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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


"The troops, of course, had been eagerly following the reports of the great battles that had been raging there (The Somme) for the last month and more. A continuing optimism still marked the accounts of the action in the London newspapers and in the less colourful resumes provided by Comic Cuts, as the Corps Intelligence Summaries were called. Ground had certainly been captured, and no British battle had ever been fought on so massive a scale. Perhaps, after all, this was really the beginning of the end. Many were still looking hopefully for the "break-through" and an early conclusion to the war".  Battle Royal, D.J. Goodspeed, 1962.


The battalion had just come out of the line, when on June 2nd, the 3rd Canadian Division which was holding the line on the left of the 1st Division, from Hill 60 and Mount Sorrel, to Sanctuary Wood, was attacked and partially driven from its trenches after a terrible five-hour bombardment. Next morning the 3rd Battalion moved forward and for four days held part of the trenches to which the 8th Brigade had been moved back, to the west of Mount Sorrel. Heavy artillery was being brought up with a view to counterattack, and on the 8th the line was taken over for three days by battalions of the 2nd Canadian Division while the 1st Division, who were to make the attack, were withdrawn to rest. On the 11th, the 3rd Battalion went into the line again opposite Mount Sorrel.under command of Lt.-Col. Allan, and at 1 o'clock in the morning of the 13th, in darkness and heavy rain, attacked and captured this formidable position, with the 3rd Brigade on its left and the 1st Battalion in support.. The shellfire was intense and throughout the day the battalion suffered severely , losing altogether 16 officers and 412 men, or about three quarters of the officers and two thirds of the men engaged. The same night the remnants of the Battalion were relieved on Mount Sorrel and after a few days for rest and re-organization went into the line again and did regular trench tours for the following 2 months.

Private Charles and Wally Gray,3rd Battalion

Lt.W. E. Chatterton, Adanac Cemetery
By this time, the Battle of the Somme was in full swing and, in the middle of August, the 1st Division started by route march for Tournehem, where it commenced training for the assault, preparatory to taking part in the great offensive. The end of August found it in the Somme, where it did 3 strenuous tours at Mouquet Farm near Pozieres, at Courcelette and Practice Trenches

Finally, on October 8th, the Battalion went over the top in an extensive attack, the objective of which was the famous Regina Trench. The 4th Battalion was on its right and the 16th Battalion on its left. The 4th, 3rd and 16th Battalions' objectives were taken on time, but the remainder of the attack was held up by heavy uncut wire, leaving these three units in a dangerous salient. Throughout the day the enemy counter-attacked persistently. The units on both flanks ran short of bombs. and the 3rd Battalion's reserve supplies were passed to them. Later, our own men ran short, and fresh supplies could not be brought up because of the barrage. Late in the afternoon, a determined enemy counter-attack found the whole line short of ammunition, and without the bombs so essential for this trench-to-trench work, while all but one of the Lewis guns had been knocked out. It was a hopeless fight but desperately fought, and the majority of the battalion died where they stood, Two officers and a handful of men managed to fall back to the jumping-off trenches, which they continued to hold until relieved. The losses totalled 27 officers and 682 men.

The main road to Bapaume, Somme 1916
Shortly after arriving on the Somme, Lt.-Col. W.D.Allan, D.S.O., was taken seriously ill as a result of an old would, and was invalided to England, where he died shortly afterwards, deeply mourned by every officer and man who had served under him. He was succeeded by Major (later Lt.-Col.) J.B. Rogers, M.C. Following the October 8th operations, the 1st Division was transferred to the Vimy Ridge front south of Lens, where it held the line till December. On the 9th of this month, the 3rd Battalion made a successful raid opposite "The Pimple" at the north end of the Ridge. Many Germans were killed and a machine gun brought back by the raiders. Before Christmas, the Division was relieved and moved into the back are for its first rest in many months, the 3rd Battalion going into billets in Bajus, a little village south of Bruay. That Christmas was one to be remembered. The men of each company sat down to dinner together, and turkey, plum-pudding, and beer were served in abundance by the officers and sergeants who acted as waiter

Sergeant Sidney Packham, #404419 - 3rd Battalion
Battle of Mount Sorrel - June 3, 1916

"Dear Mrs Gray: It is with deep regret that I have to write and tell you about poor Charlie (Private Charles Gray, #404092, "B" Coy.). He was killed on the night of June 3rd, and Wall was wounded at the same time. I was not there at the time but from what I have been told by his other comrades, I gather that Wall was not seriously hurt, and they told me that Charlie passed away very peacefully a few minutes after he was hit. He was taken away in a bag after he was very quietly, with great respect, laid to rest with other fallen hero's who have given their lives for the cause of right. I remain yours very sincerely, Sid." Buried Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. Ontario Archives, Letters From The Front Collection

Major Herbert R. Alley - 3rd Battalion
Battle of the Somme - August 31, 1916

"We went in at Pozieres which the 28th Australian Battalion had just taken. The attack was over and successful but the German was constantly counter-attacking. We had him there (Sausage Valley, Somme), you see, where he had us at Mount Sorrel. We were on top of the Ridge and everything down below was in plain view and he didn't like it." CBC Flander's Fields interviews

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