4TH CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS. SOUTH OF SCARPE 26TH, 27TH, AND 28TH AUGUST, 1918.

4TH CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE

NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS.

SOUTH OF SCARPE

26TH, 27TH, AND 28TH AUGUST, 1918.[i]

CONFERENCE, DIVISIONAL H.Q. 23RD AUGUST.

During the afternoon the G.O.C.[ii] and Brigade Major attended a conference at Divisional Headquarters, ETRUN where proposed operations for the advance South of the SCARPE were outlined.

BRIDGE CONFERENCE, BERNEVILLE, 23RD AUGUST.

During the evening the Os.C, Battalions attended at Brigade H.Q. when the G.O.C. discussed the proposed operations, and dispositions where made.

MOVE INTO TELEGRAPH HILL – TILLOY SECTOR.

On the night 24th/25th August, the Brigade moved forward and occupied front system trenches in the TELEGRAPH HILL – TILLOY Sector. Brigade Headquarters established in ARRAS.

OPERATION ORDERS 25TH AUGUST.

On the 25th August, the Brigade received from 2nd Canadian Division, Warning Order and Operation Order No. 246 for the attack and advance in conjunction with the 52nd Division on our Right and co-operating with the 3rd Canadian Division on our Left.

The attack to be made by the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade with the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade on the Right forming a defensive flank, and the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade in Support.

BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS.

At 8 p.m. August 25th, Brigade Headquarters moved from ARRAS to Battle Headquarters in NORTH ALLEI, M.6.d.85.75.

ASSEMBLY.

On the night August 25th.26th rain fell and continued at intervals; at 2 a.m. the sky cleared and a bright moon enabled the Battalions to complete their assembly. All unites reported in position at 2.45 a.m.

During the night lanes were cut and broken wire in front of assembly positions cleared away, without attracting the enemy’s attention.

FRONTAGE

The frontage on which the Brigade attacked was approximately 2,000 yards, the left flank resting in ARRAS – CAMBRAI Road as far as N.3.b.0.4 then crossing road and cutting COUMBIA Trench N.6.c.90.05.

DISPOSITIONS

Infantry

Under Command of
21st Cdn. Batt’n on the RIGHT Lt. Col. H.E. PENSE, DSO, MC
20th Cdn. Batt’n on the LEFT Lt. Col. B.O. HOOPER, MC
18th Cdn. Batt’n on the SUPPORT Major J.A.  McIntosh
19th Cdn. Batt’n on the RESERVE Lt. Col. L.H. MILLEN, DSO

 

Trench Mortars – 4th Cdn. T.M. Battery.

2 Stokes Guns attached 21st Batt’n.
2 Stokes Guns attached 20th Batt’n.
2 Stokes Guns attached 19th Batt’n.

 

TANKS – “B” Coy. 9th Bn. Tank Corps.

No. 5 Sec. Capt. McCREDY 3 tanks att’d 21st Bn.
No. 6 Sec. Lt. SHACLETON 3 tanks att’d 20th Bn.
No.  Sec. Lt. WARREN 2 tanks att’d 18th Bn.

 

Engineers – 6th Battalion 2nd Bde. C.E.

A small party of sappers were attached to Brigade Headquarters and each Battalion.

Machine Guns. – No. 3 Coy. 2nd Bn. C.M.G.C.

No. 3 Machine Gun Company, co-operating in attack were distributed over Brigade frontage.

ZERO HOUR

Zero Hour for the attack was 3 a.m. 26th August.

THE ATTACK AND ADVANCE 26th AUGUST.

The barrage stared at 3 a.m. approximately 200 yards in front of our jumping off line, was intense and evenly distributed, lifting 100 yards after 3 minutes and then 100 yards every 4 minutes.

On the Right.

The 21st Canadian Battalion followed the barrage closely keeping their direction well, meeting with little opposition until NOVA SCOTIA Trench was reached. The Enemy’s artillery retaliation which did not come down before 3.11 a.m. was light. At NOVA SCOTIA Trench the enemy made a temporary stand, chiefly Machine Gun Nests. These were dealt with by Lewis Guns and Rifle Grenades and then rushed – few of the enemy escaped and many prisoners taken. The advance continued, unbroken to MINORCA Trench and then on to SOUTHERN AVENUE, when the enemy again made a stand and a sharp fight ensued, but our troops carrying everything before them, vigorously dealt with 20 German Gunners and captured 3 Field Guns. The final objective captured, reorganization and consolidation was carried out. The forward positions were subject to considerable hostile artillery fire, resulting in some casualties. Battle headquarters were established in NOVA SCOTIA Trench.

On The Left.

The 20th Canadian Battalion moved forward to the attack the leading plattons [sic] in extended order – little opposition was encountered the first 2,000 yards. At N.11.d.50.50. right flank was held up by 2 Machine Guns. The post was rushed by a party – the crews killed or captured and the guns taken. At N.12.b.50.15. 3 Field Guns and about 20 prisoners were captured. Near objective, considerable opposition from snipers and Machine Guns from both sides of the ARRAS – CAMBRAI Road. A tank was sent for and succeeded in overcoming the resistance on the South side of the road, the tank, when crossing to the North side of the road, was put out of action by a shell. Objective reaced [at] about 7.30 a.m. and consolidation put in hand.

At 1.30 p.m. two German Limbers rushed down the CAMBRAI Road to try and take back two Field Guns at O.7.C.4.4. Our Lewis Guns succeeded in killing or wounding the horses.

Hostile artillery fire was active and caused many casualties during the day.

At 7.45 p.m. under a barrage, the advance was continued and a line established in RAKE Trench without encountering much opposition. Two 5.9 [inch] Guns were captured.

The 18th Canadian Battalion in Support, followed the attacking Battalions closely to MINORCA Trench, then to SOUTHERN AVENUE. At 12 noon 2 companies of the Battalion went through the attacking Battalions endeavoring to capture GUEMAPPE – having not artillery support were driven back by hostile Machine Gun fire. At 5 p.m. with some artillery assistance 2 companies captured GUEMAPPE, casualties being fairly heavy. At 10 p.m. a Company advanced to RAKE Trench and CALVARY Trench. At 3 a.m. on the 27th, the posts in CALVARY Trench withdrew to RAKE Trench.

The 19th Canadian Battalion in Reserve started their advance at 4 a.m. and were not brought into action until 4.45 p.m. when 2 companies moved forward to PANTHER and EGRET Trenches, linking up with the 6th Brigade on the right and 18th Battalion on the left. At 6.50 p.m. CURLEW Trench was found to be occupied by 6th Brigade, so Companies were withdrawn, one Company being placed under command O.C. 18th Canadian Battalion, for use in SOUTHERN AVENUE, north of GUEMAPPE.

During the morning, Brigade moved their Headquarters forward to NOVA SCOTIA Trench.

FRONT NORTH OF ARRAS ROAD.

On instructions from 2nd Canadian Division, during the afternoon that portion of our frontage north of the ARRAS – CAMBRAI Road, was handed over to the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade.

TOUCH MAINTAINED BY FLANKS.

At the close of the day’s operations we continued to maintain touch with co-operating forces on both flanks.

THE ADVANCE AUGUTST 27th.

In accordance with 2nd Canadian Division, O.O. 248 the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, on the 27th August, continued the advance, co-operating with the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade on the Right and the 3rd Canadian Division on the Left.

FRONTAGE.

Our frontage was from the Light Railway, 0.19.c.9.9. on the Right to the ARRAS – CAMBRAI Rod in the left, approximately 1,500 yards.

DISPOSTIONS.

19th Canadian Infantry Battalion on the RIGHT.
18th Canadian Infantry Battalion on the LEFT.
20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in SUPPORT.
21st Canadian Infantry Battalion in RESERVE.

 

ZERO HOUR.

The zero hour for the advance was 10 a.m. 27th August.

THE ADVANCE.

Under rolling artillery barrage lifting 100 years every four minutes, the leading Battalions advanced, our troops showing splendid spirits gained their first objective, the SENSEE River, very successfully, taking many prisoners and the causing the enemy severe casualties. Here strong resistance was met with, the enemy Machine Gun fire being intense. The artillery barrage field and eventually subsided altogether. Any attempt to advance against the enemy’s strongly organized system of trenches – OLIVE Trench – OCEAN WORKS – CABLE Trench – caused severe casualties, so a line was established west of SENSEE River and a Bridge Head on the ARRAS – CAMBRAI Road, the Support and Reserve Battalions taking up positions in the rear.

During the afternoon Brigade Headquarters moved forward to BUCK Trench, 0.19.d.50.95.

The enemy aircraft was active at times, and hindered the advance of our Supports by Machine Gun fir and the use of Light bombs.

Many prisoners were taken during the day and numerous Machine Guns.

During the night, the enemy’s artillery was very active, many casualties caused.

THE ADVANCE AUGUST 28th, 1918.

Orders were received from the 2nd Canadian Division during the morning that the advance would be continues – 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the Right, 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade on Left, and 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade in close Support.

FRONTAGE.

The 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade frontages was 700 yards, the left resting on the ARRAS – CAMBRAI Road.

DISPOSTIONS.

21st Canadian Infantry Battalion on the RIGHT.
20th Canadian Infantry Battalion on the LEFT.
19th Canadian Infantry Battalion in SUPPORT.
18th Canadian Infantry Battalion in RESERVE.

THE ATTACK.

The 3rd Canadian Division on our Left moved forward at 11.00 a.m. Our attack was launched at 12.30 p.m. supported by artillery barrage. Our troops crossed the SENSEE River and advance to OLIVE Trench and OCEAN WORKS. The enemy having good observation, we suffered many casualties from this Machine Gun fire and artillery. Strong belt of wire in front of enemy trenches held up our men, again and again, attempted to force a way through wire to OLIVE Trench and to OCEAN WORKS, and [many] attempts were made to bomb through but were met with heavy Machine Gun fire from front and both flanks. Our artillery barrage, which in the initial state had lifted was brought back to OLIVE Trench and CABLE Trench, and eventually an S.O.S. line was established along our front. A position in shell holes was occupied in front of wire for many hours, and later a line of post was established well in front of the SENSEE River, the posts taking cover in sunken roads and under banks.

In the evening the enemy was reinforced, large bodies of men seen coming over the hill. It was at all times very difficult to obtain accurate information of the state of affairs in forward positions, the ground being continually swept by intense Machine Gun fire.

After much difficulty an out-post line was established as follows:-

From South toe North:- Bottom Bridge in O.27. – O.28.b.9.8. – O.29.a.0.8 – O.29.b.0.9. O.23 centeral and Bridgehead established on the ARRAS – CAMBRAI Road.

Hostile shelling during the night at times was very heavy, mingled with gas.

REINFORCEMENTS.

During the evening, owning to severe casualties, the 31st Canadian Battalion was placed under command of the G.O.C.: two Companies sent to occupy QUARRY Trenches, two Companies kept in Reserve.

RELIEF.

During the night 28th/29th August, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade relieved the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade. The incoming Battalions are to be commended on the way the relief was carried out, under difficult circumstances.

MOVE INTO REST.

The 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, in the early morning of the 29th, moved to WANCOURT, and later in the day proceeded to ARRAS.

CAPTURES DURING OPERATIONS 26th, 27th, 28th AUGUST 1918.

8 Field Guns
3 4.2s
2 5.9s.
1 Anti-Tank Gun.
3 Transport Wagons
4 Live Horses
Numerous Machine Guns which were unable to be counted on account of the rapid advance in initial stages of operations.
Estimated Prisoners 900

CASUALTIES

Officers O.Rs
18th Cdn. Battalion 13 297
19th Cdn. Battalion 13 274
20th Cdn. Battalion 16 426
21st Cdn. Battalion 18 363
4th Cdn. T.M. Battery 6
Total 60 1366

 

 

Signature
Major
a/Brigade Major
4th Canadian Infantry Brigade

[i] 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade War Diaries. August 1918. Appendix 31. RG9-III-D-3, Volume number: 4883, Microfilm reel number: T-10680, T-10680, File number: 243, File part: 2.

[ii] General Office Commanding.

One thought on “4TH CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS. SOUTH OF SCARPE 26TH, 27TH, AND 28TH AUGUST, 1918.

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  1. There were alot of conscripts killed or wounded in this offensive, including my grandfather – Private Hilaire Dennis – who was severely wounded at Vis-en-Artois whilstvserving with the 18th Bn CEF on 28 August 1918.

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