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

 

Allied Offensive 1916
 

As 1916 began, the war situation offered little encouragement for the Allies. Costly offensives in Artois and Champagne yielded little gains while German offensive actions at Ypres reduced the salient considerably. Things were no better on the other fronts, where Italy (who did not declare war on Germany until August 1916) managed only minor victories over the Austrians while the Russians had been forced back over 200 miles east of Warsaw, encouraging Bulgaria to join the Central Powers and joining in an offensive against Serbia and Montenegro. The ill-fated Gallipoli campaign had resulted in no strategic successes (the 1st Newfoundland Regiment formed part of the rearguard during the evacuation of the Dardanelles) while the Suez Canal and Baghdad both faced enemy threats in the Middle East. The only major British success on land had come in German South-West Africa in July 1915. Lacking strategic direction and a unified war effort, the Allies were unable to use their superiority at sea or their greater numbers to advantage, while the enemy continued to enjoy the advantage of interior lines and an ability to transfer forces from one front to another with relative ease.1

The need for a comprehensive Allied war policy and plan was identified as early as mid-1915 when French General Joseph Jacques Joffre, commander-in-chief of the French Army, called a conference of Allied commanders and urged offensive action against the Austro-German alliance. No immediate policy resulted, but a meeting of the British and French Prime Ministers in November 1915 produced a committee to coordinate activities. Another military conference at Joffre's Chantilly headquarters in December 1915 agreed that decisive military results would only be achieved in Russia, the Western Front, and Italy. It was agreed that simultaneous offensives in all three with maximum use of men and materiel would be necessary to prevent the enemy from redistributing reserves. A target date of March 1916 was set, and it was further agreed that secondary theatres would utilize only minimum forces with existing manpower.2

Western Front

Trench Warfare: 1914-1916
Allied Offensive: 1916
Allied Offensives: 1917
German Offensive: 1918
Advance to Victory: 1918


The enemy was conversely preparing to treat the Eastern Front as a secondary theatre in 1916, and there were disagreements between the General Staffs of the Austro-Hungarian and German armies as to the relative importance of the Western Front and Italian Theatre. Arguments about troop levels in the various theatres led to a disjointed war effort.

In the first seven months of 1916, five major offensives took place on the European fronts:

  • the attack on Verdun by German troops opened on 21 February 1916 on the Western Front

  • two Austro-Hungarian armies attacked South Tyrol on 14 May 1916

Intended to bleed French forces, neither offensive achieved their objectives though both hampered Allied operations and impacted the timing of same.

The Allied Powers had agreed at the Second Chantilly Conference that each would stand ready to repel any offensive against its own front with its own resources, and that the others would assist to the fullest extent the one attacked. Now these new enemy blows brought French and Italian appeals for the British and the Russians, respectively, to strike ahead of schedule. Even before the Verdun offensive Joffre had warned the British Commander-in-Chief (since 19 December 1915, Sir Douglas Haig) that the French armies, which had lost nearly two million men in the offensives of 1914 and 1915, were not capable of making large-scale attacks except to exploit British success. He wanted the British Expeditionary Force to undertake preparatory "wearing down" offensives, whereas Sir Douglas advocated that the French and British forces should attack simultaneously. On 14 February the two commanders reached a compromise (Haig being under instructions to cooperate unless to do so would endanger his armies). Until the French were ready to launch a major attack, the B.E.F.'s operations would be no more extensive than were required to maintain the initiative. After mid-June limited attacks would be made in the Ypres-La Bassée areas; and about 1 July the British and French forces would join in a full-scale offensive astride the Somme.3

Allied Offensive 1916

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

 

A Russian offensive began on 4 June 1916, and four armies attacked  on a three hundred mile front ranging from the Romanian border to the Pripet Marshes, resulting in their greatest contribution to the Allied cause for the entire war. Five Austrian armies were driven back between 20 and 30 miles and 450,000 prisoners were taken along with over 400 guns.

Front Nationality Divisions Total
Western Front France 95 150
British 49
Belgian 6
Germany 125 125
Eastern Front Russia 141 141
Austrian 42 90
Germany 48
Italian Front Italian 53 53
Austrian 35 35
Salonika Front Allied 18 18
Bulgarian 12 16
Other Central Powers 4

Intelligence reports at the end of May 1916 showed an Allied numerical superiority on all fronts of over 100 divisions, broken down as above. In terms of battalions, the superiority may have appeared greater as Russian divisions had sixteen compared to the German nine, though again the interior lines enjoyed by German and Austrian forces permitted them to redeploy and concentrate much faster, and German and Austrian forces were able to inter-operate much better due to their homogeneity.

The Germans were well fitted for defensive tactics, on which they intended to rely - except at Verdun - in 1916. Their field defences were much stronger than those of the Allies, whose senior officers, thinking always in terms of advance, tended to treat the defensive as only a temporary measure and did little to improve their own positions. The enemy's wire formed a more formidable obstacle than the Allies'; his deep dug-outs, capable of accommodating most of his front line garrison, had no British or French counterpart; and his superiority (both in quantity and quality) in hand grenades, rifle grenades and trench mortars, far better equipped him for trench-warfare. Thus while the French and British forces sought to retain the initiative and wear down the enemy, the latter in the main continued with great industry to better his defences. Between the middle of December 1915 and the end of May 1916, British (including Canadian) forces carried out 63 raids in strengths of 10 to 200 men, of which 47 succeeded; of 33 German raids on the British front, 20 were successful.4

Prelude to the Somme - Summer in the Ypres Salient

As the British Army prepared for the great summer offensive on the Somme, Canadian divisions remained in the Ypres Salient, and in fact would continue to do so until the beginning of September 1916. They maintained a programme of "stationary but aggressive" actions including harassment of the enemy by bombardment, mining and trench raids.5 A number of changes took place including the appointment of Major-General Louis Lipsett to command the 3rd Canadian Division, replacing the fallen General Mercer.6

The 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company warned the 7th Battalion of a German mine about to be blown under The Bluff on 25 July and the battalion seized the crater before the enemy could take capture it. A trench raid on 29 July by the 19th Battalion killed or wounded approximately 50 Württembergers. Surprise was the key to success in raids. On 12 August a German company-strength attack on Hill 60 was pushed back by the 60th Battalion, holding trenches on Hill 60.

Not insignificant was the replacement at last of the Ross Rifle with the Lee Enfield. The arrival of the 3rd Division at the front had rekindled the debate about the weapon. PPCLI, raised from British veterans and originally serving with the British Army, was re-equipped with the Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) and other unit commanders were encouraging men to acquire the British-made weapon rather than the issue Ross. After further correspondence between General Alderson (commander of the Canadian Corps) and the Minister of Militia, Sam Hughes, brigade, battalion and company commanders in the 2nd and 3rd Divisions were canvassed for opinions. There was limit support of the Ross in the 2nd while the 3rd Division was unanimous in adversely reporting on the Ross. Their responses reached General Haig, commander-in-chief of the B.E.F., who on 28 May 1916 directed that the 2nd and 3rd Division be re-equipped with Lee Enfields, as the 1st Division (and Canadian Cavalry Brigade) had done the year before.7

The 4th Division re-equipped in September 1916 leaving all Canadian troops in France, save some snipers who preferred the Ross for its accuracy, armed with the Lee Enfield. While the Ross had been prone to jamming, the artillery also disliked it because it didn't fit into limber brackets designed for the SMLE, which caused the rifles to slip and foul wheel spokes during road moves. In addition to jamming, the rifles were long and awkward, striking overhead revetting frames when troops marched through trenches. Back sights were fragile and bayonets reportedly fell off during firing. When shooting over the parapet this meant they could only be retrieved by searching outside the trench after dark.8

Other changes in weaponry in the Canadian Corps included the adoption of the 3-inch Stokes mortar, replacing 3.4-inch and 4-inch weapons in the light trench mortar batteries which were reorganized. The U.S. manufactured Colt machine gun that had been on inventory since the first Canadians landed in France was replaced by the Vickers Gun which was becoming available in quantity from British sources.


Sir Sam Hughes and Staff visit captured German Trenches on Somme. August, 1916 (LAC photo)

Visits to the Canadian Corps included King George V and the Prince of Wales on 14 August, who observed operations from Scherpenberg Hill near Kemmel and watched guns of the 2nd and 3rd Division bombard the St. Eloi craters, while on 18 August the Minister of Militia and Defence, Sir Sam Hughes visited Corps Headquarters and the 3rd Division.9

As units withdrew into reserve the emphasis was on more advanced training, with new techniques being practised. Demonstrations in artillery-infantry cooperation showed how closely the barrage could be followed without incurring unnecessary casualties. This was the period when cooperation between the air and infantry at last reached a practical stage. There were exercises with the Royal Flying Corps* based on the newly adopted system of "contact patrol". The attacking infantry carried flares, mirrors and special signalling panels, and as they advanced they signalled their positions to aircraft assigned solely to tactical observation. The information thus received was then dropped at formation headquarters or sent back by wireless.

A worthwhile administrative development about this time provided for a supply of reinforcements to be held in close proximity to the fighting units, besides giving reinforcements a less abrupt introduction into active operations. Hitherto replacements for Canadian field units had arrived direct from the Base Depot at Le Havre. Early in August, however, each division was allotted an "Entrenching Battalion"-an advanced reinforcement unit to which infantry and engineer reinforcements were posted pending their assignment to a battalion or field company. During their stay in the Entrenching Battalion personnel were employed in the construction and repair of trenches and roads and in similar maintenance duties. When the 4th Division reached the Corps area in mid-August it followed the pattern set by the 1st Division in attaching its brigades to a division in the line for seven days' training in trench warfare. There was special emphasis on instruction in anti-gas measures, and each battalion of the 4th Division was put through a gas cloud.10

In August 1916, after the Corps moved from Flanders to the Somme front, formations and units adopted identifying patches on their uniforms.11

A rectangular patch, sewn on the upper sleeve, denoted the division by its colour-red for the 1st Division, dark blue for the 2nd, black (later changed to French grey) for the 3rd and green for the 4th. It was surmounted by a smaller patch the colour of which indicated the wearer's brigade (in order in each division, green, red, blue), and the shape (circle, semi-circle, triangle or square) his battalion (first, second, third or fourth) within the brigade. Divisional troops wore the divisional patch only or markings peculiar to their particular service.12

The Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme marked a turning point in the First World War for armies on both sides of the line in many respects. Not only was it the mid-point of the war in purely chronological terms, beginning 23 months from the start of the war, and ending 24 months from the end of the war, but it also saw a shift in initiative as the British and other Empire troops gained experience and expertise in offensive actions, learning from each operation and incorporating new methods, tactics and equipment. The first day of the Somme marked the low point of the British Army for the war but from the battle came a steady stream of technological and tactical advances that created a competent and effective army schooled in new ways of doing battle, with the Canadian Corps numbering among its finest practitioners. The Germans, too, learned new defensive methods and doctrines which made their armies more efficient but ensured the war would last even longer.

The British offensive on the Somme had no specific geographic purpose, but rather three general objectives:

  • to relieve pressure on French armies at Verdun

  • to inflict heavy loss on the Germans

  • to aid allies on other fronts by preventing the transfer of German forces from the Western Front

There was also the hope that critics of Allied strategy in the west, who advocated for offensives in more distant theatres, might be silenced by a successful offensive on the Western Front. Haig found himself still subordinate to Joffre as to deciding the time and place of the offensive and though he preferred the Messines area, Joffre was determined to have action in the Somme despite more limited strategic possibilities. The region offered the only junction of French and British forces.

Haig also preferred to wait until August 15th to bring men, ammunition and the newly created tanks into battle, but Joffre insisted in a meeting in late May that the French Army would "cease to exist" if the British remained passive that long and a date of 1 July was set. Joffre hoped to include two French Armies in the initial frontal assault, with one British Army alongside, attacking on a sixty-mile front. However:

...the costly defence of Verdun, coming on top of the staggering French losses in the first two years of war, was to reduce France's initial participation to a single army of only eight divisions. The weight of the offensive would thus be borne by the British, whose contribution was increased to an army and a corps, involving 21 divisions (with eight more, five of them cavalry divisions, in G.H.Q. reserve). The area of attack was shortened to 24 miles. It extended from the Gommecourt sector, midway between Arras and the Somme, to a point four miles south of the river.13

Terrain

The Somme River flows west, between Peronne and Amiens through a broad valley. To the south lay flat country and to the north rolling chalk downs with numerous streams and occasional smaller streams. The most prominent terrain feature on the battlefield was the Pozières ridge, a low feature running over eight miles from Thiepval-Ginchy-Morval, in places 500 feet above sea level. It dominated the uplands to the north and east and formed the watershed between the Somme River and the Ancre River, tributary of the Somme. The village of Pozières, from which the ridge received its name, lay on the highest part of the crest along the Amiens-Cambrai road. Throughout the battle area there were few obstacles to the movement of troops other than a few wooded areas and the marshlands associated with the Somme and Ancre Rivers.

Situation

At the end of June 1916 the front line in the Somme sector ran south from Gommecourt, across the Amiens-Cambrai road, then three miles south it turned east for three miles to skirt the southern slopes of the Thiepval-Morval ridge before turning south again to loop through the flood-bed of the Somme near Maricourt.

The Germans were still using a rigid defensive strategy in accordance with General Falkenhayn's instructions. Front positions wee strongly garrisoned with the bulk of front-line regiments (the equivalent of British and Canadian brigades) within 1,000 yards of No Man's Land. In July 1916 it was customary for a front-line German regiment to have two battalions in the first trench system, with a third battalion divided between intermediate strongpoints, and a Second Position. In the Somme sector, the German front line was protected by two belts of wire thirty yards wide. Three trenches comprised the German front-line, each about 150 yards apart, with the first trench housing sentry groups, the second holding the front-line garrison, and the third local supports. About 1,000 yards behind the front battle positions was an intermediate line of strongpoints. Between 2,000 and 5,000 yards away, the Second Position was built up along the Pozières ridge, wired in to the same degree as the forward trench system. Both systems also had dug-outs 20-30 feet deep capable of housing 25 men and proof against artillery fire.

The French 6th Army was scheduled to attack to the right of the new British 4th Army, driving six divisions over a six-mile front, two north of the Somme and four south. The main assault on the Somme front would come from the British on a sixteen-mile front, with the 4th Army's thirteen assault divisions attacking and five divisions remaining in reserve. A corps of three divisions from the British 3rd Army to the left would make a subsidiary attack on Gommecourt to pin German forces down and draw away enemy reserves. As a deception, the British 1st, 2nd and 3rd Armies to the north of the 4th all begen simulating offensive preparations on their fronts during the month of June 1916.

The Germans were not fooled, however, and the German 2nd Army, holding the sector north of the river, observed preparations for the actual attack beginning in February. By 19 June Crown Prince Rupprecht was convinced of an imminent assault on the Somme front. Troops previously withdrawn to Verdun were partially replaced and the 2nd Guard Reserve Division was inserted into the Gommecourt sector as early as 23 May. On 1 July 1916 the line north of the Somme had five and two-thirds divisions supported by 598 light artillery pieces, 246 heavy guns, and 104 aircraft.

The Royal Flying Corps "dominated the sky" over the Somme with an available 185 craft, but the British lacked heavy artillery with only 471 heavy guns and howitzers.

The objectives given by Sir Douglas Haig reflected the optimism caught from General Joffre, who was convinced that a strong initial assault on a wide front could break through both the German front line and Second Position. The Fourth Army was to seize and consolidate a position on the Pozières ridge extending from Montauban, near the boundary with the French, to Serre, two miles north of the Ancre. This meant in effect an advance of about a mile and a half on a front of 22,000 yards, and from Pozières north would involve the capture of nearly five miles of the German second line of defence.14

July 1st
see also main article: Albert (Beaumont Hamel), 1916

Following a seven-day bombardment by 1,537 guns, the attack was launched at 07:30hrs on 1 July 1916.15 The French were lightly opposed and their six divisions reached objectives "with relative ease" and comparatively light losses.16 The Germans had concentrated their forces north of the river, permitting the French such easy passage. That concentration of forces made the day that much more difficult for the British. The right wing of the 4th Army's attack managed to take the forward German positions, but elsewhere only temporary footholds could be gained, and at tremendous cost, to be lost before night fell on 1 July.

The barrage, interspersed with gas discharges, had managed to wreck German surface positions but did nothing to destroy the deep German dug-outs where troops were able to shelter and emerge unhurt as the British assault waves formed up in No Man's Land. Defective ammunition and shortage of heavy guns were blamed for the failure. British tactics, laid down by Army directive, called for linear formations and walking pace in order that the fresh recruits of the Territorial and "New Army" could be controlled by officers and NCOs. This had the unfortunate effect of making them perfect targets for German machine guns.17  All told, almost 60,000 British soldiers became casualties - the worst day in the history of the British Army.

The casualty bill alone, 19,240 men killed and another 37,646 wounded and missing, is testimony to the senselessness of the endeavour. (By way of contrast...the French had suffered 1590 casualties on 1 July.) For that reason, the elements of success of that day, in particular the triumph of the French army, more advanced in its tactical methods after its own harsh schooling in 1915, go unsung.18

The Germans suffered approximately 6,000 killed or wounded and about 2,200 taken prisoner on 1 July.19

Among the hardest hit on 1 July was the the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, practically annihilated while attacking German trenches. The regiment was serving as a component of the 29th Division at the time:

When the first two waves of the division had to reach the German line just south of Beaumont Hamel, the Newfoundlanders were ordered forward on their own. They, however, encountered serious difficulty in getting through the gaps in their own wire: the Germans had every one covered by machine-gun fire, and many of the men were killed or wounded. Those who did make it continued toward the German line, some 600 metres away. Many more were cut down in No-Man's Land, and only a resolute few got to the German wire. But by 1000 hours it was over: 310 men had been killed and 374 wounded. The Newfoundlanders had given everything they had. At the end of the day only 68 men were left.20


The positions at Beaumont Hamel have been preserved as part of Memorial Park. Visible here are the location of the support trenches on 1 July 1916 from which the Newfoundland Regiment formed up for its fateful attack. The British front line is in the middle ground of the photograph. The photo was taken from the Caribou monument in June 2014. (webmaster's photo)


Opening of Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont Hamel on 7 June 1925. The caribou, native to Newfoundland, was a symbol selected for the regimental cap badge. The statue looks out from the former starting positions on 1 July, toward the former German front line. The Rooms Provincial Archives photo NA3106


The caribou monument at Memorial Park photographed on 7 June 2010, 85 years to the day after the photo above. (webmaster's photo)

Battle of Albert

The battle of Albert lasted twelve more days. British leaders had been stunned by their losses on 1 July but information available to them led them to underestimate just how badly the attack had gone north of the Bapaume road. Similarly, they failed to appreciate great opportunity to the south, where attacks had gone well. General Haig favoured the exploitation of gains made south of La Boiselle, hoping to outflank defences to the north which stubbornly held out, but the commander of the 4th Army, General Rawlinson, determined to press the attack on Thiepval "as if the setback (on 1 July) was negligible" and by so doing failing to "come to grips with failure."21 Rawlinson's rationale, as he stated it, was to "keep these operations going for at least a fortnight for the Bosch has not many reserves he can bring up and if he does not relieve his frontline they will get exhausted and may crumble."22

Only one set-piece attack could be orchestrated on 2 July, against La Boisselle, and by evening the reserve division of the British III Corps secured it - "not much to show for the second day of a major offensive" in the words of one historian.23

The decision to continue the offensive is often analyzed by modern observers without considering the information available to commanders at the time:

The generals mustered at Haig's headquarters talked of exploiting early gains. There was no conception that 1 July had been a disaster: this was only to form in the public mind years later, when casualty figures were revealed, ground won was delineated, and one was factored into the other. Intelligence on the morning of 3 July indicated that, except north of Thiepval, the attack had been effective and the defence was in disarray. Therefore, 1 July had been a clear, if incomplete, success. This dictated continuing the battle.24

There was disagreement between Haig and Joffre on how to continue, but after discussions - sometimes heated - Haig abandoned ideas of closing down joint operations on the Somme front in favour of continuing alone at Ypres.25 In the meantime, greater strategic purposes were already being served, as early in July the Germans at last abandoned their offensive on Verdun, in order to free up reserves for use on the Somme. This also freed up French forces. In other theatres, on land and on sea, the war was going relatively well for the powers of the Entente. The Battle of Jutland fought on 31 May-1 June had been claimed as a German victory but in matter of fact did nothing to shatter British naval superiority, and after another sortie by their high sea fleet in August 1916, Germany restricted their main naval activities to submarine warfare.26

French troops engaged in the Somme sector had in fact achieved one of the greatest Allied victories of the war to date, advancing between 4,000 and 5,000 yards, taking 9,000 prisoners and 60 guns for losses of under 8,000 men. Some French commanders had even thought the return to open warfare had returned.27 The British for their part delayed while they reorganized until 4 July, as the disagreement between senior commanders was sorted out, and shattered formations were relieved. Haig remained optimistic of a breakthrough, underestimating German reserves which were observed to be fed straight into the line on arrival at the front. The German defence was chaotic, but the enemy was present in greater numbers than British intelligence understood.28

For their own part, the Germans had been unhappy with their own performance on the Somme and General von Falkenhayn relieved the 2nd Army's chief of staff of his duties. Orders were laid down for lost ground to be counter-attacked as soon as reinforcements could be mustered. Every bit of front line was to be defended vigorously. "This was, of course, exactly what Rawlinson would have been delighted to hear - it was the reaction he aimed to provoke."29 The British pushed the line forward in a series of smaller attacks. La Boisselle was finally secured on 5 July, while Orvillers, the neighbouring village, took ten days of fighting to firmly control. However, "(t)he German determination to hold on consumed many of their finest troops: 9th Grenadier Regiment, the Fusilier Guards and Lehr Infantry Regiment fought and held, counter-attacked and were driven back and were eroded by constant artillery fire. The policy of counter-attack had a heavy price."30

Then in a great dawn assault on 14 July (the Battle of Bazentin Ridge) the 13th and 15th Corps, attacking midway between the Somme and the Ancre, broke into the German Second Position on a front of six thousand yards. In this operation the Canadian Cavalry Brigade was attached to the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division. (Although the division was not called on for exploitation, a squadron of the Fort Garry Horse carried out a minor task.) Nine days later the 13th Corps captured most of Delville Wood, a mile west of Ginchy, while the 1st Anzac Corps took Pozières, on the Amiens- Bapaume-Cambrai road. These operations secured a substantial footing on the Thiepval-Morval ridge. During August and the first half of September the British maintained heavy pressure on the Germans. Haig's intention was by "giving the enemy no rest and no respite from anxiety" to wear down his weakening resistance to a point where another powerful attack would break through his remaining defences. By the time Ginchy fell on 9 September most of the Second Position was in British hands, and along the Somme the French had almost reached Peronne. At the point of deepest penetration the line had been advanced about 7000 yards. But the Thiepval end of the plateau was still untaken, and the line to the north stood as at the beginning of the offensive. The two months of ceaseless fighting to the end of August had cost nearly 200,000 British and more than 70,000 French casualties. The Germans, committed to a costly defence by von Falkenhayn's order of 2 July not to abandon one foot of ground, or to retake it at all costs if lost, had suffered an estimated 200,000 casualties. It was being found necessary to replace German divisions after only fourteen days in the line.31

German Reorganization

Elsewhere, Italy and Russia carried out their part in Allied grand strategy and the programme of coordinated operations in multiple theatres. Italy continued offensive action against Austria in August, taking Gorizia in the 6th Battle of the Isonzo while the Russians defended against a German counter-attack south of the Pripet marshes, then attacked themselves into Galicia in August. They too had success against the Austrians, driving them back in front of Lemberg, while in the south Russian forces made headway toward the Carpathian mountains. The enemy was forced to bring in reinforcements not only from the northern end of the Eastern Front, but from the west as well, even despite the demands of Verdun and the Somme. By 31 August ten German divisions had been shipped to the east, including one engaged against Romania who finally declared war on Austria on 27 August.

The declaration of war by Romania, combined with German failures at Verdun and the Somme, led to General von Falkenhayn's dismissal. Despite his abilities (he had restored shaken confidence after German failure at the Marne, then led successful actions in the East in Poland and Galicia as well as bringing about Serbia's defeat) he was blamed for underestimating the western Allies and failing to exploit success in the east. Field-Marshal Paul von Hindenburg replaced him as Chief of the General Staff and soon became Supreme Commander of all armies of the Central Powers. With him came Lieutenant-General Erich Ludendorff as First Quartermaster General to share responsibility for conduct of operations.


Erich von Falkenhayn, Chief of  the General Staff of the German Army in the first two years of the First World War. Bundesarchiv photo.

Von Falkenhayn's last action before leaving to lead an offensive against Rumania was to reorganize the command of the German forces at the Somme. In mid-July von Below's troops north of the Somme had been formed into a new First Army, under his command; across the river the front remained Second Army, now under General von Gallwitz, who was given temporary charge of the two-army group. On 28 August von Falkenhayn added the Sixth Army (opposite Arras), placing the enlarged group under Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. It was the first time on the Western Front that the Headquarters of a Group of Armies had been formed as a separate command, with its own special staff. Von Falkenhayn's final instructions were to maintain a strict defensive, in order to conserve forces for an emergency. Better than anyone he now realized Germany's perilous shortage of trained troops. "Beneath the enormous pressure which rests on us", he wrote on 21 August, "we have no superfluity of strength. Every removal in one direction leads eventually to dangerous weakness in another place which may lead to our destruction if even the slightest miscalculation is made in estimating the measures the enemy may be expected to take." The Allied decisions taken at Chantilly seemed to be bearing fruit.32

Canadians on the Somme

Canadian troops began moving out of the Ypres Salient in mid-August 1916. They moved towards the English Channel to training grounds at St. Omer. The Canadians were optimistic about the change, the Salient bearing too many reminders of "death and destruction."33 Advanced training was provided in the conduct of attacks. The 3rd Battalion's history described the training, and how it contrasted with the preparation of Britain's "New Army" for 1 July:

The training on the chalk downs about Tournehem was rigorous. A brigade exercise was held on the 25th, with General Byng and General Currie both present...At the conclusion of the exercise the Corps Commander squatted down by the roadside with the officers and told them what had gone wrong. There was too much stiffness in sub-unit movements. There was too much "going by the book." What he wanted, he said, was the "discipline of a well-trained pack of hounds. Find the holes in the hedges for yourselves, but keep your eye and mind on the quarry."34

On 30 August the Canadian Corps had moved to Picardy and began its relief of the 1st ANZAC Corps about Pozières, taking over the sector on 3 September. This was the first strategic move of the Canadian Corps, exchanging responsibility with the Australians for front line positions fifty miles apart. The Corps was now under the command of the newly constituted Reserve Army which had taken over the northern part of the Somme front from the 4th Army. The 1st Division manned the entire corps front of 3,000 yards of front line trench running west from the Pozières ridge and the boundary with 4th Army to the east of the village to a point 700 yards west of Mouquet Farm, a German stronghold that had withstood six separate Australian attacks. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions prepared for battle. General Haig desired the Canadians have a chance to settle in before major offensive action was required, and a directive on 19 August noted his intention to attack sometime in mid-September with "fresh forces."35 Some Canadian units found themselves billeted in Albert, where the statue of the Virgin Mary had been blown off its perch atop the church by a German shell in 1915. The superstition held that should the Virgin, left to dangle precariously at a ninety-degree angle to the ground, fall from the tower, the Allies would lose the war. She was left to dangle but bets were hedged by engineers who secured her with steel hawsers.36



The famous leaning virgin at Albert, as it appeared during the war, and the replica, restored and photographed in 2010. The basilica was finally destroyed in 1918, and the original statue with it, as fighting swept through Albert again during the German offensive. (webmaster's photograph)

The history of the 28th Battalion described their arrival with the Canadian Corps:

When the 28th arrived in the open spaces northwest of Albert known as the brick fields, they found the place packed with troops from the different Canadian Divisions. For miles around, the countryside was dotted with horse lines, bivouacs, and ammunition storage dumps, and the whole area was a pandemonium of clogged traffic. The Battalion was allotted a piece of ground just large enough for each man to lie down. For shelter, the troops were given tarpaulins which, when held up with light poles, were supposed to provide cover for eight to ten men. The Battalion spent its time in the area near Albert rehearsing its part in the upcoming attack on Courcelette.37

The 1st and 3rd Brigades were roughly treated during their first week in the trenches, undergoing heavy shelling and having to fight off frequent infantry attacks. A final attempt by the Australians to capture Mouquet Farm on 3 September included the 13th Battalion, temporarily attached. They failed to take the farm but did secure 300 yards of Fabeck Graben, a German trench that ran to the north-east toward Courcelette. Two companies of the 13th Battalion attempted to push out and expand their gain and in the process lost 322 men. In all the Brigade lost 970 casualties, and early on 8 September, while the Brigade was relieved by the 2nd Brigade, the Germans managed to recapture almost the entirety of Fabeck Graben.38

The first Victoria Cross of 1916 was earned by Leo Clarke, a 25-year old acting NCO with the 2nd Battalion. Lionel "Leo" Clarke was an acting Corporal on 9 September when the battalion attacked the German trench line in a 500 yard-wide salient in front of Pozières, south of the Cambrai road. He led a bombing party to clear the left flank, entered the enemy trench, and moved with his men to the centre of the enemy position. Heavy casualties saw Clarke facing a German counter-attack of twenty men without support, and despite a bayonet wound, he fought on alone. He twice emptied his own revolver, and then two German rifles. He shot and killed a German officer who bayonneted him in the legs, and killed or wounded at least 16 of the enemy before putting the others to flight, when he shot four more and captured a fifth, their sole survivor.39 He was killed on 5 October when a shell buried him in a trench, before the award of the VC was announced.40 The citation read:


For most conspicuous bravery. He was detailed with his section of bombers to clear the continuation of a newly-captured trench and cover the construction of a “block.” After most of his party had become casualties, he was building a “block” when about twenty of the enemy with two officers counter-attacked. He boldly advanced against them, emptied his revolver into them and afterwards two enemy rifles which he picked up in the trench.

One of the officers then attacked him with the bayonet, wounding him in the leg, but he shot him dead. The enemy then ran away, pursued by Acting Corporal Clarke, who shot four more and captured a fifth.

Later he was ordered to the dressing-station, but returned next day to duty.
41

Corporal Leo Clarke had aided to the success of the 2nd Battalion, who by gaining and retaining its objective received the personal congratulations of General Haig.42


Mark I Tank prepares to advance on 15 September 1916. (Imperial War Museum photo)

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette
See also main article: Flers-Courcelette

The Canadian Corps' first major attack in the Battle of the Somme came on 15 September 1916. Two major tactical innovations were tested in this battle for the first time: the use of the tank to support infantry in penetrating into enemy trenches, and the "rolling barrage" which was a moving curtain of shells behind which infantry could traverse No Man's in relative safety.43 As well, the attack was to be not a single continuous advance but a series of bounds to limited objectives. There was a realization that during the disaster of 1 July and the battles immediately after, hopes had been too highly placed on the ability of artillery to clear the way for the infantry.44 It was the beginning of a move back to principles of both fire and movement, and a rethinking of basic tactical concepts that had been lost in the mire of trench warfare from the earliest months of the war.45


click to enlarge

Rawlinson's 4th Army was to attack with three corps aimed at Flers, Morval, Lesboeufs and Gueudecourt hoping to break through towards Bapaume. The Reserve Army was to protect their left flank, and the Canadian Corps and 2nd Corps were to secure Courcelette and exert pressure south of Thiepval. Seven tanks were employed by the Canadians - the Reserve Army's total allotment. The first of two attacks began at 6:20 a.m. on 15 September 1916. The 4th and 6th Brigades of the 2nd Division attacked toward the village of Courcelette proper, aimed at Sugar Trench and Candy Trench with six tanks in support. The rolling barrage, advancing 100 yards every four minutes, was effective but the tanks did little of value due to mechanical difficulties and difficult terrain. The 2nd Division was able to quickly seize their objectives nonetheless despite resistance in a sugar refinery. The second attack of the day was ordered at 6:00 p.m. as General Byng kept up the momentum of the advance, securing the village itself. Two battalions of the 5th Brigade held on to the far end of Courcelette through repeated counter-attacks that night and into the next day.

On the Canadian Corps' left, the 3rd Division captured the Fabeck Graben despite heavy shell and machine gun fire, linking up with the 2nd Division and extending westward until all but 250 yards of the feature were in Canadian hands. The Zollern Graben lay 1,000 yards to the north, and ran together just west of Courcelette, and was the Corps' next tactical bound. A hasty attack on the evening of 16 September was forced to ground by machine gun fire, though the 7th Battalion managed to secure the remainder of the Fabeck Graben. Private John Chipman Kerr was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during this action. Attempts to advance further towards Zollen Graben failed during the next few days as German reinforcements were brought up and rain dampened activity on both sides.46

In its first major operation at the Somme the Canadian Corps had acquitted itself with credit, though the week's fighting had cost 7230 casualties. "The result of the fighting of the 15th September and following days", wrote Sir Douglas Haig in his despatch, "was a gain more considerable than any which had attended our arms in the course of a single operation since the commencement of the offensive." Breaking through two of the enemy's main defensive systems, Allied troops had advanced on a front of six miles to an average depth of a mile and captured three large villages which the enemy had organized for a prolonged resistance. Yet the main objectives were still untaken. The way to Bapaume was blocked by the strongly defended villages of Monal, Lesboeufs and Gueudecourt, and the enemy still held Combles and Thiepval at either end of the ridge. Bad weather and a shortage of ammunition for the French artillery postponed a renewal of the offensive until the 25th. The next phase was to be known as the Battle of Morval on the Fourth Army front, and by the Reserve Army as the Battle of Thiepval Ridge.47

Morval and Lesboeufs fell on the 25th while Gueudecourt held out an additional day, prompting the Germans to withdraw from Combles. The Morval battle gained a belt of ground 2,000 yards wide on average, necessitating the capture of Thiepval to bring the left flank into line and move the Germans off the ridge. The task fell to the Reserve Army.

In all, Flers-Courcelette had been far more successful than any British operation during the previous two months. If the employment of the newest weapon of war - the tank - had been premature, work was continuing on other weapons and methods also:

It is clear from the detailed orders and careful training of the assault divisions that tactical lessons from earlier operations were being incorporated into planning and preparation. Artillery technique was developing, even if Fourth Army's bombardment was not yet being prepared with the meticulous calculations of shells-per-metre of Sixth Army's gunners. By mid-September, Fourth Army had received many more heavy guns...The barrage would be twice as concentrated as that of 1 July, although only half as heavy as that of 14 July. Moreover, artillery technique was becoming much more sophisticated, with high-explosive shells used to cut wire, gas shells (fired by British guns for the first time) for neutralisation of enemy artillery, long-range interdiction fire, and a creeping shrapnel barrage - at a lower speed and with a greater concentration of shell - all employed to disrupt the enemy's response and fire the infantry on to their objectives.48

Thiepval Ridge, 26-28 September
See also main article: Thiepval

The heights at Thiepval gave the Germans the ability to observe Allied rear areas on the southern slopes leading to Albert, and conversely would permit observation over the valley of the upper Ancre River. For that reason the operation orders emphasized the need to move the enemy off the entire crest line. The 6,000 yard front between Thiepval and Courcelette was split in two. On the left, Lieutenant-General C.W. Jacob's 2nd Corps was assigned notoriously objectives that had held out since the start of the offensive in July. On the right, the Canadian Corps was depending on Jacob's men to take Mouquet Farm, Zollern Redoubt, and Stuff Redoubt on the crest 500 yards further back, yet one more strongpoint anchoring the German Second Position. The overall objective of the 2nd Corps was to assault Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt, overlooking the Ancre River from the western edge of the Thiepval Ridge. The Canadians were to attack a spur projecting east from the main ridge.50 While officially this phase of fighting is known as the Battle of Thiepval, in actuality it represented an extension of the general assault on the series of German trench lines around Courcelette that had begun on 15 September.51

The objective of the Corps was Hessian Trench, and its spur, Kenora Trench, both about 1,000 yards distant from the Canadian front line. Three days of bombardment preceded the Canadian attack at 12:25 p.m. on 26 September 1916. The Germans positioned machine gun strong-points in No Man's Land to avoid the barrage and the second wave was hit by heavy fire just as they mounted the parapet. Nonetheless the 1st Division managed to struggle forward and onto their objectives despite their casualties, taking the Zollern Graben trench and fighting up to Hessian Trench, one battalion of the 2nd Brigade even managing to advance beyond almost to the Regina Trench line. Strong counter-attacks forced them back. The 3rd Brigade got a battalion into Kenora Trench which was also heavily counter-attacked throughout the day and into the next until, down to just 75 men, they were forced to withdraw. By nightfall on 26 September only small portions of the Hessian and Kenora Trenches were in Canadian hands and far from secure. Three days of sporadic fighting followed, and on 28 September, renewed efforts to advance on the Regina Trench were halted by uncut wire entanglements and massed machine guns. Hessian Trench finally fell the next day, and British units took over responsibility for the sector. "In places, the Corps had advanced the Canadian line by about 1000 metres, and part of the objective had been taken. But it was no victory."52


Soldiers leaving trenches on the Somme front. (LAC photo)

The Battle of the Ancre Heights
See also main article:
Ancre Heights

By the beginning of October 1916, the three-month struggle of the Battle of the Somme had claimed several hundred thousand killed and wounded. General Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, decided to renew the offensive on a greater scale.53

One historian has examined the overall strategy of the Somme in the context of an integrated campaign with the French:

The September battle on the Somme was not, as it has usually been depicted, a renewed British attack to pull along a weakening and dispirited French army. Nor was it an overambitious flight of hubristic fancy on the part of the British commander-in-chief (although reading his own account in isolation does give grounds for such a conclusion). Examined individually (and normally only the British attacks on 15 and 26 September are examined in any detail), the operations in September 1916 appear to be merely more of the same, more extensive but still relatively localised attritional fights with modest results - some villages won here, a few trenches taken there. Seen collectively, however, Foch's renewed offensive represented something new; and Haig's plans make sense in this context. For these reasons, a true picture of the French army's repeated efforts during September, more and larger than those of the British, is a vital missing piece of the Somme jigsaw puzzle. As far as was possible with such a diverse and crude instrument as the allied armies of 1916, Foch had them working as a fairly well-oiled war machine: if not a truly combined offensive, by September it was at least a concerted one.54

When Thiepval fell to the Reserve Army on 27 September, it marked the last of a series of "piston thrusts" that exemplified "how an attritional offensive was supposed to proceed, and it brought the defence to crisis point."55

The Canadian Corps was faced with yet another series of attacks on German trench lines, this time a set of entrenchments dubbed Regina Trench by the Canadians. These attacks were to be the most futile and costly of all the Canadian efforts in the Somme fighting. Just two days after the exhausting fighting for the Hessian Trench, the 5th Brigade (2nd Division) and 8th Brigade (3rd Division) once again went into the attack on 1 October. The operation was a disaster, beginning with short-falling artillery plastering the jumping-off positions. The preparatory barrage also failed to hit the German lines, and German wire was not cut by the artillery in most places. Casualties were heavy during the assault as machine gun fire laced into entire assault companies caught up in No Man's Land. The few survivors that managed to reach Regina Trench were driven out or overwhelmed by German counter-attacks, and half the assault force was dead or wounded by day's end with no gain to show for their efforts.


click to enlarge

A week later, another assault was launched on 8 October 1916, with two brigades of the 1st Division and two more from the 3rd Division, on a reduced front. Only a single battalion of the 3rd Division managed to enter Regina Trench in strength, but were forced out by three counter-attacks. A number of weakened sub-units of the 1st Division reached their objectives but were likewise forced out when they ran out of ammunition. It was during this attack that Piper James Richardson of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) performed acts of bravery for which he was later posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. For a cost of 1,364 casualties this day, the Canadian Corps was able to claim no additional territory gained.56
 

Le Transloy: 1-18 October 1916

The 4th Army turned its attention on October to attritional fighting once more. Officially designated the Battle of the Transloy Ridges, the objective was the fourth German position, stretching along a ridge from Le Transloy north-westerly towards Ligny. Attacks by the 14th and 15th Corps made little progress during October, and a succession of both large set-piece attacks, and smaller assaults, failed to gain ground. A notable exception was that by the Newfoundland Regiment on 12 October, returning to the line after their destruction on 1 July.

The Newfoundlanders' return to the Somme three months after their heroic yet disastrous assault on 1 July was likely to be traumatic. their ranks were filled with the recovered casualties of the earlier attack and keen new recruits anxious to emulate their comrades' heroism. Newfoundland's tiny army had something to prove to the watching empire. Although insignificant in the context of the battle or the war as a whole, for Newfoundland the capture of Hilt Trench went some way towards redeeming the earlier failure. While attacks to either side failed, the Newfoundlanders took and held their own objective and part of that of the neighbouring battalion.59

One other historical side-note is often made about deployments to the Somme. On 2 October 1916, the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment (also known as the Regiment List)  deployed to the Somme sector. The unit has been much studied due to the fact that one of its despatch runners was a private soldier named Adolf Hitler. The regiment remained on the Somme for only 10 days, but suffered 1,177 casualties in that time, Hitler being one of them, wounded in the groin. One history records that the regiment was ground down to just 350 front-line riflemen by the end of their combats with the British 61st and 5th Australian Divisions.60

Ancre, 1916
See also main article: Ancre, 1916

The Ancre Heights had been the last battle the Canadian Corps fought on the Somme, and on 17 October, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions moved north to a new sector of the front near Arras. North of the Ancre River, the 3rd Army had still not been engaged though the Reserve Army's 2nd Corps had completed the capture of Stuff Redoubt on 9 October and taken Schwaben Redoubt on 14 October. The 4th Army managed to take Le Sars on 7 October, opening the Battle of the Transloy Ridges, but afterwards only managed an advance of 1,000 yards north-east of Gueudecourt, the line otherwise remaining the same as it had been at the end of September. There seemed to be no chance of successfully fulfilling the operational plan, but General Haig, the British Commander-in-Chief, opposed relaxing their offensive stance, feeling the Germans close to the breaking point and a victory finally at hand that would make the sacrifice of the previous months pay off. He estimated that he had drawn 70 enemy divisions to the Somme, and 40 against the British (the German official history after the war shows he was nearly correct, admitting 38 divisions) while inflicting 370,000 casualties on them. He urged that their front-line defences lacked depth, and did not have the elaborate construction of the positions that had already been taken. Given sufficient reinforcements, supplies and ammunition, and average winter weather, Haig proposed there would be profit in continuing.

The B.E.F. had been reorganized on 7 October, making the 4th and Reserve Armies self-contained forces capable of continuing offensive operations into the winter of 1916-17. The 3rd Army remained in reserve, with 3 divisions in training at any one time. Newly arriving divisions were tasked to go to the 1st and 2nd Armies. General Headquarters (G.H.Q.) was to keep an extra corps headquarters in reserve as well, to command the reserve divisions of 1st and 2nd Armies in an emergency.

Meanwhile, General Joffre remained impatient with the pace of operations and the general situation on the Western Front. The Central Powers had stabilized positions in the east running from the Carpathians to the Pripet marshes while in Italy little headway had been made at the head of the Adriatic by the Italians, preparing for a ninth battle on the Isonzo. Romanian troops had been thrown back in Transylvania, and Bulgarian troops, with German and Turkish support, had advanced through the Dobrudja and taken Constanza on the Black Sea. Counter-attacks hoping to draw off Bulgarians to the Salonika front did little. In all, a major Allied victory somewhere was needed and on 18 October, Joffre asked Haig to renew his Somme offensive on a broad front, as originally envisioned.

Therefore, as Canadian divisions left the Somme, the 4th Canadian Division found the Battle of the Somme was only beginning. The division landed in France in mid-August, and began its front-line service on 25 August 1916. It remained in the north while the other three divisions moved to the Somme, and joined a temporary formation called "Frank's Force" on 3 September 1916 along with British, Belgian, and Australian artillery and miscellaneous units. This formation, named after the 2nd Army's artillery commander, held a 4.5 mile front that extended from a point west of Messines to the Ypres-Comines Canal. They were opposed by the German 26th Division along with elements of the 4th Replacement Division.

Allied patrols found considerable portions of the enemy's front line unmanned - an indication of his willingness to treat the Ypres Salient as secondary to the Somme area and to contain the Allied forces there with a minimum of effort. On many days fire from his artillery and mortars was extremely light, and drew in reply three rounds to one. Activity increased in mid- September, when the Second Army carried out some thirty raids as a diversion to the Fourth Army's assault in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Of ten raids on the night of the 16th-17th, seven were conducted by Canadians. In all, 274 officers and men took part, representing the 46th, 47th, 54th, 72nd, 75th and 87th Battalions. In the six raids rated successful the Canadians captured 22 prisoners and killed a known 30 Germans, at comparatively light cost to themselves. On 18 September the 4th Canadian Division came temporarily under command of the 9th Corps as Franks' Force ceased to exist. Three days later it went into Second Army reserve in the St. Omer training area. Here the troops learned to handle the newly issued Lee-Enfield rifle, and practised cooperation with aircraft and artillery. There was emphasis on methods of recognition-by ground flares, and chalk marks on helmets - and on advancing behind a creeping barrage at the rate of 100 yards in three minutes. Each man received a new box-type respirator, and tested it with tear gas. On the night of 2-3 October the Division entrained for the Somme.61

The 4th Canadian Division came under command of the 2nd British Corps, and participated in three further attacks on Regina Trench. The first came on 21 October 1916, the division's baptism of fire. Overcoming the other division's problems with artillery support (the guns of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions were, in fact, remaining on the Somme) the 87th and 102nd Battalions followed a creeping barrage in a successful attack on 600 yards of Regina Trench. Another, smaller attack on 25 October failed, this time again due to poor artillery support to the 44th Battalion, though the mud had become increasingly difficult to maneuver in as well. A third attack was made against the last German-held stretch of Regina Trench on 11 November 1916 and the operation was carried out as planned in just two hours. By now, having been fought over for weeks, the trench had been blasted flat in places, in others ripped asunder twenty feet wide and filled with bodies.62

Weather in the next ten days delayed any further operations and in fact it rained for 16 of the first 21 days the 4th Division spent in the front line. The condition of front line trenches was poor, and it was not until 8 November, and the arrival of cold weather, that it was dry long enough for further offensive action. The Reserve Army was at last renamed the 5th Army, having acquired services and staff to put it on equal footing with other formations of the B.E.F. British commanders were by now urging the Army Commander to either attack or pull forces out of the line to rest, feeling continuing postponements were unfair to the troops. The Commander-in-Chief felt a successful attack would have favourable effect on the Allied situation in Romania and Russia, and hoped for a victory to present at the Chantilly Conference. He approved another attack on the afternoon of the 12th.

The 5th Army's front line encircled the valley of the Ancre on the west and south on 13 November when the Battle of the Ancre opened. In positions that had not changed since the beginning of July, the 13th and 5th Corps faced east toward Serre and Beaumont Hamel. The line ran east where it was held by the 2nd Corps along the northern edge of the Thiepval Ridge as far as the boundary with the 4th Army at the Quadrilateral northwest of Le Sars. The 5th Army now turned its attention to the salient at Beaumont Hamel, attacking with four divisions of the 5th Corps while the 13th Corps sent a division to Serre and the 2nd Corps assaulted north in the valley toward Schwaben Redoubt and Stuff Trench with two divisions. The artillery support was to include the divisional artillery of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions. The 48-hour bombardment was the heaviest artillery support of the war to date, with shells falling on all German-held villages, trenches and approaches to the battle area.

A 30,000 pound mine started the attack at Zero Hour, exploding at the head of the German salient as an enormous barrage crashed down across the front of the 5th Army. The 2nd and 5th Corps managed gains of 1,200 to 1,500 yards, capturing St. Pierre Divon and Beaumont Hamel and trapping large numbers of Germans in converging attacks in the valley of the Ancre.

(T)he total captured for the day was not far short of Sir Douglas Haig's earlier aspirations. General Ludendorff styled the British penetration "a particularly heavy blow, for we considered such an event no longer possible, particularly in sectors where our troops still held good positions." But on the northern flank the attack failed, as battalions advancing through mud in many places waist-deep were hurled back by the enemy's desperate defence of the Redan Ridge and the trenches
in front of Serre. Next day, in a thin mist, the forces immediately north of the Ancre advanced another 1000 yards to the outskirts of Beaucourt, a village one mile east of Beaumont Hamel.

The two days which followed saw little action, as the mist thickened, and Haig, who was attending the Chantilly Conference, had ordered any further major operations postponed until his return. But the commander of the 5th Corps was optimistic that more could be accomplished, and General Gough obtained the C.-in-C.'s approval to resume the offensive on the 18th. Intentions changed more than once with varying estimates of the enemy's powers of resistance, and the final plan assigned the main attack to the 2nd Corps. Its left division (the 19th) was to take Grandcourt and cross the Ancre to occupy Baillescourt Farm on the opposite bank. In subsidiary operations on the right, the 18th Division and the 4th Canadian Division were to capture the new Desire (German "Dessauer") and Desire Support Trenches, which lay from 500 to 800 yards north of Regina Trench. On the left there would be no further attempt to reduce the strong Serre defences, but two fresh divisions of the Fifth Corps were given as objectives German reserve trenches farther east running northward from Grandcourt to Puisieux. In spite of uncertain weather and conflicting intelligence reports preparations went ahead with a haste that augured no good for their outcome.63

The 4th Division attacked on 18 November with two brigades into driving rain and sleet making use of heavy artillery and machine gun support as well as a smoke-screen supplied by the Royal Engineers. Mud and snow caused infantry to lose direction while artillery observers failed to spot targets. Nonetheless, the pre-arranged artillery support was finely coordinated and both brigades gained their objectives - the Desire (Dessauer) Trench in two hours. Over 600 prisoners were taken by the Division. Units on the flanks, however, suffered from small arms fire and were forced back. The 2nd Corps and 5th Corps both suffered heavy casualties during the day and were unable to continue the offensive. A threatened German counter-attack cancelled plans for a further advance by the 4th Canadian Division, who ended their presence on the Somme with a half-mile advance on a 2,000 yard front for the loss of 1,250 casualties, while inflicting about half that many prisoners in addition to large numbers of German killed and wounded.

Even if the 2nd and 5th Corps had been capable of continuing, heavy rain fell the next day and would have called off further operations. At long last, the Battle of the Somme came to an end.

"The ground, sodden with rain and broken up everywhere by innumerable shell-holes, can only be described as a morass", Sir Douglas Haig informed the Chief of the Imperial General Staff on the 21st. In such conditions, even when there was a lull in fighting, merely to maintain themselves made severe physical demands upon the men in the trenches. For the soldier in the front line existence was a continual struggle against cold and wet, as he crouched all day in the rain
and the mud, gaining what protection he could from a rubber groundsheet wrapped around him. Hip boots were issued to help guard against "trench feet", but often these had to be abandoned when their wearer became mired in the clay. For health's sake frequent reliefs were necessary, even though effecting these was an exhausting process. Towards the end of the Canadians' tour on the Somme infantry battalions had as much as eight miles to march to the trenches from their billets in Albert, and at least four miles from the nearest bivouacs at Tara Hill. "With the bad weather", reported General Watson to Canadian Corps Headquarters, "the men's clothing became so coated with mud, great coat, trousers, puttees and boots sometimes weighing 120 pounds, that many could not carry out relief."

Nor did these exchanges bring escape from the continual round of working parties. The demand for nightly carrying parties had to be met alike by units in the line and units at rest. From the point on the Bapaume Road at which German shelling halted the forward movement of wheeled transport, all rations, ammunition and supplies for the front line trenches had to be borne on human backs, or by pack transport....

The main tasks which now faced the Fourth and Fifth Armies were to replace tired and depleted divisions with fresh troops, improve their forward communications and strengthen the new front line for a winter defence. The Fourth Army took over from the French four miles of front line, moving the inter-allied boundary from Le Transloy to within four miles of Peronne. The adjustment freed three French corps as part of the preparation for the spring offensive which General Joffre was planning. The 4th Canadian Division was not relieved immediately; that it was to complete nearly seven weeks continuously in the front line was recognition that it had satisfactorily won its spurs. Between 26 and 28 November it handed over to the 51st British Division and rejoined the Canadian Corps on the Lens-Arras front. Canadian battle casualties at the Somme had totalled 24,029.64

The Importance of the Somme

One historian has summed up the experience of the Somme succinctly:

The five-month Somme battle taught the BEF many lessons and transformed it from a largely inexperienced mass army into a largely experienced one. Perhaps the most painful lesson, and the one most difficult to put into practice, was that very close cooperation was necessary between infantry and artillery. In particular, this meant that creeping barrages should normally be used, and the attacking troops should hug their barrage as closely as humanly possible...65

These lessons were also learned by the CEF:

The Canadians arrived (on the Somme) in August...In the next two and a half months one or more Canadian divisions would fight several major and minor battles, eventually pushing two and a half miles, through Flers-Courcelette from 15 to 22 September, Thiepval Ridge from 26 to 29 September, Le Transloy Ridges from 1 to 18 October, Regina Trench several times between 1 October and 11 November, and Beaumont Hamel and Desire Trench from 13 to 18 November. As each Canadian division took its turn in the assault, the corps continued to search for ways to carry out its mission on the Western Front without disintegrating into lengthy casualty lists. Platoon tactics had evolved in trench raids and cooperation between infantry and artillery had made some progress, but these developments, even taken together, were not sufficient to ensure success at low cost in a major battle. German artillery was still, essentially, unassailable and thus able to shell Canadian troops before and during battle, often inflicting casualties before the soldiers could leave their trenches. Wire proved a serious obstacle difficult to remove; the British and Canadians tried to cut it with artillery, but shell fuses were not sensitive enough to detonate within the wire or just as they hit the ground. Thus shells exploded deep in the earth, where they did no more than move the wire obstacles around somewhat. Enemy machine-gunners, if they were quick enough, could take their positions after the barrage had lifted but before the assaulting infantry could reach them. Between them, artillery, wire, and machine-guns ensured that failure would be common and even limited successes would be costly.66

The first major action on the Somme, Courcelette, cost the Corps just under 6,000 casualties, mainly in the 2nd Division. Training afterwards focused on offensive actions:

Emphasis, not surprisingly, was on the assault, and the tactics the men learned were still primitive. The infantry was trained to attack in waves, the experience of trench raids notwithstanding, in long straight lines at intervals of fifty or 100 yards.67

Strategically, Sir Douglas Haig controversially concluded in his memoirs that he had achieved the three main objectives of the July offensive; Verdun had been relieved, the main German forces had been held on the Western Front and German forces had been worn down "considerably." He concluded that "Any one of these three results is in itself sufficient to justify the Somme battle."68 The Canadian Army's official historian noted:

The conclusion thus reached by the British Commander-in-Chief was by no means unanimously accepted either during the war or afterwards. It has continued to be a matter of controversy. The failure to gain much ground and the heavy losses suffered by the Allied forces aroused considerable criticism both in France and the United Kingdom. Especially in question was the extent to which the Allied policy of attrition had succeeded in reducing the enemy's powers of resistance. Writing as late as 1952, the editor of Sir Douglas Haig's private papers declared that it "has probably by now come to be the generally accepted view of the Somme campaign" that it was "a costly failure which did far more damage to the Allied than to the German cause". Such criticism was based largely on a comparison of the casualties suffered by the German and the Allied armies. How valid is it?

Unfortunately there exist no thoroughly reliable statistics, particularly with respect to German losses. Unofficial figures published shortly after the war gave British and French losses as more than double those of the enemy. In a memorandum submitted to the Cabinet on 1 August 1916, Mr. Winston Churchill charged that during the first month of the Somme offensive British casualties outnumbered German losses by 2.3 to 1. Later (in The World Crisis, 1911-1918) he set almost as wide a ratio for the whole of the Somme campaign. In similar vein Mr. Lloyd George asserted in his memoirs that on the Somme "our losses were twice as great as those we inflicted". These comparisons, unfavourable to the Allies, became widely accepted; and it was argued that Haig's intelligence officers in their attempt to balance the cost to each side had grossly overestimated the German losses.

On the other hand, the German casualty figures cited by those who sought to discredit the Allied conduct of the war on the Western Front have been seriously disputed, especially by defenders of Haig. It was charged that the German Government had contrived to conceal from the German public the truth concerning the immense losses suffered by their armies. It is a fact that whereas British casualty figures included as wounded all who passed through a casualty clearing station. German published totals disregarded the less serious cases which were treated in hospitals in the corps areas - a proportion that, by German statistics, averaged 30 per cent of all losses. (Thus in giving figures for "the great losses of the summer of 1916" the German Official History points out that these do not include "the wounded whose recovery was to be expected within a reasonable time".)

The British Official Historian took fully into account the difference in these systems of reporting casualties. In 1931 (in his first volume dealing with the operations on the Western Front in 1916) he estimated that Allied casualties at the Somme were somewhat less than 600,000, and that German losses totalled 582,919.136 In 1938, however, after Germany had published official figures of 465,525 German casualties (against 700,000 British and French losses)137 he revised his estimates. He calculated that a fair basis of comparison would show the following gross figures (including prisoners and missing) for the contending armies for the whole of the Somme campaign: German (including the seven-day bombardment at the end of June), between 660,000 and 680,000; British, 419,654; French, 204,253; or an Allied total of 623,907.

While the objectivity of these figures of enemy losses must be held in question, from the Germans themselves has come ample testimony to the heavy punishment which the Allies inflicted upon them. "The Army had been fought to a standstill and was now utterly worn out", admitted Ludendorff in his memoirs. The Allied offensive had sapped the strength of no fewer than 95 German divisions; 43 of these had been committed twice, and four had been thrown in three times.141 Unit and formation histories reiterate the story of the liquidation at the Somme of the old German field army. One infantry regiment after another, each nominally 3000 strong, records losses of from 1500 to more than 2800.

Among these were the best trained and stoutest-hearted officers, non- commissioned officers and men. Their steadfastness and spirit of sacrifice replacements would never match. No wonder that in January 1917, Ludendorff was to declare at the conference which approved unrestricted submarine warfare, "We must save the men from a second Somme battle". It was largely this realization that caused the Germans, before the Allies could strike again, to renounce their policy of holding and recovering ground at all costs, and to retire to semi-permanent defences fifteen to thirty miles in the rear. "In the air the victory had been more complete", the historian of the British flying forces records. "From beginning to last of the battle the air war was fought out over enemy territory." The Royal Flying Corps made the most of its local air superiority - a happy situation which it was to enjoy all too infrequently during the rest of the war - to follow the British naval tradition of "seeking out and destroying the enemy wherever he may be found". The German tendency at this time was to over-emphasize fighters, using them mainly in a defensive role. The enemy's air policy remained a defensive one, while the R.F.C. continued to wage offensive warfare.

Not the least significant result of the Somme offensive was that, as Sir Douglas Haig had hoped, it shattered the illusion of German invincibility on the Western Front. Not all the attempts by German writers to disparage the Allied armies' use of their superior weight of war apparatus-"die Material-Schlacht"-could hide the fact that German military prestige had been struck a severe psychological blow from which it was not to recover. Yet after all this has been said in vindication of Haig's achievements at the Somme, we cannot close our eyes to the horror of the mass butchery to which the C.-in-C.'s tactics had condemned the troops under his command. The proof of successful attrition is to be found in convincing casualty figures - and, as we have seen, the casualty figures for the Somme are not convincing. At best the five-month campaign that had opened on 1 July with such high expectations had resulted in a costly stalemate.68

Notes

  1. 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) pp.113-114

  2. Ibid

  3. Ibid

  4. Ibid, p.115

  5. Ibid

  6. Marteinson, John (editor) We Stand on Guard: An Illustrated History of the Canadian Army (Ovale Publications, Montreal, PQ, 1992) ISBN 2894290438 p.139

  7. Duguid, A.F. (Clive M. Law editor) A Question of Confidence: The Ross Rifle in the Trenches (Service Publications, Ottawa, ON, 1999) ISBN 1-894581-00-8 pp.36-43

  8. Nicholson, Ibid, p.141

  9. Ibid, p.137

  10. Ibid, p.138

  11. Law, Clive M. Distinguishing Patches: Formation Patches of the Canadian Army (2nd Ed.) Service Publications, Ottawa, ON, 2008 ISBN 978-1-894581-50-9, p.5

  12. Nicholson, Ibid, p.143

  13. Ibid, p.144

  14. Ibid, p.145

  15. Marteinson, Ibid, p.141

  16. Nicholson, Ibid

  17. Ibid

  18. Philpott, William Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme (Little, Brown, London, UK, 2009) ISBN 978-0-349-12004-1 p.270

  19. Evans, Martin Marix Somme 1914-1918: Lessons in War (The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2010) ISBN 978-0-7524-5525-9 p.110

  20. Marteinson, Ibid, p.142

  21. Evans, p.111

  22. Philpott, Ibid, p.211

  23. Ibid, p.214

  24. Ibid, p.215

  25. Ibid, pp.216-217

  26. Nicholson, Ibid, pp.146-147

  27. Philpott, Ibid, pp.220-221

  28. Ibid, pp.224-225

  29. Evans, Ibid, p.112

  30. Ibid, p.113

  31. Nicholson, Ibid, p.146

  32. Ibid

  33. Marteinson, Ibid, p.142

  34. Goodspeed, D.J. Battle Royal: A History of The Royal Regiment of Canada 1862-1962 (The Royal Regiment of Canada Association, Toronto, ON, 1962) p.155

  35. Nicholson, Ibid

  36. Dancocks, Daniel G. Gallant Canadians: The Story of the Tenth Canadian Infantry Battalion 1914-1919 (The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Funds Foundation, Calgary, AB, 1990) ISBN 0-9694616-0-7 p.89

  37. Mein, Stewart A.G. Up the Johns! The Story of the Royal Regina Rifles (Turner-Warwick Publications, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, 1992) ISBN 0-919899-27-7 p.34

  38. Nicholson, Ibid

  39. Directorate of History and Heritage biography online, accessed at http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/gal/vcg-gcv/bio/clarke-lb-eng.asp with additional info from Nicholson, Ibid

  40. Marteinson, Ibid, p. 143 with additional info from DHH website, Ibid

  41. London Gazette, no.29802, 26 October 1916, via DHH website, Ibid

  42. Nicholson, Ibid

  43. Marteinson, Ibid, p.144

  44. Nicholson, Ibid

  45. Marteinson, Ibid

  46. Ibid, pp.145-146

  47. Nicholson, Ibid, p.152

  48. Philpott, Ibid, p.363

  49. Nicholson, Ibid

  50. Marteinson, Ibid, p.147

  51. Ibid

  52. Ibid, pp.147-148

  53. Nicholson, Ibid

  54. Philpott, Ibid, pp.382-383

  55. Ibid, p.383

  56. Marteinson, Ibid, p.150

  57. Nicholson, Ibid

  58. Marteinson, Ibid, pp.151-152

  59. Philpott, Ibid, p.395

  60. Ibid, pp.392-395

  61. Nicholson, Ibid, p.167

  62. Marteinson, Ibid

  63. Nicholson, Ibid, p.194

  64. Ibid, pp.196-197

  65. Griffiths, Paddy Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army's Art of Attack 1916-18 (Yale University Press, 1996) ISBN 978-0-300-0663-0 p.65

  66. Rawling, Bill Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918 (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON, 1992) ISBN 0-8020-6002-1 pp.70-71

  67. Ibid, p.74

  68. Nicholson, Ibid, p.174

  69. Ibid, pp.174-176


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