“ONLY CANADIANS’ WONDERFUL STAND THAT SAVED LINE”

Tuesday, April 27, 1915

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “The whole Bn. remained in position under continuous & heavy shell fire until Tuesday night April 27th when it was moved back to the Transport lines H5.” [1]

The Battalion history goes on to tell us: “On the night of April 26th, No. 1 Coy. was relieved from the G.H.Q. Line and rejoined Nos. 2, 3 and 4 Companies, who were still near St. Jean. On the morning of April 27th, therefore, Lieut.-Col. Meighen once again commanded a four-company Battalion, under strength as a result of casualties, and weary as a result of five days in the line, but a coordinated unit none the less, capable of marching, or fighting, as occasion should demand. During the day the Battalion suffered approximately 15 casualties from shellfire.” [2]

27 April 15
SIR J. FRENCH’S DESPATCH ON YPRES BATTLE
States Severe Fighting Still Continues, General Situation Remains Unchanged
ENEMY TOOK ST. JULIEN
For Line Had to Be Considerably Weakened and Canadians Were Left to Make “Gallant Resistance” Against Great Odds

“London, April 26. The British War Office has issued the following statement, emanating from the pen of Sir John French, the commander-in-chief of the British forces on the Continent, respecting the battle around Ypres:

‘First – Severe fighting to the northeast of Ypres still continues, the general situation remaining unchanged. Our left flank, in readjusting its line to meet the altered conditions due to the original forced retirement of the French, had to face to the north and to extend to the west beyond St. Julien.

This extension weakened our line for a time, and, after a very gallant resistance by the Canadians against superior numbers, St. Julien was captured by the enemy. Our lines now run south of that place.

Second – Our troops to the east of Ypres have borne the brunt of the repeated heavy attacks, which they have stubbornly opposed throughout the battle, in an entirely unexpected situation, which has demanded the exercise of gallantry and fortitude by the men, and quick resource and other military qualities by their commanders.

Third – Attacks were also delivered yesterday by the Germans on the east of the Ypres salient. In spite of the use by the enemy of asphyxiating gases, the attacks were repulsed and German officers and men were captured.

In the fighting during the last three days we have inflicted very heavy casualties on the Germans. Our losses have also been heavy. The German wireless report that four English heavy guns were captured is un-true.

One of our aviators dropped bombs on the Courtrai station this afternoon and destroyed the junction. Although wounded, he brought his machine safely back to our lines.’” [4]

ONLY CANADIANS’ WONDERFUL STAND THAT SAVED LINE
In Any Manoeuvre They Would Have Been Adjudged Annihilated, Says Correspondent
THEY MADE GOOD
Tied Handkerchiefs Over Their Noses and Completely Spoilt the Germans’ Plan

“London, April 27. – To the Canadians belongs the honor of spoiling the German’s plans in Flanders, according to a despatch to the Daily Mail from its correspondent in Northern France. They were supported in turn by a French force, by Zouaves, by Belgians and by English regiments. The guns they lost temporarily were not behind their line but on the left side.

The flood of the German advance, says the Mail correspondent, ‘Cloaked under smoke and sulphurous gases, centered around these guns and passed the bulk of the Canadian forces, which maintained their calmness, although their position became a promontory in the allied line.

HAD DOUBLE FRONT: At times they had a double front; some trenches facing north-east and others south-west. They adapted their trenches to meet the new demands and transformed the back into the front. In any manoeuvres they would have been adjudged annihilated, but they held on and made good. They tied handkerchiefs over their noses to protect themselves from the gas fumes.

It was only the Canadians wonderful stand on the promontory maintained many hours and varied by bayonet charges, that checked the Germans and enabled the Canadians to retire in good order and reform the general line. A summing up of the situation shows, however, that the Germans gained a good deal. They flattened the allies salient north-east of Ypres, and one point has become a German salient. Moreover, the Germans hold the arc around Ypres which facilitates their offensive. Several villages east of the canal and one village on the left bank are now debatable ground.” [5]

[1]   Operation-Report of May 6th, 1915, War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089726.jpg
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 45.
[3]   The Montreal Daily Mail, Montreal, Quebec, Tuesday, April 27, 1915, pg. 1.
[4]  “Sir J. French’s Despatch on Ypres Battle,” The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Tuesday, April 27, 1915, pg. 1, col. 1.
[5]   “Only Canadians’ Wonderful Stand That Saved Line,” The Montreal Daily Mail, Montreal, Quebec, Tuesday, April 27, 1915, pg. 2, col.1.

 

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