Transcription by Captain Michael O'Leary, The RCR.
of The Royal Canadian Regiment.
April 13th, 1917.
1. Assembly and Assembly Area.
On the night of the 5th/6th April, 1917, "D" Co. relieved a co. of the 43RD Bn, in the line, taking over the exact frontage on which we were to attack. Two platoons of "C" Co. occupied dugouts in the QUARRY LINE.
On the night of 7th/8th, "A" and "B" Co's, with the remaining platoon of "C" co., marched up and occupied a section of GRANGE TUNNEL from WEDD STREET entrance to GRANGE entrance.
The Bn. together with details from 7TH. C.M.G.Co., 7TH F.C.C.E., 7TH T.M. Battery, Bde. Wirers and party under 7TH F.C.C.E. detailed to dig S.P.5. assembled in the O. LINE which had been cleaned out and deepened, from Northern lip of BIRKIN GROUP (inclusive).
The next three waves, with Stokes ammunition carrying party of 35 men, assembled in rear and parallel to the Observation Line.
The battalion attacked wearing battle order, i.e., ammunition pouches with Haversacks on shoulder straps. Leather jerkins were worn and waterproof sheets carried. Rifle Grenadiers carried in addition 20 No. 23 Mills Rifle Grenades, 4 Smoke Bombs with attachments for firing from Rifle, cup attachment for firing grenades, 50 rounds blank ammunition. Bomber carried 20 No. 5 Mills Bombs and 2 Smoke bombs.
Riflemen carried two Mills Bombs in Haversack, 170 rounds of ammunition, pair of wire cutters, pair of hedging gloves and 4 riflemen per platoon carried Turnover wire cutters for attachment to Rifles.
Each man carried a ground flare for Aeroplane contact and a VERY light (large or small) and S.O.S. rockets were distributed among all ranks proportionally.
The first wave (attacking platoons) carried only their fighting equipment.
Each man of the two remaining platoons per Co. carried either a shovel or pick (350 shovels, and 50 picks were taken across).
In addition, these two platoons per Co. carried 20 rolls of barb wire or its equivalent of concertina or French wire each and 35 large screw stakes.
RATIONS AND WATER.
Each man carried two Iron rations and one days rations.
Each man went over with a full water bottle.
A hot meal was issued at the latest possible moment before the attack and Rum ration issued within hour of jumping off.
The Regimental Aid Post was established in the MACHINE GUN FORT.
Each Co. took over four Stretcher Bearers and two Stretchers.
Eight Stretchers were placed in Reserve in dugout P.75.
Arrangements were made to draw more stretchers as required after the attack from Regimental Aid Post.
At Zero hour the weather propitious with a slight mist.
Later, it rained and snowed, but not enough to interfere with the operations of the Infantry.
We had with us in the attack, 2 platoons of the 49TH Bn. Who acted as moppers up, also 4 Guns and crews from 7TH C.M.G.Co. under Lieut BURNHAM, a detail of four sappers from 7TH F.C.C.E. under Lieut. KENNEDY, 2 Stokes Guns and crews from the 7TH C.T.M. Bty. Under Lieut, McNEIL and party of Bde. Wirers.
"B" Co. under Lieut. CHURCHILL reports all happy and Co. in Assembly trenches.
"C" Co. under Lieut. ALLAN reports All correct in Assembly trenches. Stokes guns also in position.
"B" Co. under Lieut. ROBINSON reports Co. in Assembly trenches 2.30 a.m. Hostile Artillery quiet.
"A" Co. under Captain MUNN reports Co. in Assembly trenches.
"D" Co. reports 2 platoons 49TH. Bn. (moppers up) in position in assembly trenches.
We sent out runners with correct time with instructions to ascertain if the Machine Guns and Engineers had arrived in Assembly trenches.
7TH C.M.G.Co. report all correct in Assembly trenches.
At the same time runners reported back from Assembly trenches, all troops in and correct.
No shelling around front line, a few 7.7's over GRANGE TRENCH.
Troops all in good condition.
Lieut. Col. HILL received a private note from General MACDONNELL wishing us good luck. The note was duly answered.
Lieut. BOLE arrived in Bn. Headquarters. He left about 5.30 a.m.
Wind N.W. raining. Barrage opens. Enemy barrage came down on P. Line and in rear. It was very weak. It would appear that the enemy did not know the location of or else could not hit our jumping off trenches; also that he had been misled as to the day of the attack, for he did not appear to expect it.
The enemy sent up many rockets however all along his line. The man who was sending them up on our front was killed in the act.
Message from Lieut. BARKER from Bn. O.P. stated "No opposition". This was forwarded to bde.
About this time, Cpl. TAYLOR (Liaison N.C.O. with the P.P.C.L.I.) reported that everything was going splendidly. We were apparently in FANNY and FEATHER trenches with very few casualties. We were in touch with units on our right and left.
There are many prisoners coming back. Our Artillery and Machine Gun Fire, very heavy, and the enemy Artillery is erratic and not strong. It is still raining but very slightly.
Message from Liaison N.C.O. with P.P.C.L.I. states that P.P.C.L.I. are consolidating Intermediate Objective and are pushing forward to Final Objective. Few casualties and few prisoners.
Col. HILL went out to do a reconnaissance and returned about 9.30 a.m. He got information that we had reached our final objective and were well in front of it. The Hun trenches and the ground is in a terrible condition; the trenches practically cease to exist. We have had the most of our casualties in LA FOLIE WOOD where we apparently ran into a strong point which was in good condition.
Message from Lieut. ISBESTER, Liaison Officer with 4TH C.M.R. 6 a.m. last wave crossed FLAPPER. 6.25 a.m. ZWISCHER STELLUNG captured.
Message from Lieut. STRIDE, "D" Co., stated Intermediate Objective captured and being consolidated. In touch with P.P.C.L.I. and "C" Co.
Message from Bde. Advanced Headquarters states Brigade Advanced Report centre located corner BLUE and FAMINE trenches.
Message from "C" Co. states that at 8 a.m. Co. was in touch with 4TH C.M.R. and "D" Co.
Message from "B" Co. states that final objective was reached and Co. was consolidating. In touch with 4TH C.M.R. Asked for reinforcements.
Reported that Hun counter-attack was repulsed and that they were massing for another counter-attack on our right. The Artillery were ordered to quicken the barrage. A platoon of the 49TH Bn. E.R. was sent forward to reinforce "B" Co. (right Co.) They left our Bn. Headquarters 10 a.m. Major WILLOUGHBY went out on a reconnaissance to ascertain where exactly our right is resting, both at the final objective and at FAMINE and FEATHER trenches. He left Headquarters at about 9.45 a.m., he also had orders to look out for the enemy massing for a counter-attack. The enemy did a certain amount of erratic Artillery shooting for the rest of the day. There were no indications of a counter-attack. Most of our casualties suffered when we got to LA FOLIE WOOD principally through snipers.
We dug in and consolidated right away. "B" Co. lost all its Officers and on that account did not get on so quickly with the digging.
Message received from Lieut. ROOKS "B" Co. Stating that both flanks were in touch with units there also that strong counter attack had been repulsed.
Message from our L.O. with 4th C.M.R. States, Lieut. ROBINSON passed there, wounded.
Reported enemy preparing for counter attack.
O.C. 4th C.M.R. Had had their barrage quickened on "Y" Line.
Message from Liaison with P.P.C.L.I. States P.P.C.L.I. Companies in final objective and consolidating and that feeble counter attacks by enemy had been repulsed.
Message from Lieut. FOSTER (Signalling Officer) stated that he had reached FAMINE trench, but that his two wires had been cut in many places, and that he had lost three out of his four linemen.
Mopping up reported complete by Lieut. Van PETTEN, 49th Bn.
Message from "A" Co. Delivered by wounded runner stated that they had captured four machine guns, were in touch with Units on both flanks although owing to shortage of men there was a shrt gap between them and P.P.C.L.I. And that they had sent a patrol over the Ridge.
Message from Major WILLOUGHBY times 11 a.m. Stated that the situation was then as follows:-
"A" Co. (left Co) is in its objective. Strength 1 Officer and approximately 50 other ranks with no N.C.O's. It is in tough with "C" Co. (right) who's approximate strength is 1 Officer and sixty other ranks. Both companies have had one Lewis Gun put out of action. "A" Co. has sent a patrol over the ridge from which as yet no report has been sent. There is a small gap between "A" Co. and the P.P.C.L.I. Owing to the shortage of men. We command the whole situation at present, but unless reinforcements and supplies or every sort, more especially S.A.A., available Machine Guns, Shovels, etc., are sent up at first opportunity, it will be difficult to withstand another counter attack.
A report from Major WILLOUGHBY timesd 2 p.m. that enemy sniping is most active and that owing to this we can do little digging in, as all our men are engaged trying to combat them.
Message from Major WILLOUGHBY stated situation good at 4.15 p.m. but reinforcements and more Lewis Guns and ammunition required. Advance Bn. Headquarters had been established in FEATHER trench.
Message from Major WILLOUGHBY stated Lieut. ISBESTER arrived to assist him. They have established double Lewis Guns Post between "B" Co. and 4th C.M.R. To deal with enemy sniping which is still heavy.
Two platoons of the 58th Battalion, fully equipped in Fighting Order and carrying Ammunition, Bombs, Flares and Water have left to reinforce the forward line. They will be placed on the Right Flank of "A" Company. One more Platoon of the 58th Battalion has been put in reserve in P.75. We have also sent it up with supplies of S.A.A. And Bombs.
Lieut. ISBESTER arrived with a message from Major WILLOUGHBY which stated that everything was satisfactory at 12.07 a.m. Lieut. ISBESTER stated that the line of the C.M.R., "B" Company, "A" Company and the P.P.C.L.I. Was then continuous and that our Lewis Gunners had overcome the enemy snipers. The Platoon of the 49th Battalion and two Platoons of the 58th Battalion sent up as reinforcements had arrived. Lieut. HOME reported in person that all Companies had received their water, and rations, take up by a carrying party of 60 men from our Details in VILLERS DUMP.
Major WILLETS relieved Major WILLOUGHBY at Advanced Battalion H.Q. In FEATHER Trench.
Major WILLOUGHBY returned to Battalion H.Q. About this time.
Message from Major WILLETS stated that the enemy could be seen retiring in extended order to North of PETIT VIMY and moving in a North-westerly direction near La CHAUDIERE. All our Officers and men are very tired.
Patrol under Lieut. ENGLAND pushed down FILLIP Trench toward PETIT VIMY to foot of Ridge at about S.23.c.9 1/2. 7. (VIMY 8a. 1/10,000) where they found some detached posts of the enemy which they Bombed. Machine Guns were opened on them from the North East. They returned at about 1.30 p.m. without suffering any casualties.
Lieut.-Col. HILL went to see Lieut.-Col. GORDON 4th C.M.R. Re easing our right over about 150 yards, they also arranged a raid on a German Trench situated just at our Junction in the Line. He then went over to our Line and had "B" Company ease over to about the CABLE HOUSE he found all the Officers and men very tired, more men than he expected, he returned about 11.30 p.m.
50 men from Details at VILLERS AU BOIS left about this time under Lieut MUNRO with the Rations for Companies each man of the Party also carried a shovel they arrives safely at each Company. Party then made another trip with ammunition, Bombs and Flares.
Raid in conjunction with 4th C.M.R. Called off.
Platoon of 58th Battalion sent out to patrol edge of VIMY RIDGE. They returned about 12.30 p.m. having suffered 9 casualties.
Relief by 58TH Battalion commenced about this time. Completed about 6.15 p.m. The R.C.R. proceeded to tents in VILLERS Camp.
1. The Battalion went over, the leading two companies in waves at 20 paces distance and three paces interval, the two rear companies following at 50 paces distance in Artillery formation in file.
ARMS, S.A.A., BOMS, ETC.
2. Entirely satisfactory and undoubtedly the rifle proved to be the first weapon of the infantry soldier. Rifle Grenadiers had little of no opportunity of using Rifle Grenades.
3. Lewis Guns proved to be of the utmost value and we are of the opinion that they caused more casualties to the enemy than any other Infantry weapon.
OUR MACHINE GUNS.
4. Unable to give any information other than that they were in the positions previously located for them and did a considerable amount of firing.
ENEMY MACHINE GUNS.
5. Caused very few casualties. Their crews behaved with the greatest bravery but were overcome. We captured 5 of his guns.
6. It was unnecessary for the Stokes Guns to come into action during the advance.
OUR FIELD ARTILLERY.
8. Unable to give any definite statement but judging from the condition of the ground and the enemy's defences, we are under impression that their effect was of the utmost value.
ENEMY'S TRENCH MORTARS.
ENEMY TRENCHES AND WORKS.
11. Practically nil.
RATIONS AND WATER.
12. Good and sufficient.
13. Sufficient and very useful.
RIFLE GRENADES AND RIFLE GRENADIERS.
14. Were only used on occasions and were most satisfactory. They did not play an important part in the advance.
15. Very Good.
FLAGS AND DISCS.
17. Telephone line frequently cut between Bn. H.Q. and FEATHER TRENCH. Communication forward practically entirely by runner.
20. Supplied by 49TH Battalion, 56TH Battalion and details of the R.C.R. and were most satisfactory. Our line was always complete with everything required.
22. There was a tendency to dump tools during the advance. Many picks and shovels had to be taken up by carrying parties.
NEW PLATOON ORGANIZATION.
24. Very good.
25. Artillery Liaison was very good. Liaison on right and left owing to ease in which operations were carried out was almost unnecessary.
VALUE OF PREVIOUS OBSERVATION & INTELLIGENCE.
26. Maps and Aeroplane photographs were of the greatest value.
TOUCH WITH BDE. & OTHER UNITS.
27. Touch with Brigade was continuous by wire; other units by runner.