The War Diary of Lieutenant William L Hayes M C

 1915—1919

1917 After Vimy

The Battle for Vimy did not end on 9 April.  The Germans retreated and dug in.  And the Battle of Arras went on.

April and May:  Battle of Arleux Loop

June:  a month of rest, reinforcement and training. 

July: Battle of  Hill 70

August: Battle of Lens

September: Vimy again

October: Vimy again

November:  Passchendaele

Four Victoria Crosses were awarded at Vimy Ridge.  The VC is the highest military decoration ‘in the face of the enemy’ awarded to combatants in or attached to the British military. It is awarded to any rank and to this day is traditionally saluted by every member of the  Forces, from Chiefs of General Staff  to privates. It is very rarely awarded  and only 1358 times since it was created in 1856.  The medal is made from  Chinese gun metal,; the guns captured from the Russians in the Crimean War.

https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/Victoria

J B Bridge

John Blake Bridge (known as Jack) was a life long friend of WLH.  Jack was a bank clerk who joined the CEF in October 1914 at Regina.  He too was assigned to the 28th Bn. Like WLH he embarked for England on the SS Northland in May 1915.  And he too forfeited pay, but for 6 Sept 1915 only, for absence.

Just where and when they met is unknown, but their adventures were in many ways similar.

Jack was promoted Corporal on 10 March 1916 and then sent ‘to England (to qualify for comms.)’ on 21 September 1917.  He became Lieut Bridge in Jan 1918 and re-joined the 28th Bn in April 1918

Random War Diary Entries: 28 Bn WD. Order no 160 1 May 1917  Bois Bernard, Arleux Loop, Arleux-en-Gohelle ‘D Coy will be dispersed as follows: in trenches in vicinity of sunken road running from T 23.d.8.7 to T 29.b.9.e … in the event the assaulting battalions are forced back by enemy counter-attack, ..D Company will immediately without further orders, counter attack and re-establish line.

‘Equipment … will be the same as for operation of April 9, 1917.  Each company will carry 50 shovels and 15 picks.  Twenty-four hour’s rations, in addition to iron rations to be carried.  Each man will carry two filled water bottles.  Cooks will return to Details Camp when Battalion moves up.’

‘The battalion will attack the German front line and establish itself in advance of enemy support line.’

26 July 151/2 tons Gas projected from our front by “B” Special Co. R E at 2.45 am. 

 

14 Aug 28th Bn WD Order No 16. ‘...the Canadian Corps has been ordered to capture Hill 70.’ The objective was to draw German attention away from the planned third battle for Ypres. ‘The attack will be carried out by the 2nd Canadian Division on the right…’ ‘ The 28th Battalion will be in old British Front Line System, between N Divisional Boundary and MAROC-ST PIERRE Road at M.9.d.45.60.’ ‘..should the operation .. prove successful it is intended to further exploit the success by advancing to the line NUNS ALLEY—CINNABAR Trench to junction with COMBAT thence to Railway Junction N.13.d.70.95 and thence along COTTON Trench to the LENS-GRENAY Railway with a view to forcing the enemy to vacate his position WEST of LENS.’

Report of Operations, 28th Bn WD 21& 22 Aug. ’28th Bn was detailed in close support of the 27th and 29th Battalions who were attacking...junction of NUN’S ALLEY & COMMOTION, … to the junction of the LENS-BETHUNE Road and CINNEBAR Trench. … D Coy in Brigade Support in CONTRACT Trench.’ The area received a heavy enemy barrage at 4.35 am which resulted  A & B Coys being drawn into action. 

 

D Coy ordered to replace B Coy in close support at 7.15 am. In position by 8 am . Early afternoon, D Coy ordered to send a platoon forward to CINNABAR TRENCH via CONDUCTOR TRENCH as reinforcements badly needed. ‘At this time, supplies of bombs, S.A.A. [small arms ammunition] and grenades were beginning to arrive, so the O.C. [B Coy] prepared a combined offensive from three sides… junction of NABOB-NUNS and CINNABAR… to bomb up NUNS ALLEY up NABOB ALLEY and up CINNABAR TRENCH, thus complete the capture of the objective.

Iron Rations: The so-called 'Iron Ration' comprised an emergency ration of preserved meat, cheese, biscuit, tea, sugar and salt carried by all British soldiers in the field for use in the event of their being cut off from regular food supplies.

CASUALTIES AT VIMY RIDGE

3598 dead,

7004 wounded,

4000 (approx.) unknown dead, wounded or captured

WLH/D Coy in trenches/front line

16—17 April Vimy trenches

2—7 May (attack on German front line D Coy in reserve)

13-17 May (in support of main resistance line)

24-26 May front line system

June resting, reinforcing and training

10-12 July Laurent Lens left sub sector (northwest of Lens)

14-16 July Lens left sub sector

23/25 Laurent front line (boundaries of area listed Nelson Trench and Nash Alley N.1.d.16.8c through railway junction at M6.d.75.75—junction of Martyrs Alley and Mouse Trench at M.6.d.05.60 to Double Grassier at M.5.c.16.20 thence along old Northern Boundary.)

31– 2 Aug Laurent sector

1 Aug old British Front Line System

21—22 Sept Laurent sector (Lens)

27-30  Sept Vimy

10—13 Oct Chaudierre Section right sub section of front line

29 Oct—Nov 1 training on taped area St Sylvestre Cappel

Battle of Arleux Loop.  Beyond Farbus at the southern end of Vimy Ridge was the town of Arleux-en-Gohelle strongly held by the Germans and a point of likely counter-attack on the Ridge.  It was part of long and ragged front line fighting for the same purpose: to push the Germans back.  Fighting began about 27 April and the 1st and 2nd Divisions assisted in taking the area in early May 1917. The fighting was fierce and losses were high.  The 28th Bn remained in support during the early days of the attack, but took over the push later. C and D Coys headed the attack on 4 May, but were pulled back as the enemy wire had not been sufficiently cut. In spite of repeated attempts, a German counter attack drove them all back to their starting positions. The battle went on along the line.

Battle of Hill 70

28th Bn WD order 200A. 22.8.1917 ‘Quartermaster will arrange to have Kitchens, Packs, Greatcoats etc conveyed to MARQUEFFLES FARM and hot meal for men on arrival.  He will also arrange billeting.’

28th Bn WD Order No 20 20.8.16

‘20 RATIONS Rations for the whole Battalion will be delivered to Battalion Dump on light railway.

‘21 All Companies will carry expense material, wire cutters, gloves, Iron Rations, etc.

‘22 While in the Forward Area there must be no movement or Fires during Daylight.

‘23 Each Company will mount one Lewis Gun for Anti-aircraft work from dawn to dusk.’

Battle of Vimy Plain: At the end of September  and for the month of October the 28th Bn was back in the town of Vimy holding an active front line.

Barbed Wire was used in front of trenches by both sides .  Installation and repair of the wire was done at night by wiring parties and involved the use of stakes, metal or wooden.  Several lines of wire were often installed to prevent the enemy from getting close enough to lob bombs or grenades.  The barbs became more and more vicious as the war went on. In some situations it was used to channel attacks into range of machine guns.  The only way to effectively destroy it was by heavy bombardment or over running by the few tanks the allies could deploy.

Further information:  Instructions Dealing with the withdrawal of the Battalion from the Line and the move to another area:  See 28th Bn WD, Oct 1917, page 16