Canadian Expeditionary Force, local history, Canada, Ca, Can, Canadian, World War 1, WWI, WW1, First World War, 1916-1918
Canada in Flanders Logo
Canadian Expeditionary Force, Books, local history, Canada, Ca, Can, Canadian, World War 1, WWI, WW1, First World War, 1916-1918
CANADA IN FLANDERS
By SIR MAX AITKEN, M.P.

THE OFFICIAL STORY OF THE
CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
VOLUME I.



CANADA IN FLANDERS
By Sir Max Aitken, M.P.

WITH A PREFACE BY

THE RT. HON. A. BONAR LAW,
M.P., LL.D.,
SECRETARY Of STATE FOR THE COLONIES


AND AN INTRODUCTION BY

THE RT. HON. SIR ROBERT BORDEN,
G.C.M.G., M.P., LLD.,
PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA


FIRST EDITION..... . . . Printed January, 1916.
SECOND EDITION . . . Printed January, 1916.
THIRD EDITION.... . . . Printed January, 1916.
FOURTH EDITION . . . Printed February, 1916.
FIFTH EDITION..... . . . Printed February, 1916.
TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN

NOW SERVING IN THE CANADIAN

EXPEDITIONARY FORCE IN FLANDERS;

AND TO THE MEMORIES OF THOSE

WHO HAVE FALLEN, I DEDICATE

THIS LITTLE BOOK.


PREFACE
By The RT. HON. A. BONAR LAW, M.P.

.....THE author of this book is an intimate personal
friend, and possibly for that reason I take too
favourable a view of his work; but I think he has
already rendered a great service, and not to Canada
alone.
.....As Canadian Record Officer, he published a
glowing account of the part played in the Battle
of Ypres by the Canadian contingent. This account
circulated widely,and it contributed largely to
make the deeds of the soldiers a house-
hold word, not only in the Dominion, but
in the United Kingdom as well.
.....The present work seems to me a model of lucid,
picturesque, and sympathetic narrative, and it will
have,I feel sure, a lasting value.
.....We have a right to feel very proud of the part
which is being played in the terrible tragedy of this
war by the great Dominions of the British Crown.
We had no power to compel any one of them to
contribute a single penny, or to send a single man,
but they have given of their best, not to help us,
though I think they would have done that also, but
to defend the Empire which is theirs as much as
ours.
.....Led by a General who a few years ago was in
arms against us and who is the Prime Minister of
South Africa the Union Government have wrested
from Germany a territory larger than the whole
Empire; and a South African contingent
vii


viii...............CANADA IN FLANDERS.


is now in England ready to play their part on the
battlefields of Flanders.
.....The Australians and New Zealanders have shown
in the Dardanelles that in courage, resourcefulness,
and tenacity better troops have never existed in the
world. Whatever the final result of that operation
may be, the blood which has been shed there has not
been shed mi vain. Not to, Australians and. New
Zealanders alone, but to men of every race through-
out the British Empire, the Peninsula of Gaillipoli
will forever be sacred ground because of the brave
men who lie buried there.

"In glory will they sleep, and endless sanctity."

What Canada has done, and is doing, shines out in
every page of this book. Higher praise could not
be given than was contained in the despatch of the.
Commander-in-Chief after the Battle of Ypres:
"In spite of the danger to which they were exposed,
the Canadians held their ground with a magnificent
display of tenacity and courage, and it is not too
much to say that the bearing and conduct of these
splendid troops averted a disaster which might have
been attended with most serious consequences."
.....Our enemies said, and probably they believed,
that the outbreak of war would be the signal for
the breaking-up of the British Empire. They have
been mistaken. After this war the relations between
the great Dominions and the Mother Country can
never be the same again. The pressure of our
enemies is welding us together, and the British
Empire is becoming in reality, as well as in name,
a united nation.............A. Bonar Law.
COLONIAL OFFICE,
............ December 6th, 1915.
INTRODUCTION

BY RT. HON Sir ROBERT L. BORDEN, G.C.M.G.

.....MORE than a year ago the bugles of the Empire
Sounded throughout the world the call to duty. The
justice of the cause was recognised in every quarter
of the King's dominions, and nowhere more fully
than in Canada; it has since been confirmed by the
judgment of the civilised world. Within a week
Canada had sprung to arms; within three weeks
35,000 men were marshalled on Valcartier Plain,
which had been transformed, as if by magic, into a
great military camp; within six weeks from the out-
break of war a Canadian Division, fully organised
and equipped in every branch of the service, with
a surplus of guns and ammunition nearly sufficient
for another Division, and with a detail of reinforce-
ments amounting to 10,000 men, was. ready to pro-
ceed overseas.
.....Twice in September of last year I saw these forces march past under review by the Duke of Connaught.
Later, I visited every unit of the contingent, ad-
dressed their officers, and bade them all God-speed.
The Armada which left the shores of Gaspé on
October 3rd, 1914, carried the largest army that
ever crossed the Atlantic at one time.
.....In the midst of the following winter they went to
ix


x...............CANADA IN FLANDERS.


the front. Few of them had any previous experi-
ence of war. They had lived in a peace loving
country; they had been gathered from the varied
avocations of our national life; they had come from
the hills and valleys and surf-beaten shores of
the Maritime Provinces; from the banks of the St.
Lawrence and its hundred affluents in the two great
central Provinces; from the mining and lumber
camps of the north; from the broad prairie Pro-
vinces and their northern hinterlands; from the
majesty of the mountains that look to the east upon
the prairies and to the west upon the Pacific; from
the shores of the great western ocean; from all the
far-flung communities of our Dominion they had
hurried, quickly responsive to the call.
.....Almost in the dawn of their experience at the
front there came to them an ordeal such as has
seldom tested the most tried of veterans. An un-
known and terrible means of warfare, which tem-
porarily shattered the gallant forces that held the
line at their left, poured upon them torture and
death. The bravest and most experienced troops
might well have been daunted and driven back by
the fierceness of the onslaught to which they were
exposed and by the horrible methods of the attack.
Assailed by overwhelming numbers on front and
flank, they held their own in a conflict which raged
for days; they barred the path against the German
onrush and saved the day for the Empire, for the
Allies, and for the world.
.....The story of their tenacity, their valour, and their
heroism has been well told in the pages that follow.
But it can never be completely told. Many of those
upon whose memories alone splendid incidents of


PREFACE...............xi


that story were indelibly engraven lie beneath the
sod in Northern France and in Belgium.
.....On more than one stricken field the record thus
made by the 1st Canadian Division has held good.
From the lips of those who fought at Festubert
and at Givenchy, from dauntless survivors of the
Princess Patricia's Regiment, I have heard, in many
a hospital and convalescent home in the Mother-
land, what their comrades had dared and done.
.....No Canadian can ever look forth unmoved upon
that valley where Ypres lies shattered in the dis-
tance, and the sweep of the hills overlooks the
graves of more than 100,000 men who fell because
a remorseless militarist autocracy decreed this war.
.....In the years to come it will be the duty and the
pride of Canada to rear, both in this Dominion and
beyond the ocean, monuments which will worthily
commemorate the glorious deeds of her sons who
offered the supreme sacrifice for liberty and civilisa-
tion.

R. L. BORDEN.

OTTAWA, December 6th, 1915.


" 'Carry the word to my Sisters-
.....To the Queen of the East and the South.
I have proven my faith in the Heritage
.....By more than the word of the mouth
They that are wise may follow
.....Ere the world's war-trumpet blows:
But I -- I am first in the battle,'
.....Said our Lady of the Snows."

-KIPLING.

AUTHOR'S NOTE

..... I am so conscious of the imperfections of the
chapters which follow that I was for long unwilling
to publish them in the form of a book. They were
Written under great difficulties and in many moods;
nor am I unaware that the excuse for collecting
them is very slender. It was, however, represented
to me by persons of much authority, that the sub-
jects dealt with excited an interest so lively in
Canada that imperfections in the workmanship
would be readily overlooked in the Dominion.
.....I therefore publish my impressions of the for-
tunes of the 1st Canadian Division and of Princess
Patricia's Regiment. Some of the scenes described
fell in whole, or in part, under my own observation.
In dealing with others I have had access, in the
discharge of my duties, to a large number of
military diaries and official documents.
.....It may be stated that the greatest care is being
taken by the Canadian Government to collect and
preserve every authoritative document which may
hereafter throw light upon the military history of
the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Nor is there
reason to doubt that the official historian of Canada
(whoever he may prove to be) will find abundant
material for a grave and adequate work. Perhaps




xiv...............CANADA IN FLANDERS

such a one may find here and there in these hurriedly
written pages a contemporary echo, however faint
and elusive, of the clash and passion of war which
the author has attempted to describe.
.....I shall be content if one Canadian woman draws
solace from this poor record of her dead husband's
bravery; if even one reader recognises for the first
time the right of the Canadians to stand as equals
in the Temple of, Valour with their Australian
brothers who fought and died at Anzac; if the task
of consolidating our Imperial resources, which may
be the one positive consequence of this orgy of
destruction, counts one adherent the more among
those who have honoured me by reading these
records.
.....And of Englishmen I ask nothing but that they
shall hereafter think of my countrymen as "Brothers
in whom a man trusts even if a great quarrel arises."

W. M.AITKEN.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

MOBILISATION

Page
War without warning-Canada's loyalty - 1mprovising an
.....Army-Efforts of the Minister of Militia-Camp at Val-
.....cartier-Canadian Armada sails-Arrival at Plymouth-
.....Lord Roberts's Interest-King's visit to Canadian Camp
.....-Training completed-Sailing for France
1
CHAPTER II

WARFARE

"Plug Street"-British Army in being-At General Head-
.....quarters-Rest billets-Mud or death-The trenches-
.....Buzzing bullets-Sir Douglas Haig-The Front-
.....Restrictions on the narrative-Reviewed by Commander-
.....ln-Chief-Canadians In the trenches-Our men take to
.....football-"Jack Johnons"-A German challenge-
.....General Alderson-The General's methods-His speech to
.....the Canadians-A fine Force
15
CHAPTER III

NEUVE CHAPELLE

Canadians' valuable help-A ride In the dark-Pictures on the
.....road-Towards the enemy-At the cross-roads-"Six kil-
.....metres to Neuve Chapeile"-Terrific bombardment-
.....Grandmotherly howitzers-British aeroplanes-Fight with
.....a Taube-Flying man's coolness-Attack on the village-

xv


xvi...............CANADA IN FLANDERS.
German prisoners-A banker from Frankfort-The
..... Indians' pride-A halt to our hopes-Object of Neuve
..... Chapelle-What we achieved-German defences under-
..... rated-Machine gun citadels-Great infantry attack-
..... Unfortunate delays-Sir John French's comments-British
..... attack exhausted-Failure to capture Aubers Ridge-
..... "Digging in"-Canadian Division's baptism of fire-
..... "Casualites"-Trenches on Ypres salient
32
CHAPTER IV

YPRES

Canadian's glory-civilian force-Ypres saliant-Poelcappelle
..... road-Disposition of troops-Gas attack on French-
..... Plight of the 3rd Brigade- Filling the gap-General
..... Turner's move-loss of British guns-Canadian valour-
..... St. Julien-Attack on the wood-Terrible fire-Officer
..... casualties-Reinforcements-Geddes detachment-Second
..... Canadian Brigade bent back-Desperate position-Ter-
..... rible casualties-Col. Birchall's death-Magnificent artil-
..... lery work-Canadian left saved-Canadians relieved-
..... Story of 3rd Brigade-Gas attack on Canadians-Cana-
..... dian recovery - Major Norsworthy killed - Major
..... McCuaig's stand-Disaster averted-Col. Hart McHarg
..... killed-Major Odlum-General Alderson's efforts-
..... British reinforce Canadians-3rd Brigade withdraws-
..... General Currie stands fast-Trenches wiped out-Fresh
..... gas attack-Germans take St. Julien-British cheer Cana-
..... dians - Canadians relieved - Heroism of men - Col.
..... Watson's dangerous mission-The Ghurka's' dead-
..... Record of all units-Our graveyard in Flander's
46
CHAPTER V

A WAVE OF BATTLE

Individual heroism-Canadian tenacity~Before the battle-
..... The civilian element-A wave of battle-New meaning of
..... "Canada "-"Northern Lights "-The fighting pay.
..... master-Major serves as lieutenant-Misfortunes of ~
..... Hercule Barré-"Runners "-A messenger's apology-
CONTENTS................xvii
PAGE
Swimming a moat-Rescue of wounded-Colonel
..... Watson's bravery-Colonel Watson's leadership-His
..... heroic deed-Dash of Major Dyer and Capt. Hilliam-
..... Major Dyer shot-" I have crawled home "-Lieut.
..... Whitehead's endurance-Major King saves his guns-
..... Corpl. Fisher, V.C.-The real Canadian officer-Some
..... delusions in England-German tricks -Sergt. Richard~
..... son's good sense-" No surrender I "-Corpl. Baker's
..... heroism-Bombs from the dead-Holding a position
..... single-handed-The brothers Mclvor-Daring of Sergt.-
..... Major Hall-Sergt. Ferris, Roadmender-Heroism of the
..... sappers-Sergt. Ferris, Pathfinder-A sergeant In com-
..... mand-Brave deeds of Pte. Irving-He vanishes-Absurdi-
..... ties In tragedy-Germans murder wounded-Doctors
..... under fire-The professional manner-Red hour~Plight
..... of refugee~Canadian colony in London-Unofficial In-
..... quiries~Canada's destiny
80
CHAPTER VI

FESTUBERT

Objective of Aubers and Festubert-Allies' co-operation-Great
..... French offensive-Terrific bombardment-British support
..... -Endless German fortresses-Shortage of munition.
..... -Probable explanation-Effect of Times disclosure-
..... Outcry In England-Coalition Government-After Ypres
..... -The Canadian advance-Disposition of Canadians-
..... Attack on the Orchard-Canadian Scottish-Sapper
..... Harmon's exploits~Drawback to drill-book tactics-A
..... Canadian ruse-"Sam Slick"-The Orchard won-
..... Arrival of Second Brigade-The attempt on "Bexhill "-
..... In the German trenches~Strathcona's Horse-King
..... Edward's Horse-Cavalry fight on foot-Further attack
..... on "Bexhill "-Redoubt taken-" Bexhill" captured-
..... "Dig in and hang on"'-Attack on the "Well "-Heroic
..... efforts repulsed~Genera1 Seely assumes command-A
..... critical moment-Heavy officer casualties-The courage
..... of the cavalry-Major Murray's good work-Gallantry of
..... Sergt. Morris and Corpl. Pym-Death of Sergt. Hickey
..... Canadian Division withdrawn-Trench warfare till
.....June
106


xviii...............CANADA IN FLANDERS.

CHAPTER VII

GIVENCHY
PAGE
Minor engagements-A sanguinary' battle-Attacks on "Stony
..... Mountain" and "Dorchester"-Disposition of Canadian
..... troops-An enemy bombardment-" Duck's Bill "-A
..... mine mishap-"Dorchester" taken-A bombing party
..... Coy.-Sergt Major Owen's bravery-Lieut. Campbell
..... mounts machine-gun on Private Vincent's back-How
..... Private Smith replenished the bombers-Fighting the
..... enemy with bricks-British Division unable to advance-
..... Canadians hang on-" I can crawl "-General Mercer's
..... leadership-Private Clark's gallantry-Dominion Day
130
CHAPTER VIII

PRINCESS PATRICIA'S LIGHT INFANTRY

Review In Lansdowne Park-Princess Patricia presents the
..... Colours-South African veterans and reservists-Princess
..... Patricias in the trenches-St. Eloi-Major Hamilton Gault
..... -A dangerous reconnaissance-Attack on a sap-A
..... German onslaught-Lessons from the enemy-A march
..... to battle-Voormezeele-Death of Colonel Farquhar-
..... Polygone wood-Regiment's work admired-A move
..... towards Ypres-Heavily shelled-A new line-Arrival of
..... Major Gault-Regiment sadly reduced-Gas shells-A
..... German rush-Major Gault wounded-Lieut. Niven in
..... command-A critical position-Corporal Dover's heroism
..... -A terrible day-Shortage of small arms ammunition-
..... Germans' third attack-Enemy repulsed-Regiment
..... reduced to 150 rifles-Relieved-A service for the dead-
..... In bivouac-A trench line at Armentiéres-Regiment at
..... full strength again~Moved to the south-Back in billets
..... -Princess Patricias instruct new troops-Rejoin
..... Canadians-A glorious record
144
CHAPTER IX

THE PRIME MINISTER

The Prime Minister's visit-Passing of Politics-End to
..... domestic dissensions-The Imperial idea-Sir Robert's
..... foresight~Arrival in England-At Shorncliffe-Meeting
..... with General Hughes-Review of Canadian troops
..... -The tour in France-A Canadian base hospital-
CONTENTS................ xix
PAGE
A British hospital-Canadian grave~Wounded under
..... canvas-Prince Arthur of Connaught-Visiting battle
..... scenes-Received by General Alderson-General Turner's
..... Brigade-Speech to the men-First and Second Brigades
..... -Sir Robert in the trenches-Cheered by Princess
..... Patricia-Enemy aeroplanes-Meeting with Sir John
..... French-The Prince of Wales-With the French Army-
..... General Joffre-A conference in French-The French
..... trenches The stricken city of Albert-To Paris-The
..... French President-Conference with the French War
..... Minister-Shorncliffe again-Canadian convalescent home
..... -A thousand convalescents-Sir Robert's emotion-His
..... wonderful speech-End of Journey
162
CHAPTER X

THE CANADIAN CORPS

Tranquil Canadian lines-German reconnaissance-Incident
..... at "Plug Street "-Pte. Bruno saves Capt. Tidy-A sniper's
..... month-Sharpshooters' compact-Sergt. Ballendin~The
..... Ross Rifle-"No Man's Land "-Our bombers-Sergt.
..... William Tabernacle-His new profession-General Sir
..... Sam Hughes' visit-Canadian patriotism-Civilian armies
..... -"Last Word of Kings "-Art of the "soldier's speech"
..... Lord Kitchener's inspiration-Lord Roberts and the
..... Indians-General Hughes arrives in France-At British
..... Headquarters-Consultation with King Albert-Meeting
..... with Prince Alexander of Teck-Conference with General
..... Alderson-The second Canadian Contingent-In the firing
..... line-Many friends-General Burstall's artillery-Inspec-
..... tion of cavalry-Meeting with Prince of Wales-The
..... Princess Patricias-Conference with Sir Douglas Haig-
..... General Hughes' suggestion~Meeting with General
..... Foch-lmpressed with General Joffre -The ruin at
..... Rheims-General Hughes' message on departure-A
..... quiet August-Ihe Canadian Corps-General Alderson 's
..... New Command~~An appreciation of a gallant Commander
..... -Conclusion
175

APPENDIX I

THE KING'S MESSAGES TO THE CANADIANS
193


APPENDIX II

CANADIANS IN DESPATCHES>
196


CANADA IN FLANDERS.

PAGE
APPENDIX III
The Prime Minister and the war
207

APPENDIX IV

LIEUT. GENERAL E. A. H. Alderson, C.B, COMMANDING The CANADIAN Corps
228

APPENDIX V

HONOURS AND REWARDS GRANTED
237

APPENDIX VI

STATEMENT OF CASUALTIES
245



Guestbook
Visitor # 30729
webmaster, URL: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk/CanadaInFlanders/index.html
Copyright Dates:
Second Publication: Monday, 12-Mar-2001 21:52:02 MST
First Published: March 1, 2001
CANADA IN FLANDERS

Index

I
Mobilisation


II
Warfare


III
Neuve Chapelle


IV
Ypres


V
A Wave of Battle


VI
Festubert


VII
Givenchy


VIII
Princess Patricia's Light Infantry


IX
The Prime Minister


X
The Canadian Corps


Appendix I
The King's Message to the Canadians


Appendix II
Canadians in Despatches


Appendix III
The Prime Minister and the War


Appendix IV
Lieut.-General E.A.H. Alderson, C.B., Commanding the Canadian Corps


Appendix V
Honours and Awards Granted


Appendix VI
Statement of Casualties