War Diary of 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade April 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

From April 1st 1918 – To April 30th 1918

 

 

S.10.d.9.6

1.4.18            Visibility today continues very good.  His artillery and T.M. activities have been much below normal.  Considerable movement was observed in the vicinity of SALLAUMINES HILL.  The enemy shows marked activity today with his planes, several of which flying low, patrolled our lines as far back as VIMY RIDGE.  Many propaganda balloons were observed today in the vicinity of LA COULOTTE and LENS to which were attached Green lights.

The guns of the brigade carried out and extensive programme in harassing fire during the past 24 hours. Many targets of opportunity were engaged and dispersed.

 

2.4.18            Visibility low today.  Enemy’s artillery and T.Ms have been quiet during the hours of daylight but under cover of darkness he showed considerable activity.  Some 5.7cm gas shells were fired into LA COULOTTE.  Owing to the visibility, very few of the enemy have been seen today.  There has been considerable aerial activity on our front today.  At least 20 Enemy planes have been seen up opposite our front.  Large formations of our planes have been patrolling our front.  During the night our bombing machines as well as those of the enemy have been very busy.  Between 4.00 and 5.00 PM today an enemy aeroplane shot down five of our observation balloons, in flames, from LA TARGETTE to the vicinity of MAROC.  Although it was an enemy plane, great praise was given to the enemy’s airman for his daring feat.

Many of our small white propaganda balloons were observed travelling towards the enemy lines today, at a great height.

 

3.4.18            Visibility was poor today.  During the hours of daylight the enemy showed considerable activity shelling our forward areas.  Very little movement was observed.  Owing to the visibility no enemy planes were up today.

 

 

4.4.18          Visibility good.  Enemy’s artillery very quiet.  From our Observation Posts on VIMY RIDGE a considerable amount of movement could be seen in enemy back country.  Many transports and large bodies of men were observed.  Nine enemy planes were observed, three of which crossed our lines at high altitude.  Our guns have been very active during the day in harassing the enemy at every opportunity.

 

5.4.18            Visibility poor.  His artillery showed considerable activity on our forward areas.  Very little movement was observed and no aerial activity on either side, owing to visibility.  A raiding party from the 42nd Battalion attempted to enter the enemy’s lines this morning in the vicinity of AVION.  They were discovered, however, before they had gone very far and the enemy opened rifle and machine gun fire which forced our party to throw out smoke bombs and return to our trenches.  We had no casualties.  The enemy on discovering our raiding party threw up many double red rockets.  Nothing unusual happened probably owing to the low visibility, his signal was unobserved.  The infantry state that our smoke barrage was well placed and satisfactory.

 

6.4.18            Visibility today has only been fair.  His artillery has been quiet, confining most of his activity to the forward areas.  Six men were observed today in the vicinity of SALLAUMINES HILL.  At 11.00 a.m. two enemy aeroplanes attacked one of our R.E. 8s over BOIS RIAUMONT, causing it to make a forced landing in the vicinity of AIX NOULETTE.  The enemy aeroplanes then returned over LENS where they were engaged by one of our SOPWITHS which brought one of them down in flames well behind their own lines.  Many of our propaganda balloons were observed today taking messages of “joy and consolation” to the enemy as they contained numerous gruesome pictures of results of our shell fire on the enemy personnel.

 

7.4.18                         Visibility poor throughout the day.  The enemy artillery has been considerable quieter than usual.  Considerable individual movement was observed in the enemy’s back country during short spells of clear visibility.  26 enemy aeroplanes were observed today, 12 of which crossed our lines.  Our bombing planes very active during the hours of darkness.

 

8.4.18              Visibility continues low.  His artillery activity light and scattered over the forward areas paying particular attention to LIEVIN and our Headquarters in S.10.d (near GIVENCHY).  During this shelling the Headquarters managed to “carry on” although living in shacks, which were at least rain-proof.  The situation, however, caused a considerable drain on Headquarters army rum issue.  No movement was observed today in the enemy’s country.

 

 

  • FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE CAPTURE OF VIMY RIDGE

The enemy showed a considerable amount of activity during the afternoon shelling the forward areas with high explosive and gas. The day was still and misty which was ideal for the employment of gas.  His heavy howitzers and high velocity guns were active in our rear areas in the vicinity of ALBAIN ST LAZAIRE.  At 4.55 PM an enemy aeroplane of odd design flew over GIVENCHY and disappeared in the direction of SOUCHEZ at about 1000 feet, evidently lost in the fog as the observer could be seen standing up and studying the ground carefully.

 

10.4.18            Visibility very poor today.  Enemy activity on our front has been very quiet, but has shown marked attention to our lines on both our flanks.  His high velocity guns were active shelling our back areas.

 

11.4.18            Visibility continues poor.  The enemy put down a concentrated shoot on the 33rd Battery detached gun in CITE des PETITES BOIS, during the afternoon and succeeded in hitting everything but the gun.  There were no casualties.  Practically no movement was observed.  Nine enemy aeroplanes crossed our lines today, most of which were flying low.

 

12.4.18            Visibility today good.  Enemy’s artillery active during the morning, putting down bursts of fire on our forward areas, our Brigade Headquarters again receiving some attention.  His Trench Mortars were considerably more active than usual, principally against AVION.  His high velocity guns were active shooting into our back country.  Movement was observed in the “BULL-RING”.  Several enemy aeroplanes crossed our lines during the day penetrating as far back as LIEVIN.  At 11.00 A.M. from the direction of MEURCHIN (behind LENS) a large ammunition dump was observed on fire.  Our bombing planes were active during the night.

 

13.4.18            Visibility poor.  During the early morning a heavy continuous bombardment could be heard in the vicinity of ARRAS.  His activity on our front has been confined to a light and scattered shelling of forward areas.

Minor Operation Order No 2 was issued today giving the details of a proposed gas projector attack in the vicinity of HILL 70 and ST EMILE. We propose to project 2100 gas drums in this operation.  All our batteries are required to co-operate in this attack.

 

14.4.18            Visibility continues poor. His artillery has been quiet but his trench mortars have been very active today, putting on a concentrated shoot on AVION, lasting over half an hour, to which our batteries retaliated vigorously.

 

15.4.18            Visibility fair today.  His artillery activity continues quiet.  His trench mortars again showed marked activity in the vicinity of AVION.  During the afternoon two concentrated shoots were put down.  Our guns again retaliated.  Considerable movement was observed during the morning, practically all of which was engaged by our batteries.  There has been a noticeable increase in the enemy train traffic moving north.

 

  • Visibility fair. Enemy artillery activity has been above normal during the day. Our O.Ps on the HIRONDELLE SPUR received considerable attention. AVION, LA COULOTTE, LIEVIN and our Headquarters in S.10.D. were also shelled.  During the night there was a lively bombardment on the HILL 70 Sector to our north flank.  During the afternoon his T.Ms were very active on our front as well as on the front to the north of us.  His activity appeared to be in the nature of prearranged shoots.  Very little movement was observed during the hours of daylight.

 

  • Visibility today fair. Enemy activity during the day has been confined to the forward areas. During the evening an S.O.S. was sent up on the front to our left.  Our guns responded by firing on LENS.  Considerable amount of individual movement observed during the day.  7 enemy planes were observed during the day.  During the afternoon the enemy sent up many white flares on our front, during the hours of daylight.  No reason can be given for this unusual demonstration.

 

  • Visibility fair. Enemy has shown considerable activity on our front during the day. At 11.30 AM the vicinity of the 33rd Battery was shelled with 5.9s and during the afternoon our O.Ps in the BOIS d’HIRONDELLE was shelled with 5.9s.  Considerable individual movement was observed during the morning, in the enemy’s back country.  Many trains were observed moving north during the day.  A heavy explosion occurred in the enemy back country behind MERICOURT.

Operational Order 144 was issued today rearranging the artillery distribution on our front. The 8th Army Field Artillery Brigade come under the tactical control of the 9th Brigade C.F.A. and the whole becoming known as COGHLANS GROUP.

 

 

19.4.18            Visibility good today with some sleet and rain showers.  The enemy’s artillery has been fairly quiet with the exception of a concentrated shoot on LIEVIN during the morning and afternoon.  During the evening in retaliation to our 11 hour gas bombardment, in which the 36th battery took part, commencing at 9.30PM the enemy put down a short burst of fire in the vicinity of AVION in response to many double red flares.  During the afternoon the enemy T.Ms put down two bursts of fire on our lines in the vicinity of AVION.  In both cases our field guns retaliated.  A large amount of movement was observed today in the enemy’s back country a great deal of which was engaged by our batteries.  Enemy aeroplanes were very active today, many of which crossed our lines, penetrating behind VIMY RIDGE.

Abnormal train movement was again observed, most of which was moving north.

 

  • Visibility today good. His artillery has been fairly quiet, most of the shelling being confined to the forward areas. The enemy continues to show himself at many points on our front, and has kept our sniping guns very active, in “Ye Royal Sport” of snipe-shooting.  An enemy plane passed over VIMY RIDGE today at about 1500 feet.  Considerable train movement observed, still going north.

 

  • Visibility today has been good. His artillery activity has been quiet with the exception of considerable attention being paid to LIEVIN. A large amount of movement was again observed today a great deal of which was engaged by our guns.  The enemy aeroplanes have been very active, patrolling our lines almost continuously, at a high altitude.  Our bombing planes were active during the evening.

 

  • Visibility today continues good. Enemy artillery activity has been fairly quiet. A few scattered rounds only, fell in our forward area.  Considerable movement was again observed and fired on opposite our front.  Only two enemy planes observed today.  At 6.00 PM this evening a small paper balloon fell in the vicinity of the 33rd Battery, attached to which was a potato.  We showed our gratitude to the enemy for his “unparalleled generosity” by putting on a specially heavy night of harassing fire, in the form of a gas bombardment, in which the 36th Battery again took part.

 

*27.c.90.45  LIEVIN

23.4.18            Visibility today has been fair.  His artillery activity was quiet, with the exception of two concentrated shoots which he put down on a battery position recently vacated by the 45th Battery.  Considerable movement was again observed during the morning in the BULL-RING.  Three enemy planes observed today, one of which was an enemy artillery observation plane which assisted in the registration of the old 45th Battery position.  Our Headquarters today moved from the vicinity of GIVENCHY to LIEVIN, where a detail of men from all the batteries assisted the Headquarters in building a very creditable “Home” in the “BROWN LINE”.

Now that our “Home” is completed, according to the rules, a move to another front may be expected.

 

24.4.18            Visibility today has been very poor and his artillery activity has been confined to scattered shelling in the forward areas during the hours of darkness, as well as during the day.  It has been impossible for our O.Ps to see the enemy’s lines owing to the dense mist.

 

  • Visibility continues poor. His artillery activity during the day was light and scattered. Our old vacated Headquarters near GIVENCHY was shelled today.  Very little movement has been observed.

 

  • Visibility poor. The usual light scattered shelling continues. Our O.Ps are unable to observe anything in the enemy’s lines on account of the poor light.

 

  • Visibility continues low. His artillery attitude has been quiet. Very little movement was observed.  Heavy firing was heard during the afternoon in the north.

 

  • Visibility low. His artillery continues to harass our forward areas during the hours of darkness. During the daytime his 7.7 and 10.5 cm batteries firing from the vicinity of SALLAUMINES were silenced by our 4.5 Howitzer batteries.  Only two men were observed during the day, these being fired on and forced to take cover.  An enemy low flying aeroplane flew over our Hdqrs today, disappearing in the vicinity of AVION.

 

Place       Date    Hour                                              Summary of Events and Information

 

  • Visibility continues poor. The enemy’s artillery attitude continues quiet on our front but has showed considerable activity on both our flanks, during the day. Owing to the visibility very little movement was reported from our O.Ps.  An enemy low flying aeroplane flew over our Headquarters and Batteries this afternoon giving our battery machine guns an exciting time for a few moments.  We received a Warning Order today stating that we will shortly be relieved by Imperial troops coming from the fight on the AMIENS

 

  • Visibility poor today owing to steady rain. Enemy’s artillery has been more active today than usual probably in retaliation to the active harassing fire of our batteries.

 

 

GENERAL

 

The following decorations have been awarded for gallant work performed by the undermentioned Officers and men in connection with the operations on the 28th of March 1918 when the enemy attempted to capture ARRAS.  The 31st and 36th Batteries were attached to the 10th Brigade C.F.A. during this attack, in which the Right flank of the Canadians were engaged.

 

THE FRENCH CROIX DE GUERRE

 

Major D.A. MacKinnon D.S.O.         O.C. 36th Battery CFA

 

THE MILITARY MEDAL

  1. Sergeant CASHEN M.                                36th Battery CFA

301302  Bomdr McKENZIE R.J.O.                          36th Battery CFA

301136  Driver LE FORT P.                                      36th Battery CFA

91663  Gunner TULLY J.T.                                     31st Battery CFA

302702  Bomdr NUNN J.T.                                      31st Battery CFA

1250599  Gunner McCULLOCK G.                                       31st Battery CFA

 

During the past month the batteries of the Brigade have had a particularly strenuous time, during which 30,000 rounds were fired in minor operations and harassing fire. On account of the enemy’s offensive operations both to the north and south of us, a considerable amount of reconnaissance work has been done in our rear areas and Artillery Tracks have been built to facilitate the withdrawal of our guns over country which is not likely to be shelled in case of an enemy attack.  Lieut TEED of the 36th Battery has had charge of this work, which was completed at the end of this month.

 

 

Fred Coghlan Lieut-Colonel

Comd’g 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade.

 

 

 

 

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