Somme 8th October 1916
The Attack On the Quadrilateral by the 3rd Batt. Royal Regiment of Canada Toronto & the 4th Batt. Western Ontario Regiment
All the sheets on this page are from Le Sars 57 SE. 2 & 57 S.W. 1 corrected to 18/10/1916 and are in secton M. Scale of 1:10,000 or each large square e.g. 14b is 1000 yards square.
Four 1000 yard squares make up a larger square see the large 14 on the map. These four squares are top left a, top right b, bottom left c & bottom right d.
Each 1000 yard grid is divided into a 10x10 grid.
E.g. the "a" in Farm is at M.14.b.3.2.
Le Sars Trench Map Showing the Qudrilateral
Attack on a 2 Company
frontage with A & D Companies leading the assault. B & C companies
to supply support. C Company to follow through A company & B to follow
through D Company.
Company to attack the Regina trench from M.14.b.4.4 to M.14.b.6 3/4. 7 1/2
where they would join up with the 4th Batt.
Company to attack the Regina trench from M.14.b.4.4 to M.14.b.0.3 1/2
where they would join up with the 16th Batt.
Company to attack German line from M.8 .d. 6 3/4.1 to M14.b.3.7 &
place 1 Lewis gun at each of the following Blocks. M.220.127.116.11 &
meant attacking the Below trench & then attacking the Western end of
Company to attack German line from M.14.b.3.7 to M.14.b.0.4.
they will consolidate with D Company by digging a trench from M.14.b.4.5
to M.14.b.2 1/2.6. With machine guns placed at M.12.b.2.6 & M.14.b.3
Two sections of the
battalion Grenadiers were attached to C Company. One to take & hold
Block M.8.d.5.2 & the other M.8.d.3.0.
The other two sections were used to keep the front line supplied with bombs.
Weighing over 26lb but could fire 550 .303 rounds per min the Lewis Gun was the standard infantry support weapon during WW1.
Planed Position of Lewes Guns and new Trench
The 1st Brigade
arrived in Albert on Weds 4th with the 1st Batt.
taking over the line on Thurs night.
The 3rd & 4th
Batt. took over the line from the 1st Batt. on Sat night the
day before the assault on the morning of the 8th.
The 3rd Batt.
attacked in four waves.
Platoons A Coy, 2 Platoons D Coy.
Platoons A Coy, 2 Platoons D Coy.
3rd wave -2
Platoons C Coy, 2 Platoons B Coy.
4th wave- 2
Platoons C Coy, 2 Platoons B Coy.
A distance of 75 yards
separated all waves.
The assaulting Companies A
& D formed up 50 yards in front of C & B Companies in the open. C
& B companies formed up in a jumping off trench dug just North of the
Dyke Road. The Companies were in position at least an hour before the
The assault started at
04.50am in the dark.
There were a total of 496
men of all ranks in the assault including 15 officers.
A Coy. reached their
objective the 1st & 2nd Regina trenches with
only 10% loses. Many Germans in these trenches (about 150) surrendered
without much fight.
Two companies then occupied
each of the Regina trenches and began to consolidate their position. An
attempt was made to join the 2 Regina trenches by digging a trench along
the line M.14.b.0.3. All this time they were under heavy shellfire. Many
of the 3rd Batt. Bombs were passed over to the 4th
Batt. fighting their way along the 1st Below Trench toward the
A Block was established in
the 1st Below Trench at about M.8.d.3.1 and from this point a
mixed garrison of 3rd & 4th Batt. men held the 1st
Below Trench to M.14.b.7.8.
Touch was made with the 16th
Batt. on the left and the 4th on the right.
One of the waves of C
Company according to Sergt. Smith was down to 6 men out of 40
including himself. Most of these men were lost trying to cross the
wire in front of the Below Trench.
Men also took cover in the
Regina support Trench that was found to be 2ft wide & 4ft deep and
badly knocked about. This again was dug out and consolidated.
Lieut. Simmie the Batt.
Bombing Officer ignoring orders had come forward and established his Block
as ordered at M.8.d.3.1/2. He was to have a continuous fight for hours
until his Bombs ran out. He kept calling for more Bombs at one point he
sent the following message. "Completed Block M.8.d.3.1. Lot of
wounded men and some prisoners in Trench. Will be difficult to keep supply
of Bombs if enemy continue to
Bomb left flank.
Simmie was twice wounded
and when his supply of Bombs ran out continued to fight on with a rifle.
He only retreated when the Germans pushed the 3rd & 4th
Westwards along the Regina Trench threatening to cut him & his men
He and his remaining men
managed to retire West along the Regina Trench and then back to the
jumping off line.
The 4th Batt.
The 4th Batt. on
the right had made the assault with 598 men including 18 officers and
suffered only light casualties until they encountered heavy wire in front
of the 1st Below Trench.
The wire proved impassable
so they had to work their way left along the wire into the Regina Trench
occupied by the 3rd Batt.
They then had to bomb their
way down the Below Trench towards the Dyke Road to meet up with the 23rd
on their right. This took around 41/2 hours.
Once the 4th had control of
the 1st Below Trench they were unable to attack the 2nd
Below Trench due to the continuous wire in front of it.
The 1st Below
Trench was then consolidated with blocks put on the N.W. & S.E. faces
of the Quadrilateral. The 2 Northerly faces of the Quadrilateral were by
now badly smashed up.
The Batt. was then organised into four Companies with A Company on the right. The Batt. got to work putting up fire steps and gathering up German bombs rifles and S.A.A for future use.
The German Counter Attack
At 2.00pm enemy Artillery
was reported as Hurricane and at 2.15pm two lines of Germans were seen
advancing on the Quadrilateral. The Canadian artillery immediately
quickened their fire in response.
At 2.30pm the 3rd
& 4th Batt. successfully counter attacked.
However a further very
heavy counter attack by the Germans was launched and at 3.27 the Heavy
Artillery F.O.O. informed the 1 Division that their men appeared to be out
of the Quadrilateral and into the Dyke Road.
A Company from the 4th Batt. commanded by Major Dymond and accompanied by Major Haddon & Lieut. Jones put in a block 30 yards West of the junction of the 1st Below Trench and the Regina Trench.
They were joined by “A”
Company of the 3rd Batt..
This block was held until
the supply of Bombs was exhausted and attemps to hold up the Germans with
rifle fire failed.
Major Haddon together with
Majors Bennett & Mowat also from the 4th then attempted a
bayonet charge from shell holes on the South side of the Regina Trench.
A few men only went forward
cheering, but were at once stopped by the enermy with bombs, machine gun
fire and sniping.
The attempt failed and
Major Mowat was killed.
Lieut. Chatterton from the
3rd headed a further 2 unsuccessful bayonet attacks. The first
from the North side of the Regina Trench was repulsed and Chatterton was
shot through the shoulder. He managed to crawl back to the Trench tied his
arm in a sling and then got out of the South side of the Regina Trench.
Here he rallied some more men and mounted a second bayonet charge.
Chatterton was killed and the bayonet charge was again repulsed.
An officer of the 3rd
Batt. is stated to have shot some of his own men at this point who were in
shell holes and could not be induced to counter attack with the bayonet.
It was now under the continued fire of machine guns, sniping and Artillery
fire that the men gradually drifted back to the original line.
No orders to retire were
issued at any time.
The remnants of the 4th
Batt. were bombed down the 1st Below Trench towards Dyke road,
a few men getting into shell holes at M.14.b.7.8.
When the supply of Bombs in
the Below trench ran out the remaining men dropped over into Dyke Road
under order from an Officer and into the 23rd Division lines.
This left the right flank
of the 16th Batt. in the air so the Artillery was ordered to
lay down a protective barrage in front of
Regina Trench extending as far as the Back Rd. The Heavy Artillery
was requested to take on the Quadrilateral including those trenches that
run from it 200yards all round. The
Lahore Artillery would also be turned on.
The right of the 16th
Batt. was now at 14.b.2.3.
At 04.30pm arrangements
were now being made by General Hughes for a counter attack that night to
retain lost ground.
At 05.00pm it was reported
that 3rd & 4th Batt. troops had been driven out
of area M.d.8 including the Quadrilateral.
At 05.21pm the 3rd
Division reported that no portions of the Regina Trench were in their
possession and that elements of 3 Companies were in shell holes between
their front line and Regina Trench.
At 5.30pm the 3rd
Batt. reported that the 69th Bde. were seen retiring and were
now back in their jumping off Trench.
At 06.35pm a message was
received from the 3rd Bde. stating that the 16th
Batt. was still in Regina Trench. The 3rd Bde. was told that
instructions would be issued when General Currie returned from the
Canadian Corps, but that most it was most probable no counter attack would
take place to night and the men from the 16th Batt. would
At 07.45pm a message was forwarded to say operations for the 1st Canadian Brigade for tonight had been cancelled.
Around 4000 of these were used during the attack.
3rd Batt. Losses From 15 Officers 481 Other Ranks
4th Batt. Losses From 18 Officers 580 Other Ranks
Details of Some of the 3rd & 4th Batt. Men Killed or Wounded
I have found the following from the court of enquiry reports.
Lieut. Smith 4th Batt. Died of wounds received in the jumping off trench.
Lieut. Jones 4th Batt. Evacuated sick.
Lieut. Simmie Batt. Bombing Officer Wounded twice while holding his block.
Major Moss C Company Wounded early morning.
Lieut. Mc.Lean C Company wounded going over.
Lieut. Livingstone C Company wounded early morning.
Lieut. Harvey C Company wounded around noon.
Major Chisholm D Company wounded early in fight for Regina trench
Lieut. Chatterton (3rd Batt.CHATTERTON, WILLOUGHBY E.)* Killed during his 2nd bayonet charge near Regina Trench.
Major Mowat 4th Batt. (MOWAT, JOHN MCDONALD)* Killed during a Bayonet charge from shell holes on the Sth side of Regina Trench.
Captain Anglin wounded early morning.
Lieut. McPherson killed whilst his company was falling back.
* Details in brackets form CWGC site. **The Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Lieut. Hobday (HOBDAY, STEPHEN GEORGE 3rd Batt.)* D Company killed by shell fire early morning.
Lieut. Stephen Hobday
photo by kind permission of Malcolm Rickson.
* Details in brackets form CWGC site.
notes by Stephen Hobday's Grandnephew Malcolm Rickson
Stephen enlisted on 23 Oct 1914 in Montreal. Despite the fact that it appears to say "23rd Battalion" across these papers he was in fact drafted to the 3rd Battalion - the Toronto Regiment.
He seems to have gone to France (via England) in 1915 and took part in the Battle of Festubert in the summer of that year.
In subsequent actions nearby at Givenchy in mid June 1915, he won the DCM. By this time he had been promoted to Corporal ,
He seems to have been wounded in autumn 1915 (though not seriously) and again (more seriously) on 13 June 1916, as a result of which he was taken back to hospital in England.
According to a contemporary British press report at the time of his death, Stephen was gazetted Lieutenant on 4 May 1916 and may have been fighting as a platoon officer when he was seriously wounded in June 1916. If so, then the 8 Oct action would not have been his first as an officer. Whatever the case, he had only just returned to the front when he was killed in the action of 8 Oct.
of Enquiry Finding 11th October 1916
The court of enquiry found "there was no general retirement in this action, but that the 3rd and 4th Battalions were pushed back fighting, after a very severe artillery bombardment by sheer weight of numbers. our lack of bombs, which it appears could not be got up in sufficient numbers, contributing to this effect".
Lee Enfield Rifle
Weighing 8lb 3 oz with a 10 round magazine the Lee Enfield was capable of around 15 .303 rounds per min.