The following is an account of the 3rd Battalion Assault on Vimy Ridge taken directly from the 3rd Battalion war diary. I have also added notes and message cards sent back from Officers in action in the field.
I have started from the morning of the 9th April 1917 at 05.50 am as the attack commences with a huge artillery barrage.
This barrage was to roll forward at set times, the troops instructed to keep as close as possible to this rolling barrage.
05.30 a.m. Attack commences, the volume
of our artillery fire is wonderful.
05.40 a.m. Word received
from Companies, everything O.K.
06.12 a.m. Attack seems
to be progressing favourably, no enemy artillery fire in our area.
06.15 a.m. Can receive
very little information from Captain McCormick who has established an O.P.
in Fort "A", with telephone communication with us, as the noise
from our artillery is so loud that one cannot hear over the phone, however
the attack seems to be going favourably.
06.22 a.m. 4 prisoners
from 1st Bavarian regiment passes our headquarters and on being
interrogated by Lieut. Patterson, state that the Swischen Stellung is all
broken in by our guns.
06.29 a.m. Captain
A.B.McCormick returned from Fort "A" and reports all going well.
06.46 a.m. About 100
prisoners carrying stretchers are seen passing headquarters.
06.56 a.m. Captain A.B.
McCormick left for the Red Objective with 2 scouts, 5 signallers and 4
runners, to establish headquarters, as I do not think it wise to move until
some definite Headquarters is ready for me. The scouts are being sent back
07.03 a.m. Major
H.S.Cooper sent over to Battalion Assembly Area.
07.04 a.m. Lieut. Rusher,
R.F.A., reported for duty.
07.05 a.m. Brigade wire
07.10 a.m. Word received
from 2 brigade that information received they know they have captured
Black objective and are advancing on Red.
07.30 Battalion commenced
to move forward in artillery formation to Red objective. All units were
seen to clear the the crest (old British Front Line) by 07.55 a.m. From
the time the Battalion left the Brigade Assembly Area until they crossed
over the front line, I do not think they had more than 12 casualties.
07.30 a.m. Captain
McCormick arrived at Advanced Headquarters A.17.a.9.5.
07.32 a.m. 4th
Canadian Battalion also observed moving forward on our left.
07.57 a.m. 2nd
Canadian Battalion moved across from Sunken Road to vicinity of old
British front line.
08.25 a.m. Enemy barrage
slacking on old British front line, he is evidently shortening his barrage
to Black line objective.
08.45 a.m. Battalion
headquarters moved from A.15.d.1 1/2,1 1/2.
08.55 a.m. Enemy barrage
very heavy on our old front line, he is using a great many gas shells
which are very irritating.
09.33 a.m. Arrived at
Battalion Headquarters A.17.a.9.5., found all Companies O.K. and intact
120 yards in rear of Red objective. Total casualties to date Major V.E.
Curry O.C. "A" Company killed and 10 O.R. wounded, we are in
touch with both our flanks, 4th Battalion on left and 1st
Battalion on right.
10.03 a.m. Highlanders
seen advancing on our right.
10.05 a.m. Our men
commencing to advance on Blue objective.
10.07 a.m. Lieut. Nellons,
Engineer Officer, reported at Battalion Headquarters.
10.09 a.m. Captain
McCormick left Battalion Headquarters with laddered line, to establish O.P.
east of Red objective.
10.24 a.m. Enemy shelling
vicinity of Battalion Headquarters and Red objective very heavily, 2nd
Canadian Division reported to be moving through Thelus by Captain
10.32 a.m. Message
received from Major Reid that it is impossible to advanced on account of
our own barrage. The trouble seems to be that the barrage is left wheeling
about A.18.a.1.5. from 166 minutes to 290 minutes (Y barrage line), so I
acquainted Major Ried with what I thought the the trouble was.
10.50 a.m. Captain
McCormick reports our troops advancing on Blue objective. Message sent to
Captain Picard to bring up bombs.
10.54 a.m. Message
received from Capt. McCormick timed 10.50 a.m. that 2nd
Division have taken Thelus and Hill 135 to East of Thelus.
10.55 a.m. message
received from captain McCormick that we have taken Blue objective.
11.03 a.m. From
observation, 4th Battalion appear to have captured blue
11.12 a.m. major
Cunningham, brigade staff, reported to Battalion Headquarters.
11.14 a.m. Message
received from Captain McCormick that right flank is joined up with troops
on that flank, also that ground flares are being shown at blue Objective.
11.17 a.m. message
received from captain McCormick that 2nd Battalion are moving
up Swischen Stellung.
11.21 major Cunningham
left Battalion headquarters.
11.30 a.m. Message
received from O.C. "B" Company that everything O.K. in Blue
objective, left flank being connected with 4th battalion on
right and "A" Company on left. This Company has only had 2
casualties since the commencement of the operaton. Enemy rtillery fire on
Blue objective is heavy.
11.47 a.m. message
received from O.C. "C" Company that every thing is O.K.
Casuaties light and that he is in touch with B Company on the right and 4th
battalion on left.
12.01 p.m. Meet
Brigadier-Generel Orilseach whilst we were moving across country.
Arrived at headquarters at Leon Weg A.12.c.2.1.
12.25 Our troops commence
to advance on brown objective.
12.47 p.m. Tired Trench
carried by our troops.
01.05 p.m. Our artillery
fire very heavy and seems to be very effective.
01.14 p.m. Phoned by
Brigade major notifying us that 2nd Canadian Division are being
counter-attacked in vicinity of Heroes Wood and Goulet Wood, also that a
squadron of cavalry is being pushed through to Wollerval as soon as the
barrage dies down. also informed that we are the only Battalion in the
Brigade who they are in touch with.
02.05 p.m. Enemy
artillery forming barrage on Red objective.
02.20 p.m. definite news
received of the capture of the Brown objective from "C" Company,
who are in touch with the 4th Battalion on their left, have dug
in and are pushing patrols forward through Farbus Wood.
02.27 p.m. Major Reid,
O.C. "D" Company reports that he has pushed patrols into Farbus
Wood, but that the 4th Gordons have not come up, so he
instructed O.C. "B" Company to form a defensive flank along the
Sunken Road running S.E. from Commandants Hse. I approved of Major Reids
orders. Major Reid also reports work in progress digging Main Line of
02.40 p.m. In
conversation over the phone Major Reid informed me he had no definite
reports from his platoons in the wood.
03.40 p.m. major Foss, 1st
Division staff called at Battalion Headquarters. Situation not quite
04.20 p.m. Situation now
clear, my "C" and "D" Companies have firmly
established themselves in the wood, capturing a battery of enemy guns and
35 of the personnel, including 3 officers. "C" and "D"
Companies have pushed out patrols to Eastern edge of Farbus Wood.
05.10 p.m. major Cooper
arrived at Battalion Headquarters.
headquarters moved from A.12.d.2.1., to B.7.c.2.1.
06.05 p.m. From
information received from wounded men it would seem as though it is going
to be very difficult to get the guns out of Farbus Wood.
06.55 Enemy shelling
Farbus Wood with great intensity.
06.50 p.m. major Reid
again reports that Gordons are nowhere to be seen on right flank, the
position is quite serious as our flank is left absolutely in the air.
07.10 p.m. Major Foss and
major McLaughlin 2nd Canadian Battalion called, giving us
dispositions of 1st Brigade. Major Foss suggested that we use
the company of the 2nd Canadian Battalion, but I do not think
it is necessary to call on them, so did not.
07.45 p.m. Another scare
of a counter-attack and our barrage opened up.
08.33 p.m. major Cooper
reported at battalion headquarters with dispositions, they being exactly
in accordance with 0.0.65.
12 midnight Night fairly quiet, estimated casualties 150.