The First World War
War Diary of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Transcription by Captain Michael O'Leary, The RCR.




OPERATIONS NOVEMBER 9th, 10th, 11th, 1918.

On November 8th, 1918, the Battalion being in Brigade Reserve at QUIEVRAIN supplied working parties to repair roads. One platoon of "C" Coy. established sentry groups at dusk to watch the road approaches from North and North West at approximately M.35.a.7.D.

Slight shelling of the town by the enemy, apparently searching for batteries, caused no damage. A hostile low-flying aeroplane came over in the morning, fired a machine gun, but other than creating a panic in the civil population, did no harm.

The next day (Nov. 9th.) the Battalion marched at 07.30 hours for BOUSSU and pass through the P.P.C.L.I. establishing posts on East side of the town. On arrival at THULLIN an advanced guard, "B" Coy., was formed and orders given to move via HAININ. No opposition met with, BOUSSU having been previously occupied. The Battalion on arrival at BOUSSU halted for dinner.

Two British prisoners of war who had escaped, together with Belgian Secret Service Agents, gave some valuable information about the enemy. The advance was continued at 12.20 with orders to pass through the P.P.C.L.I. at JEMAPPES. The Battalion marched via HORNU - WASMUL - QUAREGNIN. "A" Coy. formed the advanced guard.

On arrival at JEMAPPES, P.P.C.L.I. was found to be holding slag-heap, with one Company in vicinity P.16.c. One Platoon of "A" Coy. moved down road P.15.b.80.65. - P.15.b.45.00. One Platoon along main road P.16.a. and one Platoon P.10.d. Slight machine gun fire was met with in vicinity of canal P.11.a. and wood P.17.a. the remainder of Battalion had tea at JEMAPPES.

While the Battalion was resting the Company Commanders were summoned to Battalion H.Q. at 03.30. The Brigadier called the C.O. to a conference at the Headquarters of the P.P.C.L.I. where he outlined a new plan of advance. The R.C.R. instead of proceeding east through the P.P.C.L.I. with the Canal de Conde as the left boundary were to swing north easterly from JEMAPPES and attack MONS from the North and North West.

At this time information as to the situation on the left of the CANAL du CONDE was indefinite but the 49TH Battalion (E.R.) was known to have crossed the canal in the early morning north of THULIN and had orders to clear the country north of the canal du Conde and easterly towards MONS.

On return to Battalion Headquarters the Company Commanders were told of the change of plan and "D" Coy was ordered to cross the river and move towards road running through K.19. Central - MONS - as an objective, but not to cross the MONS - Ghlin road with more than patrols without communicating.

The bridge crossings in JEMAPPE were blown up, but a barge provided crossing and work was also immediately started on a second crossing which was completed before daylight. Owing to the alteration liaison with artillery was difficult, as instead of taking over those attached to the P.P.C.L.I. new liaison had to be provided. This was not satisfactorily obtained until midnight. During the evening "D" Company moved well forward to the MONS - Ghlin road and reconnoitred roads and villages between JEMAPPES and GHLIN. They established outposts south of GHLIN and in MONS - GHLIN road, and moved their Headquarters to J.34.d.5.5. at 23.00 hours orders were received that the R.C.R. were to take over the whole Brigade front and continue the advance on MONS. The three companies lying in JEMAPPES were ordered to be ready to be moved at 04.30 hours and the Company Commanders, I.O. and S.O. at the same time were sent for to report to headquarters where verbal instructions were given them as follows:-

"A" Coy. to pass through the P.P.C.L.I. and to enter MONS from the south. Wire to be laid to report centre in P.24.s. and observers to man O.P. there. Artillery Liaison with this O.P. could be quickly obtained as the 39TH Battery C.F.A. had their guns well forward in JEMAPPES.

"B" Company was to cross the canal and enter MONS along the MONS - Ghlin the MONS - GHLIN, their objective being the eastern edge of MONS. "C" Company was to cross the canal and gain the road running through K.19.c. and MONS. "D" Company was to provide protection for left-flank, but as much of the Company as possible was to obtain rest and remain in the present position south edge of GHLIN.

The Machine Gun Battery was ordered to cover and assist the approach into MONS, and 4 guns to take up position in P.5. and 4 guns to assist the advance on the left. These latter guns were of no use offensively.

The morning was misty and no trouble experienced until the mist cleared, when we found that the high ground north of GHLIN, the railway banks and canal banks North of MONS and the bridge crossing into MONS on the MONS GHLIN road were heavily manned by Machine Guns. Our "A" Company was in touch with us by wire and our O.P. in P.24.a. was operating. Our artillery connections on the right of the canal were good. On the left of the CONDE Canal communication had been established to our advanced reporting centre in GHLIN but was repeatedly broken. The artillery L.Os were held up practically everywhere on the left during the morning.

At 10.00 hours the Brigade Commander allotted the sector to the right of the Canal to the 42ND Battalion (R.H.C.) to which our "A" Company and report centre were to be handed over. This was completed at 11.00 hours and Battalion Headquarters was moved from JEMAPPES to J.34.b.3.0. out advance report centre. From midday systematic observed shooting was carried on by the enemy with 4.5 and 5.9s and it was not until 15.00 hours that communication by wire was definitely established with Brigade, three lines in all being laid. We ranged a heavy shoot on the principal points of obstruction and this being over our "D" Coy was ordered to make good their original objective. Although slightly delayed by gas bombardment at the time "D" Company pushed steadily forward and reached its final objective K.19 central.

"B" Company which had been held up at the bridge over the Canal and railway prevented the enemy from completing his demolition of these important bridges and while they did not get across these bridges until 02.00 hours on November 11th. Their work in this vicinity was the means of preventing the destruction of these large bridges.

"C" Company which had orders to gain the main NIMY road was held up during the day by machine gun fire from the large slag heap and the railway yards north of MONS, and from the Canal. They also however by their Lewis Gun and rifle fire prevented the blowing up of the tracks and canal bridge at K.31 Central which was later found to be heavily mined and ready for connections. Two Platoons of "C" Coy. were detailed to mop up the vicinity of FOSSE GHLIN on the completion of shoot at 15.15 hours. Our "A" Company which had been attached to the 42ND Battalion (R.H.C.) entered MONS from the south, and during the morning of the 11th, connected up with our "B" Company. Battalion H.Q. moved to MONS at 13.00 hours on the 11th November. The 9TH Brigade passed through the 7TH Brigade at noon, and moved forward to occupy the ground made good by our cavalry, up to 11.00 hours at which time hostilities had ceased.

On the morning of the 12th the Companies were moved into billets in MONS.

Our casualties were:-

Killed. 1 Officer, 3 other ranks.
Wounded. 3 Officers and 18 other ranks.
Missing. 1 other rank.

Prisoners captured 8.

G.W. MacLeod
Commanding The Royal Canadian Regiment.


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