War Diary of the 18th Battalion: July 1917

Confidential

18th Canadian Battalion

War Diary

Original Copy   July 1917

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
BARLIN 1 9 am Brigade Church Parade at HERSIN-COUPIGNY Sports ground. Devine service conducted by Maj. Gen. Simms, C.S.D. Chief Chaplain of British armies in the Field.
2 Canadian Corps sports at Camblain-le-Abbe[i]. 18th Canadian Battalion Football Team won the final 2-0. The High Jump won by Pte. Laird[ii] of B coy.
3 2nd Canadian Division moved from Rest into lines taking over from 46th British Division in the LENS-LAURENT Sector. 4th Brigade moved into Divisional Reserve with Brigade HQrs in Bully GRENAY. Battalion billeted in huts at BOVIGNY Woods.
4 Battalion training as per syllabus attached.
5 Same as yesterday.
6 Same as yesterday.
7 Same as yesterday.
8 Rainy day.
BOVIGNY WOOD 9 Training during the morning. Postponed Church Parade held. About midday (12.40 pm) shell dropped by long range gun struck one of the huts in which H.Q. details[iii] and portion of D coy where billeted. 5 ors Killled. 4 ors died of wounds. 35 wounded.[iv]
10 Inspection by Commanding Officer, preparatory to going into the line. 4th Brigade relieved 5th Brigade in LENS Sector. 18th Battalion relieved 26th Battalion in LENS left Sector. Hqrs at M.23.d.3.8.
11 Relief complete 1.30 am. Front line fairly quiet. Slight T.M. [trench mortar] activity, shelling practically nil.
12 Front line still quiet, weather fine.
Night 12/13 4th and 6th Brigades changed places. 4th Brigade taking over LAURENT Sector. 18th Battalion in  Brigade support in Cite. St. Pierre with HQr at M.16.b.55.90. Battalion billeted in cellars formerly occupied by the Huns and fairly strongly fortified.
13 Weather very fine. All quiet.
14 Extremely hot. Thunder showers. Carrying party furnished for carrying T.M. ammunition to front line.
15 Quiet. Parties furnished for carrying T.M. ammunition to front line.
16 On the night of 16/17 the 4th Brigade relieved the 6th Brigade. 18th Battalion relieved the 28th Battalion in the LENS left Sector. HQrs at M.23.d.3.8. Shelling occurred during relief but no casualties resulted.
17 Enemy Trench Mortars extremely active. During night of 17/18 we retaliated with howitzers.
18 Quiet during the day. Immediately after dark Hun T. Mortars extremely active. C coy relieved A coy in front line. A coy returning to support trenches. Our observers obtained accurate cross bearings on trenches of Enemy T.M. preparatory to more effective retaliation by Artillery.
19 Day quiet. Night of 19/20th again heavy strafing by enemy heavy and light T.Ms. Our retaliation very effective so before daylight enemy almost silenced by our heavies. Lieut. L.C. Jarvis[v] and 1 or. Killed by T.M. in front lines.
20 Day quiet. Support line shelled at night and 2 men killed and 8 wounded. Our retaliation showed marked effect in lessening enemy Trench Mortar activity during night 20/21st.
21 Quiet day. Our light Howitzers concentrated on suspected T.M. emplacements and good results obtained. During the night of 21/22 enemy Trench Mortars less active owing to retaliation by our heavies [heavy artillery] immediately hostile T.Ms commenced firing.
22 Quiet during day in Front line. 6th Brigade relieved the 4th and 5th Brigades in LENS and LAURENT Sectors. The 29th Battalion relieved both the 18th and 19th in the LENS left and right sectors. 4th Brigade proceeding to Divisional Reserve area. 18th Battalion being billeted in village of BOVIGNY. During night enemy T.M. activity practically nil. Slight shelling. 3 men being wounded.

 

During this tour Lieut. T.R. Dougall[vi] rendered valuable service and obtained valuable information by making 3 daring reconnaissances among the buildings in NO MANS LAND. At M.19.a.10.00 and N.19.c.80.70. he searched these houses and German dugouts in the vicinity. 2 of these reconnaissances were made during daylight and from information gained he was able to direct artillery fire on T.M. emplacements.

23 NO ENTRY
24 Battalion resting at BOVIGNY.
25 Bath and Pay parades. Preliminary reconnaissances by Officers on grounds selected for special training. Area reconnoitered being marked to represent a specific area opposite our Divisional front.
26 Special training for attack carried out by Battalion.
27 Brigade attack over marked area.
28 General training at training ground carried out. Preparations for going into line for attack completed.
29 Proposed Brigade Church parade at BOVIGNY cancelled owing to very heavy rain.
30 Battalion parade in grounds of BOVIGNY Chateau. Inspection and address by Commanding Officer. Taking over of battle front postponed for 2 days.
31 Battalion carried out general training at BOVIGNY.

 

[i] Correct place-name spelling is Camblain-l’Abbé.

[ii] Private Laird died at the Devereux Mansion Hospital in Marblehead, Massachusetts on April 8th, 1920 from a combination of endocarditis, aortic insufficiency, and mitral insufficiency. The death certificate indicates that a contributory factor was arthritis experienced over 3 years and that this disease was contracted in France.

[iii] Headquarters details probably refers to signallers, runners, and administrative non-commissioned officers and other ranks.

[iv] There is a discrepancy between the 18th and the 4th C.I.B. war diaries. The 4th C.I.B. diary relates that at 12.45 p.m.: “Hostile shelling of BOUVIGNY HUTS with 5.9 [inch] shells. First shell to arrive hit men’s hut causing casualties to the extent of 5 Killed, 37 wounded.” From research, it appears that four soldiers are confirmed killed by the shelling with a possible five soldier deaths possibly related to this event. This would indicate the 18th Battalion’s War Diary is correct and the discrepancies between the diaries is unknown.

[v] The CWGC and service records indicated that Lt. Jarvis died July 20, 1917. Pte. A.A. McLeod, reg. no. 158645, was killed in action with no specific cause give. On the July 20, 1917, the casualties, including Lt. Jarvis amounted to four men in totally. Perhaps the War Diary was counting two men form men from the night of July 19/20 and the day of July 20?

[vi] Lt. Dougall was to rise from the ranks from Private to Lieutenant. He earned the Military Cross, Medaille Militaire (France) and died at the age of 19 on August 19, 1917, just one month after this diary entry.

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