1918

wduck688015, Wilfred Albert Duck (son of Albert and Edith Duck) Place of Birth:   3 November 1898 Grand Prairie, B.C.   Date and Place of Enlistment:   24 March 1916   Kamloops, B.C.   His brother, Rupert Duck also served and survived WW 1. 54 Bn was operating NE of Vimy Ridge between Lens and Lievin during the period 20 – 30 Dec. The operations report for that period says Pte Duck was killed in the afternoon of Jan 25 1918 just prior to the unit moving out to forward positions by shrapnel from an artillery shell that was fired near the 54th Bn’s A company. In this period 20 – 25 Jan 8 men were killed by artillery.The beginning of this memorable year of 1918 opened none too quietly for us, occasional heavy strafes by the Bosche being the order of the day. On the night of the 1st a large enemy raiding party entered our front line trench under a heavy barrage and unfortunately succeeded in “swiping” one of our forward posts, four men being taken.On the 8th of January a successful raid was made by Lieuts. R. G. Wilson, M.C., and A. E. Burnham and men of “B” Company. When the enemy’s front line was reached it was found that it was empty, the Bosche having withdrawn temporarily, and the only captures were two machine guns. A good raid all the same, as a large No Man’s Land had to be crossed.The month of January, 1918, will always be remembered by the C.O. and certain officers and men of the Battalion. As the Battalion needed a little advertising this was willingly undertaken by some daring spirits, with very high results, although the methods of obtaining same were open to criticism.

On the 9th we were relieved and moved back to the Chateau de la Haie, staying there for a few days, and from there moving to the Lievin front. After this move large working parties were called for owing to the sudden thaw, which made bad work of the trenches.

The 25th of January saw us back again in the front line, taking over the right front, the same as we held last September. Much active patrolling was done by ourselves and the Bosche, and there were numerous encounters between both parties.

On the 30th we were relieved and moved back to Gouy-Servins, and for the next month alternated between there, Souchez, Chateau de la Haie and Houdain, carrying on with training and inspections. On the 22nd of February the 11th Brigade was inspected by the Corps Commander and on the 28th by the Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, who expressed himself as being extremely pleased with the brigade.

At the beginning of March the Battalion moved to Noeux les Mines for a few days, chiefly spent in working parties and digging and wiring new trenches behind the lines. On the 11th a move was made to Souchez and from there, on the 12th, into support on the Lievin front, finally relieving the l02nd Battalion on the left front on the 17th. During this period the enemy showed a considerable amount of activity and subjected our trenches to numerous strafes, for which he was amply repaid by our own artillery, and also on the night of the 21st by a heavy gas bombardment by us. This gas was thrown over by projectors, a record amount of 6,000 projectors being sent, and, from the appearance of the Hun carrying parties the next day, inflecting a large number of casualties.

On the 22nd the Battalion moved back into support in Lievin, where they remained until the 27th, when they moved to Coupigny by light railway.

It will be remembered that it was on the 21st of March, 1918, that the Bosche made his big attack on the Amiens front, pushing in a long way until he was checked some little distance from Amiens. He also attacked on the Arras front, but was successfully withstood. Owing to the tactical situation a composite brigade was hastily formed under Brigadier-General Odlum, of which this battalion formed part, and we were on the 28th rushed up into the line of the Oppy front, relieving on the 29th three Imperial units who had fought very finely in the recent attack against Arras.

On the morning of the 30th our trenches were very heavily shelled and a fresh attack was expected, but did not materialize.

At a time like this it was vitally important to the Allied High Command to ascertain the intentions of the enemy, especially on this Arras front, as it was expected that he would renew his attack and endeavor to take Vimy Ridge and the important French coal fields around Bruay and Bethune. All eyes were turned on this particular front and orders were received that identification by means of live prisoners must be obtained at all costs. Numbers of raids took place, but it fell to the lot of the Cinquante-Quatre to be the first unit to satisfy the higher authorities in their demands.

On the night of the 2nd of April raiding parties under the respective commands of Capt. D. A. McQuarrie, who was unfortunately wounded, Lieut. J. H. Adams and 3O other ranks of “C” Company, and Lieut. T. S. McLanders and 35 other ranks of “A” Company, succeeded, in spite of heavy opposition, in capturing two prisoners. Within six hours of these men being captured the whole corps front was changed, each unit side-slipping and taking over a wider front, thereby releasing reserves for eventualities elsewhere. The Battalion received the personal congratulations of the corps, divisional and brigade commanders, and this may be ranked as one of the best and most important pieces of work that the Battalion accomplished during its period in France.

On the night of the 4th of April the Battalion was relieved and moved back to Flanders Camp, Ecurie, where a few days’ cleaning up was indulged in. A Battalion sports day was arranged for the 11th and the combatants and spectators had just assembled when a wire was received saying that we were to move into the line that night, relieving the 4th C. M. R. on the Mericourt front, the same holding as we had previously occupied on New Year’s Day.

Active patrolling was the order of the day (or rather, night) and after an unsuccessful brush with the enemy on the 15th and lath, Lieut. J. H. Orr, with his platoon from “C” Company, ran into a Bosche working party on the 17th, who put up quite a scrap, but were overcome by our fire and were almost surrounded by us, managing to escape owing to the wire. After some strenuous work Lieut. Orr, accompanied by Ptes. W. J. C. Geddes and A. Klopp, succeeded in capturing a wounded German sergeant, hauling him out through the wire and carrying him back to our aid post, where his wounds were dressed. This sergeant proved a source of much information to the higher authorities when interrogated. Wires from the divisional and brigade commanders were received congratulating “C” Company on its fine work.

We were relieved the same night and went back into support, moving into the front line again on the 23rd, where an uneventful six days were spent, chiefly remarkable for the fact that we had no casualties. We were relieved again on the 29th and moved back, half of the Battalion going to Neuville St. Vaast and the other half remaining in the ruined village of Vimy, taking up their abode in the various cellars, which were all that were left of a one-time beautiful place. This half was responsible for providing working parties.

This arrangement continued until the 7th of May, when the Battalion was relieved by an Imperial unit consisting of Lowlanders just fresh from Palestine. On relief we all moved back to Cambligneul to billets.

At the time of the relief it was fully intended to use the Canadians again within a few days in an attack on the Hun and all thought we were only out for a short period of intensive training. officers were sent to the front area around Bethune for reconnoitering purposes and we were all under four hours’ notice to move to the attack. It must be remembered that this was the time of the Hun’s heavy attacks on various parts of the line, he having made a big push in just north of Bethune on the 9th of April. Evidently, from intelligence received by the higher authorities, it was not considered necessary for us to attack, but it was considered very necessary to defend the coal fields of Bruay, which were seriously menaced by the successful German push on the 9th. The Canadians were put back in G. H. Q. reserve with instructions to be ready to move at any time within four hours to defend these coal fields. We changed our quarters from Cambligneul to the Ourton area on the with, being divided between Burton and Beugin. During the whole of this period intensive training was carried on, interspersed with such things as brigade manoeuvres, route marches, inspections, etc. A novel form of inspection was that when each platoon was inspected by a platoon commander of another company. This caused much amusement, especially as the arrangements made between companies were upset by the switching at the last moment of the programme. Sports were, as usual, freely indulged in, a memorable match (or series of matches) being that for the brigade football championship with the 75th. Three times the Battalion tied before a decision in favor of the 75th was reached. This went on all through May and June. only one death was recorded for May, resulting from the dastardly Hun bombing raid on the hospitals at Etaples.

At this period the Battalion was stronger than ever before, full companies of officers and men being the case, the total effective Battalion strength being 50 officers and 1,030 other ranks.

June passed uneventfully, except for the “flu.” On the 13th the whole Battalion concentrated at Burton. The feature of the training was open warfare and many brigade manoeuvres on the Monchy Breton training ground. Towards the end of the month several Dominion states- men visited the Canadians. The last day of the month brigade sports were held at Dieval, consisting of a transport competition, at which our good transport turned out in beautiful shape making it hard to realize that all the vehicles, including cookers, were in daily use, and reflecting great credit on the transport men and pioneers, who had worked so hard to parade looking spic and span. There were also riding competitions the honors of which were easily carried off by the 54th. The Corps Commander inspected the brigade this day and expressed great pleasure in the appearance of same.

This period of intensive training was very much appreciated, and in a great measure to these two months is due the fine performance of the Battalion in the numerous engagements of the following fall.

On Dominion Day a big sports meet was held by the Canadian Corps, which was attended by all ranks. This Battalion had several runners in the events and was second in the corps for indoor baseball for other ranks. We were favored with beautiful weather and this day will long be remembered by those who attended the meet.

All ranks were getting rather weary of the prolonged rest, with the knowledge all the time that it might be terminated at four hours’ notice. This feeling was sensed by the higher authorities and on the 10th of July the division moved forward preparatory to taking over the Oppy sector again. The 54th took over the support line of the Oppy-Gavrelle front on the night of the 11th of July.

The principal officers of the Battalion on going in were:

Lieut.-Col. A. B. Carey, D.S.O. C. O.

Major J. B. Bailey Second in Command

Capt. W. G Foster Adjutant

Capt. A. W. Jack, M.C.. O.C. “A” Company

Capt. R. G. Wilson, M.C O.C. “B” Company

Major H. A. Holmes a Court O.C. “C,’ Company

Capt. F. D. Smith O.C. “D” Company

Capt. F. B. Day Medical officer

Major B. MacDiarmid Works officer

Capt. L. M. Richardson Quartermaster

Lieut. R. McBirnie Transport officer

On the night of the l7th the Battalion relieved the 75th Battalion in the front line. Active patrolling was carried on by day and night and several times the enemy was encountered, with much loss to him, but no luck for us in our principal quest for prisoners for identification purposes.

A raid, in conjunction with the 102nd Battalion, was put on by “D” Company on the night of the 22nd, and after some clever work a party of the enemy was encircled and almost in our grasp. Unfortunately, owing to a misunderstanding, they managed to slip away and our party returned, having inflicted many casualties on the Hun, and with identifications in the way of great coats and tunics, but not bringing in any prisoners. This was an extremely good piece of work, in spite of not having prisoners, and messages of congratulation were received from the divisional and brigade commanders.

Special attention was paid to maintenance of trenches during this tour and Captain Smith and “D” Company were complimented by the Brigadier on having the best organized and cleanest lot of trenches in the brigade.

On the evening of the 23rd we were relieved by the 75th Battalion, proceeding back into reserve, which did not prove so secure as the front line, a number of men being gassed and also casualties by shell fire being suffered. The Battalion was split up, half being in the railway cutting about one and one-half miles behind the line and the other half at Roclincourt.

On the 29th we took over the front line again. Rumors were now floating around as to the relief of the Canadians. (This rumor probably originated from the transport lines and for once was correct. ) Relief took place on the 31st. Everyone was guessing as to the reason and all knew that it meant some big and dirty work on hand for the Canadians. Extreme precautions were taken to prevent knowledge of movement by enemy aircraft and we were not allowed to congregate or move about in the daytime. After a few days at Warlus the transport left us and we moved away by bus on the 3rd of August, leaving at 8 p.m. for an unknown destination Most of us thought we were due for the Salient again, but we proved to be mistaken. Traveling all night by bus we soon perceived from the gun flashes on our left that we were going south, and we landed up at Oisemont, near Abbeville and south of Amiens, at 6 o’clock on the following morning.

Now began the time of no rest and many secret moves. All journeys were made at night. One night march from a place called Warlus to Prouzel commenced at dusk on the 5th and ended at 6 the next morning, a march of 21 miles and only one man fell out, and he was a sick man who had volunteered to try and make it. Some march, 21 miles in full marching order on a dark, wet night, in fresh country, on roads with many twists and turns. A remarkable feat, and one of the best things done by the Battalion in France. Lieut. Kemp and his scouts went on ahead and marked every turn in the road so that we did not lose the way. All this time we were gradually moving up nearer the line, having no real knowledge of what our work was to be. Arrived at Prouzel, however, the C.O. was not given much rest, as he was ordered to attend a conference at brigade after he had been lying down for only one hour, and that conference lasted all day. At dusk we moved again for 10 miles to Boves Wood, where there was no accommodation at all and we lay down on the wet ground for an hour or two’s rest. The wood, which was very large, was literally packed with troops. There we remained all day of the 7th and were issued with our orders for the attack next day. The plan of attack, which was to be a very large one, was, on our particular front, for the 4th Division to follow up behind the 3rd Division and pass through them, push the attack home and exploit success. The French were to attack on our right and the remainder of the Canadians and Australians on our left.

On the night of the 7th at 10 o’clock we moved up to our assembly positions behind Gentelles Wood, arriving there about 1 a.m.

At 4.20 a.m. the 8th of August, on a beautiful summer morning the attack started. Our move was timed for 5.20 a.m. and at that time Col. Carey moved off in front of the Battalion with the companies following. The feature of this attack was surprise, a large artillery concentration and a mass of tanks. Those who spent the hours of waiting in Gentelles Wood will not forget the noise of moving tanks, which came from every direction. The attack went very well and the 3rd Division reached all objectives on time, with the 4th Division well behind, after making the difficult crossing of the Avre with no hitch. For the first time we saw artillery galloping into action and cavalry moving up. At 1.35 p.m. we passed through the 3rd Division and proceeded towards our objectives, which included the capture of Beaucourt-en-Santerre, “A” and “B” Companies leading, with “C” Company in support and “D” Company in reserve. Very heavy machine gun fire was encountered and after capturing Beaucourt our leading companies were held up on the east side of the village. Col. Carey at once went forward and found the enemy in strong numbers holding a wood about 3OO yards in front of us. He ordered up his reserve company and personally led them to the attack on the wood in the face of the fire of many machine guns at close range. He then came back and finding the right company of the l02nd Battalion on our left also held up, started them advancing to the attack forthwith. The wood was successfully taken and enabled our whole line to advance to their objective, which was reached about 2.30 p.m. The Battalion suffered fairly heavily in casualties. Among the officers were Lieuts. Hamilton, Rehder and Duff killed; Lieuts. Cameron and Birmingham so severely wounded that they died two days later; Capt. Smith and Lieuts. Brown, McLanders and Millar wounded. We were in direct touch with the French on our right, the Amiens-Roye Road being the dividing line.

Our total casualties for this attack were:

Officers

O.R.

Killed

3

49

Wounded

4

157

Died of Wounds

2

18

Missing

5

Total

9

229

It is impossible in a short history of the Battalion, as this is intended to be, to give an accurate detailed account of these battles, and no attempt here is made to do this. Readers are referred to the official War Diary Record for an accurate, full narrative of each operation. Lack of space does not permit of full justice being done to the fine records of the Battalion during this and the succeeding battles.

Mention should be made here of the fine work of the runners. Always hard worked and liable to be called out at any time of the day and night to take messages through the hottest shelling, they never once demurred, but were always willing and anxious to do all they could to beat the Bosche. Cpl. Lillew had a very fine section with a large amount of esprit du corps.

After reaching our objective, a distance of 9 miles from the original Hun front line, and a record advance in one day, the Battalion remained there, the 75th Battalion and 10th Brigade passing through and carrying on the attack next day.

We received orders to move forward at 5 o’clock the morning of the 10th and this was done. After a halt near La Quesnel we were sent forward to Meharicourt to support the 12th Brigade on our march up there we had the new experience of being fired on by a large fleet of Gothas, which flew over us and endeavored to inflict casualties. A situation such as this had often been rehearsed during training, and although being fired on, not a man left the road until the C.O. blew his whistle, the signal to scatter. Within 1O seconds of this every man was off the road and under cover of some sort. Result – no casualties, and one gain, namely a mule which had been let loose by some artillery unit.

On arrival at Meharicourt the Battalion was subjected to some very heavy shelling, the Bosche having got his heavy guns into working order again. The forward troops were now in the old French trench systems, which were occupied previous to the Somme offensive of 1916, and owing to the old wire, trenches and shell holes, the attack had become stationery.

Orders and counter orders were much in evidence, and on the llth the Battalion was ordered to capture Chaulnes. Every preparation was made, but at two minutes to zero hour the order was cancelled. Luckily our companies had been told to follow the tanks and not advance till they appeared, so that as they did not appear all was well.

Reinforcements to the number of our casualties were received. On the night of the l1th we took over the front line trenches at Chilly from the 2nd Division, and on the 19th put on a small attack, straightening our line on the left. Lieut. Verity and his platoon of “C” Company successfully carried this out and held the new line in spite of strong opposition and about five counter attacks.

On the 20th we were relieved and moved back into support, being relieved by a French unit in the early hours of the 25th of August a night memorable for the heavy Bosche bombing, going near to Gentelles on the night of the 25th and bivouacing in a wood there with the remainder of the brigade. on August 27th we entrained under sealed orders, spending the night in the train, and found ourselves at daybreak next morning looking at the familiar old landmark of the ruined Mont St. Eloi church We got out of the train at Acq, and taking busses which were waiting for us, proceeded to Dainville, near Arras. We had a fair presumption that we were in for another attack in this area, especially as we knew that the 2nd and 3rd Divisions had made a big attack on the 25th in front of Arras.

On the morning of the 29th we moved up to a concentration area near Neuville-Vitasse with the expectation of an immediate move forward. There definite instructions and orders were given for the attack on the Drocourt-Queant line (part of the Hindenburg line) on a date unknown.

A few days were spent in this place in old dugouts, and on the evening of the 1st of September we moved forward to our assembly positions preparatory to the attack on the 2nd. While moving up under cover of darkness we were several times bombed by Bosche planes, but managed to escape with only a few casualties. Quite close to us several lorries with gun ammunition were hit and the flames of the burning petrol and ammunition lit up the night. Our assembly area, which we reached about 1 a.m., consisted of shell holes. It was a very cold, black night which made keeping in touch very difficult, and we were glad to see the first streaks of dawn, because it meant fighting. The task set for this brigade was, after the Drocourt-Queant line had been taken by the 10th and 12th Brigades, to push forward and endeavor to cross the Canal du Nord, some three or four miles ahead.

At 5 a.m. on the 2nd an intense barrage opened up and at 6.15 a.m. the Battalion was ordered forward. Several casualties were incurred on the way up by the Bosche shelling. On getting near our jumping-off positions it was seen that the 12th Brigade had only been partially successful and Col. Carey went forward at once to ascertain the situation. on finding the true state of affairs, namely, that the Bosche was putting up a strong resistance, especially on the left, and that the 12th Brigade had not captured all their allotted objectives, but were temporarily held up and had suffered heavy casualties, he immediately stopped the companies from further advancing until the 12th Brigade had finished their job or he received orders to assist them. The 75th, however, on our left, sent word over by Major McDiarmaid, who was acting as liaison officer, that they were going to jump off, and the C.O. sent word up to “A” and “B” Companies, our two leading companies, to do likewise. This they did, and captured the sunken road a few hundred yards ahead at the point of the bayonet. The attack, however, was held up on the left, and until this was cleared up no further advance could be made. As the morning progressed it was seen that our attack would not further materialize that day and that a fresh attack would have to be prepared. We therefore remained just south of Dury in the trenches recently captured. The Battalion had suffered fairly heavily in casualties, among the officers being Lieuts. Kemp, Wallace and Findlay killed and Major Nicholson, O.C. “B” Company, Capt. Jack, O.C. “A” Company, and Lieuts. Adams, Donnelly, Chambers, Leader, Landry, Dignam, Uhthoff, Croden and Thomas wounded. Our total casualties for this action were:

1918 1 cas

The remainder of the day was spent in the same position, the 12th Brigade withdrawing their men and the 11th Brigade taking over the whole of the newly-captured front line. At midnight orders were received for a new attack next morning, but these were later cancelled and at daybreak on the 3rd it was seen that the enemy had retired. Immediately the Battalion moved forward to keep in touch with the Bosche. During this movement some French civilians were released, who had been prisoners since 1914. It was found that the Bosche had taken up a defensive line on the eastern side of the Canal du Nord and so we were compelled to establish our line on the western bank, as all bridges over the canal had been destroyed. Headquarters were established in a chateau known as Osvillers Farm, which had been a Bosche Red Cross hospital and from which the Red Cross flag was still flying.

During the next three days several daring reconnaissance’s were made of the canal bank and new posts pushed out. While reconnoitering the canal bank our Brigadier, General V. W. Odlum, who was with Col. Carey, was wounded, but not badly. The result of these reconnaissance’s established the fact that the Bosche was holding the canal bank strongly and that it would cost too many casualties to attack him there at that time. On the night of the 5th of September we were relieved by the 3rd Division and moved back to our old dugouts at Neuville Vitasse.

We remained here, enjoying fine autumn weather, until the 25th of September, training and reorganizing, a big batch of reinforcements having been received. On the 16th the Corps Commander inspected the brigade and distributed decorations. About this time details of a new attack were given out. This one was to comprise the capture of Bourlon Wood and the pushing on to and capture of Cambrai.

On the night of the 25th a move forward was made to the concentration area around Bullecourt, where the Battalion was scattered over the old battlefield in shell holes, dugouts, etc. The Battalion moved forward to their assembly area in the old Hindenburg line just west of Inchy en Artois, arriving there at 1 a.m. on a very wet and slippery night.

The 11th Brigade had been given the task of capturing Bourlon Wood after the 10th Brigade had got across the canal, and at zero hour, 5.20 a m. on the 27th of September, commenced to move forward, the 102nd Battalion leading, followed by the 87th, 54th and 75th Battalions.

The task of this Battalion was to get around the north side of Bourlon Wood and capture the northern and eastern portion of the wood. This brigade was the right unit of the 1st Army in this attack, which was to be on a very large scale, most of the 3rd Army, under General Sir Julian Byng, being engaged. Bourlon Wood was on high, commanding ground and it was vital that this ground should be in our hands before the 3rd Army commenced their attack. Accordingly it was arranged that the 54th Battalion on capturing the eastern side of the wood was to send up a star rocket to signify that this high ground was taken.

The Canal du Nord was crossed without casualties and the Battalion jumped off without delay, and after stiff fighting managed to establish themselves on the eastern side of the wood, sending up the signal that the wood was captured. There it was in a precarious position with both flanks in the air, as the units on the right and left had not managed to get up. A serious counter attack was made on the right flank but was successfully repulsed, as were several others. Later in the day the C.O. after a personal reconnaissance, extended his front down to the right to Fontaine, which was taken by us, in the fighting capturing a German regimental commander and forty other ranks, who confirmed the fact of the Bosche counter attack and stated that he had put in five hundred men against us. This day was one of great memories in the history of the Battalion, both the taking of Bourlon Wood and the repulse of this counter attack being remarkable performances. They were bought with many casualties, however, the officers being Lieuts. Eaton, Lee, Preston, Cronin and R. F. Price killed, and Lieuts. Tobias, Rochester and Seaman wounded. Of these Lieut. Rochester later succumbed to his wounds.

Our total casualties in this attack were:

1918 2 cas

On the morning of the 28th the 3rd Division passed through our line the way to Cambrai, the Battalion reassembling west of Bourlon Wood and getting part of a night’s rest in old cellars, etc. At 6:30 on the morning of the 29th we moved forward again north of Bourlon village to an assembly position preparatory to putting in a new attack north of Cambrai. Here we waited all day expecting to attack at any time, but it was decided late in the day not to attack until the following morning, and at 4:30 the next morning we moved forward to our jumping-off place, having very considerable difficulty in finding same owing to the darkness and poor guides. At 6 a.m. on the 30th of Spetember, zero hour, our attack was launched, with the 75th leading and our Battalion following. The enemy was, however, resisting very strongly, and no headway could be gained. He put down a very heavy barrage on our positions and his shelling was the worst ever experienced by this Battalion. As it was evident he was in considerable force and meant to fight, and as our flanks were not able to get forward, it was decided not to press the attack. Both the 75th and ourselves suffered very heavy casualties.

Among our casualties were Major McDiarmid and Capt. MacQuarrie killed, and Lieut.-Col. Carey. Capt. Foster and our M.O., Capt. Day, and Lieuts. Fitzpatrick, P. Price and major wounded. Of these, Capt. Foster later died of wounds. It is impossible to pass over this incident without referring to the great and terrible loss which the death of Capt. Foster, our Adjutant, was to the Battalion.

Major McDiarmid, Capts. MacQuarrie and Foster

cantimpre3  cantimpre2  gravefoster

From the time of mobilization in Canada to the day he was wounded he was one of the principal figures of the Battalion, first as Quarter-master, where he easily outshone every other quartermaster in the division, and later as Adjutant. He was thoroughly reliable and hard-working, and it is no exaggeration to say that Capt. Foster, was in large measure, responsible for the good work and general efficiency of the Battalion. Poor old Foster, how we wish you were here with us now!

The same, to a considerable extent, applies to Major McDiarmid and Capt. McQuarrie. The former, one of the original 67th officers, had always done good work for the Battalion and it was largely owing to him that the Battalion obtained its high reputation for the working parties in the line and sports out of the line. Capt. McQuarrie was the most popular officer with all ranks. Twice previously wounded while fighting the Bosche, his whole object was to get back to the old Battalion and do his bit, and his personal influence was at all times evident when he was with the Battalion. Always cheerful and merry, he set a high standard to those under him.

Our total casualties were:

1918 3 cas

Headquarters of the Battalion remained all day in an open trench just west of the Cambrai-Douai road, where our gallant Colonel was to be seen with his wound bandaged up, sticking it out, but looking very ill and by his conduct setting a very fine example to all. Later in the day he moved over to a wooden shanty which we shared as headquarters with the 102nd Battalion. During the afternoon of the 30th the Brigadier came round with the details of a fresh attack on the morrow, in which the 102nd was to play a leading part, and we were to be in reserve. We at once took over the line running along the railway cut, Lieut. Seaman being in command of our forward troops, and hold it until the following morning, when the attack started under cover of darkness at 5 o’clock. This went very well for a time. Later, however, the Hun began pouring in reinforcements and put up a big resistance. After much stubborn fighting, which lasted all day and in which the whole 11th Brigade became involved, a definite line was established well ahead, just south of Cuvillers. During this day Col. Carey had command of all the forward troops of the brigade. This line was handed over to the 2nd Division in the early hours of the morning of the 2nd of October, the Battalion moving back to near Bourlon village, and later in the day to Pronville, on the other side of the Canal du Nord, taking up its abode in the cellars of the ruined houses of that one-time village.

So ended the most strenuous few days in the history of the Battalion, starting with the move up for the Bourlon Wood “show” on the 26th of September and ending with the fighting on the 1st of October and arrival in billets on the 2nd of October. Everyone was fairly well tired out and the rough, cold cellars were almost like home again.

It should be mentioned that a big portion of the last few days’ fighting was done with our flanks “up in the air,” and owing to this it was impossible to get ahead, in many cases.

At this point it should be stated that great praise is due to the Transport and Quartermaster’s sections of the Battalion. In spite of the very strenuous times, and by exceedingly hard work on their part, our rations were always delivered to us, wherever we were, on time. Men in the line often did not appreciate the tremendous difficulties which had to be overcome by the supply department before they received their rations. often moved daily, and sometimes twice a day, from one lot of quarters to another, which always means loading and unloading, often given an open field in which to bivouac in spite of the weather, at this time of the year wet and cold, the Transport and Quartermaster’s departments always made good, and praise cannot be too high for their admirable work and uncomplaining cheerfulness and willingness to do anything in their power for the boys in the line. Of course our worthy Quartermaster and Transport officer sometimes lost their hair, but that is the way of …………… and was, under the circumstances, quite excusable. It is, however, hardly to be wondered at that these sections were so efficient with such people as Capt. L. M. Richardson, Lieuts. Cory and Thomas, B.Q.M.S. Telford and Q.M.S Gill, Sinclair, Hardy and Bowyer and Sergt. Lindsay on the job. About this time our R.S.M. W. J. Toms, left us, and C.S.M. A. E. Haines was appointed R.S.M. in his place.

A quiet few days were spent at Pronville, training, rest and absorption of reinforcements being the order of the day until the night of the 8th, when we moved away by bus (and what a ride!) back to the “Y” huts near Arras. There we were given to understand we were to spend at least 14 days in training, and arrangements were made accordingly. Owing, however, to the great success of the British arms, which were defeating the Bosche everywhere and compelling him to retreat on a large scale all along the line, it was found by the higher authorities that every division must be used to take advantage thereof and thus endeavor to bring the war to an end before winter set in. Accordingly we received our marching orders for the 14th and that day saw us take the train at Agnez les Duisans. This was a record train journey, as it took 12 hours to go a distance, as the crow flies, of about 12 or 15 miles. However, we arrived at our destination at about midnight, taking up our billets in the ruined old village of Rumaucourt, where the transport, which had gone by road, met us and provided us with blankets, bed rolls and a hot meal..

Later in the day on the 15th we moved forward and took over the front line along the Canal de la Sensee, facing north, relieving an Imperial battalion. As it was expected the Bosche would be retiring on this front we were given a long line to hold and were ordered to make attempts to cross the canal and find out what he intended to do. As, however, he held the line fairly strongly, and as there were no bridges across the canal, it was not possible for us without incurring heavy casualties, to get over. One man, Cpl. Langford of “D” Company, managed it, but had to return at dusk. However, on the night of the 17th the Hun did withdraw and we immediately crossed over and followed him up in conjunction with the remainder of the division. At 8 o’clock the following morning Capt. Raphael, in charge of the leading companies, was in touch with him again at Palleul, and then the 102nd took over the front. A series of alternative moves now took place, first the 102nd Battalion and then ourselves being in front. In this way we advanced through Palleul, Auberchicourt, Abscon and Escaudain to the north of Denain. Most of these villages were full of French civilians who had been in the Hun’s hands since 1914. Their joy at being liberated knew no bounds and the good people were a serious hindrance and nuisance to our troops, who were continually compelled to fight.

The night of the 19th saw us just west of Haveluy, north of Denain. At 1 a.m. on a very wet night the Brigadier visited the Battalion headquarters and instructed the C.O. that the Battalion was to attack and take Haveluy at daybreak and push on the outskirts of Valenciennes. Accordingly we advanced and took Haveluy, but were held up all along the line just east of this place and Denain. As we were holding a very extended front and as the Bosche as evidently in the process of a big retreat, it was not considered advisable, in order to keep down casualties, to press him hard, so we remained where we were all day. During the night of the 20th our patrols went out far ahead and found that the Bosche had again withdrawn, so that early the next morning the 87th passed through us and continued the advance up to Valenciennes, we had the misfortune to lose a friend, the “Doc.” Who went out wounded. Capt. Day had been with us for a long time and had endeared himself to all by his kindly consideration and treatment of all ranks. Here was a man who had come out to do his bit and had stuck to it in spite of some very tempting offers of more “cushy” jobs and promotions. All credit to him. Capt. Day had always a very fine section under him, the M.O.’s staff and stretcher-bearers being second to none in their self-sacrificing work.

This advance entailed a lot of hard work on our signallers under Lieut. Moore, and great praise is due to them for their labors. They laid practically the whole line from the Canal de le Sensee up to Bellaing, and in addition had to man sometimes three stations at once and also attend to repairs.

While here our C.O., Col. Carey, returned, having only partially recovered from his wound received on the 30th of September. He could not keep away when there was anything on and it is believed that the biggest disappointment of his life was to miss our advance from the Canal de le Sensee up to Bellaing, the only thing he ever was out of while with the Battalion.

We remained at Bellaing for some days and while here we were honored by a visit from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who had a look around our billets and chatted with several of the men.

Major G.S.W. Nicholson, M.C., came back to us here after being wounded at Arras.

The whole western side of Valenciennes had been badly flooded by the Bosche and it was therefore impossible to advance further in this direction. It was decided to make a flanking movement on the town from the south and to this end we moved to Prouvy, near Denain, on the 31st. An attack was commenced on the 1st of November by the 10th Brigade, which was very successful, and this Battalion was ordered to be ready to move forward and exploit the attack during the day. Accordingly at 3 p.m. we moved forward, having to take a very circuitous route owing to the inundations, and by 10 p.m. had taken over the front line from the 46th Battalion just southeast of Valenciennes.

A big attack was planned for the following morning, to be made with the largest artillery concentration yet known on the western front. It was ascertained, however, that that there were some 3,000 civilians in the town of Marly, who, if this artillery barrage had been put on, would have suffered severely. At the last minute, therefore, Col. Carey got this cancelled and undertook to gain possession of the town by advancing independently by means of patrols.

biancoDuring the night our men pushed forward and at 5.50 on the morning of the 2nd of November the companies advanced and in spite of severe opposition reached the town of Marly. Considerable street fighting ensued, as enemy machine guns were encountered at all corners and from the southern end of Valenciennes, but this did not stop us from taking Marly, which was in our hands at 7.10 a.m. During the day a definite line was established about 1,000 yards east of the town. It was found to be correct that a large number of civilians were in the town, the figure of 3,000 being about right. During the night the Hun withdrew and at dawn a general advance was ordered. Our patrols soon came in contact with the enemy and some tough fighting ensued, during which we captured the village of Estruex. At 1 p.m. the 75th leap-frogged through us. During this fighting Lieut. J.H. Orr, M.C., was severely wounded and died later at the C.C.S., and Lieuts. Burnham and Lyle were slightly and C.S.M. Hillerby badly wounded. This was the last scrap of the old Battalion, as the Armistice was signed on the 11th of November.

Our total casualties for this fighting were:

1918 4 cas

During the whole period of our existence our Battalion cooks had, without any show or ostentation, done their bit in a thorough and efficient manner. First under Sergt. Morgan and later under Sergt. Aylward, they certainly played the game. Up at all hours of the day and night, they never failed to deliver the goods, and taking the whole of their work they were probably the hardest worked section in the Battalion.

Praise must also be given to the Orderly Room staff, who worked very hard at all hours and without whom the work of the Battalion would have stopped running.

We rested in Marly until the 6th of November, when we were relieved by the 5th Brigade and moved back to billets in Anzin. For the first time for over two years, during the period in France, every man had a bed and was really comfortable. To celebrate the signing of the Armistice the officers gave a dinner on the 13th, at which the chief figures of the corps, division and brigade were present.

News was received that the whole Canadian Corps was to take part in the march to the Rhine and form part of the Army of occupation. To carry this out we left Anzin on the 15th, stayed at Quievrain for the night, and arrived at La Bouverie on the 16th, where we remained for five days, moving off again to Barthelemy, near Mons, on the 20th of November. While at La Bouverie all ranks of the Battalion were given a magnificent reception. As we were the first Allied troops to stay in the town since the war commenced it was a matter of unusual significance to the good inhabitants They could not do enough for us and on King Albert’s birthday, the 17th, the Battalion attended a celebration service at the local church, the C.O. afterwards being presented with a public address of welcome by the mayor. On leaving here the children gave the colonel a beautiful bouquet of flowers, which was carried at the head of the Battalion.

On all our marches our little old battle flag, borne aloft by Pte. Coulter, was conspicuous at the head of the Battalion. This flag had been through every scrap of the Battalion since the days of Vimy Ridge marking the position of Battalion headquarters, and had often been shelled.

Now began one of the most trying periods of our time in Europe. The war was over, training had lost its “zip,” and the problem was how best to pass the time away and relieve the monotony. All were anxious to get back to their homes in Canada, but it was realized that there had to be system in the thing and that everyone could not go back at once. Accordingly every endeavor was made to get educational classes going, with the idea of providing occupation and enabling men to rub up their knowledge of previous occupations and to teach new subjects to those desirous of learning. It was not found possible to start this work at Barthelemy owing to the poor accommodation, but once established at Jauche (which was reached on the 17th of December after staying on the way at La Louviere, Courcelles, Tongrinne and Thorambais les Beguinnes), the classes were put in fun operation, there being numerous rooms in the town well adapted for the purpose. Among other subjects were English literature, French, drawing, shorthand, motor mechanics, agriculture and civics. Capt A.E. Burnham, M.C., was appointed Battalion Educational Officer, and owing to his efforts it was a great success and relieved many a weary hour.

It should be mentioned here in passing that on our frequent moves both in November and now, it was most interesting to meet the repatriated French and Belgians. Directly after the Armistice the roads were lined with these people, having all kinds of vehicles containing their possessions some pulled by oxen, others partly by cows and partly by horses, and more still by human labor, old men and women even assisting.

While at Jauche Christmas Day came round. This was a remarkable day for us. Everyone sat down to a good dinner of turkey, plum pudding etc. After this was over dancing and concerts were indulged in to a late hour. Major Nicholson and Lieut. Graves were the means of the 11th Brigade getting their turkey, etc. They made two special trips down to Boulogne for the purpose and arrived back with the goods two days before Christmas.

During December both Captains F. D. Smith, M.C., and T. S. McLanders returned, having recovered from their wounds.