|Preux, the heights of which
dominated the ground over which the Canadians must advance.
This was to be no overwhelming
surprise as at Amiens. This was not to be conceived in the heavy, ponderous
blows of the Somme and Passchendaele but in the modelled perfection of
Vimy - of a succession of Vimys but always with the eyes fixed on far horizons
and the possible objectives scaled to miles instead of yards.
The operation was originally
scheduled for August 25th, but Gen. Sir Arthur Currie represented that
this was only 48 hours' notice and, besides, the Canadian Corps had a superstitious
feeling about attacking on the Sabbath Day. The attack was then set for
The general objectives for
the attack on the 26th were that the 2nd Canadian Division was to capture
Chapel Hill, then work south through the old British support system and
join up with the British troops on the right on the northern end of the
Wancourt Spur, thus encircling the enemy troops in the forward area towards
Neuville Vitasse. They were at the same time to push forward and capture
the southern end of Monchy-le-Preux Heights.
The 3rd Canadian Division
was to capture Orange Hill and then Monchy-le-Preux. The success of the
advance was to be exploited as far east as possible. The 51st (Highland)
Division was to cover the left flank of the 3rd Canadian Division.
The 2nd Battalion C.M.G.C.
(Weir) allotted its companies to brigades as follows: No. 2 Company (Ramsay)
to the 6th C.I.B. attacking on the right; No. 3 (McCamus) to the 4th C.I.B.
attacking on the left, and No. 1 Company was to fire the barrage.
The 3rd Battalion C.M.G.C.
delegated its companies as follows: No. 1 to the 8th C.I.B. attacking;
No. 2 (Drinkwater) to the 7th C.I.B. in close support, and No. 3 (McLean)
to the 9th C.I.B. in reserve.
Originally the zero hour
had been planned for 4.50, the one element of surprise left open to the
attackers, but this was moved ahead to 3 a.m. when final preparations were
ahead of schedule. A rainstorm drenched the attack just as it started but
did not dampen the determination with which it pushed off into the murky
night to the roar and flash of 17 bridgades of 18-pounders, 9 brigades
of heavies and 30 long-range guns.
There was some uncertainty
in the first few hours of the attack. The 8th C.I.B. (Draper) by a baffling
encircling attack had captured the town of Monchy-le-Preux by 7 a.m., but
the 7th C.I.B. did not get the trenches in front of them cleared until
11 a.m., and then joined up with the 8th. On the right, south of the Arras
Road, terrific, close-in fighting all morning obscured any certainty of
success. The 6th C.I.B. ...