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CANADA I
FLAND

Sii-MATf AIT

kill 1 JLOLffA. X&.JL J»

Withanlniroduction

Sir ROBERT BORD

PcimeMinisterofCanada

Ana a Preface by

A. BON AR LA

SecretaryofSt








mm




LIBRARY

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

SANTA BARBARA



PRESENTED BY
MR. GEORGE COBB



CANADA IN FLANDERS

By SIR MAX AITKEN, M.P.



.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.,MJ , .,LL.D.,
Prime Minister of Canada



WITS MAPS AND APPENDICES



NEW YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



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 th£ 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
was circulated widely, and it contributed largely to
make the deeds of the Canadian soldiers a house-
hold word, not only throughout 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
German 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 in vain. Not to Australians and New
Zealanders alone, but to men of every race through-
out the British Empire, the Peninsula of Gallipoli
will for ever 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. Bordkn, 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 Gaspe 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



INTRODUCTION 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 ist 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 re-
morseless 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 Queens 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."

— Kipung.



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 ist 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 mili-
tary 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

xiii



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 de-
struction, 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. AlTKEN.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

MOBILISATION

PAGE

War without warning — Canada's loyalty — Improvising an Army
— Efforts of the Minister of Militia — Camp at Valcartier
— Canadian Armada sails — Arrival at Plymouth — Lord
Roberts's interest — King's visit to Canadian Camp — Train-
ing completed — Sailing for France I



CHAPTER II

WARFARE

'Plug Street" — British Army in being — At General Headquar-
ters — Rest billets — Mud or death — The trenches — Buzzing
bullets — Sir Douglas Haig — The Front — Restrictions on the
narrative — Reviewed by Commander-in-Chief — Canadians
in the trenches — Our men take to football — "Jack John-
sons" — A German challenge — General Alderson — The Gen-
eral'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 kilo-
metres to Neuve Chapelle" — Terrific bombardment — Grand-
motherly howitzers — British aeroplanes — Fight with a
Taube — Flying man's coolness — Attack on the village —

xv



xvi CANADA IN FLANDERS

_ . PAGE

German prisoners— A banker from Frankfort— The Indians'
pride — A halt to our hopes — Object of Neuve Chapelle —
What we achieved — German defences underrated — 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 — "Casualties" — Trenches oh
Ypres salient 32



CHAPTER IV

YPRES

Canadians' glory — A civilian force — Ypres salient — 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 — At-
tack on the wood — Terrible fire — Officer casualties — Rein-
forcements — Geddes' detachment — Second Canadian Bri-
gade bent back — Desperate position — Terrible casualties —
Col. Birchall's death — Magnificent artillery work — Cana-
dian left saved — Canadians relieved — Story of 3rd Brigade
— Gas attack on Canadians — Canadian recovery — Major
Norsworthy killed — Major McCuaig's stand — Disaster
averted — Col. Hart-McHarg killed — Major Odium — General
Alderson's efforts — British reinforce Canadians — 3rd Bri-
gade withdraws — General Currie stands fast — Trenches
wiped out — Fresh gas attack — Germans take St. Julien —
British cheer Canadians — Canadians relieved — Heroism of
men — Col. Watson's dangerous mission — The Ghurkas'
dead — Record of all units — Our graveyard in Flanders . . 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 paymaster—



CONTENTS xvii

PAGE

Major serves as lieutenant — Misfortunes of Hercule Barre
— "Runners" — A messenger's apology — 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. Rich-
ardson's good sense — "No surrender !" — 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 command —
Brave deeds of Pte. Irving — He vanishes — Absurdities in
tragedy — Germans murder wounded — Doctors under fire —
The professional manner — Red hours — Plight of refugees
— Canadian colony in London — Unofficial inquiries — Can-
ada'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 munitions —
Probable explanation — Effect of Times disclosures — Out-
cry in England — Coalition Government — After Ypres —
The Canadian advance — Disposition of Canadians — Attack
on the Orchard — Canadian Scottish — Sapper Harmon's ex-
ploits — Drawback to drill-book tactics — A Canadian ruse —
"Sam Slick" — The Orchard won — Arrival of Second Bri-
gade — 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 — General Seely assumes
command — A critical moment — Heavy officer casualties — The-
courage of the cavalry — Major Murray's good work — Gal-
lantry 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 ma-
chine-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 Ger-
man onslaught — Lessons from the enemy — A march to bat-
tle — 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 criti-
cal position — Corporal Dover's heroism — A terrible^ day —
Shortage of small arms ammunition — Germans' third at-
tack — Enemy repulsed — Regiment reduced to 150 rifles —
Relieved — A service for the dead — In bivouac — A trench
line at Armentieres — 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 do-
mestic dissensions — The Imperial idea — Sir Robert's fore-
sight — Arrival in England — At Shorncliffe — Meeting with
General Hughes — Review of Canadian troops — The tour in
France — A Canadian base hospital— A British hospital—



CONTENTS xix

PAGE

Canadian graves — 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 Patricias — Enemy aeroplanes — Meet-
ing 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. Ballendine — The
Ross rifle — "No Man's Land"— Our bombers — Sergt. Wil-
liam 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 Headquar-
ters — 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 — Inspection of cavalry
— Meeting with Prince of Wales — The Princess Patricias
— Conference with Sir Douglas Haig — General Hughes'
suggestions — Meeting with General Foch — Impressed with
General Joffre — The ruin at Rheims — General Hughes'
message on departure — A quiet August — The Canadian
Corps — General Alderson's New Command — An apprecia-
tion of a gallant Commander — Conclusion . . . .175



APPENDIX I
The King's Messages to the Canadians 193

APPENDIX II
Canadians in Despatches 196



xx CANADA IN FLANDERS

APPENDIX III

PAGE

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 . . .... 233

APPENDIX VI
Statement of Casualties 249



CHAPTER I

MOBILISATION

War without warning— Canada's loyalty— Improvising an Army
—Efforts of the Minister of Militia— Camp at Valcartier
— Canadian Armada sails — Arrival at Plymouth — Lord
Roberts's interest— King's visit to Canadian Camp— Train-
ing completed — Sailing for France.

"O ye by wandering tempest sown

'Neath every alien star,
Forget not whence the breath was blown

That wafted you afar!
For ye are still her ancient seed

On younger soil let fall —
Children of Britain's island-breed
To whom the Mother in her need

Perchance may one day call."

— William Watson.

War came upon us without warning, like a
thunderbolt from a clear sky. Our people were
essentially non-military, fearing no aggression from
a peace-loving neighbour, and ignorant of the im-
minence of German aggression. Yet, in seven weeks,
Canada created the first apparatus of war. In seven
weeks we assembled an army which, a few months
later, was to save Calais on the battlefield of Lange-
marck. As a demonstration of practical loyalty the
exertions of Canada were only equalled by Australia



2 CANADA IN FLANDERS

and New Zealand. As an example of administra-
tion rising to an emergency, the effort has never been
surpassed in military history.

When the British ultimatum to Germany demand-
ing the recognition of the neutrality of Belgium
expired, the Canadian Government decided to raise
an Expeditionary Force. As this news flashed
across the Dominion, the fires of patriotism, which
had been smouldering, burst into flame in every
province. Parliament was in vacation, but the
Prime Minister returned from the West and sum-
moned his Cabinet. The Minister of Militia was
already at work in his office, for the proposal of the
Canadian Government to raise 20,000 men had been
accepted by the British Government.

Within two months of the outbreak of war between
Great Britain and Germany, the Dominion of
Canada concentrated, armed, and sent to Europe
an Expeditionary Force of 33,000 men. A volun-
tary army, the first complete Canadian Division
ever assembled, with more than half a Reserve
Division, this force was by far the greatest body
of soldiers that had ever crossed the Atlantic at
one time. It comprised cavalry, artillery, infantry,
engineers, signallers, supply and ammunition
columns, field ambulances and hospital staffs, pro-
vided with all the apparatus required for the
handling and treatment of the wounded; it carried
its own complement of rifles, machine guns, field
guns, and heavy artillery, and a store of ammunition.

It was not the first time that Canadians had
taken up arms in defence of Imperial interests. In
the Crimean War, Canadians fought in the ranks
of the British Army. The Indian Mutiny saw the



MOBILISATION 3

old Prince of Wales' Royal Canadian Regiment at
Gibraltar and at Malta. More than 7,000
Canadians fought for England in the South Afri-
can War. But now the Empire was to be tested to
its foundations. The Minister of Militia, Major-
General the Hon. Sir Sam Hughes, K.C.B., acted
with the promptness and energy for which he was
already famous in the Dominion. In less than a
month the Government, which had asked for 20,000
men, found almost 40,000 at its disposal, and the
Minister of Militia deemed it necessary to issue
orders that no more recruits be enrolled for the first
contingent.

Thus did Canada answer the call. Erom the work-
shops and the offices of her cities, from the lumber
camps of her forests, from the vast wheatfields of
the West, from the farms and orchards of the East,
from the slopes of the Rockies, from the shores of
Hudson Bay, from the mining valleys of British
Columbia, from the banks of the Yukon, from the
reaches of the St. Lawrence, the manhood of Canada
hurried to arms.

No mere jackboot militarism inspired them. They
sought neither the glory of conquest nor the rape
of freedom, nor the loot of sacked cities. No selfish
ideal led them to leave their homes and exchange
the ease and comforts of civil life for the sufferings
of war and the risk of death. They came forward,
free men and unconstrained, with a simple resolve
to lay down their lives, if need be, in defence of
the Empire — their Empire too — the very existence
of which, as they swiftly saw, was menaced by the
most formidable military combination which had
ever sprung to arms. The first contingent was born



4 CANADA IN FLANDERS

partly of the glory of adventure but more of the
spirit of self-sacrifice; and this spirit, in its turn,
was born of the deepest emotions of the Canadian
people — its love of Country, of Liberty, and of
Right.


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