On the night of July 26/27th the 18th Battalion initiated a trench raid. Sadly, other then the report transcribed below, no further details, at this time, are known. The report was not signed making it uncertain who the author is but it is a valuable document. It makes mention of two private soldiers by name and gives insight to the activities of the 18th Battalion in its efforts to initiate and carry out actions to gather intelligence, keep the enemy off balance.
Note the differentiation of the roles, which were specialized. The use of Scouts, and Bombing Parties. The tasks needed to successfully carry out such a raid had been delineated into very specific skill sets. Sadly Private Martin was to pay the ultimate sacrifice as he was “severely” wounded and would later die a month later. He is buried in where he was born, at Belfast (Balmoral) Cemetery.
18th Canadian Battalion
Report on raiding enterprise by 18th Canadian Battalion on the night 26/27 July, 1916
The raiding party and flankers left our trench at 10:30 p.m., proceeding to the old French trench. The Scout Officer – Lieut. Allen1 – with Privates Forrester and Martin made their way to the enemy wire, to locate and prepare a lain for the raiding party to enter. At 1:05 a.m. the wire cutting was completed, wire was found to be very much thicker than it appears for O.P.’s, both officers agreeing that from 40 to 50 feet is a fair estimate. The wire-cutting was done without alarming the enemy and Private Martin returned to guide the raiding party to the gap. Entrance was effected, still without alarming the enemy, and 19 of the party lined the German front line trench, the remainder being left at the gap to clear and cover the party when retiring. The Bomb Officer – Lieut. McClinton – first got over the parapet and, finding the bay unoccupied, gave the signal for the rest of the party to get over; so far no alarm, and the bombing squads were sent down the trench, the bombing officer reported having himself covered about 60 yards of the trench, finding it unoccupied, with no evidence of gas, although the trench was evidently patrolled, because whilst cutting the wire Lieut. Allen reports hearing footsteps going along the trench, however as the gap had not been made, there was no opportunity to get at the patrol. During the search of the trench, which could not be made without a certain noise, the enemy took alarm and the party were challenged by a big Hun, who was promptly shot and toppled over. The party, having been discovered, and not being able to do any further business in the front line, made a concerted rush on the 2nd line, bombers covering the charge. The party was brought to a sudden stop by heavy wire entanglements and it being impossible to make further progress retired under a heavy bombing defence. The enemy appeared to have the range from support to the front trench very accurately, because most of the bombs fell there. Our causalities were 1 severely wounded. – Martin – 6 wounded of which 3 are slight and 2 missing.
It is evident that much work is going on in the support lines as sounds of a large working party were plainly heard. Just before our party was challenged, all work appeared to cease, the garrison and working party evidently attending to in anticipation of an attack, the enemy bombing commencing as soon as the sentry was shot. The wire between the front and second lines does not appear to be visible from the O.P.’s and is probably concealed by the paradoa of the front line. It would appear that the enemy, as a precaution against raids, had abandoned his front line and had constructed a new line within bombing distance, wiring the intervening space.
All the equipment noted in the detailed plan of the raid was found necessary and in every case used with good effect. In addition, puttees were removed and trousers tied below the knee with string. This was done to prevent puttees unrolling and becoming entangled in the wire.
The stretcher bearers and stretcher accompanied part to old FRENCH TRENCH where they remained, rendering valuable service. A flare was fired from this trench towards enemy line to indicate that party was clear. This was arranged for in case the artillery and machine guns were required to break up a counter-raid. The artillery and Machine Guns arrangement for action in case they were required were most complete, special liaison officers being detailed by O.C. artillery group to facilitate co-operation. No machine gun fire was turned on our party.
1. This is assumed to be Lieutenant A.S. Allen at this time.