9th Canadian Artillery Brigade for the month of APRIL, 1917

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY

 

Of

 

9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE for the month of APRIL, 1917

 

NOTE: O.O.61 is not attached as this number was skipped in numbering O.Os.

 

Location

F.4.b.4.5.

FRANCE Sh 51c N.E.

1:20,000

MAP REFERENCES

VIMY 36c S.W. 1/10,000

ROCLINCOURT 51b N.W. 1/10,000

FRANCE 51c N.E. 1/20,000

 

April 1st 1917 11 p.m. Although visibility is very low our batteries carried on with their wire cutting tasks.  Considerable wire was blown up but destruction on the whole was below normal.

The 4.5” Howitzers did a great deal of damage to SWISCHEN STELLUNG – both to the trench itself and the wire defences in front of it.

Our F.O.Os report enemy trenches in bad condition.

 

April 2nd 1917             We continued throughout the day with wire cutting.  Enemy shelling has been extremely light.

At 7.00 a.m. we put on a trial or practice barrage.  Intelligence Officer 3rd C.D.A. reported it very good,- bursts low and barrage well placed and uniform.

O.O. 57 issued today orders a systematic and periodical bombardment of VIMY, PETIT VIMY and LE CHAUDIERE.  Only two of our 18-pdrs and one 4.5” Howitzer Battery are to take part in this operation.

 

April 3rd1917               The enemy is apparently adopting a policy of “WATCHFUL WAITING” as outside of aerial activity his visible activities have been nil of late.  His shelling has dropped considerably below normal.  Meanwhile we are expending every effort in the speedy      destruction of his wire while the Heavy Artillery is constantly pounding his roads and defences.  The once well constructed and well defined SWISCHEN STELLUNG trench has been reduced to an irregular mass of shell craters and piled earth.

 

April 4th 1917              In spite of the severe handicap poor visibility affords to successful wire cutting operations, our batteries succeeded in doing a great deal of this today.  On our section of FLAPPER and SWISCHEN STELLUNG Trenches the Infantry report that the wire still remaining would not impede them in the event of an advance.

The raid carried out by 52nd Battalion on our front at 4.a.m. this morning was quite successful.  The Infantry remained in the enemy trenches for ten minutes and withdrew without casualties.  The Raiding Party succeeded in capturing one prisoner.  Our support was reported as excellent.  A letter of thanks from Lieut. Col. W.B. EVANS, Comdg. 52nd Canadian Battalion has been received and is attached hereto.

O.O. 59 issued today gives the following information:-

On Z day the Canadian Corps will attack and Capture VIMY RIDGE.  The details of the Artillery Support are to be issued later.  In the meantime we are to devote ourselves to thoroughly cutting the enemy wire

defences by day and by night we are to keep under fire points engaged by the Heavy Artillery during the day in order to prevent repairs.

O.O. No 60 was issued tonight.  The 43rd Canadian Battalion is to carry out three simultaneous raids on the enemy’s trenches tomorrow.  Our Group is to co-operate with Groups on our Left in giving Artillery Support.

 

April 5th 1917              At 2.00 p.m. today the 43rd Battalion carried out three simultaneous raids.  Two of these were quite successful but the Left Flank party were badly cut up.  Our support for the right flank was reported as very satisfactory.

 

April 6th 1917              Another rehearsal of our barrage for the VIMY RIDGE attack was put on this afternoon.  All necessary adjustment between flanks of both groups and battery barrages have now been made and the barrage is well placed and should be very successful.

The enemy slightly retaliated while our Barrage was in progress but ceased as soon as our barrage was over.

 

April 7th 1917              Enemy aeroplanes very active throughout the day; one of them brought down one of our observation balloons but occupants escaped by means of parachutes.

The enemy put a large number of Lethal and lachamatory shells in the neighbourhood of our Headquarters tonight.

 

April 8th 1917              Enemy artillery unusually active today. NEUVILLE ST. VAAST was heavily shelled with all calibres.

One of our Scout machines was brought down today behind the German lines.

 

 

 

April 9th 1917              THE ATTACK AND CAPTURE OF VIMY RIDGE

5.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (Detailed report attached as Appendix “A”)

5.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Situation is now quite normal.  Our heavies are pounding VIMY, PETIT VIMY and FLOWER TRENCHS.

Note: Attached hereto is a report on the attack from Lieut. J.R. Jamieson who was Group Forward Observation Officer – Appendix ”B”.  Also map of the barrage – Appendix ”C”.

 

April 10th 1917            A bombardment was carried out at 6.45 a.m. today on enemy trenches from S.29.b.4.8. to S.23.d.9.2.  This is a new partly dug trench which the enemy were holding with a garrison of fifty men.  Our shoot had the desired effect as the Infantry sent out a patrol shortly afterwards and found the trench deserted.

NOTE: Attached hereto are letters regarding our part in this affair – APPENDIX”D”.

At 10.20 a.m. in the neighbourhood of two hundred of the enemy were seen advancing in open order in T.14.c. and T.20.a. When they reached the vicinity of VIMY STATION they were badly cut up by the  Heavy Artillery.

Throughout the day our Observation Officers reported Infantry massing in various places. Those within range were effectively dealt with by out 18-pdrs and 4.5 how. Batteries: those further back were engaged, at our request by Heavy Artillery and heavy casualties inflicted.

Addenda The 45th Bty moved tonight to a forward position in A.2.a.

 

April 11th 1917            The enemy artillery has at last apparently recovered from his hasty retirement and is in action again.  For the first time since our capture of the RIDGE, he has shown aggressiveness.  For two hours this afternoon our front line in S.29.b. S.23.c. and S.23.d. was heavily shelled with 77mm 4.1 and 5.9s.  For this shelling we vigorously retaliated on BLOATER and FLOWER TRENCHES.

A number of hostile batteries were located by our F.O.Os today and promptly reported to the Counter Battery Group who took them on and in two instances obtained direct hits.

Addenda The 32nd & 33rd Btys moved to advanced positions in A.2.c tonight.

 

April 12th 1917            The enemy are now holding the line FLIT and FLICKER FLOWER TRENCHES – PETIT VIMY, thence along  FILLIP and eastern side of BOIS DE LA FOLIE.

O.O. 62 issued today orders us to take part in the artillery support for the attack and capture of the above line.

Visibility has been extremely poor today, and observation of movement in back areas has been impossible. On the whole today has been most quiet.

 

April 13th 1917            Enemy has withdrawn from VIMY.  By 11 o’clock this morning our Infantry were holding it and by afternoon our men were seen in the vicinity of VIMY STATION.  At present everyone is engaged in the pleasant pastime of “FIND THE HUN”.  Reports have been coming in all day that he has been seen in large numbers in various places, but usually ten minutes later another report comes in stating that our patrols are at those points.  There is however, no doubt but that the enemy is now well back towards AVION.

Our line tonight would appear to be roughly LE CHAUDIERE – VIMY RAILWAY STATION and thence southerly along the railway.

 

April 14th 1917            The enemy today shelled his old stronghold VIMY.

All Battery Commanders go forward today reconnoitring forward positions in VIMY and its environs.

The 33rd Battery has been ordered to move into its forward position tonight.  The remaining batteries will probably go forward tomorrow night.

Our Zone on our own trenches is now T.8. central, to T.1.d.0.0.  As this outranges our guns we are laid on a “Resistance Line” which runs from VIMY STATION thence along VIMY DEFENCES and thence to LA CHAUDIERE.

 

April 15th 1917            The Enemy Heavy Artillery has been most active.  Particular attention was paid to VIMY RIDGE.  There was however, a marked absence of shelling by the smaller calibre.

O.O. 63 issued today gives the new zone boundaries as follows.

RIGHT T.19. central – T.14. Central – N.34.d.0.0.

LEFT    S.24.d.7.9. – T.8. central – T.3.b.4.0.

The 32nd Battery did not get its last gun into position until noon today.  The roads were knee deep in mud and jammed with traffic; often there were no roads at all but a series of shell craters.  At times the horses belly deep in mud were unable to make any progress except with the aid of several detachments manning wheels and drag ropes.  On several stretches of the shell-torn road the guns travelled on their sides as often as they did on their wheels, but nevertheless the battery arrived in position with no casualties either to personnel or equipment.

The 45th Battery moves forward tonight to their advanced positions.

 

April 16th 1917            The enemy artillery devoted itself throughout the day to barraging LENS – ARRAS ROAD.

Numerous fires were reported in enemy’s villages throughout the day.  Two large fires were observed in LA COULLETE and AVION.

The 4th Battery moved into its advanced position today.  Although they left their old battery position late last night it was impossible to get the guns up any sooner owing to encountering the same conditions as did the 32nd Battery.

 

April 17th 1917            Brigade Headquarters moved forward today and we are now occupying an evacuated enemy dugout.

PETIT VIMY             So hasty was his retreat that postcards were left on the walls and a full set of cooking utensils was left behind.

The 43rd and 36th Howitzer Batteries moved into their advanced positions today.

 

April 18th 1917            Visibility was extremely poor today and our F.O.Os were unable to make any observations of interest.

The 33rd Battery has been ordered to come into position on night of 18/19th.  The 39th Battery which is now attached to this Group has received similar orders.

 

April 19th 1917            The 33rd and 39th Batteries have now moved into position and our Group is now complete.  Batteries are carrying on with registration.

 

April 20th 1917            Enemy artillery was markedly active today.  Throughout forenoon and greater part of afternoon he systematically bombarded VIMY and PETIT VIMY.  Our batteries are all now registered on important points and have been busily engaged all day in re-checking registration and registering new points.

 

April 21st 1917            During last night numerous fires were reported burning in LENS.  Enemy artillery again active, paying particular attention to our main roads.

 

April 22nd 1917           O.O. 64 issued today gives the following information:

  1. The 5th British Division which is on our Left will carry out an attack on the German line from T.2.c.. to SOUCHEZ RIVER.
  2. The 36th and 43rd Howitzer Batteries will aid this attack by bombarding houses in rear of enemy lines.
  3. Our 18-pdr batteries will carry out a feint attack which will take the form of a creeping barrage.

Both our own and enemy’s artillery very active throughout the day.

 

April 23rd1917           Enemy early this morning shelled VIMY and the vicinity with a large number of gas shells.  An enemy plane shot down two of our balloons this morning.

 

April 24th 1917            The enemy again today intermittently shelled VIMY and the vicinity with Gas.  Our batteries have been active all day with registration and firing at targets of opportunity.

 

 

April 25th 1917            O.O. 65 issued today gives information as follows:-

  1. The Canadian Corps has been ordered to capture and consolidate the enemy position ARLEUX-EN-GOHELLE and FRESNOY to ACHEVILLE all inclusive.

The XIII Corps on our right will be attacking GREVELLE and OPPY in conjunction with the above operation

  1. The Canadian Corps attack will be carried out by the 1st and 2nd
  2. We will co-operate by barrage on our front which will more or less in the nature of a Feint.
  3. Trial barrages will be put on by the batteries on the 26th and 27th On the former date the hour will be 5 a.m. and on the latter 12 noon.

Enemy artillery fire today has been below normal. His aerial activity has also been much less than usual.

 

26.4.17                        Our practice barrage was carried out successfully this morning and enemy retaliation very weak.  VIMY, PETIT VIMY and LE CHAUDIERE were fired on as usual by the enemy and he is making a nightly practice of shelling the vicinity of our battery positions with gas.

 

27.4.17                        The second of our practice barrages was carried out today and the enemy retaliated by shelling the vicinity of LE CHAUDIERE.

Enemy planes were very active today and succeeded in bringing down several of ours.

O.O. 66 issued today.  The operation ordered in O.O. 65 will now be carried out in two stages instead of one concentrated attack.  At Zero hour this Group will establish a barrage in support of a simulated attack Zero hour will be 4.25 a.m. April 28th.

 

28.4.17                        Upon our barrage opening this morning enemy threw up many red and green rockets and in response to these his artillery immediately counter-barraged.

A large fire was observed this morning in MERICOURT.

 

29.4.17                        The enemy heavily shelled VIMY today and systematically searched for battery positions.  In the evening he put on a concentrated gas shell attack.  Practically the entire of VIMY was affected.

O.O. 67 issued tonight orders a barrage tomorrow morning at 4.15 a.m. on similar lines to that carried out yesterday morning.

 

 

30.4.17                        The barrage ordered by O.O. 67 was carried out this morning despite the handicap of a long period of gas shelling which took place from 4 hours previous to the operation until practically zero hour.

Enemy heavy artillery has been unusually quiet today.

Even VIMY which he usually fires upon every day was left untouched.

O.O. 68 issued tonight orders a similar barrage to that carried out this morning.

 

 

 

H.G. Carscallen

Lieut Col.

Comdg. 9th Brigade C.F.A.

 

 

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