When researching and compiling this tribute to the Canadian Durnfords, it was a surprise to find that our cousin, who was born William Albert Durnford, the g.grandson of our great uncle, Andrew Montague Isaacson Durnford II, the grandson of Andrew Durnford and Barbara Blake was one of those who were killed.
He was known as Andrew Durnford.
A Timeline of the Canadians in World War 1
|Newfoundland Regiment leaving St John's|
- July 29. Britain warns Canada of deteriorating situation in Europe.
- Aug 02. Canada offers Britain troops for overseas service.
- Aug 05. Britain declares war. Canada is automatically at war.
- Aug 06. Britain accepts Canada's offer of troops.
- Aug 19.The first volunteers begin to arrive at Valcartier camp.
- Sept 04. Approximately 32,000 men have assembled at Valcartier.
- Oct 03. 1st contingent Canadian Expeditionary Force sails for England.
- Oct 14. 1st contingent C.E.F. arrives in England.
- Dec 21. Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry arrives in France. The first Canadian unit committed to battle in the Great War.
- Feb 07. 1st Canadian Division begins moving to France.
- Mar 03. 1st Canadian Division is made responsible for 6000m of front near Fleurbaix.
- April 01. 1st Canadian Division is moved north to the Ypres Salient.
- Apr 22. Battle of Ypres. First use of poison gas against French.
- Apr 24. Battle of St.Julien. First use of poison gas against Canadian troops. Canadian troops hold the line.
- May 05. Lt-Col John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force composed the well-known poem In Flanders Fields.
- May 18. Battle of Festubert.
- May 25. Second Canadian Division formed in Canada.
- June 15. Battle of Givenchy.
- Sept 19. Newfoundland Regiment lands at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli.
- Nov 16. Canadian's launched their first trench raid at Riviere Douve.
- Dec 20. Newfoundland Regiment evacuated from Suvla Bay
- Dec 25. 3rd Canadian Division formed.
- Apr 06. The Battle of St.Eloi Craters.
- Jun 02. Battle of Mount Sorrel. Major General Mercer killed.
- July 1 Battle of Beaumont Hamel
- Sept 15. Battle of Courcelette. First use of the tank and the rolling barrage.
- Sept 26. Battle of Thiepval Ridge.
- Nov. Sir Samuel Hughes Minister of Militia and Defense is sacked by Prime Minister Borden.
- Apr 09. The Battle of Vimy Ridge.
- June 11. Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden introduced a Military Service Bill.
- Aug 15. Battle for Hill 70. First use of mustard gas against Canadians.
- Oct 26. The Battle of Passchendaele
- Aug 29. Conscription became law in Canada.
- Nov. Prime Minister Borden's Unionists win a majority in the federal election.
- Nov 20. The Battle of Cambrai.
- Dec 06. The Halifax Explosion. French munitions vessel Mont Blanc explodes in Halifax Harbour killing almost 1600 people.
- Jan. Conscription now in force.
- March 21. German Offensive begins.
- March 30. Canadian Cavalry attack at Moreuil Wood.
- Aug 08. The Battle of Amiens. The beginning of what is known as Canada's Hundred Days.
- Aug 26. The Battle of the Scarpe.
- Sept 02. The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line.
- Sept 27. The Battle of the Canal Du Nord and Cambrai.
- Nov 02. The Canadian Corps capture the town of Valenciennes in its last major battle of the war.
- Nov 10. The Canadian Corps Reached the outskirts of Mons.
- Nov 11. At 10:58am Private George Price of the 28th Battalion is killed by a sniper. Two minutes later at 11:00am the armistice came into effect. The war was over.
Beaumont Hamel: July 1, 1916
Of all the battles that the Newfoundland Regiment fought during the First World War, none was as devastating or as defining as the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Regiment's tragic advance at Beaumont Hamel on the morning of July 1, 1916 became an enduring symbol of its valour and of its terrible wartime sacrifices. The events of that day were forever seared into the cultural memory of the Newfoundland and Labrador people.
The Somme offensive in the summer of 1916 had its origins in Anglo-French plans to bring the war to a rapid close. At the end of 1915 the war was going badly for the Allies. The Eastern Front was in disarray. The Gallipoli offensive had failed. The Allies desperately needed success, and concentrated their efforts on the Western Front. From this sprang the ill-fated Somme offensive.
The last Canadian to die Private George Price
He was born in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, on December 15, 1892, and raised on Church Street, in what is now Port Williams, Nova Scotia. He lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, when he was conscripted on October 15, 1917. He served with "A" Company of the 28th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.
On November 11, Pte Price was part of an advance to take the small village of Havré. After a crossing of the Canal du Centre into the town of Ville-sur-Haine under German machine gun fire, Price and his patrol moved toward a row of houses intent on pursuing the machine gunner who had harassed their crossing of the canal.
The patrol had entered the house from which they had thought the shooting had come, but found the Germans had exited through the back door as they entered the front. They then pursued into the house next door and again found it empty. George Price was fatally shot in the chest by a German sniper as he stepped out of the house into the street, against contrary advice from a house occupant, at 10:58 a.m., November 11, 1918. He died just 2 minutes before the armistice ceasefire, that ended the war, came into effect at 11 a.m.
The Canadian Expeditionary ForceCanadians in the CEF became part of the British army. As minister of militia, Hughes insisted on choosing the officers and on retaining the Canadian-made Ross rifle. Since the rifle jammed easily and since some of Hughes' choices were incompetent cronies, the Canadian military had serious deficiencies. A recruiting system based on forming hundreds of new battalions meant that most of them arrived in England only to be broken up, leaving a large residue of unhappy senior officers. Hughes believed that Canadians would be natural soldiers; in practice they had many costly lessons to learn. They did so with courage and self-sacrifice.
At the second Battle of Ypres, April 1915, a raw 1st Canadian Division suffered 6,036 casualties, and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry a further 678. The troops also shed their defective Ross rifles. At the St. Eloi craters in 1916, the 2nd Division suffered a painful setback because its senior commanders failed to locate their men. In June, the 3rd Division was shattered at Mont Sorrel though the position was recovered by the now battle-hardened 1st Division. The test of battle eliminated inept officers and showed survivors that careful staff work, preparation, and discipline were vital.
Canadians were spared the early battles of the Somme in the summer of 1916, though a separate Newfoundland force, 1st Newfoundland Regiment, was annihilated at Beaumont Hamel on the disastrous first day, 1 July. When Canadians entered the battle on 30 August, their experience helped toward limited gains, though at high cost. By the end of the battle the Canadian Corps had reached its full strength of four divisions.
The embarrassing confusion of Canadian administration in England, and Hughes's reluctance to displace his cronies, forced Borden's government to establish a separate Ministry of Overseas Military Forces based in London to control the CEF overseas. Bereft of much power, Hughes resigned in November 1916. The Act creating the new ministry established that the CEF was now a Canadian military organization, though its day-to-day relations with the British army did not change immediately. Two ministers, Sir George Perley and then Sir Edward Kemp, gradually reformed overseas administration and expanded effective Canadian control over the CEF.
In 1917 the Royal Flying Corps opened schools in Canada, and by war's end almost a quarter of the pilots in the Royal Air Force were Canadians. Three of them, Maj William A.Bishop, Maj Raymond Collishaw, and Col. William Barker, ranked among the top air aces of the war. An independent Canadian air force was authorized in the last months of the war. Canadians also served with the Royal Navy, and Canada's own tiny naval service organized a coastal submarine patrol.
Thousands of Canadians cut down forests in Scotland and France, and built and operated most of the railways behind the British front. Others ran steamers on the Tigris River, cared for the wounded at Salonika (Thessaloniki), Greece, and fought Bolsheviks at Archangel and Baku (see Canadian Intervention in Russian Civil War).
Vimy and PasschendaeleBritish and French strategists deplored diversions from the main effort against the bulk the German forces on the European Western Front. It was there, they said, that war must be waged. A battle-hardened Canadian Corps was a major instrument in this war of attrition. Its skill and training were tested on Easter weekend, 1917, when all four divisions were sent forward to capture a seemingly impregnable Vimy Ridge. Weeks of rehearsals, stockpiling, and bombardment paid off. In five days the ridge was taken.
The able British commander of the corps, Lt-Gen Sir Julian Byng, was promoted; his successor was a Canadian, Lt-Gen Sir Arthur Currie, who followed Byng's methods and improved on them. Instead of attacking Lens in the summer of 1917, Currie captured the nearby Hill 70 and used artillery to destroy wave after wave of German counterattacks. As an increasingly independent subordinate, Currie questioned orders, but he could not refuse them. When ordered to finish the disastrous British offensive at Passchendaele in October 1917, Currie warned that it would cost 16,000 of his 120,000 men. Though he insisted on time to prepare, the Canadian victory on the dismal and water-logged battlefield left a toll of 15,654 dead and wounded.
Borden and ConscriptionA year before, even the patriotic leagues had confessed the failure of voluntary recruiting. Business leaders, Protestants, and English-speaking Catholics such as Bishop Michael Fallon grew critical of French Canada. Faced with a growing demand for conscription, the Borden government compromised in August 1916 with a program of national registration. A prominent Montréal manufacturer, Arthur Mignault, was put in charge of Québec recruiting and, for the first time, public funds were provided. A final attempt to raise a French Canadian battalion — the 14th for Quebec and the 258th overall for Canada — utterly failed in 1917.
Until 1917 Borden had no more news of the war or Allied strategy than he read in newspapers. He was concerned about British war leadership but he devoted 1916 to improving Canadian military administration and munitions production. In December 1916 David Lloyd George became head of a new British coalition government pledged wholeheartedly to winning the war. An expatriate Canadian, Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, helped engineer the change. Faced by suspicious officials and a failing war effort, Lloyd George summoned leaders of the Dominions to London. They would see for themselves that the Allies needed more men. On 2 March, when Borden and his fellow premiers met, Russia was collapsing, the French army was close to mutiny, and German submarines had almost cut off supplies to Britain.
Borden was a leader in establishing a voice for the Dominions in policy making and in gaining a more independent status for them in the postwar world. Visits to Canadian camps and hospitals also persuaded him that the CEF needed more men. The triumph of Vimy Ridge during his visit gave all Canadians pride but it cost 10,602 casualties, 3,598 of them fatal. Borden returned to Canada committed to conscription. On 18 May 1917 he told Canadians of his government's new policy. The 1914 promise of an all-volunteer contingent had been superseded by events.
Number of Canadians in the War and the Casualties.
The great achievements of Canadian soldiers on battlefields such as Ypres, Vimy and Passchendaele, however, ignited a sense of national pride and a confidence that Canada could stand on its own, apart from the British Empire, on the world stage. The war also deepened the divide between French and English Canada, and marked the beginning of widespread state intervention in society and the economy.
First World War Statistics
|Start:||4 August, 1914|
|End:||11 November, 1918|
|Canadians who served (men and women):||630,000|
|Who went overseas:||425,000|
|Major battles (Canadian involvement):||2nd Ypres (1915) |
St. Eloi (1916)
Mont Sorrel (1916)
Vimy Ridge (1917)
Hill 70 (1917)
One year of the First World War elapsed before Allied commanders deployed the Newfoundland Regiment to an active front. In mid-August 1915, the unit received word that it was going to Suvla Bay in the Gallipoli Peninsula - a Turkish-controlled landmass in southeastern Europe. There, the Regiment would join the 88th Brigade of the 29th Division of the British Army.
The peninsula was strategically important because of its proximity to a narrow strait of water called the Dardanelles, which provided a sea route to Russia. The Allied powers wanted control of the area, and despatched troops to the region to secure it.
The Newfoundland Regiment embarked from Devonport, England on August 20 and arrived at Alexandria, Egypt on September 1. It then travelled by train to Cairo. The men spent two weeks in Egypt, acclimating to the stifling heat they would encounter at Gallipoli and changing into lighter uniforms.
On September 14, they set sail for Suvla Bay. Most of the men were happy to be finally out of training, but there was also an awareness of the pending danger.
"We have had a very good time all along so far, but we all know that the hardest part has now to come," Lieutenant Owen Steele wrote in his journal on September 18, 1915. "The place where we are to land is shelled all day long, and the last Division which went there lost 1,200 men and 36 officers the first day, and that, without having fired a shot, nor seen a single Turk, so we have heard."Landing at Suvla Bay
The Regiment's 1,076 men landed on the shores of the Dardanelles at about 3 a.m. on September 20, 1915. They came under immediate fire from Turkish troops. Private Francis Lind wrote about his first day at Gallipoli for the Daily News:
"We have had quite a lively time since landing Monday morning amidst a storm of shot and shell. After reaching the shore we made a rush and getting out our trenching tools began to dig ourselves in. The shells were falling thick about us. ... About twenty-five of our fellows were hit, including the Adjutant, Capt. Rendell ... One shell burst about five feet from our dug-out; we only just "ducked" in time. Another knocked Sergt. Green's helmet off, and it went about twenty feet away. He has never seen it since." (66-67)
|B Company in front line, Suvla Bay, 1915.
Capt. Alexander (left) and Capt. Nunns (right).
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL VA-37-1), St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The Newfoundland Regiment lost its first man in battle soon after arriving at Suvla Bay. Private High McWhirter was 21 years old when a Turkish shell killed him on September 22, 1915. The next day, a sniper's bullet killed Private William Hardy. He was 22 years old.
By September 30, the Newfoundland Regiment had taken responsibility for a 1.5-kilometre stretch of the British front line. Its trenches lay just 50 metres from the Turkish lines, and they jutted out at an angle that exposed the men to enemy fire from two sides.
"After the first forty-eight hours we settled down to regular trench warfare," Gallishaw wrote. "The routine was four days in the trenches, eight days in rest dugouts, four days in the trenches again, and so forth, although three or four months later our ranks were so depleted that we stayed in eight days and rested only four."
Turkish forces frequently shelled the Regiment. There were other threats as well. The trenches were filthy and overcrowded, and No Man's Land was littered with bodies. Disease and illness soon spread among the men. Gallishaw reported that about 600 Turkish bodies lay on the ground near B Company's trenches, but no one could retrieve and bury the dead without exposing himself to enemy fire.
"We could not get out to bury them, nor could we afford to allow the enemy to do so. There they stayed, and some of the hordes of flies that continually hovered about them, with every change of wind, swept down into our trenches, carrying to our food the germs of dysentery, enteric, and all the foul diseases that threaten men in the tropics." (56)The weather was another problem, especially after the rainy season began in October. Sudden squalls drenched the men's clothes and flooded their trenches. The days remained hot, but the nights grew bitterly cold. Rheumatism and pneumonia became serious threats. The situation deteriorated on November 26, when a flood struck Suvla Bay and was followed by a deep freeze.
"On the night of the flood, the water in our support trenches and in the firing line was three feet deep nearly everywhere," Steele wrote on December 4. "...Then when the frost came, it tried us all to the limit and all suffered severely ... We have sent about 150 men to hospital, most of them being for frost burnt feet. We have heard that the 86th Brigade lost 200 men by drowning and exposure and nearly 2,000 were sent to hospital."
Despite the dangers and squalor of trench warfare, the Regiment won its first battle honours at Gallipoli. On the night of November 4, Lieutenant James Donnelly led seven men to a ridge held by Turkish snipers. They fought off three snipers and held the area until reinforcements arrived the following morning.
The ridge was renamed Caribou Hill in the Regiment's honour. Donnelly was later awarded the Military Cross, while Lance-Corporal Fred Snow received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
In the end, the Allied forces could not wrestle control of Suvla Bay from the Turkish Army and evacuated the area between December 18, 1915 and January 9, 1916. The Newfoundland Regiment lost its final man at Gallipoli one day before the withdrawal was complete.
|Cape Helles, Gallipoli.
Photo taken between December 22, 1915 and January 9, 1916.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL B3-15), St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Sgt. C. Garland was sitting on the outside and the percussion before the shell burst overbalanced him. He turned a somersault and as he was falling, he received a wound in the back. There were two others wounded and Pte. Robert Morris was killed. He was the last Newfoundlander to be buried on the Dardanelles and I helped with the stretcher that took him to the grave already dug."
The Gallipoli Campaign had reduced the Newfoundland Regiment to 17 officers and 470 other ranks
Forty-four of its men had died and hundreds more were recovering from enemy fire or disease in military hospitals.
The Regiment withdrew to Egypt for two months of training and recuperation.
In the spring, it was ordered to the River Somme in northern France.
Lieutenant Owen Steele's quotes were transcribed from his diary: Collection 179, Archives and Manuscript Division, QEII Library, Memorial University.
'Capture of the Sugar Factory'
Canadian soldiers take cover behind a boiler as they storm the German stronghold at the sugar factory at Courcelette on the 15th of September 1916.
Notice the close-quarters fighting, including the use of rifles, bayonets, and hand grenades.
'The Capture of the Sugar Refinery at Courcelette' by the Canadians
From a sketch by Fortunino Matania
Beaverbrook Collection of War Art
Medical orderlies tend to the wounded in a trench during the Battle of Courcelette in mid-September 1916. (The wounded soldier seated on the left, displays classic signs of 'shell shock').
Flers-Courcelette marked the Canadians’ first offensive operation of the war. At 6:20 a.m. on Sept. 15, the 2nd and 3rd divisions attacked along with nine British divisions. The village of Courcelette was 2nd Division’s objective. Its 4th and 6th brigades advanced behind a rolling barrage astride the Albert-Bapaume road towards their objectives of Sugar and Candy trenches in front of the village, which intersected about 800 metres from Courcelette, forming an enormous “X.” By 7:30, the two trenches had fallen and the soldiers dug in.
To the left of 2nd Div., 3rd Div. launched 7th and 8th brigades against the strongly defended Fabeck Graben trench line. On the division’s right, 8th Bde. units captured the northern extension of Sugar Trench, clearing the way for the capture of part of Fabeck Graben. Units of 7th Bde. then moved through and by nightfall had captured all but a 250-metre section of the trench.
At 6 p.m. 5th Bde. resumed the attack on Courcelette. After fierce hand-to-hand fighting, the 22nd (French Canadian) and 25th (Nova Scotia) battalions, supported by two tanks, succeeded in capturing the village, while the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion mopped up by-passed Germans among the ruins. Following their usual tactics, the Germans launched violent, repeated counterattacks against the Canadians, which were successfully beaten off. The fighting was so fierce that the Van Doos commanding officer, Lt.-Col. T.L. Tremblay, noted “If hell is as bad as what I have seen at Courcelette, I would not want my worst enemy to go there.” Courcelette became the first of more than 250 villages and towns liberated by the Canadians during the war.
Canadians soldier in a captured German trench during the Battle of Hill 70, near Lens in Belgium during August 1917.
The soldiers on the left are scanning the sky for aircraft, while the soldier in the centre appears to be re-packing his gas respirator into the carrying pouch on his chest. Dust cakes their clothes, helmets, and weapons.
(Canadian War Museum #3395589)
The Battle of Hill 70 was a localized battle of World War I between the Canadian Corps and five divisions of the German Sixth Army. The battle took place along the Western Front on the outskirts of Lens in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France between 15 August 1917 and 25 August 1917.
(Reference Code: C 224-0-0-10-10
Archives of Ontario, I0004820)
(Library and Archives Canada NºO.2246)
The 16th C.M.G. Coy. was the Divisional Reserve MG Company, 4th Canadian Infantry Division.
The machine-gunner closest to the camera, on the left, is Private Reginald Le Brun (790913), he was the only survivor from this photograph.
'Being Alone' by Reginald Le Brun:
“They pushed the machine guns right out in front. There was nothing between us and the Germans across the swamp. Three times during the night they shelled us heavily.....by morning, of our team of six, only my buddy Private Tombes and I were left. Then came the burst that got Tombes.....it was a terrible feeling to be the only one left.”
Margaret Anne Lowe was born on January 26th, 1886, in Elginshire, Scotland.
After moving with her family to Canada, she trained as a nurse at the Winnipeg Civic Hospital.
She enlisted in the Canadian Medical Corp on March 27th, 1917 (Aged 31) and was then shipped to England on June the 8th that same year.
After service/training in the UK, she arrived in France on January 26th, 1918 and was posted with the 10th Canadian Stationary Hospital and subsequently to the 1st Canadian General Hospital on March 8th.
On May 19th, 1918, during an air attack on the hospital, she was severely injured, suffering a fractured skull and chest penetration.
On May 28th, 1918 she died from her wounds and was buried at the Étaples Military Cemetery in France.
Her British War Medal, Victory Medal, Memorial Plaque and Scroll were sent to her father Thomas Lowe in Binscarth, Manitoba.
ANDREW DURNFORD our 3rd Cousin Grandson of Great Uncle AMI Durnford
Canada Private 1st Bn., Canadian Infantry (Western Ontario Regt.) died Monday, April 9, 1917, age 20
Memorial: Vimy Memorial, Pas de Calais, France
Son of William J. and Janet Durnford, Coldwater, Ontario He was born 1897
He was born William Albert Durnford 2nd April 1897
During the attack at Vimy Ridge he was killed instantly by enemy machine gun fire.
The Battle of Arras (also known as the Second Battle of Arras) was a British offensive during the First World War. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. There were major gains on the first day, followed by stalemate. The battle cost nearly 160,000 British casualties and about 125,000 German casualties.
For much of the war, the opposing armies on the Western Front were at a stalemate, with a continuous line of trenches stretching from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. In essence, the Allied objective from early 1915 was to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German army in a war of movement The Arras offensive was conceived as part of a plan to bring about this result
It was planned in conjunction with the French High Command, who were simultaneously embarking on a massive attack (the Nivelle Offensive) about eighty kilometres to the south. The aim of this combined operation was to end the war in forty-eight hours.At Arras the Allied objectives were to draw German troops away from the ground chosen for the French attack and to take the German-held high ground that dominated the plain of Douai.
The British effort was a relatively broad front assault between Vimy in the northwest and Bullecourt in the south-east. After considerable bombardment, Canadian troops advancing in the north were able to capture the strategically significant Vimy Ridge and British divisions in the centre were also able to make significant gains astride the Scarpe river. In the south, British and Australian forces were frustrated by the elastic defence and made only minimal gains.
Following these initial successes, British forces engaged in a series of small-scale operations to consolidate the newly won positions. Although these battles were generally successful in achieving limited aims, these were gained at the price of relatively large numbers of casualties.
|Canadians in the trenches along the road Arras|
|Captured Germans with their injured|
|Behind the Hindenburg Line|
FREDERICK ROY DURNFORD
Private 1st Bn., Royal Newfoundland Regt.
Tuesday, November 20, 1917, age 19
Cemetery: Marcoing British Cemetery, Nord, France
Son of John R.S. and Mary Durnford, Recontre West, Newfoundland
(Note: great-uncle of Cynde Durnford-Branecki)
Frederick was born in Rencontre West, Newfoundland, 6 November 1898. He was the son of John Richard Skinner Durnford and Mary Spencer of Rencontre West in Newfoundland.
He was a bookkeeper before he joined.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
Frederick's lineage is from the Samuel Durnford first recorded in the Durnford files in Newfoundland.
On 19 February 1915 the Newfoundlanders moved to Edinburgh Castle for guard duties.
|Canadians marching to Cambrai|
ERNEST WELLINGTON DURNFORD
Canada Private 38th Bn., Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regt.)
Saturday, August 10, 1918, age 20
Memorial: Vimy Memorial, Pas de Calais, France
Son of James H. and Kate Durnford, 222 Earlscourt Ave., Toronto, Ontario
During an action in the vicinity of Rosieres when under a terrific enemy machine fire he was struck by a bullet in the chest near the hear and almost immediately was unconscious during the short time that elapsed before his death.
Ernest was the son of James Henry Durnford of Ontario and his wife Kate Thorley of England. James was the son of John and Harriet Durnford. However his ancestry is not able to be traced to an original Canadian Durnford.
Rosieres was the scene of heavy fighting between the French Sixth Army and the German First Army at the end of August, 1914. It came within the British lines in February, 1917. With the advance to the Hindenburg Line in the spring of 1917, Rosieres became part of the back area; but in the German offensive of March, 1918, it was reached by the enemy on the 26th. It was defended on the 27th, in the Battle of Rosieres, by the 8th Division and the 16th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery; but these troops had to be withdrawn in the night. On the 9th August, after a stubborn defence, the village was retaken by the 2nd Canadian Division and Tank
The 38th was relieved on March 28th 1918 and went into brigade support, returning to the line on the evening of April 4 ready for the "big show". When the attack began on April 9, the task assigned the battalion was an objective well over the crest of the ridge; before evening, all objectives had been gained. Casualties were about 400 including Lieut. Col. Edwards, who was wounded. Major R. F. Parkinson assumed command of the battalion during Col. Edwards' three-month absence.
The 38th was relieved on April 13 and was withdrawn to Hersin-Coupigny for reorganization. They returned to the line on April 19, taking up a position east of Vimy Ridge near Lens. From June 26–28, the 38th captured the towns of La Coulotte and Avion; meeting particularly stubborn resistance in Avion, the battalion's casualties during this three-day period were about 250.
They were relieved the night of July 1, and withdrawn for three weeks of reorganization and training. King George V inspected the battalion on July 11; August and September were spent in the line at Avion, and on October 4 it was learned that instead of using the Canadian Corps to attack the Mericout-Sallauminee Ridge, they were to be sent back to the Ypres front to take part in the Passchendaele operations.
By mid-October, the 38th was en route to Belgium. On their way a week was spent near Staple; on the last day of their stay there the battalion was inspected by the Duke of Connaught, who had last seen the unit on Parliament Hill in Ottawa during summer 1915. From Staple the 38th moved to Ypres by motor lorries and went into the front line on October 28, attaching to the 12th Brigade on the morning of October 30. The 38th's objective was the outlying defences of the town of Passchendaele, and this had been gained by the end of the day. They were relieved the night of November 3, after suffering about 400 casualties.
On November 5, 1917, the 38th moved From Ypres to Lozinghem for a month's rest and in December again went into the line at Avion. A busy winter was spent in this area, the battalion holding various sectors of the front from Oppy in the south to Loos in the north. The week beginning March 17, 1918, was marked by five separate German raids on the 38th Battalion front in one week. However, not one enemy soldier was able to penetrate the front line. The raiding parties numbered 50 to 200 men each time.
When the German offensive began on March 21, 1918, the 38th were holding the line at Hill 70 and remained there for one week. On March 28 the battalion (along with the rest of the 4th Division) was rushed four miles south to relieve a British division which had been pushed back nearly two miles that day. They remained in this vicinity until the middle of May when the Canadian Corps was withdrawn into GHQ Reserve, where time was spent learning the new kind of warfare which the German offensive had made necessary. The 38th went back into the line just north of Arras on July 19, remaining there until August 2.
The 38th assembled for an attack in the Gentelles Woods (east of Amiens) on the night of August 7, 1918. The first objective was Cayus Wood. This was held until the evening of August 9, when a further advance was made to Rosières. On the morning of August 11, a strong line had been consolidated in the vicinity of Chilli. The Germans launched a counterattack, which was repulsed. The fighting continued until the night of August 13 when the 38th was relieved after playing a prominent role in the advance of 22,000 yards by the Canadian Corps, resulting in the capture of 167 guns, 1,000 machine guns and 10,000 prisoners. Casualties were very heavy.
On August 30 the battalion took part in action east of Feuchy, and on September 1 relieved the 8th Canadian Battalion at Ostrich Trench. The Germans counterattacked and were repulsed; that night, the battalion assembled for an attack the following day on the Canal du Nord.
By the late afternoon of September 2, the battalion reached the summit of Drury Hill. In the evening the Germans made a determined counterattack, but the 38th held on and by the midafternoon of September 3 the position was consolidated
Here the 38th broke the Drocourt-Quéant Line, capturing 325 prisoners, 4 trench mortars and 40 machine guns. The battalion's casualties were 3 officers and 57 other ranks killed, 7 officers and 176 other ranks wounded and 57 missing, for a total of 300.
|They could still have a laugh|
PHILIP JOSEPH DURNFORD
Canada Corporal10th Bn., Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regt.)
Wednesday, October 11, 1916
Cemetery: Contay British Cemetery, Contay, Somme, France Philip joined in Canada.
Philip Joseph Durnford was born in England, and his father was in the Royal Navy in the Coastguard.
His lineage can be traced several generations, back to a William Durnford born around 1760 who married Sarah. Their son however, was another William Durnford who married a Melicent Abbot in London. Given the regular naming of William, he possibly fits into our lineage.
He was killed in action in the vicinity of the towns of Albert, and is remembered in the Contay Cemetery.
The 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force was a Canadian field force unit created during the First World War. Technically distinct from the Militia from which its soldiers were drawn the unit served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), specifically in the 1st Canadian Division from 1914 to 1919. The battalion participated in every major Canadian battle of the First World War, and set a record for the most decorations earned by a Canadian unit in a single battle at Hill 70. The unit was known to its contemporaries simply as The Fighting Tenth.
The 10th Battalion is perpetuated by The Royal Winnipeg Rifles and The Calgary Highlanders.
Ypres, 1915–17 — The Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 was the first major action for the 1st Canadian Division. It was also the first instance on the Western Front of the use of poison gas as a weapon of war. A wide scale German attack using this gas routed two entire French divisions, but the First Canadian Division held firm, at a cost of some 6,000 of its 10,000 men. It was during this battle that the St. Julien battle was fought, and the counter-attack at Kitcheners' Wood was mounted, for which the Oak Leaf shoulder badge distinction was eventually granted.
The Third Battle of Ypres in 1917 describes very large operations in this area, including the Battle of Passchendaele.
Somme, 1916 — The Canadians were not involved in the opening phases of this campaign, which began on 1 July 1916 – the "July Drive." That first day was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army, with 20,000 men being killed and 40,000 more being wounded. That opening day was only the beginning of several months of major operations by both the British and French armies. By the time the battle wound down to an official conclusion in November, hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides of the lines had been killed, and thousands more maimed and injured. The 10th Battalion was involved in a series of operations from 8 September and 17 October, primarily defensive actions which were successful, north of Albert, France near the town of Boiselle.
Thiepval — Thiepval Ridge, near the town of Courcelette, represented a successful offensive operation for the 10th Battalion, fought on 26 September 1916, at the cost of 241 casualties.
Ancre Heights — Another successful defensive battle fought by the 10th Battalion, during the Somme Campaign, near the town of Albert, France. Modest casualties were suffered during the action on 10–11 September 1916.
|With German prisoners|
|A collection of bombs at the field|
|Canadians leaving the Battlefield|
Those that are left behind line the fields and towns everywhere on the Western Front
On the west side of Albert, on the main D929 leading towards Amiens is a Demarcation Stone. This is one of a series erected by the Touring Clubs of France and Belgium after the war, marking the furthest advance of the Germans. This one shows that the Germans did take Albert, briefly, but they did not hold onto it for long.
Demarcation Stone on the outskirts of Albert
From September 1916, Field Ambulances and the 5th Casualty Clearing Station were based at Albert and used the Cemetery extensively. After the front lines moved following the German withdrawal to the Hindenberg line in early 1917, the cemetery was then hardly used for the rest of the War, although in August 1918 following the change of hands of Albert to the Germans and then back to the British, it was used agai
After this webpage was originally published I was contacted by Michel Gravel, who made me aware of the existence of a war time photograph of the Royal Montreal Regiment memorial at Bapaume Post, held by the Library and Archives Canada. This shows the memorial in clear detail, and Michel also told me that the brass plaque from the memorial (which the soldier is looking at) can still be seen today: it now hangs over the bar in the Royal Montreal Regimental Mess in Westmount, Quebec.
The Infantry Forces leaving and with their mascot
A soldier and horse wear gas masks at the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps Headquarters.
************************************************************************************************ Another Unsung Hero - And another Sniper who won the Military Cross
Legendary Ojibwa sniper unsung hero of WW I
Francis Pegahmagabow experienced poverty and racism on return to Canada
From the time he signed on in September 1914, until the war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, Francis fought. In fact, of the over 600.000 Canadians who served, he was one of only 39 in the Canadian Expeditionary Force to be awarded the Military Medal and two bars for valour.
In a quiet corner of the old cemetery on Wasauksing First Nation, his military stone stands alone, But the legend of Cpl. Pegahmagabow has lived on this reserve now for almost a century.
He was a proud member of the Wasauksing First Nation, a musician who, as a young man, also worked on the lake boats as a marine fireman. On one trip, as legend goes, an Ojibwa medicine man told him he would face great danger and gave him a leather medicine pouch to keep him safe..
Then came the First World War, and the call to arms. Early in the war, the Canadian government decided to exclude native Canadians from military service but Pegahmagabow somehow managed to slip through. He was one of the first to sign on with the 23rd northern Pioneers overseas contingent.
“He believed that nothing could happen to him,” said Adrian Hayes, the author of the definitive biography of Pegahmagabow. “Whether you believe these stories about medicine pouches or not, he believed it, and I think that’s why he acted the way that he did...and how he got through it.”
As a sniper, he was deadly accurate, and although difficult to substantiate, he was credited with 378 kills, as well as the capture of 300 prisoners.
His first military medal came in 1916, for facing enemy fire repeatedly to dispatch critical messages. There would be another at Passchendaele in 1917 and yet another for climbing out of a trench under gunfire to resupply ammunition.
Shot once in the leg, downed by pneumonia, he kept on fighting, even when shellfire practically buried him alive.
'When he was in uniform he was considered an equal...by what he could do. When he came back, he just went back to being an Indian. Indians at that time were not even Canadian citizens'- Adrian Hayes, biographerWhen it was over, Francis Pegahmagabow had become the most highly decorated aboriginal soldier in the history of the Canadian military. He returned a hero, but it wouldn’t last.
“When he was in uniform he was considered an equal...by what he could do. When he came back, he just went back to being an Indian. Indians at that time were not even Canadian citizens. They were treated like children and the Indian agents wanted him to basically sit back and shut up and not say anything.”
It’s not something his family likes to talk about now. The war hero faced poverty and persecution, usually at the hands of Indian agents who controlled even his pension, and seemed to block every attempt he made to get ahead.
Francis Pegahmagabow died at 64, his lungs damaged so badly that he had to sleep in a chair to keep them from filling with fluid. On Aug. 5, 1952, a heart attack finally claimed the man his enemies never could.
'I like to think of him as being a warrior in the First World War for Canada, and then he came back and because of the way he was treated, he became a warrior for his own people, and he suffered greatly in both capacities'- Sgt. Peter Moon, CFB BordenBut decades later his legacy lives on in his granddaughter, Teresa, who serves on Wasauksing's band council, and in the many young people who have gone on to sign up to serve.
In 2006, over 80 years after he served, the military finally decided to recognise him, erecting a monument at CFB Borden, and with full military honours, named the building of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol group after him.
“I like to think of him as being a warrior in the First World War for Canada,” said Sgt. Peter Moon of CFB Borden, “and then he came back and because of the way he was treated, he became a warrior for his own people, and he suffered greatly in both capacities.”
“He was standing for equality, not just for natives, but for all Canadians,” said his biographer, Adrian Hayes. He was a real Canadian hero, but to Teresa he’s the grandfather she never knew, and yet, she says he’s somehow been with her all her life.
“I’m sure he’s watching over his family as we do his story … he thought a lot of this First Nation and I’m sure he’ll be watching over us.”
Canadian Geographic was there on July 26, 1936, when more than 6,000 pilgrims from across Canada, many of them veterans of the First World War, gathered with several thousand others in northern France for the dedication of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
Under cloudy skies, King Edward VIII unveiled the 27-metre-high monument, which stands on 100 hectares of land given to Canada by France — a gift of gratitude for the Canadian force’s great sacrifices and its capture of Vimy Ridge from the Germans in April 1917.
By the time of the dedication nearly two decades later, writes contributor W.W. Murray, the French countryside surrounding the monument had all but returned to a natural state, with a few grim reminders of the devastation of the Great War:
The rains do not now convert chalky slopes into impassible quagmires; the sun does not distil the repulsive odours of dead things.
Pleasant woods afford cover to the picnic parties between Thelus and Givenchy-en-Gohelle. Children romp and play round the broken memorial to the 44th Canadian Battalion on the crest of the Pimple.
They slide joyously down the slopes of the mine-craters where men once fought and suffered and died. From dawn to dusk the peasants labour in the fields on Vimy Ridge, reaping a harvest of life from a place where, twenty years ago, the only harvest was death and disablement and sorrow.
Charlotte Wood from Winnipeg, Canada, had five sons killed, and a further two seriously wounded. She was one of three mothers presented to Edward VIII prior to his unveiling of the iconic memorial at Vimy Ridge in northern France in 1936. “I wish your sons were all here,” the King said to her. “Oh, Sir,” cried out the elderly woman, “I have just been looking at the trenches and I just can’t figure out why our boys had to go through that.”
Further research indicates that the claims attributed to Mrs Charlotte Wood are not totally correct.
Courtesy: theMuskokaNovels.com Gabriele Wills, March, 2009 email@example.com
A Song of Winter Weather
It isn't the foe that we fear; It isn't the bullets that whine; It isn't the business career Of a shell, or the bust of a mine; It isn't the snipers who seek To nip our young hopes in the bud: No, it isn't the guns, And it isn't the Huns— It's the MUD, MUD, MUD. It isn't the melee we mind. That often is rather good fun. It isn't the shrapnel we find Obtrusive when rained by the ton; It isn't the bounce of the bombs That gives us a positive pain: It's the strafing we get When the weather is wet— It's the RAIN, RAIN, RAIN. It isn't because we lack grit We shrink from the horrors of war. We don't mind the battle a bit; In fact that is what we are for; It isn't the rum-jars and things Make us wish we were back in the fold: It's the fingers that freeze In the boreal breeze— It's the COLD, COLD, COLD. Oh, the rain, the mud, and the cold, The cold, the mud, and the rain; With weather at zero it's hard for a hero From language that's rude to refrain. With porridgy muck to the knees, With sky that's a-pouring a flood, Sure the worst of our foes Are the pains and the woes Of the RAIN, the COLD, and the MUD.
RHYMES OF A RED CROSS MAN by Robert W. Service [British-born Canadian Poet—1874-1958.] Author of "The Spell of the Yukon", "Ballads of a Cheechako", "Rhymes of a Rolling Stone", etc. New York edition of 1916