

the inundated condition of the ground prevented further pro 
gress on this front until the troops on the right could get for 
ward. 

"It was apparent from many indications that the enemy 
was preparing to carry out a withdrawal on a large scale. 
Prisoners reported the evacuation of civilians and the removal 
or destruction of all stores, also that roads and railways had 
been prepared for demolition. These statements were con 
firmed by our observers, who reported numerous and fre 
quent explosions and fires behind the enemy s lines. 

"On the Canadian Corps front, the Divisions in the line 
were confronted by the Canal de la Sensee, and this in its 
flooded condition was a serious obstacle, the few crossings 
possible being narrow and easily defended. Orders were 
issued, however, that a policy of aggressive patrolling should 
be adopted to detect at the earliest moment any retirement, 
and that all preparations should be made for an immediate 
and rapid pursuit. 

"Our patrols were most daring during the next few days, 
but no weak spot was to be found along the enemy front, our 
attempts at crossing the Canal being stopped by heavy 
machine-gun and rifle fire. 

"During the night of Oct. 12-13 the 2nd. Canadian Divi 
sion extended its left to Aubencheul-au-Bac exclusive, reliev 
ing the llth. Division in the line, with the 4th Canadian 
Infantry Brigade (Brig.-General G. E. McCuaig) on the 
right, and the 6th. Canadian Infantry Brigade (Brig.General 
A. Ross) on the left. At this stage the G.O.C. 56th. Divi 
sion represented that his troops were too weak and tired to 
carry out the vigorous pursuit required in case of an enemy 
withdrawal. The 4th. Canadian Division was, therefore, 
ordered to relieve the 56th. Division by the morning of Oct. 
16, and in the meantime to place one Brigade at the disposal of 
the G.O.C. 56th. Division to be used in following up the 
enemy. On Oct. 13 the 10th. Canadian Infantry Brigade, 
which had been resting in Arras, was accordingly moved up 



334 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

to Marquion, and came into reserve under the 56th. Division. 

"During the early morning of Oct. 13 the 56th. Division 
crossed the Canal and succeeded in establishing a bridgehead 
at Aubigny-au-Bac, capturing the village with 201 prisoners. 
At 10 p.m. the following night, however, an enemy counter 
attack in strength caused our withdrawal from the village, 
but the bridgehead was retained. 

"The relief of the 56th. Division by the 4th. Canadian 
Division was carried out on the nights of Oct. 14-15 and 15-16 
without incident, and the former moved back to rest in the 
Arras-Haute Avesnes-Maroeuil area, coming into Army 
Reserve. 

"Patrols of the 1st. Canadian Division succeeded in cross 
ing the Canal near Ferin, on its left Brigade front, during 
the early morning of Oct. 14, but meeting strong resistance, 
the parties withdrew, taking with them some prisoners and 
machine-guns." 



CHAPTER III 

THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 

ON Oct. 17 the 1st. Canadian Division crossed the Canal 
du Nord, the 1st. Brigade, on the left, effecting their 
passage in the morning, followed by the 2nd. Brigade 
on their right. Troops of the 4th. Canadian Division, unable 
to make headway by a direct assault on the line of the Sensee, 
swung out to their left, crossing over the Canal du Nord, and 
then working east along the north bank of the Sensee, clear 
ing out opposition as they went, chiefly from enemy machine- 
gun posts. Later in the day the 2nd. Canadian Division, in 
the neighborhood of Wasnes-au-Bac, with troops of the 6th. 
Brigade, succeeded in gaining a footing on the north bank. 
On the following morning, Oct. 18, the 4th. Brigade attacked, 
the 18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, and 19th. Battalion, of 
Toronto, crossing over on a footbridge between Paillencourt 
and Estrun and advancing as far as Wavrechain. Canadian 
Engineers followed up closely, constructing pontoon and steel 
bridges over both the canal and river. The enemy had blown 
every crossing and demolished causeways and railway bridges, 
their engineers showing remarkable efficiency in this work 
of destruction. 

Fog blotted out the landscape, favoring the retreat. After 
the crossing had been effected, our troops advanced several 
miles, with patrols thrown out in front, in a vain endeavor 
to get in touch with enemy rearguards. For days to come the 
mist hung low over the countryside, and our airmen were 
powerless. In these days magnificent work was done by Corps 
Signals, who pushed their telegraph lines ahead abreast of 
the advance, thus keeping all units in touch, a remarkable 
feat, for in the text books it had never been contemplated that 
in open warfare of the nature now developing wire communi- 

335 



336 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

cations could thus be maintained. But the work was carried 
forward right up to Mons, and, after the armistice, through 
Belgium to the Rhine. 

Once the north bank of the Sensee had been cleared, our 
advance went forward practically unchecked for several days. 
Canadian Railway Troops had been brought up to repair 
communications, but our progress quite outpaced their utmost 
efforts, and the troops pressed on, often with but meagre 
rations, yet stimulated by the prospect of liberating civilians 
in the next village ahead, and there again encouraged to fresh 
exertions. 

It was claimed for the 1st. Brigade, Brig.-General W. A. 
Griesbach, that its troops were first to enter Douai. It had 
been evacuated of its civilian population, and might have been 
a city of the dead, for there was no sign of life, other than a 
few sentries. A block of buildings on the Rue de Paris, front 
ing the Grande Place, had been burned, but otherwise there 
was no sign of intentional demolition, such as had character 
ized the enemy evacuation of Cambrai. The magnificent old 
Hotel de Ville was intact, and now floating over it once again 
was the tricolor. But within was evidence of systematic sack, 
historic pictures having been taken from their frames, and 
even the great gilt candelabra removed from the ceilings, 
but left heaped on the floor, in the hurry of the retreat. Only 
the wonderful frescoes on the walls of the banquet hall 
remained. 

Here again the town had been given over to sack by the 
soldiery. Shops had been looted and every private house 
entered and its contents of value removed, with the same wan 
ton destruction of what was left that had marked Cambrai. 
In the cathedral, a great pile of altar furnishings and vest 
ments on the floor showed that had time been given these 
too would have gone. 

The same sack had been carried out in all the evacuated 
villages, but as the retreat gained momentum, with our men 
close upon its heels, this evacuation of civilians could no 



THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 337 

longer be effected by the retreating enemy. For our troops 
in their concentric movement on Denain often entered villages 
at one end while the Boche were leaving at the other, and yet 
already the tricolor, so carefully hid these long years, had 
broken out from every window and the glad villagers, weep 
ing for joy, crowded around, impeding our advance, though 
still was heard the rattle of machine-guns, and occasionally a 
shell would burst in the narrow street. From their slender 
store they pressed upon our soldiers coffee and bread, and 
garlanded the guns with flowers. "Vive les Canadiens," 
"Long Live Our Liberators," and "Glory to the Heroes," 
hung in great streamers across the village square. 

On Oct. 21 Canadian Corps Headquarters moved to 
Lewarde, a village on the Douai-Denain road. Just beyond 
was Auberchicourt, a typical industrial village, whose rows 
of bright brick cottages recalled the Lens area, with its glass 
works and the "fosses" -conical heaps of slag rising up from 
the flatness of the plain, indicating the pit mouths. The Boche 
had wrecked these mines, flooding their levels and blowing 
up their shafts, damage that it must take years to repair. We 
had come to the borders of the most valuable industrial dis 
trict of France, and everywhere was ruin. 

A curious example of German psychology exists in the 
village of Lewarde on the walls of a barn converted by the 
Boche into a concert hall. The artist, of no mean talent, used 
these flat spaces to exhibit a series of three pictures that might 
well bear the motto: "As YE sow so shall WE reap." 

In the first of these, a long horizontal panel, a finely drawn 
bull is seen drawing a heavy wooden plow. In the furrow 
guiding it strains a young Frenchwoman, flat-breasted and 
dulled by field labor, but with still a meagre beauty. 

The next depicts an old Frenchman, knotted and bowed, 
sowing the field. A little boy toddles beside him. Behind is 
a village church and a windmill. With savage fidelity the 
artist makes mute despair the keynote of both these groups- 
of the woman straining at the plow and the old man wearily 

23 



338 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

casting the seed ; for here cannot be that joy of labor that even 
as it plants sees in the long months to follow first the tender 
sprouting blade, then the wind upon the grain, the harvest 
field, and safe-garnered fruits of the earth in neatly-ordered 
stacks awaiting the thresher. Despair dragging at their feet, 
they toil to make fat the destroyer. 

Relentlessly the third picture drives home this horrid 
truth. Swinging a scythe in the yellowing cornfields is the 
great central figure of a Prussian soldier, terrible, with the 
same unerring fidelity a ferocious, crouching figure of long 
arms, knotted hands and widespread legs, repulsive as the 
gorilla. Power it has and strength and cunning; the wheat 
sheaves bow before it. With a fine compelling touch of irony 
the artist fills in his background with marching German sol 
diers force directing the harvest. 

He has taken away with him everything. Not a horse nor 
a cow, a pig nor a hen, is left in the country. In one village 
he has even taken the nanny-goat whose milk was keeping alive 
a sick child. He burned the straw he threshed. Where he 
could not remove grain he scattered it over the barnyard. As 
for the peasants houses, they are stripped. The sack has been 
systematic. We captured at Lewarde a trainload of furniture 
taken from this village, still standing on the siding, all neatly 
packed and labelled, "By order of the Army Command." 

Little groups of peasants, old men, women and children, 
push before them their hand-carts piled high with what house 
hold belongings they could take when evacuated. They come 
back to their villages to find but empty shells, the accumu 
lations of patient generations of labor scattered to the four 
winds or lying soiled and broken on floors deliberately be 
fouled but they return free citizens of a free nation; over 
their threshold is the tricolor, and they are at home. 

Ah! such scenes! Following hard on the enemy a field- 
battery comes to a stream where the bridge has been broken 
down. Seizing picks and shovels the ecstatic villagers break 
down barns and garden walls to make a crossing. This not 



THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 339 

going fast enough they throw in mattresses, bedsteads and 
whatever moveables the Boche have left. "Bravo, bravo!" 
they cry as the first gun crosses and gallops up the road. 

The villagers east of Douai, whom the Boche had no time 
to evacuate, are better off; though their livestock has gone, they 
have preserved their furniture. Their houses are exquisitely 
neat and clean, the tiled floor spotless and kitchen utensils 
shining. By contrast they make the work of the Boche else 
where more beastly. Such a village is Vred, lying in a loop 
of the Scarpe, northeast of Montigny, where in the chateau 
our 1st. Brigade has its headquarters, and one of its bedroom 
doors bears the inscription in chalk: "Feldmarschall Hinden- 
burg" -a very recent visitor, the villagers say. 

An enemy battalion had been quartered in Vred for years, 
but its people have a proper pride, for not a village girl 
listened to the Boche and no bedraggled damsels followed the 
retreating army more than can be said for every village. 
They were eager to see Canadian troops and so, although this 
village is outside the northern boundary of the Canadian 
Corps, one Sunday afternoon Lt.-Col. A. W. Sparling, of 
the 1st. Battalion, billeted near, marches in with his band 
playing. It becomes a fete day. The villagers, scant though 
their means, insist on providing refreshments for the entire 
battalion, with many cups of coffee or the bitter substitute 
that goes by that name. Children bring great bouquets of 
flowers, asters and chrysanthemums. 

From intimate talk with these villagers one is able to 
gather a picture of just what the enemy occupation has meant. 
Other villagers fared worse where the soldiery was brutal and 
licentious in Vred it was a continual struggle for existence. 
They were robbed of their rations issued by the American 
Mission and more lately by the Spanish. For after draw 
ing them they were "requisitioned" by soldiers, who gave in 
return sauerkraut and black bread "To your good health, 
Madame," said a Boche officer as he munched American 
biscuits. They had no fresh meat for years; but for their 



340 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

garden produce they would have starved; cabbage soup was 
the mainstay. Able-bodied men were drafted away to work 
in trenches and the young women taken to the forests, receiv 
ing for their labor scanty pay in German paper currency, 
now worthless. 

These privations are stamped upon every face. Malnutri 
tion caused many deaths. One quarter of the village popula 
tion, according to the Battalion M.O., are sick from this cause. 
Voluntarily our men have assigned 20 per cent, of their rations 
to the villagers. But they need careful dieting and nursing. 
Many of the children, wizened mites, can never be robust; 
they must carry the mark of the Boche to their grave. 

To see all this, to have brought thus intimately home the 
perils and sufferings of both body and spirit of these long 
years, makes what our soldiers have accomplished all so 
immensely worth while. One of our men is carrying a little 
child; others cling about him. "We are fully repaid," he 
says, "for all we have gone through; our dead have not died 



in vain. 



Our gaping wounds are bathed in grateful tears. Let no 
mother, nor wife nor sister in Canada feel if ever they felt- 
that their boys gave their lives merely for an abstraction; 
even for so great and splendid an ideal as truth and honor and 
justice. They died that living people, good people, true 
people, might be freed from physical bonds and be restored 
to spiritual life. In every little home is a crucifix and the 
signs of humble devotion. A pious, earnest, sober, frugal 
people, these French peasants, narrow perhaps in vision but 
firm of soul. The knight errantry of Canada might have 
sought the world over and the ages through for a people in 
distress more worthy of a righteous war of liberation. Through 
long generations the memory of these days, the coming of the 
Canadians and the bursting asunder of fetters, will be 
cherished in steadfast French hearts. 

Meanwhile we had been pushing on. On Oct. 18 the line 
had reached to west of Bouchain, west of Auberchicourt with 



THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 341 

Marquette and Montigny inclusive. From Oct. 18-19 a con 
siderable advance was made which resulted in the capture 
by the 4th. Canadian Division on Oct. 19 of the important 
town of Denain. On Oct. 18 the llth. Brigade captured 
Auberchicourt, Aniche, and Abscon (102nd. Battalion), and 
on Oct. 19 Escaudin (54th. Battalion). 

On its right the 2nd. Canadian Division captured 
Bouchain, Mastaing, Roeulx and Lourches, while on our left 
the 1st. Canadian Division captured Bruille, Somain, Fenam, 
Erre, Hornaing and Helesmes. 

This period is summed up by the Corps Commander thus : 
"Test barrages were carried out on the Corps front each 
morning to ascertain the enemy s strength and attitude, and 
on Oct. 17 the enemy was found extremely quiet and did not 
retaliate to our Artillery fire on the front of the 1st. Canadian 
Division. Patrols were therefore sent out on that front and 
succeeded in crossing the Canal du Nord in several places, 
meeting only slight opposition. Stronger patrols followed and 
made good progress. 

"On the front of the 4th. Canadian Division, however, all 
attempts to cross the Canal were still met by machine-gun fire. 
After the 1st. Canadian Division had secured crossings, a 
Battalion of the 4th. Canadian Division was sent up to take 
advantage of these crossings and, working down the east side 
of the Canal, cleared the enemy on the 4th. Canadian Division 
front, and enabled the advance to commence there. 

"Further to the right, at Hem Lenglet, the 2nd. Canadian 
Division succeeded in crossing the Canal later in the day, and 
patrols were pushed on in the direction of Wasnes-au-Bac. 

"Only enemy rearguards were encountered during the 
day, and the opposition was nowhere heavy, although more 
organized and stubborn on the right opposite the 2nd. Cana 
dian Division. 

"By 6 a.m., Oct. 18, practically all the Infantry of the 1st. 
and 4th. Canadian Divisions and several Battalions of the 
2nd. Canadian Division were across the Canal, and the fol- 



342 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

lowing towns had been liberated : Ferin, Courchelettes, 
Goeulzin, Le Racquet, Villers-au-Tertre, Cantin, Roucourt, 
Brunemont, Aubigny-au-Bac, Fechain, Fressain, Bugnicourt, 
and Hem Lenglet. 

"During that day two armored cars, one squadron of the 
Canadian Light Horse and one Company of Canadian Corps 
Cyclists from Brutinel s Brigade, were attached to each of 
the 1st. and 4th. Canadian Divisions to assist in the pursuit of 
the enemy. These troops remained under the leading Divi 
sions throughout subsequent operations and rendered valuable 
service to the Divisions to which they were attached, although 
the enemy s very complete road destruction prevented the 
armored cars from operating to their full extent. 

"Throughout the advance now begun a great amount of 
work was thrown upon the Engineers, and their resources in 
men and material were taxed to the utmost. The enemy s 
demolition had been very well planned and thoroughly car 
ried out, all bridges over the canals and streams being 
destroyed, every cross-road and road junction rendered impas 
sable by the blowing of large mines, and the railways, light 
and standard, blown up at frequent intervals. The enemy 
also considerably impeded our progress by his clever mani 
pulation of the water levels in the canals which he controlled. 

"Foot-bridges were first thrown across the Canal, and these 
were quickly followed by heavier types of bridges to carry 
Battalion transport and Artillery, and in addition eight heavy 
traffic bridges, ranging in length from 90 to 160 feet, were at 
once put under way. On the Front of the 1st. Canadian Divi 
sion on the left the enemy drained the Canal, and it was found 
impossible to complete and use the pontoon bridges first com 
menced. 

"The Engineers in the forward area concentrated their 
efforts on road repair, craters being quickly filled in, for the 
most part with material gathered on the spot and found in 
enemy dumps. In addition, the whole areas were searched 
immediately after their occupation, many "booby traps" and 



THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 343 

delayed action mines being discovered and rendered harmless, 
and all water supply sources being tested. 

"It was clear from the wholesale destruction of roads and 
railways that the reconstruction of communications would be 
very slow and that it would be difficult to keep our troops 
supplied. Canadian Railway Troops were brought up, and 
as soon as the enemy had been cleared away from the Canal, 
work was commenced on the repairing of the standard gauge 
railway forward from Sauchy Lestree. The construction of a 
railway bridge over the Canal at Aubencheul-au-Bac was 
immediately commenced. 

"The enemy retirement now extended considerably north 
of our front, and the VIII Corps on our left began to move 
forward. During Oct. 18 rapid and fairly easy progress was 
made, and -the following towns and villages were liberated 
from the enemy: Dechy, Sin-le-Noble, Guesnain, Montigny, 
Pecquencourt, Loffre, Lewarde, Erchin, Masny, Ecaillon, 
Marquette, Wasnes-au-Bac and the western portions of 
Auberchicourt and Monchecourt. 

"During the day the advance had carried us into a large 
industrial area, and well-built towns became more frequent. 
It also liberated the first of a host of civilians, 2,000 being 
found in Pecquencourt and a few in Auberchicourt. These 
people had been left by the retiring enemy without food, and 
faced as we were by an ever lengthening line of communica 
tion, and with only one bridge yet available for anything but 
horse transport, the work of the supply services was greatly 
increased. This additional burden was, however, cheerfully 
accepted, and the liberated civilians, whose number exceeded 
70,000 before Valenciennes was reached, as well as our rapidly 
advancing troops, were at no time without a regular supply of 
food." 

Allusion has been made to the fog, which for days impeded 
our advance, the sun not being seen for the 10-day period, 
Oct. 14 to 23, and for two days it rained continuously, making 
the roads a quagmire. The Boche could not have selected a 



344 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

better time for making his get-away. Progress was very 
tedious, because besides destroying all bridges and railway 
tracks, he had blown enormous craters at every cross-road. 
Difficulties of observation have been referred to, but the 
absence of information from our air scouts was to some degree 
supplied by the efficient work of our Intelligence Officers, 
aided by the Corps Cavalry, mounted infantry and cyclists. It 
was impossible, of course, to say with the same definiteness 
what forces the enemy had on our front, as had been done so 
wonderfully in all the fighting up to the close of the Battle of 
Cambrai, and the connection is appropriate for recording 
something of that phase of Corps operations. 

Throughout the heavy fighting from Aug. 8 to Oct. 12, the 
Canadian Corps Commander and his staff were kept accur 
ately and constantly informed of the enemy strength and dis 
positions, and to the uninitiated there was something almost 
of magic in the positive statements issued daily by the Intel 
ligence Department of the Corps as to the enemy elements 
opposing us, what units had been "washed-out" by our attacks, 
what reserves had been brought up, whence they came and 
their battle history, all illustrated by maps showing battery 
positions, areas of troops in support and so on. Unremitting 
and unflagging, the great military detective force carries on 
its work silently and without any sort of public recognition 
in the daily official reports of operations, but through its 
exertions our troops have the vital advantage that instead of 
fumbling in the dark they can walk straight in the light of 
day. 

In the early years of the war the enemy s Intelligence was 
superior to our own, but in its closing period the situation 
was reversed, and particularly as he fell back and thus lost 
touch with his agencies and the attacking force, his blunders 
became very patent. On the other hand we were admirably 
served, and in no quarter more so than by our own Intelligence 
officers. There were, of course, subterranean channels, and 
much information was collated from a careful study of the 



THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 345 

air photographs, a work carried on with great thoroughness 
and gallantry by the R. A. F. 

But the most certain source of information lay through 
identification of prisoners, and this was reduced to such a 
pitch of scientific skill that half an hour after a show opened 
our Intelligence officers at Canadian Corps Headquarters 
were able to enumerate the divisions opposed to us. Its agents 
were right up in the firing line, and identification of enemy 
units began there and then. More elaborate and intimate 
work was done in the various Divisional cages, and finally at 
the central clearing-house, the Corps cage for prisoners of 
war. Here men speaking perfectly the German tongue and 
apparently prisoners themselves, moved freely about, gather 
ing information, and prisoners showing a disposition to talk 
were interrogated at length. 

This service, as indeed the whole conduct of operations, 
can only be carried on successfully with the close co-operation 
of Corps Signals. Fighting a battle is as much a concen 
trated business as a Christmas mail-order service. Every 
department must function or the whole will fall to pieces. 
Before a shot is fired, the work of the General Staff is com 
pleted. Many days and nights have been employed in pre 
paration, and it is only when the battle starts that its members 
can lean back in their chairs and take a moment of ease. They 
have done their part; the execution of the plan is left to others. 
During the progress of the battle a tremendous strain is 
thrown on Signals, which must keep all units in close touch 
with their headquarters; the brigades with their divisions; 
these latter with Corps Headquarters. Nor is this all. They 
must maintain uninterrupted the all-important liason between 
the infantry and artillery. A loss of communication at a criti 
cal moment of the advance must mean the useless sacrifice of 
many lives, for our counter-battery work is of vital value to the 
attacking troops. Not less important is the work of prepara 
tion. As Intelligence is the eyes, so Signals are the ears of 
the General Staff. A good illustration is furnished by the 



346 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

record of operations established by the Canadian Corps Signal 
Service on Sunday, Sept. 1, when preparations were complet 
ing for the assault next morning on the famous Drocourt- 
Queant line. On that day 7,81 1 messages were handled, to say 
nothing of the Corps telephone service, 2,440 being by despatch 
riders and the balance by land wires or wireless. 

This requires a large staff of telegraph operators, both 
on the land and wireless services, and these have been recruited 
from the pick of the profession in Canada, from the news 
agency staffs, commercial telegraph companies and broker 
offices. They "carry-on" under very difficult conditions, fre 
quently exposed to shell fire and night-bombing raids. Espe 
cially in the wireless, they reach a high standard of proficiency 
and some of these latter become acquainted with the enemy 
wireless calls, a knowledge that occasionally proves of great 
value. Thus, when a Canadian wireless section was sent 
up to Flanders just before the opening of the Amiens show, 
this knowledge enabled them to completely mislead the enemy 
as to our intentions and confirmed his Intelligence in its belief 
that the Canadian Corps was to be thrown in on that front. 
This particular branch is known as the "I-Tok" Section the 
Interception Branch of the Wireless Section and it was said 
that our Intelligence had the enemy code six months ahead. 

Hazardous indeed is the work of the cable linesmen who 
construct and repair wires under fire, suffering many casual 
ties. A gallant story is told of two signallers of a Manitoba 
field battery, chums who had fought together since the battle 
of the Ypres Salient. It was just before the opening of the 
Drocourt-Queant show when it was vitally important that 
telephone connection between the battery and brigade head 
quarters should be maintained at all costs. They discovered 
that the line was down, and though the enemy was straafing 
with a very deadly shell fire, they methodically went to work 
to find and repair the break. This done, they discovered 
that other batteries on the line were cut off and they proceeded 
to repair the whole line, just getting their "O.K." as "zero" 



THE ADVANCE ON DENAIN 347 

hour struck. One of them was wounded subsequently while 
employed on similar work. 

In the opening phase of an attack, when we were pushing 
ahead rapidly, it was, of course, essential that Signals keep up 
with the advance. Thus, by the night of Sept. 27, they had 
pushed forward an air line 8,500 yards, or one and a half 
miles east of the Canal du Nord. Such examples are typical 
of the spirit actuating the entire Signal Service, not least effi 
cient members of whom are the despatch riders, who enveloped 
in white dust or coated in mud, pursue their course unheeding 
over broken and shell-tossed roads, familiar figures of the 
battlefield, more often than not compelled to wobble their 
motor cycles along the ditch when passing moving troops. 



CHAPTER IV 

OPERATIONS: OCT. 20-30. 

* 

ONE of the difficulties of our advance at this time is the 
fact that we are unable to shoot the Boche out of towns 
and villages because of the civilian population. Thus, 
at Denain, the advance of the 4th. Canadian Division was held 
up for some time on this account, and it was not until the 
evening of Oct. 20 that our men entered the town, and even 
then Boche machine-gunners were still clinging to the eastern 
outskirts. This honor fell to the 10th. Brigade, the 47th. 
Battalion, Western Ontario, actually passing through the town 
together with the 4th. Canadian Machine-Gunners. They met 
there a royal welcome. 

Never will men of the Canadian Corps forget Denain. 
The private in the ranks fared as well and was made as much 
one of the family as the officer. It is a humble little manu 
facturing town, with nothing about it of beauty or architec 
tural excellence; its streets are squalid and dirty; the country 
dull and flat, relieved only by the pyramidlike slag heaps. We 
were to visit many fine places and live in fat quarters, from 
Mons on to the palaces of Bonn, with a bath-tub for each 
soldier; but in all this clustered memory no jewel shines so 
bright, so constant and with such a hidden fire as this of the 
kind folk of Denain. They struck no medals, they named no 
public squares in our honor, but they gave us their whole 
heart, and with it their uttermost possession Denain, grimy 
little town, of shining and cherished memory. 

From the blighted village of Lewarde Canadian Corps 
Headquarters moved into comfortable billets, and in Denain 
we enjoyed after many weeks the luxury of clean linen and all 
the ameliorations of civilization. Our billet was in the modest 
home of a widowed lady in the Boulevard Caraman. The 

348 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 20-30 349 

story of the family was very simple. The eldest son, a priest, 
had joined the army at the opening of the war and was some 
where in the Vosges; the second son on another front. In 
those days this lady had kept house with her youngest son, 
Jean, and two daughters, Louise, now aged sixteen, and 
Yvonne, aged thirteen. German officers, coming and going 
continually, had been billeted upon them. "But we had no 
converse with them," said Madame Lesage. "There were 
their rooms, clean and sweet for the dirty fellows; but in 
those four years, as they tramped day by day up and down 
stairs, we had nothing to say to them. . . . Once only Louise 
here slapped the face of one of them. 

"Yes, our little Louise is of a courage! Here you must 
know was a hospital for English prisoners broken down by 
toil and want, and a good physician of Denain devoted him 
self entirely to their aid and comfort. Little as the people here 
had themselves, they smuggled food to these poor men, and 
our Louise too, slipping behind the back of a sentry, took 
them little packets. Any they caught they whipped or 
imprisoned and threatened to kill. And our Jean too . . ." 

"Jean, did we not tell you about our beloved Jean, 
Monsieur?" bursts in little Yvonne. "He was going to 
L Ecole Militaire when war broke out to become an offi- 
cier and we lied about his age when they registered us all. 
But last year a neighbor a despicable traitor told the Boche 
he was eighteen and training for a soldier. So they took him 
away . . . they took him away and we have never heard." 

They had had no word of any of them for weeks and weeks ; 
no word at all of Jean. These people were reduced to the 
barest necessities of life, and with our coming conditions for 
a time were even worse, for the Spanish Relief ceased and it 
was some time before we could organize anything beyond the 
rations of the Army. In four years they had not tasted sugar. 

In this beautiful little menage, one blushed continually to 
find that to be a Canadian was of necessity to be also a hero, a 
soldier of transcendent qualities, for in Denain, long before 



350 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

our coming, the renown and fame of the Canadian Corps had 
gone before. Many a jolly Canadian soldier no doubt 
recounted here to a breathless household how he too had 
stormed Vimy Ridge and taken part in the victories of Amiens 
and Cambrai. The Vimy Ridge tradition, in fact, was to be 
expected here, for Denain and Lens are situate on the same 
coal-seam and have a community of interest. Certainly there 
was nothing artificial or "put-on" about this high renown into 
which we had so unexpectedly entered; it was a thing of 
growth and root; we luxuriated in it, and nowhere we went 
thereafter had for us quite the same exotic warmth of wel 
come. Indeed, we were to visit prosperous communities, talk 
with well-informed people, and find to our sad disappointment 
they were completely ignorant on the great subject of the 
Canadian Corps. It is true we left them in better case. 

All this found fitting expression in a solemn service of 
thanksgiving celebrated one Sunday in the old church, to 
which Canadian soldiers were specially invited, and when a 
memorial service was held for the Canadian dead who had 
fallen. The Corps Commander, the Prince of Wales, Sir 
David Watson, Commander of the 4th. Canadian Division, 
which captured the town, and his staff were present. 

One was talking many months after with a demobilized 
soldier. "Take it all in all," he said, "there was no place like 
Denain. I never slept in so good a bed before or since, and 
the woman of the house insisted on cleaning my boots!" 

We are shortly to move on to Valenciennes, where, in an 
imposing mansion, one s billet was cheerless no clean sheets, 
no bright fire, none of those amenities to which one had 
become so quickly accustomed. From there in due course we 
move to Mons, to another mansion, where the Chatelaine, an 
aged Belgian lady, greets us by saying that the German officers 
who had just left were true gentlemen and she hoped we should 
behave as well! And again, no clean sheets, no brisk fire. 

Happily in those days a reasonable excuse presents itself to 
return to Denain, to Madame and Louise and Yvonne. One 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 20-30 351 

knocks at the familiar door and Yvonne rushes out. "Oh, 
Monsieur, Monsieur, how splendid! You are just in time to 
see our big brother who has arrived this day on leave, and we 
have had a letter from our Jean, who is well and will soon 
be home!" 

We shake hands with a bearded giant in light blue. He 
thanks us again and again for what? We cannot tell; for 
perhaps accepting so gracefully the kindnesses poured upon 
us. But it is fine to hear that this veteran of France also has 
the very highest opinion of "le Corps Canadien"; has heard 
of its exploits in the far Vosges. Somewhere in Belgium a 
little letter overtakes us from Yvonne. They are all united 
again, after four years what happiness! 

From Denain on the fighting stiffened and as we were well 
out in front of troops on either flank we advanced cautiously, 
pushing ahead only when ground could be gained with a 
minimum of casualties. Nevertheless it was our object to 
prevent the enemy getting away at leisure, and we trod closely 
on his heels, our outposts feeling their way along and driving 
in his rear guards. Thus his main body was never more than 
four to six hours ahead and we prevented him wrecking the 
country in his passage, though it was systematically sacked and 
looted, while the dirt and stench he left behind him were 
indescribable. 

In dealing with enemy posts a return to some of the prac 
tice of trench warfare obtained ; Stokes guns, with a range of 
500 yards, whose day was regarded as done once we forsook 
a warfare of positions, now came into play, and even more 
effective were the Newton mortars, with a range of 1,200 
yards. Bits of cover were utilized to bring these up within 
range of the enemy machine-gun nests, and at the first round 
the Boche gunners had their "wind up" and got off. 

Very effective work was done with these guns mounted in 
armored cars, of which a supply from Brutinel s Brigade had 
been divided among the Brigades and were placed in attack 
directly under Battalion Commanders. They were thus 



352 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

enabled to circulate on various roads, and outflank small 
machine-gun nests and positions that had been holding up 
the infantry, causing considerable casualties to the enemy and 
materially assisting the advance. 

This open warfare through a rolling country provided a 
magnificent training for our troops, who fast closed up the 
scars of recent fighting and soon presented a fresh and smart 
appearance. They were in excellent spirits, the only griev 
ance being the ever-lengthening distance from the leave base, a 
real hardship for the men whose turn it was. Except for units 
actually in the line and these were but few, for our Bri 
gades attacked at the most on a two-Battalion front, while the 
llth. Brigade in particular, Brig.-General Odium, advanced 
all the way from the Canal du Nord to Valenciennes and 
beyond on a one-Battalion front the nature of the present 
operations rather resembled peace time manoeuvres than the 
battle tactics to which our troops had been habituated. 

On Oct. 20 the 2nd. Canadian Division went back to rest, 
the 4th. Canadian Division having established contact at 
Denain with the 51st. Division, advancing from the south on 
the right bank of the Scheldt. On this date still further pro 
gress was made, the 1st. Canadian Division capturing Hasnon 
and Wallers and the 4th. Canadian Division Haveluy, this 
village being taken by the 54th. Battalion, of the Kootenay. 
By Oct. 21 the 1st. Canadian Division had penetrated the 
Foret-de-Vicoigne to the road leading from Valenciennes 
northwest to St. Amand, while the 4th. Canadian Division had 
captured the following villages: Wavrechain, Rouvignies 
and Prouvy, by units of the 10th. Brigade; and Bellaing, Herin 
and Aubry, by the llth. Brigade, with the 87th. Battalion, 
Grenadier Guards of Montreal. Its outpost line was on 
the western outskirts of La Sentinelle and Petite Foret. 

On Oct. 22 the 1st. Canadian Division, which had battled 
its way forward without a halt from northeast of Arras on 
Oct. 6, was relieved by the 3rd. Canadian Division. Next day 
we had reached a line along the Scheldt Canal to the Faubourg 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 20-30 353 

de Paris, thence along the canal to Fresnes, thence to Odome, 
fronting on the Scheldt opposite Conde. 

The advance was continued with the 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion on the right and the 3rd. Canadian Division on the left, 
the 10th. Brigade being on our extreme right, along the left 
bank of the Scheldt, south of which was the area of the XXII 
Corps. On the left of the 10th. was the llth. Brigade, work 
ing on a line drawn from just north of Denain through Anzin, 
the northwestern suburb of Valenciennes; left again was the 
9th. Brigade, and, beyond them, the 7th. Brigade, working 
along the northern boundary of the Corps which ran from 
Douai to the northern fringe of the Foret de Raismes, some 
14,000 yards north of Valenciennes. North of us was the 
VIII Corps. :> 

Everywhere civilians were released and we did what was 
possible to relieve their necessities. It was a triumphal pro 
gress. Their joy and contempt of danger were extravagant, 
and, in a country that so far had escaped the ravages of war, 
they appeared to have no idea of the perils wherein they 
moved. Thus, when the 75th. Battalion, of Toronto, passed 
through Anzin into the village of Beuvrages north of Valen 
ciennes, the civilians brought them coffee, regardless of the 
heavy machine-gun fire from the far side of the Scheldt. An 
old peasant was serving coffee to two of our men when a 
shell burst in his backyard. They immediately dived for the 
cellar, crying, "Au cave, Monsieur, au cave!" But, with 
shattered glass around him, he proceeded methodically to 
make up his charcoal fire. 

The enemy indeed kept up a heavy fire all along the canal, 
and paid special attention to our exposed communications, a 
number of our men, and even the llth. Brigade Staff, being 
badly gassed. 

Emaciated though they were, the Frenchmen of military 
age thus repatriated hurried off to enlist. Pitiable was the 
condition of British prisoners, several of whom were now 
released. The Boche made it a crime for the peasantry to 

24 



354 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

give them so much as a cup of water, and, set to heavy work 
in their weakened condition, most of them were little better 
than skeletons. A Canadian trooper, of the Fort Garry Horse, 
of Winnipeg, captured in November, 1917, when his squad 
ron was surrounded south of Cambrai, and who now made 
good his escape from Valenciennes, weighed only 86 pounds, 
his proper weight being 160 pounds. He said the Boche 
admitted they were beaten and that they were going back to 
Germany. The condition of captured German horses showed 
the straits to which they were reduced. 

The operations of this period are described by Sir Arthur 
Currie as follows: "On Oct. 19 the advance was continued 
on the whole Corps front, nearly 40 towns and villages being 
wrested from the enemy, including the large town of Denain. 

The XXII Corps, advancing on our right from the south, 
gained touch with the 4th. Canadian Division just east of 
Denain, on the evening of Oct. 19, pinching out the 2nd. Cana 
dian Division, which was then concentrated in the Auberchi- 
court area, where good billets were available. 

"In spite of bad weather and increased resistance more 
ground was gained on Oct. 20, and the villages of Hasnon, 
Les Faux, Wallers and Haveluy, with a large population, were 
freed. 

"During the day resistance had stiffened all along the line. 
The ground over which we were advancing was very flat, and 
there was no tactical advantage to be gained by pushing for 
ward, and a further advance would also increase the difficulties 
of supply. In addition on the left, the VIII Corps had not 
been able to cope with the supply question and had not 
advanced in conformity with our progress. In view of these 
considerations, orders were issued that Divisions were to main 
tain touch with the enemy without becoming involved in heavy 
fighting. 

"For a time on Oct. 20 the 4th. Canadian Division was held 
up just east of Denain by machine-gun and artillery fire, and 
it was not until late in the afternoon that our troops could 
make progress there. 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 20-30 355 

"Continuing the advance on Oct. 21, a footing was gained 
in the Foret-de-Vicoigne, and the following villages were 
captured : Aremberg, Oisy, Herin, Rouvigne, Aubry, Petite 
Foret, Anzin, Prouvy, Bellaing and Wavrechain. As on the 
previous day, all these villages contained civilians, who sub 
sequently suffered considerably from deliberate hostile shell 
ing. 

"The 1st. Canadian Division had now been in the line for 
two weeks without having an opportunity to rest and refit since 
the hard-fought battle of the Canal du Nord, and orders were 
issued for its relief by the 3rd. Canadian Division. At dawn 
on Oct. 22, in order that touch with the enemy be maintained, 
the 1st. Canadian Division pushed forward. Following 
closely, the 3rd. Canadian Division passed through the 1st. 
Canadian Division during the forenoon, on the left Brigade 
front, about 9 a.m., on the line of the St. Amand-Raismes Road, 
and on the right about noon on the line of the St. Amand- 
Raismes railway, the Foret-de-Vicoigne having been cleared 
of the enemy. On relief, the 1st. Canadian Division came into 
rest billets in the Somain-Pecquencourt-Masny area. 

"The 3rd. and 4th. Canadian Divisions pushed on during 
Oct. 22, and by nightfall Trith St. Leger, La Vignoble, La 
Sentinelle, Waast-le-Haut, Beauvrages, Bruay, and practic 
ally the whole of the large forest of Raismes, were in our 
hands. On the left Brigade front of the 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion the Scheldt Canal had been reached in places. A very 
large area northeast of Valenciennes and a smaller area to 
the southwest had been flooded, and to the west of the city the 
Canal itself provided a serious obstacle. To the southwest, 
beyond the flooded area, Mont Houy and the Famars Ridge 
made a natural line of defense. 

"The XXII Corps on our right had been held up along 
the Ecaillon River, and the VIII Corps on our left had not 
been able to make any considerable advance, chiefly owing to 
supply difficulties, and were still some distance behind us. 

"The Divisions continued to push forward in the face of 



356 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

steadily increasing opposition, and by Oct. 25 had reached 
the Canal and the western edge of the inundated area along the 
whole Corps front. 

"Our troops had had a very arduous pursuit, and the rail 
head for supplies and ammunition was still very far to the 
rear. It was therefore decided that we should make good the 
west bank of the Canal and stand fast until the flanking Corps 
had made progress. 

"Attempts to cross the Canal proved that the enemy was 
holding in strength a naturally strong position, and it was 
ordered that no crossing in force would be attempted without 
reference to Corps Headquarters. The Engineers established 
dumps of material well forward on selected sites so that the 
bridges necessary to cross the Canal on the resumption of our 
advance could be constructed without delay." 

A glance at the map will show that the Scheldt Canal, 
after passing Denain, takes a turn of four or five thousand 
yards southeast and then, at the village of Thiant, on its south 
bank, where the Ecaillon River joins the canal, turns again 
northeast to where some seven or eight thousand yards lower 
down it skirts the west flank of Valenciennes. Thence it con 
tinues in a generally northeasterly direction some thirteen 
or fourteen thousand yards to Conde, which is but two or three 
miles from the Belgian border. At Conde the Scheldt swings 
off at right angles to the northwest. Contained within this 
right angle is the Foret de Raismes, through which our troops 
had penetrated. They were therefore several miles beyond 
Valenciennes on the left or north bank of the Scheldt. 

The enemy had flooded the canal from Conde, raising the 
waters not only as far as the city itself, but a considerable dis 
tance west of it, half way to Thiant. Some of our troops, 
of the 10th. Brigade, of an adventurous spirit, sought to enter 
Valenciennes from the south by crossing this inundated area 
by boat, but their craft was promptly riddled by machine-gun 
bullets, and they had difficulty in making the shore again. So 
far, therefore, as the Canadian Corps in its present area was 



OPERATIONS: OCT. 20-30 357 

concerned, no attack on Valenciennes was feasible. Many 
civilians were known to be still in the city and so we could 
not shell the enemy out, quite apart from the desire not to 
damage a city still intact. On the other hand the Boche made 
full use of this immunity by establishing batteries of artillery 
and machine-guns at every point of vantage and maintaining 
on our lines a continual harassing fire. It was obvious that 
until the Corps on our right advanced along the south bank 
of the Scheldt we could only mark time. Happily the 
weather had taken a turn for the better; we luxuriated in a 
belated Indian Summer, Squaw Summer, as they call it in 
the West. 

The Corps Commander explains the situation and disposi 
tion as follows: "It had become apparent that unless the 
enemy withdrew, Valenciennes could only be taken from the 
south. The XXII Corps, on the right, had meanwhile suc 
ceeded in crossing the Ecaillon River after a hard fight and 
captured the Famars Ridge. They had, however, been unable 
to take Mount Houy, which commanded Valenciennes from 
the south. 

"On Oct. 27 the First Army Commander outlined the 
plan for operations to be carried out in conjunction with at 
tacks on a large scale by the Third and Fourth Armies to the 
south as follows : 

"(a) The capture of Mount Houy and Aulnoy to be 
carried out by the XXII Corps on the morning of 
Oct. 28. . 

"(b) The capture of the high ground overlooking Valen 
ciennes from the south to be carried out by the 
Canadian Corps on a subsequent date, probably Oct. 
30. 

"(c) The capture of the high ground east of Valenciennes 
-to be carried out after (b) above, probably on 
Nov. 1. 

"Valenciennes would thus be outflanked from the south. 
The Canadian Corps would take over, probably on the night 



358 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of Oct. 28-29, the left Brigade frontage of the XXII Corps 
(approximately 2,500 yards) in order to carry out phase (b) 
and (c) of this operation. The above attacks were to be 
carried out simultaneously with the attacks of the Third and 
Fourth Armies. 

"In accordance with the above, instructions were issued 
to the 3rd. Canadian Division to take over the frontage of the 
left Brigade of the 4th. Canadian Division. The 4th. Cana 
dian Division was, in turn, ordered to relieve the left Brigade 
of the XXII Corps (51st. Division), both side-slips to take 
place on the night of Oct. 28-29, subsequent to the capture 
of Mount Houy by the XXII Corps. 

"The attack of the 51st. Division on Mount Houy on Oct. 
28 was not successful. In the first rush the troops succeeded 
in gaining a foothold on the objective, but were subsequently 
driven out by repeated counter-attacks. In view of this, the 
relief of the left Brigade of that Division by the 4th. Canadian 
Division was postponed. During the night of Oct. 28-29, 
however, the 3rd. Canadian Division relieved the left Brigade 
of the 4th. Canadian Division." 

During the month of October we had captured 2,950 
prisoners, 136 guns and 467 machine-guns, 42 trench mortars, 
six anti-tank rifles, six locomotives and other material and 
rolling stock. 



CHAPTER V 

CAPTURE OF VALENCIENNES 

THE Canadian Corps had now been held up a week along 
the left bank of the Scheldt, harassed by constant fire 
from the other side, and no progress was possible until 
an advance had been made on the city along the right bank, 
through Maing, Famars and Aulnoy. 

To understand the situation a brief description is neces 
sary. Valenciennes lies in the valley of the Scheldt, at the 
junction of that river with the Rhonelle, the civic insignia 
representing two swans, emblematic of the two rivers. The 
city slopes up from the canal to heights on the east, crowned 
by the museum and a handsome modern water-tower. Fur 
ther east, beyond its outskirts, is still higher ground. 

We have seen how Thiant lies on the right bank of the 
elbow of the Scheldt to the south where it is joined by the 
Ecaillon river. Two thousand yards lower along the right 
bank is the straggling and low-lying town of Maing, and from 
here down to Valenciennes and thence to Conde enemy engi 
neers had inundated the bed of the canal to a width of a thou 
sand yards and in certain areas a great deal more, making 
passage by troops in face of machine-gun fire impossible. 

Parallel to the Scheldt, 2,000 yards distant at the narrowest 
point, the Rhonelle river also flows south to Valenciennes, 
and between these two streams a tongue of high land runs 
from behind Maing to the southern suburbs. Two thousand 
yards east by north of Maing is the village of Famars, occupy 
ing high ground overlooking the Rhonelle valley. Fifteen 
hundred yards further north, and about 3,000 yards south of 
Valenciennes, is the dominating feature of Mont Houy, whose 
height of 83 metres raises it some 40 or SO metres above the 
valleys on either side. From this point the ridge falls down 

359 



360 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

gently to Valenciennes, but on its southwest and west faces the 
hill presents sharp steep contours, clothed in wood, and mak 
ing it very difficult to assault from that direction. The 
approach from Famars is more open and the rise less abrupt. 

The position is one of considerable natural strength, of 
which the enemy had made best use, turning scattered farm 
houses into machine-gun posts and establishing batteries along 
the ridge. In particular the steel works on the Scheldt west 
and northwest of Mont Houy had been strongly fortified. 
From these an entrenched line had been dug right athwart the 
ridge, east and west, just behind Mont Houy, due east to con 
nect with the village of Aulnoy, lying in the valley of the 
Rhonelle. Behind all was the determination of the enemy to 
make a definite stand in front of Valenciennes. Backed by the 
inundated areas of the Scheldt, he here sought to hold a pivot 
on which the retreat now in progress both north and south 
might be firmly based. 

The narrative of the First Army, quoted above, thus 
describes what was happening on our immediate right : 
"Oct. 25 The attack was renewed on the XXII Corps front 
and the 5 1st. Division cleared up the ground to near the Valen- 
ciennes-Le Quesnoy railway. At 6 p.m. the enemy, after 
throwing over a great weight of high-explosive and gas shells, 
made a counter-attack. The Argyll and Sutherlands on the 
left who, like the rest, had been wearing gas masks that day 
for hours got up, rushed with the bayonet to meet the coun 
ter-attack, drove it back, and actually advanced their position 
about 500 yards. 

"During the earlier counter-attacks the enemy had lost 
very many men, in spite of the fact that he used low-flying 
planes, gunning our men to keep down their fire. 

"The 4th. British Division pushed on and took Querenaing. 
In the afternoon the enemy counter-attacked, but fruitlessly. 

"The Rhonelle was now immediately in front. The XXII 
Corps line ran from the inundations southwest of Valenciennes 
in a southeasterly direction to the Bavay road. The inunda- 



CAPTURE OF VALENCIENNES 361 

tion-line was turned and an advance to the northeast, with the 
left flank on the flooded area, would free Valenciennes. 

"To secure the crossing of the Rhonelle, the 4th. British 
Division successfully established a bridgehead east of the vil 
lage of Artres. 

"Preparations were now made for an attack to cross the 
Rhonelle, take Preseau and the heights to the immediate south 
of Valenciennes, while the Canadians were to attack from the 
west through the gaps in the flooded area. These operations 
would mean the restoration to France of Valenciennes, the 
only remaining French town of importance on the British 
front. It meant also that the elaborately prepared system of 
inundations which the enemy had, by much destruction of 
valuable works, set up as a barrier, had proved futile to arrest 
the rapid advance of the British Army. 

"Oct. 26 On the XXII Corps front, south of Valen 
ciennes, the 51st. Division attacked again and took Famars, a 
dominant hill between the Canal and the Aulnoy-Famars 
road. Some got to Mont Houy, but were unable to remain. 
Famars, which was full of civilians, was suffering from the 
enemy s high explosive and especially gas-shelling. A French 
officer in liason succeeded in getting a number of these 
civilians out, little by little. 

"Oct. 27- -The enemy counter-attacked again and got into 
Famars. The Gordons ejected him, retook the village, and 
kept it. 

"Oct. 28 An attack was again made on Mont Houy, and 
the Seaforths got through to a Boche trench on the north of 
the Aulnoy-Poirien road. But the enemy was resolved to 
hold this hill, and by a strong counter-attack forced our troops 
back to the southwest of Houy Wood. 

"Oct. 28 and 29 On this night the 49th. Division began to 
relieve the 5 1st. As fighting was going on, the 6th. Argylls 
were temporarily left with the incoming 49th., and repulsed 
two counter-attacks that morning before leaving the line, thus 
keeping up the unsurpassed record of the 51st. for being in all 



362 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

the fighting and carrying success with them in all situations. 
No division of the entire army has done sterner, more efficient, 
nor more constant righting than these glorious Territorials of 
the North." 

In a direct attack over this same ground by the Canadian 
Corps, its long flank on the other side of the Scheldt, instead 
of being as hitherto a weakness, could be turned to good 
account, because all our batteries could be brought to play 
upon the high ground around Famars and Mont Houy, and, 
after the miscarriage described above, the decision was 
reached that the 4th. Canadian Division should make the 
attempt. 

The task was entrusted to the 10th. Brigade, to whose com 
mand Brig.-General J. M. Ross, former Commander of the 
5th. Brigade but who had now returned recovered from the 
wound he had received in the Amiens show, had succeeded on 
the appointment of Brig.-General R. J. F. Hayter to be 
Brigadier-General, General Staff. Throughout these opera 
tions and until the last few days, the B.G.G.S. of the Canadian 
Corps (who might be described as Chief-of-Staff) had been a 
very capable Imperial officer, Brig.-General N. W. Webber, 
but the latter had now rejoined the British Army. General 
Hayter, however, was not to be kept out of this show, and 
during its progress he established himself at headquarters of 
his old Brigade, with General Ross, at Maing. 

The 10th. Brigade relieved the XXII Corps in the section 
immediately south of the Scheldt on the night of Oct. 29-30, 
the attack being set for the morning of Nov. 1, when, in con 
junction, the 12th. Brigade and troops of the 3rd. Canadian 
Division were to endeavor to establish crossings of the canal 
north of the city. Preparations for the attack are thus 
described by the Corps Commander: "Orders were received 
that the Canadian Corps was to carry out all three phases of 
the operation against Valenciennes in conjunction with at 
tacks of the XXII Corps. Accordingly, the 4th. Canadian 
Division was ordered to relieve the left Brigade of the 51st. 



CAPTURE OF VALENCIENNES 363 

Division during the night of Oct. 29-30 on the line then held, 
and to be prepared to carry out the attack on the morning of 
Nov. 1. 

"In conjunction with the attack the 3rd. Canadian Divi 
sion was ordered to cross the Canal and the inundated area 
on its front, and establish a bridgehead to enable the Engineers 
to reconstruct the bridges leading into the city. 

"In the short period available elaborate preparations were 
made for the support of the attack. The position was emin 
ently suitable for the use of enfilade as well as frontal fire, the 
general direction of the attack on Mont Houy being parallel 
to our front, and full advantage of this was taken in arranging 
the Artillery and Machine-Gun barrages. 

"The application of Heavy Artillery fire was restricted 
because the enemy had retained many civilians in Valenciennes 
and the adjoining villages. Strict orders were issued that the 
city and villages were not to be bombarded, with the exception 
of a row of houses on the eastern side of the Canal which were 
occupied by a large number of machine-guns. To hinder the 
good observation which the enemy would otherwise have been 
able to enjoy from the city and village, very elaborate arrange 
ments were made to place heavy smoke screens along certain 
areas. 

"Despite great difficulties of transport, the supplies of 
ammunition, bridging material, etc., moved forward were 
sufficient, and before dawn on Nov. 1 all preparations were 
completed. 

"The time for the assault was fixed for 5.15 a.m., Nov. 1. 
The plan of attack was as follows : 

"The right Brigade of the 4th. Canadian Division (10th. 
Canadian Infantry Brigade, Brig.-General J. M. Ross), 
southeast of the Canal, was to carry out the attack at "zero" 
hour under a co-ordinated barrage in a northerly direction and 
capture Mont Houy, Aulnoy, and the high ground south of 
Valenciennes, and then to exploit the success by pushing on to 
the high ground east of the city. 



364 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"Subsequently, the troops northwest of the Canal (left 
Brigade 4th. Canadian Division and the 3rd. Canadian 
Division) were to force crossings north of the city and encircle 
it from that side." 

"Zero" hour was set for 5.15 a.m., and the men went into 
the attack in the dark, supported by a concentric barrage of 
great power. All the first objectives were gained by the hour 
set, 8 a.m., our troops being aided in their advance when dawn 
broke by a very efficient smoke barrage, completely obscuring 
the enemy s observation. 

The attack was made by the 44th. Battalion, of New Bruns 
wick though originally recruited at Winnipeg, on the right, 
with the 47th. Battalion, Western Ontario, on the left. After 
taking Famars which again had fallen into enemy hands- 
the 44th. fought their way into Aulnoy, where it was only 
after hand-to-hand fighting that the enemy was overcome. 
The 46th. Battalion, South Saskatchewan, here leap-frogged, 
pushing on the attack along the left bank of the Rhonelle to 
the outskirts of Marly, a suburb on the southwest of the city, 
where were more steel works, stoutly defended. 

Meantime on the left the 47th. had captured Mont Houy 
and the trench system beyond, where the 50th. Battalion, Cal 
gary, came up in support, pushing on the attack along the 
ridge. We encountered bitter resistance from enemy machine- 
gun posts, particularly from the garrison established in the 
Poirien farm, composed of very young troops, who fought 
recklessly, refusing to surrender even when we were upon them 
with the cold steel and bombs. We captured here 20 machine- 
guns. 

Some other of the enemy troops were not so steadfast, a 
whole company surrendering, its officers saying that they had 
heard over night that Austria had surrendered and it was use 
less for Germany to fight longer. It developed that the enemy 
was preparing to attack that morning with three regiments, 
and these were smothered by our barrage, his losses being 
exceptionally heavy, particularly along the Rhonelle valley. 



CAPTURE OF VALENCIENNES 365 

In this very brilliant action the 10th. Brigade captured over 
1,800 prisoners, more than the entire strength of its infantry 
engaged, and we buried 800 Boche on the field. 

It was dashing work, calling for individual initiative and 
sacrifice, as the following incident will illustrate. During the 
attack of the 46th. Battalion, Sergt. Hugh Cairns, of North 
Saskatoon, found that his platoon was being exposed to the 
fire of a machine-gun post. Without a moment s hesitation he 
seized a Lewis gun and single-handed, in face of direct fire, 
rushed the post, killing the crew of five and capturing the gun. 
Later, when the line was held up by machine-gun fire, he again 
rushed forward, killing 12 of the enemy and capturing 18 
with two guns. Still further on, when the advance was held 
up by both field and machine-gun fire, and although wounded, 
he led a small party and outflanked the position, killing many, 
forcing about 50 to surrender and capturing all the guns. Not 
content with this, after our line had been consolidated, he 
went forward with a battle patrol to exploit Marly, held by 
the enemy in force, and after a stiff fight forced 60 of the 
enemy to surrender. Whilst disarming this party he was 
severely wounded by fresh enemy elements. Nevertheless he 
opened fire on these and inflicted heavy losses. Finally he 
was rushed by about 20 enemy and collapsed from weakness 
and loss of blood. Throughout this operation he showed the 
highest degree of valor and his leadership greatly contributed 
to the success of the attack. He died from his wounds the 
following day. 

The events of this day are described in the narrative of 
the First Army as follows: "Nov. l--The capture of the 
ground south of Valenciennes between the Rhonelle river and 
the Scheldt canal was of extreme importance so as to compel 
the enemy to evacuate the town. The Canadian Corps were 
holding the western approaches to the town and the western 
bank of the Scheldt canal, and their guns were able to batter 
the tongue of land where the 51st. Division had been fighting. 
An attack by Canadian troops in a northerly direction from 



366 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

about Aulnoy could thus be supported by their artillery fire 
from south, west and north, and offered the best and safest 
means of capturing Valenciennes. The Canadian Corps 
relieved the XXII Corps (51st Division) between the 
Rhonelle and the Scheldt, and, attacking in conjunction with 
the XXII Corps (and they with the Third Army), in ex 
tremely severe fighting took Mont Houy and the western part 
of Aulnoy, also establishing a bridgehead north of Valen 
ciennes over the inundations. 

"A large concentration of artillery was used and the 
enemy s losses were very heavy. Over 800 Germans were 
counted and buried in a small part of the battlefield near 
Aulnoy, on which the fire of 42 6-inch howitzers (among other 
calibres) was concentrated. The Germans resolutely fought 
to defend the whole position and clung with determination to 
the watery corner near Conde. But their defenses were con 
structed to resist attack from the west, and the attack of the 
Canadians from the south was too much for them. 

"As the northern Division of the XXII Corps, between 
the 4th. Canadian and 4th. British Divisions, the 49th. Divi 
sion jumped off from a line northeast of Famars to half way 
between Famars and Artres towards the Rhonelle. This they 
crossed and advanced as far as the Preseau-Marly road to the 
Marly steelworks. The fighting was very severe, the enemy 
holding strongly. 

"To their south the 4th. British Division crossed the river. 
Curiously enough the crossing was facilitated by the fact that 
the enemy had left many felled trees lying from bank to bank, 
across which our men walked. Some of the 4th. got into 
Preseau, but the enemy launched a counter-attack with a fresh 
Division and our troops were pushed out. 

"In the afternoon four companies of Canadians entered 
Valenciennes from the west. 2,750 prisoners were taken in 
this action." 

At 8 a.m., so soon as the success of the operation to the 
south was established, the 12th. Canadian Infantry Brigade 



CAPTURE OF VALENCIENNES 367 

began drifting outposts across the canal into Valenciennes, 
establishing posts along the east side, seizing the railway and 
yards, and holding a line in the southern outskirts of the city 
up to the Place de Famars inclusive. 

This was a very dashing operation, and owed much of its 
success to the fine co-operation of Canadian Engineers and 
Artillery. Gunners of the 58th. C.F.A., wrapping the wheels 
of an 18-pounder in carpet, brought the gun down secretly at 
night into a house on the west side of the canal just opposite 
an enemy machine-gun post, known to command the only 
practical crossing. At "zero" hour next morning the gun was 
fired through the wall at a point-blank range of only a few 
yards, blowing the machine-guns and crews into the air. 

The 38th. Battalion, of Ottawa, crossed over the locks on 
the southwest of the city by a footbridge under a heavy enfil 
ading fire from machine-guns, and proceeded to consolidate 
the line of the railway. A party of our troops began working 
their way thence north into the old town, but just beyond the 
Place de Famars a Frenchwoman run out, waving them back. 
The enemy had established a battery sweeping the boulevard, 
with wire entanglements beyond, and but for this timely 
warning the party must have been wiped out. 

Simultaneously the 72nd. Battalion, of Vancouver, effected 
a crossing lower down the canal, and after sharp fighting suc 
ceeded in establishing a line on the northwest outskirts of the 
city. Orders were given to hold the line thus won that night, 
the object being to save casualties and possible destruction of 
the city by street fighting. 

Early next morning, Nov. 2, the 38th., supported on the 
right by troops of the llth. Brigade, who had passed through 
the 10th. Brigade in the night, and on the left by the 72nd. 
Battalion, passed through the city to its eastern boundary. 
Two Canadian gunners, with two French interpreters, at ten 
o clock that morning swarmed up the tower of the Hotel de 
Ville, cut down the German standard, and hoisted the tricolor. 

Valenciennes was ours, but the enemy still clung tenaci- 



368 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

ously to the ridge immediately east of the city. We attacked in 
force again and drove him out of the strong positions he held 
between St. Saulve and the Chateau Houris. 

On our right the XXII Corps, after being checked at noon 
on Nov. 1 by determined counter-attacks, had pushed on and 
established contact with us at Marly. Further down the 
canal troops of the 3rd. Canadian Division, ably supported by 
Canadian Engineers, had succeeded in consolidating a bridge 
head north of the city. 

Sir Arthur Currie s account of this day s fighting is as fol 
lows: "At 5.15 a.m., Nov. 1, the attack was launched, and 
from the first went entirely according to plan on the Canadian 
Corps front. The enemy barrage dropped quickly and was 
very heavy, but shortly afterwards slackened down under the 
influence of our effective counter-battery fire. In the mean 
time the attacking Infantry got well away, advancing under a 
most excellent barrage, and reached their objective, the line 
of the Valenciennes-Maubeuge railway, on time right behind 
the barrage. 

u The fighting during the advance was heavy, especially 
around the houses along the Famars-Valenciennes road and in 
Aulnoy. 

"The thoroughness of the preparations made for this small 
but important battle is better illustrated by the following 
striking figures: Number of enemy dead buried, over 800; 
prisoners captured, over 1,800 (exceeding the number of 
assaulting troops) ; our casualties (approximately), 80 killed 
and 300 wounded. 

"On the left, the left Brigade of the 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion and the 3rd. Canadian Division had, in the meantime, 
succeeded in crossing the canal. Bridgeheads were estab 
lished north of the city, the station and railway yards were 
seized, and the Engineers commenced the construction of 
bridges. 

"The enemy did not counter-attack against the Canadian 
Corps during the day, but continued to hold out strongly in 



CAPTURE OF VALENCIENNES 369 

the southern outskirts of Valenciennes and Marly, and in the 
steel works to the southeast until dark. Two counter-attacks 
against the XXII Corps front on the right caused some 
anxiety, but that flank was strengthened and no trouble 
developed. 

"During the night the 4th. Canadian Division took over an 
additional Brigade frontage from the 49th. Division (XXII 
Corps) on the right preparatory to the capture of the high 
ground east of Marly. 

"Patrols of the 4th. Canadian Division pushed forward 
during the night and ascertained that the enemy was with 
drawing. In the early morning our troops had completely 
cleared Valenciennes and Marly, and patrols had entered St. 
Saulve." 



?5 



CHAPTER VI 

WELCOME TO THE DELIVERER 

ON the morning of Oct. 2 the civil authorities transmitted 
the following message through Canadian Corps Signals 
to the French Government : "After 50 months of hard 
captivity but always resolute and inspired by the memory of 
her sons heroically fallen on the field of honor, the City of 
Valenciennes, cruelly separated from her brave Mayor, Dr. 
Truchon, and with a great number of her inhabitants in exile, 
addresses to the French Government the expression of her 
admiration for the victorious armies of the Entente and her 
patriotic cry of joy on the day of her deliverance." 

Dr. Truchon had persistently opposed the exactions of the 
German Military Governor, until finally he was exiled. 
Acting in his place remained MM. Billiet and Damien, who, 
together with M. Rene Delame, representative of the Ameri 
can Relief Committee, administered faithfully to the wants of 
their people and were not to be deterred by threats and com 
mands from doing what was possible to mitigate their un 
happy condition. For their lot was very miserable. Except 
for a little meal, these depended entirely on American and 
Spanish relief for their food, and the one bright spot in a story 
of oppression and violence is the figure of a German, Ritt- 
meister Venerbourg, associated with M. Delame in the relief, 
who did his best to see that it was honestly distributed. 

The normal population of Valenciennes is about 35,000 
and on Oct. 13 the entire population was evacuated by order, 
the movement continuing for a fortnight until on our entry 
only 4,500 of the original inhabitants were left, many being 
too sick to move. About 25,000 people remained in the city, 
but most of these were from Cambrai, whence 50,000 evacuees 
had passed through Valenciennes, making the long journey on 

370 



WELCOME TO THE DELIVERER 371 

foot, the movement starting so soon as the advance of the 
Canadian Corps over the Canal du Nord developed. These 
poor folk passed through Valenciennes to Mons and Mau- 
beuge at the rate of about 5,000 a day and added immensely to 
the difficulties of rationing the civil population. Many were 
so exhausted they could not continue their flight. 

On the morning of Nov. 1, when the battle opened, the 
entire civilian population was paraded in the Place d Armes 
and ordered to evacuate immediately. Soon the roads leading 
east were hopelessly choked and the movement was stopped. 
That day there was great running to and fro by the garrison, 
and at night the enemy marched out. As they left they cut 
the water supply, destroyed the reservoirs, and blew-up the 
power house supplying the city with electric light. Hardly 
were they clear of the town, hitherto undamaged, than they 
turned their batteries upon it, doing some damage in the Place 
d Armes and to the east end of the cathedral, raining down 
phosphor shells with the intention of setting the city afire. 
Only the prompt entry of our troops, and the vigorous offen 
sive we pushed out both north and east, saved the city. 

Our troops were rapturously received. The enemy had 
filled the city with gas, and women and children, their eyes 
red-rimmed and streaming, pressed upon them, embracing 
a les braves Canadiens." From out their slender store they 
produced hot coffee and a curious substance made from coarse 
meal, known to them as bread. Called together by the two 
acting-mayors, the city council promptly adopted resolutions 
thanking their deliverers and renaming the Place de Famars, 
where we had first entered, the Place du Canada, with the 
promise that a worthy monument would be erected in that 
spacious square to the Canadian soldiers fallen in battle. 

In contrast to Cambrai and Douai, no systematic sack had 
taken place here, but individual soldiers had looted at will. 
All the works of art had been removed from the art gallery 
and the museum, where still were a number of statues packed 
ready for shipment. The enemy exactions throughout these 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

years had been very severe and even meticulous. Thus an old 
lady had 23 hens. She was ordered to supply 15 eggs a day, or 
pay a mark for each egg short. The hens went broody and in 
despair of the daily drain upon her purse, she killed the hens 
and sent them in a basket to the Herr Commandant. She was 
fined 10,000 marks. 

One comes back again and again to the contemplation of 
the French people of the evacuated areas. They are every 
where on the roads, in the villages; bearing without com 
plaint nor heroics their heavy burden, hiding in their hearts 
their sorrows that they may turn a joyous face to the deliverer. 
Of all the deep-bitten impressions one must carry away none 
is so indelible as that of this patient endurance, the fine quiet 
courage and elasticity of spirit that may bend but not break; 
wherein lies the secret of the mute but unshaken fortitude that 
suffers adversity hunger, cold, jeers and insults of the in 
vader, loss of household goods, loss, too, of husband, brother 
and ailing child but does not despair. 

Their intense patriotism carries them through. Self is 
immolated in the State. One asks oneself, having lost all, 
what remains? There remains France and the promise of 
the generations to come. For the rest, there is the comfortable 
spectacle of the beaten enemy. 

One dwells on these people released from their captivity 
because it is for that our men have suffered and endured; here 
are the ripe fruits of their sacrifice; in their youth they were 
consecrated to this brave purpose; its attainment ennobles their 
arms, sets a crown upon their staunch array. It is not for a 
little thing they have fought and died. Out of all the material 
ism of war there emerges again the high idealism that set their 
feet along that bitter road. 

They are all but inarticulate, these peasants. It is difficult 
to enlist their interest in the recital of their experiences they 
would sooner forget. They take it all as a matter of course- 
for the man a soldier s grave; for the woman unwept tears. 
Such is war to the French nation. Little is left of "la gloire." 



WELCOME TO THE DELIVERER 373 

And now that tardy victory breaks through the gloom, they 
trudge patiently back to their desolated hearths. 

One wonders if they can ever regain their traditional 
gaiety or is it not a myth built up around the artificial life of 
Paris? The old people are very old, the young wan. One of 
the mayors of Valenciennes, a highly educated man, sought 
to explain his state of mind. "You must pardon me," he said. 
"I am not able to express myself clearly. For so long speech 
was repressed and one was permitted only to answer ques 



tions. 



We are caught in a block of traffic. It is a one-track road 
and as we wait an endless procession goes by of marching men, 
lorries and wagons and limbers and guns. It is such a rare 
day as one encounters on the prairie in October when the 
unexpected warmth of the sun dispels the mists of a frosty 
night and the sky is blue and still. But here in this sad land 
of France the earth is green with sprouting grain and russet 
and gold still canopy the woods. From either direction little 
groups of peasants seek their homes, old men yoked to high 
two-wheeled hand-carts with women pushing behind, or car 
rying nothing more than bundles tied in ticking. Our sol 
diers pick up the children. 

An old woman and her grandchild are passing from Maing 
to Famars and she tells her pitiable story. They had had the 
good fortune to remain in their home in Famars undisturbed- 
the grandfather almost decrepit. British troops captured the 
village and they were freed. But the enemy was throwing in 
gas-shells and it was ordered the villagers must go back behind 
our lines. The old man remained to guard his little property. 
By an ironic turn of fate the enemy recaptured the village and 
removed all left behind with their goods and chattels. "Why 
did they not leave me with my man?" she asked. "I am an 
old woman and have not long to live. It is better to die of the 
gas than return to nothing." 

There was the baffling mystery of why these people passed 
in opposite directions in all sorts of cross directions. From 



374 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Denain they were returning to Valenciennes and from Valen 
ciennes to Denain, while in both were many people from far 
Cambrai. And here is the most brutal feature of the Boche 
policy. They deliberately transferred villages, tearing asun 
der the countryside that they might more easily control these 
destitutes set in strange places the young men to work in the 
trenches and the young women in munition factories or worse. 
The village cleared, there followed the systematic sack; con 
tents of value loaded on to government trains, the rest given 
to the men. And into this ruin other villages were transferred. 

Presently we are in Famars. A long queue stretches back 
of the church. Within M. le Maire is distributing the iron 
rations provided by the British Army. One by one the vil 
lagers pass in and get their bully-beef, biscuit, tea, sugar, pep 
per and salt. In another corner the wants of the sick and of 
the very poor are looked after by an energetic officer of the 
Canadian Red Cross soup, cocoa, and the like, gift of the 
people of Canada. 

Shells have struck that church; four times it has changed 
hands. Under foot is a litter of plaster and straw where Ger 
man soldiers have been billeted. Upon the walls the Stations 
of the Cross are shattered or awry. But what fitter use for a 
church? M. le Cure is all smiles. A woman, babe in arms, 
comes forward, on her face the resignation, the pity, of the 
Madonna. 

These are the commonplaces of evacuated France. Ter 
rible stories might be recounted; heroic episodes where the 
brutal fury of the invader has been defied to the end. But 
they are not needed to illustrate the splendor that emerges 
from the fundamental misery, the splendor of these patient 
people of France. 

The whole country east of us is bisected with little rivers 
running through swamps and irrigation ditches. On our left 
front this has all been flooded and the going is very difficult 
for troops of our 3rd. Division. The enemy has improvised a 
line of rifle-pits, linking up the "fosses" of slag, each of these a 
miniature fortress. 



WELCOME TO THE DELIVERER 375 

Everything now depends on the work of the Canadian 
Engineers, supported by our Railway Troops and Labor Bat 
talions. These push on indefatigably, often under fire, and 
in a remarkably short time succeed in restoring communica 
tions in a country where the enemy has blown every bridge 
and causeway, and even every length of steel. 

By evening of Nov. 5 our line, with the llth. Brigade on 
the right, the 12th. Brigade in the centre and the 8th. Brigade 
on the left, covering a battle front of about 12,000 yards, ex 
tended from the east of the Aunelle river between Marchipont 
and Angre, thence east of Quarouble, through Vicq and across 
the flooded area to where two miles south of Conde the 3rd. 
Canadian Division had bridged the Scheldt. The Aunelle, a 
tributary of the Grande Honelle, which it joins a little fur 
ther north, is at this point the boundary between France and 
Belgium, and on the night of Nov. 5-6 the 87th. Battalion, 
Montreal Grenadier Guards, were the first Canadian troops 
to bivouac on Belgian soil since we had left the Ypres salient, 
after having crossed the river during the day by a brilliant 
manoeuvre. 

The following morning, Nov. 6, the 102nd. Battalion on 
our right passed through the 87th. and captured Basieux. On 
our left the 8th. Brigade, comprised of C.M.R. Battalions, 
after heavy fighting over the only practical causeways through 
swamps and marshes, captured Crespin and then made a dash 
ing attack on the strongly held line of the Honneau river, 
effecting a crossing on the extreme left, thus turning the 
enemy s positions. The 12th. Brigade meanwhile had estab 
lished itself in the southern outskirts of the French town of 
Quievrechain, and now in conjunction with the 8th. Brigade, 
completed its capture and crossed the Honelle into Belgian 
territory, the enemy having failed to blow the bridge at this 
point. By night we held the western outskirts of Quievrain, 
on the Mons road. Five hundred prisoners were captured. 

On the night of Nov. 6-7 the 2nd. Canadian Division com 
pleted relief of the 4th. Canadian Division, which had been 



376 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

in the thick of all the fighting since Sept. 27, and now went 
into rest. 

We were now entering a thickly populated coal mining 
country, where the industrial villages melt one into another 
practically all the way to Mons. The enemy was fighting a 
delaying action, to enable him to evacuate his material. Faces 
of our weary mud-stained men who all day had toiled after 
the retreating Boche, light up at the news that comes over the 
French wireless that German envoys are on French soil, sup 
pliants for peace. 

About this time Le Petit Parisien publishes an article 
entitled, "The Canadians in the Great War." After quoting 
from the recent exchange of messages between Premier Sir 
Robert Borden and Sir Arthur Currie on the occasion of the 
anniversary of the arrival of the Canadian First Contingent in 
France, the article continues as follows : "The message of 
General Currie goes a great way beyond the usual scope of 
such manifestoes. One cannot read it without profound emo 
tion, so sternly grand are the sentiments he expresses. In the 
midst of the rumors and the agitation created by the enemy 
peace offensive the authoritative voice of the great Canadian 
General is lifted clear, vigorous and sincere." 

After quoting from the message the passage wherein the 
Corps Commander enumerates the necessity of complete vic 
tory if peace is to be permanently restored and declares that 
the Canadian dead demand nothing less, the journal con 
cludes : "The generous and sublime prayer of those who per 
haps are to die in the battle of tomorrow has been widely 
heard. Our own Armies, bound to silence, will read with 
gratitude this message of General Currie, for it reflects admir 
ably all that lies repressed in the soul of our heroic soldiers." 

The Corps Commander sums up the operations of this 
period as follows: "The advance was continued in the face 
of stubborn resistance from enemy rearguards throughout 
Nov. 2 on the whole Corps front, and by nightfall had reached 
the line Marly-St. Saulve-Bas Amarais-Raucourt Chateau, all 



WELCOME TO THE DELIVERER 377 

inclusive. On the front of the 3rd. Canadian Division the 
advance was particularly difficult, the country being under 
water except where railway embankments, slag-heaps, and 
houses stood up out of the flood and afforded excellent cover 
for enemy machine-gunners and riflemen. 

"Some stiff fighting took place when the advance was con 
tinued on Nov. 3, but in spite of this good progress was made, 
especially on the right on the front of the llth. Canadian In 
fantry Brigade (Brig.-General V. W. Odium), where the 
line was advanced 3,000 yards and the village of Estreux cap 
tured. Progress on the left was necessarily slower owing to 
the flooded nature of the ground. 

"The front of the 3rd. Canadian Division had now become 
very extended, and on the night of Nov. 3-4 a portion of it, 
from Odomez to Fresnes about a mile in extent was handed 
over to the 52nd. Division of the VIII Corps. 

"On Nov. 4 the line was carried forward about two miles 
on the front of the 4th. Canadian Division. The village of 
Onnaing and the western part of Rombies fell into our hands 
after severe fighting. The 3rd. Canadian Division was still 
forcing its way through marsh and water, and made good the 
Vicq-Thiers railway. On the extreme left of the 3rd. Cana 
dian Division a strong point east of the Scheldt Canal was 
captured and the Escaupont-Quievrechain railway bridge was 
taken. 

"During the early hours of Nov. 5 the 3rd. Canadian Divi 
sion entered the town of Vicq, following the capture of two 
points of local tactical importance west of the town. A large 
portion of the line of the Escaupont-Quievrechain railway was 
also made good and the northern part of Quarouble captured 
during the day. 

"The 4th. Canadian Division attacked on Nov. 5, and, 
clearing Rombies and the southern part of Quarouble, crossed 
the River Aunelle between Rombies and Marchipont, the 
enemy fighting very stubbornly to prevent our crossing. By 
this advance the first troops of the Canadian Corps crossed 



378 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

into Belgian territory, the Aunelle River being the boundary 
at that point. 

The advance was resumed on Nov. 6 and important pro 
gress made. The villages of Marchipont, Baisieux, and the 
southern portion of Quievrechain were taken by the 4th. 
Canadian Division, while the 3rd. Canadian Division took 
the railway station and glassworks at Quievrechain and the 
northern part of the village, and also captured Crespin fur 
ther north. 

"The enemy s resistance was very stubborn. The XXII 
Corps on the right were forced to give up a portion of the 
ground gained and to withdraw to the west bank of Honelle 
River at Angre, in the face of severe counter-attacks. 

;( The 2nd. Canadian Division relieved the 4th. Canadian 
Division during the night of Nov. 6-7, and the latter was 
withdrawn to rest in the Anzin-Aubry area, just west of 
Valenciennes. 

"On our right we were now getting into the heart of the 
Belgian coal district a thickly populated area, where the 
numerous towns and villages, the coal mines, and the com 
manding slag-heaps complicated the task. 

"The 2nd. and 3rd. Canadian Divisions attacked on the 
morning of Nov. 7 and, although by this time the weather had 
broken and the country was rapidly becoming thoroughly 
water-logged, good progress was made during the day, the 
enemy showing increasing signs of demoralization. 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division, on the right, captured the 
sugar refinery northeast of Baisieux, the town of Elouges, and 
the many small settlements that surrounded it. In conjunction 
with the 3rd. Canadian Division Quievrain was taken, and an 
advance of about two and a half miles made. On the left the 
3rd. Canadian Division, in addition to co-operating with the 
2nd. Canadian Division in the capture of Quievrain, pushed 
along the Mons road for about 4,000 yards and took La Croix 
and Hensies, north of the road. 

"The VIII Corps on our left had still been unable to 



WELCOME TO THE DELIVERER 379 

negotiate the Scheldt Canal. In order to better protect our 
rapidly lengthening left flank, the 3rd. Canadian Division 
was ordered to extend its attacks to the north, and, in addition 
to clearing the country south of the Conde-Mons Canal, to 
secure the crossings of the Canal." 



CHAPTER VII 

CAPTURE OF MONS 

THE pursuit was continued on Nov. 8 and 9 and carried 
on throughout the day at great speed, the enemy being 
pushed through the industrial area, with no time to make 
a definite stand. Prisoners said they no longer had any 
stomach for fight. Discipline had broken down and for a 
month past there had been no saluting of officers. Officers 
accustomed to brutally ill-treat their men now walked in fear 
of a bayonet thrust through the back. Revolution was in the 
air. Nevertheless the enemy screen of machine-gunners still 
fought stoutly. 

The 2nd. Canadian Division was now on our right, south 
of the Mons road, and the 3rd. Canadian Division working 
along that road and north to the Conde Canal. That famous 
cavalry regiment, the Fifth Lancers, had come temporarily 
under the Corps Command and together with the Corps 
Cavalry did invaluable work scouting along our flank. 

The 2nd. Canadian Division had been at rest since Oct. 
19 and its units were now to make perhaps the greatest ad 
vance in point of speed ever made by a fighting unit on the 
West Front. Thus the 4th. Brigade was in billets at Aniche on 
Nov. 1, its Battalions busily engaged in deciding their sport 
ing championships. On Nov. 4 the entire Brigade was trans 
ferred by bus from Aniche to the Aubry-Henin area, whence 
the men marched on Nov. 6 to St. Saulve, taking part with 
the rest of the Division in the relief of the 4th. Canadian Divi 
sion. From Anice via Valenciennes to Mons is a fine week s 
trip, to say nothing of the fighting, and the men were properly 
tired when the goal was reached. Part of the route was by 
road, but much of it was across country top-boot deep in 
mud and slush. Always the roads were torn with shell holes 

380 



CAPTURE OF MONS 381 

and freshly exploded mines, every cross-road presenting an 
enormous crater, hampering the troops as well as transport. 

On Nov. 7 the 4th. Brigade moved to the Quievrain- 
Marchipont area, and the following day pressed on to the 
Elouges area, catching up to the 5th. Brigade and racing 
after the retiring enemy. 

Both the 5th. and 6th. Brigades had had hard fighting 
through the industrial district which with its net work of 
railways and villages offered fine ground for defense. On 
Nov. 9 the important industrial centre of Wasmes-Paturages 
was freed, together with 30,000 civilians. The 4th. Brigade, 
with the 18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, on the right, and 
the 21st. Battalion, Eastern Ontario, on the left, passed 
through the 5th. Brigade and pushed on to the capture of 
Ciply, 3,500 yards due south of Mons. 

Meantime on the left the 3rd. Canadian Division, with the 
7th. Brigade in line, had pushed forward along the Mons road 
and, further north, had crossed the Conde canal over a bridge 
head established during the night, bringing the line on the 
evening of Nov. 9 to east of Flenu and Jemappes, the latter 
village being 3,000 yards due west of Mons, while further 
north we had captured St. Ghislain and pushed out patrols 
towards the Bois de Ghlin, northwest of Mons, the Princess 
Patricias being on the right and 49th. Battalion, of Edmonton, 
on the left. 

Hard fighting took place all along the line next day, 
Saturday, Nov. 10. During the night the enemy had moved 
back his guns east of Mons, but kept up a heavy fire from the 
hills to the east of the city, and maintained from Bois-le-Haut, 
just east of Hyon, a harassing machine-gun fire. On our 
right the 4th. Brigade attacked with the 20th. Battalion on the 
right and 19th. Battalion on the left, both Central Ontario. 
The enemy fought with the greatest tenacity, to give himself 
time no doubt to evacuate his material, and small progress 
was made. The 19th. in particular suffered severely, losing 
four officers killed and 53 other ranks killed and wounded. 



382 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

In the afternoon the enemy massed for a counter-attack, 
but this was broken up by our artillery. Troops of this 
Brigade kept pushing forward during the evening and night, 
and by two o clock next morning, Nov. 11, the 19th. Battalion 
had fought its way through Hyon towards the Mons-St. Sym- 
phorien road, where, supported by the 20th. on their right, 
they established a line, thus outflanking Mons from the east. 
At ten minutes past seven this morning Brigade Headquarters 
received the following message: "Hostilities will cease at 
1 1 a.m., Nov. 1 1. Troops will stand fast on the line reached 
at that time, which will be reported to Divisional Headquart 
ers immediately. Defensive precautions will be maintained. 
There will be no intercourse with the enemy of any descrip 



tion. 



Meanwhile quite as stiff opposition had faced the 7th. 
Brigade. On the Brigade right the Princess Patricias Light 
Infantry had pushed forward on the evening of Nov. 9 into 
Cuesmes, which lies just across the canal from Mons on the 
southwest. Working their way through the village, a party 
surprised and rushed an enemy outpost 200 yards from the 
city limit, capturing three prisoners. Under cover of dark 
ness this patrol advanced up to the bank of the canal, where 
the enemy post could be heard talking. A skirmish ensued 
with an enemy party, but our men made good their retreat, 
taking with them two more prisoners. In retaliation the 
Boche attempted to rush this post no less than four times 
before midnight, bringing up a machine-gun. 

On the following day, Nov. 10, the 42nd. Battalion re 
lieved the P.P.L.I. on the outskirts of Mons, while on the 
Brigade left the Royal Canadian Regiment came up, cap 
tured the strongly held village of Ghlin, and working round 
the northwest of the city, established a post on the canal. 
That afternoon the enemy laid down a heavy bombardment, 
under cover of which he began his retirement to a new line on 
the high ground east of Mons. Both the 42nd. and Royal 
Canadian Regiment threw out patrols, who so soon as night 



CAPTURE OF MONS 383 

fell began working their way into the city. The enemy com 
pleted his evacuation before midnight of Nov. 10-11, and we 
followed him closely into the town. Soon every civilian was 
out of bed, and when by three o clock in the morning the city 
was reported clear, a scene of rejoicing began which con 
tinued throughout the day, a great reception being given our 
troops. 

A Canadian soldier who took part in the operation thus 
describes his impressions: "The patrols reported back to 
their various headquarters that the enemy was established in 
a defense line five or six kilometres east of Mons itself and 
that he was very nervous, firing his machine-guns off in bursts 
and sending many flares up. Nothing further was done that 
night, there being no necessity to keep up with him at this 
stage of the advance. Outposts were kept up, however, and 
reliefs changed at usual intervals. 

"The morning of Nov. 1 1 dawned like any other day of 
that time of the year, a dull, dreary, bleak looking sky over 
head and a mist hanging low over the ground. The outposts 
had been shivering through the cold early hours of the morn 
ing with no knowledge of any such thing as an armistice in 
their minds. Those that had slept relieved the night watchers 
and made note of the unusual quietness that pervaded the air, 
putting it down to one of the peculiarities of the day. To 
wards seven o clock, the usual time for the day s advance to 
commence, a strange rumor ran through the ranks : No ad 
vance today. What is the matter? everybody queries 
Something is wrong t aint right, was the only answer 
available. 

"The morning gradually brightened and with it came a 
little word called armistice, which everybody was doubtful 
about, but not a single soul let up on the purpose he was there 
for. Steel helmets were still worn and gas masks carried at 
the alert ready for anything the enemy might attempt to pull 
off. Rifles and revolvers were cleaned ready for future use, 
if need be. The posts were still on the job peering into the 



384 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

morning mist for signs of activity on part of the Boche and 
performing their regular reliefs as though he was a matter of 
yards away. The artillery in the road was packing up pre 
paring for another advance. The usual morning s activities 
were noticed everywhere. Because rumors of an armistice 
were in the air it did not mean that it was permissible to show 
signs of slackness. 

"Everything went on as usual until official word came over 
the wire. Then, instead of going wild with joy, as some people 
will have it, a pronounced glow of satisfaction shone on the 
faces of all as though someone had told them the job had been 
well done, and hand-shakes all around with words of encour 
agement mixed with thumps on the back were the only visible 
signs of joy. Of cheers there were but few, the mind not 
being able to fully realize what armistice meant. The sub 
ject was too big for them to grapple offhand and realize that 
no more would they have to dodge shells, bullets, bombs and 
other war paraphernalia which the Hun was in the habit of 
throwing around much to the troops discomfort. No more 
would they have to strain their nerves to hold their ground 
while the drone of an enemy plane passed over their heads in 
the dark, dropping his bombs indiscriminately over the 
ground." 

Sir Arthur Currie describes these events as follows :- 
"When the advance was continued on Nov. 8, the 3rd. Cana 
dian Division pushed troops to the north, and by noon had 
secured the villages of Thievencelle and St. Aybert. Later in 
the day a footbridge was constructed across the Conde-Mons 
Canal, and under cover of darkness patrols crossed and a 
bridgehead was established. 

"Further south the 3rd. Canadian Division had surprised 
the enemy in the villages of Montreuil-sur-Haine and Thulin 
at an early hour, and these towns were quickly captured. 
Pushing on from here the village of Hamin was taken, and by 
nightfall our troops were on the western outskirts of Boussu. 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division met with strong opposition. 




MAP SHOWING 

OF DIVISIONS 

WITH THE 

CANADIAN COUPS 

II OCT. TO II NOV.I9I8. 

Scale of Miles 

101 234 

LEGEND 

Advances made by /ft Canadian Div/sion shown thus 

2nd 




II 
ft 



n n 

H >< 



4* 



Sf* London 

Divisional Boundaries shown thus ._._.. 



- 



CAPTURE OF MONS 385 

Good progress was, however, made, and by nightfall the im 
portant village of Dour and the smaller villages of Bois-de- 
Boussu, Petit Hornu, Bois-de-Epinois, and a portion of the 
Bois-de-1 Eveque were cleared. 

"Resuming the advance on Nov. 9, the 2nd. Canadian 
Division captured Warquignies, Champ-des-Sait, Petit 
Wasmes, Wasmes-Paturages, La Bouverie, Lugies, Frameries, 
and Genly with little opposition. The advance made by this 
Division was over four miles through densely populated areas, 
the twin towns of Wasmes-Paturages combined having a 
population of about 30,000. By nightfall the 2nd. Canadian 
Division was clear of the main mining district. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division had on its left front crossed 
the River Haine during the night, north of Montreuil-sur- 
Haine, and later secured a further hold on the north bank of 
the Conde-Mons Canal near Le Petit Crepin. During the 
afternoon, further troops were sent across the Canal, and the 
villages of Petit Crepin, Ville Pommerceuil, Hautrage and 
Terte were taken. Further west, the patrols which had crossed 
the Canal on the previous day entered Pommerceuil and 
Bernissart. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division had also occupied Boussu, 
on its right, before daylight on the 9th. and rapid progress 
eastward was made during the day towards Mons, the villages 
of Cuesmes, Jemappes, Flenu, Hornu, Wasmes, Quaregon, 
Wasmuel, and St. Ghislain all being captured. The rapidity 
of our advance had evidently surprised and disorganized the 
enemy, although some opposition was met. 

"By the morning of Nov. 10, the 52nd. Division (VIII 
Corps) had advanced and relieved the part of the 3rd. Cana 
dian Division operating north of the left boundary of the Can 
adian Corps. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division s advance on -Nov. 10 
brought our troops to the southwestern outskirts of Mons, 
while the 2nd. Canadian Division had reached the Mons- 
Givry Road, outflanking the city from the south, but owing to 

26 



386 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

the large number of civilians still in the city, it was not pos 
sible for us to bombard the town. To the north of the Conde- 
Mons Canal, a further advance was made and the village and 
Fosse of Ghlin secured. 

"During the night of Nov. 10-11 the Divisions resumed 
their advance, and immediately after dark the troops of the 
7th. Canadian Infantry Brigade (Brig.-General J. A. Clark) 
commenced to close in. The villages of Nimy and Petit Nimy 
were quickly captured and an entry into Mons by way of the 
Railway Station was effected before midnight. By 6 a.m. on 
Nov. 1 1 the stubborn machine-gun resistance had been broken 
and the town cleared of the enemy. 

"The 2nd. Canadian Division had, during the night, taken 
the Bois-le-Haut, a wood crowning a large hill on the south 
eastern outskirts of Mons, thus securing the right flank of the 
3rd. Canadian Division. The capture of this high ground 
forced upon the enemy a further retirement, and our troops, 
still pressing on, reached and captured St. Symphorien and 
Fbg. Barthelmy by 8 a.m. 

"In the meantime, word had been received through First 
Army that hostilities would cease at 1 1 a.m. on November 
11, the Armistice having been signed in acceptance of our 
terms, 

"To secure a satisfactory line for the defense of Mons, our 
line was further advanced, and the Bois-d Havre, Bois-du- 
Rapois and the town and villages of Havre, Bon Vouloir, La 
Bruyere, Maisieres, St. Denis and Obourg were captured 
before hostilities ceased." 

The Grande Place of Mons is thronged. Here at 1 1 
o clock the "zero" hour of peace as the "Cease Fire!" 
sounds, the Mayor presents to Brig.-General J. A. Clark of the 
7th. Canadian Infantry Brigade the keys of the city in honor 
of its recapture this morning by units of that Brigade. Bands 
play "La Brabanconne," Belgium s national anthem, and 
"O Canada." Pipers of the 42nd. Battalion, of Montreal, 
lead the march past, because it was the good fortune of that 



CAPTURE OF MONS 387 

unit to first enter the city. This is the 5th. Royal Highlanders 
of Canada, affiliated with the famous Black Watch, both 
privileged to wear the Hackle Highland Scarlet, and it is a 
noteworthy coincidence that the parent unit, 42nd. Battalion 
of the British Army, was the first to leave England on Aug. 
12, 1914, and the last infantry unit to retire from Mons. 

By another happy good fortune, the British Field Battery, 
last to leave Mons on Aug. 23, 1914, took part in this attack 
and actually finished in the identical battery position whence 
it had retired in 1914. 

One other coincidence is tragic in character. The first 
shot fired at Mons in 1914 was by the 5th. Lancers, now at 
tached to the Canadian Corps, and an officer who fought here 
then was killed an hour and a half before the armistice. 

Many things have happened in those four years, from 
Mons to the Marne and back again, not the least significant 
being the brotherhood in arms of the Canadian Corps and the 
British Army. 

Shortly after noon the streets are placarded with a pro 
clamation, "To the People of Mons," signed by the College of 
the Burgomaster and Aldermen By MM. Jean Lescarts, Ful- 
gence Masson, Leon Save, Victor Maistriau and Henri Rol- 
land ; and countersigned by the Secretary of the Commune, M. 
Gaston Talaupe. It runs as follows : 

"After 51 months of suffering caused by the iniquitous, the 
pitiless and insolent occupation of the German Army, the City 
of Mons is at length delivered by the heroism of the British 
Army, which, at the hour of the Armistice, completes its 
series of victories in the identical place where, on Aug. 23, 
1914, it first engaged the enemy. 

"The 3rd. Canadian Division, at cost of heavy sacrifices, 
entered the city at three o clock this morning, thus avenging 
by a striking success the retreat of 1914. Honor and thanks 
be to it! 

"The Armistice is signed. The German Army has capitu 
lated; brutal force is destroyed; justice and right triumph; 



388 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Belgium is strengthened and fortified by the terrible ordeal 
she has passed through. 

"Our people have supported with dignity and courage the 
sufferings of the occupation. We are convinced that in this 
hour of joy and triumph they will observe a like restraint and 
self-command. 

"We depend on the goodwill of all to maintain order. We 
also ask our people to return as soon as possible to work. 
Losses inflicted on us by the war are great, and the co-opera 
tion of all our goodwill, all our energy, is necessary to heal 
over quickly the wounds it has caused. 

"In this solemn hour our infinite gratitude goes to the 
Allied Armies and, among them, from the bottom of our 
heart, to our valiant Belgian Army and to the King, its heroic 
Chief. 

"Long live the King! Long live the Belgian Nation!" 

Such was the dramatic end to the work of the Canadian 
Corps in the Hundred Days from Amiens along the Roye 
road; then from Arras through the Drocourt-Queant line to 
the Canal du Nord; across the Canal du Nord, over the hard 
field of Cambrai, and so through Denain and Valenciennes to 
Mons. The final operation is thus described in the narrative 
of the First Army :- 

"November 11 During this day the 2nd. Canadian Divi 
sion had gained the high ground south and east of Mons and 
were forcing the Germans to withdraw. At dawn on Nov. 1 1 
the 3rd. Canadian Division entered the town and a line was 
established east of it. Fighting had been carried on all that 
night and dead Germans still lay in the streets and were 
kicked by the inhabitants as they lay, while the carillon of 
the belfry played "Tipperary" -the players having silently 
practised the tune in anticipation of the British arrival. The 
last round fired by the Canadian artillery had shot off the 
arm of a German staff officer in a Headquarters Chateau by 
Hill 85 to the east of Mons. 

"Early on Nov. 11 Canadian Corps Headquarters were 



CAPTURE OF MONS 389 

established in the Grande Place at Mons and the first message 
there received was to the effect that the armistice was signed 
and that hostilities were to cease at 1 1 o clock. 

"Sir Douglais Haig s last communique stated, Canadian 
troops of the First Army have captured Mons. " 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE MONS ROAD 

ON the morning of Sunday, Nov. 10, the President of the 
French Republic makes his official entry into Valencien 
nes. A dais has been erected in front of the fine old 
Hotel de Ville, facing the great square of the Place d Armes, 
and here come little girls, bedecked in white, carrying bou 
quets of flowers. Here, too, gather a galaxy of military not 
ables; Army and Corps Commanders, our good neighbors, 
come to pay their tribute; and outstanding among them is Sir 
Arthur Currie and his staff, including the Prince of Wales 
and Prince Arthur of Connaught. 

The President replies in eloquent terms to the address of 
welcome of the civic authorities. After eulogizing the stout 
heart of its people through the long years of captivity, M. 
Poincare goes on to congratulate the Canadian Corps on its 
successful efforts resulting in the liberation of the city. It is 
with special pleasure he has heard that Valenciennes had been 
delivered from the enemy by the Canadians. They are very 
close to France. Once a daughter of France, Canada has 
become one of the great British Dominions, but she has pre 
served the ideals dear to both nations. She has never forgot 
ten France and today forms a link binding together France 
and the British Empire. 

When the war began, the President points out, Canada was 
first of the Dominions to pledge her aid; she has never turned 
back, and ever since Canadians have shed their blood freely 
for freedom and for France. Proud today must be the mothers 
of Canada in the conspicuous share of their sons in bringing 
the enemy to defeat and disaster. When the war is over and 
France restored to prosperity and happiness, she will never 
forget Canada and her gallant soldiers. He concluded by 

390 



THE MONS ROAD 391 

announcing a gift of money from the Canadian Red Cross to 
the stricken people of Valenciennes. 

Driving up and down these roads, threading our way 
through the thousands of refugees returning to their homes, 
perhaps no cry is more common, more spontaneous and sin 
cere, than "Vive les braves Canadiens!" It is a cry that comes 
from the heart. 

** 

The Mons Road! What tragic significance lies in those 
three words! Pictures they present of those glorious days of 
August, 1914, when the flower of the British Army threw 
itself in the path of the invader, halted there the wheel of his 
victorious chariot, and afforded France a breathing space to 
make ready for the Battle of the Marne. 

For four years these cobbled pavements ring to the hoof 
of the conqueror; for him it is the Road to Paris. And then 
August, 1918, issues in a change, a cold blast from the direc 
tion of Amiens. The tide of traffic sets in the reverse direc 
tion. Back with all their impedimenta of war come those 
discomforted legions. Back too with them, brittle thread 
woven into their iron texture, come the French people of the 
evacuated areas. The Mons Road, clogged with sweating 
horses and cursing men, is filled to overflowing with the flot 
sam of deserted villages. Many of these poor weaklings are 
crowded into the ditches and there die. 

Helpless witness of these horrors was the good Cure of 
Quievrechain. Fourteen thousand people, its entire popula 
tion, were evacuated from the industrial town of Anzin alone, 
he tells us, and ordered to march on foot seventy kilometres to 
Mons. Even as they passed him, their journey hardly started, 
twenty died. One women pushed her cart whereon lay the 
body of her husband. In a ditch a baby lived upon the breast 
of its dead mother. 

** 

Quievrechain and Quievrain are two villages on the road 
from Valenciennes to Mons, forming indeed a continuous 



392 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

street, divided by the bridge of the Honelle river a stream, 
almost imperceptible though it be, that marks nevertheless 
the boundary between France and Belgium. On the occasion 
one has in mind this morning of Sunday, Nov. 10, 1918- 
the transition is sharply accentuated by national bunting; 
Quievrechain covers its wounds with the tricolor, Quievrain 
flaunts its happiness in black, yellow and red. 

That description is just, for this trifling stream not only 
marks the boundary of two states but is the rubicon of Hun 
hate for stricken France. Not river nor bunting are needed to 
advise the traveller he is passing from France into Belgium. 
Quievrechain is a ruin; Quievrain inviolate. Back to their 
desolated hearths struggle the evacuated French ; the Beiges of 
Mons, a more happy fate, have been left undisturbed in their 
bright homes theirs has been the travail of the spirit but not 
of the body. In a short mile one passes from a ruined French 
ironworks to a humming Belgian factory. He confiscated the 
output of the French coal mines and destroyed them as he 
retired; in Mons he paid a good price for 12% of the output 
and left the plant intact. It is true that he stripped thousands 
of Belgian factories and took their machinery to the Father 
land, but, except in scattered cases, there is here but little wan 
ton destruction, no deliberate ruin of the countryside. 



To return to our road. The day is misty, but from 
Jemappes one can make out the great belfry of Mons. We 
walk forward. Shells are falling in the lower slopes of the 
village. Groups of frantic peasants run from their houses up 
steep alleys to the Mons Road. There is a roar and a crash, 
and a lorry is engulfed in the smoke of the explosion. Sway 
ing a little, it dashes on its way, but it has knocked down a 
civilian carrying a small boy, and he rushes wildly up and 
down trying barred doors for shelter. The child screams 
pitiably. Cries and moans come from down the alley. A 
shell has burst among a group of civilians. Two children are 
dead; a woman, clutching an infant, staggers to her feet and 
falls again. 



THE MONS ROAD 393 

As is often the case, this support line is a hotter zone than 
up forward. Up there is machine-gunning and sniping they 
have snipers in the belfry but there is little shelling. It is all 
too close with only the thread of the canal between the oppos 
ing lines. On right and left are great "fosses" of slag, pyra 
mids of the plain. We pass villagers at their door watching- 
the pageant of battle, careless of danger. Children run across 
the street of Cuesmes. This is the courage of ignorance. Ex 
cept for the already confused tradition of the Great Retreat, 
these people have seen nothing of war. And war four years 
ago was in its infancy. 

Luncheon at Cuesmes with a Battalion Headquarters, 
where the news is received with some scepticism that the 
Armistice will be signed tomorrow morning. One of them 
has come right through the war with his Battalion rare good 
fortune. What an experience! These gallant young regi 
mental officers daily quaff the wine of battle, nor ever know 
what lies at bottom of the cup. There is not in the whole 
world a braver, cleaner, more inspiring society than this of 
the Battalion. They are fatalists. Few have expected to find 
themselves alive on the day of days. They have seen so many 
comrades, trusted, honored and loved, snatched from them in 
the heyday of youth and enthusiasm, of honors and brave 
plans for the future; and at any turn of the wheel up might 
come their number. So they are not willing to believe the 
agony is over. "Touch wood," says one. 

Ahead the streets are deserted. Except under screen of 
buildings they are enfiladed by fire from across the canal. 
From the "O-Pip" of a Company Headquarters one has a fine 
view of the belfry. The hand of the great clock points an hour 
ahead of our time Boche time. 

We pass an Octroi post we are in Mons. Ahead is a 
little square. Half a dozen enemy dead lie there, the patrol 
overwhelmed in our rush of the previous night. In the early 
morning they counter-attacked, bringing a machine-gun 
within 20 yards of our post so close are the lines. From out 



394 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

of the square a broad boulevard runs down to the canal, bare 
of all life, swept by the machine-guns of each side. Under its 
fine sweep of plane trees lies a tangle of trolley wires. 

That was the last one is to see of war. The short day is 
closing as we turn back to Jemappes. 



In the Place d Armes of Valenciennes next morning 
massed Canadian bands issue in the Armistice to the strains 
of patriotic airs. The occasion is past all demonstration. Our 
men quietly discuss the terms and the report that the Canadian 
Corps is to march to the Rhine. 

Soon we are again upon the Mons Road, with us a little 
priest of Valenciennes, a returned refugee, now intent upon 
an errand of mercy. He is delirious with joy. Long lines of 
guns, transports and marching troops meet and pass the piti 
able stream of evacuees. To all he cries the good news, 
calling out to soldier and civilian alike, "La guerre fini a onze 
heures." This refrain he chants until he is hoarse, until his 
voice becomes a husky joyous croak. Once he stops to point 
out new-turned earth by the roadside. "There I helped bury a 
woman and her child who died upon this road," he says. 

It is with a passion of regret that we pass again the Honelle 
River. Behind is France and a people Canadian soldiers have 
learned in these four years to love and revere. 

* 

You pass along this strip of road from France into Belgium 
-from ruin into prosperity, from dire want into relative 
plenty. Valenciennes, beautiful city, suffered heavy requisi 
tions ; its works of art looted ; its people evacuated. It is sad 
to-day. There is apathy among the remnant of citizenship. 

But in Mons it is very different. So great is its place in 
recent history that one looks to find it scarred and warworn. 
It is a pleasant surprise. Cattle graze in the meadows. French 
cities far removed from the battle zone can show no such bright 
and engaging front, no shops of such abundant and tempting 
display, nor a people as cheerful and prosperous. The women 



THE MONS ROAD 395 

are handsomely gowned, and the children, jolly little souls, 
fat and rosy. Young men are about. The Boche made him 
self very agreeable. 

All this was policy. Until the past few months the Boche 
counted on incorporating three Belgian provinces in the 
Fatherland. He played up to the people deliberately. Yet 
cajoleries failed here as completely as did intimidation and 
terror there. The flaming loyalty of these brave Walloons, 
centering in the heroic figures of their King and Queen, was 
not to be bought by gifts nor devitalised by coddling. 

Yet under the surface there is much misery. Beggars 
haunt the streets. Many of the able-bodied men, who refused 
to work in the factories for the invader, were taken into Ger 
many and will never return, and their families are destitute. 
Mons, too, has been the focus of refugees from a wide area 
and it is said 50 evacuees die here daily. The kind Beiges 
do everything possible, but they are weakened in body and 
broken in spirit. 



Mons is en fete, in gala attire; and we might be part of a 
carnival show as we thread our way up the narrow street amid 
a populace crazed with joy. They press upon our men with 
wine and gifts; every soldier wears a red carnation, stuck 
above his ear. In the afternoon the City of Mons tenders a 
formal reception to the Corps Commander and his staff. The 
streets are gay with bunting, black, yellow and red predomin 
ating, though there is a fair sprinkling of the tricolor, for these 
loyal-hearted Walloons are French in sympathy as well as 
race, and all join fervently in the "Marseillaise." Repre 
sentative Canadian troops line the great square, the guard of 
honor being furnished by the 5th. Lancers. 

Replying to the address of welcome, Sir Arthur Currie says 
that the men of the Canadian Corps regard the occasion as a 
signal honor. It was on Belgian soil they had first fought in 
the Second Battle of Ypres and it was fitting that they should 
there conclude their victorious campaign. He then presents to 



396 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

the City of Mons the Canadian Corps Flag, which the Mayor 
informs him will be ever gratefully treasured in its archives. 

We pass on to our forward positions. It is an extraordin 
ary experience. The front line is as silent as the grave. Our 
outposts stand chatting, boldly silhouetted against the skyline. 
No longer death screams overhead nor speeds its whistling 
shaft. Our guns are shrouded in their tarpaulins, stricken 
dumb, and the attendant crews move about mechanically or 
sit and smoke their pipes, unheedful of their target. It all 
seems unnatural, so entirely has war become second nature. 

As we pass back in the darkening night over the Mons 
Road, lights flash out. Mons is all aglow. To walk boldly in 
lighted streets and recognise a passing acquaintance is a unique 
experience, for nothing has been more depressing in those long 
years than this groping of one s way in the dark for fear of 
Heine and his bombs. These lights stand for something 
foreign and strange in our lives. They stand for peace. 



The days that follow are a tumult of sensation and emotion. 
Reports come from Paris and London and our Canadian cities 
of joyous transports and feverish demonstration. Superficially 
these are signally lacking within the ranks of the Canadian 
Corps. Our men, still laden with their packs, tin hats and 
rifles, are smiling and happy, but seemingly undated. There 
has been no relaxation of that sturdy discipline which is the 
great strength of the Corps, nor have there been wild scenes 
accompanying relief of tension. This may be puzzling, but 
looking below the surface there are good reasons why the 
Canadian Corps received its crowning victory as soberly as 
it has its successes of the past. 

First is the fact that it fought its way to the Armistice. 
Canadian soldiers died in their duty within a few hours of 
the cessation of hostilities. On the previous day they 
encountered opposition stiffer than any since the fall of 
Valenciennes. Bitter sad it was that these men should fall 
with the end so near. But it was essential to secure so impor- 



THE MONS ROAD 397 

tant a strategic and tactical point as Mons should the Armistice 
proposals fall through. Even on the Sunday, few soldiers in 
the field believed in it, and in the London clubs they were 
betting odds against it. The position of the Canadian Corps 
has been well put by Sir Arthur Currie: "The reason Mons 
was taken was that we obeyed the orders of Marshal Foch 
that we should go on until we were ordered to stop. That is 
a thing that means much for Canada. It was a proud thing for 
our race that we were able to finish the war where we began 
it, and that we, the young whelps of the old lion, were able 
to take the ground lost in 1914." 

Then again the roadside scenes sadden their hearts.- Amid 
that misery rejoicing has no place. Beyond these causes is 
the sense of responsibility. The Canadian Corps has been 
signally honored and it has its own high tradition. This 
earnest spirit is well brought out at a dinner given at Anzin 
by the Colonel and officers of the 54th., Kootenay, Battalion, 
to which Corps, Division, Brigade and sister Battalion Com 
manders were invited. Invitations had been issued before the 
Armistice, but now the last gun had fired. 

A General Officer present said that this was the time of 
test, and that the same ideals that had led the Corps to victory 
must inspire it now. The reputation of the Canadian Corps 
rested in the last analysis on the type of -men in the ranks. 
Gaily they faced danger and in times of stress never were such 
stickers. There could be no greater privilege than to lead 
these Canadian boys, and they could now be depended upon 
precisely in the same degree as in the heat of battle. 

A Battalion Commander was applauded when he said that 
men of the Canadian Corps must stand together in Canada, 
actuated by the same grave sense of responsibility they had 
shown in war. They would keep that good fellowship built 
up during the years of war and apply it to the honor and better 
ment of their country, and in this they would have with them 
the people at home who so loyally and with such unstinted 
faith had supported them throughout. The silent hosts of their 



398 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

dead, who at Ypres and at Vimy, the Somme, Passchendaele 
and since, had laid down their lives for this cause, would 
march with them to its fruition. 



Mons is an ancient city of crooked streets winding about 
the hill whereon is perched the old citadel and whence rises 
the venerable belfry tower. We climb aloft, up flight on 
flight of winding stairs, of steep ladders; past the perch of the 
carillon player sweat pouring from his forehead this enthu 
siast plies with racing hand and foot his multiple levers; pon 
derous handwrought iron levers, creaking primitive mechani 
cal devices, that yet for centuries have sent silver strains float 
ing over the countryside; an enthusiast indeed, and now, with 
music borrowed from one of our bands, pealing out Canadian 
national airs. And so up and up to the leaded rooftop, there 
to survey a far horizon. Most immediate below is a vista 
of roofs roofs red and brown, covered with lichen; roofs of 
slate, purple and gray; roofs high-pitched and huddled, their 
sharp gables jutting out at all angles. So the old town ; beyond 
are the boulevards and chateaux of the rich. 

Due west, a thin line aflame to the sunset, runs the Canal 
de Conde; in this direction it is very flat, save for the "fosses," 
the pyramidal slag-heaps of Cuesmes and Jemappes. etched 
against the glow, where our men battled their way in. 

To the east lie hills, catching the declining rays above the 
darkening plain. Emerging abruptly from this flat expanse 
there is something about them of mystery; they have no secret 
now, but standing on the belfry of Mons one can recapture 
something of the dark and hidden significance that clothed 
their slopes in those days of August, 1914. 

*** 

On Friday, Nov. IS, a great military celebration is held 
in Mons, when a number of Army chiefs are present, with the 
Corps Commander and the Prince of Wales. As a mark of 
appreciation the City of Mons has renamed the Place de la 
Bavarie, where Canadian troops first entered, the Place du 



THE MONS ROAD 399 

Canada, and a gold medal is struck and presented bearing the 
following inscription: "La Ville de Mons au Lieut-General 
Sir Arthur W. Currie en souvenir de la liberation de la cite 
par le Corps Canadien." At a later date the King of the 
Belgians made his state entry and congratulates Sir Arthur 
Currie on the achievements of the Canadian Corps "unsur 
passed by any Corps in Europe." 

On the morning of Sunday, Nov. 17, the Canadian Corps 
holds in the theatre of Mons a service of thanksgiving to 
Almighty God for the blessing of victory. It is a solemn and 
wonderful occasion. In that hour expression is given to all 
the pent-up emotions of the past weeks. The simple service 
with its grave and serious note utters aloud the deep feelings 
of Canadian soldiers in the hour of victory. 

Fifty thousand Canadians cannot take part in this service, 
says the preacher. They sleep in foreign soil, but they did not 
die in vain. We have kept the faith with them. Their sacri 
fice and that of thousands more who must return maimed and 
crippled have brought us to this day, and they have set their 
true mark on the page of Canadian history. We thank God 
for these gallant men who laid down their lives and we can best 
requite them by carrying back with us the high ideal that has 
made the Canadian Corps a shining sword of righteousness. 

The Te Deum is sung, music being supplied by the band 
of the Royal Canadian Regiment. As the congregation files 
out there comes floating down from the belfry of Mons a clear 
and sweet refrain, "O Canada," and this orchestra of silver 
tongues peals out across the countryside Canada s message of 
faith and sacrifice. 



CHAPTER IX 

INTO GERMANY 

JUST a hundred days had elapsed since the Canadian 
Corps moved from Arras into the Amiens show up to the 

capture of Mons. In those days the Corps had gone far; 
had struck often and hard; had in a dozen pitched battles met 
and overwhelmed the foe; and proved itself in the eyes of 
Europe and the world a weapon for the offensive of temper 
unsurpassed. 

Sir Arthur Currie thus sums up the results attained :- 
"Between Oct. 11 and Nov. 11 the Canadian Corps had 
advanced to a total depth exceeding ninety-one thousand yards 
(91,000 yards), through a country in which the enemy had 
destroyed railways, bridges and roads, and flooded large areas 
to further impede our progress. 

;< To the normal difficulties of moving and supplying a large 
number of men in a comparatively restricted area were added 
the necessity of feeding several hundred thousand people, 
chiefly women and children, left in a starving condition by 
the enemy. Several deaths by starvation, or through suffering 
consecutive to privation, were experienced in villages and 
towns which, being kept under hostile shell fire and defended 
by machine-guns, could not be captured rapidly by our troops. 

"The fighting was light up to the Scheldt Canal, but 
stiffened perceptibly from there on until the capture of Mons, 
and added a great deal to the physical exertion caused by such 
a long advance in adverse weather. . . . 

"When it is recalled that since Aug. 8 the Canadian Corps 
had fought battles of the first magnitude, having a direct bear 
ing on the general situation, and contributing to an extent diffi 
cult to realise to the defeat of the German Armies in the field, 
this advance under most difficult conditions constitutes a deci- 

400 



INTO GERMANY 401 

sive test of the superior energy and power of endurance of our 
men. 

"It is befitting that the capture of Mons should close the 
fighting records of the Canadian Troops, in which every battle 
they fought is a resplendent page of glory. 

"The Canadian Corps was deeply appreciative of the 
honor of having been selected amongst the first for the task 
of establishing and occupying the bridgeheads east of the 
Rhine. 

"A long march of 170 miles under difficult conditions was 
ahead of them, but they ungrudgingly looked forward to what 
had always been their ultimate objective the occupation of 
German soil. 

"Between Aug. 8 and Nov. 1 1 the following had been 
captured : 

Prisoners 31,537 

Guns (Heavy and Field) 623 

Machine Guns 2,842 

Trench Mortars (Heavy and Light).. 336 

"Over 500 square miles of territory and 228 cities, towns 
and villages had been liberated, including the cities of 
Cambrai, Denain, Valenciennes and Mons. 

"From Aug. 8 to Oct. 11 not less than 47 German Divi 
sions had been engaged and defeated by the Canadian Corps, 
that is, nearly a quarter of the total German Forces on the 
Western Front. 

"After Oct. 1 1 the disorganisation of the German Troops 
on our front was such that it was difficult to determine with 
exactitude the importance of the elements of many Divisions 
engaged. 

"I desire to record here my deep appreciation of the ser 
vices of Brig.-General N. W. Webber, B.G.G.S., Canadian 
Corps, and of the generous efforts and untiring zeal of the 
General Officers, Regimental Officers, the heads of all Arms, 
Services and Branches, and the members of the various Staffs." 

27 



402 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

Until the opening of these operations, Vimy was properly 
regarded as the greatest achievement of the Canadian Corps, 
and a comparison is of interest. The Corps always regards 
that battle as having begun on April 9, 1917, and finished on 
May 5 following, after our troops had consolidated Fresnoy. 
It was after that date that Divisions begun to be relieved, and 
that Lieut-General Sir Julian Byng issued his Corps Order. 
The deepest penetration at Vimy was 10,000 yards, the attack 
being made on a front of 7,000 yards, when we captured 67 
guns, 7,000 prisoners, and defeated nine German Divisions, 
but at a cost of over 20,000 casualties. 

In the Amiens show, Aug. 8-22, we attacked on a front of 
over 8,000 yards, widening out to 10,000 yards, capturing 196 
guns, nearly 10,000 prisoners, and defeated 16 enemy Divi 
sions, at a cost of 1 1,706 casualties. 

The Arras show, including the capture of the Drocourt- 
Queant line, opened on Aug. 26 and concluded on Sept. 4. 
We attacked on a front of about 8,000 yards, but this was 
increased to 12,000 yards as we progressed and drove a salient 
into the enemy defense. We penetrated 20,000 yards, fought 
18 German Divisions, and captured 98 guns with about 9,000 
prisoners at cost of 8,999 casualties. 

During the hard-fought Battle of Cambrai we penetrated 
between Sept. 27 and Oct. 12 30,000 yards on a front of about 
9,000 yards, capturing over 120 guns and between eight and 
nine thousand prisoners, besides inflicting extremely heavy 
casualties on the 13 Divisions, reinforced by 13 independent 
Machine-Gun Battalions, the enemy brought into line against 
us, our own casualties being 15,106. 

In each of these three battles, therefore, results attained 
were greater than those of Vimy, fine victory though that was; 
and in their cumulative effect there is, of course, no compari 
son. They broke the back of enemy defense on the West 
Front. 

In the period, Aug. 8-Nov. 11, the Canadian Corps fired 
off over one-quarter of all the ammunition used by all the Bri- 



INTO GERMANY 403 

tish Armies on the West Front in the same period. The fol 
lowing table of captures by British and Allied Armies from 
July 18-Nov. 11, 1918, is of interest: 

PRISONERS GUNS 

British Armies 188,700 2,840 

French Armies .... 139,000 1,880 

American Armies . . 43,300 1,421 

Belgian Armies .... 14,500 474 



Total 385,500 6,615 

The contribution of the Canadian Corps to the British 
total, as stated above, but confined to the period of the Hun 
dred Days, was 31,537 prisoners and 623 heavy and field guns, 
besides over three thousand machine-guns and trench mortars. 

These figures speak for themselves. And yet, relative to 
the task performed, our casualties were by no means heavy. 
It will be of value to record here the two appended tables. 
"A" is a summary of Canadian casualties by years, but in 
comparing 1916 and 1917 it is to be remembered that the 4th. 
Canadian Division served in France less than five months in 
the former year; "B" is a summary of Canadian casualties by 
operations as from Aug. 8 to Nov. 11, 1918, inclusive :- 

"A" 
SUMMARY OF CANADIAN CASUALTIES BY YEARS 

OFFICERS OTHER RANKS TOTAL 

KD. WD. MS. KD. WD. MS. 

1915 121 329 22 2,596 9,136 1,861 14,065 

1916 556 1,399 115 10,183 36,339 4,508 53,100 

1917 610 1,779 102 11,235 44,515 4,324 62,565 

1918 737 2,237 70 10,511 45,077 1,609 60,241 



Total 2,024 5,744 309 34,525 135,067 12,302 189,971 



404 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

"B" 

SUMMARY OF CASUALTIES, AUG. 8-Nov. 11, 1918 

Casualties reported from noon Aug. 8 to noon Aug. 26 f IQl8 

OFFICERS OTHER RANKS 



K. W. 
1st. Canadian Division 38 132 
2nd. Canadian Division 30 107 
3rd. Canadian Division 25 93 
4th. Canadian Division 37 108 
Canadian Corps Troops 1 19 


M. 

5 
4 


, K. 

565 

344 
378 
409 
29 


2 
2 
1 

2 


w. 

,540 
,210 
,967 
,019 
210 


M. 

95 

118 
220 

3 


TOTAL 

3,370 
2,691 
2,586 
2,797 
262 


131 459 9 

Casualties reported from noon Aug. 

OFFICERS 
K. W. M. 
1st. Canadian Division 33 124 1 
2nd. Canadian Division 22 139 - 
3rd. Canadian Division 30 107 - 
4th. Canadian Division 26 117 1 
Canadian Corps Troops 1 13 - 


1,725 8,946 436 

26 to noon Sept. $, 

OTHER RANKS 
K. W. M. 

217 1,118 81 
347 2,519 440 
342 2,118 121 
139 751 37 
11 142 2 


11,706 
igi8 

TOTAL 

1,574 
3,467 
2,718 
1,071 
169 


I 112 500 2 

Casualties reported from noon Sept. 

OFFICERS 
K. W. M. 
1st. Canadian Division 6 20 - 
2nd. Canadian Division 5 37 1 
3rd. Canadian Division 5 44 - 
4th. Canadian Division 9 49 - 
Canadian Corps Troops 1 9 


1,056 6,648 681 

5, to noon Sept. 2J, 

OTHER RANKS 
K. W. M. 

356 1,583 
110 1,113 3 
114 667 19 
504 2,293 74 
17 136 


8,999 

IQI8 
TOTAL 

1,965 
1,269 
849 
2,929 
163 



26 159 1 1,101 5,792 96 7,175 



INTO GERMANY 405 

Casualties reported from noon Sept. 2J to noon Oct. 12, IQl8 

OFFICERS OTHER RANKS 

K. W. M. K. W. M. TOTAL 

1st. Canadian Division 34 181 9 522 2,857 521 4,124 

2nd. Canadian Division 16 87 155 1,103 25 1,386 

3rd. Canadian Division 46 141 6 578 2,966 347 4,084 

4th. Canadian Division 66 197 2 647 3,880 254 5,146 

Canadian Corps Troops 4 18 - 42 296 6 366 

166624171,94411,2021,15315,106 

Casualties reported from noon Oct. 12 to noon Nov. I $, IQl8 

OFFICERS OTHER RANKS 

K. W. M. K. W. M. TOTAL 

1st. Canadian Division 6 22 52 298 51 429 

2nd. Canadian Division 6 34 2 204 1,372 125 1,743 

3rd. Canadian Division 8 26 2 79 433 6 554 

4th. Canadian Division 7 88 1 196 1,191 19 1,502 

Canadian Corps Troops 5 13 - 9 162 2 191 



32 183 5 540 3,456 203 4,419 

Aug. 8-Aug. 26 1 1,706 

Aug. 26-Sept. 5 8,999 

Sept. 5-Sept. 27 7,175 

Sept. 27-Oct. 12 15,106 

Oct. 12-Nov. 15 4,419 



46,405 



One last scene. It is the morning of Dec. 4, 1918. Corps 
Headquarters after leaving Mons is established successively at 
Gosselies, near Charleroi, famous for its glass factories, now 
stripped bare, and at Huy, between Namur and Liege, a 
mediaeval town of rare beauty grouped around the towering 



406 CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 

citadel that here frowns down upon the wide and tranquil 
Meuse. 

Thence we move, an arduous march, up into the wild fast 
nesses of the Ardennes to the village of Vielsalm. It lies in 
a little valley, and through it runs a brawling stream, on every 
hand shouldering hills girt with pine woods. Here are many 
slate mines, and from these, out of this all but inaccessible 
country, the methodical Boche has taken the machinery. 

It is a desolate vista of mountain and heath, home of the 
stag and wild boar. Here, too, faggot-cutters ply their hard 
calling and peasants scratch a livelihood from the reluctant 
soil. Scattered about in this famous hunting country are the 
shooting lodges of wealthy European sportsmen, and in one of 
these, where now the Corps Commander has his headquarters, 
the Crown Prince lay hid during those fateful days preceding 
the armistice, and thence escaped into Holland. 

A few miles east the hamlet of Poteau, a half-dozen scat 
tered cottages, marks the international boundary. It is rain 
ing. Mist swathes the rolling hills. The Corps Commander 
stands at the cross-road to take the salute of our men marching 
into Germany. By his side is Sir Archibald Macdonell, 
G.O.C., 1st. Canadian Division, and the Canadian Light 
Horse supplies the escort. Fifty yards east is a German cus 
tom-house, where congregate curiously, half-fearfully, Ger 
man women and children, and with them the much-uniformed 
customs officer. 

It is an impressive sight, here at noon in the rain at Poteau 

-impressive to the imagination even more than to the eye. 

As they march past, these troops of the 1st. Canadian Division 

-the 2nd. Canadian Division crosses the boundary further 

south led by the 3rd. Battalion, Central Ontario, and the 4th. 

and 2nd. Batteries, C.F.A., it is the outward and visible sign 

of victory emerged at last from the dark years. 

The 1st. Canadian Division is to cross the Rhine at 
Cologne, the 2nd. Canadian Division at Bonn. It was first 
proposed that the entire Canadian Corps proceed to the Rhine, 



INTO GERMANY 407 

but difficulties of transport and supply led to a material reduc 
tion in the numbers of British Divisions allocated to the occu 
pation of the Rhine bridgeheads. But even with its representa 
tion thus cut in half, the Canadian Corps is liberally treated. 
Sympathy at this hour is with the gallant 3rd. and 4th. Cana 
dian Divisions thus denied a legitimate ambition. But these, 
though they remain behind in Belgium, participate neverthe 
less in spirit in this triumphal march. Their desert is not less; 
they have proved their valor and tenacity on many a bloody 
field. They share in the honor common to all and are content 
in the knowledge that it redounds to the high repute of 
Canada. 

A fine driving rain beats down. The country road is ankle 
deep in mud. The head of the column comes in sight, the men 
in full marching order, their oilskin sheets over their shoul 
ders. "Eyes left; e-y-e-s 1-e-f-t," runs down the line. Through 
the mist the figure of the Corps Commander looms, erect, a 
little stern as is his wont, the familiar figure that on many a 
battlefield has proved a strength and inspiration to his men. 
Now, as here in this place he returns the salute, it is surely 
with the sense of a great task well done. 

The band of the 3rd. Battalion strikes up the "Maple 
Leaf," and the threadbare melody achieves dignity in this 
windswept space this frontierland between war and peace 
becomes poignant and noble. 

We ride a little way into Germany and then turn back to 
Vielsalm. The rain has stopped and the sun is sinking into the 
west; into a bed of heather and purple mist. At the same 
moment he is beginning to cast his pale and horizontal rays 
over the distant Canadian scene, where children rub sleepy 
eyes in greeting of a new day. 



INDEX 



"A and Q", see Administrative Services 

Abancourt, 203, 245, 249, 251, 256, 259, 
264, 304, 308. 

Administrative Services, Canadian Corps, 
93, 287. 

Agache, River, 171. 

Algie, Lt L. W., 20th, Batt, 312. 

Amiens, Battle of, Aug. 8-22: First 
general offensive by British Army, 
2; brilliant success of, 5; plan of, 
17; preparations for, 17-20; the 
task, 34-38 ; battle opens, 40 ; oper 
ations, Aug. 8, 34-51 ; operations, 
Aug. 9-11, 52-9; Corps Commander 
on results, 59-60; operations, Aug. 
12-20, 61-9; transfer of Canadian 
Corps back to Arras, 68 ; prisoners 
and guns captured, 68; battle brok 
en off, 88; moral effect of victory. 
94; was intended for last British 
offensive of 1918, 95; "black day 
of the German Army" Luden- 
dorff, 95 ; compared with Vimy, 
402; casualties of, 404. 

Amiens Cathedral, 102-5. 

Andechy, 61, 74. 

Andrew, Capt. A. E. Chaplain, Royal 
Canadian Regt., 270. 

Anneux, 194, 219-220. 

Anzin, 353, 391. 

Archambault, Maj., 22nd, Batt, 140. 

Arleux, 330-1. 

Armistice : How proposals received, 
320-1 ; German envoys in France, 
376; our troops sceptical, 393; 
order received for hostilities to 
cease, 382, 386, 389; news received 
soberly, 383-4, 396 ; celebration at 
Valenciennes, 394; at Mons, 395. 

Army Service Corps, Canadian, 60, 94, 
173. 

Arras, Battle of, Aug. 26-Sept. 4: 
Battle plan described by Haig, 109 ; 
entirely a Canadian Corps battle, 
110; Corps Commander outlines 
the task, 111-4; conference of 



Divisional Commanders, 112 j battle 
opens, 120-4 ; capture of Wancourt, 
Guemappe and Monchy-le-Preux, 
125-8; Aug. 27, attack in face of 
stiffening opposition reaches Sen- 
see, 128-132; Aug. 28, capture of 
Boiry and Pelves; terrific battle 
in front of Fresnes-Rouvroy line, 
133-142; Aug. 29-31, preparations 
for attack on Drocourt-Queant 
line, 143-150; Sept. 1-3, storming 
of Drocourt-Queant line, 151-167; 
summary of battle, 174; compared 
with Vimy, 402; casualties of, 404. 
Arras-Cambrai Road, 112, 122, 124, 130, 
144-7, 149, 157, 160, 164, 172, 194-5. 
205, 242. 

Artillery, Canadian Corps, 35, 38-40, 51, 
60, 123, 132, 156, 172, 214-7, 232, 
253-5, 260, 273, 287, 300-2, 363, 
366-7, 402, 406. 

Divisional Artillery : 1st, 39, 46, 144. 

161, 217, 232-3, 244,; 2nd.. 39. 

124-5; 3rd., 39, 219; 4th.. 39. 

204, 219; 5th., 11, 39, 63. 

Heavy Artillery, 35, 39, 132, 143, 172, 

216, 300, 363. 
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 

71-2. 
Canal du Nord Barrage, Remarkable 

features of, 214-6. 
Pan-Germanic Artillery Brigades, 51. 
Arvillers, 54. 

Aubencheul-au-Bac, 240, 245, 299,331. 
Auberchicourt, 337, 340. 
Auld, Capt J. C., 1st. Brigade, C.F.A., 

244. 

Aulnoy, 357, 360, 363-4, 366, 368. 
Aunelle, River, 375, 377. 
Australian Corps, 4, 18, 25, 34, 36, 38-9. 

48-50, 56-7, 68, 93-4, 104, 285. 
Avre, River, 24-5, 98. 
Awoignt, 298, 300, 307. 

Bantigny, Bantigny Ravine, 248, 250-1. 
253, 259, 261, 263, 299, 304, 308. 



409 



410 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



Bapaume-Cambrai Road, 194-5, 240. 
Baralle, 147, 187. 

Barrie, Staff Capt, 12th. C.I.B., 248. 
Battalions, Canadian Infantry, see In 
fantry. 

Bauer, Col., Ludendorff s political advi 
ser : his pamphlet quoted, 279- 
284; "the inglorious Aug. 8," 280; 
decision reached on Oct. 2 to sue 
for peace, 282; "battles of unpar 
alleled severity," 283, 
Beaucourt, 45, 72. 
Beaufort, 54. 
Belgian civilians in better case than 

French, 392-4. 
Belgians, King of the, on Canadian 

Corps, 6, 399. 
Belgium, First Canadian troops to enter, 

375, 377. 
Bell, Brig.-Gen. A. H., G.O.C., 6th. 

C.I.B., 50, 124-5, 303. 
Bell-Irving, Maj. R. O., 16th. Batt., 264. 
Bent, Lt-Col. C. E., 15th. Batt., 69. 
Blecourt, 246-7, 250, 253, 256, 264, 299, 

303, 308. 

Bloor, Pte. R., 50th. Batt., 238. 
Boiry-Notre-Dame, 129, 132, 134-5, 146, 
Bonn, 406. 

Bonner, Lt, 116th. Batt, 246. 
Borden, Sir Robert, 376. 
Bouche Wood, 147, 157, 159, 193. 
Bouchoir, 54. 

Bourlon Wood and Village, 116, 145, 
193-6, 198-9, 202-3, 209, 214-5, 
218-220, 222-6, 322-4. 
Brereton, Cpl. A., 8th. Batt, 238. 
Brigades, Canadian Infantry, see In 
fantry. 

Brillant, Lt. 22nd. Batt., 82. 
British Army : 

Armies: First, 8-9, 19, 68, 109, 111, 
207-8, 266-7, 286,327,329-330,357, 
360-2, 365-6, 386, 388-9; Second. 
9, 18-9, 326; Third, 8, 109, 112, 
122, 141, 167, 171, 196-200, 202. 
205, 207-8, 237, 251, 284-6, 300, 
307-8, 310, 326-7, 357, 366; 
Fourth, 9, 17-9, 93, 109, 112, 202. 
205, 207, 284-6, 326, 357; Fifth, 
9. 



Corps:!, 144, 327; III, 34, 36, 50, 
93; IV, 208; VI, 8, 16, 208; 
VII, 129; VIII, 327-8, 343, 353- 
5, 377-8, 385; XIII, 8,; XVII, 
8, 16, 19, 122-5, 143, 150, 157, 171, 
192, 202-4, 208, 214, 219, 221, 
240-1, 246, 249, 298, 300, 304, 307, 
309, 327; XXII, 122, 144, 171, 
202-4, 236, 259, 300, 315, 327. 
331-2, 353-5, 357-8, 360-2, 366, 
368-9, 378. 

Divisions: 1st, 170; 2nd., 199; 4th., 
133, 142-5, 151-2, 154, 165, 170, 
172, 287, 314, 331, 360, 366; 8th., 
129, 329, 332; llth., 144, 203, 219- 
220, 235-6, 244-6, 249, 253, 259- 
260, 263, 265-6, 287, 299, 304, 
308, 310, 313-4, 331; 12th., 36; 
18th., 36; 24th., 309; 32nd., 57-8, 
61-3, 287; 47th., 199; 49th., 310- 
2, 314-5, 361, 366, 369; 51st., 122, 
124, 129, 134, 144, 287, 313-5, 352, 
358, 360-2, 366; 52nd., 377, 385; 
56th., 141, 199, 237, 259, 315, 
330-1, 333; 57th., 144; 58th., 36; 
63rd. (Naval), 157, 161. 
Artillery, 35, 38-9, 123, 214, 216, 

387. 
Cavalry, 27-9, 35-6, 41, 56-7, 59-60, 

70-6, 156-7, 380, 387. 
Cavalry, employment of in modern 

warfare, 75. 

Flying Force, see R.A.F. 
Tank Corps, see Tanks. 
British Soldier, Characteristics of, 165, 

323. 

Brutinel, Brig.-Gen. R., G.O.C., Canadian 
Independent Force, later known 
as Brutinel s Brigade, 35. 
Brutinel s Brigade, see Independent Force. 
Bryas, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 10. 
Buissy, Buissy Switch, 147, 157, 159-160, 

171. 
Burstall, Maj. -Gen. Sir Henry E., G.O.C.. 

2nd. C.I.D., 35, 122, 129, 265. 
Byng, Gen. Sir Julian, G.O.C., Third 
Army: Debt of Canadian Corps 
to, 10; thanks 2nd. C.I.D., 16; 
breaks away from trench warfare 
in First Battle of Cambrai, 89, 



INDEX 



411 



196-201; visits Corps Commander 
at Neuville Vitasse, 209; after 
Vimy, 402. 

Cagnicourt, 146, 157, 159. 
Cairns, Sergt H., 46th. Batt, 365. 
Caix, 46, 50. 

Cambrai, Battle of, Sept. 27-Oct. 12:- 
Greatest Battle of Hundred Days, 
110-1 ; Canadian Corps hold centre 
throughout, 111; confronting 
Canal du Nord, 185-192; Corps 
Commander s daring plan of at 
tack, 202 ; difficulty of task, 203-4 ; 
Sept. 27, battle opens, Canal du 
Nord stormed ; Bourlon, Marquion, 
Haynecourt, Epinoy captured, 
219-237; Sept. 28, storming of 
Marcoing line, 240-5; Sept. 29, 
last ditch battle by enemy to hold 
plateau, 245-252; Sept 30, our ini 
tial offensive beaten back by enemy 
counter-offensives up Bantigny 
Ravine, 253-8; Oct. 1, attack re 
newed against fresh enemy divi 
sions; after desperate fighting all 
day victory remains with Canadian 
Corps, 258-273; effect of victory, 
275; after "battles of unparalleled 
severity," enemy on Oct. 2 decides 
to ask for armistice, 280-5; sum 
mary of battle, 286-8; capture of 
Cambrai, 298-309; conclusion of 
battle, 310-6 ; compared with Vimy. 
402; casualties of, 405. 
Cambrai, City of, 146, 149, 189, 194, 201, 
220, 240, 276, 298, 300 ; capture of, 
241, 298-304; destroyed by enemy, 
305-8. 
Cambrai, First Battle of, Nov., 1917, 89. 

193, 195-200. 

Cambrai Road, see Arras-Cambrai Road. 
Canadian Army Service Corps, see Army 

Service Corps. 

Canadian Cavalry Brigade, see Cavalry. 
Canadian Chaplain Services, see Chap 
lain. 
Canadian Corps: 

The months of preparation: Effect 
on enemy of Battle of Amiens. 
2; return to Vimy after Pas- 



schendaele, 6 ; importance of 
its task in defending French 
collieries, 7 ; its Divisions sep 
arated but reunited after protest 
by Corps Commander, 8 ; goes 
into G.H.Q. Reserve for inten 
sive training in tactics of the 
offensive, 10; its First Contin 
gent and its debt to Sir Julian 
Byng, 10; reasons for its 
strength, 10-4; its composition, 
11 ; Corps Commander resists 
creation of 5th. C.I.D., 12; its 
battle strength augmented, 12; 
value of its "esprit de corps," 
13-4; spirit of the men, 15. 
Bat fie of Amiens, Aug. 8-22: Back 
in the line, 16; ordered to 
Amiens, 17; camouflage move 
ment to Flanders, 17-9 ; prepara 
tions for offensive, 17-9; 
moving south, 19 ; marching into 
battle, 24-5; "zero", Aug. 8, 26; 
Canadian Corps spearhead of 
attack, 38; enemy overwhelmed, 
40; record advance for first 
day s attack, 50; Aug. 9, attack 
renewed, 52-3 ; enemy resistance 
stiffens as old Somme battle 
field reached, 53, 86; salient 
established at Meharicourt, 57; 
Aug. 10, attack resumed, 57; 
hard fighting before Hallu, 58; 
Corps Commander on battle, 
59-60 ; capture of Parvillers and 
Damery, 64-7; capture of Fran- 
sart, 69; transfer of Corps to 
First Army begins, 68; prison 
ers and guns captured, 68; 
after the battle, 77; "Canadians 
core and crux of battle 
of Amiens" London Times, 
84; moral effect of victory, 
94; "Up against the celebrated 
Canadian Corps" German Gen 
eral Staff, 95. 

Battle of Arras, Aug. 26-Sept. 4: 
Haig outlines battle plan, 109; 
entirely a Canadian Corps battle, 
110; Corps Commander de 
scribes the task, 111-4; hardest 



412 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



battle in history of Corps, 112; 
back to No Man s Land, 116; 
battle opens, 120-4; capture of 
Wancourt, Guemappe and Mon- 
chy-le-Preux, 125-8 ; Aug. 27, at 
tack against stiffening opposi 
tion reaches Sensee, 128-132; 
Aug. 28, terrible struggle in front 
of Fresnes-Rouvroy line, 133-142 ; 
Aug. 29-31, preparations for 
attack on Drocourt-Queant line. 
143-150; Sept. 1-3, storming of 
Drocourt-Queant line, 151-167 ; 
summary of battle, 174. 

Battle of Cambrai, Sept. 27-Oct. 12: 
Confronting Canal du Nord, 
185-192 ; Corps Commander s dar 
ing plan for attack, 202; difficulty 
of task, 203-4; Sept. 27, battle 
opens, Canal du Nord stormed, 
Bourlon Wood, Marquion, 
Haynecourt and Epinoy cap 
tured, 219-237; Sept. 28, storm 
ing of Marcoing line, 240-5; 
Sept. 29, last ditch battle of 
enemy to hold plateau, 245-252; 
Sept. 30, our initial offensive 
beaten back by enemy counter- 
offensives up Bantigny Ravine, 
253-8; Oct 1, attack renewed 
against fresh enemy divisions; 
after desperate fighting all day 
victory at night remains with 
Canadian Corps, 258-273 ; effect 
of victory, 275; after "battles 
of unparalleled severity" enemy 
decides on Oct. 2 to sue for 
peace, 280-5 ; summary of battle, 
286-8; capture of Cambrai, 298- 
309; conclusion of battle, 310-6. 

Cambrai to Mons, Oct. 12-Nov. 11 : 
Canadian Corps attacks north of 
the Sensee, 326-334; pursuit of 
enemy, capture of Denain, 335- 
344; capture of Valenciennes, 
359-369; capture of Mons, 380- 
9; Canadian Corps, remembering 
its dead, receives news of 
Armistice soberly, 396-8; sum 
mary of results of Hundred 



Days, 400-3; entry into Ger 
many, 405-7. 

Canadian Corps, Opinions concern 
ing: King of the Belgians, 6, 
399; Foch, 7; Haig, 41; London 
Times, 84; Sir Henry Home, 
316; Petit Parisien, 376; Presi 
dent Poincare, 390. 

Canadian Corps Administrative Services, 
see Administrative. 

Canadian Corps Intelligence, see Intelli 
gence. 

Canadian Corps Post Office, see Post 
Office. 

Canadian Corps Signals, see Signals. 

Canadian Corps Staff, see Staff. 

Canadian Engineers, see Engineers. 

Canadian Independent Force, see 
Independent. 

Canadian Labor Battalions, see Labor. 

Canadian Machine-Gunners, see Machine- 
Gunners and Independent Force. 

Canadian Medical Corps, see MedicaL 

Canadian Mounted Rifles, see Infantry, 
8th. Brigade. 

Canadian Ordnance Corps, see Ordnance. 

Canadian Railway Troops, see Railway. 

Canadian Red Cross, see Red Cross. 

Canadian Soldier, Characteristics of, 10. 
14, 15, 22, 28, 31-3, 42, 59, 77-8, 
81-2, 116, 121, 154, 179, 187-191. 
249, 271, 275-6, 287, 321, 324, 383-4, 
396-8. 

Canadian Veterinary Corps, see Veter 
inary. 

Canal du Nord, 116, 144-7, 153, 157, 
161, 164, 170-2, 185, 191-5, 201, 
209, 214, 217, 221-2, 331-3,. 

Canal du Nord Barrage, Remarkable 
features of, 214-6. 

Carmichael, Maj. D., 116th. Batt., 261, 

Carey, Lt.-Col. A. B., 54th. Batt, 80, 223. 

Casualties, Canadian Corps, 68, 95, 315. 
403-5. 

Cavalry Brigade, Canadian, 9, 28, 41, 

61, 71-4. 

Royal Canadian Dragoons, 71-3. 
Lord Strathcona s Horse, 71-2. 
Fort Garry Horse, 61, 71-4, 199. 
354. 



INDEX 



413 



Canadian Light Horse, Corps 
Troops, 74, 314, 342, 344, 406. 

Cavalry, in modern warfare, 75-6. 

Chapel hill, 126. 

Chaplain Service, Canadian, 60, 78-9, 
128, 140, 166, 270-1, 287. 

Characteristics of British soldier, 165, 
323; of Canadian soldier, see 
above; of French soldier, 98-9. 

Chaulnes, 34. 

Cherisy, 131, 154-5. 

Chilly, 58, 68, 93. 

Civilians, French: first released, 169; 
welcome Canadians, 337-9; forti 
tude in captivity, 340; 70,000 re 
lieved by Canadian Corps, 343; 
kind people of Denain, 348-351 ; 
contempt of danger, 353; tragic 
scene, 392; several hundred thou 
sand relieved by Canadian Corps, 
400; see also Evacuees. 

Clark, Brig.-Gen. J. A., G.O.C., 7th. 
C.I.B., 242, 386. 

Clark, Brig.-Gen. R. P., G.O.C., 2nd. 
C.I.B., 172, 249. 

Clark-Kennedy, Lt.-Col. W. H., 24th. 
Batt, 130, 137. 

Clausewitz, quoted, 293-4. 

Collins, Pte. J. P., 10th. Batt., 244. 

Cojeul, River, 25, 126, 146. 

Cologne, 406. 

Comblain 1 Abbe, Canadian Corps H.Q. 
at, 6. 

Conde, Conde-Mons Canal, 353, 356, 379, 
381. 

Coppins, Cpl. G. F., 8th. Batt., 55. 

Corbenham, 330. 

Croak, Pte. J. B., 13th. Batt., 47. 

Croisilles, 141. 

Crombie, Lt, 312. 

Crow s Nest, 143, 148, 156. 

Cuesmes, 382, 385, 393. 

Cummins, Capt. C. F., 1st. Batt., 264. 

Currie, Gen. Sir Arthur W., G.O.C.. 
Canadian Corps : Has confidence 
of men, 15 ; his wonderful 
physique, 21 ; explains Amiens 
battle plan, 22; his confidence, 22; 
visits wounded, 53; makes strong 
representations that Canadian 
Corps should attack in new sector, 



87; his fortitude, 115; considera 
tion for his men, 115; anxious 
days, 135 ; declines to sacrifice men 
in attack on flooded area of Canal 
du Nord but submits alternative 
proposal, 192; discusses daring 
plan with General Byng, 210; 
his character, 286-297; command 
ing personality, 291 ; a sketch of 
his career, 294-5 ; single in pur 
pose, 296; eulogised by Petit 
Parisien, 376; receives President 
Poincare in Valenciennes, 390 ; 
honored by City of Mons,395,399; 
congratulated by King of the 
Belgians, 399; takes salute as 
Canadian troops enter Germany, 
406-7. 

Quotations from his Interim Re 
port on Operations of 1918: 
Importance of Vimy Ridge sec 
tor, 7; objects to Canadian 
Corps being disintegrated, 8; 
describes work of Canadian 
Machine-Gunners on Somme. 
9; successfully resists proposal 
for creation of 5th. C.I.B., 11- 
2; informed of plan for Amiens 
offensive by Fourth Army and 
French, 17; preparations, 18- 
20; describes battle front, 34-8; 
opening of battle, Aug. 8, 40; 
operations, Aug. 9-11, 52-3, 57- 
9; addresses Special Order to 
troops, 59-60 ; transfer of Cana 
dian Corps back to First Army, 
67-8; prisoners and guns cap 
tured, 68; casualties relatively 
light, 68; on general situation, 
110-1; describes task confront 
ing Canadian Corps in Battle 
of Arras, 111-4; attack opens, 
123-4; attack continued, Aug. 
27, 128-9; desperate fighting in 
front of Fresnes-Rouvroy line, 
Aug. 28, 133-4, 136-7; opera 
tions, Aug. 29-30, 143-5; opera 
tions, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 151-2; 
Sept. 2, storming Drocourt- 
Queant line, 156-8; congratu 
lates 4th. British Division on 



414 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



victory, 165; on situation con 
fronting Canal du Nord, 170-2; 
daring plan for attack, 202-5 ; 
describes opening of Battle of 
Cambrai, 219-220 ; operations, 
Sept. 28, 240; Sept. 29, 245-6; 
Sept. 30, 253; Oct. 1, in face of 
critical situation determines to 
continue attack, 258; battle brok 
en off, 259; its wide reaching re 
sults, 259-260; issues Special 
Order congratulating troops 
on great victory, 286-8; his Spe 
cial Order to Canadian Corps 
in black days of March offen 
sive, 295-6; plan for freeing 
Cambrai, 298-301 ; describes its 
capture and destruction by 
enemy, 307-9; capture of Iwuy 
and relief of Canadian Corps, 
313-5 ; summary of Battle of 
Cambrai, 315-6 ; describes at 
tack by Canadian Corps north 
of the Sensee, 326, 331-4; pur 
suit of enemy, 341-3; from 
Denain to Valenciennes, 354-6; 
plan for capture of Valen 
ciennes, 357-8, 362-4; brilliant 
victory, Nov. 1, 368-9; advance 
continued, Nov. 2-7, 376-9; cap 
ture of Mons, 384-6; why Mons 
was taken, 397 ; sums up result 
of Hundred Days, 400-1. 

Cuvillers, 249, 250, 259, 261, 263, 265, 
304, 308. 

Cyclist Battalion, Canadian Corps, 35, 
342, 344; see also Independent 
Force. 

Daily Telegraph, London, 279, 284. 

Damery, 57, 59, 61-7, 74, 82, 88, 93. 

Davies, Lt- Col. R. D., 44th. Batt., 242. 

Davin, Lt. J. A., 1st. C. D. Ammuni 
tion Column, 217. 

Day, Maj. F. P., 25th. Batt., 138. 

d Easum, Capt., Chaplain, 78th. Batt., 78. 

Demuin, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 43, 
96. 

Denain, Capture of, 341 ; warm welcome 
to Canadians at, 348-9-50,352, 354. 

Desjardins, Father, Chaplain 22nd. Batt., 
140. 



Despatch Riders, 347. 

Dineson, Pte. T.D., 42nd. Batt., 65. 

Divisions, Canadian Infantry, see 

Infantry. 
Dodds, Brig.-Gen. W.O.H., G.O.C., 5th. 

Canadian Divisional Artillery, 39. 
Douai, 132, 149, 329, 336. 
Douai-Cambrai Road and Railway, 220, 

235-6, 244-5, 249, 299. 
Draper, Brig.-Gen. D. C., G.O.C., 8th. 

C.I.B., 43, 124, 126, 298. 
Drocourt-Queant Line, 111-2, 131, 143-8, 

151, 166, 327; see also Arras, 

Battle of. 
Dubuc, Lt.-Col. A. E., 22nd. Batt, 137, 

139. 

Duisans, Corps H.Q. at, 21, 119. 
Duncan, Capt., 75th. Batt., 257. 
Dury, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 22, 24, 

100-1. 

Dury-en-Artois, 147, 156, 163-4. 
Dyer, Brig.-Gen. H. M., G.O.C., 7th. 

C.I.B., 44, 124, 134, 242. 

Ecaillon, River, 356-7, 359. 

Ecourt St. Quentin, 164, 168-9. 

Edgar, Capt. J. N., Princess Patricia s 
Light Infantry, 256. 

Enemy see German Army. 

Engineers, Canadian, 12, 40, 44, 48, 60, 
93, 144, 157, 170-1, 177, 185, 186, 
204, 209, 217, 226-8, 231, 233, 236, 
251, 260, 287, 301-2, 304-5, 308, 
314, 328, 342, 356, 363, 367, 368, 
375. 

Epic of the 22nd, Battalion, quoted 
from, 139-40. 

Epinoy, 203, 220-1, 236, 244-5, 249, 251. 

Escaudoeuvres, 250, 300, 302, 307. 

Estrun, 250, 335. 

Eswars, 250, 253, 304. 

Eterpigny, 145. 

Evacuees, French, 50,000 pass through 
Valenciennes, 371-3 ; pitiable plight 
of, 391-405. 

Ewing, Lt.-Col. R. L. H., 42nd. Batt., 
64. 

Famars, Famars Ridge, 355, 357, 359, 

361-2, 364, 373. 
Farmar, Brig.-Gen. G. J., D.A. and 

Q.M.G., Canadian Corps, 39. 



INDEX 



415 



Final Blow of the First Army in 1918, 
quoted from, 266-7, 329-30, 360-2, 
365-6, 388-9. 

Foch, Marshal: His counter-stroke on 
the Marne, 1-3; story about the 
Canadian Corps, 7; extends 
Amiens offensive to front of 
First French Army, 17; masterly 
direction of, 88; plans series of 
offensives, 205-6; quoted from, 
288-90; orders Mons shall be tak 
en, 397. 

Fontaine-Notre-Dame, 194, 204, 220, 224- 
5, 240. 

Fort Garry Horse, see Cavalry. 

Foster, Capt. W. Garland, 54th. Batt, 
223. 

Foster, Lt.-Col. W. W., 52nd. Batt.,>66. 

Fransart, 67-69, 88. 

French Army, First, 17-18, 34-5, 38, 40, 
53, 67, 69, 73, 93, 98. 

French-Canadian troops, see Infantry, 
22nd. Batt. 

French Civilians, see Civilians. 

French evacuees, see Evacuees. 

French people : Their piety, 102 ; their 
courage, 179-180, 337-40, 372-4. 

Fresnes-Rouvroy line, 131, 134, 136, 139, 
143-4, 147, 149. 

Fresnoy, 73. 

Gardiner, Lt.-Col. S. D., 38th. Batt., 247. 

Gentelles, village and wood, 25; Cana 
dian Corps H.Q. at, 96. 

German Army and Commanders : Dis 
concerting effect of Battle of 
Amiens, 86; Ludendorff on, 2; 
"black day of German Army," 95; 
German General Staff explains 
defeat, 95 ; appeal to Canadian 
soldiers, 217; order for last ditch 
defense in front of Cambrai, 251 ; 
enemy battle tactics, 277-8; hope 
abandoned, 279-284; wilful des 
truction, 305-8, 337-8; troops sur 
render saying war is lost, 364. 

Glaysher, Sergt. C., 1st. C.D. Signals, 
218. 

Good, Cpl. J., 13th. Batt, 47. 

Gosselies, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 405. 

Graham, Capt., Chaplain, 13th. Batt, 
166. 



Grant, Gen. U. S., quoted, 288. 

Gregg, Lt. M. F., Royal Canadian 

Regt, 268. 

Greenland Hill, 129, 144. 
Griesbach, Brig-Gen. W. H., G.O.C., 1st. 

C.I.B., 46, 144-5, 263, 336. 
Guemappe, 124. 

Hagerman, Capt. A. R., Medical Officer, 
78th. Batt, 271. 

Haig, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas: Quo 
tations from his Victory Dis 
patch; regarding situation in 
spring of 1918, 2-5; improve 
ment in state of British Armies, 
3; objectives of proposed offen 
sive, 3-4; importance of Hinden- 
burg System, 4; selects Canadian 
Corps for Amiens offensive, 17; 
describes battle of Aug. 8, 41 ; 
on work of cavalry, 70; undesir 
able to continue attack on old 
Somme battle-field, 88; describes 
plan for Battle of Arras, 109; 
sanctions proposals of Third 
Army for First Battle of Cam 
brai, 197-200; explains part of 
British Army in general offensive, 
205-7; describes difficult task of 
crossing Canal du Nord, 208; his 
last communique: "Canadian troops 
have captured Mons.", 389. 

Hallu, 58, 78, 93. 

Harbottle, Lt.-Col. C. C., 75th. Batt., 
52, 166. 

Haucourt, 129, 134, 145. 

Haut Wood, 381, 386. 

Hautecloque, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 
68, 109, 112. 

Haynecourt, 195, 220-1, 229, 233, 235. 

Hayter, Brig.-Gen. R. J. F., G.O.C., 10th. 
C.I.B., 45, 151, 154, 221, 242; 
B.G.G.S., Canadian Corps, 362. 

Hendecourt, 147, 148-9, 156. 

Henderson, Col. G. F. R., quoted, 288. 

Heninel Ridge, 124, 126. 

Hertling, Chancellor von, 2. 

Hindenburg, Field Marshal von, 2. 

Hindenburg System: Regarded by en 
emy as invincible, 1 ; importance 
to enemy, 4, 110-1, 114, 149; de 
scription of, 113, 131, 145-7; Can- 



416 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



adian Corps first to break through, 
141, 166, 236, 327; turned from 
north by Canadian Corps, 205, 
284, 326; see also Battles of Arras 
and Cambrai. 

Hintz, Admiral von, 2. 

Honelle, River, 375. 

Honey, Lt. 78th. Batt., 268-9. 

Home, General Sir Henry E., G.O.C., 
First Army, 316, 357. 

Hume, Pte. E., 10th. Batt., 163. 

Hundred Days, The, 400-1. 

Hutcheson, Capt. B. S., Medical Officer, 
166. 

Huy, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 405. 

Hyon, 381. 

Imperials, see British Army. 

Inchy-en-Artois, 147, 192-3, 208, 213. 

Independent Force, Canadian (known 
later as Brutinel s Brigade), 35, 
37, 39, 40, 53, 60, 78, 89, 124, 
126, 143-4, 157, 253, 300, 307, 309, 

313, 342, 351 ; see also Machine- 
Gunners. 

Infantry Canadian Corps : 

1st. Canadian Infantry Division, 8, 16, 
36-7, 43, 45, 46, 52, 54, 57, 67-8, 
116, 133, 141, 143-4, 147, 150-2, 157, 
160, 168, 170, 203-4, 214, 220-3, 225, 
229-30, 240, 241, 243, 245,, 249 
253, 260, 263-4, 270-1, 299, 310. 

314, 326-331, 334-5, 340-1, 352, 355, 
406. 

1st. Canadian Infantry Brigade, 46, 
48, 54, 144-5, 147-8, 152, 157, 
160, 229-233, 263, 265, 327, 330, 
335-6. 

Infantry, Canadian Corps (Contd.) : 
1st. Battalion, Western Ontario, 

48, 54, 160, 231-2, 263-4. 
2nd. Battalion, Eastern Ontario, 

31, 48, 54, 148, 160, 231-2. 
3rd. Battalion, Central Ontario, 
48, 54, 148, 159-160, 231-2, 
238, 406-7. 

4th. Battalion, Central Ontario, 
48, 54, 148, 159-160, 222, 
231-2, 263-4. 

2nd. Brigade, 46, 48, 54, 145, 149, 
152, 158, 172, 229, 230-1, 234, 
249, 265, 327-8, 335. 



5th. Battalion, Saskatchewan, 46, 

48, 54, 152-3, 235-6, 328 
7th. Battalion, British Columbia, 

48, 153, 159, 162, 234, 236, 

328. 
8th. Battalion, Manitoba, 54, 149, 

234, 236, 238, 244, 249, 328. 
10th. Battalion, Alberta, 48, 159, 

162-3, 235, 244, 328. 
3rd. Brigade, 28, 33, 42, 46, 54, 145, 
152, 159, 160, 229-231 234, 237, 
263, 265, 327-8, 331. 
13th. Battalion, Quebec, 46-7, 158, 

166, 231, 234, 263. 
14th. Battalion, Montreal, 46, 54, 

152-3, 158, 231, 234, 263. 
15th. Battalion, Toronto, 46, 54, 

69, 152, 159, 231, 234, 327. 
16th. Battalion, Western Canada, 

28, 46, 158, 161-2, 231, 263, 

265, 327. 

2nd. Canadian Division, 8-9, 15-16, 35, 
38, 48, 50, 52, 56-7, 59, 68-9, 113, 
116, 122, 125, 129, 133, 136-7, 141, 
143, 145, 170, 186, 192, 203-4, 231, 
265, 299-303, 307-315, 326, 331, 
332-3, 335, 340-1, 352, 354, 375, 
378-381, 384-5, 388, 406. 

4th. Brigade, 48, 56, 68-9, 126, 129, 
140, 186, 303, 310-3, 333, 335, 
381-2. 

18th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 

48, 69, 126, 140, 310, 335, 

381. 
19th. Battalion, Central Ontario, 

48, 69, 126, 140, 310, 335, 

381-2. 
20th. Battalion, Central Ontario, 

48, 126, 139, 140, 310-2, 

381-2. 
21st. Battalion, Eastern Ontario, 

48, 126, 131, 139, 140, 310-2, 

381. 

5th. Brigade, 48, 49-50, 56, 69, 79, 
126, 129, 137, 265, 301-2, 307, 310, 
313, 381. 
22nd. Battalion,French-Canadian, 

50, 56, 82, 129, 137, 139-140, 

301. 
24th. Battalion, Montreal, 49, 56, 

129, 137, 301, 313. 



INDEX 



417 



25th. Battalion, Nova Scotia, 50, 

56, 79, 129, 137, 301-2, 314. 
26th. Battalion, New Brunswick, 

49, 56, 79, 129, 137, 139, 301- 
2, 313. 

6th. Brigade, 48, 50, 56-7, 124, 125, 
129, 186, 264-5, 303, 307, 311, 
313, 333, 335, 381. 
27th. Battalion, Manitoba, 19, 50, 

57, 125, 186, 264, 303, 312. 
28th. Battalion, Saskatchewan, 50, 

125, 264, 303, 311. 
29th. Battalion, British Columbia, 

50, 57, 69, 125, 264, 303, 
311. 

31st. Battalion, Alberta, 50, 121, 

125, 140, 186, 303, 312. 
3rd. Canadian Division, 8, 15, 16, 20, 

35, 37, 40, 44, 52-54, 57, 58, 61, 
63, 67, 116, 119, 121-2, 124, 128-9, 
131, 133-5, 136, 141, 143, 171-2, 
186, 191, 202, 220, 221, 224, 235, 
236, 240, 241, 245, 249-250, 253, 
255, 261, 298, 300, 304, 307-8, 330, 
352, 355, 358, 362-3, 368, 375, 376-7, 
384-5, 387-8, 407. 

7th. Brigade, 20, 42, 44, 63, 123. 
126-7, 131, 134, 240-1, 245, 255, 
352, 381, 385-6. 
Royal Canadian Regiment, 64, 255, 

268, 270-1, 382. 
Princess Patricia s Light Infantry, 

63-4, 241, 255, 380-1, 382. 
42nd. Battalion, Montreal, 44, 63-4, 

241, 382, 386. 
49th. Battalion, Edmonton, 44, 64, 

134, 241, 380. 
8th. Brigade, 20, 42-3, 71, 121, 123, 

126, 245, 297, 303-4, 374-5. 
1st. C.M.R., Manitoba and Sas 
katchewan, 44, 126, 245. 
2nd. C.M.R., British Columbia, 44, 

126, 269. 

4th. C.M.R., Central Ontario, 19, 

44, 126, 304. 
5th. C.M.R., Eastern Townships, 

44, 126-7, 304. 
9th. Brigade, 20, 40, 42-3, 65, 136, 

240-1, 245, 261, 266, 352. 
43rd. Battalion, Manitoba, 42, 66-7, 
241, 261. 

28 



52nd. Battalion, New Ontario, 65- 

7, 82, 135, 240, 261. 
58th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 

42, 241, 261. 
116th. Battalion, Central Ontario, 

42, 66, 186, 241, 245, 261. 
4th. Canadian Division, 8, 16, 37, 40, 
44, 52, 57-8, 67, 116, 136, 150-3, 157, 
163, 168, 171, 203-5, 221-2, 229, 
232, 235, 237, 240, 241, 245, 247, 
250, 253, 261, 299, 330, 333, 335, 
340-1, 348, 350, 352, 354, 355, 358. 
361-3, 366, 368-9, 375, 376-7, 403- 
407. 

10th. Brigade, 40, 58, 151, 153, 163, 
165, 168, 222, 241, 247, 333, 348, 
352, 356, 361-4. 
44th. Battalion, New Brunswick, 

57, 168, 222, 242, 363. 
46th. Battalion, Saskatchewan, 57, 

222, 363-4. 

47th. Battalion, Western Ontario, 

57, 222, 348, 363. 
50th. Battalion, Calgary, 57, 222, 

237, 242, 364. 

llth. Brigade, 40, 52, 153, 163, 165, 
170, 221-5, 255, 261. 340, 351-3, 
366, 375, 377. 

54th. Battalion, British Columbia, 
80, 223, 255, 257, 341, 352, 
397. 

75th. Battalion, Central and West 
ern Ontario, 52, 163, 222-4, 
255-7, 353. 
87th. Battalion, Montreal, 52, 166, 

223, 224, 255, 352, 375. 
102nd. Battalion, British Columbia, 

57, 223-4, 255, 257, 261, 262, 
340, 375. 

12th. Brigade, 44, 57, 151, 153, 163, 
165, 170, 222, 224-5, 241, 256, 
247-8, 263, 362, 366, 374-5. 
38th. Battalion, Ottawa, 31, 55, 

154, 225, 247, 366. 
72nd. Battalion, Vancouver, 57, 

165, 225, 247, 366. 
78th. Battalion, Winnipeg, 57, 79, 

83, 225, 247, 268, 270. 
85th. Battalion,A/"0z/a Scotia, 57, 

170, 225, 248, 255. 
Intelligence, Canadian Corps, 37, 343-7. 



418 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



Iwuy, 310-4. 

Jackson, Stonewall, quoted, 289. 

Jemappes, 381, 385, 392. 

Jigsaw Wood, 132, 134-5. 

Jones, Lt-Col. E. W., 21st. Batt, 49. 

Kemp, Sir Edward, Canadian Overseas 

Minister of Militia, 12-14. 
Kerr, Capt. G. F., 3rd. Batt., 238. 
King, Brig.-Gen. W. B. M., G.O.C., 4th. 

Canadian Divisional Artillery, 39, 

219. 
Kirkpatrick, Lt.-Col. G. H., 72nd. Batt., 

248. 
Knight, Sergt. A. G., 10th. Batt., 162. 

Labor Battalions, Canadian, 374. 

La Chavette, 62, 64, 68-9, 93. 

Lamothe, Lt., 22nd. Batt., 139. 

Latta, Lt-Col. W S., 29th. Batt, 69. 

"L, C. Operation," 117. 

Lemieux, Lt. 22nd. Batt., 139. 

Le Quesnel, 45, 52, 73. 

Lewarde, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 325, 
337, 348. 

Lihons, 57. 

Lindsay, Maj.-Gen. W. B., G.O.C. 
Canadian Engineers. 260 

Lipsett, Maj.-Gen. L. J., G.O.C, 3rd. 
Canadian Division, 35, 64, 122; 
takes command of 4th. British Di 
vision, 172; killed, 324; his car 
eer. 325; buried at Queant, 325. 

Lister, Lt.-Col. F.. 102nd. Batt., 223. 

Loison Wood, 147, 157, 159. 

London Times, War Correspondent of, 
says, "Canadian Corps core and 
crux of Battle of Amiens," 84. 

Loomis, Brig.-Gen. F. O. W., G.O.C., 
2nd. C.I.B., 46, 144-5; Maj.-Gen., 
G.O.C., 3rd. Canadian Division, 
172, 221, 249. 

Lord Strathcona s Horse, see Cavalry. 

Luce, River, 25, 37, 45, 46, 48. 

Ludendorff, General Erich von, Chief 
of German General Staff: After 
Battle of Amiens abandons hope 
of victory, 2, 95 ; Col. Bauer s de 
fense of, 275-284; Battle of Cam- 
brai destroys last hope, 282. 



Machine-Gunners, Canadian, 9, 35, 46, 
48, 60, 161, 172, 204, 232, 233, 243, 
287, 296, 299, 348, 363,; see also 
Independent Force. 

Maing, 359. 

Marcelcave, 28, 48. 

Marcoing Line, 194-5, 241. 

Marly, 364, 368-9. 

Marin, Capt. Alberic, Medical Officer, 
22nd. Batt., 140. 

Marquion, Marquion Line, 164, 194-5, 
220-2, 233. 

Martin, Sergt. T., 8th. Batt., 270. 

Maucourt, 58. 

Massie, Brig.-Gen. R. H., G.O.C., Cana 
dian Corps Heavy Artillery, 39, 
172. 

Medical Services, Canadian, 30, 59, 121, 
128, 166, 173, 271, 287. 

Meharicourt, 54, 56. 

Merrifield, Sergt. W., 4th. Batt, 264. 

Merston, Staff Capt., 12th. C.I.B., 249. 

Metcalf, Lance-Cpl. W. H., 18th. Batt, 
141. 

Millen, Lt-Col. L. H., 19th. Batt, 69. 

Miller, Lt. T. E., 8th. Batt., 269. 

Miner, Cpl. H G. B., 58th. Batt, 43. 

Mitchell, Capt. C. N., 4th. Batt., C.E., 
302. 

Mitchell, Capt. J., 10th. Batt, 244. 

Moeuvres, 171, 192-3, 208, 214, 220. 

Molliens-Vidame, Canadian Corps H.Q. 
at, 19. 

Monash, Lt-Gen. Sir J., G.O.C., Austra 
lian Corps, 35, 67. 

Monchy-le-Preux, 109, 112, 121, 124, 127, 
130, 143, 211. 

Mons, 117, 350, 376-382; capture of 
city and deliverers welcomed, 383- 
7, 392-3 jcivic proclamation, 387-8 ; 
entry of Corps Commander, 395; 
service of thanksgiving, 398-9; 
Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 405. 

Mons Road, The, 375, 391-4. 

Mont Houy, 355-364. 

Mont St. Eloi, 118. 

Morenchies, 250, 255, 258, 261. 

Morgan, Capt., 22nd. Batt., 140. 

Morrison, Maj.-Gen. E. W. B., G.O.C, 
Canadian Royal Artillery, 39, 169, 
259, 260. 



INDEX 



419 



Mounted Rifles, Canadian, see Infantry. Palluel, 170, 331. 

8th, Brigade. Panet, Brig.-Gen. H. A., G.O.C., 2nd. 
Macdonell, Maj.-Gen. Sir Archibald Q, Canadian Divisional Artillery, 39, 

G.O.C., 1st. Canadian Division, 35, 124. 

145, 148, 221, 229, 406. Pan-Germanic Artillery Brigades, 51. 

MacGillivray, Father R., Chaplain, 5th. Parvillers, 57, 61, 64, 88, 93. 

C.I.B., 79. Paterson, Brig.-Gen. R. W., G.O.C., 
MacGregor, Capt. J., 2nd. C.M.R., 269. Canadian Cavalry Brigade, 71-3. 

MacKnight, Lt. J., 72nd. Batt, 247. Pearkes, Lt-Col. G. R., 116th. Batt., 187, 
McBrien, Brig.-Gen. J. H., G.O.C., 12th. 261. 

C.I.B., 44, 58, 151, 154, 248. Peck, Lt-Col. C. W., 16th. Batt., 161-2. 

McCuaig, Brig.-Gen. G. E., G.O.C., 4th. Pelves, 125, 129, 134. 

C.I.B., 186, 303, 333. Pernes, Canadian Corps, H.Q. at, 10. 

McDermott, Maj., 54th. Batt., 223. Petit Parisien, on General Currie, 376. 

McDonald, Lt.-Col., Lord Strathcona s Phinney, Lt. H. H., 1st. Battery, C.F.A., 

Horse, 71. 217. 

McEwan, Capt. H. B., Medical Officer, Pilgrim s Rest, 221, 225. 

5th. C.M.R., 128. Poilu, The, see Characteristics of French 
McKenzie, Lt.-Col. A. E. G., 26th. Batt., Soldier. 

49, 138. Pont d Aire, 250, 261, 302. 

McLaughlin, Lt.-Col. L. T., 2nd. Batt, Post Office, Canadian Corps, 191. 

165. Poteau, Canadian Corps enters Germany 
McNaughton, Lt.-Col. A. G. L., Counter- at, 406. 

Battery Officer, Canadian Corps, Preston, Lt. E. M., 87th. Batt., 225. 

40. Prince Arthur of Connaught, 390. 

McQuarrie, Capt., 54th. Batt., 223, Prince of Wales, Staff Officer, Canadian 

Corps H.Q., 319-320, 350, 390 398. 

N. C. O s, 94. 189-191. Prisoners and guns captured by Allied 
Neuville St. Remy, 203, 221, 246, 253. Armies, 402-3. 

Neuville Vitasse, Canadian Corps H.Q. Proville, 249, 300. 

at, 120, 122, 125, 176, 210, 319. 

Newfoundland Regiment, 113. Quarry Wood, 193. 

Nicholson, Father J., Chaplain, 5th. Queant, Canadian Corps H. Q. at, 150, 

C.M.R., 128. 157, 319, 325. 

No Man s Land, 175-180, 211, 270, 325, Quievrain, 375, 378, 392. 

Noyelle Vion Canadian Corps H.Q. at, Quievrechain, 375, 377, 391, 392. 

Nunnef Ptfc.Tp, 38th. Batt., 154. Raillen^ourt, 194-5, 220, 225, 233, 240, 

Odium, Brig.-Gen. V. W., G.O.C., llth. Railway Troops, Canadian, 53, 336, 342, 

C.I.B., 44, 52, 154, 169, 220, 261, 374. 

352 377. Raismes, Forest of, 352, 356. 

Oisy-le-Verger, 164, 171, 172, 194, 203, Ralston, Lt.-Col. J. L., 85th. Batt., 248. 

214, 220, 236. Ramillies, 250, 253, 255, 261, 303. 

Ordnance Corps, Canadian, 39, 60. Rawlinson, General Sir Henry, G.O.C., 
Orange Hill, 17, 109, 112, 127, 128, 132. Fourth Army, 17. 

Ormond, Brig.-Gen. D. M., 9th. C.I.B., Rayfield, Cpl. W. L., 7th. Batt., 162. 

40 135 241. R e< l Cross, Canadian, 374. 

Regimental Officers, Canadian Corps, 82. 
Paget, Corp. W., 10th. Batt., 163. 392-3. 

Paillencourt, 250, 259, 308, 335. Remy, 129, 145. 



420 



CANADA S HUNDRED DAYS 



Rennie, Brig.-Gen. R., G.O.C., 4th. 

C.I.B., 48, 67, 126, 140, 186, 303. 
Rhine, 117, 401, 406-7. 
Rhonelle, River, 359, 361. 
Riley, Lt.-Col. H. J., 27th. Batt, 313. 
Rosieres, 54, 57. 
Ross, Brig.- Gen. A., G.O.C., 6th. C.I.B., 

303, 333. 
Ross, Brig.-Gen. J. M., 5th. C.I.B., 49, 

56, 137; G.O.C., 10th. C.I.B., 362, 

363. 

Routier, Maj., 22nd. Batt, 139. 
Rouvroy-en-Santerre, 54. 
Roy, Maj., 22nd. Batt., 139. 
Royal Air Force, 29, 35, 59, 173-4, 216, 

247. 

Royal Canadian Dragoons, see Cavalry. 
Roye, Amiens-Roye Road, 34, 38, 54, 58, 

61, 73, 78, 98, 116. 
Rumaucourt, 164, 168. 
Rutherford, Lt. C. S., 5th. C.M.R., 128. 

Sailly, 195, 240, 242. 
Sains-lez-Marquion, 168, 171, 193-4, 214, 

233. 
Sancourt, 195, 221-2, 245, 247, 250-1, 253, 

303. 

Santerre Plateau, 70. 
Sart Wood, 128, 132. 
Sauchy-Cauchy, 192. 
Sauchy-Lestree, 194-5, 229, 236. 
Saudemont, 164, 168. 
Scarpe, River, 25, 112, 122, 124, 145, 326, 

328. 
Scheldt River and Canal, 25, 116, 194, 

201, 220, 240, 249, 258, 300, 307, 

332, 352, 355-6, 359, 375, 378. 
Scott, Lt.-Col. Canon, Senior Chaplain, 

1st. C.I.D., 271. 
Sensee, River, 25, 129, 131, 134, 141, 146, 

155, 185, 249, 326-7, 330, 332. 
Signals, Canadian Corps, 178, 218, 335, 

345-7. 

Somme, Battle of, see Amiens. 
Spall, Sergt. R., P.P.L.L, 65. 
Staff, Canadian Corps, 21, 345, 401. 
St. Eloi, Mont, 118. 
Stephenson, Lt.-Col., Fort Garry Horse, 

71. 
Stewart, Lt.-Col. C. J. T., P.P.L.L, 64, 

242. 



Stewart, Brig.-Gen. J. S., G.O.C., 3rd. 
Canadian Divisional Artillery, 39, 
219. 

St. Olle, 194, 240, 246. 

Strachan, Maj., Fort Garry Horse, 71. 

Strathcona s Horse, Lord, see Cavalry. 

Straubenzee, Lt.-Col. Van, Royal Cana 
dian Dragoons, 71. 

St. Servin s Farm, 143, 145. 

Tactics : Employment of Cavalry in 
modern warfare, 74-5 ; change 
from trench to open warfare, 89, 
195-200 ; value of tanks, 89-93 ; en 
emy battle tactics, 276-9. 

Tait, Lt J. E., 78th. Batt., 83. 

Tanks, 25, 28, 33, 35, 44, 46, 48-9, 53, 
55, 59, 80, 156-7, 159, 161, 197, 
203, 232-3, 251, 282, 312, 321-2; 
tactical value of, 89-93, 123. 

Thacker, Brig.-Gen. H. C., G.O.C., 1st. 
Canadian Divisional Artillery, 39, 
144. 

Thiant, 356, 359. 

Thompson, Lt.-Col. C.R.E., 75th. Batt, 
224, 258. 

Thun 1 Eveque, 307, 308. 

Thun St. Martin, 301, 307, 308. 

Tilloy, 250, 253, 255-7, 299. 

Times, London, see London Times. 

Tremblay, Brig.-Gen. T. L., G.O.C., 5th. 
C.I.B., 56, 137, 301. 

Trinquis, River, 146, 165, 328, 332. 

Tudor, Lt-Col. L. R. O., 5th. Batt, 153. 

Tuxford, Brig.-Gen. G. S., G.O.C., 3rd. 
C.I.B., 46, 145, 237, 263, 332. 

Upton Wood, 143-4, 147-9, 156. 
Urquhart, Lt-Col. H. M., 43rd. Batt., 
67. 

Valenciennes, 117, 343; Canadian Corps 
H.Q.at, 350; difficulties of position, 
359-360; failure of XXII Corps, 
357, 360-1; successful attack by 
Canadian Corps, 363-9; dire state 
of population, 416; public square 
named Place du Canada, 370; 
President Poincare congratulates 
Canadian Corps on delivery of 
city, 390; armistice celebrated at, 
394. 



INDEX 



421 



Vanier, Maj., 22nd. Batt, 139. 

Vert Wood, 128, 132, 135. 

Veterinary Corps, Canadian, 60. 

Vielsalm, Canadian Corps H.Q. at, 406. 

Villers-Bretonneux, 28, 39. 

Villers-lez-Cagnicourt, 146-7, 157, 159, 
162, 170. 

Vimy Ridge: Line holds firm, 1, 113; 
its importance for defense of 
French collieries, 6-8; Battle of, 
compared with Amiens, Arras and 
Cambrai, 402. 

Vis-en-Artois, Vis-en-Artois Switch, 131, 
141, 143-7, 164. 

Vrely, 54, 56. 



Warvillers, 54. 

Watson, Maj. -Gen. Sir David, G.O.C., 
4th. C.I.D., 35, 153, 221 350. 

Weaver, Capt. K., 4th. Batt., Canadian 
Machine-Gun Corps, 243. 

Webber, Brig.-Gen. N. W., B.G.G.S. 
Canadian Corps, 362, 401. 

West Front, Situation on the, 1-5. 

White, Ueut. 28th. Batt, 311. 

Willets, Lt.-Col. C. R. E., Royal Cana 
dian Regiment, 271. 

Wyse, Lt.-Col. J., 25th. Batt., 50, 138. 

Y. M. C. A., 40, 191, 287. 

Young, Pte. J. F., 87th. Batt., 166. 



Walker, Lt.-Col. W. K., 1st. C.M.M.G. Zed Wood, 61, 67, 73, 98. 

Brigade, 9. Zengal, Sergt. D., 5th. Batt., 55. 

Wancourt, 124, 125, 154. 



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