The First World War
War Diary of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Transcription by Captain Michael O'Leary, The RCR.

NOVEMBER 1917

THE ROYAL CANADIAN REGIMENT
SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN REGIMENT

(Handwritten notation: Summary of Operations, Passchendaele)

YPRES Oct. 29th - Nov. 4th, 1917

FOREWORD

The Regiment was not directly engaged in the actual assault delivered by the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade on the morning of the 30th October 1917, yet all preparations were made to reinforce other Units.

The position of the Regiment was therefore a peculiar one. It primarily went into the Line prepared to carry out the work for which it was detailed, namely, to supply carrying parties to the assulting Battalions.

At the same time it did not lose its identity as an assaulting battalion since the men went in fully equipped for the assault.

No opportunity was given to again test the fighting qualities of the unit.

Every party that was required to act as reinforcements to assaulting troops went forward without delay.

1. PREPARATION.

ASSEMBLY AND ASSEMBLY AREA.

1. On the night of 29/30th October 1917, "A", "B" and "D" Companies relieved the P.P.C.L.I. on ABRAHAM HEIGHTS, to act as support to the P.P.C.L.I. and 49th Battalion, who conducted the assault. "C" Company sent two Platoons in close support to the P.P.C.L.I. and two to the 49th Battalion all on BELLEVUE SPUR.

NARRATIVE.

29th October 1917

9.00 a.m. - Lieut. ALLANBECK, 4 H.Q. Runners and one Officer with 4 O.R. Per Co. went forward as Advance Party to take over from P.P.C.L.I. in Brigade Supports.

2.00 p.m. - Lieut. ALLANBECK returned with particulars of dispositions and work required of carrying parties.

3.00 p.m. - Burial party of 1 N.C.O. and 13 men reported ST JEAN CROSS ROADS (Authy. verbal from Captain PHILLIPS.)

3.45 p.m. - "B" Company move off.

3.50 p.m. - H.Q. Company move off.

4.00 p.m. - "A" Company move off.

4.15 p.m. - "D" Company move off.

5.20 p.m. - H.Q. arrive OTTO FARM.

5.40 p.m. - Eight men detailed from "A" Company to report to Brigade Signalling Officer temporarily.

6.20 p.m. - "B" Company relief complete.

6.30 p.m. - "A" Company relief complete.

6.40 p.m. - "D" Company relief complete.

6.45 p.m. - "B" Co. sent 25 O.R. to report to Capt GRIEG 7th T.M. Bty. To carry Stokes to Front Line. Party carried ammunition up but returned instead of staying up as expected. Remainder of Company reports to P.P.C.L.I. and carried water to Front Line.

6.45 p.m. - One half-Company reported to the 49th Btn. and carried stretchers and water to Front Line. Other half-Company carried S.A.A. and water.

7.20 p.m. - Move complete and reported to Brigade from Brigade Dump of GRAVENSTAFEL RIDGE to a forward dump.

9.00 a.m. - "C" Company moved off from ST JEAN.

9.30 a.m. - "B" Company Stokes carrying party reported back to Trench Mortar Bty. Officer in jumping off trench.

9.45 a.m. - GRAVENSTAFEL RIDGE heavily shelled by H.E. and Gas Shells, several casualties inflicted, among them Lieut. SYKES "A" Company.

10.00 a.m. - The night is fine and cool with a strong west wind about 30 M.P.H.

11.15 a.m. - Lieut. ALLAN reported "C" Coy., moving in Nos. 9 and 10 Platoons - 1 Officers and 69 O.R. go to jumping off trench to act as reserve to 49th Battalion. Night passed quietly with usual shelling and harassing fire on approaches.

30th October 1917

5.00 a.m. - Capt. WOOD of "B" Company reported at Battalion Headquarters. "B" Company Bivouacs heavily shelled during night and occasionally throughout the early morning.

5.50 a.m. - Barrage opens. Day just breaking. Very fine high wind. Mud had dried greatly during the night.

9.00 a.m. - Brigade Major called up and said "All Objectives reached, 4th Division in CREE FARM."

9.50 a.m. - On instructions from Brigade, two platoons "A" Company ordered to stand by ready to reinforce 49th Battalion.

10.20 a.m. - Two more Platoons required by Brigade to be placed at disposal of Officer Commanding P.P.C.L.I. Not to go forward of jumping off trench without Brigade Authority.

10.30 a.m. - Two Platoons "A" Company sent to report to O.C. 49th Battalion at WATERLOO. Men sent fully equipped and carrying 10,000 rounds S.A.A. Left "A" Coy. Billets at 11.20 a.m.

10.45 a.m. - Two remaining Platoons "A" Company ordered to report to O.C. P.P.C.L.I. at WATERLOO carrying as much S.A.A. as possible and other wise fully equipped.

11.30 a.m. - "A" Company reports two Platoons moved off at 11.20 a.m. Carrying 15,000 rounds S.A.A. Lieut. FOSTER in charge, under orders to report to C.O. P.P.C.L.I.

5.00 p.m.

DISPOSITIONS R.C.R.

12.45 p.m. - Brigade telephoned to have two Companies ready to re-inforce Front Line.

12.50 p.m. - "B" and "D" Companies ordered to "Stand By" ready to turn out at a moments notice in Battle Order.

1.00 p.m. - Commanding Officer went to Brigade to attend a conference.

1.00 p.m. - 49th Battalion phoned to send up 1 Platoon to carry Rifle Grenades to 49th.

1.00 p.m. - "D" Company ordered to send 1 Platoon to carry Rifle Grenades from GRAVENSTAFEL DUMP to Front Line, to report to Officer Commanding 49th battalion at WATERLOO.

1.15 p.m. - 49th Battalion phoned that two Platoons of "A" Company wil not be required, they will be sent back as soon as they have dumped their material.

1.30 p.m. - Major BOUCHARD sent down the Line, Gas Casualty.

2.30 p.m. - Lieut. LONGLEY reporting for "B" Company reports Capt. WOOD badly used up from Gas and Shell Shock. Company strength 2 Officers and 74 other ranks.

2.40 p.m. - Brigade wired (B.M. 93) to place two Cos. at disposal of 49th Battalion to straighten out Line. Brigade report our Flares seen at D.1.5.b.1.7., D.5.b.75.27, D.5.b.85.90. 49th Battalion will establish Line running in a N.W. direction from Road Junction D.5.b.2.a. AAA, 5th C.M.R. reported in VANITY HOUSE. 49th Btn. to establish touch on left Flank with 5th C.M.R.

2.50 p.m. - Wire from Brigade stating that 42nd Btn. will take over our area, with Headquarters at OTTO FARM, B.M. 94.

3.00 p.m. - Advance parties 42nd arrived and sent to Companies.

3.15 p.m. - Commanding Oficer returned from Brigade with Major GREY.

3.30 p.m. - C.O. And Major GREY left for WATERLOO.

4.00 p.m. - Rations arrived and made OTTO FARM their H.Q.

6.15 p.m. - Rations arrived at WIMBELDON and GRAVENSTAFEL Dumps.

6.30 p.m. - C.O. Returned from WATERLOO.

6.30 p.m. - "B" Company ordered to report at WATERLOO at 10.00 p.m. to re-inforce P.P.C.L.I. Lewis Guns and all available S.A.A. To be carried.

"D" Company ordered to report to WATERLOO at 8.30 p.m. to reinforce 49th Battalion.

7.15 p.m. - Major AITKEN, 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade called and stayed for an hour.

8.15 p.m. - P.P.C.L.I. phoned for two Platoons to carry rations to P.P.C.L.I. and "C" Company R.C.R.

8.30 pm. - "A" Company ordered to send two Platoons to carry rations from GRAVENSTAFEL DUMP. Guide from P.P.C.L.I. Reported here to take them back to the Dump and WATERLOO where guides will be furnished to Front Line. Night passed with usual harasing fire on appraches.

Night fine with full moon.

31st October 1917

9.00 a.m. - "A" Company reported 3 Casualties. "D" Company reported 5 Casualties.

10.00 a.m. - Captain McCALLUM called at H.Q. and said rations were taken to all last night as arranged.

2.00 p.m. - Verbally arranged that the P.P.C.L.I. and 49th Btn. arrange details of relief of half "A" Co. and also "C" Company tonight.

5.30 p.m. - Heavy barrage put down on S.O.S. Call going up on Right Divisional Front.

7.00 p.m. - Barrage slackened and at 7.30 p.m. condition normal.

7.30 p.m. - Headquarters moved to WATERLOO FARM.

11.05 p.m. - Relief all complete. Lieut. ALLAN reporting for "C" Company at 9.30 p.m. and Lieut. FOSTER reporting for "A" Company at 9.55 p.m.

9.45 p.m. - Captain WOOD reported at Brigade Headquarters suffering from contusion Back, sent to Field Ambulance.

The night was fairly quiet, except for occasional harassing fire. Gas shells were used on artillery positions in rear of us.

Little of outstanding interest occurred during November 1st and 2nd.

On the morning of 3rd November 1917 the enemy attacked in force along the front.

3rd November 1917

4.50 a.m. - S.O.S. Sent by phone from 42nd Battalion. Enemy barrage put down.

5.00 a.m. - S.O.S. sent by Lamp by 42nd Battalion. Enemy counter-attacking.

5.05 a.m. - S.O.S. sent again by flares. Heavy barrage put down on BELLEVUE SPUR and on our right.

5.10 a.m. - S.O.S. flare up.

5.20 a.m. - Communication by phone broken with 42nd Bn.

5.30 a.m. - Both barrages slowing up.

5.35 a.m. - S.O.S. Received by lamp from 42nd Battalion.

5.40 a.m. - S.O.S. Again sent by flash from 42nd Battalion.

5.50 a.m. - Runners from 42nd Battalion report the enemy has broken through on right of GRAVENSTAFEL ROAD, the line through 42nd H.Q. is still established.

5.55 a.m. - S.O.S. on our right.

5.57 a.m. - S.O.S. up on right and front.

5.58 a.m. - S.O.S. on left.

6.10 a.m. - Message from 42nd Battalion reads:- "Post at GRAF HOUSE isolated, get people on right to get in touch." Message relayed to Brigade.

6.14 a.m. - Message from 42nd Battalion reads:- "Let Brigade know situation is normal on our Front."

6.22 a.m. - 7th Brigade Machine Gun Runner reports enemy could not be seen from 42nd H.Q.

6.23 a.m. - Message received by Runner from 42nd Battalion reads:- 4 men from GRAF HOUSE have arrived, saying they are the sole survivors. Possibly this is correct but they are very bewildered.

6.10 a.m. - Brigade relayed following message through:- "Let us have situation, AAA. Take steps for immediate Counter-attack, AAA. Do you want re-inforcements."

6.25 a.m. - Reply from 42nd Battalion reads "Do you want us to prepare for or against counter-attack."

6.30 a.m. - Brigade reply to 42nd Battalion "Are you in same line you held this morning? - sent by flash.

6.37 a.m. - 42nd Battalion reply to Brigade read "YES" phones Brigade by O.C. 42nd Battalion.

7.05 a.m. - Lieut. HOYLE reported in person "Our immediate front was not attacked, situation GRAF HOUSE obscure. Hun may have attempted attack on CREST FARM."

12.00 noon. - Captain WALLACE 3rd Canadian Division reports situation as follows:- Our attack of GRAF HOUSE was successful. Shortly after the enemy attacked on the left Divisional Front, the attack apparently overlapping our own front. The enemy attacked GRAF HOUSE in force and recaptured it. The force of the attack on the rest of the front was no doubt broken up by our Artillery practice Barrage at 3.30 a.m.

The situation during the rest of the day remained normal.

The battalion, less two Companies, relieved by the 13th Can. Inf. Bn. at 1.00 a.m. on the 4th November 1917.

EQUIPMENT

2. (a) S.A.A. Each other rank carried 170 rounds per man, except Signallers, Scouts, Runners, Lewis Gunners and Bombers who carried 50 rounds each.

(b) GRENADES.

(c) RIFLE GRENADE CUPS. 9 per Platoon

(d) WIRE CUTTERS. Rifle Wire Cutters.

STORES CARRIED.

3. S.O.S. Rockets - 24 per Company
Shovels - 25 per Company
Sandbags - 3 per man
Solidified Alcohol - 1 tin per man

RATIONS.

4. Unconsumed portion of days rations and 24 hours additional.

Two iron rations were also carried.

WATER.

5. Water bottles filled.

20 Tins per Company were taken up daily to GRAVENSTAFEL DUMP by Pack Mule and from there carried to Companies. Each man was provided with two Chlorination Tablets for use with Shell Hole Water in case of emergency.

SOLIDIFIED ALCOHOL.

6. 1 Tin per man.

MEDICAL ARRANGEMENTS

One of the most difficult tasks in connection with the operations was the evacuation of the wounded. All wounded had to be carried distances varying from 3 / 4 of a mile to two miles over almost impassable roads continuously shelled. The few wounded going through OTTO FARM on the 30th October were quickly evacuated by C.A.M.C. And other carrying parties. At the time of taking over from the PPCLI and the 49th Btn at WATERLOO at 11.00 p.m. October 31st nearly all the wounded were cleared of that R.A.P. By 10.00 a.m. 1st November 1917 all wounded, including several wounded German were evacuated. Subsequent to this there was no congestion. Great credit is due to the C.A.M.C. And all carrying parties.

WEATHER.

Subsequent operations to the attack on the 30th October 1917 were facilitated by the fine weather which prevailed. Little rain fell during the tour. The high wind of the night 19th/30th materially improved the condition of the ground.

OTHER TROOPS.

3. Reliefs worked smoothly on all occasions. Guides furnished knew the ground well and little or no confusion prevailed.

SUPPLIES.

4. Rations and water were delivered without fail. These were dumped at GRAVENSTAFEL and carried to Companies by Ration parties detailed for same.

WORKING PARTIES

5. Nil.

CARRYING PARTIES.

6. For six days, previous to the 30th October, Companies had been carrying material to the Front Line. An average of 260 all ranks were employed daily. On the 26th a party of 150 O.R. Under Major LOGAN was detailed to carry wounded from WATERLOO to the SOMME A.D. Station. On the day of the attack parties were detailed to carry ammunition and supplies to the assaulting troops. All work required was done for the most part under very trying conditions, of which the impassibility of the roads was not the least.

COMMUNICATIONS.

7. Only once was communication with Brigade broken. During a heavy bombardment, evening 31st October 1917, communications forward from WATERLOO was maintained with difficulty. During Barrages the Lucas Lamp was invaluable and proved the only means of communication possible under the conditions. Runners were used as little as possible except for Secret Messages.

STRENGTH.

8. The Battalion went into the line with 21 Officers and 553 Other ranks. Headquarters went in with 10 Scouts, 13 Signallers, 11 Runners and 2 Servants.

CASUALTIES.

9. OFFICERS

OTHER RANKS

TOTAL - 258

GAS.

10. During the night October 29/30th the enemy put a sudden barrage of Gas Shells and H.E. On ABRAHAM HEIGHTS. The gas used was a mixture of PHOSGENE and MUSTARD Gas. Several casualties were caused during the bombardment. Many, however, were not affected until several days later when the men had reached the Transport Lines.

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