The First World War
War Diary of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Transcription by Captain Michael O'Leary, The RCR.

APRIL 1917

1-4-1917. - VILLERS AU BOIS.

Cool and Cloudy. In afternoon, heavy Sleet. Storm. Enemy displayed little activity of any sort. Our Artillery was most effective as usual. "B" Company was relieved by a Company of the 60TH Battalion. We left Lieut. BELL and 46 (forty-six) Other Ranks to complete a Battalion Headquarters., Engineer., S.A.A., Bomb and other Dumps. Sergeant BREALEY (Bombing Sergeant) was left in charge to fill the Dumps. Sergeant REVELL, Sergeant DAVIS and 8 (eight) Other Ranks reported to Major WALKEM, Officer Commanding GRANGE TUNNEL for duty in controlling traffic during Operations. Sergeant POPE (Scouts) was also left to keep in touch with enemy movements etc. The whole Regiment is now in VILLERS Huts, they are quite comfortable.

1 Other Rank accidentally killed in Dugout.

2-4-1917. - VILLERS AU BOIS.

Clouds, some showers. Men spent day in cleaning up. 210 (two hundred and ten) men bathed. 500 square feet of Lagging and 8 Pit props with crosspieces sent up by Transport to ARRAS - BETHUNE ROAD. From there, carrying party of 30 (thirty) carried them to BLACKHEATH DUMP. The Regimental Tailor was started this morning on making Bomb Buckets from Canvas, as it is impossible to get the proper Buckets through ordnance. Eleven tailors were sent down to assist him. The Pioneers were started on signs, on which the Regimental Badge of a Green circle on a Black Square are to be painted. It is proposed to place these from the Final Objective to Battalion headquarters to guide Runners etc., after the attack.

1 Other rank to C.C. Stn. And 1 Other rank joined as a reinforcement.

3-4-1917. - VILLERS AU BOIS.

Cloudy. Companies carried on with Specialists Training. More lagging and more Pit props sent up for new Battalion Headquarters, by same means as yesterday. Lieut. BELL reports good progress on Dugout but very hard to get working parties for Dumps. Men are now complete in Iron Rations. 300 (three hundred) extra Bombs were obtained from La TARGETTE during today. It was necessary to send carrying party of 20 (twenty) to get them, as it is a forward Dump. Our Regimental Reserve is now detonated. "A" and "D" Companies, Scouts and Runners all sent parties over "X" and "Y" overland routes from ARRAS - BETHUNE ROAD forward.

2 Other Ranks Wounded in Action.

4-4-1917. - VILLERS AU BOIS.

Quite heavy snow during night and early morning. Companies carried out Specialists Training again today. 300 more Bombs were obtained today, also a supply of wire cutters from stores. More Lagging was sent up to the line to New Battalion Headquarters with carrying party of 30 men, from ARRAS - BETHUNE ROAD to BLACKHEATH DUMP. Lieut. BELL reports Good progress on all work in forward area.

2 O.R. wounded in Action. 20 O.R. joined from 3RD Entrenching Bn.

5-4-1917. - VILLERS AU BOIS.

Cloudy, all outfitting of "C" and "D" Co. prior to attack completed today. Bombs, wire-cutters, Blank ammunition, 47 Bomb Buckets, extra Iron rations etc., issued to "C" and "D" Co's. "D" Co. relieved "A" Co. of the 43RD Bn. in the line tonight, taking over the exact frontage from which we will attack. 2 Platooons, "C" Co. took over dugouts in QUARRIES LINE.

Bn. H.Q. in rebuilt and enlarged dugout, corner of GRANGE communication trench and P.S. Line.

Lieut. Col. HILL, Major WILLOUGHBY, Lieut. SNIDER at present at Headquarters in line.
"D" Co. under Lieut. CHURCHILL with Lieuts. STRIDE, BECK and THOMPSON.
"C" Co. in command of Lieut ALLAN with Lieuts. LEWIS, ENGLAND and WALLER.
Lieuts. ISBESTER, KELTIE and BARKER also in dugout in QUARRIES LINE.

(Appendix 1; Appendix 1A)

6-4-1917. - QUARRIES LINE.

Cloudy, with showers at intervals, though partly fair. Projection of Gas Cylinders into enemy line scheduled for 3 a.m. postponed. Our Artillery was very active. Enemy retaliation was comparatively light and scattered, coming mostly on P. LINE and in rear. Lieut. KELTIE reports 46,000 rounds of ammunition in our forward dumps in BIRKIN SAP and 200 shovels, 150 picks and large quantity of barbed wire ready to be put into dumps on BIRKIN TRENCH near GIVENCHY ROAD. Engineers are experiencing difficulty in getting up tools owing to Transport being used almost entirely for ammunition. Working parties of 83 O.R. set out from "C" Co. "D" Co. H.Q. in BIRKIN TRENCH has been hit, and one entrance almost blocked.

3 O.R. to C.C.S.

7.4.17. - QUARRIES LINE.

Quite heavy rain during late morning and afternoon. "D" Co. headquarters had another hit, so Co. H.Q. are now in dugout in P.75. Our Artillery active as usual. Practice barrage put down. It was most successful. "C" and "D" Co. have been issued with sandbags (each man to carry three) and "D" Co. have obtained their tools. Bombers and Rifle Grenadiers of each Co. have all got their complete complement of Bombs and Rifle Grenades. Major WILLETS came up to Headquarters this afternoon. "A" and "B" Co's and remaining platoon of "C" Co. moved into GRANGE TUNNEL from VILLERS Camp, after being issued with Bombs, extra Iron Rations etc. They occupy sections from GRANGE entrance to WEDD Street entrance.

"A" Co. under Captain MUNN with Lieuts. ALLANBACK, GOUGH and DAVIES.
"B" Co. in command of Lieut. ROBINSON M.C. with Lieuts. GRAY, ROOKS and BLOTT.

Projection of Gas Cylinders scheduled for 11 p.m. cancelled. Two days rations came up tonight.

2 O.R. invalided to England.

8.4.17. - QUARRIES LINE.

Cloudy. Enemy Artillery more active than usual. Entrance to S.M's dugout in P.75 and our entrance to large dugout both blown in. Enemy shelled Line heavily. Our Artillery displayed their usual activity. "A" and "B" Co's and the remaining platoon of "C" Co. issued with sand bags, tools and more wire cutters, and their Bombers and Rifle Grenadiers completed in Bombs and Rifle Grenades. For what each man has been issued with see appendix No. 2 page 1, paras 2, 3, and 4. Co. Commanders conference held a 4. p.m. to discuss any remaining points which might be brought up. Owing to the lack of issue Bomb Buckets and not having had sufficient time to make enough from canvas to issue to all ranks, each Company has made sufficient to complete itself from sandbags. "D" Co. got 150 shovels from P.P.C.L.I. at 9 p.m. to complete their tool issue.

Lieut. A. NICHOLLS proceeded to 3RD Cdn, Division as O.C. Pack Cob Co.

(Appendix 2)

9.4.17. - QUARRIES LINE.

See appendix No. 3. Lieuts. THOMPSON, BLOTT, CHURCHILL, BOLE, BECK, and ROOKS were Killed in Action. Lieuts. BARKER, DAVIES, Captain MUNN, Lieuts. GRAY, ROBINSON and LEWIS were Wounded in Action. The following numbers of Other Ranks were casualties. Killed in Action 50, Wounded in Action 159, Missing 65. It is presumed that the majority of missing will be found in Field Ambulance or will return from Other Units.

Lieut. FOSTER wounded, at duty.

(Appendix 3)

The 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage Guidebook;
The Canadian Corps Order of Battle and Battle Maps

In 1936, Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League organized a Pilgrimage to the dedication of the Vimy Memorial and the Battlefields. The pilgrimage took place in July-August 1936. A Guidebook provided to the "pilgrims" included a maps and the order of battle charts for the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge, these are reproduced at the following links:

10.4.17. - VIMY RIDGE.

Cloudy with some fair spells. See appendix No. 2.

11 O.R. evacuated to C.C.S.
Captain WOODS, M.C. returned from 10 days leave to PARIS.
2 O.R. Wounded in Action.

(Appendix 4)

11.4.17. - VIMY RIDGE.

Cloudy. Snowed and Sleet at intervals, with steady fall at night. On relief by 58TH. Bn.
Regiment proceeded to tents at VILLERS Camp.

2 O.R. from C.C.S. 3 O.R. invalided to England.

12.4.17. - VILLERS CAMP.

Cloudy with heavy snow fall in early morning. Brighter in afternoon. Regiment spent day resting. Check Roll Call at 2 p.m. Party sent up to Salvage Greatcoats which were brought down by Transport. Draft of 168 O.R. arrive as reinforcements.

13.4.17. - VILLERS CAMP.

Cloudy. Day spent in inspections and refitting companies. General LIPSETT called in afternoon and thanked the men for their splendid work on the 9th instant. 360 men bathed in morning. More Greatcoats salvaged. The bodies of Lieuts. BOLE, BECK, CHURCHILL and THOMPSON were brought down to ECOIVRES Cemetery, and buried there.

14.4.17. - VILLERS CAMP.

Mostly fair. Specialist Training, of Lewis Gunners, Bombers and Rifle Grenadiers commenced under Lieuts. ISBESTER and KELTIE. Many of the draft are already trained Lewis Gunners. 360 more men bathed today. 125 men sent out on working party on roads.

4 O.R. to C.C.S.
2 O.R. from C.C.S.
6 O.R. previously reported Missing now reported to F.A.

15.4.17. - VILLERS CAMP.

Rained continuously. Church parade cancelled owing to inclement weather.

2 O.R. Died of Wounds received in Action.
3 O.R. to C.C.S.
2 O.R. from C.C.S.

16.4.17. - VILLERS CAMP.

Mostly Cloudy. Some slight showers. The Regiment moved from VILLERS tents to billets vacated by 60TH Bn. in neighbourhood QUARRIES LINE. Battalion headquarters in old P.P.C.L.I. Headquarters in QUARRIES LINE. "A" Co. H.Q. corner GRANGE AVENUE and P.S. Line. "B" Co. H.Q. junction of PYLONES and QUARRIES LINE. "C" Co. H.Q. GRANGE TUNNEL. "D" Co. H.Q., EMPIRE REDOUBT. Men are all quite comfortable with plenty of room. Men carried one blanket and rubber sheet and wore leather jerkin. Packs left at Transport Line. Officers brought complete kit up.

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

17.4.17. - QUARRIES LINE.

Changeable; some showers and hail, some bright spells. All companies sent on working parties on road construction.

9 O.R. to C.C.S.
1 O.R. Wounded in Action.

18.4.17. - QUARRIES LINE.

Cloudy. "A" and "B" Co's. on working parties, building roads. Regiment moved from present billets to shelters in rear of FORT GEORGE, exchanging with 4TH C.M.R. Battalion. Shelters consist of bivouacs over trenches, sandbagged at both ends.

4 O.R. previously reported Missing now reported in C.C.S.
Captain C.G.B. THOMPSON proceeded to ENGLAND on Staff Course at CLARE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
1 O.R. Died of Wounds.

19.4.17. - FORT GEORGE.

Mostly cloudy with occasional showers. All four companies on working parties on roads and tramways.

Captain D.E. MUNN was buried at BARLIN at 2 p.m. today.
Colonel HILL, Major WILLOUGHBY, Captain WOODS and Lieut. SNIDER attended the funeral.
1 O.R. from C.C.S.

20.4.17. - FORT GEORGE.

Mostly fine, and warmer. All companies again on working parties. The enemy is active in the air, having sent over several patrols today. Brigade H.Q., P.P.C.L.I., 42ND and 49TH Bns. Moved to forward area tonight. Brigade headquarters to MACHINE GUN FORT.

3 O.R. evacuated to Casualty Clearing Station.
1 Other rank Died of Wounds.

21.4.17. - FORT GEORGE.

Cloudy. All companies again on working parties. Quartermaster Stores moved from GOUY to between FORT GEORGE and ARRAS-BETHUNE ROAD.

3 O.R. Invalided to England.
1 O.R. Wounded.

22.4.17. - FORT GEORGE.

Fair with strong North-East wind. All companies on working parties as usual. Enemy displayed much aerial activity especially during late afternoon.

1 O.R. previously reported Missing now reported in F.A.
1 O.R. Wounded.

23.4.17. - FORT GEORGE.

Fair but with cold North East wind. All companies again on working parties. At 4.45 a.m. 7TH Canadian Infantry Brigade became Corps Reserve, ready to move at half hours notice.

6 O.R. previously reported Missing now reported Killed in Action. 9.4.17.
7 O.R. to C.C.S.
Major J.S. BROWN, D.S.O. taken on strength and attached to Canadian Corps Headquarters.
7 O.R. Invalided to England.

24.4.17. - FORT GEORGE.

Fair and much warmer. 8 Officers and 500 Other Ranks on working party. In afternoon the Regiment relieved the 1ST CV.M.R. Battalion in Brigade Reserve in the 4th and 5th lines of resistance. Battalion headquarters SPANDEN HUTS junction of EWISCHEN STELLUNG and ARTILLERIRE WEG.

25.4.17. - LA FOLIE AREA.

Mostly fair. "D" Co. position was shelled during the night so company has moved to GRABEN TUNNEL. Companies are now distributed as follows:- In GRABEN TUNNEL "D", "A" and "B" companies with head of "D" Company at east end.- In fourth line of resistance,- "C" Company. "A" Co. Headquarters - GRABEN TUNNEL. "C" and "D" Co. Headquarters STAUBWESSER WEG. "C" Co. is responsible for the defence of the 4th line of resistance on the Divisional front. "D" Co. is responsible for the 5th line of resistance. "A" and "B" Companies are Brigade counter-attacking companies.

4 Officers and 200 Other Ranks on working parties on roads.
4 Officers and 200 Other Ranks working in forward area at night on trenches.
3 O.R. Killed in Action.
6 O.R. Died of Wounds.

26.4.17. - LA FOLIE AREA.

Fair and cold. 8 Officers and 400 Other Ranks on working parties, digging trenches in forward area with 42ND and 49TH Battalions. 1 Officer and 50 Other ranks salvaged 258 shovels and a quantity of picks.

10 O.R. to C.C.S.

27.4.17. - LA FOLIE AREA.

Cloudy with poor visibility. One or two slight drizzles. 8 Officers and 400 Other Ranks on working parties at night in forward area, digging trenches and burying cable each Company salvaged sufficient tools in the afternoon to supply its own party.

1 O.R. previously reported Missing now reported Died of Wounds. 21.4.17.
1 O.R. to C.C.S.

28.4.17. - LA FOLIE AREA.

Partly fair though mostly cloudy. Poor visibility. Battalion under orders to move at one hours notice from 5 a.m. onwards in support of attack of 1ST and 2ND Canadian Divisions. 8 Officers and 400 Other Ranks working in forward area at night on trenches and burying cable. Each company again salvaged a supply of tools. In the last three days we have salvaged and sent back about 80 web equipments complete and sixty rifles.

Lieut. T.S. ALLAN proceeded to PARIS on ten days leave.
1 O.R. Wounded in Action.
1 O.R. to C.C.S.
98 Reinforcements arrived today from Canadian Base Depot. There were 9 original R.C.R. men among them.

(Appendix 4)

29.4.17. - LA FOLIE AREA.

Fine and warm with a slight haze all day. 8 Officers and 400 Other Ranks on working parties at night burying cable and digging trenches. They were quite heavily shelled with 5.9's and Gas Shells. Casualties were; Killed 1 O.R.; Wounded, 2 O.R. We have sent back since coming out here about 170 web equipments complete and about 150 Rifles in good condition besides making a store of large quantities of bombs and S.A.A. salvaged.

Lieut. ROOKS body was exhumed and taken down to ECOIVRES Cemetery for burial beside the other Officers of the Regiment.

30.4.17. - LA FOLIE AREA.

Fair and warm, still heavy however. The Regiment was relieved by 58TH Canadian Battalion this afternoon and on relief moved independently by Companies to Billets in vicinity of QUARRIES LINE. Three companies in Bivouacs, one in dugouts, battalion headquarters in QUARRIES LINE. 4 Officers and 200 Other Ranks on road work on LENS-ARRAS road at night.

Lieut. ROOKS was buried in ECOIVRES Cemetery at 5 p.m. today. Lieut. Col. HILL, Major WILLOUGHBY and Major LOGAN attended. Captain DAY read the service and six Buglers sounded the Last Post.

1 O.R. Wounded in Action.
12 reinforcements from C.B.D.

C.H. Hill
Lieut. Col.
Commanding The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Appendix 1. - R.C.R. O.O. 11 dated 5.4.17. Inter company and platoon reliefs to be carried out on nights 5TH/6TH and 6TH/7TH April , 1917.

Appendix 1A. - Instructions to companies of R.C.R. for order of march on nights 5TH/6TH and 6TH/7TH April, 1917.

Appendix 2. - Summary of operations of R.C.R. during the ninth of April, 1917.

Appendix 3. - R.C.R. O.O. 12 dated 7.4.17. Instructions to 7TH C.I.B. for their part to be taken in operation carried out on "Z" Day.

Appendix 4. - Temporary defence scheme of 4TH and 5TH Line of 7TH Canadian Infantry Brigade Frontage.

Letter of appreciation to members of R.C.R. and 7TH C.I.B. for good work done by patrols from L.J. Lipsett commanding 3RD Canadian Division.