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Saturday, May 18, 2013


EARLY 1917

The remainder of the winter (1916-17) passed without incident, the battalion doing regular trench tours in the neighbourhood of Souchez and the north end of Vimy Ridge. This winter cost 17 officers and 87 other ranks killed and wounded. (interesting to note that your odds of being a casualty were much greater if you were an officer although less than 4% of the battalion were officers and 96% of the battalion were enlisted men).

Vimy Ridge Memorial April 9, 2007

In March, orders were received that several corps, including the Canadians, were to open the spring offensive with an attack upon the Vimy Ridge and the lines to the south of it.. Careful training and study of the ground were carried out during the following weeks and when at dawn April 9th (1917), the battalion went over the top, under Lt.-Col. Rogers, not a detail had been overlooked and everything was carried out according to plan. The battalion was on the extreme right of the corps and had the longest distance to go, but though its flank was quite up in the air, it took and passed its final objectives on time the village of Farbus and Farbus Wood and captured many prisoners and four guns (the first to be taken by the Canadians), on the eastern slope of the Ridge.The cost was only 6 officers and 179 men in casualties. During the next few days, the gains made were extended into the flat country east of the Ridge and here, on April 28th, the Second Brigade took the entrenched village of Arleux. The 3rd Battalion was in support but was not used in the successful attack, though it suffered from shell-fire.
1st Division, Vimy Ridge, April 9, 1917

A mile beyond Arleux was the entrenched village of Fresnoy and its capture assigned to the 1st Brigade. The 3rd Battalion, commanded by Major Mason, was on the right, the 2nd in the centre and the 1st on the left, the 4th being in support. The attack was launched at dawn on May 3rd and, so far as the Brigade was concerned, was entirely successful. The troops on either flank, however, were unable to come up and the enemy on their fronts brought heavy enfilade fire to bear on their positions.
A/Major W.E.Curry, KIA April 9,1917
So hot was the fire that even the supporting platoons could not get forward and throughout the day the position was held by the assault troops alone, commanded by Captain (later Major) Harry Hutchison, DSO,MC,MID, who, though the enemy was on three sides of them, stuck to their ground and beat off repeated counter-attacks. When darkness permitted the rushing up of reinforcements ad supplies, there remained three officers, of whom two had been hit, and a few score of men, out of the nine officers and nine platoons (about 200 men) who went into the attack, and eight of the nine Lewis guns showed marks of shell or bullet, but not a foot of the ground taken had been lost. On the evening of the following day, the battalion was relieved by Imperial troops and the entire Division moved back for a month's much-needed rest, the 3rd Battalion going to the village of Petit Servins. The whole operation cost the battalion 12 officers and 245 other ranks.
Sergeant Henry Garlick #63370, MM

In June the battalion went again into the line, which had now become stabilized in the flat ground east of Vimy Ridge, taking over part of the Mericourt Sector. Regular trench tours were carried out without special incident till the attack of the 1st and 2nd Divisions on Hill 70 and the ground to the south of it, in the middle of August. The attack of the 1st Division on Hill 70 was carried out by the 2nd and 3rd Brigades, the 1st being in support. Although not engaged in the actual attack, the 3rd Battalion did valuable work and suffered 117 casualties in holding the line before and after the battle. Following this brilliant and completely successful action the 1st division moved into the back area for rest and training, the battalion going into billets in Monchy-Breton.

Captain Henry Sloane Cooper, MC & Bar, OBE, MPP - 3rd Battalion
Battle of Vimy Ridge - April 9, 1917
"When we started over at 7:30 in the morning they still had a 5.9 barrage on our old front line and it looked as though our battalion would have to go through it. It stopped just as we got there. That was counter battery work that did that, that stopped it and how! Well then from then on there was relatively little shelling. We just outgunned him so much that he didn't have a chance of coming back"  CBC Flanders Fields

Pierre Berton - VIMY
Battle of Vimy Ridge - April 9, 1917
"The techniques that would be used to capture Vimy Ridge were honed and polished in the careful planning that preceded the larger raids, as early as December (1916), five officers and ninety men of the 3rd Battalion from Toronto had trained for a week using a replica of the enemy trench system located by aerial photography. These practice trenches were actually dug and the men trained to leap into them, first with dummy grenades and later with live ones. Scouts who had been over the ground guided the attacking parties to within fifteen yards of the enemy wire. The attackers flung bathmats over this obstacle and were in the enemy trenches in just eight minutes. In that time they killed or wounded one hundred Germans, cleared one hundred and thirty yards of trench, and suffered thirty-five casualties. These were not seasoned veterans. Two thirds of he party were new men who had arrived just in time to be trained for the job". VIMY, Pierre Berton, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1986

1 comment:

Matt said...

Hi Bob,

Can you send me a message ASAP:

RE: Milton Soldier.

Good Work on the Peterborough Post Card.