War Diary of September 15-16, 1916 at Courcelette for Pte. Joseph Turmaine.
Report on the Operation by 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion, on the morning of September 15th 1916.
Reference Sheets COURCELETTE and LE MOUQUET 1/5,000.
The Battalion left the BRICKFIELDS at 2.00p.m. on 14th Sept. and proceeded to Brigade Headquarters at X.ii.a.2.2. arriving there at 5.00p.m. Two platoons of D Coy. relieved the right Company of the 29th Battn. in front line by 6.30.p.m. The Battn. left Brigade H.Q. at 9.00p.m. and proceeded to the front line to take up position in Assembly Trenches. Owing to congestion of trenches this was not completed till 4.25a.m. The Battn. frontage extended from R.35.c.2.9 1/2 to R.35.c.6.5. Battn.H.Q. were located at R.35.c.4.3. At 6.20a.m. the artillery barrage opened, 50 yards in advance of German trench and the first wave commenced crawling over. As the barrage lifted the Battn. advanced on to the first German Line and reached the trench, the Germans threw up their hands and surrendered. At least 70 dead Germans were counted in this trench This objective was reported to Battn.H.Q. as being taken at 6.27a.m. The Battn. followed up the barrage closely andmet very little opposition at SUNKEN ROAD, Germans surrendering in large numbers. By this time the first wave was nearly wiped out and the second wave took its place. A Company then swung to the left and captured its last objective with one Corpl. and 15 O.R. C and D Coys. reached their objectives and immediately commenced to dig in. This was reported to Battn. H.Q. at 7.40a.m. The line held ran from R.35.b.5. ? 1/2 on SUNKEN ROAD, through R.30.c.0.2. to R.30.c.5.2. Garrison holding this line consisted of 120 all ranks and 4 Lewis Guns located in advance posts at R.30.c.0.2 – 1.2. – 3.2. – 5.3. Owing to casualties the following reinforcements were sent up from B Coy.: – 1 platton to A Coy. on the left and 2 platoons to D Coy. on the right. 4 Officers only were left. Lieuts. McElligott, Holdsworth, Hamilton and Terndrup. Lieut Holdsworth showed great courage and devotion to duty until killed by an enemy sniper. Lieut. Hamilton n the left flank carried on under most trying conditions even after being buried by shells. He was eventually severely wounded on the afternoon of the 16th inst. Enemy attempted to advance up SUNKEN ROAD but were driven off by our Lewis Gun fire. A large number also advanced into a field South West of COURCELETTE and commenced sniping our frontage from this flank. Our Colt and Lewis Guns dealt with the satisfactorily. Two patrols of 1 Lewis gun and 30 men each from the 31st Battn. pushed on towards COURCELETTE but were forced to return to our line owing to the barrage fire. At 11.25p.m. 15th Sept. Lieut. McElligott took command of the whole of our frontage of 3 Coys. and showed great courage and ability in the organizing and consolidation work. The enemy artillery fire was very intense for 48 hours on our front line.
Colt Machine Guns.
Colt machine guns followed behind the third wave and took up positions as follows :-
No. 1 gun at R.30.c.5.1.
No. 2 gun at protecting gap at R.29.d.10.? 1.2.
No. 3 gun at R.35.b.6.7. This gun did excellent work on small parties of Huns who persisted in creeping up towards our new front line.
No. 4 gun was located on a knoll in rear of SUNKEN ROAD and covered our left frontage. When No. 2 gun had established themselves Sergt. F.W.Haines pointed out a German machine gun and crew with a number of snipers dug in in a shell hole 200 yards away. Pte. Stewart opened up with a belt knocking out a number of the party. Sgt.Haines, Corpl. Hancock and Pte.Stewart dashed forward under cover of our machine guns and captured a new model German Maxim. Germans to the number of 6 Officers and 16O.R. surrendered. Sergt.Haines, waving his revolver, motioned them to evacuate in pairs. They filed out and were marched to the Field Ambulance party near by where they were used as stretcher bearers. The enemy hadthrown away the feed block of the captured gun but after considerable careful searching this was located in a shell hole. The gun was then mounted and turned on enemy snipers, causing considerable casualties.
Communication. Our Signallers advanced behind the fourth wave and ran three separate lines to the final objective. These were joined up laterally in the front line, SUNKEN ROAD and the German front line. Communication, however, could not be kept as all the wires were broken by shell fire.
Battalion Scouts were utilized in the following manner :-
Two Scouts each to the following tasks :-
1. The taking of the German front line.
2. The taking of SUNKEN ROAD.
3. The taking of the left Coy.objective.
4. The taking and sonsolidation of the final objective by all Coys. All these Scouts reported successfully yo Battn.H.Q. on the completion of their observation.
Runners were employed continuously and although 75 per cent became casualties, a good number of messages were got through.
Visual Signalling was attempted with flags and flappers but this drew the enemy’s fire and could not be carried on.
Carrying Parties. During the first 24 hours, owing to the intense barrage it was only possible to get through very limited supplies. Coys. and Sections were instructed to collect water, ammunition, bombs and rations from the dead. Our stretcher bearers worked unceasingly carrying out the wounded. The following day, 16th Sept., 7 parties were organized and succeeded in getting through to the front line with tea, mulligan, rations, water, ammunition and bombs. These parties, under Lieut.Coombes and Reg.Sgt.-Mjr.Underwood also succeededin evacuating the wounded, burying the dead and cleared up the battle field. A salvage dump was established at SUNKEN ROAD. A good supply dump was also established in the old German front line. Great credit is due to Reg.S.M. Underwood for the success of this work.
The Battn. evacuated the trenches at 2.00a.m. 17th Sept. 1916 and proceeded to Brigade Reserve (5th Cdn.Inf.Bde.) at X.ii.a.2.2.
Our casualties amounted to Killed 5 officers, 67 O.R. –
Wounded 7 do. 243 do.
Missing 1 do. 71 do.
Total All Ranks 394.
At 8.00p.m. 17th Sept. 1916 the Battn. was relieved by the 1st Cdn.Battn. and proceeded to bivouacs at the BRICKFIELDS near ALBERT.
Prisoners captured by the Battalion amounted to 200.
[Signature of Officer Here]
Commanding 27th (C.of W.)Battn.
6th Inf.Bde., 2nd Canadian Div.
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