"Canadians Alone Stopped the German Onrush" at 2nd Ypres

"Canadians Alone Stopped the German Onrush" at 2nd Ypres

Monday, April 26, 1915

26 April 15_A

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “No. 1 Coy of the 14th remained in the trenches in the left sector of the G.H.Q. line until relieved on Monday night April 26/27.  The other companies of the Bn. had meantime been withdrawn to the Transport lines in H5.  On Monday morning April 26, Nos. 2, 3 & 4 Cos were moved over near La Brique as a support for a French attack, but actually took no part. Later in the afternoon of the same day these companies were moved to Reserve Positions in I3B where they dug themselves in & also improved trenches already existing.  Here these three Cos. were joined on Monday by No. 1 Coy relieved that night from the G.H.Q. line.”    [2]

26 April 15_B“(Canadian Associated Press Cable) London, April 25. – Under the caption of ‘avenging Canadians’ the Morning Post correspondent describing Friday’s engagement says: ‘This battle is unique as being the first great event of its kind in the history of Canada, for the Canadian troops can claim it as their own and the glory of it.  They were holding the extreme left of the British line, preparing the ground.  By means of their poison bombs the Germans driving through Langemarck and Pilkem forced a passage across the canal between Stenstraet and Het-sas, reaching the village of Lizerne.

‘French Zouave and Fusiliers Marines with Belgian Carabineers caught in the stupefying fumes of gas bombs, were taken at a disadvantage and despite valiant efforts of their supporting lines were forced to give way.  Pouring their masses across the canal, the Germans then swung to their left and attacked a considerable portion of Canadian forces in rear.

CANADIANS SURROUNDED: ‘The Canadians, facing both ways, fought like lions, for it was bayonet work now, and the hardy colonials, practically back to back, were battling for their lives.  Meanwhile supports, of which we have great bodies at all points of our line, hurried up mingled with Zouaves, who had by this time reformed and fell in one deadly rush upon the Germans.  They cut their way clean through to the surrounded Canadians, and the whole mass charged on to recapture the lost positions.  Not only were the allies’ trenches recovered, but still sweeping onward, the avenging Canadians gained a footing in the lines that the Germans had previously occupied.

‘In this glorious onrush whole companies of Germans were entirely wiped out, great numbers of machine guns were captured and German field guns which had closely followed the advancing infantry were compelled to beat a hasty retreat to safer quarters.  The Canadians had saved the line and though they have lost heavily they have given more than they have received.

BAYONET WORK THERE: According to the Times correspondent, the Canadians on Friday were pitted against a number of Hungarian regiments which had been brought up to fill the gap in the Duke of Wurtemburg’s army.

‘The breaking of the French line very seriously exposed the left of the division of Canadians held in reserve to the north of Ypres.  The division was compelled to retire, leaving the four guns in enemy hands but the troops responded to the call with a magnificent dash and spirit and with two brilliant bayonet charges they forced the enemy to retreat in disorder.  They not only recovered the lost guns but took many prisoners and drove the enemy out of Pilkem.  Such deeds cannot be done without heavy loss and the loss of the Canadians in this brilliant action are heavy.’

The whole of Paris press pays homage this morning to the admirable and marvellous dash of the ‘glorious Canadian contingent.’  Lord Charles Beresford, inspecting the Northamptonshire volunteers yesterday said their hearts had been thrilled by the story of the gallantry of the Canadians. ‘The Canadians saved the day,’ he said.”   [4]

26 April 15_C“London, April 25.  – The German rushes in Flanders and the Woevre where they claim to have had considerable success are believed to be the forerunners of another big effort to break through the allied lines in the West.  For many days Belgium has been sealed from the observation of neutrals while reinforcements from Germany were being moved to the South to take part in the new offensive which they hope is to carry them to Calais and possibly break the resistance of the allies.

The attack in Flanders, originally levelled at the French, has been transferred to the British lines held by the Canadians, on the immediate right of the French, and here, for two days the men of the Dominion have been engaged in a deadly contest with the Germans.

NEW GERMAN TROOPS: It is believed that half a million new German troops have reached Flanders, and that more guns and material are to be used than were provided for the original attempts to destroy the allied armies in the West – attempts which met with failure both in August and October.”  [6]

[1]   Col. G.W.L. Nicholson, CD., Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, Duhamel, Queens Printer, Ottawa, 1962, pg. 79.
[2]  Operation-Report  of May 6th, 1915,  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[3]   “Surrounded, Fighting Back to Back, the Canadians Alone Stopped the German Onrush,” The Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Monday, April 26, pg. 2, col. 5.
[4]   Ibid
[5]  “The Enemy Has Now Half a Million Troops in Flanders,” The Montreal Daily Mail, Monday, April 26, 1915, pg. 6, col. 5.
[6]   Ibid


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