TO MONS AND APRES
WHILE an enemy withdrawal
on a large scale was the expectation held forth on October 12th, there
was no telling what the Germans were up to. Patrols were pushed boldly
out by night by the four Divisions in the line - the 2nd (Canadian), the
11th (Imperial), the 56th (Imperial) and the 1st Division on the left,
holding the Corps frontage from Pailleul to the left Corps boundary just
two miles south of Douai, the clock tower of which city Canadians had watched
for many months from the opposite ridge of Vimy.
On the night of October 12th-13th
the 11th (British) Division was relieved as the 2nd Division side-slipped.
The 4th Division was ordered to relieve the 56th (British) by the night
of October 16th. During the early morning of the 13th the 56th Division
crossed the canal and succeeded in establishing a bridge-head at Aubigny-au-Bac
and capturing the village with 201 prisoners. At 10 p.m. the following
night, however, an enemy counter-attack forced the withdrawal of the Imperials.
During the early morning of the next day patrols of the 1st Division succeeded
in crossing the canal near Ferin. They met with strong resistance and withdrew,
but not without a quota of prisoners and also several machine guns. On
the night of October 14th-15th the 4th Division relieved the 56th.
It was not until the 17th
that the morning test barrages, which were routine, found the enemy uncannily
quiet. 1st Division patrols started the big advance of all Divisions and,
though it was met by determined machine gun fire in spots, kept sweeping
forward until by 6 o'clock next morning all the infantry of the 1st and
4th Divisions were across the Canal de la Sensee and several battalions
of the 2nd Division were on the other side.
"During that day," says Gen.
Sir Arthur Currie's report, "two armoured cars and one company of Canadian
Corps Cyclists were attached to each of the 1st and 4th Divisions to assist
in the pursuit. These troops rendered valuable service to the Divisions
to which they were attached, although the enemy's very complete road destruction
prevented the armoured cars from operating to their full extent!'
As this great surge forward
was taking place, few in the ranks realized that they were on their way
to a historic rendezvous - a ...