War Diary of 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade March 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

War Diary of 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

 

From March 1st 1918 – To March 31st 1918

 

 

*.10.D.90.60. **x-village * GIVENCHY

1.3.18           Visibility throughout the day was indifferent.  The enemy’s artillery and Trench Mortars activity was quiet with the exception of a shoot on the 31st 36th Battery O.Ps in the German concrete house in T.2.b beside the LENS-VIMY Railroad.  The enemy showed himself considerably on our front during the day and was energetically engaged by our 18-pdrs with good results.  The enemy’s planes were more active than usual patrolling our lines from 6 AM until noon.  Two of the enemy balloons were up observing our front.  At 11.00 AM a small red propaganda balloon dropped literature on the LENS-ARRAS Road.

 

2.3.18            The visibility was good throughout the morning, only.  The enemy’s artillery and Trench Mortar firing was light and scattered.  Considerable movement still being observed in the vicinity of AVION, giving our gunners good practice in sniping.  A small red propaganda balloon was seen to rise from the enemy lines near HARNES and travelled in our direction.  Later in the day a balloon was picked up on our right front.

 

  • Visibility today was very poor and consequently very little enemy shelling.

 

4.3.18              The visibility was poor again today and with the exception of a lively enemy bombardment in front of LENS at 6 o’clock this morning, his attitude has been very quiet.  An enemy plane flew over our trenches this morning at 6 AM at about 400 feet.

 

5.3.18          The visibility improved greatly and although the enemy’s artillery continues to be very quiet, considerable movement was reported from our Observing Posts and our sniping guns were active all day.  Three enemy planes were seen during the day only one of which crossed our lines.

 

6.3.18            The visibility today was only fair and his artillery and Trench Mortars quiet, with the exception of a bombardment which he put on our front at 3.30 this morning.  Under cover of this bombardment he projected gas, the wind shifting and blowing it back to his own lines, and his gas gongs and horns could be heard for a considerable time.

 

7.3.18            Visibility today was poor.  His artillery continues quiet.  For a short time in the afternoon our Observation Posts reported considerable movement in the vicinity of the BULL-RING.  An Enemy Plane crossed our lines flying very high but owing to the good shooting of our Anti-Aircraft batteries was turned back in a short time.

 

8.3.18            The visibility continued poor.  The enemy artillery was more active today but his shelling was light and scattered, mostly “whiz-bangs” being used.  His Trench Mortars were active in the afternoon firing into VIMY.  Movement was again reported on SALLAUMINES HILL.  Both ours and the enemy’s planes showed considerable activity, several of his low-flying planes crossing our lines, during the afternoon.

 

9.3.18            Visibility still poor.  Enemy’s artillery somewhat livelier today, most of his attention being directed against AVION.  One of his batteries was observed to be firing very close behind his front line so as to enfilade our trenches to the left of our zone, in front of MERICOURT.  Very little movement was observed owing to the poor visibility.  Three enemy aeroplanes were observed this morning all of which were flying very high.

 

10.3.18          Visibility poor.  Enemy artillery activity quiet.  Little movement was again noted.  Three enemy planes were observed, none of which crossed our lines.  Two of our low-flying planes were firing into the enemy’s trenches this morning in the vicinity of MERICOURT.

 

11.3.18          Visibility today has slightly improved.  The enemy’s artillery still quiet.  Movement observed between AVION and MERICOURT.  Aeroplane activity on both sides more marked today than usual.  7 enemy machines were observed.

Minor Operation Order No 2 was issued today in connection with proposed raid to be carried out by the 42nd Canadian Battalion on our front for the purpose of securing identification and destroying enemy dugouts in the vicinity; all the batteries of this brigade taking part in the barrage.

 

 

12.3.18          Visibility today was fairly good.  The enemy’s artillery activity was considerably increased owing to the fact probably, that we raided has trenches this morning.  His guns were also active firing on our rear areas.  A great deal of movement was observed in the vicinity of SALLAUMINES HILL.  5 enemy aeroplanes were seen on our front today, four of which crossed our lines for a short time.  Three balloons were reported up today.

At 9.00 AM this morning our batteries opened fire under cover of which, One officer and Fifteen men of the 42nd Canadian Battalion entered the enemy’s trenches in the vicinity of AVION.  Four minutes after we opened fire the enemy retaliated with Medium Trench Mortars.  At seven and one half minutes after his batteries opened fire.  No identification was secured as none of the enemy were found to be occupying their front line.  Our barrage was reported to have been perfect and highly satisfactory to the Infantry, who returned without having any casualties.

 

13.3.18          Visibility today was again poor.  His artillery was fairly quiet.  His High Velocity guns were firing into our rear areas again today.  Some movement was observed opposite our front.  The aerial activity on both sides was considerable.  5 planes of the enemy were observed opposite our front, three of which attacked one of our observation planes which succeeded in getting away.

Operation Order No 140 was issued with reference to a proposed raid by the 5th C.M.R. who propose to raid the enemy trenches in front of MERICOURT, for the purpose of obtaining identifications, inflicting casualties and destroying dugouts and defences.  7 officers and 191 other ranks taking part.  The batteries of our brigade are asked to support the raid and put up a demonstration barrage on our front so as to mislead the enemy.

 

14.3.18          Visibility was poor, and as a result his artillery and trench mortar activity was rather quiet.  Movement still continues to be seen in the vicinity of the BULL-RING.  Two enemy aeroplanes were           observed, neither of which crossed our lines.

 

15.3.18          The visibility today was very good and his artillery and trench mortar fire, with the exception of the retaliation to our raid this morning, was quieter than usual.  Considerable individual movement was again observed and train movement reported on the LILLE-DOUAI Railroad during the afternoon.  Three enemy aeroplanes were observed, two of which attempted to cross our lines but were prevented from doing so by the excellent shooting of our Anti-Aircraft and intense Machine Gun fire.  Two hostile balloons were observed, one of which was forced to descend by our High Velocity gun which engaged it with creditable results.

Attached is a report from Lieut A.B. Manning 36th Battery on this morning’s raid. (Not with this archive).

 

16.3.18            The visibility this morning was very poor, improving in the afternoon.  The enemy’s artillery activity was light, being principally directed towards our front line and support trenches.  Movement was again reported by our Observation Posts and our sniping guns were again active.  Aerial activity on both sides was more marked today than during the past few days.  Three enemy planes were observed.  Many of our planes crossed enemy lines one of which was brought down in NO MAN’S LAND and was immediately engaged by enemy artillery, trench mortars and Machine guns.

 

17.3.18          The visibility after 9.00 A.M. today was good.  His artillery fire today appeared to be mostly the registration of trenches in the vicinity of AVION.  The Observation Posts of the 32nd and 33rd Batteries were shelled this morning by a 10 cm gun.  Our Trench mortars carried out a shoot this afternoon on the enemy’s lines opposite AVION.  Considerable movement was observed today in the BULL-RING and our gunners were kept busy all day long.  The aerial activity on both sides continues active.  Several enemy formations crossed our lines at high altitudes.

 

18.3.18          Visibility continues good.  The enemy’s artillery continues to register on our forward areas.  Considerable movement is still being reported by our Look-outs.  A large amount of ammunition was expended by our batteries on opportunity targets.  Ours and the enemy’s plane continue active, the enemy contenting himself with patrolling his own lines.  Three enemy balloons reported opposite our front.

 

19.3.18          The visibility today is poor.  The enemy’s artillery continues to pay most attention to the forward areas.  Very little movement was observed today owing to the rain.  No enemy planes were observed today.

 

20.3.18          Visibility today improved.  Enemy’s artillery quiet but his T.Ms were more active today than during the past few days.  The usual movement observed on SALLAUMINES HILL was engaged by our sniping guns.  Two low-flying enemy planes attempted to cross our lines but were prevented from going so by our M.G. fire.  Operational Order No 169 was issued today by 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery corresponding to our Operational Order No 141, giving details of a proposed raid to be carried out by the 4th Canadian Division covering the LENS Sector, our batteries being required for demonstration purposes.

 

21.3.18          Visibility poor.  Enemy’s artillery activity was light and scattered during the day.  A considerable amount of movement was seen today, the enemy evidently believing they could not be observed owing to poor light.  Three enemy planes observed today, one of which attempted to cross our lines.

 

22.3.18          Visibility today was only fair, the enemy’s artillery activity again being confined to the forward areas.  His long range High Velocity guns were again firing into our back country.  Some movement was observed between AVION and MERICOURT.  12 enemy aeroplanes were observed today all of which crossed our lines for a short period.  Our planes were very active.

 

23.3.18          Poor visibility today.  Enemy’s artillery was particularly quiet with the exception of his High Velocity gun which continued to shell our rear areas.  Very little movement was observed.  Two aeroplanes were observed today one of which crossed our lines and dropped bombs in the vicinity of SOUCHEZ about noon.

Operation Order No 142 was issued today with reference to taking over the 62nd Division front on our right by our Division, our line being extended down to the ARLEUX SECTION.  This extension is due to the big German drive which is taking place from ARRAS to below ST QUENTIN, the first news of which was received last night.

 

24.3.18          Visibility today was fair with the exception of a bombardment on our right and left flanks – enemy’s artillery has been quiet.  What little movement was observed today was engaged by our sniping guns.  Six enemy planes were observed, all of which were heavily engaged by our A.A. batteries and machine gun fire.  We are expecting an attack any day on our front and at 5.05 AM today the enemy put on a heavy bombardment, first on our left and then on our right, which was followed by a raid.  Our S.O.S. went up at 5.07 AM.  The front was quiet again at 5.50 AM.  It is reported that we took several prisoners, losing none.  During the above bombardment two fires were observed in the enemy lines as a result of our heavy retaliation.

Our zones have been changed several times and as a result Amendment to “TABLE ‘A’” has been issued to accompany O.O. No 142.

 

25.3.18          Visibility today was very good.  Enemy artillery quiet.  A great deal of movement was observed today not only individual, but train movement in the back areas as well. HARNES Church Tower is observed to have been destroyed, which has been a prominent landmark in the enemy’s lines since the capture of VIMY RIDGE.  The 32nd Battery C.F.A. report having read part of a German message sent by lamp from the SLAG HEAP in the vicinity of BILLY MONTIGNY.  Only one enemy plane and one balloon observed today.

O.O No 143 was issued today giving details for a system of Harassing Fire for the purpose of vigorously interfering with his operations and demoralising his assaulting troops.

 

 

26.3.18          Visibility today was exceptionally good.  Hostile artillery was very quiet, with the exception of a few rounds on our forward areas.  Considerable individual movement was observed on SALLAUMINES HILL and the train movement in his rear area was very marked.  Two enemy planes flew over our lines today.  Three of his balloons were observed up opposite our front.  Amendment No 2 to “TABLE A” to accompany O.O. 142.  This is reference to the withdrawing of our line on the right in anticipation of a German attack from MERICOURT to the South.

 

27.3.18          Visibility today was only fair.  His artillery has been fairly active all day long mostly in the nature of registration work.  His T.Ms were slightly more active than usual, apparently retaliation to the aggressive work of our 18-pdrs on enemy movement.  Movement is again observed on SALLAUMINES HILL between MERICOURT and AVION.  No enemy planes were seen today.  Two balloons were observed up opposite our front.  The moon has been very bright the last few nights and both ours and the enemy’s bombing planes have been most active in bombing their rear areas.

 

28.3.18          Visibility today has been fair.  His artillery was quieter than yesterday, with the exception of his High Velocity gun which has been shelling our wagon lines causing considerable consternation among our horse lines.  Several enemy planes were observed patrolling his own lines.  Five balloons were observed up on our front.  At 6.00 P.M. an enemy plane was brought down by our rifle and machine gun fire in our lines in front of MERICOURT and the pilot taken prisoner.

 

29.3.18          Visibility today was good.  His artillery was quiet this morning but rather more active than usual this afternoon, the forward areas receiving a scattered shelling.  His H.V. guns still active on our rear areas in the vicinity of SOUCHEZ and GIVENCHY.  His activity on our front shows a marked increase today.  Movement was also observed on our right front where we are daily expecting an attack.  Ours and the enemy’s planes very active during the day.  At 5.15 PM six planes were observed in an aerial combat over MERICOURT.  No decision was reached.

 

30.3.18        Visibility today was good.  His artillery continues active.  Shelling still has the appearance of registration.  Very little movement was observed on our front.  Six enemy planes crossed our lines today, penetrating as far back as the ridge, one of which was a tri-plane.  His planes showed an aggressive attitude today.  Four of his balloons observed up opposite our front.  Numerous gun flashes observed today, showing that he has many guns opposite our front.

 

31.3.18          Visibility today was very good.  His artillery activity particularly quiet.  As a result of the visibility a great deal of movement was observed in the usual places between AVION and MERICOURT.  A good view was obtained of the enemy back country beyond where his trains appeared to be very active.  Enemy planes were very aggressive.  Six enemy planes crossed our lines as far back as VIMY RIDGE.  One type of an unusual type was observed in the vicinity of MERICOURT resembling one of our machines to such an extent that the enemy’s Anti Aircraft Guns engaged it.  Three small enemy balloons were observed today between LENS and MERICOURT.

 

 

 

Lieut-Col.

Comdg. 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

 

 

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