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«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»

-- [ Page 17 ] --

This reorganisation was effected by the expansion of the three Field Companies then with each Division into one Engineer Brigade, consisting of three Engineer Battalions and a Pontoon Bridging and Transport Unit. The additional personnel required was furnished by the absorption into the new Units of the following:—107th, 2nd, 123rd, 124th Canadian Pioneer Battalions, 1st and 2nd Tunnelling Companies, C.E., and the three Field Companies of the 5th Canadian Division Engineers.

Motor transport was included in the establishment, and later a Canadian Engineer Motor Transport Company was formed.

Corps Operations. 123 and to deal with returned casualties, was also being revised and improved.

The following organisation was finally put into force:—

INSERT CHART AS IMAGE

The number of reinforcements maintained was increased so as to meet the increased establishments, and at the same time great attention was paid to the training of those reinforcements by the specially selected officers placed on the staffs of all Units of the C.C.R.C.

The provision of a Staging Camp enabled reinforcements to be handled quickly without moving the C.C.R.C., no matter where the Canadian Corps was engaged.

The areas where the Reinforcement Camp Wings and Schools of the Canadian Corps were established were now congested with troops and within range of shell-fire since the advance of the Germans in the Lys Valley. These Units not being mobile, and the eventual movements of the Canadian Corps being rather uncertain, all Divisional Wings, Reinforcement Camps, and Schools were removed from the Corps area and concentrated in the Aubin St. Vaast area, where suitable Camps were constructed by our Engineers.

Training.—As soon as the Corps was out of the line intensive training in open warfare offensive tactics was begun.

General Staff, General Headquarters, were publishing from time to time translations of captured German documents bearing on the latest tactics, and supplemented these by " Notes on Recent Fighting," dealing with the lessons of the fighting then in progress, both from the point of view of offence and defence. These documents were carefully studied and, to a large extent, inspired our training.

Detailed instructions were issued by Canadian Corps at various times precising the methods of Employment of 124 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

Artillery, Engineers, and Machine Guns in combination with the tactics of the Infantry.

The laying down of a definite Corps tactical doctrine was necessary by reason of the different organisation, the greater strength, and the particular methods which characterised the Canadian Corps.

It was not possible to forecast the length of time the Canadian Corps would be out of the line, and under these circumstances it was decided that combined training by Brigades should be given precedence to familiarise the Commanders and Staffs with the handling of troops in open warfare, and so give the different Arms and Services an opportunity of practising co-operation and mutual support.

Concurrently with this Tactical Training, the closest attention was paid to individual training, particularly to musketry in all its phases.

In the early part of June, in view of the good progress made, I directed that all Commanders should now concentrate on the training of smaller Units, especially the Platoon.

Many tactical schemes were carried out during May, June, and July, each emphasising some definite lesson, more particularly how to overpower resistance in an area defended by machine guns in depth by using covering fire and smoke grenades ; how Batteries of Machine Guns should co-operate in assisting Infantry to get forward ; and how sections of Field Artillery could best carry out an advance in close support of attacking Infantry.

During this period means were devised for making Stokes guns and 6 in. Newton T.M.'s more mobile, and special mountings were designed, manufactured and tested. The calibration of field guns was also carefully carried out, and experiments made on the use of High Explosive for barrages.

Preparations were being made in the meanwhile to recapture Merville and part of the Lys salient. This operation, for the purpose of maintaining secrecy, was always referred to as Delta.

The preparations for the projected " Delta " attack exercised a most vivifying influence on the training of the Canadian Corps; it familiarised all Arms and Services with the difficulties, both administrative and tactical, inherent to a surprise attack intended to penetrate suddenly to a great depth.

Corps Operations. 125 Relief of 2nd Canadian Division.—The 2nd Canadian Division had been in the line since March 30, and I was most anxious that it should be relieved.

I had made representations to this effect from time to time, but the situation was such that no troops were available for this relief.

On June 24 it was arranged, however, that the 3rd Canadian Division would be transferred to the Third Army area from General Headquarters Reserve and would relieve the 2nd Canadian Division in the line. On completion of relief, the 2nd Canadian Division would come under Canadian Corps in General Headquarters Reserve, First Army area.

This relief was carried out and completed on the morning of July 1, at which date the disposition of the Canadian Corps was as follows :— In General Headquarters Reserve. First Army Area.





Headquarters Canadian Corps

1st Canadian Division

2nd Canadian Division

4th Canadian Division

74th British Division

In the Line. Under VI. Corps. Third Army Area.

3rd Canadian Division

Dominion Day.—Since the arrival of the Canadians in France the celebration of Dominion Day had always been made the event of the year, but never before had it been so brilliant as on July 1, 1918.

The sporting events were keenly contested, and nothing could have been finer than to see the thousands of clean-limbed, healthy, sun-burned young Canadian soldiers who congregated for this occasion.

The Duke of Connaught, the Prime Minister of Canada, and a number of other distinguished Canadian visitors, together with a large concourse of British officers from the neighbouring formations, were interested spectators.

In addition to the Corps sports, the Divisions had arranged various entertainments, and these were greatly appreciated by the men.

–  –  –

and the relief was carried out, being completed at 10.00 a.m., July 15, when I assumed command of the XVII. Corps front.

Disposition at that time was as follows:— Headquarters Canadian Corps

2nd Canadian Division, in the line............ Telegraph Hill Section.

1st Canadian Division, in the line............. Feuchy-Fampoux Section.

4th Canadian Division, in the line............. Gavrelle-Oppy Section.

Under VI. Corps. Third Army Area.

3rd Canadian Division, in the line............ Neuville-Vitasse Section.

General Situation.—The Germans had not attacked again on the north-east portion of the Western Front, but they had secured considerable success elsewhere, and the general situation was still very threatening. (See Sketch No. 7.) On May 27 they had struck a very heavy blow between Reims and Soissons and advanced rapidly on the following days as far south as the Marne, capturing Soissons and ChateauThierry.

Again on June 9 they had struck between Soissons and Montdidier and captured the Massif of Lassigny. This attack had met with only partial success and very severe losses had been inflicted on the Germans.

On July 15 two other powerful attacks were launched as part of the same plan ; the one east of Reims in the direction of Chalons, and the other south-west of Reims in the direction' of Epernay. All news received during the day indicated that the Germans were being repulsed east of Reims with overwhelming losses, and although they had succeeded in crossing the Marne south-west of Reims, the situation appeared to be well in hand and the Germans were suffering heavily.

Everywhere on the Allied Front minor enterprises of everincreasing magnitude seemed to indicate that the time of passive resistance was definitely past.

–  –  –

The relief of the XVII. Corps by the Canadian Corps on July 15, after the Corps' long period of rest and training, with the attendant movement and activity, made the enemy alert and anxious as to our intentions on this front. He was successful in securing identifications at various points of our line, which he penetrated by raiding.

Corps Operations. 127 As it was desired to keep him fully occupied on our front, the Artillery activity was, increased and our Infantry engaged in vigorous patrolling and raiding.

This change of attitude confirmed the enemy in the opinion he had already formed, that an attack on this front was impending. Prisoners belonging to different Units which we captured in various parts of our front made repeated statements to that effect, and also disclosed the fact that two additional Divisions had been brought into the line.

On the night 18th/19th the Telegraph Hill front held by the 2nd Canadian Division was taken over by the 1st Canadian Division, and the former came into General Headquarters Reserve at 12 hours' notice in the Le Cauroy Area. On the same night the 4th Canadian Division extended their line, taking over the left Brigade front of the 1st Canadian Division.

The reason given for this sudden readjustment was that an attack on the Second Army was impending.

On the afternoon of the 20th, Major-General J. H. Davidson, General Staff, Operations, General Headquarters, called at Corps Headquarters and explained that the Commander-inChief was considering a scheme submitted by the G.O.C. Fourth Army for freeing the Amiens-Paris Railway. He stated that the Commander-in-Chief proposed to use the Canadian Corps in this operation if the scheme was approved. It was the intention to effect a surprise, and therefore absolute secrecy was required.

On the following day, July 21, I attended a conference at Fourth Army Headquarters, where the operations contemplated were discussed.

The Fourth Army Commander dwelt upon the importance of secrecy, and said that the only persons outside those at the conference to whom it was permitted to mention the coming operations were the General Officers Commanding R.A., Australian and Canadian Corps, the Counter-Battery Staff Officers, Canadian and Australian Corps, the MajorGeneral, General Staff (O.a.), the Brigadier-General, General Staff (O.a.), G.H.Q. and the G.O.C. Tank Corps.

The officers present at the conference were:— From Fourth Army Headquarters— The Army Commander...... General Sir H. S. Rawlinson.

Major-General G.S............. Major-General A. A.Montgomery.

G.O.C., R. A.

G.S.O. I Operations............ Lieut.-Colonel R. M. Luckock.

128 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

From Canadian Corps Headquarters— The G.O.C.

B.G., G.S.

From Australian Corps Headquarters— The G.O.C.

B.G., G.S.

From Tank Corps Headquarters— G.S.O. 1

The operation as outlined at the conference was of limited scope, and was designed to relieve the pressure on Amiens and free the AmiensParis railway line, thus improving the situation at the junction of the French and British Armies. A large number of Tanks were to be made available for this operation.The methods for maintaining secrecy and misleading the enemy were discussed. I pointed out that I had been considering a scheme for the capture of Orange Hill, and it was agreed that it would help materially to deceive everybody if preparations for this scheme were still continued.

It was decided that the Australian Corps would arrange a series of demonstrations of co-operation between Tanks and Infantry at their training school near Flixecourt, and that during the following week the Canadian Corps would send parties of officers each day. to watch these demonstrations. The Brigadier-General General Staff, the General Officer Commanding, R.A., and the Counter Battery Staff Officer, would meanwhile be enabled to carry out a reconnaissance of the probable front of attack of the Canadian Corps.

The following day a conference of Divisional Commanders and members of the Corps Staff was held at Canadian Corps Headquarters, where the outline of the scheme for the capture of Orange Hill was explained, and the Divisional Commanders and Heads of branches and services concerned were asked to make all preparations for this attack as quickly as possible. It was stated that Tanks would be available for the operation and that it was therefore essential that all concerned should familiarise themselves with the combined tactics of Infantry and Tanks. I explained that demonstrations had been arranged with the Australians, and that it was my wish that the greatest possible number of officers should witness them.

In the meantime, the enemy was to be harassed on the whole Canadian Corps front by Artillery and Machine Gun fire, and numerous raids were to be carried out to procure positive identifications.

Corps Operations. 129 Further conferences were held from time to time at the Fourth Army Headquarters, where plans were made for the necessary reliefs and moves, and the question of the maintenance of secrecy further emphasised.

On July 26 the Fourth Army Commander stated that the plans originally put forward, and which had been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, had been modified by Marshal Foch, in that the First French Army would now co-operate with the Fourth British Army and be responsible for the right flank of the attack.

On the 27th the general boundaries and the objectives for the first day were fixed, and movements of the Canadian Corps and Tank Units were arranged. It was decided notably that Units were to leave their areas without knowing their destinations, and that it would be given out freely that the Canadian Corps was moving to the Ypres front, where the.

Second Army expected a German attack.

With a view to deceiving the enemy, two Battalions of the Canadian Corps were to be put in the line in the Kemmel area, and two Canadian Casualty Clearing Stations were to be moved to the Second Army area.

Wireless and Power Buzzer Sections were to be despatched to the Kemmel Sector, and messages were to be sent worded so as to permit the enemy to decipher the identity of the senders.



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