Praise for RMR's French-Canadian Company

Praise for RMR's French-Canadian Company

Monday, April 19, 1915

In trenches, St. Julien

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Improving trenches, also working on reserve trenches northeast of and just outside St. Julien”. [1]

19 April 15THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “(Special to The Gazette) Ottawa, April 19. A tribute to the French-Canadians at the front is contained in a letter from Captain E.W. Pope of the staff of the 3rd Brigade of Infantry under Brigadier General Turner to his mother, Lady Pope of Ottawa. A passage in Captain Pope’s letter states: ‘The French-Canadians company, 250 strong, forming part of my brigade, is very much admired by all those around. In all the engagements they have shown the utmost bravery.’”[3]

But Glorious Weather Sees Little Change on British Front Since Neuve Chapelle
Aviators More Active – Both Sides Taking Full Advantage of Clear Weather for Reconnaissances –
Germans Are Very Sparing With Artillery Ammunition

“General Headquarters of the British Army in France, April 18, via London. – The mud element which has so hampered both armies during the winter operations in France and Belgium now has practically disappeared along the British front. Dismal rainy days have given way to almost unbroken weeks of sunshine which has dried up the roads, trenches and lines of communication, making the soldier’s life a paradise compared with former conditions.

With the coming of clearer weather there also has been a marked increase in the number of aeroplane reconnaissances on both sides, as a cloudless atmosphere is just what the observers want. Half-a-dozen aircraft manoeuvered over Ypres all Saturday afternoon. The majority were British attempting to bring down a German flier who was trying to spot batteries at the rear of British lines.

The sky was unflicked anywhere except by the cotton-wool flakes of bursting shrapnel as anti-aircraft
guns sought the fliers. Although the duels continued for hours, no machine on either side was brought down. Living amid the ruins of the Cloth Hall and other structures, the population of Ypres, almost daily under German shell fire, seldom turned their eyes heavenward. So sated with war are all civilians that the graceful craft were unnoticed as they swerved, rose, circled and winged for vantage points.
Broadly speaking, there has been no change in the British front since Neuve Chapelle, trench warfare continuing along the whole line with only a few casualties here and there daily.

The Associated Press correspondent spending the afternoon in the British trenches at Ploegsteert, less than 100 yards from the German line, found the contending armies comparatively inactive. The men, secure behind the ramparts of sandbags, merely did some sniping occasionally and now and then set loose a trench mortar.

Peering through a periscope, no sign of a living human could be seen along the German line, though now and then bullets whizzed from loopholes, either singing close overhead or striking the sandbags with a vicious thud. No man dares show even the top of his head. The danger was emphasized when the correspondent, thrusting the periscope higher than was necessary, drew a bullet which seemed almost to graze the instrument. Nearby stood a young British officer calmly firing through a loophole at an opening in the rival trench, aiming, loading and commenting on hits and misses much as might a man at target practice.

This sort of thing has persisted for weeks and generally describes the conditions along the entire front.
The monotony is relieved only by such clashes as those which took place at Neuve Chapelle or the actions of the French who are now engaged at certain places. Artillery, both German and British, is keeping up only a desultory fire, shells criss-crossing and swishing overhead at intervals during the day and night.

At one point, where the trenches are less than 200 yards apart, the correspondent saw three British shells fall in the German lines, one striking plumb in a trench and hurling debris high into the air. The Germans lately are using less artillery than the British, failing to reply even to persistent shelling except where from their many observation posts they sight movements in the British lines.” [4]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, April 19, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   “With the Third Brigade – Praise for French-Canadian Company with Col. Meighen’s Regiment,”  The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Tuesday, April 20, 1915, pg. 6, col. 4.
[3]   Ibid
[4]  “Mud and Rain Gone, Sunshine in Trenches,” The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Monday, April 19, 1915, pg. 1, col. 7.

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