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Date: April 1917

[Diary entries for April 1917. The jpgs of the April 1917 diary pages can also be viewed in chronological context within the complete set of diary scans – see sections #11 and #12.] 


. . . Tuesday 3rd April.

Snowed all night and lots of mud. The Battys fired about 1,200 rds per day. Howrs fired 700 after dinner. Big attack expected in a few days now

Wednesday 4th April

Battys fired the usual 1,200 rds today in addition to a barrage @ 5 p.m. and replying to an attack on our left front at 11.p.m.
The Infantry were well pleased with our Barrage.
There was no reply to speak of from the Germans
An aeroplane came down about 200 yds from our dug-out at 8.a.m.
The pilot was shot through the lungs and made a pretty good landing.
Met Phillips, he was very busy with his Guns and had to move out of his dug-out three times.

Thursday 5th April

We had a bombardment at 8.a.m. by the whole Corps
No 3667 of 6th Batty ordered out for scoring.
In 5 Batty a piston head came off – it was simply screwed on against a copper washer.

Friday 6th April – Good Friday

A mock bombardment came off @ 1-30 p.m.
Saturday a fine clear day and 4 of our planes came down.
Battys are now firing 1,700 rds per Batty daily

Sunday – Easter Sunday

Everything is ready for the big thing @ daybreak tomorrow
The Battys now have 1,500 rds per Gun stacked away in all sorts of places. Wireless operator put up his pole @ 5th Batty and had his aerial cut 3 times by prematures from 3rd Bde.
He was moved back to Hd Qrs
The Tanks moved up tonight
H.M.L.S:– “Daisy” “Dashwood Dick” “Devills Dream”
They were armed with 6 Pr Hotchkiss Guns.
The weather today was beautiful and lots of planes about – 2 of ours were brought down.
 The sun was quite warm at times today and the prospects for tomorrow are:– “Rain either tonight or tomorrow; visibility good.”
Everything is in readiness for the big show tomorrow

Easter Monday April 9th

The Canadians attacked Vimy Ridge at 5-30 a.m. with a violent bombardment. It was just day-break and from our place we had a fine view of the shell-bursts
The news very soon came through that we were doing splendid and a little hand to hand fighting with casualties slight
We were very soon in possession of the Black Line (first objective)

The Infantry evidently caught them in the midst of a relief as they were up to the second line before the Germans knew what was coming off. Some of them were not properly dressed.
The Infantry claim that the German trenches were completely washed away by our Artillery and they were very pleased with our barrage. Some said that our shells were falling short at times and others said that the Officers could not hold the Infantry back.
I saw a lot of the prisoners coming down 1 batch had 2 Officers leading them and another batch had 2 Doctors walking in the rear.

The prisoners seemed to be a pretty fair stamp of men, quite a number of them wore spectacles and owing to the mud they looked very dirty.
We gained the Red line later on in the morning
At 8-35 a.m. the 3rd Bde were consolidating the Red line and the 1st Bde were preparing to go forward
9-30. a.m. 14th Battn report everything going O.K. and well satisfied with barrage.
They had taken 600 prisoners with only 100 casualties.
12 noon. All Guns in action
1.05 p.m. We were over the Ridge and had taken Bois Garre.
Ammo expended:– [transcription adapted from original table format]
   5th:             2628 (A);    407 (AX).
   6th:             2981 (A);    448 (AX).
   7th:             2232 (A);    300 (AX).
   48th Howr: 1841 (B.);   1145 (B.X.).
                     9,682            2,300
Col. Leonard fatally wounded

3.20 p.m. Bde had orders to prepare positions in A.10.C. – just behind our old front line
Our wagon lines moved up tonight to Bray wood
The day has been a decided success

Tuesday 10th April

Things fairly quiet and quite a lot of traffic on the roads nows whereas yesterday nothing was allowed until after dark.
Hd Qrs moved up to Bantata Tunnel about 200 yds from the Guns, the range of Guns is still fairly high – over 5,000 yds
The Canadian prisoners was about 11,000 and was considered quite a haul.
This Bantata Tunnel is quite a marvel. It is 1 of 3 :– Bantata; Douai; Labrynth. It is about 40 ft deep and has about 6 entrances, electric light station etc. and one of its entrances was used for the Infantry to advance from.

Wednesday 11th April

Things fairly quiet with lots of traffic everywhere
The Battys are doing very little firing owing to long range.
Morning was very cold and a strong wind blowing from the rear.
After dinner it snowed heavily and lasted all night.
Things are very unpleasant at the Guns now, no shelter to speak of and no material is allowed for that purpose

Thursday 12th April

3 or 4 inches of soft snow everywhere turning to mud
A fatigue party from Infantry making roads for Guns
I got several small parts from a 3" trench mortar lying in a trench near our entrance to Tunnel
It seemed a splendid little Howr with 2 buffer cylinders and a separate cylinder for recuperator.
It had a nice steel box for spare parts, spanner etc. and everything was well made
A report came in to say we had taken 13,000 prisoners on La Somme front

[continued on a new page where two sentences have been added on the lefthand side; date is unclear:]
Walked up to composite Batty and ahead to Farbus.
The Country ahead shewed very little signs of shelling and was quite a contrast after walking over the ridge and seeing nothing but shell-holes for 3 miles.

Friday 13th

We occupied Willerval and Bailleul captured 4 How[rs?] and cavalry patrols ahead did good work generally.
It was reported @ noon that enemy were retiring. 1 Section from each Batty went ahead near Thelus
The Infantry made an attack @ 5-30 a.m. on S.

Saturday April 14th

Gun Artillery tried to get over the crest and give them some support but there was no place for them to go to and only a narrow road with Farbus Wood either side and a lot of barbed wire either side. It was absolutely necessary for them to get over the crest before daybreak.

Sunday April 15th

Headquarters moved ahead to a house in Farbus. There were 2 8" Howr in big strong concrete Gun-pits
Our people turned them round and fired a round out of 1 of them.
We have now 1 Batty of Whiz-bangs; 1 Batty of 4.1" and 1 Batty of 5.9" (1 of the 5.9" is quite and old type of Gun, but the others are very up-to-date by the appearance of them.) the 5.9" and 8" were captured by the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battn and the whiz bangs by the 4th Battn

Wednesday 18th April

We have been shelled heavily day and night every since we came in – chiefly owing to us firing the Germans 8" Howr back at him and partly because this position is a mass of strong dug-outs and Gun-positions with his Guns in. The Battys brought 4 Guns in last night and put them in the open near the railway track (Station). They are now very forward and perfectly in full view of the enemy. We have a fine view from here and can see where the trenches are.
Our Hd. Qrs are the most forward of any and ahead of our own Guns.
It is not safe for our Guns to fire in this position until after the next scrap – which may take place any day now.
The weather is very wet and cold with plenty of snow which delays the offensive

Thursday 19th April.

Things slightly quieter
The remainder of 48 Howr moved into position today. We are anxiously waiting for the German 8" Howr to fire as we are expecting to be shelled heavily when that starts.
We had news today that enemy were retiring from this front and we certainly were not shelled so bad as before.

Friday April 20th

re-engaged to-day.
Things much quieter and weather slightly better and more like Spring with birds singing

Saturday April 21st 1917

nice cool Spring day and the Germans are fairly quiet with a few 8" falling near Willerval. They havent fired the 8" Howr yet
We are expecting to make another attack in a few days. The enemy made an attack on our front line tonight about 11.p.m. and an S.O.S. went up by our fellows who were in the midst of a relief. Our Guns “Stood by” but nothing came of it

Sunday April 22nd

2nd Anniversary of Ypres Battle. The weather was beautiful and 5 of us went to Ecoivres for a bath. It was a long walk of about 7 miles, but a nice bath and change of clothes which we were all badly in need of. The Country at the back was greatly changed since we moved our Guns moved ahead. Y.M.C.A. and Canteens; Tents; horselines were in our old positions. We have hopes that the 8" (German) will not fire until after the big scrap – which is due in a day or two.

Monday 23rd April

Fine day and lots of planes about and several fights. 2 of ours planed down on our right (about ½ mile). The attack yesterday morning was a success on our right – we took 1,300 prisoners; 8 Guns and the Town of Gavrelle. On our left I Believe we did not do so well. Apparently there is a lot of fortified positions in Lens. Our big affair is due in a day or two

Tuesday April 24th 1917.

Bright Sunny day and mud nearly all Gone.

Lots of Spring flowers in bloom round the Guns.
The enemy put over a few tear shells last evening; 2 of the Battys have registered, but otherwise we are still a silent Brigade.
A 7th Batty Gun was hit this evening.

Wednesday 25th April. St Georges Day

Nice bright day but no signs of the offensive starting. The rations are still very poor and very little mail coming up.

Thursday 26th April. 
5 Batty Gun hit
Things fairly quiet. The weather shews a tendency to rain.

Friday 27th August

A nice bright day and an attack due shortly. The 8" Howr (German) fired in morning and we were shelled heavily from 2.30 until 5p.m and most of them came nearer than we have ever had before.
Some of them were 8" armour piercing shells.
In the evening we had another shelling from 9 until midnight.
The enemy have counter-attacked 9 times since they lost Gavrelle and have been repulsed each time. They attacked in mass formation. Rumours say that Austria has made peace terms.

[continued on a new page where one sentence has been added on the lefthand side; date is unclear:]
I went out to see the bombardment in the hopes I could see the Infantry going over as we can see the trenches quite plainly, but it was hardly daylight

Saturday April 28th 1917.

The attack on Arleux commenced @ 4.25 a.m. with a heavy bombardment
The Infantry had 700 yds to go to enemy 1st line, but they made a “jumping off” trench 100 yds ahead of their own – leaving them 600 yds to go. They did it in 4 minutes and went on to Arleux, where there was a lot of hard hand to hand fighting and our fellows were prevented from killing the Germans.
Prisoners said that Genl Hindenberg was on this front a few days ago severely reprimanded them for losing Vimy Ridge
He put a Naval Brigade in here to help them hold their line.
They had been expecting us to attack about the 25th or 26th and had been “standing to” all the time, and were actually doing so when our fellows came into their trench but they said our fellows were too quick for them. The German Infantry had only been in the trench since 3.a.m. so their turn in the front line lasted 1½ hours. We got about ? prisoners
They seemed a small lot of men, but the Naval Bde men were dressed in new clothing. We got a few Artillery men and they said our Artillery was awful, but theirs was very poor.
The 1st German prisoner to come in was from British Columbia and made the remark that he would like to go back there
They were used throughout the day for general fatigues – carrying wounded ammunition etc. – and seemed quite pleased with it. I saw a party of them crossing a field ahead of here and they were heavily shelled with shrapnel by their own Guns
The British on our right were supposed to take Oppy but only got as far as the Wood and were held up and there was a big bombardment about 7-30 p.m. on both sides along our whole front, but no-one seemed to know what it was about – although it commenced with a series of German S.O.S. signals starting on our right, so possibly our Infantry were making another attack on Oppy.

Sunday April 29th

A severe Gas attack came over in the night. Ripley of 7th Batty killed and 4 men badly gassed. Howe of Hd. Qrs. was sent away in the afternoon. Very little firing today – except from our “Heavies”. Both the 8" Hows are now out of action and everyone is pleased about it.
The weather is quite nice now

Monday April 30th 1917

Things nice and quiet and beautiful weather. Our Heavies are still firing steadily.
Rumours say that we attacked on our right this morning and we advanced 600 yds, but in that case we would be in Oppy, but we are not there. Had a bath and washed my clothes. . . .

Original Scans

Original Scans