AS the Brigade Machine Gun
Companies trekked northward somewhere in the wake of their Infantry Brigades,
they were perhaps not giving much thought to the larger, tactical or strategic
issues of the Battles of the Somme, the desolate scenes of which they were
leaving. Theirs was a vast feeling of relief at every step which took them
farther away from the still-incessant roar of the much heralded and biggest
British artillery effort of the war to date and lengthened the distance
between them and the clinging, chalky, muddy wastes of that scene with
its always-present misery and always-blasting threat of death and grievous
wounds as the price of so little gain in ground.
The threat of death and wounds,
of course, lay surely ahead but it would be in a different scene - in a
new shuffle of the cards of fate.
The invisible cable routes
of rumor-carried their usual burden of messages in their uncanny but not
always accurate fashion. This time the burden of the message was that not
only was the next scene to be different-it was to be refreshingly new.
This time these rumors happened to be true.
As the now fully-grown Corps
settled for short spells of rest in the area back of Bully Grenay and Arras,
fears that this might only be a temporary halt before the march was resumed
back to the torn, hated salient of miserable memories, where through weary,
tense, costly months three divisions had gone through the red baptism of
modern war, were set at rest.
And in the reprieve from
the grisly setting of the Somme and the freshness of the new scene, drooping
spirits quickly rose, there was again the rollicking song in the air and
once more a buoyant sense of adventure - never far below the surface in
the Canadian Corps - began to assert itself.
Vimy Ridge dominated the
whole eastern side of this sector, "which had been used for some time by
both sides, apparently, as a resting spot for tired, worn-out troops. When
the German hordes were flung back from the very gates of Paris, Vimy Ridge
was among those natural features, embodied in the plans of the German Higher
Command for retreat - should it become necessary. It remained a notable,
outstanding choice along the front on which the Germans finally turned
Canadians were not to be
there long before the history of the dauntless attempts of the 10th French
Army in 1915-16 to capture ...