28th Battalion History

The Road to Vimy Ridge - Spring 1917

January 1, 1917

A Christmas dinner and concert was held for the for men in a YMCA.

January 3, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in Souchez II trenches.

January 6, 1917

An accidental shooting happens at the transport lines, one man being hit. The soldier responsible is placed under arrest.

January 7, 1917

The casualty from the transport lines shooting dies in ambulance.

January 9, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion and moves to the Lorette Spur defences to relieve 27th Battalion.

January 13, 1917

A board of enquiry sits for the purposes of enquiring into and reporting upon the loss of two bicycles on charge to this unit.

January 14, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in Souchez II trenches.

January 15, 1917

A 28th Battalion sentry on duty at Spinner and Cooker Alley near Vimy Ridge recaptures three Germans who has escaped from the POW cage at Bruay.

January 19, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 3rd Canadian Battalion and moves moved to Bouvigny Wood huts.

January 20, 1917

The Battalion moves to Bajus.

January 21, 1917

AMoved from Bajus to Dieval.

January 30, 1917

The Battalion moves from Dieval to Burbure into G.H.Q. reserve.

February 6, 1917

The original members of the 6th Cananadian Infantry Brigade are photographed in the afternoon.

February 12, 1917

The Battalion moves to Houdain.

February 13, 1917

The Battalion marches to Mont St.Eloi and relieved the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles in Bois De Alleux billets.

February 17, 1917

Field Grade Courts Martial for trial of no.782351 Pte G.J.Patch and no.73601 L/Sgt J.P.Robertson assembled at H.Q. mess. Two other ranks sent to C.T.D. England for commission.

February 18, 1917

The remainder of the Battalion, less 'A'&'C' Companies, remain at Ecoiveres and carried on training.

February 22, 1917

A Court of Enquiry is held on the illegal absence of no.73176 A/Sgt. W.Wilson (absent without leave 20/11/16)

February 24, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 27th Battalion in frontline Ecurie Section. Relief is completed at 13.30 pm. the trenches are very muddy.

March 2, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 29th Battalion. Moves to Estree Cauchie where the billets are good.

March 4, 1917

Divine Service held.

March 6, 1917

The Battalion marches for bathing at Camblain L'Abbe baths.

March 7, 1917

The Battalion moves to Grand Servins for training for the upcoming attack on Vimy Ridge. The billets are poor.

March 11, 1917

The Battalion holds Church Parade and has a concert in the afternoon. Attack practise is scheduled for the rest of the week.

March 18, 1917

Divine Service held.

March 19-23, 1917

Attack practise all week.

March 24, 1917

The Battalion marches at 0845 to Mont.St.Eloi on way to the trenches to relieve the 21st Battalion at Neuville St.Vaast. Camp was shelled, causing 11 casualties. The Battalion moves into support trenches by 2200. Two other ranks were KIA.

March 25, 1917

The Battalion is at Neuville St.Vaast. Six N.C.O's are sent to England for Commissions.

March 26, 1917

The artillery activity continues, Aux Reitz Corner is a most unhealthy spot.

March 30, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in the frontline on the night of 30/31st.

March 31, 1917

The enemy barraged our frontline and support lines from 0305-0320. Casualties are three other ranks KIA, one Other Rank DOW (Died Of Wounds).

April 1, 1917

Wounded - 5 other ranks.

April 2, 1917

Wounded 1 other ranks.

April 4, 1917

All available men engaged in cleaning trenches and preparing Assembly Trenches. Two other ranks wounded.

April 5, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 21st Battalion and moves to camp at Bois Des Alleux.

April 6, 1917

Battalion is at Camp at Bois Des Alleux. One other rank killed.

April 8, 1917

Church Service held for the Battalion. General Officer Commanding the Brigade and the Commanding Officer gave a short address on forthcoming operation. The Battalion moved by platoons to trenches at 9.05p.m

April 9, 1917

Battle of Arras, Vimy Ridge. Movement from the assembly areas to the jump off trenches was through a set of tunnels burrowed through the chalk. These tunnels were originally dug for an earlier assault as mines, the end of which was under the then German lines. It had been filled with explosives and detonated shortly before that unsuccessfull attack. Now the German lines had been pushed back and the old tunnel reopened, emerging into the crater. Captain MacIntyre recalled:

"I was all through a most wonderful cave carved in the solid chalk... It was suupported by pillars of chalk. It looked like some scene from "Ali Baba and the forty thieves". On every side men were sleeping, eating, playing cards and cleaning their weapons by the light of scores of candles".

All companies were in position in Assembly trenches at 3.15 a.m. The battalion formed part of 2nd Division's follow on force. The 26th and 24th Battalions (with intermediate "mop up lines from 22nd and 20th Battalions) took the first objective, Black Line. At Black Line, 25th and 21st Battalions (with more "mop up troops from 22nd and 20th Battalions) passed through to take the second objective, Red Line. After Red Line was secured at about 7:00 AM, 6th Brigade, 27th, 28th, 29th & 31st Battalions came up from reserve in single file. At 7.55 am the 28th Battalion moved from the assembly area to take up position on main Arras-Lens Road, north side of Neuville St Vaast- Thelus Road. They moved to attack at 0935, swinging into extended order, passed through the troops of who had taken Red Line to take the 3rd and 4th objectives, Blue and Brown Lines.

The weather was not good that morning and the advance went forward in driving sleet. Major Alex Ross is now a Lieutenant Colonel and commands 28th Battalion. The 28th Battalion's area of assault included part of the fortified village of Thélus and the trenches north of the village. This village was unexpectedly easily taken in 20 minutes of fighting due to very effective artillery preparation (11,982 rounds were fired in the attack by 18 pounder guns and 4.5" howitzers). Thelus was destroyed by artillery by 10:00 AM and captured at 10:40 AM. After Securing Thelus, the Battalion moved forward again to the high ground beyond. They came upon a line of concrete bunkers at the higher end of Bois de la Ville and Farbus wood. The battaltion advanced on this defensive line behind the artillery barrage, Subdued the line and took many guns which were found abandoned on the edge of the woods that fringed the eastern slope of the ridge.

The Battalion was deployed for assault on Vimy Ridge as follows:

- Riflemen & rifle grenadiers in 1st line.

-Bombers & Lewis gunners in 2nd.

- Moppers up in 3rd.

- A section of riflemen on each flank.

- Lewis gunners & bombers in center.

- 4-5 yards between men, 15-20 yards between lines, 50-100 yards between waves.

- Each company advanced in 2 waves of 2 platoons each.

- Units bringing up the rear used artillery formation (in columns rather than lines) but deployed into lines and waves when it came time to leapfrog other units.

One of the bunkers captured near Bois de la Ville

Captain Thain MacDowell of 28th Battalion captured 2 machineguns and bluffed 77 Prussian Guards into surrender, for which he won 1 of the 4 Victoria Crosses awarded that day. Of the 4 awarded that day, he alone survived the war.

The Battalion's suffered 44 casualties for the day, 11 other ranks KIA.

April 10, 1917

The consolidation of new line is completed. One company advances to Tarte Trench in support of 27th Battalion. Casualties for the day - one O.R. KIA, two O.R. DOW.

April 11, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 20th Battalion and proceeds to Neuville St.Vaast. Casualties for the day - one O.R. KIA.

28th (North-west) Battalion Headquarters is © Copyright 2002 Robert Lindsay. All Rights Reserved