War Diary of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE September 1918

WAR DIARY Of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

From SEPTEMBER 1st – To SEPTEMBER 30 1918

 

PACK HORSE DUGOUT NEAR BOIRY

 

  • Brigade remained in their present position, the day passing fairly quietly, with the exception of the heavy harassing fire on REMY, 70 RIDGE, LONG WOOD.  Teed, 36th Battery, was killed by shell fire at the Battery position along with two 36th. N.C.O.s.

 

  • 3rdD.A. O.O. No 3 was issued today giving details of the attack on the DROCOURT QUEANT Line tomorrow.  Lieut. Philpott, 33rd. Battery, detailed as F.O.O., Lieut. Devine, 45th Battery, Brigade O.P. and Lieut. McKay 31st Battery Liaison Officer to the Kings Own 1st Btn.  The day passed fairly quietly.  At about 9 o clock, during a heavy burst of harassing fire by the enemy in the vicinity of Hqrs. a pack horse with 8 rounds of 18 pdr.        Ammunition broke loose from a passing column and fell tail formost down to the bottom of Hqrs dugout.  After considerable difficulty, he was picqueted in the passage-way for the night.

 

  • At 5 o’clock our barrage opened up.  Reports on the progress soon came in from Brigade O.P. and L.O.  The attack appeared to be going favourably.  On the completion of the barrage, Brigade ceased firing and remained in Divisional Reserve.  Philpott was wounded before leaving Brigade O.P., but carried on, and succeeded in laying a wire to CHALK PITS in BOIRY where he established Brigade Forward O.P.  Being wounded however a second time he was relieved by Lieut. Smith of 33rd. Battery.  Signaller CLIMO of the 36th Battery took charge of the party and continued to send information back until Lieut. Smith arrived.  During the afternoon the enemy shell fire practically ceased.  Lieut. Smith made a reconnaissance forward, and succeeded in entering the Lecluse ahead of the Infantry captured 11 prisoners.  Lieut. R.V. MacCaulay 45th Battery, who had been detailed with a party to put in action enemy’s guns when captured, succeeded in reaching the DROCOURT QUEANT Line shortly after the Infantry, located 2 7.7cm guns, but was unable to fire them owing to the objections of the Infantry.

 

PACK HORSE DUGOUT NR BOIRY

 

  • Day passed fairly quietly with the exception of considerable amount of shell fire from the North where enemy enfiladed our positions using H.V. guns. During the afternoon the Brigade was relieved by the R.F.A., the Brigade remaining in their position in Corps Reserve.

 

5.9.18                       The weather continued fine and bright, the enemy harassing our Battery Areas with long range H.V. guns.  Instructions were issued today with reference to the relief of the 8th Army Field Arty. Brigade by our Brigade.  At 3.00 p.m. the Batteries pulled out independently and moved forward to the vicinity of ST. SERVINS FARM, the relief being completed about 6.00 p.m.  Instructions were issued today giving details of the relief of the 3rd Brigade C.F.A. by our Brigade, the relief to take place tomorrow.

 

ST SERVINS FARM

6.9.18                      During the night it rained very hard causing considerable inconvenience and discomfort to the troops    clearing up during the day; the day passing quietly with occasional bursts of fire in the vicinity of ST SERVINS FARM.  A reconnaissance was made of the forward area, and at dusk the 9th Brigade moved forward, coming into action in the vicinity of BRIOCHE FARM, the relief being completed about 9 oclock.  Hqrs were located in an German gun position at P.34.B25.80.

 

  • The Brigade spent the day familiarizing themselves with the front, working on gun positions, the enemy shelling light and scattered over the Battery Areas.  The attitude of the enemy appears to be fairly quiet and nervous.

 

  • The weather continues fair, although the visibility has not been very good on account of m The enemy’s artillery activity has been fairly quiet during the day, with the exception of a burst of fire on our forward area at dusk, to which the batteries of the Brigade retaliated.  Our heavies shot down the steeple of OISY LE VERGER Church this afternoon at 5.00 p.m.  Enemy shows considerable aerial activity on this front with a particular dislike for our observation balloon in the vicinity of ST SERVINS FARM, which was shot down in flames today at 6.15 a.m. Shortly afterwards one of our balloons was observed to break loose and drift rapidly over the enemy’s lines, the two observers leaping out, one falling in our lines and the other in the enemy’s lines.

 

ST SERVINS FARM

  • Fair weather today. Enemy continues quiet, his artillery activity being confined to a scattered shelling in the forward areas. Little or no movement was observed on this front owing to the location of our O.P.s and the difficult nature of the ground.  8 E.A.s were over our lines today.  Our guns carried on a harassing fire throughout the day with our forward sections, which have been located at 31st Battery about 1500 yards in front of their Battery position near the CAMBRAI ROAD: 33rd Battery in the CHALK PITS North of SAUDEMONT: 45th Battery East of RUMAUCOURT, 36th Battery on the South Western edge of ECOURT ST QUINTIN.  The 31st, 33rd and 45th Batteries manned enemy’s guns, firing same from the following locations:- 31st – 7.7.c.m. gun at Q.26.b.05.35 33rd Battery 7.7 c.m gun at P.29.d.90.60. 45th Battery 10 C.M. gun at P.29.b.50.90., 2242 rounds of 7.7 and 272 rounds of 10 c.m. being fired during our tour in the line.

at towns in enemy’s lines beyond the range of our Field guns

 

PACK HORSE DUGOUT NR BOIRY

 

10.9.18                     Fair today, Enemy’s artillery continuing active in harassing our forward areas.  A considerable amount of movement was reported by our O.P.s today on the CAMBRAI DOUAI Road.  Enemy’s aerial activity continues to be above normal, many E.A.s crossing our lines today.

 

  • The visibility today has not been so good and the enemy’s shelling has been below normal, probably due to this fact. Only 5 E.A.s were observed today.

 

  • Fair weather again today.  Enemy’s artillery more active than usual all day, putting down many concentrated area shoots in the forward areas.  Considerable amount of movement has been observed again today, some of which was engaged by our forward sections.

 

  • Visibility very good today. Forward areas were harassed with light calibre guns. A great deal of movement is still being reported in the enemy’s rear country beyond the range of our guns.  A. activity continues above normal, many planes crossing our lines during the day, one of which shot down one of our balloons at ST SERVINS FARM.  Last night our Infantry were attacked by a hostile bombing raid and forced to withdraw from our post in the BRICK KILN (see detail of raid in L.O.s. report).

 

PACK HORSE DUGOUT NR BOIRY

 

14.9.18                     New Forward Bde. O.P. established on hill sloping toward Canal in front of SAUCHY-CAUCHY.  Enemy artillery on Forward Areas all day active.  Our Artillery very active.  Visibility being good, our heavies executed several aeroplane shoots.  Aerial activity very great.  Enemy planes crossed our lines constantly and succeeded in bringing down three of our balloons in the morning and three in the afternoon.  Enemy appeared very nervous, as though he were anticipating an attack by us.  Our Infty retook the post in the BRICK KILN.

 

  • Visibility fair.  Enemy shelled various portions of our forward area with bursts of fire and paid special attention to the CAMBRAI Road.  Enemy succeeded in reoccupying the BRICK Kiln West of Canal bank opposite SAUCHY CAUCHY, and Brigade Batteries were called upon to put on a shoot as a result.  One burst of fire from the enemy at 1615 induced our Infantry to put up S.O.S. Signals and for 20 minutes the Brigade fired on the S.O.S.  1stM.R. Battalion were relieved by 5th C.M.R. Battalion which Brigade, 9th C.F.A. continue to support.

 

  • Enemy attitude still continued to be nervous and he did considerable scattered shelling.  Our guns very active during the whole 24 hours.  At 6.45 p.m. a heavy barrage opened on the Right of our front seemingly about a mile South.  Our front continues quiet.  Enemy aircraft showed great activity all day.

 

  • Enemy attitude rather more quiet than yesterday. His planes were active as usual and as many as 14 of his balloons were counted from the O.P.  Our 4.5 Hows co-operated with the heavies in a gas shoot on Q.30.b,c & d at 7.30 p.m., and in all fired 150 rounds.

 

  • Both our artillery and enemy artillery active throughout the day. The enemy still continued his scattered and nervous shelling.  At night he was subjected to a heavy bombardment by our heavies and our Field guns.  The Infantry reported considerable short shooting during the period of the bom  This was investigated by the L.O., who found that no more that 8 or 10 rounds had fallen short and that these were heavies.  No casualties occurred.

 

PACK HORSE DUGOUT NR BOIRY

 

  • Our guns active all day.  At dusk both the 5thM.Rs. and the 9th Brigade were relieved by Imperials. i.e. All except the 33rd Battery which remained for the night under the tactical control of the 10th Brigade CFA.  Batteries of the 281st Brigade RFA relieved the other batteries of the 9th Brigade taking over the Zone, O.P. and Liaison duties, maps etc.  Brigade H.Q. (with the exception of the C.O.) and the three Batteries relieved, withdrew to the wagon lines West of VIS-EN-ARTOIS.

 

  • O. Bde forward area at 10 a.m.

At dusk 33rd Battery came out of action and withdrew to its wagon line West of VIS EN ARTOIS.

 

  • All day spent quietly by Brigade at wagon lines.  In the evening order was received from 3rdD.A. that Brigade would move next morning to AGNY Area.

ACHICOURT

 

22.9.18                     By 9.00 a.m. Brigade was on the move and trekked via NEUVILLE-VITASSE and BEAURAINS to ACHICOURT.  Brigade H.Q. billeted in a dilapidated house in the village and Batteries in the open fields between ACHICOURT and AGNY.  That afternoon C.O. Brigade was informed that 3rd C.D.A. would be used shortly to support an attack to capture BOURLON WOOD and advance towards CAMBRAI.  The C.O. rode forward accompanied by the R.O. to reconnoitre area where 9th Batteries were to take up positions in the vicinity of INCHY-EN-ARTOIS to carry forward a barrage in support of 4th Canadian Division Battalions which were to attack.

 

23.9.18                     Starting at 6.00 a.m. from AGNY by bus, 2 officers from each Battery and the R.O. went forward to reconnoitre positions.  Area allotted was in vicinity of North end of INCHY.  At the time our outpost line ran just in front of the West half of the area allotted.  Enemy was shelling the village heavily at the time.  Positions were picked out in what seemed to be the most advantageous spots, 31st and 45th Batteries choosing spots between INCHY and the Canal which could only be viewed at the time by crawling along under cover of hedges in front of our outposts.  33rd and 36th chose positions close together in an enclosure surrounded by a brick wall at extreme Northern Corner of Village.

 

ACHICOURT

 

  • The day occupied in consultations between C.O. and Battery Commanders and general preparations for the coming offensive. Enemy aircraft flew on several occasions during the day over our rear areas.  One of these in the afternoon dropped three bombs in ACHICOURT and AGNY.  Orders received late that night that Brigade would move before dawn to wagon lines lately vacated in vicinity of VIS-EN-ARTOIS.  Detail of Major MacKINNON as LO in the show with the Infantry Brigade was cancelled.

 

  • By 3.30 am the whole Brigade was on the move and proceeded to the VIS-EN-ARTOIS wagon lines.  At Noon order was received to move to other wagon lines in vicinity of QUEANT.  O. Brigade went ahead at 3 oclock and H.Q. and Batteries followed independently, as per instructions, at dusk.  New wagon lines located close, beside New 3rd C.D.A.C. Dump just established on Light Railway between NOREUIL and QUEANT.

 

  • All day occupied in preparations. Major MacKINNON detailed once again as L.O. with 12thI.B.  18-pdr Batteries ordered to take up positions at dusk in vicinity of PRONVILLE to cover an S.O.S. line until Zero hour the following morning.  By dusk these batteries were on the road and were in action and laid on S.O.S. near Northern edge of PRONVILLE by 7.00 pm.  Hqrs 9th C.F.A. moved up to a dugout West of

INCHY                                INCHY at D.6.a.5.25 (Sheet 57C) at 6.00 PM.  Two hours before Zero.  36th Battery was waiting in the assembly area allotted close beside the 18-pdr Battery positions and where likewise limbers and wagons of the 18-pdr Batteries were in readiness.

 

INCHY EN ARTIOS

  • The initial barrage in support of 4th Canadian Division opened at 0520. At about one hour after Zero, the 9th Brigade Batteries moved forward from the vicinity of PRONVILLE to take up their positions at INCHY and carry forward the barrage.  They advanced at the gallop through very heavy enemy shell fire which was falling at the time both in the rear of the Village and in the village itself.  By 0816 the hour at which they were to start firing they were in position with lines laid and ammunition to hand.  The further supply of ammunition during the three hours of firing was greatly facilitated by the excellent work which the 3rdD.A.C. had done, prior to that, in establishing a forward dump in INCHY.  Our barrage supported the 12th Brigade which had gone through.  Directly after the barrage was completed, reconnaissances were made and the Batteries, with the exception of the 33rd Battery which came under the tactical control of the 10th brigade, were moved forward to the vicinity of QUARRY WOOD, our Infantry by that time having captured the Village of BOURLON and most of BOURLON WOOD.  The 7th C.I.B. went through the 12th C.I.B. at this time.  In these new positions the Batteries did considerable firing during the afternoon both on S.O.S. and various targets given to them by the Infantry.  At about 1530 orders were received to make a further forward move.  Reconnaissances were made and at dusk, Brigade H.Q. was moved to BOURLON, and Batteries, including 33rd Battery which came back at that time under control of the 9th Brigade, to the same vicinity, in order to be able to cover another attack of the 3rd Division Infantry.

Lieut O’Grady and Lieut McCarter were F.O.O.s during the above operations.  In the late afternoon Lieut McCarter was unfortunately killed by a M.G. bullet.  Lieut Jones was wounded in the head and evacuated.  Captain Scott was wounded slightly and remained on duty.  In all among O.R.s there were 19 casualties, 1 killed and 18 wounded.  Capt McKAYE the Bde chaplain was likewise wounded.

 

BOURLON

28.9.18                     At 6.00 a.m. the barrage opened and a further advance was made by our Infantry who were eventually held up at the MARCOING Line in front of ST. OLLE.  Orders were received by Batteries to reconnoitre positions further forward.  This was done but it was found that they could not move up as far as had been anticipated.  The 33rd and 36th moved up a short distance, the others being already far enough forward.  Another barrage was fired at 3.00 p.m.  Lieut Harris replaced Lieut McCarter as F.O.O. and Lieut O’Grady remained with him.  Various targets were engaged on the request of Major MacKinnon who remained L.O. with the 7th C.I.B.  Casualties today 2 O.R.s wounded.

 

 

 

BOURLON

  • Just before midnight 28th /29th Batteries were ordered to move to position just West of ST. OLLE to be prepared to fire a barrage at 0600.  Reconnaissance was made by Lieut. Devine, and as a result a new area in F.4 Sheet 57C was allotted.  Here, they had only very little flash cover from CAMBRAI and were in full view from the left.  They pulled in before dawn without a hitch and were ready before 6.00 a.m., this in spite of scattered shelling of the whole area and more especially of the road of approach from the top of the crest.  Long after day-break their ammunition wagons passed to and fro at the gallop between the crest and the guns in full view of the enemy for about 1200 yards, occasionally sniped at by enemy Field guns.  The barrage opened at 8.00 a.m. and lasted till 9.45 a.m.  Enemy shelling of the area was heavy throughout.  The Brigade M.O. Capt. Blakeley was wounded while attending to three wounded 45th Battery Gunners.  In addition the 45th had one gun knocked out and the 31st  The 42nd Battalion advancing towards the Railway in S.20.d Sheet 51A suffered heavily by machine gun fire, likewise the 49th Battalion and the 9th C.I.B.  Eventually positions were consolidated in vicinity of DOUAI-CAMBRAI Road.  The Village of ST. OLLE was not captured till the afternoon.  The enemy fought all day very hard to retain the approaches to CAMBRAI.  All day big fires could be seen blazing in the city itself.  Total casualties in Bde today 9 wounded.

Lieut Doiron acted as F.O.O. during the day.  Lt-Col Ralston relieved Major MacKinnon as L.O. with the       7th C.I.B.

 

  • At 6.00 a.m. the Batteries commenced to fire on a barrage to support our Infantry in an advance towards RAM The troops on the Left of the Division met with strong opposition and were not able to establish a line beyond the Railway passing through S.14 (Sheet 51A); consequently the 3rd Division could not advance beyond TILLOY.  During the morning the C.O. Brigade reconnoitred positions for the Batteries in the vicinity of RAILLENCOURT and SAILLY and at dusk batteries moved their guns to that vicinity.  Brigade H.Q. moved at dusk likewise to the QUARRY in SAILLY, where good quarters had been found in an old German dugout.  By 7.30 p.m. telephone communications had been established between Hqrs.; and Batteries and to the 7th C.I.B.  H.Q. where Lt-Col Ralston remained as L.O.

 

Fred Coghlan

Lieut-Colonel

Commanding 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

War Diary of 20 Siege Battery for September 1918

WAR DIARY

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for September 1918

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

In the field 1st                        3  2 gun positions occupied – LABOURSE near NOEUX-LES-MINES & VERQUIGIEUL.  Attack at extreme range for Mk. VI Hows.

2nd                          2 guns from NOEUX-LES-MINES position to position behind mine build up at PHILOSOPHE.

3rd                          1 gun from  VERQUIGIVEUL position to PHILOSOPHE & and 1 to LABOURSE, reducing Battery 2 – 3 gun. Sections.

8th                          3 guns from PHILOSOPHE position to former R.F.A. position in front of LES BREBIS FOSSE.

9th                          3 guns from LABOURSE to position in LE PREUL march beside Canal basin.

14th                        3 guns from LE PREUL march to ANNEQUIN (position N.E. corner of CITE).

16th                        ANNEQUIN position shelled by 5.9” gun – 30 rds No casualties.  O.K. on B.C. post (pill box) Ys on No 2 Gun.

15th                        150 rounds in CANTELEUX Farm & neighbouring trenches in support of 55th Div.  Observation from NEW BRIGHTON.

16th                        80 rounds in  CANTELEUX Farm & neighbouring trenches in support of 55th Div.  Observation from NEW BRIGHTON.

20th                        150 rounds on Distillery E. of Railway Triangle in LA BASSEE Canal by request of 55 Divn Observation from ”CRATERS” (RFA) O.P.

26th                        100 rounds in PIANO HOUSE & STRASBOURG TRENCH (N.W. of VIOLAINES) by request of 55 Divn Observation from BOOTLE (RFA) O.P. (in VIOLAINES Trench).

28th                        *** lodging in Officers mess Billet, MINX, & woman from neighbouring house attacked, wounded & nearly murdered by latter’s jealous husband with a razor.  Capt HANHART & Lt. E.O. DAVIS, armed respectively with a cricket bat & a poker interviewed murderer & numerous assistants in neighbouring estaminet.  Murderer invited them to share a bottle of vin blanc.  Finding all in order & civilians of neighbourhood content with situation officers retired & finished dinner.  Fate of assailant & assistant unknown.

General Summary for September

Personnel  Officers Lt. H.E. WEEKS attached to No 9 F.S.Co as O/c I Corps Ranging Section.

Lt. W.F. FOX posted to Battery & to remain attached to I Corps H.A. as a/Staff Captain.

Casualties Nil

Attachments 2 OR R.E. attached for report as to whether suitable for commission in R.G.A.

Tactical     Positions occupied during month 7

Rounds fired (approx) Counter Battery 4840 Other firing 1200 Total 6040

C.B destructive shoots Successful 24.  Results during ranging 40 K 89% 230 Z

Unsuccessful 3

Other shooting 3 Bombardments at request of 55th Division, harassing fire & registration.

Materiel     1 New Carriage & New Piece (Mk VI) received during month.

(CB Shoots – ANNEQUIN Section chiefly in SALOME Group, PHILOSOPHE Section on WINGLES-VENDININ Sector)

 

 

OCTOBER 1918

OCTOBER 1918

Hundred Days Offensive

By the end of September 1918, the Germans had been forced back beyond the Hindenburg Line and territories gained in 1914. During the retreat the Germans were forced to abandon increasingly large amounts of heavy equipment and supplies, further reducing their morale and capacity to resist. In Belgium the Battle of Courtrai saw Belgian, British and French forces pursuing the Germans until winter rains stopped movement in early October 1918. Following the rain the offensive for the Battle of Courtrai began early morning of the 14th October 1918 with an attack on the Lys river at Comines aimed northward to Dixmude. With a creeping barrage there was little resistance from the German infantry. By the 17th October 1918, Thourout, Ostend, Lille and Douai had been recaptured, with Bruges and Zeebrugge falling on the 19th October 1918. The neutral Dutch border was reached on the 20th October 1918.

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In northern France the Allied and German armies sustained many casualties during the actions in “Pursuit to the Selle” beginning on the 9th October 1918. This was followed by the Battle of Mont-D’Origny on the 15th October 1918. Further rear-guard actions by the Germans at the Selle from the 17th to 26th October 1918, and the Battle of Lys and Escaut was fought on the 20th October 1918. The Battle of Serre was also fought on the 20th October 1918. The Germans had been forced to retreat from the Meuse-Argonne region in the south to the Dutch border in the north.

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The Second Battle of Cambrai was fought during the latter part of the Hindenburg Line Offensive between British and German troops, from the 8th to 10th October 1918. This took place in and around the French town of Cambrai. Three separate German lines spanning 6,400 mts. (7,000 yds.) were held by two divisions and supported by approximately 150 guns. The rapid Allied general advance caused the weakened German defensive line to collapse. The German defenders were unprepared for the attack by 324 tanks, closely supported by infantry and aircraft. On the 8th October 1918, the 2nd Canadian Division entered Cambrai and encountered sporadic and light resistance. However, they rapidly pressed northward leaving the ”mopping up” of the town to the 3rd Canadian Division following closely behind. When the 3rd Division entered the town on the 10th October 1918, they found it deserted. Although the capture of Cambrai was achieved sooner than expected, German resistance northeast of the town stiffened, slowing the advance and forcing the Canadian Corps to dig in on the Hindenburg Line.

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During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge was fought between the 3rd to 27th October 1918 in the Champagne area of France, northeast of Reims. The U.S. Army’s 2nd and 36th Infantry Divisions opposed Imperial German Army’s 200th and 213th divisions. On the morning of the 3rd October 1918 French and American artillery opened fire and by 8.15 a.m. the Americans were on the hill leading to the ridge. Within three hours they had seized the crest and for seven days they held out against German counter-attacks before advancing northward. From the 10th October 1918, no further advance was made until the 27th October 1918 when the American army assembled in the Suippes-Somme-Suippes area and established headquarters at Corde-en-Barrois. Here the American army HQ stayed until the signing of the armistice.

Also during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive the Americans launched a series of costly assaults that finally broke through the German defences at the Battle of Montfaucon between the 14th to 17th October 1918. The U.S. forces finally cleared the Argonne Forest by the end of October 1918. The French who fought alongside the Americans on their left flank reached the Aisne River. It was in this action that Sergeant Alvin York became one of the most decorated United States Army soldiers of the Great War for leading an attack on a German machine-gun nest. His patrol took 35 machine-guns, killing at least twenty five enemy soldiers and capturing one hundred and thirty two men. York was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Americans and further honours by France, Italy and Montenegro.

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Italian Front

On the Italian Front, the Third Battle of Monte Grappa began on the 24th October 1918, as part of the final Italian Offensive of the war. Control over Monte Grappa, which covered the left flank of the Italian Piave front, was contested between the armies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy. The Italians had been forced to retreat during the Battle of Caporetta but halted the Austrian Offensive on the Piave River in late 1917. The Italian Chief of General Staff, General Luigi Cadorna, had ordered fortified defences constructed on the Monte Grappa summit which stabilized the Italian front along the Piave River. The Third Battle of Monte Grappa began when nine Italian divisions attacked the Austrian positions. The Austrians committed all their reserves to increase their force from nine to fifteen divisions but after Czechoslovakia declared independence from the Empire, the war-weary Austrian army began a general retreat from the 29th October 1918.

The Battle of Vittorio Veneto was fought from the 24th October to 4th November 1918 along the Piave River. The Tenth Italian Army, consisting of two Italian and two English divisions, were able to create a small but significant break in the Austrian lines. The turning point of the battle was on the 27th October 1918 when the decision was taken to exploit this breakthrough. The Austrians counter-attack failed on the 28th October 1918 and the Austro-Hungarian high command ordered a general retreat on the 29th October 1918 and organised an armistice commission to contact the Italians. Meanwhile the Italian army exploited the breakthrough and advanced on, and reached, the city of Vittorio Veneto on the 30th October 1918. The Italian troops reached Trento and Trieste on the 3rd November 1918 and the armistice was signed at 3.20 pm to become effective 24 hours later at 3.00 pm on the 4th November 1918.

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Mesopotamia, the Middle East and the Caucasus

The final action fought on the Mesopotamian Front, the Battle of Sharqat, saw the British army secure control of the Mosul oilfields north of Baghdad. The British government had ordered the remaining Turkish influence in the region to be removed as much as possible prior to the anticipated Turkish armistice. The Anglo- Indian force left Baghdad on the 23rd October 1918 and within two days it had covered 120 km (75 miles) and expected to engage the Turkish army. However, the Turks had retreated a further 100 km (62.5 miles) to Sharqat and the British attacked on the 29th October 1918.  Within a day, on the 30th October 1918, the Turks surrendered despite the fact their lines had not been breached by the Anglo-Indian forces. Mosul was peacefully occupied by the Indian Cavalry Division following the Battle of Sharqat, which was last battle in Mesopotamia.

 

Following the capture of Damascus, by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) and Lawrence’s Arab forces, the Central Powers were collapsing and the EEF was required to push on to Aleppo, 320 km (200 miles) to the north. After a brief period of consolidation, the advance continued and Aleppo fell on the 26th October 1918. Four days later the Turkish signed the Armistice of Mudrus on the 30th October 1918.

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In the Caucasus, military operations were halted when the Turkish-Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros on the 30th October 1918. Following the defeat of the British-Armenian-White Russian forces at the Battle of Baku on the 14th September 1918, the Turkish Empire held the territory until the armistice. On the 27th August 1918, Germany had provided financial assistance to the Russian Bolshevik government to stop the Turkish Army of Islam in return for guaranteed access to Baku’s oil. However, a severe political crisis in Germany rendered the Caucasus expedition abortive. On the 21st October 1918, the German government ordered the withdrawal of all troops from the region denying support to the Turkish-Azerbaijani coalition. The Turks surrendered to the Allies and signed the Armistice on the 30th October 1918. The war with Turkey was over.

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Over four years the campaign in the Middle East had sucked in nearly 1,200,000 men from all over the British Empire. With over 5,000 lost in battle and over 500,000 through disease, what was achieved is difficult to understand. If the intention was to knock Turkey out of the war, the EEF had failed as the Turks surrendered only a few weeks before the Germans. Could the forces on the Western Front have been better served if the resources not been diverted to the Middle East, Mesopotamia and Salonika?

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Other Theatres

On the 4th October 1918, in Bulgaria, Tsar Ferdinand I abdicated in favour of his son Boris III. Following the signing of the Bulgarian armistice with the Allies, Ferdinand’s abdication was an attempt to save the Bulgarian throne. However, in 1946 the Kingdom of Bulgaria was succeeded by the People’s Republic of Bulgaria ending the Bulgarian monarchy.

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At the age of 55 years old the Reverend Theodore Bailey Hardy died of wounds on the 18th October 1918. He was Temporary Chaplain to the Forces and attached to the 8th Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment. After being recommended for a VC in April 1918, he was presented with the Victoria Cross by King George V at Frohen-le-Grand, near Doullens, on 9th August 1918. There seems to have been no vanity streak in Reverend Hardy’s make-up and he was not hungry for medals. When told he had won the VC he said “I really must protest”. Reverend Hardy would habitually cover the array of ribbons on his chest with his arm so as to hide his embarrassment. The King was so impressed with Reverend Hardy that on 17th September 1918 he was appointed Chaplain to His Majesty. The King hoped that he would be able to persuade Reverend Hardy away from the dangers of the front line but even at over 50 years of age he refused all offers to leave “the boys”. Late 1918 finally found the Germans being pushed back and by early October the 8th Lincolns were approaching the river Selle. They managed to establish a crossing and the familiar voice of the chaplain could be heard moving through the ranks.  Suddenly a burst of machine gun fire shattered the night air and the cry went up for stretcher bearers. The chaplain was hit in the thigh but at first it was considered not too serious and he was taken to Rouen. Sadly his condition deteriorated, pneumonia set in, and the gallant padre passed away on the 18th October 1918. Theodore Bailey Hardy was laid to rest in St. Sever cemetery in Rouen. A short memorial service was conducted by the corps chaplain Reverend Hales, and the service was well attended by officers and men of all units. There were other men of the cloth who lived exemplary lives at the front, but the respect and affection earned by Reverend Hardy was unique. If any single Briton deserved to be remembered for their unselfish humanity during that savage war the tiny, self-effacing Reverend Theodore Hardy, VC, DSO, MC, must surely be a candidate.

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On the 20th October 1918, German Admiral Reinhardt Scheer, Naval Supreme Commander, ordered all his navy’s U-boat submarines to return to their German bases. This was after the final German torpedo was fired in the Irish Sea sinking a British merchant ship. Unrestricted submarine warfare was first introduced early in 1915 when Germany declared the area around the British Isles a war zone.  Germany hoped the naval warfare could win the war despite the deadlock on the battlefields, but with Germany on the retreat, an armistice was the logical solution.  When the German submarines returned to their home base, the entire  Belgian coast was firmly under Allied control.

On the 29th October 1918, Admiral Scheer planned for a final fleet action against the British Grand Fleet. Scheer intended to inflict as much damage as possible on the British navy in order to retain a better negotiating position for Germany just prior to the armistice. However, many war-weary sailors felt the operation would disrupt the peace process and prolong the war. When the order was given to sail from Wilhelmshaven, sailors on several battleships mutinied. The unrest ultimately forced Scheer to cancel the operation.

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After confrontation between Wilhelm Groener and Erich Ludendorff, who was Quartermaster General of the German Army, Groener was appointed as Ludendorff’s successor on 29th October 1918. Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, as Supreme Commander of the German Army, had dismissed Ludendorff, who had been his deputy. The dismissal was for the decline of the German military machine and the threat of social unrest and possible revolution amongst the civilian population. Groener started to prepare the withdrawal and demobilisation of the army, and also was in favour of accepting the Allies armistice terms.

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In the final year of the Great War the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was suffering from an internal crisis caused by unrest amongst its numerous Slavic populations. The Proclamation for the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, was a short-lived entity formed on the 29th October 1918 by the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs residing in what was the southernmost parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although not internationally recognised this was the first indication of a Yugoslav State and was founded on the Slavic ideology. A month after it was proclaimed, the State joined the Kingdom of Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbia, Croats and Slovenes.

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Timetable October 1918

Timetable October 1918

Hundred Days Offensive

14th to 19th Oct                      Battle of Courtrai

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15th Oct                                     Battle of Mont-D’Origny

17th to 26th Oct                        Battle of the Selle

20th Oct                                     Battle of Lys and Escaut

20th Oct                                   Battle of Serre

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Battle for the Hindenburg Line

8th to 10th Oct                           Second Battle of Cambrai

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Meuse-Argonne Offensive

3rd to 27th Oct                           Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge

14th to 17th Oct                         Battle of Montfaucon

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Italian Front

24th to 28th Oct                          Third Battle of Monte Grappa

24th Oct to 4th Nov                     Battle of Vittorio Veneto

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Mesopotamia, the Middle East and the Caucasus

23rd to 30th Oct                          Battle of Sharqat

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26th Oct                                     Battle of Aleppo

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30th Oct                                   The Turkish Empire signs the Armistice of Mudros

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October                                    The aftermath of the Middle Eastern Campaign

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Other Theatres

4th Oct                                     Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria abdicated

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18th Oct                                   Reverend Theodore Hardy VC died of wounds

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20th Oct                                    Germany suspends submarine warfare

29th Oct                                     Mutiny of Germany’s war-weary sailors

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29th Oct                                     Groener replaces Ludendorff as Hindenburg’s deputy

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29th Oct                                     State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs proclaimed

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