One hundred years ago on 15 August 1917
31st Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, Canadian Expeditionary Force was a sub-unit of the 9th Canadian Field Artillery Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division. The 9th Brigade war diary records:
Visibility good. Operation Order No. 100 was carried out today starting at 4.36 am and special reports by Lieut. R.T. Macaulay, Group F.O.O. and Lieut. J.R. Jamieson, F.O.O. Bgd? Battery, C.F.A.?, are attached hereto. The enemy barrage was very heavy on the zone to our right but later in the day became very intense on our front. The infantry reached their final objective, ? on Hill 70?, on schedule time. Several counter-attacks against this famous hill were launched by the enemy during the day were completely broken up by artillery fire before they reached our new front lines. The whole 4th Guards Division attempted a counter attack from the BOIS de QUATORES and the BOIS DIN-NUIT and are known to have suffered enormous casualties. About 8.00 pm a drizzling rain set in and the situation quieted down considerably. Only a few enemy planes were up during the day.
3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery war diary records:
BRAQUEMONT - In accordance with O.O. 123, the 3rd. C.D.A.co-operated with the 1st. and 2nd Canadian Division in an attack on Hill 70 and German defenses in the vicinity. Our barrage started at 4.25 a.m. Timing, distribution and accuracy was reported excellent. All the objectives were reached and held, about 1200 prisoners being taken and five counter attacks being repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy. Enemy aeroplanes did not interfere to any great extent with our observation during the day. His artillery was, however, very active, barrages being put on our front and support lines immediately after our attack began. These were repulsed frequently during the greater part of the day. It rained quite heavily during the afternoon. At 9.45 p.m. 15th. inst. the 53rd. R.F.A. battery was transferred to the tactical center control of the O.H.A., 3rd. C.D.A. attached to Ralston's Group. G.557/69. Ammunition expended A.7633., AS 2853., HX.1886., N.839., NX.730. Guns in action 30 18-pdrs., 4 13-pdrs., 12 4.5" Hows.
5th Canadian Siege Battery, Canadian Artillery, Canadian Expeditionary Force was a sub-unit of 1st Canadian Heavy Artillery Group for administration and under command 2nd Canadian Heavy Artillery Group for Counter-Battery. Their war diary records:
ANGRES - During the month of August the Battery took part in the capture of Hill 70, also the taking of the Green Crasier and all the fighting on the Lens front. During this time the Battery was twice heavily shelled by 8” and on several occasions we were bombarded with Gas Shells.
1st Canadian Heavy Artillery Group war diary records:
Cabaret Rouge – Attack on famous Hill 70 took place this morning by 2nd and 4th Canadian Divisions, first stage of attack being launched at 4.25 a.m. and second stage at 8.25 a.m. A very strenuous day ensued. Barrages and hostile parties being fired upon. S.O.S. lines fired on repeatedly to repel numerous strong counter attacks which took place during the whole day. Approximately 1700 rounds of 6" shell were expended during the day by the 9th Canadian Siege Battery and 72 SAHA. 5th Canadian Siege Battery attached to 50th H.A. Group. One gunner, 9th Canadian Siege Battery killed by shell fire and 3 other ranks wounded.
2nd Canadian Heavy Artillery Group was placed in tactical control of 5th Canadian Siege Battery for counter battery work. The 2nd CHAG war diary records:
X.23.b.1.5 - Supported attack on whole Corps front principally against Hill 70 and CITE ST AUGUSTE commencing at 4,25 a.m., Apparently catching enemy unprepared. Hostile barrage very weak and did not commence until 0 plus 18 min. Attack reported successful. Infantry gained final objective on time. Balloon visibility nil owing to clouds. During afternoon and evening engaged a great number of N.F. Call.s Ground observation very good, FOOs. Getting parties of infantry with shrapnel. Enemy counter attacks repulsed except on 4th Div. Front where they regained their former position.
Ammunition expended:- 60-pr. 8”How 6”How 9.2”How 4.5”How
1375 739 849 221 1747
General Officer Commanding, Royal Artillery, Canadian Corps war diary records:
In the Field - WEATHER: showery, fair intervals, rather cloudy - cool. Attack on HILL 70 launched at 4.25 am Operation was carried out by the 1st, 2nd & 4th Canadian Divisions, supported by all the artillery of the Canadian Corps, - (list attached shown as an Appendix). All objectives were reached during the day. Following reports received during the operation:
12.05 am From 2nd C.D.A. Report MAROC and ANGRES shelled with gas shell, flashes have been picked up and reported to C.B.S.O.
12.15 am From C.B.S.O. Germans reported to be making free use of gas shell mixed H.E., mostly directed against MAROC and LIEVIN - apparently using several batteries - C.B.S.O. asked to find out nature of gas.
12.30 am From 4th CDA VIMY Batteries report mustard gas being fired by 77 mm from direction of MERICOURT.
4.40 am From 2nd CDAGermans retaliating on FOSSE 9 and HILL 65.
4.50 am From 2nd CDA
4.35 am German barrage opened, not strong, mostly in FOSSE 9 direction.
4.40 am Heavy machine gun fire from the right whichto be reduced at 4.45 am.
4.45 am From 4.45 am apparently no flares from front line.
4.56 am From CBSO
4.37 am At 4.37 am a few rounds
4.45 am Light shelling of LOOS and CITE ST. PIERRE
4.52 am German barrage opened on AVION front.
4.55 am From 1st CDA German barrage opened 3 minutes after ours. Heavy T.M. fire from the left. Infantry reported front line being shelled at 4.42 am.
4.57 am From 4th CDA German barrage 3 minutes after ours, mostly on right flank. Heavy barrage on AVION front, (4th Canadian Division front).
6.02 am From 2nd CDA White flares reported from N.7.d. central at 4.51 am.
6.07 am From 2nd CDA Enemy shelling his own front line in N.7.b. & d. also FOSSE 9 and CITE ST. THEODORE. Red and green rockets going up from N.14.b. & d.
5.08 am From 1st CDA 4.50 am Blue Objective reported as reached on left of 1st Canadian Division. Support line of right battalion very heavily shelled.
5.10 am From 2nd CDA
4.50 am left infantry brigade reported to be on Blue objective.
5.17 am From 2nd CDA
5.09 am 3 White Very lights in front of FOSSE.
5.12 am 3 White Very lights at BOIS RASE. Objective in N.7.d. gained with slight casualties.
5.19 am From CBSO Statement as regards German retaliation, corroborating reports received.
5.25 am From CCHA Report one German ran into FOSSE 11 O.P. and surrendered. He reports that LENS is being evacuated.
5.30 am From 1st CDA Both right and left brigade reported on their Blue objective. Not heavy retaliation on their left. Hostile plane flying low over our front line at 5.20 am.
5.32 am From 4th CDA Request for latest wind report.
5.35 am From 2nd CDA At 5.25 am Bosche seen retiring down CINNABAR in single file N.8.d. Superimposed battery (18-pdr.) turned on intense fire.
5.45 am From 2nd CDA F.O.O's report seeing our infantry going into NUN's ALLEY at 5.40 am.
5.50 am From 4th CDA At 5.05 am the 21st Battalion were reported to have gained all objectives, and battalion commander satisfied with the situation.
5.50 am From CCHA Our men reported going into NUN'S ALLEY. Last reports from the left all going well.
6.02 am From 1st CDA Left brigade reported to be in their Green Objective.
6.08 am From 26th HAG Super-Howitzers will continue with occasional rounds up to Zero plus 200. Received rumours that prisoners stated LENS was evacuated last night under cover of gas bombardment.
6.10 am From CCHA Left F.O.O's report that they can see our men digging in along green line as far as view permits. 26 prisoners reported up to date; these apparently all report that LENS was evacuated last night. Unconfirmed report that prisoners of the 156th Regt. been taken.
6.15 am From 1st CDA Liaison officer with right brigade reports that Red Objective had been gained at 6.05 am.
6.20 am From CBSO Large explosions in LENS reported.
6.23 am From 2nd CDA From all accounts Right Brigade of 2nd Canadian Division to have had more or less of a walk over. Prisoners of 155th Regt. (70th Divn.) reported as captured, also Prussian Guards. Unconfirmed report of German plane flying low over our line. German hostile fire slight.
6.30 am From CCHA. Our men can be seen digging in H.32.c. Normal rate of fire being maintained up to 7am.
6.42 am From 2nd CDA Liaison officer reports that a prisoner states 2,000 storm troops had been distributed among the garrison. Opposition during the attack was slight except for a M.G. in CONDUCTOR trench. Barrage was good and accounted for many Bosches. Two large explosions in LENS. Petrol store on fire 70 true from M.23.b.8.0. Shelling practically ceased on our front line.
6.50 am From 1st CDA F.O.O's report German plane flying low over H.31. From all reports casualties appear to have been light. Infantry were seen advancing from Red line but no reports received yet as regards final objective.
6.54 am From 1st CDA Liaison officer 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade reports Green line taken. captured officer states immediate counter attack will be made.
6.55 am From 2nd CDA L.O. reports captures of 10th I.R.I. Relief in progress at time of attack. 77 mm fire now on COWLEY; German planes apparently directing hostile fire.
7.05 am To 4th CDA Enquiry as to smoke barrage. Reported excellent, will be maintained up to 7.15 am.
7.10 am From 1st CDA L.O. with right battalion of 1st Canadian Division reports Red line being consolidated. 40 casualties per company up to present. 1 M.G., 3 T.M., 1 officer and 25 O.R. captured up to present.
7.15 am From 2nd CDA 6.55 am all objectives captured on 2nd Canadian Division front. Reports of prisoners up to date include one batch of 50 and one of 12. Our men seen walking about in M.8.b. between Green line and final barrage.
8.00 am From 1st CDA Left company of 2nd Brigade are on their final objectives. Right company did not quite make Green objective. Germans holding C.T. running E. and W. in H.32.d. Heavy group shelling eastern end of trench. 1st CDA in touch with L.O. and F.O.O. situation well in hand. 8.15 am From 2nd CDA Reports appear to indicate counter attack from the direction of BRICKFIELDS N.3.c. towards junction of COMMOTION and NUN'S ALLEY.
8.10 am To CCHA Instructions to put concentration of 64th H.A.G. & 1st C.H.A.G. on GDE. CONDE. 2nd CDA to co-operate. On receipt of message, 2nd CDA instructed to verify whether counter attack is developing from BRICKFIELDS before switching 64th H.A.G.
8.30 am To CCHA Right of 1st Canadian Division appears to be hung up by rifle fire from houses about M.3.a.7.5. enfilading southern portion of QUARRY. Houses at present being taken on by heavies. Super Howitzers 15" to drop few rounds about N.3. central.
8.38 am From 1st CDA 1st CDA are putting up barrage on portion of Green line east of R. barrage.
8.42 am To 2nd CDA Enquiry as to counter attack from BRICKFIELDS does not appear to have materialized. Bosche holding NUN'S ALLEY between NABOB and COMMOTION.
8.50 am To CCHA Information as to situation. Instructions given to put as many batteries as could be spared from the remainder of the front on to houses H.33.c. and N.3.a.
9.10 am From 2nd CDA Left Group 2nd CDA report enemy attacking AMULET TRENCH (passed to CCHA who have a battery concentrating on FOSSE I.) O.C., 21 Battalion has sent message back that CINNABAR TRENCH could be taken with artillery fire, being lightly held. Germans have put a light barrage on our new line on this front (21st Battalion).
9.25 am From 4th CDA Reported by flares 4th Canadian Division have reached Red objective. Some Germans seen in N.13.D.o.2. may be prisoners.
9.22 am From 2 CDA 9.15 am our barrage broke counter attack in N.8.b. G.O.C., R.A., informed. 9.17 am infantry think they could take CINNABAR TRENCH with artillery support, otherwise Lewis gun posts which have been pushed out to N.22.214.171.124. and 5.6. and 90.85. will be withdrawn to CHICORY. CCHA informed.
9.25 am From 2nd CDA Heavy Hun barrage on CITE STE. THEODORE and N.13.c.
9.30 am From 2nd CDA A counter attack from CINNABAR (approx) has broken down under our fire.
9.45 am From 1st CDA F.O.O., 1st C.D.A. reports M.G. fire from BRICKFIELDS (N.3.c.)
9.50 am From 2nd CDA Report from Capt. T. Lea, 2nd Canadian Division obtained all objectives OK. 93rd Battalion repulsed local counter attack at 7.50 am. Scattered shelling on whole front. Received at 2nd CDA 9.46 am.
10.30 am From 4th CDA Report of situation on 4th Canadian Division front. Southern portion of ALPACH and GREEN CRASSIER still held by Bosche, 4th CDA engaging their trenches with 4.5" howitzers. Bosche still in ALOOF also being engaged by 4.5" with direct observation.
10.40 am To CCHA CCHA requested to assist 4th Canadian Division on GREEN CRASSIER TRENCHES if situaion admits. One section of 72nd Siege Battery (6" howitzers) is being turned on.
10.45 am From 4th CDA Report that we no longer hold ACONITE TRENCH.
11.05 am From 1st CDA F.O.O's report much movement in Northern sector to H.27.d. moving towards BOIS QUATORZE & BOIS de DIX-HUIT. Fire of approximately one battalion seen. Also movement in HIVE ALLEY, 6th D.A. and 1 Company H.A. on left dealing with this later.
11.07 am To CCHA Report from 1st CDA passed to CCHA, who state this movement is already being dealt with by 64th H.A. Group and 60-pdrs. searching H.27.d. and H.33.a. and b.
11.15 am From 1st CDA Report parties were dispersed by our fire, some of them were seen to be carrying machine guns. Parties went into BOIS de DIX-HUIT. 1st CDA are turning on 18-pdrs. to search wood.
11.25 am From 1st CDA Much movement coming from direction of WINGLES down HIVE ALLEY, request from I Corps to assist.
12.30 pm From CBSO General summary of situation satisfactory. BOIS de DIX-HUIT being searched by 60-pdrs.
12.35 pm To 'I' Corps, RA 1st Corps, R.A. requested to assist. They report that field batteries are dealing with HIVE ALLEY etc., and heavies shelling BOIS de DIX-HUIT etc.
11.45 am From 4th CDA Report that continual flow of Germans has been seen coming up NABOB ALLEY towards CINNABAR TRENCH. 2nd CDA informed.
11.50 am From 'I' Corps, RA Report of large bodies moving from BOIS DES DAMES towards BOIS de DIX-HUIT.
11.52 am To CCHA CCHA instructed to make 12 noon concentration on BOIS de DIX-HUIT as strong as possible.
11.55 am From 1st CDA Colonel Hayter corroborates reports from 'I' Corps, RA.
12.05 pm From 1st CDA Colonel Hayter reports that movement coming from North is moving near VENDIN le VIEL Road towards BOIS QUATORZE and BOIS de DIX-HUIT.
12.10 pm To CCHACCHA instructed to take on concentration at back of BOIS de DIX-HUIT reported by RFC observer. 2 batteries firing.
12.25 pm To CCHA Enquiry to CBSO as to situation on Northern front. Reports no fresh news. Instructed to find out from advanced OP's.
12.35 pm To 1st CDA Enquiry to 1st CDA as to situation. Report two German counter attacks have been broken up. Situation a bit quieter.
12.35 pm From 2nd CDA 2nd CDA report several German planes up, registering our front line. 43rd Squadron RFC informed.
12.40 pm From CBSO OP's report considerable hostile movement in H.26., H.27.c.5.o. and H.19.c. Concentrations on BOIS HUGO and BOIS de DIX-HUIT being put on at 12.50 pm.
12.45 pm To CBSO Report forwarded to CBSO received from 3rd Infantry Brigade retiring artillery and advancing infantry on CARVIN Road to N.10.c. and N.15.b. reported at 12.30 pm. These targets had already been engaged.
1.00 pm From 2nd CDA German plane brought down at 12.55 pm by machine gun fire. Col. Constantine (OC 5th Bde., CFA) watching NABOB ALLEY. German concentration near LOISON station. Passed to CBSO. 1.20 pm From Corps 'I' Report from RFC observers (43rd Squadron) just landed, state that Germans are again concentrating in BOIS de DIX-HUIT. CCHA informed, concentration of 63rd and 64th HAG on BOIS DIX-HUIT arranged for at once and 1st CDA informed.
1.30 pm From Corps 'G' Party of 150 Bosches in N.3.d. seen at 1.10 pm moving towardsfront line. Passed to 2nd CDA.
1.45 pm From Corps 'I' Huns dribbling down HIGHGATE and HYMAN TRENCHES towards CITE STE. AUGUSTE from ANNAY Trench and into FOSSE 8 de LENS. 1st CDA informed.
2.10 pm From 2nd CDA SOS reported in N.2.d. and N.8.b. Bosche came from NEWGATE Trench at the double across N.3.o. and N.9.a. under fire all the way, results not known.
2.45 pm From 2nd CDA Germans are reported to have established a footing at junction of CONDUCTOR and CHICORY Trenches and CONDUCTOR and COMBAT Trenches. DA shooting on CONDUCTOR and COMBAT Trenches, as near as possible, 63rd HAG asked to take on same trenches a little further off.
3.00 pm From 2nd CDA Report CHICORY trench no longer held by us.
5.20 pm From CCHA Bosche attacking across open from HERCULES trench - artillery are on them (CCHA - 1st CDA informed).
5.30 pm From Corps 'I' Report Bosche coming down HUMBUG trench at about same time.
5.50 pm From Corps 'I' I Corps OP's report Northern counter attack as being of a determined nature.
5.45 pm From 1st Cdn. Dvn. Request for CB assistance during operation at 6 pm CBSO consulted - all arrangements made.
5.55 pm To 1st CDA Enquiry to 1st CDA as to whether SOS on left would affect situations as regards support of 6 pm attack. CRA considers it all right. Warned as regards reports from 'I' Corp's OP's.
6.10 pm From 1st Cdn. Dv. CRA reports that apparently counter attack on the left was not of a serious nature, and appears to have been driven off.
6.50 pm From 2nd CDA Infantry reported as being back in CHICORY from end to end.
6.55 pm From 1st CDA White flares are believed to have been seen from the CHALK QUARRY, this is however not corroborated.
7.20 pm From 2nd CDA SOS reported from NUN'S ALLEY.
8.40 pm From G.S. SOS reported at 8.12 pm on left of 1st Canadian Division front. 1st CDA and CCHA have been at work on this. 1st CDA request any assistance 'I' Corps can give (8.45 pm) and report smoke barrage on either side of PUIT.14.bis. 'I' Corps had been firing up CT's with all natures up to 8.30 pm and will recommence at once.
8.45 pm From 'I' Corps 'I' Corps report their field and Heavy Artillery were already engaging F.L., supports and CT's.
8.55 pm From 1st CDA Attack on 15th Battalion front had been repulsed.
8.55 pm From 'G' Corps SOS 2nd Canadian Division front confirmed by 2nd CDA.
9.00 pm From 1st CDA SOS 1st Canadian Division front. CRA consider it something big. CDA advised.
9.35 pm To CCHA Enquiry to CCHA as to situation. Brigades apparently do not know results of SOS. Situation apparently quieting down.
9.55 pm To 2nd CDA Enquiry to 2nd CDA as to situation. No definite news, apparently everything seems all correct. D.A's and CCHA have slowed down.
10.10 pm From CBSO From reports of OP's it seems doubtful whether our SOS signal was ever sent up; probably German red rockets were mistaken for SOS signal. No special hostile artillery activity preceded the SOS signal.
10.40 pm From Corps 'G' 1st Canadian Division report SOS on the right of their front. 2nd CDA called up. State that at 10.43 pm SOS went up opposite their left battalion front apparently at the junction of the two divisions.
10.42 pm To 1st CDA Enquiry to 1st CDA. They state SOS is on their right front.
12.00 mn. SOS on 1st and 2nd Canadian Division fronts shortly before midnight.
The 15th Field Artillery Regiment RCA perpetuates the following sub units:
31st Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, Canadian Expeditionary Force,
5th Canadian Siege Battery, Canadian Artillery, Canadian Expeditionary Force,
68th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, North Russia Expeditionary Force, was not authorized to be formed until 3 August 1918, and
85th Battery, Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force was not authorized to be formed until 12 July 1918.