The Story of the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion
From BC to Baisieux by Sgt Leonard McLeod Gould HQ 102nd Canadians WW1
En Route for the Somme-Albert, Tara Hill and Chalk Pits -"Over the Top" at Regina-New German Trench-Connecting Desire and Regina-Out of the Mouth of Hell
LEAVING its pleasant summer quarters at Tournehem on the 3rd day of October, the Battalion set out for the Somme. Opinions differ as to the comparative conditions of the Somme and of Passchendaele which we were destined to visit just a year later, but it is generally agreed that, though the enemy artillery work in the latter area was more intense, and the protection afforded practically non - existent, and though the Passchendaele landscape was dreary in the extreme and the mud intolerable, yet the Somme left a more indelible impression of sordid misery on the minds of those who saw service on both fronts. For a month and a half the battalion struggled in a sea of mud against an implacable enemy and the majority of those who survived to the end regard the Somme tour as the most exhausting and nerve-racking which the battalion undertook throughout its period of service.
Prior to departure every man exchanged his Ross rifle for a Lee Enfield and was issued with one of the new small box respirators which had come to take the place of the old P-H helmets, though the latter were carried for use in emergencies for another eighteen months or so. The new respirators were a great improvement, but it may be said in passing that the battalion as a whole was never called on to undertake any operation on a large scale under conditions which made the wearing of respirators necessary; we never had to face cloud gas and though in later days we were constantly harassed by gas shells, these were purely local in their effects and rarely necessitated the wearing of the respirator for any length of time.
An afternoon's march on October 3rd brought the battalion to Audruicq at 5.30 p.m., where train was taken for Doullens, which was reached twelve hours later; Doullens is a fair sized town with tempting out-door cafés, but we were not destined to gain any enjoyment therefrom, marching direct from the station through the town, to Gézaincourt, where were billeted for the night. Gézaincourt proved to be larger than the majority of villages, boasting an extensive hospital building. Hence we proceeded on Oct. 5th to Val de Maison where the night was spent under canvas. The following days march brought us to Vadincourt, an apology for a hamlet lying on the hill.. above Contay where Canadian Corps Headquarters had been established. Vadincourt remains a damp and dismal memory of rain soaked shelters erected in a dripping wood on soggy soil. Here we stayed for three days during the course of which an attack scheme for later use was assiduously practised. On Oct. 10th we left Vadincourt and marched into Albert towards the end of the afternoon.
For the next six weeks Albert was to be our Base Headquarters; here the Transport Lines, which comprised, in addition to the Transport, the Quartermaster's Stores, the Paymaster's Office and the Base Orderly Room, were situated. It was the first time we had seen ruin on a large scale-and from the weird statue of the Virgin and Child suspended at right angles from the topmost pinnacle of the Cathedral to the shattered cellar of a beggar's hovel, everything impressed the beholder with the same dull feeling of stark misery. Albert was not wholly destroyed; many civilians still remained and some continued to run their little businesses, but for the most part the place was deserted. The Hun maintained a desultory bombardment of the town and occasional enemy aeroplanes circled above, but few bombs were dropped; it was not till later that the Transport Lines by night became as dangerous as the front line by day. For some reason or other, which possibly the psychologists can explain, the bombardment of a town reacts more violently on the nerves than a bombardment in the open, and during our stay in this sector the men from the front line could always count on amusing stories of temporary shell-shock being retailed for their benefit when they returned for a brief spell of rest. It would be invidious to recall such stories in a publication of this nature, but some of those who read these lines will be able to supplement them with many an instance of a grimly jesting nature.
On arrival at Albert the troops were billeted for the night, but a small party of officers was detailed to go forward and visit the front line, which at this time was situated between Death Valley and Regina Trench. On the following day the four companies went out some two miles and took up their quarters on Tara Hill, an eminence west of Albert on the Bapaume Road, and camped under bivouacs. From Tara Hill half the Headquarters Details, including the Band, were sent forward another five miles to Bailey Woods, a treeless area in Sausage Valley, where the 11th Brigade Headquarters had been established. This party was to be used as a night carrying party, and did yeoman service throughout the early part of the tour, after which they were relieved. For six days the companies remained at Tara Hill, organizing for the offensive which was to develop on the 21st and practising the attack. During this period. Lieuts. J. Mont and G. Ledingham reported for duty.
It was a busy scene on which the men looked down from their camp on the top of Tara Hill. The Albert-Bapaume Road was literally alive by day and night with a never-ending stream of vehicles of all kinds travelling east or west; lorries ladened with ammunition going east, or crowded with weary soldiers coming west, ambulances, ration waggons, motor-cycles, all the traffic of an army actively engaged poured ceaselessly back and forth along this main highway which miraculously escaped complete destruction by the enemy's artillery. About four miles east of Albert the road forks into a "'Y", here at the apex once stood the village of La Boisselle of which one stone did not remain upon another; close by were, two enormous craters worthy of notice. The left fork carried on past Pozières, a mere geographical expression of which no trace remained, to the Sunken Road and thence to the German positions astride Bapaume; at the Sunken Road Tenth Street afforded a safe passage-way to the ill-omened but well-named Death Valley, on the eastern side of which lay the then front line. The right fork at La Boisselle ran up to Contelmaison, of which but a few cellar stones remained, and here a track diverged to Sausage Valley past the Chalk Pits which we were to know so well before we left the Somme. From Sausage Valley, a trail followed later by a light railway, ran across the ghastly Plain of Courcelette, reeking with the debris, human and otherwise of battle. Doré could have found no finer inspiration for his illustrations of the "Inferno' than the scene presented on a wet November evening by the Plain of Courcelette.
At Tara Hill we remained until the 18th, which was to mark the first step in the series of operations which culminated in the capture of Regina Trench, the first great achievement of the 102nd Bn., and it was during this period of waiting that the practice of referring to the companies by numerals was abandoned in favor of alphabetical letters, No. 1 Co. becoming "A" Co. and so on. Regina Trench had already been the object of two determined attacks by the Canadian Corps, the first commencing on Oct. 1st, and the second on Oct. 8th. In both attacks the trench had been reached, but violent counterattacks had forced a retirement from the position when won, and it was left for the 4th Canadian Division both to capture and to hold this important position. As the three senior Divisions had been withdrawn from the area immediately after the arrival on the scene of the 4th Division, the latter was attached to the 2nd Corps for all its operations on the Somme. The following narrative of the capture is taken from the official report of the operation forwarded by Colonel Warden to 11th Brigade Headquarters, and only concerns that portion of Regina Trench which was allotted to the 102nd Bn. as its objective.
On the evening of Oct. 18th the 102nd Bn. took over from the 87th Bn. the front line trenches on the left sector of the Brigade, situated on a line running from R. 18, c. 4, 0. to M. 13, d, 2, 2., this being a front of 500 yards extending from Courcelette Trench on the left flank to Ross Communication Trench on the right. The night, was very dark and it was raining hard, so that the ground was a sea of mud with quagmires on every side, making the trenches almost impassable. As the men were lining up in the Support Trench the enemy delivered a bombing attack on the left flank of the 87th Bn. Word was passed down that the Hun was attacking and that the 102nd was to come up on the double. This was done in absolute silence and as the men passed Headquarters, jumping over trenches and shell-holes, they looked like phantoms in the dark, illumined by the light of German flares and leaping to the crash of bursting shells. Here and there a man was seen to fall, the shelling being very heavy, but the bombers were driven off and the rest of the night spent in preparation for the morrow's work. Rain continued and throughout the night there was constant shelling.
Day broke with rain pouring down in torrents, making the ground absolutely impassable and the Higher Command decided to postpone operations until the 21st inst. "B", "C", and "D" Coys. therefore returned to camp at Tara Hill, leaving "A" Co. to hold the line. Never did the men of the 102nd better deserve their reputation for physique and tenacity of purpose than in their fight against the mud after their exhausting night in the trenches. The mud was hip-high between the trenches and the Bapaume Road and the men had to be literally dug out by their comrades as they sank exhausted in the liquid, glue-like substance. The weather cleared, the ground becoming somewhat more dry and on the evening of the 20th the three companies were again brought into the front line, relieving "A" Co. which went into Support. During the night of Oct. 20-21 the three companies worked hard at digging assembly trenches in which to mass and at forming battalion dumps; the men worked magnificently and at dawn all was ready.
Zero hour was fixed for 12-06 P.m. and at that hour the barrage opened and the men of the 102nd went "over the top"; following the barrage like a wall lying down until it again lifted and advancing as it moved, all in perfect uniformity. The first two waves consisted of "C" Co. under Maj. J. S. Matthews on the left and "B" Co. under Maj. H. E. H. Dixon on the right. The remaining two waves were furnished by "D" Co. under Major G. Rothnie. The moment that the barrage lifted over Regina Trench the men were over the parapet; the assault was carried out with such dash, vigour and impetuosity that the Germans were completely demoralized and immediately threw up their hands in surrender. The first wave passed 150 yards beyond the trench, forming a screen; the second rounded up the prisoners and consolidated the positions secured, in which they were assisted by men of the third wave, whilst the fourth wave was occupied in carrying up supplies from the old dumps to the new. For his magnificent services in this work of consolidation under heavy fire Lieut. R. P. Matheson received the Military Cross. The casualties sustained in the assault itself were very light, amounting to about five killed and ten wounded, as the enemy barrage did not come down until about six minutes after ours had started; the Germans, however, had suffered heavily and their trench was piled with dead and wounded.
Our casualties were to occur later, when within an hour and a half, three separate counter-attacks were launched; these were all successfully opposed, but during the remainder of the day and the ensuing night and day, when "A" Co. under Capt. J. F. Brandt arrived to; relieve "D" Co., a constant barrage of shell fire was poured into our positions, with the result that the total casualty list showed six officers and 46 Other Ranks killed with eight and seventy wounded.
On the night of the 23rd the battalion was relieved by the 54th. and the men marched to the Chalk Pits, half a mile south of Pozières, where they went into dug-outs for rest and reorganization.
There were many individual deeds of heroism, but the following incidents may serve to illustrate the spirit of the battalion. Although seven machine guns were in action only four of the original six which started were among that number; two were hopelessly bogged and these were actually replaced during the operation by guns brought up with the utmost difficulty from reserve, whilst the seventh was resurrected from the old line of trenches and put into working order under heavy fire. The Machine Gun Section, which was under the Command of Lieuts. J. M. Whitehead and J. H. Grant, the latter being mortally wounded, sustained 30 casualties out of 70 men engaged; of these, Sgt. M. M. Brown, though severely wounded refused to leave his guns until a proper state of defence had been organized. For his supreme courage and devotion this gallant N.C.O. was awarded the D.C.M. The Report goes on to make special mention of the work done by the Battalion Scouts under Capt. A. C. Trousdale in keeping open communications between Headquarters and the front line, and by the Runners and Signallers; the former were in constant use under very heavy fire, but only sustained one casualty, young Stanley Wolverson, who, after being twice wounded in the leg, accepted the advice of his officer, Lieut. R. D. Forrester, that he go to the Dressing Station for treatment only on condition that he might take a prisoner with him; the latter had a particularly hazardous task, the wires being frequently broken and needing constant repair under heavy fire. The Stretcher-bearers also did magnificent work, many, though wounded, persisting in their task of tending the casualties. It was on such an errand that Lieut. A. Carss, though not a member of the Medical Detail, met with his death; he went to succour a wounded Hun who treacherously hurled a bomb at him causing fatal injuries. In this connection it may be mentioned that all prisoners taken had bombs in their pockets, in their haversacks and slung round their necks. Just two more instances of the unquenchable spirit exhibited by thee men on this historic occasion-Pte. A. E. BaiIey of "C" Co. had his foot blown off; he rendered himself first aid and in the early hours of the morning of the 22nd was seen hobbling along on his stump towards the new trench; when drawn up over the parapet he lay down apparently oblivious of his own agony to discuss the events of the previous day. L.-Cpl. W. Miller of the Scouts when lying mortally wounded, remembered orders and handed his prismatic compass to a comrade saying "Give this to the captain; I have no further use for it."
Such is the Story of the 102nd's share in the capture of Regina Trench. It was a great achievement, and in recognition of his valuable services in this operation Lieut. Colonel Warden was later in the year awarded the D.S.O.
But the success was a costly one and the casualty figures given above witness the price paid and include the following officers: Killed-Capt. R. W. Nicholls, Lieuts. A. Carss, T. P. Copp, McL. Gordon, J. H. Grant (died of wounds), and C. T. Rush. Missing, believed killed - Major G. Rothnie. Wounded Majors H. E. H. Dixon, J. S. Matthews; Capts. W,.J. Loudon, J. E.
Spencer; Lieuts. L. J. Bettison, A. G. MacDonald, J.H. Wilson.
For twelve days the battalion remained in the Chalk Pits, a muddy depression honeycombed with in-adequate shelters, lying between Headquarters at Bailey Woods and Pozieres. The weather was wet and the chalky soil was quickly reduced to a deep stickiness which made every movement a labour; a battery of "Heavies" had taken up its position in the same area and the resultant din added greatly to the general discomfort. During this period working parties were requisitioned regularly for the units in the line, or to construct the great sand-bag wall which was to protect the South-western end of Death Valley. This was a tremendous undertaking of great importance. Death Valley had well earned its name. Lying as it did between our base and the front and being under direct observation by the enemy who raked it constantly with shell and machine gun fire, it had proved a veritable death-trap. For the protection of the troops huge barricade of sand-bags was erected across the valley and it long remained as a monument to the devotion of the 102nd Bn., which was largely responsible for its completion. The work entailed on the carrying parties was exhausting in the extreme; it must be remembered that everything that went forward of the Sunken Road, about two miles east of Pozières, had to be taken in by hand; the light railways which were to prove such a boon in other sectors were practically useless in the Somme, as they were destroyed by shell-fire as soon as laid. Every shell for the Field Guns had to be packed in by mule teams; drinking-water had to be carried through miles of trench system in converted gasoline tins, and every man had to carry in addition to his burden his full fighting equipment. Add to this the handicap which the mud and darkness entailed and the reader will have some faint idea of the exhausting strain placed upon the troops when in Reserve after a front line tour. And then a paragraph like the following is to be found in the Regimental Diary: "Oct. 29th Church Parade was ordered for 9.45 a.m., but owing to inclement weather this had to be cancelled." Thank God sometimes for the rain; these Church Parades on active service, especially when called in the Forward Area, were the grimmest and ghastliest of service jokes, and provocative of more blasphemy and discontent than any active operation.
It may be well here to make mention of two special features in the modern army for the initiation of which the 102nd Bn. is entitled to a full share of credit. The one was the Tump-line Section for packing supplies up the line. All Western Canadians know what the Tump-line is, but for the benefit of others it may be explained as an old time Indian device for packing an extraordinary amount of material by the scientific distribution of weight; the tump-line passes over the forehead down the back. We had many men, strong huskies from the Interior and Northern Coast regions of British Columbia, who were experts in tumping and long before the system was in general operation throughout the Corps the 102nd contingent of the 11th Brigade Tump-line Section under Cpl. Raymond had become famous as phenomenal packers, who could carry anything, anywhere, in record time. The second feature was the Hot Food Container, which later became standardized as a sort of gigantic Thermos flask adapted for the back, but it had its origin in a much more simple device, credit for which was due to our Quartermaster, Capt. F. Stead. The question of the feasibility of conveying hot food up to the men in the front had been mooted by Brigade and suggestions called for and it was Capt. Stead who was responsible for the scheme employed. This took the form of gasoline tins packed tightly round with paper and carried in remade biscuit tins; it was found that the paper proved an excellent nonconductor and the contents of the interior tin reached the men fairly-hot after six hours.
On Nov. 4th we marched back to Albert where we remained for four days, returning to Chalk Pits for one night, preparatory to our second tour in the line which commenced on Nov. 9th. At 1.00 p.m. on the latter date the battalion fell in under the command of Major C. B. Worsnop and marched to Brigade Headquarters, where the men were issued with gum boots for use in the slime, of the front line. It was a glorious day; a bright sun blazing in a cloudless sky showed up in sharp relief the horrors of the devastated plain round Courcelette, pocked-marked with shell-holes, dotted with fragments of discarded equipment, with here and there a mouldering corpse of man or horse, but it was dusk when the battalion finally marched off from Brigade Headquarters and darkness had fallen before the men had relieved the 75th Bn., and taken up their appointed stations, "A" and "C" Cos. in Regina Trench; "B" Co. in the old front line trench, "D" Co. in Sugar Trench. The weather continued to improve and the Higher Command decided that the time was ripe for seizing the hitherto unoccupied portion of Regina Trench which was still in German hands and was separated from our men by an extensive block. The 102nd Bn. was on the spot and, with the 47th co-operating on the right, was ordered to assault the position and also to storm a new trench running north from Regina, recently constructed by the Hun and known as New German Trench.
The ranks of the 102nd Bn. were woefully thin; death, wounds and sickness had claimed many; a large number were in Brigade employ, serving in the Tump-line "or Pack-train - including Headquarters Staff, Medical Details, Runners and Signallers, who, though essential, cannot be included in the effective fighting strength of a battalion, only 375 men had marched out and the task set was no light one. To "C" Co. under Lieut. R. P. Matheson, numbering 50 men, to whom were added 20 men from "A" Co., was assigned the offensive on Regina; "D" Co., under Lieut. Mackenzie numbering 76, was to attack the new trench. The balance of "A" Co. was appointed as a carrying party, and "B" Co was held in reserve. Midnight of Nov. 10-11 was the hour when the barrage would start, lasting eight minutes and then lifting 150 yards, when the two assaults were to be delivered. During the course of the evening Capt. A. C. Trousdale, commanding our Scouts, who was later severely wounded, reported that the enemy was effecting a strong relief and that New German Trench was being held in strength.
It was a brilliant night; a full moon was shining in a cloudless sky, and everything was as easily visible as in the day-time. This was in favor of the attacking force, who possessed all the psychological advantages offered by a night attack undiminished by the handicaps imposed by darkness. At midnight the barrage started and at 12.30 a.m. a runner, reached Headquarters with the news that "C" Co. had gained their objective, but had had to extend considerably to the right to keep in touch with the 47th. In the end it was found that this company was occupying and holding 350 yards more than its allotted portion. At 12.35 the news came in that "D" Co. had been similarly successful and an hour later the first batch of prisoners arrived, to be closely interrogated by the Brigadier who spent the night in Battalion Headquarters. The objectives had been gained, but the enemy was not disposed to part with them without a final struggle. Fierce counter-attacks were launched and Lieuts. Matheson and Sturgeon were badly wounded. At 2.30 a.m. Lieut. Lister was ordered to take up reinforcements from "A" Co. and assume command of operations in Regina Trench, which he did with success. Such alarmist reports, however, continued to come in through the medium of casualties that at 4.15 General Odlum took charge of the operation himself and eased the situation by directing a well-sustained artillery fire against the massing Huns. It was during these counter attacks that the majority of our casualties were incurred, the Hun maintaining a hail of shells on all our positions. The Regimental Aid Post, or Dressing Station, in the Red Chateau at the north end of Death Valley became the centre of a particularly, fierce bombardment and a report reached Headquarters that all the occupants had been buried. A rescue party under Lieut.J. B. Bailey was hastily organized and went out armed with shovels, only to find that the report was luckily false. By morning positions had been consolidated and once more the 102nd Bn. had a fine achievement to its credit, as is shown by the following letter which was read out aloud on parade in Albert on the 13th.
"Dear Colonel Warden:-.
"I want to congratulate you and through you all the officers and men of your, battalion who took part in it, on last night's splendid operation. It was one of the best I have seen. The Divisional Corps and Army Commanders also send their congratulations. Special commendation is due to Major Worsnop, Capt. Trousdale, Lieut. Lister; Lieut. Mackenzie and Lieut. Matheson. The 102nd Bn. has now carried out two successful operations and I am exceedingly proud of it. The battalion has already established a record to live up to.
"V. W. ODLUM,
"Commdg. 11th C.I.B."
For conspicuous services in the field, Lieut. Lister was awarded the Military Cross and Sergt. E, W. Holbrook the D.C.M., the latter storming single-handed a machine gun post, accounting for its defenders and capturing the weapon intact. To illustrate the dash and enthusiasm of the men and to emphasize the difficulties under which operations were carried out during that season of the year the following is recorded. As mentioned above, gum boots had been issued for use during the time that the men were in the trenches the mud was so deep and so sticky that the men literally had to pull their feet out of their boots and then their boots out of the mud. In the assault at least three men sprang to the charge leaving their boots sticking behind them and covered the ground to the opposing parapet and went over the latter in stockinged feet.
Such was the second successful operation of the 102nd Bn., who returned to Albert on the following evening, once more to reorganize and to await the next call to duty; nor did they have long to wait. On the 17th the battalion once more found itself encamped at Brigade Headquarters supplying working parties, and two days later orders were suddenly received to relieve the 75th Bn. in the front line. Two hours after receipt of the order the battalion with Lieut.-Colonel Warden in command ploughed its way in the gathering dusk through the familiar mud of Courcelette. The night was more than usually dark and the mud worse than ever; in consequence it was not until the early hours of the 20th that final relief was effected. This meant that the men had been struggling through natural difficulties for many hours before their real ordeal commenced. Throughout the coming tour of duty our men found the Germans even more active and aggressive than on previous occasions. Though there was no "going over the top" the tour was a heavy one. The battalion was beginning to feel exhausted before going in and the long stretch of hard work under particularly galling conditions tried the men severely. More over a paralyzing blow had been sustained during the brief spell spent out of the front line; orders had been received from Brigade that for the future the rum issue for all units of the 11th Brigade would be discontinued. What gratuitous hardship this deprivation under conditions obtaining on the Somme entailed on the men no pen can describe; in wet and cold and mud rum is no longer "The Demon Rum; it is "The Life Saver," the one thing which restores the frozen circulation and combats the deadening chill. But the decree went, forth and for four months spent in the raw and bitter Somme area and later on the wild and freezing slopes of Vimy Ridge the 11th Brigade struggled to its duties unsustained by the one drop of comfort which is laid, down in K. R. & O. as a permissible issue. To add insult to injury hot soup was substituted which always came up the line over salt, increasing the thirst which even before was a recognized torture of a front line where water had to be hauled up on men's backs, and earning for the 11th Brigade the unenviable cognomen of "The Pea-Soup Brigade." May the Moral Reformer and the Teetotal Crank gain comfort to their souls by the reflection that for four months some 4,000 men had their hardships increased by the cruel enforcement of their bigoted doctrines. And these men were all volunteers.
For 96 hours the battalion remained in the trenches, working by night at the construction of a long communication trench running north-west from Regina to a trench known as Desire which had been captured on, the 18th by units of the 4th Division, and withstanding by day very heavy shelling and persistent sniping. It was originally intended that this digging was to be but the prelude to another offensive which the 102nd would undertake, but it was found that the total length of the trench would have to be much greater than at first contemplated and that it would be impossible to get the work finished within the scheduled time. So the offensive was abandoned, but the battalion found that the work of digging was 'to tax its strength severely. For two nights work was maintained under heavy fire by the companies assisted by parties from the 67th Bn. and the Engineers, the men digging towards each other from either end and covered from surprise attacks by a screen of Scouts who on the first night with the co-operation of a carrying-party of the 67th succeeded in enclosing an enemy patrol which had wandered through their outposts and was successfully accounted for. Before dawn on the 22nd the trench was completed and on the evening of the 23rd the last tour on the Somme came to an end, the 102nd being relieved by the 47th Bn. and returning to billets in Albert with another fine piece of work to its credit. Our casualties numbered Major K. G. Mackenzie, O.C. "D" Co and four O. R. killed; Major A. B. Carey, who had recently joined us from the 67th, and, 40 O. R. wounded.
The tour on the Somme was now completed; at length, the Division was to move and take up its position with the other three Divisions, of the Canadian Corps on the slopes of Vimy and on Nov. 26th the battalion paraded for the last time in Albert and set out on a long six days' march to the new area, completely outfitted with Web equipment which had been issued in Albert to replace the old Oliver equipment which we had brought with us from Canada.
The morning of the 26th broke wet and it was through a dismal rain that we started off over the muddy roads which were crowded with traffic to our first halting place, Léonvillers, which we reached in the late afternoon. It was bitterly cold, and the billets were very poor; to add to our discomfort the Transport was held up by traffic, took a wrong turning and did not arrive with the kitchens until midnight. The following night one officer and nine men left on the first allotment of leave, which had come to us rather earlier than anticipated; but this allotment did not last long and it was late summer before leave opened at all generously. On Nov. 30th we left Léonvillers and marched nine miles to Authieule, leaving early on, the next morning on a twelve mile march to Noeux; here the greatest difficulty was encountered in obtaining sufficient fuel to cook the men's supper, Fileveres was our next objective, quite the pleasantest village we had visited since Tournehem and one capable of catering to the thirsty needs of men fresh from the line; another twelve miles saw us at Monchy on Dec. 3rd; -a straggling village where, the companies were widely dispersed; here we received a hundred reinforcements and so strengthened we faced the last spell of marching on a glorious frosty morning on Dec. 4th and covered twelve miles to La Comté, where good billets were provided against a prolonged stay. Here we may be said to have closed the chapter on the Somme preparatory to continuing our history on Vimy Ridge.
"SOMME, 1916", "Ancre Heights", "Ancre, 1916", "ARRAS, 1917, 18", "VIMY, 1917", "Hill 70", "YPRES, 1917", "PASSCHENDAELE", "AMIENS", "Scarpe, 1918", "Drocourt-Queant", "HINDENBURG LINE", "CANAL du NORD", "VALENCIENNES", "France and Flanders, 1916-18".
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