CANAL DU NORD AND
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
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 ...