Vimy Assault

Home Up Vimy Assault After The Battle 3rd Batt

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.   

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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 as guides. 

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 still out. 

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.   

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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.   

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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.   

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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 McCormick. 

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.   

 

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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.   

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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 objective.   

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11.12 a.m. major Cunningham, brigade staff, reported to Battalion Headquarters.   

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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. 

12.21 p.m.  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.   

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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 Resistance. 

02.40 p.m. In conversation over the phone Major Reid informed me he had no definite reports from his platoons in the wood.   

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03.40 p.m. major Foss, 1st Division staff called at Battalion Headquarters. Situation not quite clear. 

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. 

05.45 Battalion 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.

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