Cameron Highlanders of Canada Memorial Site
Holding the Line
From January to July of 1918, the 43rd Battalion held the line along several fronts: Avion, Arleux, Lens, and Neuville Vitasse. Much patrolling was done and the battalion had to keep alert while in the trenches. On the morning of 28 March, Corporal Irvin successfully brought down a German tri-plane in No Man's Land by Lewis gun and rifle fire. The pilot appeared to be unhurt refused to accept being captured and was shot and killed.
On 22 April, the enemy sent over an estimated 1,500 drums of gas using gas projectors. However, since 43rd patrols had heard suspicious noises, suspecting an installation of gas projectors, the battalion was prepared and not taken by surprise when the attack was launched.
On 6 July, a highland gathering took place at Tinques. All Scottish Divisions (expect one) were represented. The 43rd competed in various events and were successful in entering the final Tug-of-War event, only to be beaten by the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. The Battalion Pipe Band also secured an excellent place, but were not among the prize winners.
Amiens to Mons
From 8 August until the Armistice, the 43rd Camerons took part in several battles. While the German Army was slowly pushed back, it was not realized that the war would soon be over.
AERIAL VIEW OF DODU WOOD
The first of these was at Amiens. During the early morning hours of 8 August, the battalion attacked "Dodu Wood" which lay just south of the Amiens-Roye Road. At 4:20 AM, the protective barrage began and the Camerons began moving out of their assembly trench. However, a minute later, a German counter-barrage hit the Camerons and there were many casualties. Even so, the men moved forward. B Company had a stiff fight up the hill towards the wood but were successful in capturing it, along with 20 trench mortars, 35-40 machine guns, and 267 prisoners. The other three companies crossed the main road and steadily advanced through the morning fog.
In the mist, one of the supporting tanks mistook the men for the enemy and began firing on them. However, Lt. Hanson dashed up to the tank's door, pounding on it, and persuaded its occupants that they were Canadians. The fighting continued as the 43rd reached Vignette Wood, and D Company was successful in capturing a battery of 5.9s. In the wood itself, a 4.1 artillery piece was also captured. Despite initial heavy casualties and many officer casualties. the attack was a success -- over 400 prisoners were captured by the battalion, along with 33 machine guns, 3 bomb throwers, and the 4 above mentioned artillery guns.
The next action was not a planned attack. On the afternoon of 15 August 1918, the 43rd was relieving the 52nd Battalion in the front lines near Damery. Just as C Company arrived, the 52nd was being attacked in force by 4 battalions. This company, in charge of Lt. Geddie, successfully counter-attacked. That night, a French unit on C Company's flank was attacked and were forced to withdraw some distance. This left one platoon of C Company surrounded. This platoon refused to surrender and put up such a fight that the Germans decided that they would kill them. When this platoon's ammunition had run out, and most of the men wounded, the enemy attacked and captured them. Instead of taking them prisoner, each Cameron was shot dead and they were all buried in a shell-hole. When the ground was re-taken, there was no sign of this platoon. They were all located a year after the war had ended by Imperial War Graves workers clearing the battlefield.
At noon on the 16th, the French attacked and the line was pushed forward. A second attack at 5:30 PM pushed the line just west of Fresnoy. These attacks left the companies weakened and the 43rd was relieved during the early morning hours of the 17th.
Bois du Vert and Boiry
From 27-29 August, the 43rd Camerons were again in battle. First, the battalion was in reserve supporting the 9th Brigade's attack on the Bois du Vert and Bois Sart at 5 AM. These two woods were successfully captured. At 10 AM, the 43rd pushed forward toward the Cojeul River, supporting the 2nd Division. Enemy resistance was not strong, but the enemy still put up a considerable fight. This advance continued as far as Vis-en-Artois village. However, the Camerons withdrew slightly as to protect their flanks.
During the early morning hours of the 28th, the Canadian Corps decided to exploit their earlier successes and a third attack took place. At 12:30 PM, the 43rd attacked Remy Wood. This was successfully carried out, but at a cost of over 50% casualties. After the battle their rifle strength was but 70 all ranks.
43rd BOARDING TRUCKS TO MOVE TO A NEW FRONT
Canal du Nord: Fontaine Notre Dame
The next operations took place one month later. On 28 September 1918, the 43rd Battalion was ordered to capture Fontaine Notre Dame, thereby breaking through the Marcoing Line. Unfortunately, the Brigade message to "Stand To" ready to move did not reach the unit in time and the 43rd had to rush to make their way over 6000 yards of unknown ground to move into attack position.
At 6 AM the attack commenced, D and A Companies attacking the village directly and the other companies making their way past the village to hit the Marcoing Line. The village and the high ground south of it was taken quickly, but heavy machine gun fire from the Marcoing Line effectively stopped the attack.
On 1 October 1918, the 43rd again went into battle. As soon as the attack began, the Germans laid a counter-barrage inflicting heavy casualties. The village of Tilloy was captured, but heavy machine gun fire made any additional advance impossible -- the 58th and 116th Battalions could not proceed further.
Heavy counter-attacks against units on the left forced the battalion to withdraw somewhat, but the new line held until the 43rd was relieved by the 2nd Division.
The last major assault by the 43rd Camerons was at a new front. On the afternoon of 22 October 1918, the 43rd passed through the town of Raismes and struggled to make their way through the thick Raismes forest. At its eastern edge, the Camerons came into contact with the enemy, who were busy setting fire to a row of houses. The next morning at 3:30 AM, the attack was resumed. The plan was to establish bridgeheads across the Escaut Canal, which meant an advance across the Bruay Canal, and the capturing of the villages of Escautpoint and Thiers. This was successfully accomplished, but heavy machine gun fire from the Escaut Canal stopped the advance.
On 11 November 1918, the 43rd Battalion was on the western outskirts of Mons. And at 2:50 PM, they marched through the town square and passed in review before the Canadian Corps Commander. The welcome by the citizens of Mons was overwhelming.
43rd MARCHING THROUGH MONS