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

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