Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Blood and Guts

Imperial commanders refused to believe that the Canadian soldiers at Kitchener's Wood could still exist in the hell of shellfire.They prepared a counter-attack and shelled the Canadians from the rear.

Some "lost" Imperial units were placed into the line but had to withdraw again at 7 pm. The remnants of the 16th Battalion were already withdrawn from Kitchener's Wood.

A German attack from the wood was broken up by rifle fire and later rifle fire forced the Germans out of the village of St. Julien.

There was no rest that night for the troops who were fighting for 60 continuous hours. The night was spent bringing up ammunition and repairing wire.

There were 150 men remaining from the 7th battalion. They were taken out of the line, fed and shifted to Bombarded Cross Roads along with remnants of the 10th, Major Odlum in command.

A German attack was thwarted at dawn and the shelling was more intense than ever from 9 am to noon. Two companies of the 8th Battalion were brought up to reinforce the 7th and 10th. Three more attacks were thrown back that afternoon.

That night, the Imperial troops formed a line to the rear and the remaining Canadians made a fighting withdrawal to it.

They held the line for over 70 hours, mostly without food and short of ammunition. For every five men, three were lost. But they survived two gas attacks without respirators or any protection. And broke FIVE German divisions.

Sir John French's order of the day, "Those splendid troops have averted a disaster..."

Many Vancouver homes were in mourning after the second battle of Ypres. But Canadians held their heads high. Canadians were Canadians not "colonials". They have proven themselves.

The Canadian forces started the journey up the road of savage and intelligent heroism that made the CEF with the Australians the aristocrats of the European battlefields. Those fields called for blood and guts and Vancouver gave her share.

Thanks to the book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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