Appendix No. 8: 4th CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE REPORT ON OPERATIONS CAMBRIA – IWUY

Note that this is a DRAFT and this page will be amended in the future.

Appendix No. 8[1]

4th CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE.

REPORT ON OPERATIONS.

CAMBRIA – IWUY.

 

The 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, at 0300 hours on the morning of the 26th of September, after being in the trenches west of the CANAL DU NORD for 13 days, was relieved, and moved back to the CHERISY area.

At 1800 hours, 26th September, Div. O.O. 264[2] was received, stating that the Canadian Corp will attack the enemy’s positions on a day to be notified later, and that the 2nd Canadian Division will be in the Corps Reserve.

On the afternoon of the 28th September, Div. O.O. 267 was received, instructing the Brigade, in accordance with Div. O.O. 266, to move to the HINDENBURG SUPPORT LINE and BUISSY SWITCH, the Canadian Corps having attacked and crossed the CANAL DU NORD and captured BOURLON WOOD. Bde.[3] at 2 hours notice to move – Div. O.O. 268 of 29th September.

On the 1st October, in accordance with Div. O.O. 270 and 271, the Brigade moved to the MARQUION LINE, reaching that location at 0700 hours. The Brigade in Divisional Reserve. During the afternoon of 1st October, on verbal instructions from the 2nd Canadian Division (O.O. 272 received later,) the Brigade moved to west of MARCOING LINE in support of the 5th and 6th Cdn. Inf. Bdes, the 2nd Canadian Division relieving a portion of the 3rd Division, the whole of the 4th Division, and a portion of the 1st Canadian Division, the Canadian Corp having advanced to a line overlooking the SENSEE CANAL and CANAL DE L’ESCAUT. The Brigade to be in readiness to move forward and counter attack, or occupy the CAMBRAI-DOUAI Railway and defend the MARCOING LINE.

Arrangements on the 5th and 6th October were made for the 4th Canadian Inf. Brigade to be relieved by a Brigade of the 49th Division, and simultaneously the 4th Canadian Inf. Brigade relieving the Reserve Brigade of the 11th Division – 2nd Canadian Division O.O. 273 which was cancelled on the 7th of September.[4]

During the afternoon of 6th October, the G.O.C. [General Officer Commanding] and B.M. [Brigade Major] attended a conference at Divisional H.Q., when the Divisional Commander explained proposed operations for affecting a crossing over the CANAL DE L’ESCAUT and making a junction with the 3rd Army N.E. of Cambria. The 7th Canadian Inf. Brigade to form a defensive flank on our right, the 11th Division co-operating on our left. 2nd Canadian Division O.O. 274 was handed to the Bde. Commander.

The Brigade Commander held a conference of Battalion Commanders at 2000 hours and explained the proposed operation to them.

On the morning of the 8th October 2nd Canadian Division O.O. 275 was received, and during the day a conference of Battalion Commanders was held at Brigade H.@. At 2130 hours the 5th and 6th Brigades attacked. The 5th Brigade effected a crossing across CANAL DE L’ESCAUT. The 4th Canadian Inf. Brigade, in closes support moved early on the morning of the 9th October to area West of Railway running through S.12 and 20[5], arriving in position at 0500 hours. Brigade H.Q. was established at S.20.a.10.60. Div. O.O. 276 was received stating that the 7th Brigade will come under command of 2nd Division in case enemy counter attacked.

On instructions being received from Division, the 19th Battalion at 0915 hours was placed under command of the 5th Inf. Brigade and moved to the West bank of the CANAL near MORENCHIES.

The 21st Battalion moved forward and occupied area vacated by the 19th Battalion along railway S.14 and 20.

O.O. 277 of October 9th was received from 2nd Canadian Division, instructing 4th Canadian Inf. Brigade to move to West bank of CANAL DE L’ESCAUT – MORENCHIES-RAMILLIES area. This was carried out, troops being in position by 1600 hours.

The Battalions were heavily shelled before reaching the CANAL, but as they move in Artillery formation the casualties were slight.

Brigade established their H.Q. with the 5th Canadian Inf. Brigade at the Chateau MORENCHIES[6]. At 1600 hours on the 9th the 19th Battalion reverted to command to the command of the 4th Canadian Inf. Brigade.

At 1730 hours verbal orders were received for the Brigade to move forward across the Canada and assemble in the ESCAUDEOVRES area. This was completed by 2100 hours under great difficulty, the town of ESCAU-DOUEVRES being subject to continuous heavy shelling.

Brigade H.Q. remained at MORENCHIES CHATEAU.

At 0200 hours 10th October the Brigade received instructions (2nd Canadian Division O.O. 278) to move forward and pass through the 5th Canadian Inf. Brigade, attack NAVES, cross the ERCLIN River and occupy high ground in U.9.c. – U.2.c – N.28d central, the 24th Division on right to make good the ground C.4. central and U.4. central. The 6th Canadian Inf. Brigade on the left, their objective being IWUY.

Dispositions.

Orders were issued by Brigade, dispositions being as follows:-

Right. 19th Bn. Major Hatch
Left. 18th Bn. Lt-Col. Jones D.S.O.
Support on right. 20th Bn. Lt-Col. Hooper, B.O. D.S.O. M.C.
Reserve on left. 21st Bn. Lt-Col. Pense, DSO, MC

Assembly.

The 19th Battalion assembled along the Railway from T.20.d to T.21.a (Sheet 51-A S.W.) and were in position at 0530 hours.

The 18th Battalion assembled position at T.20.a and d., Sheet 51-A S.W. Assembly completed by 0600 hours.

The Attack, October 10th.

The 19th Battalion attacking in a North Easterly direction to NAVES jumped off at 0600 hours, supported by Artillery and Machine Gun barrage, the Artillery barrage lifting every 100 yards. The Battalion advanced in…[7]

The two leading companies met with very little opposition and only slight hostile artillery until reaching old trenches in T.10.b. and T.11.a. where heavy M.G. fire from the left made further progress impossible until the Brigade on our left was able to pus forward.

As it was impossible to cross the ERCLIN River by the railway bridges until the situation on the left was cleared up, orders were sent to Brigade at 0930 hours for the 19th Battalion to effect a crossing at U.13.d., this was carried out and advanced troops established a bridge head over the ERCLIN River in U.13.d. at 1100 hours.

After reorganization of the 19th Battalion continued the advance, gaining the sunken road running through U.13.central and later reaching the high ground at U.13.a. which was completed at 1430 hours.

The two companies that carried out this attack met with severe opposition beside very heavy machine gun fire from the left from the high ground in U.1 central and U.2.c.

Instructions were issued for the 19th Battalion to exploit their success and gain the high ground in U.8. central. At 1715, the third time that day, the Battalion after being reorganized jumped off and the advance continued, although subjected to heavy M.G. fire and having to fight when near their objective for every foot of ground, the enemy opposition was overcome and our troops gained their objective at 1945 hours.

The 20th Canadian Inf. Battalion in support kept close touch with the attacking battalion on the right, when the 19th Battalion moved across the river the 20th Battalion occupied the West bank of the river and entrenches themselves in T.22.b and T.16.b and d., this now was carried out under heavy hostile shell fire. Battn. H.Q. having one man killed and four wounded. At 1715 hours the forward Bn. having occupied the high grounds in U.8. U.2 and U.1. the supports again moved forward and established themselves in T.12.central to U.7.c.1.O. consolidating the building in U.7.c.1.1 as a strong point. During the moves “K” Battery of the C.M.G.C. covered the left flank of the Battalion.

On the left the 18th Battalion had improved their position and established a line along the River ERCLIN in T.11.b. and d. This was carried out under heavy M.G. fire from the left flank. The 21st Battalion in reserve advanced to T.10.c and T.16.a. where they remained to 1500 hours, then their two support companies crossed to the S.E. side of the railway enabling them to keep close touch with the 18th C.I.Bn.

The Brigade advanced during the day a distance of 5,000 yards and on the Left 6,000 yards.

 

ARRANGEMENTS TO CONTINUE THE ADVANCE.

At 1750 2nd Canadian Division O.O. 279 was received stating that the 51st Division will relieve the 2nd Canadian Division. This order afterwards was cancelled, the Divisional Commander and G.S.O.1 called on the Brigade Commander at 1900 hours, the Divisional Commander of the 49th Division was also present when instructions (G.B.31) for continuing the advance was discussed.

RELIEF.

During the night of the 10th/11th October the Brigade was relieved by the 146th and 147th Brigades of the 49th Division and moved to their new assembly positions East of the River ERCLIN and South of the Railway at T.11.

ASSEMBLY.

The assembly was very difficult as the Brigade had only a Bn. frontage to assemble on. The assembly was completed by 0330 hours, the 21st C.I.Bn. being in front and the 20th C.I.Bn. in rear of them. From 0350 hours onward the enemy shelled the assembly area intermittently with H.E. and Gas.

DISPOSITIONS.

21st C.I.Bn.          Right,
20th C.I.Bn.          Left,
18th C.I.Bn.          Support,
19th C.I.Bn.          Reserve.

THE ATTACK.

The attack was launched promptly at 0900 hours, the 146th Brigade operating on the 21st Battalion’s right and the 6th Canadian Inf. Bde. on the left of the 20th Battalion. The advance was supported by Arty. and M.G. fire. The enemy retaliation was prompts and is Artillery barrage along our front was effective and his M.G. fire from the right and the town of IWUY caused many casualties, but the attack continued unbroken until the high ground S.W. of AVESNES LES SEC was reached – here the enemy employed tanks patroling [sic] in front of his M.G. nests – The troops were forced to dig in places had to withdraw to obtain better cover.

Brigade H.Q. ordered two sections of Artillery forward to deal with the tanks and later the Divisional Commander, who visited Brigade H.Q. ordered a battery up to the front line, and the tanks were dealt with effectively.

Instructions were issued from H.Q. for the attack to continue at 1530 hours. An Artillery barrage was arranged to support the attack. Less opposition was experienced and a line was established in Sunken road O.31.c and d., N.30.d.4.4. and touch was maintained with the 146th Infantry Brigade on the Right and the 27th Battalion on the Left.

RELIEF.

During the night the Brigade was relieved by Brigades of the 51st Division and moved to billets in ESCUADOEUVRES.

CASUALTIES.

The casualties during the operation were heavy.

Offices O.R.
18th C.I.Bn. 7 167
19th C.I.Bn. 4 136
20th C.I.Bn. 11 319
21st C.I.Bn. 12 310

 

 

[1] Reference October 1918 Appendix 8, pages 1 to 7.

[2] Div. O.O.: Divisional Operational Order

[3] Bde. is short-form for brigade.

[4] I believe this month was entered in error and was meant to state October.

[5] Map reference.

[6] Possibly the Château de la Motte Fénelon.

[7] It appears that the scanned page is incomplete on page 3 of the report.