War Diary of the 18th Battalion: May 1917

CONFIDENTIAL
WAR DIARY
-OF-

18th CANADIAN BATTALION – 2nd CANADIAN DIVISION

From 1st May to 31st May 1917
Volume 31

With appendicies 1-2

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
1 a.m. Battalion in Reserve camp near NEUVILLE ST VAST.

Battalion parade and company training. During the afternoon recreational exercise such as Football, Baseball etc. was in order. 3 o.rs admitted to hospital sick

2 9:30 a.m.

 

 

 

5 p.m.

Inspection of Battalion by Bdr. Gen. Rennie, G.O.C. 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade. The Officers and men being highly complimented on their smartness and cleanliness.

 

Battalion relieved the 29th Bn. in Divisional reserve in PAYNESLY TUNNEL. 40 o.r. arrives as reinforcement.

3/4/5 Position as yesterday. During this tour much valuable work was done in improving defences, wiring, and deepening the trenches, also in the collection of salvage which was spread over the whole area. Each company established a dump and rivalled each other in the collection of the S.S.A. [small arms ammunition] Bombs, and Equipment etc. 23, o.rs arrived as reinforcements. 4 o.rs admitted to hospital.
Reference Map. WILLERAVAL 1/20,000 5/6 Nights Battalion relived the 24th Bn in front line with H.Qrs, MT FORET QUARRIES, at T.22.c.9.3. disposition of companies being “D” and “C” in front lines. “A” in close support and “B” in Bn reserve. Previous to this relief, Lt. Eastwood accompanied one officer from each company made a reconnaissance in daylight over area to be taken over. This was made under very heavy shell-fire. Lieut. G.V. Irwin was wounded. Capt. E.R.V. Lloyd and Lieut. J.P. Chrystal admitted to hospital (sick)
7 During the day enemy heavily shelled our front and support lines. 5 O.R’s being Killed[i] and 13 Wounded. During the night the enemy maintained a continuous bombardment of gas shells on the Railway Line so that our ration parties were unable to get through until early in the morning and owing to daylight coming the rations could not be taken past the Reserve Line.
8 Early in the morning enemy made a counter-attack against FRESNOY which had been taken by the 1st Canadian Division on the 3rd instant. The Gloucester Regiment, the left Battalion of Division on our right, on whom the brunt of the attak fell were driven back to a line just east of ARLEUX, running through T.30.c and B.6.a and c., and were unable to regain their position. Hence our right Battalion, the 19th Canadians, were forced to withdraw from the advanced position in front of FRESNOY at noon to a position running through T.24.c. and T.30.a. connoting with the Gloucesters at T.30.a.7.4. During this attack our three lines were subjected to heavy artillery fire. During the morning the 4th C.I.B. had lost all touch with the 19th Battalion and asked us to send a Runner to the 19th Headquarters in the ARLEUX LOOP for situation report. Cpl. Randall of the Battalion Scouts succeeded in reaching the 19th Headquarters and returned the necessary information which was at once forwarded to  Brigade. To accomplish this task Cpl. Randall[ii] had to pass through heavily shelled areas and for this was awarded the Military Medal. A second trip was made for the same purpose by Lieut. Eastwood.[iii]
8th/9th Night An Inter-Company relief was completed. “A” and “B” Companies in the front line. “C” Company in Support and “D” Company in Reserve.
9 Before day-break Lieut. J. McAmmond, who was in command of our right Platoon, under great difficulties established communications with the 19th Battalion, both through advance Posts in T.24.c. and along Winnipeg Road (T.23.d.) During a break in communication a Pigeon Message was sent to Brigade Headquarters. Pigeons released and flew a distance of approximately 6 miles, to ECOIVRES, where they were trapped and message wired to Brigade, the proceeding occupying 25 minutes.
10 Nothing unusual occurred, the usual daily strafe[iv] of Quarries and barrages to front the support lines.
10/11 Night Battalion relieved by the 21st Battalion and moved in Brigade Reserve at T.27.d.3.5. Two Companies in C.P.R. Trench at T.27 and two Companies in Vancouver Road at T.26.s.
11 During the whole tour considerable difficulty was experiences in bringing up rations owing to the enemy fire of Poison Gas and Tear Shells. Daily at dusk enemy shells, which made it necessary for Gas Respirators to be worn. Despite this Captain G.W.F. Hodgins never failed to deliver rations at Battalion H.Q. in MT. FORET QUARRIES. Lieut. A.A. McLean rendered valuable assistance by personally acting as guide from Railway forward. 6 O.R’s admitted to hospital (sick).
12 3 O.R’s “Wounded”. 8 O.R’s admitted to hospital (sick). 22 O.R’s arrived as reinforcements.
12/13 Night During the night Brigade called for two parties to carry wire to the front line. Lieut’s G.E. Lucas and W.R. Wright being detailed to take charge of these parties. Lieut. G.E. Lucas completed his task with the loss of 4 O.R’s “Wounded”. Lieut. W.R. Wright and party on returning was heavily shelled in MT. FORET ROAD, scattering the party, Lieut. W.R. Wright and Sgt. T. Clark [Clarke] being “Killed” and 6 O.R’s “Wounded”.
13 Battalion was relieved by 24th Battalion and moved back into Reserve Camp near NEUVILLE-ST-VAAST. Move completed successfully and without casualties.
14 Bath and Pay Parades. 3 O.R’s admitted hospital (sick).
15 Morning Company and Platoon Training. Afternoon Recreational Training.
16 A.M. Battalion Parade and Company and Platoon Drill. P.M. Recreational Training.
17 A.M. Physical Training. P.M. Recreational Training. 48 O.R’s rejoined the Battalion from C.E. Fatigue.[v]
18 Preparation for G.O.C.’s Inspection. 4 O.R’s admitted to hospital (sick). 5 O.R’s returned from hospital.
19 Inspection of the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade by General Sir Julian Byng, G.O.C. Canadian Corps. The G.O.C. expressed great surprise that, considering the heavy fighting and hardships passed through during the last month, it was possible for the men to turn out so clean and in such fine condition. 10 O.R’s of the 18th Battalion received decoration of the Military Medal on this Parade.

 

5.00 p.m The 18th Battalion relieved the 27th Battalion on the RIDGE (observation) LINE, with Battalion H.Q. at THELUS CAVE. For disposition see Map attached.

20/21 Battalion working on completion of RIDGE LINE trench. Nothing unusual occurred.
22 Received order from brigade to stop all work until further orders.
23/24/25/26 Nothing unusual occurred.
27 Night Battalion relieved 28th Battalion in left sub-sector. Battalion H.Q. in MT. FORET QUARRIES. Relief completed at 2.30 a.m. 27th.
28[vi] 1.00 a.m. Enemy opened barrage on Battalion H.Q. MT. FORET QUARRIES, our Support Line at T.23.a.6. and our Front Line. The barrage on the Front Line lifted at 1.15 a.m. then two raiding parties, each estimated at 25 or 30 men, one on each side of the MT. FORET – ACHEVILLE ROAD, were seen approaching our wire. Fire was opened by M.G’s and rifles. Unable to get through the wire and checked by our fire the enemy retired. Of the party on the left frontage two of the enemy succeeded in getting through the wire, one of whom was severely wounded and taken, and the other gave himself up and was immediately sent back to Brigade H.Q. In the evening a dead German was brought in.

On the right frontage wiring was in progress and a N.C.O. and 6 men were well out front of our wire, when the barrage opened the N.C.O., Cpl. L. Skilton, gave orders for the party to retire. Immediately after the raiding party were seen and dispersed by our fire.

As soon as all quietened down a search party went out but failed to find the three men of the protecting patrol who were found not to have returned. Two rifles were found in a shell-hole but no other trace of them.

The night raiding party came on the road and immediately to the right of it. The left party about 250 yards from the road.

At daybreak Huns were seen carrying in casualties and stretchers were seen during the day on the BOUVRY ROAD also our observers report seeing 10 or 12 dead lying in no-man’s land today at T.18.c.6.5. Our casualties during the raid were 3 men Missing, 1 man Killed and 1 man wounded.

29 Battalion relieved by 21st Canadian Battalion and moved into Brigade Support with H.Q. at T.27.d.3.5.
30/31 Working parties during night carrying wire to front line and work on Canada trench under supervision of Canadian Engineers.

 

Decorations awarded to Officers this month.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER.

Major K.H. McCrimmon
Major W.J. Forbes-Mitchell

MILITARY CROSS

Lieut. P. Jerdan

Lieut. D.A.G. Parsons

[i] The CWGC database shows that four soldiers of the 18th Battalion perished that day.

[ii] As of the date of this document, this soldier has not been found at the LAC.

[iii] From this entry and the previous one on the night of April 5/6 one can assume that Lieutenant Eastwood was head of scouts. It is also notable that when Corporal Randall returned the officer in command went instead of assigning this risky task to a non-commissioned soldier.

[iv] Refers to harassing artillery fire.

[v] C.E. Fatigue may refer to these soldiers being temporarily detached to the Canadian Engineers.

[vi] For a detailed analysis of this raid please read “One dead German in our wire.”: Reports on a German Raid on the 18th Battalion

Maps from May 1917 War Diary

War Diary and Appendicis

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