My leave came thro at night, on Jan. 1, 1918, and on Jan. 2 I left Houdain by train at 10.45 A.M., changed at St. Pol and arrived at 8.30 P.M. There I met a chap I'd been to cadet school with (McCrimmon). We stopped at the Louvre Hotel. Jan. 3 at 10.45 we sailed and arrived at Folkstone at 1 pm. We were late getting in to London and we went to the Regent Palace. At night we went to see the "Maid of the Mountains" and enjoyed it very much. I left Kings X at 11.45 and arrived at Grimsby at 5.45 P.M. Allie met me at the station. I stopped at 161 Legsby Ave. My first job was to send a cable home and then I got some new underwear and spent the rest of the day visiting. I went to Blythes for dinner on Jan. 7 and in the afternoon took the kids to the Lyric and at night Allie and I went to the Prince of Wales theatre and saw "The Little Minister". I went to Frances for noon meal and to the Blythes for supper.
On Jan. 9 Allie and I went to Cambridge and put up at the Wallings. It was very cold. I slept at a neighbors. We met Allie's cousin Les, who was up at Cambridge taking an officer's Course. Next day we visited Kings College and ran across Harrison Dysart who was taking a course. At night we saw Peter Pan with Les. On Jan. 11 we took a train at 5.20 and went thro Eley March and Lincoln arriving at Grimsby at 10 P.M.
Next day Allie stayed off work and we went to Thoresby in the afternoon and took in a show at night. Next day we went to the Hewins. On Jan. 14 I got my sugar ticket from the City Hall. I had not had ration tickets before but the rations were so small each ticket counted, so I went and got my tickets, so much sugar, meat, etc. We went to see "Aladdin" at night. Next day I went to dinner at Blythes and sent a wire to McCrimmon telling him I was coming next day and to get me a room.
On Jan. 16 (leave was extended to 14 days) I left Grimsby at 9.05 and met McCrimmon. He had arranged a room for me and also had arranged a party of 4, a girl friend of his obliged. We 4 had dinner at Hackets and afterwards went to see "Yes Uncle" with Leslie Hensen. It was very good. Next day we left London at 7.30 A.M. and after a good crossing were once more in France. We stopped at the officers club at Boulogne and at night went to a movie. On Jan. 18 we caught the 10.55 A.M. train to Aubigny. I found the Batt. was in the Bully Greany area. I walked from Aubigny to Grand Servins and stopped there all night in a billet provided by the Town Major. Next day, Jan. 19, I walked to Bully and Bracquemont and took over the adjutants job. We were in a poor billeting area near a mine. I found a large mail from Canada and I was busy answering it for a couple of days. On Jan. 20 we moved to Bully and were there 3 days getting settled. On Jan. 23 we moved to Mazingarbe. I had a good billet in a farm house. We were having rainy weather.
Col. Ormand went up the line to get a line on the front. The Hun came over and bombed Bethune. We could hear it in the distance.
On Jan. 27 we went up to the Hill 70 Area on the left and relieved the 7th. Being an adjutant I never got a chance to go round the line, so all I knew was the way up and the headquarter dugout. The rest I got from maps.
We had a quiet trip in, the 7th and 8th pulled off raids, and we got some retaliation but nothing to speak of. My trip in was broken by a trip to the transport to defend Corp. Taylor who was charged with carelessness in allowing a Lewis gun to be fired and wounding a member of the crew. I got him off.
On Jan. 31 we were relieved by the 16th Batt. and rode back to Fosse 10. As adjutant they brought up a horse and the Col. and I rode back. I now had a horse detailed to me. We had a good billet and were out 8 days.
On Sunday Feb. 3, Padre Madden threatened to report me because I was putting Catholics on fatigue on Sundays. Our new Padre also got very angry because I wouldn't open the padres box and give him the books. I told him so far as I was concerned the padres box was his personal effect and I wouldn't open it without his permission. Jim Brereton was acting as my batman while Stewart was away on leave.
On Feb. 4 Sgt. Wright's Court Martial was held. I was prosecuting. An officer asked if he could give evidence and he told the court that he knew Wright in England and that he had been badly wounded in South Africa and it had affected him. The Court sent Wright to hospital. After the court martial I had my arm inoculated against typhoid and for two days I felt pretty tough.
On Feb. 8 we relieved the 1st Batt. in Cite St. Pierre on the N.W. outskirts of Lens. It was a new area. We were in support. Our first dugout was too far off the road and we changed with one of the companies. Major Lefebvre left us for the C.C.R.C. We were in for 8 days. During that time the 3rd Brigade put on a show and the 46th Batt. pulled a raid but our Batt. was doing working parties and got the retaliation. Major Aikins as Brigade Works officer reported me because we weren't turning out enough men. I had refused to use ration parties for work parties and I went to the mat with him.
On Feb. 17 we left the supports and went into the front line. The Germans threw over a lot of gas shells. The night before I went out to the transport at Fosee 2 and went to see Dave Evans at [?]uitz hospital. He was pretty badly wounded taking in the relief. Twice while the Batt. was in the line I went out to lectures on some phase of the work. Our four companies worked two companies in the line for 4 days and 4 in support thus using up the 8 days the Batt. was for duty. Charlie Loche came to our headquarters during this trip as Artillery liaison officer. Col Ormand went on leave and Major Ferguson came to headquarters as second in command and Major MacDonald took command.
On Feb. 24 we were relieved by the 14th Batt. The relief was carried out without trouble tho there had been a lot of artillery activity in the afternoon. We went back to Bully and were billeted in the chateau. As adjutant I was getting better quarters than as Lewis gun officer. Stewart, my batman, was back again off leave and was on the job again. Col. Ormand came back on Feb. 28 after being away 6 days.
On March 1st we had a tank demonstration. A picture of it appears in "Canada at War".
On March 2 and 3 we had a dinner in the sergts mess. They put on a couple of entertainments and invited the headquarters staff.
On March 4 we relieved the 4th Batt. in St. Pierre sector. The night was dark and we put on a raid. Things seemed to go wrong. One of the officers fell down and spoiled the show but we got a prisoner and our dentification for Brigade. Every once in a while a raid had to be pulled in order to find where the various units of the Germans were. If certain troops were in front it meant trouble and if they were troops who had been in the fighting somewhere else we knew they were in for a rest and we needn't worry. We had a bombardment on our front next day to make up for the raid and some gas shells were put over. It was windy and the gas soon blew away.
Next day March 6, Major MacDonald went back to the transport for a couple of days.
On March 10 I went to brigade headquarters with regard to promotions in our unit. On March 12 we pulled another raid and got a prisoner. Clarke was wounded. It was a successful raid, much better than the one earlier in the tour.
On March 14 Fitzroy and Templeman tried a one man raid. They got into the German front line and cleaned out a post but had to get out quick and were badly cut getting thro the wire. It was an unofficial raid that couldn't be reported. Fitzroy knew no fear and was always doing some foolhardy stunt. Things were quiet and the time was taken up with usual routine and letters. I wrote 2 and 3 a day. I drew a will and sent it to the Pay and Record office.
On March 19 I went out to a court martial and visited some of the old billets while out. I returned at night with the rations and got out the operation order for the relief. Everytime there was a relief – inter company or inter Batt. – I had to draw up an operation order so that each unit would know what and when they had to do.
On March 20th we were relieved by the Second Batt. and I rode back to Fosse 10 after the relief. I arrived at 3 A.M. and got into bed – clean sheets – 1 fr. for the electric light bulb. I drew 250 fr. and sent Allie a cheque for £12.
On March 22 the O.C. told me I was going to a school and Capt. Mitchell reported at Headquarters and took over the duties of adjutant. On March 23 I left Fosse 10 and rode to Bethune. The Batt. was ordered to Souchez. At Bethune I went to the officers club and ran across Lee Cavanagh and Jim Hart (of Moosomin). I caught a train. We were in box cars. Officers in some and batmen in others. A plane came over and started dropping bombs. They stopped the train and we all took to the woods till the bombing ceased. Fortunately no hits were registered. We arrived at Boulogne at 7 A.M. on March 24 and took a bus for Hardelot. I was billeted in Billet No. 8. Rumors started that the course wouldn't carry on because of the German Push and on March 25 we were told that we would be returned to duty next day. On March 26 we drilled in the morning but after supper we left Hardleot for Boulogne. I stopped at the Modern Hotel. We had a raid scare. A couple of us were out at a cafe and when we got back to the Hotel we found they had locked us out. We made a row and they came down and let us in. On March 27 we left Boulogne at 8.30 and arrived at Calonne-Ricouart at 3.30 P.M. and put up at the C.C.S.D. where we stayed 2 days. Some of the officers set out to try and find the unit but came back – no one knew where anyone was. The Battalions of the Division were being rushed up and down the front depending on where the trouble seemed worst. The Batt. saw no fighting but covered a lot of ground by bus. At once time they nearly went thro the outposts. The German had overrun the front south of arras and trenches were gone and they were out in the open. We had rumors of break through and no one knew what the situation was – everything was confusion. I had a good billet and couldn't see the sense of running all over Northern France looking for the Batt. I figured there would always be lots of fighting left and there was no hurry. At last on March 30 I was ordered to conduct a draft to Division. We marched. The weather was hot. On March 31 I left Division by train and went by way of St. Pol to Frevent. While we were at St. Pol station the Hun started long range shelling and shells started to fall in the station yard. It wasn't very comfortable but we were as safe one place as another, so we stayed in the train till we pulled out. At Frevent we put up at the Hotel d'Amiens and had a very fine room. We went to a picture show at night. They had a palm garden and we had meals there. About 3 of the 10th were in the group and several other officers from the Brigade were with us so we had a good time. Frevent was a very pleasant little town – a stream ran thro it and the latunis opened right out onto the stream. It saved scavenger service.
On April 1st we left Frevent by train and arrived at Avenges-le-Compte, railhead for the Arras area. We walked to Warlus and joined the batt. I had been away 9 days. I was gazetted as assistant adjutant because at that time it was not known when Jack Miller was returning. I hadn't drawn any extra pay for the adjutant job. The weather was fine and we had a football game. I was pretty stiff after it. We received a draft at night and we had to divide them up among the companies. Officers who had been away were returning. On April 5 the Batt. went into the line at arras but as Mitchell had drawn the operation order he went in as adjutant and I stayed at the transport. We spent a day there getting out routine reports and writing letters. On April 7 we moved to Haute Avenes. On the way I met a Captain with our Cap badge. He said he was Capt. Fisher, a new officer, and he hadn't expected to be met with a band. (I was leading the band when I met him.) The 5th Canadian Division was being broken up and some of the Majors resented the Captains and were sent over to be absorbed in our establishment as soon as there were vacancies. That meant the Lieuts couldn't get promotion. At this time I was servir Lt. in the Batt. and with Fisher coming it meant my promotion would be just that much longer coming. We were billeted in a camp hospital – huts with wire bunks. I had along talk with Fisher about my side of the promotion game and as a result he reverted to lieut. He certainly was a white chap. We got anew draft and I had to look after it and see they were drilled, etc. We were at Haute-Avenes 2 days. They shelled the area to our left on the second day. On April 10 we moved to Bray Wood, Ecquoives, a hut camp on the edge of the hill towards Bray in a bit of a wood. It was a good camp. we were shelled during the afternoon but no one was hurt. Officers were coming out of the line and others were going up. On April 13 we moved to Wakefield camp near by, another good camp, where we were under the command of Major Philpot of the 7th, a kind of brigade reserve. On April 14 Lt. Henderson was killed on the Gavrelle Road and on April 16 we gave him a military funeral. I acted as pall bearer. We received another draft and on April 17 we were relieved by the 8th Batt. and went back to Roclincourt (Portsmouth camp.) This was German area before Vimy Ridge. We visited the old front but couldn't locate our dugouts. Things looked very different when you were above ground. At night our camp was shelled and we all got up, hated to be killed in bed. There was no where to go when you did get up, because we were out on a plain with no cover. On April 19 two companies went into the line and Capt. Mitchell was appointed adjutant, I was acting as assistant and doing the rear work. On April 20 we played the 16th at football but were beaten 3-1. We had a complete outfit of boots and strips at the quartermaster stores. The enemy shelled our camp later in the day and Corp. [McClatchie?], one of my old gunners was killed. Next day we moved to Anzin and were glad to get out of Roclincourt. The camp was abandoned. It should never have been there in full view of the enemy observation points.
On April 22 I went to see the Col with regard to my promotion. I wanted to know where I stood. The Batt. was billeted in a chateau. I remember the interview with Col. Ormand and Major MacDonald. The Col. explained that he wanted me to get my promotion and then take over the adjutant job but in the meantime I was to go to a company. On April 23 I was recommended for a captaincy vice Major McDonald who was promoted when Major Lefebvre was struck off on joining the flying corps.
On April 24 I reported to "A" Co. as second in command to Major Bingham and so ended my bomb proof job at Headquarters. I really had no cause for complaint because I had been at Headquarters since Feb. 25, 1917 – as Lewis gun officer from Feb. 25,1917 to Oct. 28 1917, nearly 8 months – and as adjutant or assistant from Oct. 28, 1917 to April 23, 1918 nearly 6 months or a total of 14 months, longer than the average service. I made a kick and got adjutants pay all the time I was acting. I found that Jack Miller didn't get it so I put in for it.
On April 25 the Batt. paraded in marching order and had a movie taken. The officers all had their pictures taken. I saw Albert Cooke at the Heavy Battery location. On April 26 I was sent up to take over the Fampoux area. It was a long walk. I came back with the party and was told that as second in command I would remain out this trip in. We went to Ecuries in huts. It rained at night and I caught a cold. Next day I was made second in command of the detail left out. I was still feeling tough. Next day we went over to 500 crater and looked over the old Vimy front from the top of the ground instead of over a parapet. It began to rain and we called off parades. I saw Walt Cooke at the 46th transport lines. We did a lot of visiting as we hadn't much to do. It was the life of Riley.
On May 4, 1918, we moved to Maroeuil. The Batt. came out by train. We arrived at 2 A.M. and ate at a French estaminet. Next day was pay and bath parade. On May 6 we marched to Liencourt where I had a good billet with Major Bingham. Next day I gave a lecture to the N.C.O.s on maps. Our sports started next day, drill in morning and sports after lunch. We played baseball against "C" Co. and then I umpired a football game between two of the other cos.
On May 9 I received orders to go to the 1st army officers training school at Hardelot and complete the course we started in March. Stewart (my batman) and I left Liencourt for Agney les Duisant (railhead) at 11 A.M. We hung around the station all day and at 8 P.M. we finally loaded up. I sent Stewart for some chocolate and when the train started he wasn't there. We travelled in box cars with our packs. At 4 A.M. May 10 we arrived at Abbeville, my batman hadn't caught the train. It turned out he had sprained his ankle. We changed at Abbeville and left at 10 A.M. We looked the place over. We arrived at Hardelot at 6 P.M. I used my billet warden for batman until I could get a batman.
On May 11 we got a pass and a Northumberland Fusilier (a little fellow) and I went into Boulogne and stayed all night. We had a great time and reported at camp at 10 A.M. next day which was Sunday. After dinner we walked to Hardelot Plage – a sea coast resort which in peace time was quite a place. I saw Bill Tobias.
School started in earnest on May 13 and they certainly drilled us. We got a very good course. I was put in No. 1 Platoon with chaps from every regiment in the British army (except the Austrailians who were in the 2nd Army). This was a 1st Army school. Lena Ashwell put on a concert. On May 14 and on May 15 I sent for a batman to the batt. by D.R.L.S. (dispatch rider letter service).
Canadian mail arrived next day, also a letter from Allie. After dinner we played a game of baseball against No. 10 Convalescent camp. I played in the outfield and as a result got a bad Charlie horse from throwing the ball in. We were a little better than the invalids and we won by a small margin. my arm was worse next day and I swore off baseball as a sport. I spent the next day answering the Canadian mail.
Saturday was a half holiday so I drew 75 fr. and went into Boulogne with the gang.
Sunday, May 19, we played football. I played centre half for our platoon (no.4). Woodward, an old English Pro. played against us. He was just a little too good for us. I couldn't hold him at all.
The Batt. sent me Hewitt as batman. I wanted a chap who needed a rest and they sent me a machine gunner. It wasn't much of a rest for him. He had to turn me out properly and also drill in his spare time. If we were not properly dressed and shaved nothing was said to us but our batman got into trouble. The Sergt. Major looked after that. We had a man in charge of our billet called a billet warden. He looked after our rooms, made our beds and cleaned up generally and our batman cleaned our boots, buttons and looked after our personal wants. We had to pay the billet warden 5 fr. each per week. This was in addition to his pay.
On May 20 I broke my vow and played baseball again against the batmen. We were trimmed.
Two days after we played football against 3 Platoon but lost 2-0. We had lots of sport. Next day I played baseball again. There were only a few Canadians at the school, so we all got a chance to play. After dinner at night we had a lecture on military subjects and the next day we had lectures all day.
Saturday being a half holiday I went into Boulogne again. It was the break in the week. Being broke I borrowed 40 fr. from one of the Imperials. We could only draw a certain amount per month and had to borrow in the meantime. On Sunday, May 26, we played football against the instructors but they had Woodward and so beat us 3-1. After dinner we journeyed to Camiers and played baseball against 18 General Hospital. We won 22-9.
On the night of May 27 the Hun pulled an air raid in Boulogne. We watched it in reserved seats. Once an "Archie" shell fell in the camp but outside of that we didn't get in the trouble at all. Camiers was also bombed.
We had to pay our share of the cost of the mess. We were well fed and girls in the W.A.A.C. waited on us. (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.)
Next day we had a scheme in the morning. It consisted in working out an attack on a particular spot. After dinner we played 4 platoon and took revenge on them winning 4-1.
May 30 was a hot day. We played baseball against the N.C.O.s and were beaten. My arm was pretty sore again. It was worse the next day.
The girl who waited on our table was called Lucy Preston. I took quite a fancy to her.
Next day being Saturday I drew 125 fr. from the paymaster and paid back the 40 fr. I had borrowed and went into Boulogne. We played baseball against No. 3 Canadian General and won 4-3. I acted as base umpire. My arm was too sore to play.
Sunday, June 2, we went into Boulogne but came back for dinner at night. We were supposed to have Sunday dinner at the camp. I developed a boil on my jaw. It didn't keep me off parade but it did interfere with "eyes right." I had it dressed by the camp doctor. I packed up my British Warm and sent it to Allie to keep for me as I wouldn't need it till fall and it was that much less to carry around.
On June 5 we played baseball against 13 General. I played as my arm and boil were better. After the game a bunch of us (mixed company nurses and officers) went to tea down town. I was paymaster.
Next day my boil was better and I enjoyed a very fine concert by the 46th Division concert party.
On June 7 we played football against 8 platoon and took them 2-1. At night an American concert party gave us a concert, a little "rawer" then the 46th Division.
On Saturday, June 8, we went to Boulogne and played baseball against No. 3 General Hospital. I acted as umpire but in spite of that we lost 9-7. We got quite a crowd of spectators and it took a lot of talking to keep them off the base line. Sunday we went to Boulogne as usual.
Next day they started a boxing tournament. Everyone had to enter. I boxed a chap named Stevenson and won. At night we had a "compass" march. We marched entirely by the compass. When I got back I wrote my old Batman Stewart.
On June 11 the boxing continued. I won the first bout but lost in the semi-final. I thought I had won and was a bit disappointed till I saw the trimming my victor got in the final. He ran into an army champion and got pretty badly beaten up.
Next day we had a Lewis gun contest and sports. I wanted to enter the Lewis gun race but the Sergt. didn't think I was good enough so I suggested an elimination contest. The officers agreed but the Sergt. didn't favor it. I won the contest easily, having been Lewis gun officer of the Batt. and as such played round with the gun a lot in my spare time. So in spite of the Sergt. I was put in the race with another and we beat the N.C.O. entry. We had to run to a stripped gun, assemble it and run to another spot and open fire and the first to fire, won. We won by a split second over the N.C.O. entry.
On June 12 my captaincy appeared in the Times on the authority of the Gazette under date of June 11th, 1918. It dated back to Feb. 24, 1918, when Major Le Febvre went to the Flying Corps. It gave me a nice bit of back Pay. I wrote and gave Allie the news. I was bit tired the next day so I got caught up on my writing. I sent my bank book to the Bank to have it made up.
The contests continued the next day. Our platoon won drill competition and were second in the bayonet fighting. June 14 was the last night at the mess and it certainly was a large evening. The school broke up on June 15 after over a month, we opened May 11 and closed June 15. Our course was a pretty complete refresher course – drill, lectures, practical work, sports, etc. After dinner at noon we dispersed but went in to Boulogne and played a final baseball game at No. 3 General. After the game I took a couple of "natives" to the Hotel for dinner. That dinner cost me 125 fr. ($25.00). We had everything, it was my last night so I didn't care for expense. We left Boulogne at midnight June 15 to return to the front.
We arrived at Etaples at 3 A.M. and went to some tents. We had to wait 24 hours for the next train. I ran into Wm. Campbell who was a doctor at the hospital and we went out to Paris Plage where I saw Bill Tobias. I also saw Gow of the Postal Corps.
On June 17 I left Etaples by 6 A.M. train and arrived at Aubigny at 3 P.M. I had tea and left at 4.24 to Ligny by train. We went to St. Pol. I walked to Lathieuloye where the Batt. was billeted. Col. Ormand was now a Brigadier and Col. MacDonald was O.C. I expected to take over the adjutant work but the Col. had other ideas and I was sent to "C" under Capt. Carey. I wrote letters to all and sundry to tell them I was back with the Batt. While we had a lot of fun at the school it was good to see the old gang again. I wrote the pay office about my pay. There was a mix up over my account when I got my commission. I found the Batt. back in Corps reserve. We didn't know at the time but the Canadians were the only troops in reserve in the Army and the Army were afraid of a break thro. We remained at La Thieulaye till July 12, training and resting. It was an easy way of breaking in after a month at school. I really had two months rest. We were billeted in a large rambling village. Carey and I had our headquarters in a house. I was his second in command. We got our company bathed and at night some one had got some moving pictures and a show was put on.
A new football game was introduced called massed football, about 20 a side, any number could play. Everyone kicked every one else. It was the roughest football I ever played. We played headquarters and there were a lot of sore shins after. The staff decided that picked teams weren't good enough and everyone was to play, hence "massed" football.
On June 22 we reverted to the regulation game and played the 8th Batt. to a draw. My promotion came thro Batt. orders that day and my posting to "C" Co. as well.
Sunday we held church parade and it was also pay day for my batman.
We ran into flue about this time and the Co. was quarantined. We had sick men in tents. I wrote to one of the girls I met at Boulogne. I was a bit under the weather myself. Watt, who slept with me was pretty sick. We were billeted in an old house. The old lady was very kind.
We had enough well men to continue training and sports. We ran a baseball competition in our own co. 10 platoon finally winning. I lectured on the German machine gun, a favorite subject of mine. I taught the whole co. to operate a German gun.
On June 28 the officers and N.C.O.s played the men and won 21-19. Next day we tried out the soft ball game (or indoor baseball as we called it then). At night an aeroplane came over but didn't bomb us. He was looking for other targets.
On June 30 we heard a terrific bombardment up north. It was the time of the Messines show when the Australians blew up the hill.
July 1, 1918, was celebrated with a big sports day at Tin cques. We had our own sports in the morning and then rode over to Tincques. The men couldn't go because of the quarantine.
My ear started to bother me. It later turned out to be a boil. Our own doctor worked on it but hadn't the proper instruments so later I had to go to the Corps Rest camp after nine days. I couldn't sleep at nights with it.
We continued our training and sports. On July 4th we were out of quarantine and played football against the Divisional Train. I played centre half. We won 3-1. My ear was bothering me quite a bit particularly when I headed the ball.
Next day we played indoor ball with my old platoon (12) but lost 11-9. The following day we played "D" Co. at massed football and lost 58-55. A point counted every time the ball went over your line. There were no goal posts. You kicked off from your own back line and no offside, no fouls, no referee, just kick the ball or your opponent till the ball went over the line then start over again, for an hour.
We had softball again the following days also football. It was a general battalion league and each platoon entered. "C" Co. won both the football (regulation) and soft ball – 12 platoon the football and 11 the soft ball.
On July 10 my ear got so bad that the doctor sent me to the Corps Rest Camp at Fresnicourt. I went by bicycle. It was about 8 miles. I thought they would keep me there but they fixed the boil and told me to come back. It was a hard ride up hill and down. When I got back I got into a football game and sprained my ankle. Next day I rode to the Corps Rest Camp and every trot of the horse hurt my ear. Dr. Major McNullen dressed my boil and sent me back. I was glad to get home. I got a Private's tunic because we were going back into the line and officers wore Private tunics with the stars on so the enemy couldn't spot them. The German snipers had been picking off the officers up to this time, so we wore privates tunics in the line and our regular tunics outside.
We left La Thieuloye on July 12 by train to St. Aubin. I was sent to take over O.C. of "B" Co. while the Co. Commander was away. We didn't have much of a billet at St. Aubin. However, we were only there 24 hours and at 9.30 P.M. on July 13 we left and marched thro Arras and took over G and H trenches in support to the left of Blangy, in front of Arras. The 2nd Londons and 16 Londons were in before us. We had trouble getting in because the guides didn't function properly. Things were badly mixed up. There was no regular line owing to the heavy fighting. We went forward to check over the line further forward. Planes were flying low to try and locate our positions and movement was restricted. On July 16 I went over the new front and drew my defence scheme. We got into position and at night I went round to see that everything was in shape. Owing to the uncertainty of things I had to get a first hand knowledge of the front and couldn't leave it to my officers. I was still having the doctor dress my ear. It was the worst boil I ever had because I couldn't get at it and it was in a place that felt every jar.
On July 18 the Germans threw High Shrapnel over one of our posts but no casualties. We were in posts rather than an extended line as in the earlier fighting. Next day we were the object of a whiz bang straf at 2.30 P.M. but we escaped any casualties. On July 20 we were subjected to a machine gun straf near Tillay.
Even when in the line mess bills had to be paid. Our batman brought up the supplies and our mess President kept calling for cash.
On July 21 we were relieved by the 7th Batt. and moved to dugouts at Blangy Park.
Col. MacDonald called a conference next day and told us Brigade wanted a raid to establish how the German line was held and to get identification. We held two or three conferences and in the meantime our area was pretty heavily shelled. We were in good dugouts and reinforced cellars so had few casualties. Hewitt went on leave July 23. On July 24 we moved up to a dugout at the Cross Roads to the right and in front of Blangy. Mosquitoes were bad and we all got badly bitten on two different days. Our first days in were quiet.
Being a junior captain I was moved around a lot. On July 26 the O.C. of "B" Co. returned and I was sent back to Carey in "C" Co.
On the night of July 26 the raid was staged. It was successful. We had no casualties and got identification. Being a captain I didn't have any active part in the raid. Except in extraordinary cases no officers above the rank of Lieut took part in any raids. I made a trip around "C" Co. area and got used to the new area. On July 28 we moved back to Arras but had to do a working party on the way out. We were billeted at Arras but as my company had had no baths for some time a bath parade was arranged.
My boil, from which I had been suffering for sometime, on the side of the head where the gas mask rubbed, was worse and the medical officer sent me to the Transport which was located near Agney les Divisans. I remained at the transport two days July 29-31 during which time the Germans did some long range shelling but nothing came very close to the transport – the nearest being about ¼ mile away but sufficiently close to keep one awake. On July 31 my boil was better and I went to Fosseux about 7 miles to the S.W.
I billeted over night with the 717 Labor Co. (Imperials). They were in huts and took me in and did everything they could to make me comfortable. We expected the battalion to arrive but orders were changed and on Aug. 1, 1918 I received orders to join my company at Lattre St. Quentin and we at once moved to Ambries. Here Capt. Mitchell took over "C" Co. and I was detailed to take over the Quartermaster's job as he was going on leave. I moved to Capt. Corrigan's billet (he was Q.M.) and took over the duties. Fortunately we had a good R.Q.M.S. and staff so my ignorance of the work didn't matter so much. I wrote a bunch of letters as we knew we were headed some where but the destination was kept secret – some said north to Ypres, some south to the Somme again. On Aug. 3, 1918 we stored all our officer kits in billet 56 Izel-ley. However, to be sent for when required. On Aug. 4 the batt marched out of Ambrines and entrained at Izel-ley-Hameau. We left at 2.30 A.M. and were on the train all day – passing thro Etaples near the coast, Abbeville to Sarnapont in the Armiens sector and just west of the City. We arrived about 11 P.M. and marched to Lincheux, arriving at 4 A.M. all pretty well tired out. All movement at night. We now knew we were to take part in an attack in front of Amiens but no one knew when. We remained at Lincheux two days and at 6 P.M. on Aug. 6 we took buses to Amiens. Then we marched to Combos wood.
The Batt. were in bivies – tents made of ground sheets – the woods were full of troops and we had quite a time getting our rations up because we didn't know where the batt. was. I went ahead on a bicycle but the mud was so bad I had to ditch the bicycle and walk. The rations arrived but the R.Q.M.S. was late and I hadn't the foggiest idea how to issue the rations. I was never so glad to see anyone in my life as I was to see the Q.M.S. arrive. We had the rations all laid out on the grass when some prisoners came along. They thought the rations were for them. Imagine their looks when they were halted near the dump and marched away without anything. Next day I was ordered to draw battle equipment and particularly an extra water bottle per man. I asked the R.Q.M.S. how much transport I would need and he said one limber. I had to ride about 10 miles to the C.A.S.C. dump and when I got there I found I hadn't half enough transport. The officer refused to allow me a wagon because he said he was awaiting orders to move. I was in a mess, the batt. counting on those water bottles and no way of getting them. Finally I went into the mess, bought the officer a few drinks and when he got primed I again asked him for a wagon. He finally agreed to lend me a wagon if I would ride ahead and get my own transport to meet them half way. I lost no time in loading up and we started. I galloped most of the way back and we met the C.A.S.C. wagon and got the equipment to the batt. in time. I would hate to think what would have happened to me if I had failed. The fact that I had relied on the guess of an experienced N.C.O. wouldn't have saved me from a court martial nor the fact that I was not a trained Q.M. The men would have gone without the extra water and that would have been serious. Large tanks of water had been stored in the wood and the men filled their two water bottles by 2 A.M. Aug. 8.
At 4.15 A.M. Aug. 8 the Batt. went over the top in the battle of Amiens. As Q.M. I was left out and stayed at the transport but Q.M.'s job in a show is a tougher one than in trench warfare. You never know where your unit is but you must get the rations up. I was pretty tired and my nerves were about worn out over the worry of the job. Fortunately Lt. M. Eacheran was sent out to bring up the rations so I stayed at the Transport, no need of running any extra risk and the Batt. would be in a different place each day because the Amiens show was a surprise attack and each day showed a tremendous advance.
On Aug. 9 we moved the transport to Aubercourt at 7 A.M. and after a quiet day moved out at night to new quarters in a wood south of Caix. We found the whole Brigade transport on the road and we strung out for a mile or more. There were the usual delays and all the while enemy aeroplanes were overhead bombing the roads. They came right up the road and fortunately for us branched off just before they came to us, otherwise we would have been in a mess. Aug. 10 was a scorching day. Our horses were in stables made of logs that the Germans had built and my billet was an unused stable. I got up a 4 A.M. Lt. Godden came out from the Batt. and said he was in trouble. I told him to go in and lie down. He then asked for a rifle and said he was going to go in with the 4th Division. I told him to "beat it" and ½ hour after, word came that I was to place him under close arrest. I went thro the form of having his batman look for him altho I knew where he went. I afterwards got a card from him saying he had been wounded with an Imperial unit he joined and was in hospital. I felt sorry for him but he wasn't the sort of officer we wanted – brave enough but couldn't get on with his men.
After Godden disappeared we moved the transport to Warvillers and I billeted myself in the German Arthsommandaturs billet. (Town Major). He had a dugout in the cellar. I didn't fancy it tho and stayed in the kitchen – the batman used the hole. The Batt. had come out of the line and were billeted behind us at Bofort (Beaufort) Wood. I reported to the O.C. and he told me to carry on. The next day was quiet and I walked over to the 78th lines and saw Pascen Thompson. At night they bombed us. Next night they again bombed the road and dropped one just outside my billet. It knocked down a wall next door but missed us. The long distance shelling got too hot near the horse lines so we took them out into a wheat field and then a couple of German planes came over and dropped some floating flares. They had little parachutes attached and floated a long time, lighting the place up like day. We felt all undressed, out in the middle of the field holding a couple of frightened horses a piece and an enemy aeroplane overhead. He circled around and dropped a few bombs and moved off. He wasn't after us apparently. The place was full of troops and any place a bomb lit would do damage. On Aug. 13 they again started shelling the road near the billet, so we moved the transport back to Bofort Wood where the Bat. was. Nex day we returned with the horses to Warvillers. Bob Donald replaced Grimble as Transport officer. We were bombed at night again but suffered no casualties.
On Aug. 15 the Germans put on a bombardment at Bofort Wood and Lt. McAndie was killed. We had to move our horse lines twice as the firing switched. We were very fortunate in not losing a horse or a man on the transport. The Batt. felt the death of McAndie more than almost any other officer. He had been in the ranks, was a M.C. D.C.M. M.M. and to be killed back of the lines was a bit tough.
On Aug. 16 the Batt. went forward to Quesney. We moved the transport back to Beaufort Wood and for a change we had a quiet night. Teviatdale returned off leave and took over the transport and Donald went back to the line.
We received a draft of Aug. 18 and at night the bombing recommenced. On Aug. 19 Corrigan returned and took over Q.M. duties. I waited till the French relieved the Batt. and joined my company on the 20th when they returned to Beaufort Wood.
As Quarter Master I saw practically nothing of the Amiens show. We followed the batt. and saw the country. It was much more pleasant than the country to the north, hills and valleys not damaged from shell fire because this had been a fairly quiet front. The attack penetrated many miles and was the turning point of the war. It was a phase of the war I missed, the other attacks being limited in their extent. This was open warfare.
On Aug. 21 the Batt. rested and bathed and at night moved back to Guillecourt where we bivouacked in the open. The night was fine so we didn't mind and it was quiet. On Aug. 22 we moved off at midnight to Cachy and billeted in a wood Between Cachy and Villers Bretonneau (Villers Brettaneau) where the Australians started their attack on Aug. 8. We spent a sweltering day lying in the wood getting such shelter as we could from the sun by cutting branches down and building bevys. At 8 P.M. we moved off to Saleux by way of Amiens. We arrived at Salieux at 6 A.M. after 10 hours on the road to find no guides, so the Batt. slept all morning in the streets. Finally billets were found and the companies were wakened and moved indoors. Everyone was tired out and slept where they dropped. On Aug. 25 we left Salieux by train – 20 days after we came into the sector – only 20 days but packed full of battle and sudden death and hard marches.
We left at 3 P.M. and detrained at Savy just east of Aubigny back of Mt. St. Eley. We were back in the Arras sector. On Aug. 26 we arrived at Pervin at 5 A.M. and slept till noon. I wrote a number of letters and at night we moved by bus to St. Catherines just north of Arras and were billeted in an old house.
We were now in the "last 100 days" and we were on the move all the time in a fight, out at rest and back in again. We were preparing for the breaking of the Hindenburg line and the Cand du Nerd show, tho we didn't know it at this time. We spent the next day cleaning up and then moved to Schramm Barracks in Arras. It was a large brick building. In our room was a safe that some one had broken open. The men slept in beds and on floors. We spent Aug. 27-28 in the barracks and at 8.40 P.M. on Aug. 28 we marched off to a point near Vis-en-Artois. There were no trenches so we slept in the lee of a bank. On Aug. 29 I got "C" Co. into a trench and Watt and I got a billet in a dugout. At night they sent over some gas shells on us. We had trouble getting our rations at night. Next day we were shelled heavily but no casualties. On Aug. 31 I reconnaitred the front and at night we moved to Quarry Trench – then received orders to move to Cherisy. We got into a dugout near Cherisy and we had a mix up with the 8th over billets. We finally got that straightened out and at night we had a conference re the attack on the Buissy switch.
It was a hard job to locate our position because we hadn't been in this sector and there were no guides. However, we moved off at 2.15 A.M. on Sept. 2 to an assembly position on a hill. I had "C" Co. who were in reserve to the Battalion. We got placed in a deep dugout where we stayed till 5 A.M. (Zero hour). There was a heavy bombardment prior to the attack but we lost no men as all were under cover. We had no idea of the country and were following tapes that had been laid down.
At 5 A.M. Sept. 2, 1918, the attack on Buissy Switch started. We followed battalion headquarters as reserve. As it moved so we moved. At one point a shell fell at my feet but was a dud. Finally the attack stopped and we dug in under a bank just outside of Vis-en-Artois. Gradually my company was used up as reinforcements to the other companies who had suffered pretty heavily. Finally Carey O.C. of "B" Co. was wounded in the stomach and I was sent up to take over his company. The O.C. called me in and said we would attack Buissy Switch just west of Vis-en-Artois at 6.30 and and artillery barrage (very small) would proceed the attack. It was 4 P.M. when I was ordered up. I found two platoons with Capt. Graham, Red Carter and Doug. Thompson in charge.
I explained the attack and went to "A" Co. Lt. M. Eacheran in command but couldn't find him but explained to his 2 l/c and we agreed that he with 6 platoons (4 of his and 2 of mine who were under his command) would attack the switch, while I with 2 platoons would cover the open to the 3rd Brigade who were in front of Hendecourt. I had previously arranged that if I didn't get back by 6.30 that Graham was to take command. They had told me of a machine gun half right and I left instructions to get a gun from the 1st Batt. who were in reserve to us to cover our advance. When I got back I found Graham had forgotten the gun, so I ran back to get one and by the time I got back the troops had started. I ran after them but a barrage was laid down and my men ran for the trench. I shouted to them but only about 15 came – Chas Pettingale among them. We spread out and connected with the 3rd Brigade. While there a row started in the switch and I said to the 3rd Brigade officer, that is our boys taking the switch. He laughed and said it couldn't be done. After things quietened down I returned to Batt. Hqrs with my 15 men and put them in a dugout and reported to headquarters. On the way I met M. Eacheran with a number of prisoners. He said he had taken the switch and these were his prisoners. I asked about my company and he said he knew nothing about them. We both saw Col MacDonald. McEacheran told his story and then the O.C. asked about "B" Co. I couldn't report for anything except 15 men. The O.C. ordered me to bed and told Capt. Costello to take over my company. I was in disgrace and I remembered Godden. I couldn't sleep and went to Major Ferguson. He refused to see me, said I was in disgrace and had been relieved. On Sept. 3 at 10 A.M. Col. MacDonald sent for me and ordered me to go up and take over "B" Co. in the switch and move off at noon to conform with and attack of the 4th Division on our left. No written orders I was to support "A" Co. I went up and went to "A" Co. to report our orders. We moved off and at a point about 1 mile N.W. of Buisay "A" Co. turned half left. I ran up to McEacheran and told him he should go straight on. He didn't agree so I went straight ahead, in front of my Co. We crossed the railway track and just as we got in sight of the canal or rather a small stream running at right angles to the Canal-du-Nord the Germans opened with 4.1 and machine gun. We dropped and I got into a shell hole and got out my glasses. In front was the canal or stream and there wasn't a piece of shelter on its bank. As I looked the bridge was blown up by the Germans. I then passed along word to retire and line the railway bank. The men got back in ones and twos. I remained out in front to observe till I was sent for by Major Ferguson. When I got back I found the 1st Battalion lining the railway, so I pulled out my company and found a dugout just in support of "A" Co. It turned out he was right after all and I had been in the 1st Brigade area. I never thought we would get out alive when they caught us on the forward slope of the hill above the canal. McEacheran was wounded and my batman killed by the barrage. At night we were relieved by the 7th and marched back to Villers Cognicourt. We were lost part of the time. It was new ground but we finally arrived. One of the officers had to go back and find his platoon.
On Sept. 4 we marched from Villers Cognicourt to Cherissy. There we found troops from Winnipeg and I met a number of old football players. We got into buses and went to Simencourt where we were put in huts.
Here I wrote the narrative of the night and learned that Capt. Graham had really captured the switch. I sent in recommendations for him and for Sgt. Knight who was killed. Graham got a D.S.O. and Knight was awarded a posthumous V.C. for their part in the taking of the switch. So "B" Co. was finally vindicated and as compensation for being relieved of my command I was awarded a bar to my M.C. for the whole show.
It was necessary to obtain your O.C.s permission to get married before doing so and I paraded at Simencourt and received and sent it to Allie because she needed it to get the license.
On Sept. 6 we had a C.O.s parade and later I attended the funeral of Lt. Doug. Thompson, one of my officers who was killed in the Buissy switch show. We gave him full military honors. He was a good lad. Lt. Rafter (my first sergt in the 10th) arrived as a reinforcement officer. He was a better Sgt. than officer. I stayed 5 days in Semencourt with the usual route marches, parades, inspections, letter writing. The billets weren't particularly comfortable and I was more than glad to get my leave warrant on Sept. 9.
I left Semencourt on Sept. 10 at 5 A.M. and took the train at Agney ley Duisans. We were held at St. Pol owing to long range shelling and finally arrived a Boulogne at 10 P.M. I Put up a the Hotel and at noon we sailed. It was rough and I was sea sick and would have given a lot to be back on dry land. I arrived in London at 5 P.M. and saw Col McDonald, the O.C. of the Padres and our O.C.s father. I also looked up the Dixons in Fulham. I stopped at 44 Princess Gardens and had a good night's sleep.
Nex morning I went to the Bank of [blank] and drew out £25 bought some clothes and caught the 11.45 for Grimsby and arrived at 6 P.M. Allie met me and we went round to see Dixons and then home. I signed the papers for a special marriage license. These had to go to London.
Next day I went to Frances and Smiths and also called at the Headquarters of the Manchester Regt. and got a special transportation form (cheap rate). At night I went round to see Rev. Smith (son of Gypsy Smith) about getting married. He put me thro a third degree before he agreed to perform the ceremony – had I a wife in Canada, what did I do in civil life, etc. etc., I cabled home, Allie took a holiday from the bank. We went down and bought the wedding ring and arranged for an organist. The license arrived on the 14th so the wedding was set for the 16th. I got the railway tickets and wired for reservations in York and Edinburgh. We spent the time visiting round. I had expected Archie St. Louis to come up and be best man but he was sick. Albert Cooke was in France and finally Allie's cousin couldn't get shore leave so I had decided to do without a best man. The family made such a fuss about it that I decided to go out and find one. So I stopped the first Canadian I met. A Private Burnett of the 102nd Batt. and detailed him to act as my best man. We were married Sept. 16 at 2 P.M. at Weekly Road church by Rev. Smith. A nice crowd were on hand as Allie was very popular. The choir turned out and sang.
We went inside the house and had tea and left at 4.50 for Hull and York and arrived in York at 10 P.M. and stopped at the Royal Station Hotel about the noisiest hotel in the world. Engines whistling all night.
We left York next morning at 10 A.M. and arrived in Edinburgh at 4 P.M. and took a cab to the Roxboro Hotel. They weren't going to let us in at first because I was a Canadian and they didn't want any scandal. However, after I had produced their wire confirming the accommodations and some discussion as to how I heard of their hotel they agreed to let us in. The Hotel was comfortable but we were told we must be in at 9 P.M.
We went to see the "Maid of the Mountains" at the Lyceum at night and had supper after at the Princess Hotel Grill. Next day we went to a vaudeville show, looked round the city and had dinner at the North British Hotel.
On Sept. 19 we saw Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle, went to the Forth Bridge and at night went to the King's Theatre. We had dinner at the Princess Station Hotel.
Next day we saw the Scottish museum and Edinburgh University. We went to a picture show and had tea at McVite Guest and Co. and at night went to see "Go to Jerico" at the Theatre Royal. It was a terrible show. We had dinner at the North British Grill. Every place we went we carried our own sugar as it was rationed and couldn’t' be bought at the Hotels.
We left Edinburgh on Sept. 21 at 10 A.M., thro York, Duncaster and Barnaby and arrived in Grimsby at 8.40 P.M. and took a taxi home.
Next day we visited and the following day we went to Cleethorpes. I left Allie £10 and on Sept. 24 I left to go back. It was harder to go back this time than before because I was now married. However, it had to be done.
I left Grimsby Sept. 24 at 9.05 and put up at the Londoun Hotel. It was hard to get accommodation. I had dinner at the Strand Palace. At night I went to see Leslie Henson in "The Bay". Next day I left Victoria Station at 7.50. Saw Daisy (Pawlett) Jackson before I left. I crossed at 11 A.M. It was windy and I was a bit sea sick as usual. I stopped over night at Boulogne and next morning left at 9 A.M. and arrived at Dainville at 5.30 P.M. Sept. 26 and reported to the C.C.R.D. (Can. Corps Reserve Depot) at Agney ley Duisans.
I got the location of the Batt. and left the C.C.R.D. at 9 A.M. on Sept. 27 and reported to the transport to find that the batt. had attacked that morning at Haynecourt. My second in command took in the company and got caught in a barrage and in withdrawing under orders lost most of the company and was wounded himself. My batman was killed. We moved up to the railway and next day moved across the Canal du Nord, still with the transport. We got a billet in a dugout and saw how well the Germans had hidden their positions. No wonder I was unable to see anything on Sept. 3 when I was lying in that shell hole. Their trenches were all covered in and grass strewn on the top to hide the earth.
On Sept. 29 I was ordered to report to "B" Co. and joined them in some holes behind Hayencourt. Only about 30 of my company was left. It was raining and we were huddled in holes. The O.C. sent for me to come down in his dugout. I didn't like the layout. You went down a ladder and they put me in a passage with no supports. If a shell had landed we would have been buried alive. It was dry and that was something. On Sept. 30 we went back to a trench near Sains le Marquorn on the Canal de Nord. It rained at night.
On Oct. 1 we moved to the Arras Cambrai Road and dug in and later moved to the Douci Cambrai Road and took over some practice trenches in front of Haynecourt. Batt. was in the village. It wasn't much of a life, no shelter and lots of rain, and no hot meals. We had our cold rations only. While there was a lot of gun fire, the German didn't know our location and we had no casualties. They shelled our Area on Oct. 2 and at relief time sent up an S.O.S. but we got safely back to Buissy Switch. It was a long walk but we were going out and the longer we walked the safer we felt. They shelled Barelle as we went thro.
We spent 4 days in dugouts in the Buissy Switch. The weather was becoming colder.
On Sunday, Oct. 6, we had a communion service and at night we relieved the Somersets in front of Recourt. We had no regular line just a bunch of posts in cellars. I went over the area on Oct. 7. We were running into rain and there was a lot of water in front of us. Our headquarters were in a quarry. They shelled us next day but no casualties. The Padre came up after being told by Major Walker who was in command during the leave of the O.C. He was ordered out because we didn't want anyone walking around the posts by day and giving their location away. I gave him his supper and sent him back to the Transport.
We relieved "D" Co. on Oct. 9 in the front area. The platoon got lost and it took some work to get them located in their proper places. The trouble was the area was new and the guides were as much lost as we were. I drew up a defense scheme in the event of an attack and went over it with my officers and then there was little to do but sit down.
On Oct. 11 the 7th attacked and next morning at 3 A.M. we left the area (called the Serptentine area because it was on the body of water called by that name). We left our packs at Lecluse and were ordered to attack to the Canal de la Sensee. We crossed the Serptentine by a narrow nich of land and had trouble keeping the men closed up. We got to assembly area and spread out, not knowing what we were going to meet. We didn't know the German had retired behind the Canal. He left a few men and guns to hold us up. We kept advancing and as we advanced they retired, only a few men were seen, but an occasional machine gun and field piece opened on us. It was little more than a route march. We advanced to the high ground above the canal and took over some trenches that commanded the Canal. My field glasses showed no way to cross the canal except by a lock bridge and it was too dangerous so on orders we consolidated our position. They shelled our area but no casualties. At night Oct. 13 we were relieved by the 8th Batt. and went to billets in Estrie. Everyone was in cellars. Next day we cleaned up and wrote letters. We also had a company commanders conference. We each wrote our narrative of the advance. Next day we marched back to Lecluse for a bath and the troops collected their packs.
On Oct. 16 we relieved the 5th Batt. in the L'Hermitage. We were strafed as usual next morning but outside of knocking off a few bricks we escaped. Word came thro in the afternoon that the Germans had retired, so at 4 P.M. on Oct. 17 we crossed the Canal de la Sensee by the broken lock gate. We advanced to Roucourt, about 4 or 5 miles without seeing any sign of the enemy. It was dark by that time so we took up a position in front of Roucourt.
I was ordered to occupy Lewarde but it was pitch dark I suggested waiting till morning. Our O.C. agreed but "Bug" Saunders who was acting Brigadier ordered me to attack at once. So at 4.30 A.M. on Oct. 18 while it was still pitch dark I advanced. I left the company on the edge of the town and went in with my N.C.O. and batman. We found nothing and came to the Cross Road in the centre of the town and found it had been mined and blown up. I went back and brought up the company and then went to locate the 8th Batt. As I returned I saw the square full of Germans. I thought I was in for it till I noticed our men with their rifles and found that they had surprised about 50 men in a cellar with 8 or 10 machine guns. It was a good thing we advanced when we did. They didn't think we would come in in the dark and had posted a sentry and all gone to sleep. We had surprised the sentry and made him show us where the rest were and they all surrendered. I marched them back and talked to the officer who spoke English. He said the war was over. An N.C.O. thought it all a huge joke and he was laughing all the way back. We surprised a ration cart and a line who were coming up to the troops we captured. They didn't know we were in the district. Unfortunately one man got away.
At 11 A.M. on Oct. 18 we had our last part in the war. We advanced to take Masny. When we got to Masny some Germans ran out as we came in. I couldn't see any shelter on the edge of Masny and found another village Ecaillon about 1 Kilometer away. I decided to occupy Ecaillon as well. The other company didn't know what I was doing and my own men weren't sure and I found myself in the town square with only my batman with me. Fortunately there were no Germans in. When the troops came up we found fires and food cooking, showing that we had surprised them. We found a ditch on the edge of the town and lined that. We weren't any too soon. They laid down a barrage and we lost some men. I went to locate the other company commander to see what we should do and after we had been there about an hour we got word to hold Masny and the other two companies would take the town we had been in an hour. It was a joke to us. We couldn't understand the order because the Scout officer had been with us when we left Masny and I told him to tell the O.C. we were going to Ecaillon. Instead of going back he had gone into Douai. He was about the first man in. It was none of his business and it got us into hot water with the O.C. for not reporting our position.
The men were partly in cellars and partly in the ditch. Those in a cellar found a piano and were pounding away when a shell landed in the street – finished piano playing. We had an uncomfortable two or three hours. What apparently happened was we were advancing too fast and they had to hold us till they could pull out. As soon as they were ready they pulled out everything but a battery and some M.G.s.
On Oct. 19, the 16th advanced thro and we were finished with the actual war. We put the men in billets and remained in Escaillen from Oct. 18 to Nov. 13.
On Oct. 20 we had a church parade and afterwards a pay parade.
Next day the Batt. all moved to Ecaillon and we had to leave our billet which being the best in the village was picked for Batt. Hqrs. We found a comfortable house and got the men all billeted in houses. Most of the larger houses were fitted up with bunks by the Germans and we got the advantage.
We held general inspections and indented for shortages.
On Oct. 22 we started general training. We could hear bombarding in the distance. It seemed strange to go out at night and know we wouldn't have a shell in our back yard. The war had gone on to Valencienes and we were left behind. It was almost too peaceful after the time we had been thro since Aug. 8.
On Oct. 24 the first civilian returned and looked over his house. The Germans had selected what they wanted and moved it to other houses and we did the same so the civilians had quite a time sorting out their belongings. We had to issue orders that no further furniture was to be moved about from house to house. Hardly any of the houses were damaged as there had been no gun fire to speak of in the district.
All week was spent in training and on Oct. 26 we were all innoculated. Easterbaoake reported and was sent to me. He had always been my [server.o?] He had gone back to Canada on special duty and was brought back for a captaincy but we had no opening and he objected to being classed as a platoon commander. I appointed him 2nd/C and asked him to check over the platoon that had no officer.
On Oct. 27 we played football against the 8th Batt. who were billeted in the next village and won 3-1. I played centre half. On Oct. 30 we moved our billet to billet No. 36 on Main St. It was really a much better place than the other. We had an officer's cook and each officer had a batman so we did very well by ourselves. The only duties we had were at parade time and after that we played cards. We dug up and old gramophone when we first came in (the only one in town) and we hung on to it. It was one of the advantages of being first in. We collected all the best furniture.
We classified the company. It was apparent we would be here for some time and we were getting everything in shape. We expected to take part in the next push which was expected to be the braking of the MONS-MAUBERGE line. The 3rd and 4th Divisions were to go to Mons and then the 1st and 2nd were to be put in when the next stand was made by the Germans.
We had a G.O.C.s inspection near Bruille and the 8th platoon (one of my platoons) was adjudged the best in the brigade.
We got our tin hats painted. Inspections were coming thick. That was always a sign of a battle.
We were getting a lot of rain and our training was done in a school and were able to get a lot of useful work done with the aid of a blackboard. On Nov. 4 the C.O. called an inspection and at night the 3rd Batt. put on a concert.
I put up a prize for a Lewis Gun competition in my Co.
We were ordered for an inspection on Nov. 6 but it rained and it was called off. On Nov. 7 the 16th Batt. concert party gave us a concert.
We heard rumors of a general peace and that delegates were to be received at midnight. We didn't know what to believe. Next day the camp buzzed with rumors of peace – that peace was refused. We got so we expected nothing, and weren't going to be fooled. We carried on with training. On Nov. 9 "B" Co played A and were beaten 3-0. I got my leg hurt and limped for some days.
On Nov. 10 we were told hostilities would cease at 11 A.M. next day. We still refused to believe it. It was too good to be true. We held a parade at 11 A.M. and told the company the war was over. The boys were almost stunned, not a cheer. It was something they had dreamed of but never expected to see. They were going home. It was too soon to worry what was to happen next. The parade dismissed and it gradually dawned on them what it meant. In the afternoon we were inspected by the Divisional Commander. He said a few nice things about the Batt. and we dismissed. I wrote home so they would know I was O.K. At night the Flying Corps near us shot up all the flares they had by way of celebration.
Next day we had a sports meet, training was off. Some of the men wanted to go home at once, but on Nov. 12 we were warned to get ready to move to the Bridge head in accordance with the terms of the Armistice. There was a lot of talk among the men about not wanting to go. We called out all the unfit men and got the Batt. outfitted for a months march to the Rhine.
The MARCH TO THE RHINE BY THE 10th CANADIAN INFANTRY BATT.
At the time the Armistice was signed the 10th C.I. Batt. were resting at Ecaillon a little village about 8 miles east of Douai. When it became known that the Division was to be part of the Army of Occupation and would have to march there was great haste to get rid of all surplus kit. Anyone with bad feet was evacuated "sick" and the Batt. was got in the best marching shape possible. everyone realized that it was to be one of the longest marches on record but the Batt. had been 25 days in the one place with good rations, good beds and very little hard work. No Batt. was ever in better condition to stand the test than the Battalions of the First Division.
At 8.30 A.M. on the morning of Nov. 13 the Battalion fell in, full marching order on the main street of the village, and with the band playing and the Batt. service flag carried by a scout, it moved off under the command of Lt. Col. E.W. MacDonald, D.S.O. M.C.
A word here about this service flag. The 10th Batt. had no colors as colors are known in the Army but at the time of the Amiens battle in August 1918, the Battalion adopted a flag to be used to show where their headquarters were. The 10th Batt. flag was a red ground with a circle of white in the centre. On this white background was a replica of the Battalion shoulder patch – a red oblong surmounted by a red square. The red ground was chosen because that was the Division color. This then was the flag that was carried by the Battalion scout. He marched immediately behind the Regimental Sergeant Major, who headed the column, the band being in the middle of the column.
The route followed was Auberchicourt, Abscon to Denain. Here the Battalion was billeted in large barns and a factory. The floors were stone and very cold. Owing to the fact that Denain housed so many evacuees there was very little room for officers and they were crowded into two houses. Several reinforcement officers joined the battalion here and the companies were 8 officers strong.
Everything in Denain was closed at 7 P.M., a relic of the German regime, so that very few men found any place to go to spend the evening.
At 8 A.M. on Nov. 14th, the Battalion again fell in, full marching order, and set out for the little village of Onnaing. The route led thro Valenciennes. Every place where the road crossed a river or over a railway, the bridge had been blown down and engineers had built temporary bridges. Cross roads were blown up and the railways themselves were blown up at intervals. The German had gone methodically to work to prevent our advance and his system left nothing undone.
The western edge of Valenciennes was practically all demolished by shell fire during the period that the 3rd and 4th Divisions held the line of the Escout Canal. Hardly a house but had been hit. The streets here were vary narrow. When the centre and easterly portion of the city was reached, the streets became wider and there were fewer houses destroyed. Some very fine buildings were still intact. There were a number of the 4th Division troops drilling on the squares and a few civilians on the streets. It was when the Battalion cleared the city that the real work of demolition by the enemy was seen. There was a meter guage running from Valenciennes to Mons. Every other joint of the rail had been blown up, so that every rail was damaged. The same thing was done to the standard guage, to the north of the road, except that in addition to blowing the joints, immense craters had been blown in the road bed every 100 yards.
On arrival at Onnaing the Battalion found that the billets were very cold owing to the fact that practically every window in the town was broken, a result of the enemy practice of blowing immense craters at road junctions. Added to cold billets was the fact that the Battalion blankets did not arrive. The men were able to keep warm, however, by making fires in their billets. Wood was easy to find owing to some of the houses being blown down. The line of the fighting had been in front of this village for several days prior to the final advance on Mons. The civilians told harrowing tales of being in cellars for days, afraid to go out for fear of shell splinters and being gassed by the enemy gas shells.
It was in this town that "B" Co. was accused of stealing a ham and some wine. On investigation the charge was disproven.
At 7.45 A.M. Nov. 15th the Battalion again moved off, full marching order, and followed the Valenciennes-Mons Road to Hornie. The road was filled with returning civilians, bringing their household goods in all sorts of conveyances – wheel barrows, hand carts, buggies drawn by hand, baby carriages, packs, etc. There were no horse drawn vehicles. Men and women drew the wagons and carts by ropes. Small girls were pushing heavy wheelbarrows piled high with household effects. A woman would be seen pushing a baby carriage with a baby in it, but with all sorts of packages piled in front of him. Old men and old women sat in rigs, among piles of household goods, while the younger members of the family pulled or pushed the rig. Everywhere, on the rigs, on the men's and women's headgear, were little Belgian flags. All day long the procession passed down the road from Mons. It was a sight to stir a man's soul – a captive nation returning to its home. Service, in his "Man from Athabasca" said, "For I've seen a nation scattered". Here was the reassembling of the scattered nation. The people were tired out from their long march, but very happy.
At Hornu, the battalion had their first good billets. The men were billeted in private houses and the people treated them like sons. The Battalion remained here for two days and both cleanliness and godliness were attended to – a bath parade and a church parade. The Battalion organized a dance, presumably for the officers but the soldiers took charge and the officers stayed at home.
The steel hats were called in at Hornu and carried by the transport, much to the relief of all concerned.
The hopes, of the men, of getting to Mons were shattered when on the morning of Nov. 18 they moved to Masny St. Pierre, passing by second class roads to the north of Mons. It commenced to rain but the village was reached before everyone got soaked thro. Masny St. Pierre was a small country village with a large monastery but little else. Here the first of the "welcome" signs were seen. All across the street at the entrances to the village were large banners with "Honneur aux Allees", "Honneur a nos Liberateurs". Every house had a Belgian flag hung out and some weird attempts at British and American flags were seen. The billets were poorer here, most of the men being in barns but straw was plentiful so that no one suffered.
As the Battalion was to form the advance guard on the next move it was decided to move to Soignies on Nov. 19, so as not to have too long a march on the following day. On the road only small towns were passed but the same display of flags and banners of welcome were seen. At Soignies the whole battalion was billeted in two schools. The rooms were lighted by gas. A day's rest was given the troops here and on the morning of Nov. 21 the Battalion set off for Nuvelles. "B" Co. was the Vanguard company. Owing to the rains of the previous days the second class roads that the Battalion followed were in very bad shape and as a result the system of marching in "3s" was adopted.
At about 3 P.M. the head of the vanguard entered the Square of Nivelles, to find it packed with people. Nivelles is a town of 12,000 and it appeared as if every able bodied person in the place was there. The civilian band was in position in the band stand and flags and banners were displayed everywhere where they could find room. It was with great difficulty that the Vanguard forced its way thro the crowd but when the band arrived followed by the commanding officer the people went wild. A huge bouquet was presented to the Colonel. It took half an hour to get the Battalion thro the crowd. The billets for the men were very good and the people gave them coffee. At night everyone went to the square and gave themselves up to celebrating. The girls and the soldiers formed processions and marched thro the square and then they clasped hands and played crack the whip. Some thoughtful individual had brought along some lights and these were fired up. The celebration lasted till well after midnight.
A day's rest was given the men and on Nov. 23 a move was made to Houtain le Val. This is a small town of only 1000 people but for its size it gave the Battalion a wonderful reception. As soon as we came in sight the people all flocked out to meet us with a band. They escorted us into the square where three old men held three flags, Belgian, French, British. These were gravely saluted as everyone realized that to these villagers this was an event of a life time. The billets here weren't as good as some the men had been used to but there was really nothing to complain of. One company was out on outpost at "Quatre Bros.", and many of the officers went sight seeing to Quatre Bros. Waterloo and Mt. St. Jean. On Sunday, Nov. 24, the first village dance for over four years was held in the village square. During the war, all dancing was frowned on, but once the Allied troops arrived the people gave themselves up to dancing as usual.
On Nov. 25 the Battalion moved to Gembloux. The route was lined with war material left by the retiring enemy. It began to rain and as a result the march seemed much longer and harder than usual. A hearty welcome was received at Gembloux but the Battalion wasn't the first in the town. "B" Co. Headquarters were in a large chateau.
On Nov. 26 the Brigadier provided a motor lorry and the officers were allowed to go into Brussels for the day. The party didn't return till 4.30 A.M. on Nov. 27 and at 7 A.M. they were moving off with the Battalion to Petit Waret. It was a long hard march, 32 Kilometers, but the men stood it well. Petit Waret was found to be a very small town and everyone was crowded including the officers.
Another move was made on Nov. 28, to Andenne on the Meuse. It was in this town that the Battalion had its most serious time. Rations didn't arrive and there were many murmurings against the "powers that were". Finally a small issue of rations was obtained and on Nov. 30 the Battalion set off, full marching order for Leval Farm. A late start was made, owing to rations arriving late, and as a result the Battalion was still in the Meuse Valley at dark. Marching one mile after dark is worse than 3 by daylight and a very anxious time was spent by the officers. A few short cuts were tried which turned out to be harder going than the main road. The guides made a miscalculation as to the place where the Battalion would arrive and there was further delay. "B" Co. was the first to find its guide and was led to billets in a large farm. The officers billets were in another farm up a steep hill. The latter farm had been held up by an armed band of Germans and had to pay out 500 marks. One of the platoons reported a shortage of blankets and this led to further trouble. It was planned to move on next day but rations didn't arrive, so the troops were given a day's rest. It was so cold that most of it was spent walking around to keep warm.
Rations arrived at 9 A.M. on Dec. 2, so the Battalion fell in, full marching order, and set off for M.Y. This town wasn't reached till after dark and there was considerable confusion in finding billets. Just about this time the men began to report sick with a kind of influenza and many were sent to hospital. Another day's rest was given the Battalion here.
On Dec. 4 the Battalion started out for a town called Fosse, but the way notice was received that the destination had been changed to Trois Ponts, owing to lack of accommodation in the other town. Blankets had all gone to the first town and didn't arrive. During the march, it commenced to rain and the men arrived soaking wet. "B" Co. was all billeted in an unfinished chateau. Wood was procured and a huge bonfire made. The fire was kept on all night, so no one suffered from their soaking.
The final stop on the Belgian side was made at Burtonville on Dec. 5. This place was the most desolate and dreary looking of the whole march. It was on the slope of the Ardennes and caught all the wind. The people seemed more German than Belgian in their sympathies, tho a few Belgian flags were seen.
At 11 A.M. on Dec. 6 the Battalion crossed the German border at Poteau. General Currie reviewed the Battalion, which owing to continual moving and rain and mud looked anything but smart. The General wasn't slow in remarking on this either.
Medell was the first stop. The people seemed very suspicious and watched every move we made. We returned the compliment. No flags were to be seen. Even the roads looked different. Where the Belgians had large trees bordering each side of the road, the Germans had small trees and of a different kind. The kilometer stones were different. Not the large round stone to be seen in Belgium but a rough square stone.
The next move on Dec. 7 was to a little town in the hills called Murringen. The billets were fair. The transport had difficulty in getting the wagons up the hill. A German had to hook up his team to help. Here some ex-German soldiers and officers were met. The people were civil but not friendly. Many of them raised their hats when they met us.
Hellenthall was the next stop on Sunday, Dec. 8. This was the first large German town the Battalion was billeted in. It nestled at the foot of three hills and was reached by a very winding road. The people here were almost friendly and everyone had a good home over night.
On Dec. 9 the Battalion moved to Mechernich. The country was getting better every march now. The frontier towns were enough to give one the blues, but these towns were full of life. Nearly every man had a bed in this town, which was a large mining centre.
The next move, Dec. 10, was to Lommersom. This was a country village, and only 3 companies were billeted here. At 11 A.M. on Dec. 11th the Battalion caught its first glimpse of the Rhine. Owing to the crowding up of the Division for the Rhine crossing the Battalion was very much split up. "B" Co. was billeted in a number of large farms near Conradenhof. This particular farm was run on a very large scale. The house was the most expensively furnished that had been seen on the trip. The owner was an ex-officer of the German Army. The stable was full of cows and several German soldiers were working on the farm.
An extra day's rest to clean up was given here and on Dec. 13th the Battalion marched thro the streets of Cologne with fixed bayonets. The people seemed very sullen and many men in the crowd seemed very angry. The streets were lined with people and it was very hard to keep them from breaking thro the ranks. One man was almost run over trying to cross the line of march. Others were forcibly thrown back. At 11.30 A.M. General Plummer reviewed the Battalion as it crossed the Rhine by the New Bridge (New Brucke). It rained continuously and by the time the Battalion arrived at Wahn, everyone was soaking wet. Every billet had a stove and the men were able to dry out.
On Dec. 14th the final lap of the march was made. Passing thro Konig's Forest they came into the valley of the Sulz and arrived at Volberg at 2 P.M. The companies were all comfortably billeted when the 3rd Brigade were ordered to take over part of the area. This necessitated a change of two companies. A great deal of trouble was experienced in getting fresh billets but everyone eventually settled down.
Thus ended the famous march of the 10th Battalion to the Rhine Bridgehead positions – 22 days actual marching. At no time did the civilians show any desire to cause a disturbance. Everything was orderliness itself.
[Editor’s note: Monthly headers have been added to assist readers, indicating the most likely transition points between months.]