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The Canadian "Emma Gees"
A History of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps
by
Lt.-Col. C.S. Grafton

Transcribed by Dwight G. Mercer

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BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE

CHAPTER IV.

WARNED early in September by Gen. Sir Henry Horne, commander of the 1st Army, that they were likely to be detached and sent to Flanders to take part in the main British thrust being made there, it came as no surprise to the Canadians when by mid-October the 3rd and 4th Divisions were already in the van of the movement which was to take the whole Corps northwards, back to Belgium.

They were headed back to the very salient where the 1st Division had won imperishable fame and to an area that had seen the 2nd and then 3rd Division, each in turn, offered to the holocaust of modern war, out of which they came, maimed but never broken and tempered as with steel to an added hardness which three years and a half had shown the gods of war demanded in ever increasing degree. Even the 4th Division had had its first peek inside the theatre of war as it was gently initiated into trench tours just to the south of the grim salient to which all were now pointing.

Started on July 31st after numerous, unavoidable delays, the Third Battle of Ypres, as this offensive of 1917 was to be known, had been raging with ever-increasing intensity for two months, when the movement of the Canadians to the north began.

Even in the midst of their own immediate and pressing troubles in front of Lens, Canadians had followed the fortunes of the Imperials, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans to the north in the salient as daily the toll of comparatively shallow advances strengthened the claim of Ypres and its surrounding area as the "Graveyard of an Empire." They had learned to read between the lines of war dispatches as they perused them in trench or billet. They had no illusions regarding what lay at the end of this trek north. The most imaginative and morbid of speculative flights were to fall far, far below the most comfortable, "cushy" levels of realization.

The fourth British attack had been started on October 4th. Despite another downpour of the rain that had been falling almost incessantly since July and had long ago rendered the whole salient but one vast quagmire, the assault made remarkable headway and British and Australian troops, at a great cost in lives, wrested another 3,000 yards of muddy desolation from the Germans. They captured Zonnebeke, they reached Poeleappelle and the higher land at Brood-

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Transcript Copyright © 2003 Dwight G. Mercer - Badge Images Copyright © 2003 Ray Adams
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