War Diary of the 18th Battalion: September 1916

Preamble:

The Battle of the Somme was fought between July 1 and November 1, 1916. During this battle the total casualties for both sides have been estimated at approximately 887,000. The British Army on the opening day suffered 57,000 casualties.

For the 18th Battalion this battle was one of it bloodiest engagements up until this time. Casualties of this scale had not yet been experienced and as the War Diary reports on September 20th lists “…49 o.r. reported Killed in Action. 203 o.r.s. reported wounded. 69 o.r.s reported missing.” This relatively accurate accounting indicates that the Battalion suffered, at minimum, a 30% casualty rate from several days battle.

Sadly, the War Diary suffers from unnecessary brevity and in order to expand upon the 18th Battalion’s experience at the Somme an examination of the 19th Battalion’s War Diary will over a comparison. The 19th fought in the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade alongside the 18th so its experience will be representative of the 18ths. The 19th Battalion’s War Diary is much more detailed compared to the 18th’s over this period.

Notes

  1. Note that Lieutenant Bernard John Bates is listed as “MISSING”. This is not correct. Lt. Bates was born on September 28, 1898 and was killed in action September 15, 1916. This makes him 17 years old. He died not yet 18.
  2. The Soldiers’ Pages for the Officers listed killed in action or wounded will be updated shortly.

CONFIDENTIAL WAR DIARY

WAR DIARY
OF
18th Canadian Battalion – 2nd Canadian Division
from 1st September to 30th September, 1916

Volume 13

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
1 Battalion parade for musketry practice. 1 other rank sick admitted to hospital
2 Company drill and Routine. MAJOR. H.L. MILLIGAN promoted to rank of LIEUT Col. From 8.7.16 authority D.R.O. 2428. 1 o.r. admitted to hospital.
3 Routine. 1 o.r. admitted to hospital. Part D order #34 shows 16 o.r.s. S.O.S. of battalion.
4 Battalion marched to and entrained at ARDRUICK arrived at AUX-les-CHATEAUX at 10:50 pm and marched to Billets at CRAMONT. 1 o.r. admitted to hospital. 2 o.r.s. returned from billets.
5 Battalion resting in billets.
6 Battalion marched to billets at BONNEVILLE.
7 Battalion marched to billets at HERIBRATT.
8 Battalion marched to billets at
9 Battalion marched to billets in WOOD at YADINCOURT.
10 Battalion marched to Albert and bivouacked in field (BRICKFIELDS).
11 Battalion on parade, Company and Platoon drills. 2 o.r. sick admitted to hospital. Part II orders #25/36 show 6 o.r.s. S.O.S. of Battalion.
12 Company and Platoon drills. 2 o.r. sick and admitted to hospital.
13  

 

7 pm.

Company and Platoon drills. Enemy shelled bivouac in afternoon.

#1 and 4 Platoon moved to front line.

14  

6.24 AM

Battalion moved in Fighting order from Brickfields. Took up position on right of frontage allotted to 4th Can. Inf. Bgde. viz 18th Bn right, 20th Bn centre, 21st left.

Battalion attacked German front and second lines to depth of 1,200 yds. And held the position gained (both objectives gained)

15 Position as yesterday. Battalion holding ground gained.
16 morning Battalion relived by Gordon Highlanders.

 

Battalion in reserve at TARA VALLEY. 57 o.r.s. arrived as reinforcements. 7 Officers reported Killed in action, 4 wounded, 1 missing.

17 Battalion resting at BRICKFIELDS. 1 o.r. admitted to hospital (sick).
18 Battalion marched to Billets in WOOD at VADENCOURT.
19 Battalion marched to LAVICOGNE. 5 o.r.s. returned from hospital. 11 o.r. arrived reinforcement.
20 Battalion resting. Extract from D.R.O. 2790 LIEUT. J.A. McINTOSH to be Temp Major from 1st July, 1916. 49 o.r. reported Killed in Action. 203 o.r.s. reported wounded. 69 o.r.s reported missing.
21 Battalion marched to St. LEGER les DOMARTS.
22 Battalion in billets. Rifle inspection and Commanding Officer’s parade. Pay parade. Part II order #37 shows 3 o.r.s. S.O.S. of Battalion.
23 Battalion marched to LAVICOGNE. 7 o.r.s. returned from hospital. LIEUT. G. BROOKS arrived as reinforcement.
24 Battalion marched to Billets in woods at VADENCOURT.
25 Battalion marched to ALBERT. 6 pm. Battalion moved to CHALK PIE. LIEUT. W.F. HUYKE proceeded to C.T.D. Shorncliffe, Eng.
26 Position as yesterday. Battalion in reserve.
27 Battalion moved into SAUSAGE VALLEY.
28 Battalion moved to SUNKEN ROAD.
29 Position as yesterday.
30 Battalion relieved 21st Battalion in line. B, C, D. Coys in line. A Coy in support.

 

18 CANADIAN BATTN

Officers Killed in Action Officers Wounded
CAPT. S.M. LOGHRIN LIEUT. H.H. SYKES
CAPT. W.S. McKEOGH [McKeough] LIEUT. J.M. CHILSOM
LIEUT. W.J. MORRIS LIEUT. H.W. SMITH
LIEUT. F.C. MAUND LIEUT. N.H. RUSSELL
LIEUT. J.C. MEWBURN
LIEUT. R.B. BARNES Missing
LIEUT. W.H. WILLARD LIEUT. B.J. BATES [KIA]

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