The First World War
War Diary of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Transcription by Captain Michael O'Leary, The RCR.

MARCH 1917

1.3.17. - BRUAY

Cool and Cloudy. Syllabus of training carried out. Draft of 50 on square. They are from the 106TH Battalion, Nova Scotia, and are of quite good physique and intelligence, although untrained.

1 O.R. from C.C.S. 1 O.R. to C.C.S.

(App. 1.)

2.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy. Syllabus adhered to. Draft on square. They are progressing favourably.

2 Other ranks to C.C. Station.

3.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy. Syllabus of training carried out. Draft on square. Half Holiday in afternoon and Company Sports.

(App. 2.)

4.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy some showers. C.of E. Church Service held in Theatre, BRUAY. Roman Catholic Church service in Parish Church. Sports in afternoon.

1 O.R. to C.C.S.

5.3.17. - BRUAY

Still unsettled weather. Partly fair. Syllabus adhered to. Drafts on square.

1 O.R. to C.C.S.

6.3.17. - BRUAY

Some showers, mostly fair. Strong cold wind. Owing to market square being used by market it was found impossible to have first parade under R.S.M. so Companies paraded under their C.S.M's otherwise Syllabus was carried out. Drafts paraded as usual.

1 O.R. to C.C.S.
4 O.R. transferred to 7TH Field Coy. C.E.
100 O.R. joined as reinforcements.
1 O.R. from C.C.S.

7.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy. Some bright spells. For the first time we practiced the attack with the barrage shown by flags today. It worked very well. Drafts paraded as usual.

5 O.R. to C.C.S.
3 Officers to 3RD Entrenching Btn.
3 Officers joined from 3RD Entrenching Btn.

8.3.17. - BRUAY

Very cold and rainy all day. Battalion did specialist training by Companies in Billets owing to the weather.

9.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold, very strong wind and snow or sleet all day, always cloudy. Syllabus of training carried out in morning. In afternoon brigade formed up on training area near HOUDAIN and were addressed by the Right Honourable Sir Robert BORDEN, Premier of CANADA, after which, the Brigade marched past him. Afterwards, at about 4. p.m. he was received at Divisional Headquarters by a Guard of Honour from the Regiment under command of Captain C.G.B. THOMPSON. It was excellent.

2 O.R. to C.C.S.

(App. 3.)

10.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy. Some snow. Syllabus carried out in the morning. Battalion practiced the attack as a whole for the first time, using flags to represent the barrage. There was a great many points brought up for discussion and to be rectified. The practice had good results. Afternoon a half Holiday.

2 O.R. to C.C.S.
Major E.E. SNIDER joined today.

11.3.17. - BRUAY

Cloudy, some showers. Battalion Church parade held on square. The B.M.G. Co. attended. R.C. Parade as usual. Afternoon half holiday.

1 O.R. transferred to Base.

(App. 4.)

12.3.17. - BRUAY

A number of showers. Cold and cloudy. Syllabus carried out. In the "Battalion in Attack" each man carried the full equipment, tools, etc., that he will in the real attack, this will be done in all practices hereafter. The assault with live Grenades showed several weak points which were remedied. Drafts paraded as usual.

13.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy. Syllabus carried out. The assault with live grenades has been most beneficial in teaching the men the proper use of Grenades on the move and has given them confidence in themselves. Drafts carried on as usual.

1 O.R. to C.S.S.

(App. 5.)

14.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and cloudy with a strong wind. The Brigade worked as a unit this morning with a flag barrage. It was a very successful practice. General LIPSETT, G.O.C., 3RD Canadian Division attended, and after the final assault and consolidation, criticized the attack for the benefit of the Officers.

1 O.R. transferred to Base.

15.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and cloudy. Strong North wind. Syllabus was changed. The Brigade again attacked as a whiole. The Corps Commander, General BYNG, being present. He seemed pleased with the work done. "A" and "B" Co's were sent back to the training area in the afternoon to put on an exhibition attacks for the Officers of the Brigade. Very few officers were there. It was rainy and cold.

3 O.R. to base.

16.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy, some showers. Syllabus carried out. The baths again fell down, not providing a change of underwear. Draft paraded as usual in morning.

17.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and Cloudy, with bright intervals. Syllabus adhered to. Drafts on square. Half holiday in afternoon. Co. sports. 6 O.R. to C.C.S.

18.3.17. - BRUAY

Not quite so cold. Mostly fair, with some clouds. Church parade held on square. P.P.C.L.I. and 7TH Field Company, Canadian Engineers attended. Captain Allan Chatfield, Corps Chaplain preached. It was a good service. R.C. parade as usual. Half holiday in afternoon.

19.3.17. - BRUAY

Mostly, clear and cold. Specialist Training was carried out in the morning. Baths in the afternoon with the same experience about underwear. In the evening the P.P.C.L.I. Concert Party entertained the Regiment again in BRUAY Theatre, 100 of the B.M.G. Co. attended also. It was much appreciated by all. All preparations were made today for tomorrow move back to the line. The Regiment less two Companies are to move tomorrow. "A" and "B" Co's are to move on the 23RD inst.

(App. 6.)

20.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and showery all day. The move for the day has been postponed. "A" and "B" Co's carried on Specialist training. "C" and "D" Co's stood by, prepared to move at any time.

Capt. R.B. DAY joined today.

21.3.17. - BRUAY

Cold and cloudy. Move postponed yesterday, was made today. We arrived in LA MOTTE Camp about 4.30 p.m. Lieut. Col. HILL remained in BRUAY in command of brigade Details left there. Major WILLETS is in command of the Regiment less "A" and "B" Co's. Major WILLOUGHBY remained at BRUAY in command of "A" and "B" Co's. LA MOTTE camp is composed of Bivouacs, with nine tents for Officers. We are its first occupants. It can be greatly improved.

22.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Cold and Cloudy, occasional showers. "C" Company relieved the right company of the 58TH Battn, taking over the exact frontage from which we are expected to jump off. Major WILLETS and Lieut. SNIDER went in with "C" Company. H.Q. were established in H.Q. Dugout in BIRKEIN TRENCH. The Bombing Officer, Lewis Gun Officer and Scout Officer, with half his Scouts and Snipers also came in. Their dugout in in the QUARRIES LINE. There was no enemy activity of any sort, one 5.9 being put over. Our Artillery and machine Guns were most active over the whole part of his area. Major GARON remained in command of Troops left in LaMOTTE Camp. Working party of 50 supplied, "A" and "B" Companies carried on with Specialist Training in BRUAY.

1 Other rank on leave to England.

23.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Mostly fair and cold, occasional cloudy spells. No enemy activity. He only sent over three darts on our front. Our Artillery was very active, heavily bombarding his known strong points and his main trenches. Our Artillery have a program for systematically smashing all the enemy strong points and trenched. The enemy are most active, however in the air. They have many fast machines which patrol his line, effectively guarding them except for large patrols of our aeroplanes. Our snipers hit three of the enemy today and silences one of their snipers. We have a good sniping post on BIRKIN CRATER. The remainder of the Battalion moved from BRUAY to LAMOTTE Camp today arriving about 3.00 p.m. One platoon of "D" Company came up to the QUARRIES. Work has been begun on Bomb Stores, Dumps and Jumping off trenches. Working Parties of 180 sent out today. LAMOTTE Camp has been greatly improved by sand-bagging ends and walls of all bivouacs and by outing down stone for walks, other wise the Camp is very muddy.

Capt. GREENE proceeded to No. 2 General hospital this date.
3 O.R to C.C.S.

(App. 7)

24.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Partly fair, Cold. Usual lack of enemy activity. Our Artillery carried out their regular programme. Our Snipers got two more of the enemy. Working Parties of 220 today, 80 of which worked on Jumping Off Trenches. 100 were supplied from Companies in LAMOTTE Camp. The observation line and retrenchment line have been chosen for the first two, they will be reclaimed and dug to a depth of about five feet. One more Platoon of "D" Company came up and was billeted in the QUARRIES.

3 Other Ranks evacuated to C.C.S.
1 from C.C.S.
21 O.R. r'fornts.

25.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Partly Fair, Cold. Our Artillery carried out their usual intensive bombardment. No retaliation whatever. LAMOTTE Camp was slightly shelled with 5.9's. 260 men were sent out on working parties, 100 of which were from camp. Work carried out in Jumping Off Trenches. "D" Company relieved "C" Company in the Line. 2 Platoons of "D" Company going to Dugouts in the QUARRIES and one back to Camp. All Officer, N.C.O's and as many men as possible are familiarizing themselves with GRANGE TUNNEL exits and entrances.

1 O.R. wounded.
3 O.R. to C.C.S.
1 O.R. transferred to P.P.C.L.I.

26.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Cloudy and Cold, quite heavy rains at intervals. Usual Artillery activity. No retaliation on our Lines. Our Snipers have effectively silenced the enemy snipers. The days rain has undone a great deal of work on the Communication Trenches and Jumping Off Trenches by washing the sides of the trenches in.

Major GARON relieved Major WILLETS at headquarters.

Usual Working Parties of 260 sent out. The Bomb Stores are progressing favourably.

1 O.R. to Base.

27.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Mostly fair and Cold. Enemy retaliated slightly tonight with Pencils, Rum Jars and 4.2's for our regular heavy Bombardment. He did little damage. Our Snipers only saw one BOSCH today but they got him. A Reconnaissance of the insides of the Craters on our Front was made by two patrols to ascertain whether they are passable. All are passable just on the inside of the lip. Usual Working parties were sent out (260).

Lt. MacPHERSON to Eng.
1 O.R. to Eng.
1 O.R. to Base.
1 O.R. to C.C.S.

28.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Cloudy and Cold. Early this morning about 4.30 a.m. the enemy put quite a heavy barrage on our line, consisting of Trench Mortars and 4.2's., with an occasional 5.9. He did very little damage. Our Artillery, as usual, was very active all day and night. Inter Company reliefs were carried out tonight in the line. "A" Company relieving "D" Company and two Platoons "B" Company releiving two Platoons "C" Company in QUARRIES.

Lieut. Colonel HILL relieved Major GARON and Lieut. BELL relieved Lieut. SNIDER.

Usual Working Parties (260) sent out.

29.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Cloudy and Cold, some showers. Usual activity by our Artillery. Practically no retaliation. Our Snipers were active. Patrols were out on our Front to again reconnoitre route for raiding party. Usual Working Parties sent out (260). Two jumping off trenches practically complete. Weather is the hardest obstacle to work against. Dumps and Stores for Tools, Rations, Bombs, S.A.A. etc. have been located and worked on.

2 Officers and 2 O.R. evacuated to C.C.S. and struck off strength.
Lieut. W.P. LITTLEWOOD wounded.
Lt. PICKFORD struck off.

30.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Rained nearly all day, quite cold. Our Artillery still very active. Little retaliation by enemy on forward areas but he shelled Neuville-St-Vaast and back areas heavily as well as attempting counter-battery work. "B" Company relieved "A" Company in the Front Line, two Platoons of "A" going to Dugouts in the QUARRIES and one back to La MOTTE Camp. Usual Working parties were sent out (260). 2 Other Ranks evacuated to C.C.S.

31.3.17. - LAMOTTE

Cloudy. Not quite so cold. Some showers. We put on quite a successful raid early in the morning. A Raiding Party consisting of Lieut. ALLENBACK and eight O.R's left our trenches by sap at S.28.a.3 1/2.50 at 2.00 a.m. Party proceeded in a north easterly direction to enemy's trench at S.28.a.5.45. No wire was met with, making it easy for party to get into trench. The trench was between five and seven feet deep, there being some shell holes filled with water in the trench. Trench was not revetted and was over eight feet wide at top. Parapet and Parados were not damaged by shell fire. Three of the party went along to the left and the remainder to the right. The left party found a dugout at S.28.a.42.50. which was in good condition, having an entrance about five feet high. The Dugout was bombed and two of the enemy coming down the trench evidently from COMMONS TRENCH saw party and fled. The Party was then forced to leave the trench owing to our Barrage opening up on the right. The right party found a Dugout about ten yards from the place they entered, also another one about 10 yards further. They were both in the parapet and had been heavily shelled by our Artillery. Only the Cross piece and 8 inches of the upright could be seen. Junction of trench S.28.a.4 1/4.5 1/4. Was reached and the trench running back to S.28.a.45.5 1/4 1/4. Was about five feet wide, between 7 and 8 feet deep and in good condition. Party proceeded several yards past junction but none of the enemy were met with. The Party was then forced to return owing to our barrage opening on right of our frontage. Party was in trench about 215 minutes. An enemy post was seen on the lip of the COMMONS CRATER. Party returned at 3.03 a.m. with no casualties. Enemy put a heavy Barrage on P.75 and P.S. Line at 3.30 a.m. We retaliated with 188 pounders and heavies. Under cover of the Barrage about 20 of the enemy left their trenches and endeavoured to raid our trenches but were immediately stopped by our rifle and Lewis Gun Fire. None of the Party entered our lines. About 10.00 a.m. our Divisional Artillery pout down trial Barrage which was excellent. The enemy did not retaliate. Twice during the day, however, he shelled our lines, but both times he was effectually shut up by our Artillery. In the morning "C" and "D" Companies moved from La MOTTE Camp to VILLERS Huts on the outskirts of VILLERS-AU-BOIS. "A" Company was relieved in the QUARRIES by two platoons of the 43RD battalion. They proceeded to VILLERS Huts. Usual Working Parties sent out.

1 Other Rank on leave to England.
1 O.R. from C.C.S.

C.H. Hill
Lieut. Colonel.
Commanding the Royal Canadian Regiment.

Appendix 1 & 2. Syllabus of training of R.C.R. from 1st to 10th March, 1917.

Appendix 3. B.M.R. 515 dated 9.3.17. Letter of congratulation to members of R.C.R. from Brig. General MacDONNEL commanding 7TH C.I.B.

Appendix 4. R.C.R. Syllabus of training of from 11th to 17th March, 1917, inclusive.

Appendix 5. R.C.R. O.O. 7 dated 13.3.17. Instructions to 7TH C.I.B. for attack to be carried out tomorrow on LA FOLIE RIDGE.

Appendix 6. R.C.R. O.O. 8 dated 19.3.17. R.C.R. less will march to LA MOTTE CAMP tomorrow.

Appendix 7. R.C.R. O.O. 9 dated 22.3.17. 2 Coys. of R.C.R. will march to LA MOTTE CAMP tomorrow.

Appendix 8. R.C.R. O.O. 10 dated 30.3.17. R.C.R. will move to VILLERS HUT on March 31ST/April 1ST/April 2ND, 1917

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