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

Transcribed by Dwight G. Mercer

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ALTHOUGH the Canadian Corps conducted only minor operations as Divisions in the line and did holding tours awaiting further plans of attack, Machine Gunners were kept busy night and day on harassing fire programs. The line was thinly held, since the flooding of the Sensee and of portions of the Canal du Nord by the enemy had made any offensive action by him unlikely and the right flank was the only possible point from which he could launch an attack. Crossings were well guarded, but the divisional defence was in great depth.

Preparations for the coming attack were under the observation of the Germans from Oisy-le-Verger as well as from Bourlon Wood to the right.

On September 11th the 57th British Division attacked Moevres, and the guns of No. 2 Company, 2nd Battalion C.M.G.C., joined the artillery support for the attack which, however, was unsuccessful.

All areas were heavily shelled at night and night bombing by enemy planes rendered life on this sector anything but peaceful.

On September 15th, Gen. Sir Arthur Currie received details of the forthcoming attack. The Canadians were to again form the spearhead thrust of operations in which the 3rd and 4th Armies were co-operating and were to cross the canal, capture Bourlon Wood and the high ground northeast of it to protect the left flank of the attack. The date of the operation was definitely fixed for September 27th, but on September 22nd the task of the Corps was enlarged to include the capture of the bridges over the Canal le l'Escaut. The 11th British Division came into the Corps command for this operation.

The Corps Commander had always been considered the cautious, methodical type who demanded a perfection of detail before committing his Canadians to attacks, but in the amazingly daring conception of this attack a tremendous gamble was to be taken that provided also a new twist to tactical planning.

On the Corps battle front of 6,400 yards the Canal du Nord was impassable on the northern 3,800 yards. That left, therefore, the narrow neck of 2,600 yards through which the Canadian Corps commander proposed to launch two attacking Divisions, the 1st and the ...

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