History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Ancre Heights

Ancre Heights was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in the fighting for the Ancre Heights in October 1916, one of the battles on the Western Front during the First World War.

Background

The Allies had spent 1915 unprofitably, and despite numerical superiority, had been unable to achieve a decisive result in the field. By the end of the year, with German success in Russia and Austria successful in Serbia, the Allies had decided that simultaneous offensives on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts would be the key to victory. The French and British agreed to launch a simultaneous offensive on the Somme in the middle of 1916. The Germans, however, struck first, at Verdun, and by by 1916 the British offensive on the Somme was a desperate bid to relieve pressure from the hard-pressed French.

July and August 1916 were quiet months for the Canadians in France. While the British Army bled in order to relieve the French (as is well known, the first day of the Somme offensive on 1 July 1916 was inauspicious to say the least, with 57,000 killed or wounded making for the worst single-day loss in the history of the British Army.)1 The scale of the losses was not interpreted as a reason to call off further operations on the Somme. The Battle of Albert continued for twelve days. Other operations followed, in which slow advances with gains of only hundreds of yards were measured.

Allied Offensive 1916

Somme, 1916 – Albert (Beaumont Hamel), 1916 – Bazentin – Pozières – Flers-CourceletteThiepval – Le Transloy –
Ancre HeightsAncre, 1916

Following the actions at Flers-Courcelette and Thiepval, some of the goals of the summer offensive were being met. Pressure on the French at Verdun had been relieved, the Allies had regained strategic initiative, and German manpower and morale had been tested sorely during September.

With the onset of autumn, however, the Somme offensive would ultimately prove abortive. Nevertheless, a new way to fight a big battle that would defeat the whole enemy army - not in the open but along the defensive lines where he was encamped - was emerging from the ruins of the old one. Eventually, Foch would use it to end the damned war.2

On 29 September 1916 the British commander-in-chief, General Haig, instructed the 4th Army, 3rd Army and Reserve Army to begin preparatory operations for a major attack to be launched by 12 October, heralding the renewal of the offensive that had begun so inauspiciously on 1 July. Urged by General Joffre to attack all the way to Bapaume, a more limited objective about two miles short was selected, giving an average advance of just two miles across the front of the 4th Army and Reserve Army, extending from Le Transloy and Beaulencourt on the Péronne-Bapaume road, across the valley of the upper Ancre to Gommecourt, lying in the sector of the 3rd Army. The 4th Army's immediate targets gave their operations the name the Battle of the Transloy Ridges: they aimed at a spur covering the two villages on the Bapaume road. For the Reserve Army though, their operations were eventually known as the Battle of the Ancre Heights. The action was to be a two-part offensive, first attacking north from the Thiepval Ridge to take Pys, Grandcourt, Irles and Miraumont, and then on the other side of the Ancre River, lying in the Beaumont Hamel sector, drive east on a frontage of three miles to converge on Miraumont.

The Canadian Corps was once again to assist the British, specifically by taking the Regina Trench and secure a jumping-off place for their northern drive. While artillery fire on the feature had intensified, its location just over the crest of the spur made it difficult for Allied guns to hit and German concertina wire had been laid in quantity. The wire was mostly uncut, and the garrison of the trench consisted of fresh naval troops from a Marine Infantry Brigade deployed at the end of September. Their positions had a deep ravine to the rear and sunken roads offering covered supply and reinforcement routes. On the Canadian right, the 360th and 361st Infantry Regiments of the German 4th Replacement Division were deployed. The 2nd Canadian Division was ordered to delay the attack until it had a "reasonable chance of getting in" but warned that they would "have to stay in until it has completed it." The 5th Brigade was assigned its objectives on 29 September. The 3rd Division was tasked to attack with one brigade, and the 4th Brigade was given a subsidiary task of advancing alongside the 4th Army's left flanking division as they too made an attack.3


click to enlarge

Regina Trench: Canadian Corps Attack on 1 October

The first attack on Regina Trench went forward at 3:15 p.m. on 1 October in a drizzling rain. The attack started poorly when Allied shells fell short all along the line. The 8th Brigade attacked obliquely across the Grandcourt road with the 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles. The 4th CMR were to establish a block on the extreme left to seal off Regina Trench from German counter-attacks from the west. Both battalions, however, were met with heavy machine gun fire as soon as they mounted the parapet of their own trenches. Uncut German wire was a major hindrance to the advance, and one company was virtually eliminated between the opposing trenches. Part of one company reached Regina Trench but was overwhelmed and destroyed. The left forward company of the 5th CMR managed to reach the objective also, established a blocking position, but were driven out early on the morning of 2 October by continuous counter-attacks. Another assault company was impeded by wire and machine gun fire and recorded only 15 survivors, the rest either killed or captured.


click to enlarge

The 5th Brigade attacked on a 1200-yard front, through both the Kenora Trench system and into the main Regina Trench positions. Due to depleted strength from previous actions, their commander, Brigadier-General A.H. Macdonell, was compelled to use three assault battalions (24th, 25th and 22nd), with the 26th Battalion in support. His only reserve was thus the 27th Battalion of the 6th Brigade, previously hard-hit and who had companies detailed out to support the 24th and 25th Battalions. The 22nd Battalion (Van-Doos) had the longest advance to make, nearly half a mile, and planned to attack in three waves of 80 men, each wave extended to five-yards' interval. The battalion advanced a quarter mile before shell and small arms fire turned heavy, and the realization struck that the German wire had not been touched. Fewer than 50 men reached the objective, where it was impossible to reinforce them. The survivors were compelled to retreat after a close-quarters fight with bayonets and grenades. The 25th Battalion had even fewer men, just 200 officers and men and 12 machine guns, including weapons from the Brigade M.G. unit. The two leading waves were ordered past Kenora Trench to the final objective, but only thirty made it past the enemy fire that swept No Man's Land to reach the German wire in front of Regina Trench. They took cover in shell holes and ditches and waited for night fall before falling back to Kenora Trench, where the follow-up company had secured a stretch to within 140 yards of the junction with the main position. Over half the 25th Battalion's assault force had become casualties. On the left of the 5th Brigade, the 24th Battalion attacked with a final objective of 300 yards of Regina Trench where it joined with Kenora Trench. One company managed to achieve the objective, but their flank was left open by the failure of the 8th Brigade to their left, and they were destroyed by bombing parties of German Marines counter-attacking eastward along the trench. More successful was the establishment of a double block at the junction of Regina and Kenora Trenches fifty yards wide, preventing the Germans from infiltrating into the newly-gained sections of Kenora Trench.

The 4th Brigade advanced 400 yards to the north-east of Courcelette, facing intermittent machine gun fire, to dig in level with the 4th Army's left flank. The 5th Brigade was relieved by the 6th Brigade early on 2 October. The former had entered the line on 27 September with a trench strength of 1,717 officers and other ranks, and was leaving the trenches with just 773.5

The Germans opposite were, for the time being, a different story:

By contrast, the Marine Infantry Brigade, having gained experience in Flanders, gave a good account of itself when defending Regina Trench. It held up Reserve Army's right wing for much of October, indicating that the arrival of a fresh formation with high morale and good discipline could be locally significant. But it paid a heavy cost. When paraded in front of the Kaiser after coming out of the line, the brigade could muster only two composite battalions from the nine that had gone into battle.6

Further operations were hampered by poor weather for a week, and the Army commander let General Byng choose the Canadian Corps' date for taking Regina Trench so long as the corps was set to attack Pys on 11 October in time for a proposed three-army offensive. Meanwhile, the Corps handed their left brigade sector to the British 2nd Corps, and the 1st Canadian Division relieved the 2nd Canadian Division. All the while, preparation for a renewed attack were made in the rain and mud as advanced posts were connected to create a new jump-off line, some as close as 300 yards to Regina Trench. Artillery fire was kept up on the German trenches and barbed wire, but German wiring parties went out at night with loose concertina to fill in the gaps made by Allied shell fire.

Objectives were set out slightly east of those of the 1 October attack, including a two-mile stretch of Regina Trench beginning 500 yards west of the junction with Kenora Trench and extending to the Quadrilateral, an intersection of a double row of trenches opposite the 4th Army's left flank with a dual trench system of the former German Third Position.

Regina Trench: Canadian Corps Attack on 8 October

The new Canadian assault stepped off in darkness at 4:50 a.m. into a cold rainfall. The 1st Brigade had the right of the line, with the 3rd Brigade to their left, followed down the line by the 9th and 7th Brigades of the 3rd Canadian Division, each putting two battalions into the attack. The 4th Battalion went into the assault on the extreme eastern flank with the 3rd Battalion on its left. They followed a creeping barrage in four waves set at 75 yards distance. The 3rd easily made its initial objective, Regina Trench while the 4th was held up by the German wire. The 3rd pushed on to its final objective in the Quadrilateral. To the west, two forward waves of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) were met by small arms fire and not a man was able to pass.7

A few minutes before Zero Hour - 0450 hours - the artillery on both sides ceased and an unnatural quiet settled over No Man's Land. Then, precisely at Zero Hour, the Canadian Corps guns spoke again and unleashed the creeping barrage.

The guns firing signalled the Canadian Scottish to stand and advance. Each company's platoons went forward in two waves spaced 50 yards apart, so the battalion advanced in four orderly lines. Major Lynch, Captain David Bell, (Sergeant Major) Arden Mackie, and No. 4 Company's piper James Richardson walked into the open and watched the shells fall for a couple of minutes. Then Lynch, Mackie, and the piper bade Bell adieu for he was to lead the company's second line. Lynch blew his whistle and the three men walked ahead of the leading line with Richardson to Lynch's left, Mackie his right.

Lynch had planned to leave Richardson behind, thinking a piper unnecessary for a night assault. But the twenty-year-old had demanded to be paraded before (commanding officer) Lt.-Col. Leckie and begged to accompany the troops. Leckie had overruled Lynch.

The ground free of craters, the battalions were able to keep their lines properly dressed. Halfway to Regina Trench Mackie asked Richardson why he was not playing the pipes. Richardson replies he was to await Lynch's order. On they went, taking little German fire and men began to hope their luck might hold. Then they passed over the crest of the hill and began descending toward the wire. With a sense of dread Mackie "was astonished to see it was not cut."

...The company was completely bunched in front of the wire. Some men threw bombs toward the German trench while others tried to beat down the wooden stakes supporting the wire with their rifle butts and then trample it into the mud. The German grenades generally fell short as they were throwing uphill, but their rifle fire was "deadly accurate." Casualties mounted. Unless something were to be done quickly, Mackie realized that No. 4 Company would be wiped out.

Suddenly Richardson turned to the sergeant. "Wull I gie them wund?" he asked calmly. "Aye mon, gie 'em wind," Mackie barked back. Coolly, the young smooth-faced soldier marched back and forth in front of the wire, playing the pipes while a storm of fire swirled past him on eitherside. "The effect was instantaneous," reads his Victoria Cross commendation. "Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire with such fury and determination that the obstacle was overcome and the positions captured."8

About 100 of the Canadian Scottish made it into Regina Trench. Richardson's bravery had been instrumental in galvanizing the battalion but he went missing later in the day when he went to retrieve his bagpipes from No Man's Land, having set them down to join the bombing parties and then help evacuate the wounded. He was presumed killed and awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously in October 1918.9

For the 13th Battalion, on the left of the 16th, it was the same story of all but impassable wire. As elsewhere along the front, our barrage helped the attackers across most of no man's land relatively unmolested, but when it had passed on, the Germans, taking advantage of their concave front in the 3rd Brigade's sector, swept the wire with such deadly fire from the flanks that only a small party of the 13th reached the objective. At 7:00 a.m., however, contact aeroplanes sent up to observe the progress of the battle erroneously reported that the 1st Division was on its whole objective.10

Artillery and machine guns assisted the 16th Battalion in breaking up a German counter-attack and countering threats to the 1st Brigade, but by mid-afternoon, enemy troops had moved up in force from trenches leading into the Quadrilateral from north-east and north-west using a heavy barrage as cover. With its supply of grenades used up, the 1st Brigade was eventually forced to retreat to its start line, and the counter-attack spread across the front. The remnants of the 3rd Brigade advance clinging to Regina Trench also had to withdraw due to casualties and the expenditure of their grenades.

In the 3rd Division sector, the 9th Brigade assaulted with the 43rd and 58th Battalions and also found the wire almost entirely intact, and what gaps existed were often missed in the early morning darkness. Some small groups on the flanks of the attacks managed to make their way into Regina Trench, but German counter-attacks outnumbered and overwhelmed them. Tiny numbers survived to make it back to the jump-off trenches, and brigade casualties for the day were 34 officers and 907 other ranks.

The 7th Brigade attacked on the extreme left of the Canadian Corps and The Royal Canadian Regiment managed to find the German wire well cut, putting two companies into Regina Trench east of the junction with Kenora Trench, taking several prisoners from a number of deep dugouts, and moving a party 150 yard up the West Miramount Road. Bombing parties started moving west down Regina Trench but attempts to reinforce the RCR were impeded by heavy machine gun fire, and by 9:00 a.m. the Royal Canadians were evicted, having beaten off three counter-attacks. To their left, half the assault companies of the 49th Battalion had lost direction and wound up in the German end of Kenora Trench and the remained tangled up short of the objective despite well gapped wire. German positions on the objective had not been touched by artillery and the garrison remained strong and active, meeting the 49th with small arms and grenades, particularly from the Kenora junction which maintained an active strongpoint which enfiladed its front with heavy machine gun fire.

At last light, all the survivors of the 1st and 3rd Division's assault battalions had returned to their original starting positions, the Canadian Corps having suffered 1,364 casualties during the day, or more than double that of 1 October. The Army Commander called for a full report from the Canadian Corps to explain the defeat. The Canadian divisional commanders noted that the uncut wire had played a strong role, and the artillerymen conceded the difficulties of cutting wire with shrapnel shells.

There had been a tendency for patrols to overemphasize the effect of our guns on the wire, and as we have seen, the Germans were prompt to repair any breaches. More important (though this was given little prominence in post-operation reports) was the failure of the artillery to destroy or even substantially damage Regina Trench. In the Somme fighting heavy batteries did not attain the high accuracy of fire on unseen targets that came in later battles, and although there was no serious shortage of howitzer ammunition, the expenditure seems frugal when compared with what was used in subsequent operations. Instructions issued by the Corps G.O.C. Royal Artillery had allotted "at least 1 round Heavy or 2 of Medium Howitzer per yard of trench", and the 4.5s of the divisional artilleries (allowed 1000 rounds per division), having completed their other tasks were to expend "any surplus on Regina Trench". After the fiasco of 8 October, however, orders for the deliberate destruction of Regina Trench and the Quadrilateral specified "No limit to number of rounds fired on each spot except that each section of trench must be completely obliterated". And on 14 October the war diary of the Canadian Corps Heavy Artillery reported, "unable without putting guns out of action to fire amount of ammunition received." (The expenditure by the mediums and heavies on that day, principally against Regina and Courcelette Trenches, was 5700 rounds, compared with a maximum of 3300 rounds fired on any day up to and including the 8th.) The situation was well summed up by the O.C. 49th Battalion (Lt.-Col. W.A. Griesbach):

[The wire] was considered to be passable upon the assumption that the enemy trench had been well battered in and that the garrison had been severely shocked. With the enemy trench in being and the enemy garrison unshocked, the flimsiest wire constitutes an impassable obstacle.

Prevented by the wire from completing a frontal assault overland the troops had sought to bomb their way laterally along the German trench system. This entailed a heavy expenditure of grenades and left the Canadians with few to meet the enemy's counter-attacks. Additional supplies could not be brought forward in daylight save through communication trenches; but communication trenches could not be dug before nightfall. For this reason General Currie felt that zero hour had been too early: "If the attack had been delivered any time after midday I believe we would be there [on the objective] yet." He noted too that though the attacking troops had fought with valour and determination, many were inexperienced reinforcements whose training, especially with grenades, was inadequate, and he observed, "When drafts come to this country they should be already trained."11

It was at this juncture that the Canadian Corps left the Somme, though the 4th Canadian Division, relatively newly arrived in France, would go into the line as part of the British formations in the same sector the Corps was vacating, and the struggle to gain Regina Trench would go on.

Battle Honours

The Battle Honour "Ancre Heights" was awarded to units for participation in these actions.

Notes

  1. Goodspeed, D.J. The Armed Forces of Canada, 1867-1967: A Century of Achievement (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1967) p.39

  2. Philpott, William Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme (Little, Brown, London, UK, 2009) ISBN 978-0-349-12004-1 p.384

  3. Nicholson, Gerald W.L. Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919 (Queen's Printer Ottawa, ON, 1964)

  4. Nicholson, Ibid

  5. Nicholson, Ibid

  6. Philpott, Ibid, p.402

  7. Nicholson, Ibid

  8. Zuehlke, Mark. Brave Battalion: The Remarkable Saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World War (John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd., Mississauga, ON, 2008) ISBN 978-0-470-15416-8 pp.138-139

  9. Ibid, p.140

  10. Nicholson, Ibid, p.163

  11. Ibid, pp.164-165


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