WAR DIARY 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE
For Month of DECEMBER 1916
1-12-16 9.00 p.m. Weather has been foggy all day. Registration of our brigade zone was therefore impossible.
2-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility still poor owing to fog. Enemy Trench Mortars fired ineffectually at our front line from time to time during the day. Our Mortars retaliated with good effect. Machine gun and rifle fire in evening was slight. Despite adverse weather conditions considerable registration was carried out by us.
3-12-16 9 p.m. Observation still poor and visibility beyond enemy front line impossible. Our F.O.Os report new and strong wire entanglements put up by the enemy. At 9.00 a.m. this morning the 32nd Battery fired at enemy seen in a crater; a number of the rounds were seen to fall directly in the target. The 36th Howitzer Battery engaged an enemy Trench Mortar which had been active all morning. It soon became so hot for him that the enemy mortar was forced to cease fire. In the afternoon he had the audacity to again open fire whereupon our battery (How.) again fired upon and effectually silenced him.
4-12-16 9 p.m. Observation on the whole poor. Despite the lack of good visibility registration was carried out.
5-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility fair. Our F.O.Os reported considerable new work done by enemy. Several working parties observed were fired upon and dispersed.
6-12-16 9 p.m. Enemy Trench Mortars active. Upon our firing in retaliation enemy sent up a rocket bursting into green stars. Immediately upon this signal being given their mortars ceased fire. We carried on with registration throughout the day. At 7.15 p.m. one of our F.O.Os reported cheering in German lines. An hour later cheers were heard again. (This was doubtless due to receipt of news of German victories in RUMANIA)
7-12-16 9 p.m. Observation very poor. Enemy artillery was unusually passive.
8-12-16 9 p.m. Owing to heavy mist visibility was indifferent throughout the day. During the afternoon and evening enemy snipers were quite active.
9-12-16 9 p.m. Observation still poor. Enemy trench mortars were quite active during the forenoon but their effect was to a great extent nullified by our prompt and effective retaliation.
10-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility only fair. Our 18-pdrs fired upon and dispersed several working parties. Enemy artillery unusually passive.
11-12-16 9 p.m. Considerable enemy aeroplane activity during forenoon. One of the German planes succeeded in getting as far back as ARRAS but was driven off by our own machines and A.A. guns. In the afternoon our heavy and medium trench mortars carried on a successful bombardment of enemy lines.
12-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility very poor. Enemy artillery fire below normal.
13-12-16 9 p.m. Enemy artillery very active throughout day. We dispersed several working parties and retaliated.
14-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility indifferent. Considerable shelling by the enemy.
15-12-16 9 p.m. Hostile shelling has been below normal today. A German shell which exploded over our lines today burst in cloud of white smoke from which issued a shell or bomb to which was attached a small rod of steel. Upon reaching the ground it exploded with a noise similar to a STOKES bomb.
For five minutes early this evening the enemy heavily bombarded our front line. At the end of that length of time it was shifted to the zone on our left.
16-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility indifferent. Considerable aeroplane activity both German and British. We carried out a successful shoot with aeroplane co-operation this morning. Several important points were then registered.
Operation ordered No 45 was issued tonight. This operation consists of two attacks; the Main Attack is composed of three raiding parties- Right, Centre and Left. These parties are to be in the German trenches for one and a half hours. The Secondary attack is to take place one hour, 45 minutes after the commencement of the Main one. In preparation the Right Group is allotted the following tasks:-
(a) A Preparatory bombardment of tender spots in the enemy’s lines with 4.5” Howitzers.
(b) One hundred yards of wire cutting by 18-pdrs in conjunction with Trench Mortars.
(c) A Preliminary Bombardment commencing one hour and 45 minutes before the main attack and lasting 35 minutes.
(d) Barrages for Main and Secondary Attacks.
17-12-16 9 p.m. Weather very foggy and visibility has been poor all day. Enemy shelling has been below normal. Despite the adverse conditions our batteries carried on with registration.
18-12-16 9 p.m. Carrying out O.O. 45 our 18-pdrs and T.Ms have been wire cutting throughout day. Owing to the wire being on knife rests and also being very thick, it has not yet been all cleared away.
19-12-16 9 p.m. Having been granted an additional ammunition allotment we had one 18-pdr battery on wire cutting all day. A report from the Infantry says that they are satisfied with the work done but would like the 4.5 Hows put on the wire. Orders have therefore been given for the two Howitzer batteries to carry on with the wire cutting tomorrow morning.
At 10.30 a.m. the enemy heavily shelled our front line trenches with 77 m.m. and 4.1s. This bombardment lasted 15 minutes. We vigorously retaliated doing considerable damage.
20-12-16 9 p.m. MAIN ATTACK Our Heavies from 1.30 p.m. until the opening of the main attack carried on a successful bombardment of the enemy’s lines. Our barrage was started sharp on time and was reported by the infantry as being excellent. Our infantry two minutes after the artillery opened left their trenches and proceeded in good formation and as an observer said – leisurely. Upon entering the enemy trenches they despatched a large number by bayoneting. Other parties proceeded to dugouts and by dropping Ammonal tubes down them effected a large number of casualties. A great majority of the dugouts thus treated caught fire, thus any who were fortunate enough to escape death from Ammonal were burnt to death. Part of the attackers while advancing close under our barrage were unexpectedly held up by 15 of the enemy hidden in enemy Sap 19. They, the Germans, were promptly taken prisoners.
Total number of prisoners taken, 1 Officer and 56 O.Rs
Killed & wounded – not yet ascertained.
Our casualties – (as far as yet known) 1 officer & 12 other ranks.
SECONDARY ATTACK Our infantry in the Secondary Attack did not reach their objective. The enemy concentrated all his fire in repulsing this attack; heavy barrage of 77 m.m. 4.2s 5.9s and a particularly heavy machine gun barrage stopped our Infantry shortly after leaving their trenches. Our own barrage was reported as being most satisfactory.
Capt. D.C. Dick, Liaison Officer to the Right Battalion reported that the Infantry were delighted with the barrage put up by this Unit and also that the wire had been satisfactorily cut.
Lieut. L. St. J. Haskell, Liaison Officer with the Secondary Attacking party left the jumping off trench with the Infantry reeling out wire as they proceeded. He reported that our barrage was satisfactory but that the attack failed owing to the heavy concentrated barrage of 77s, 4.1s, 5.9s, machine gun and Trench Mortars put up by the enemy.
It is evident that the enemy placed greater importance upon the Secondary Attach than they did upon the Main one as all their fire was concentrated on that point.
21-12-16 9 p.m. Our Operations yesterday completely battered down the enemy’ defences. Smoke from burnt dugouts can still be seen today. The Infantry report that the enemy has been slowly reoccupying his front line since early this morning.
22-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility fair. A very quiet day. We dispersed several working parties.
23-12-16 9 p.m. A quiet day. Some new work observed and fired upon.
24-12-16 9 p.m. One of our planes flew over enemy front line and fired upon enemy with M.Gs. Several small material dumps were located and registered today.
25-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility has been good throughout the day. Enemy activity has been below normal – practically no hostile fire of any sort. Our artillery fired upon and dispersed several working parties.
26-12-16 9 p.m. A very quiet day. Our F.O.Os reported the placing of new wire in front of enemy’s front line trenches; also new work in trenches.
27-12-16 9 p.m. A number of tender spots such as O.Ps Dumps and new work were fired upon by our batteries with good effect.
28-12-16 9 p.m. Observation very poor. Our Stokes guns actively bombarded enemy front line throughout day. Four of our planes early in the forenoon flew over enemy lines. They were ineffectually engaged by Machine and A.A. guns.
29-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility fair. During both morning and afternoon our heavy artillery carried on a systematic bombardment of tender spots in the enemy’s lines. Our 36th Howitzer Battery fired upon and demolished a house in THELUS (A.12.b.1/2.3.) which from movement in vicinity has been suspected of being a Headquarters or billets.
30-12-16 9 p.m. A great deal of movement in enemy’s back country throughout day. From the large number of men with full kits coming in and leaving the trenches it is suspected that a relief is taking place. A number of parties were fired on and in two instances casualties resulted. The heavy rain of last night has evidently played havoc with the enemy trenches as his men are going overland wherever possible.
31-12-16 9 p.m. Visibility fair. Enemy artillery was very active this morning; considerable shelling of our support lines and back country taking place. The suspected relief of yesterday has been confirmed. The enemy is still exposing himself for fire by going overland; doubtless this is due to the extremely muddy condition of the trenches. Our 35th Howitzer Battery blew up a section of an important trench tramway this morning. For several hours this morning the enemy shelled the town of ECURIE (A.27.b)
Comdg 9th Brigade C.F.A.