Arthur Douglas Crease Letters, Diaries and Scrapbooks
Letters from Arthur Douglas Crease of Victoria to his brother Lindley Crease and his mother Sarah Crease; instructions for the offensive of July 26, 1917; a regimental notebook, diaries and scrapbook. Learn more.
*All transcriptions are provided by volunteers, and the accuracy of the transcriptions is not guaranteed. Please be sure to verify the information by viewing the image record, or visiting the BC Archives in person.
...flower of her regular Army in the bloody struggle of 1915. "Here." to quote Sir Douglas Haig. "little or no ground can be given up." With his characteristic thorough-ness General Currie left nothing to chance. The Canadian Corps worked night and day to make their positions impregnable. During the heavy fighting that took place from March to June last year the main body of the Corps held the trenches in the Lens sector, and at the same time maintained an aggres-ive attitude by means of bold raid-ing and frequent gas attacks. The 2nd Canadian Division, commanded by Major-General Sir Henry Burstall, K.C.B., C.M.G., was detached from the Corps under the Third Army Com-mander, Sir Julian Byng. When other forces had to give ground both north and south of the Bethune-Arras line, the Canadians held fast and at one time were de-fending 35,000 yards, aproximately one-fifth of the British line. During this period the Canadian Motor Machine Brigade, which was organized by Brigadier-General Bru-tinel, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., a French officer settled in Canada, did splendid work near Amiens. When the German pressure eased Sir Douglas Haig withdrew the Can-adians from the line, and from May 7 to July 15 the Corps was in the G.H.Q. Reserve. The time was spent in vig-orous training and reorganization. General Currie, who realized that the many calls on the infantry by the engineers for working parties was a source of weakness, strengthened his engineers and also strengthened the machine-gun organization and formed them into battalios. When the call came for the Can-adians once again to take an active...
...French on their right and the Aus-tralians on their left, attacked on August 8, the German Intelligence Department had located them on the Ypres front. The battle of Amiens proved most successful, the surprise of the enemy was complete and overwhelming. From August 8 to 22, the Canadians met 15 German divisions, captured 9,131 prisoners, 190 guns of all cal-ibres and more than 1,000 machine guns and trench mortars. They pene-trated 14 miles released an area of 67 square mile, and liberated 27 towns and villages, whilst the casual-ties were comparatively light. After the line had quieted down the Corps returned to the 1st Army area and prepared to make the advance, which, beginning in front of Arras on August 26, concluded at Mons on No-vember 11. The Corps attacked astride the Ar-ras-Cambrai road, their objective be-ing the Drocourt-Queant line, south of the river Scarpe. There were four main systems to be captured: 1. The old German front-line sys-tem east of Monchy-le-Preux. 2. Fresness-Rouvroy line. 3. Drocourt-Queant line. 4. Canal du Nord line. The country was covered with wire and machine guns. The fighting round Amiens had taught us one les-son, and that was that the tanks should follow and not precede the in-fantry. The attack went splendidly. On reaching the Canal du Nord, the Canadian Corps Commander attempt-ed and carried put successfully one of the most difficult operations in the war. The Corps crossed the canal on a 2,600 yards front and at once expand-ed to 15,000 yards. This is an intri-cate manoeuvre at the best of times, and requires skillful leadership and high discipline, two qualifications the Canadians possesed in the highest degree. These operations resulted in the fall of Cambrai, which was ocuppied without opposition, owing to the fact that General Currie had outflanked the enemy by capturing the high ground to the north and east of the town. The operations were carried out on the following dates: August 26, opening of the attack. September 2, major operations against the Drocourt-Queant line September 27, capture of the Bourlon Wood and Canal du Nord. October 8, capture of Cambrai. Between August 28 and October 12 the Corps advanced 23 miles, fighting every foot of the ground over-coming the most bitter resistance. They engaged and defeated decisively 31 German divisions, reinforced by numerous special machine-gun com-panies. The prisoners captured to-talled 18,585, while 371 big guns, 1,923 machine guns and many trench mortars fell into their hands. Over 116 square miles of French soil were recovered, and 54 towns and villages liberated. From October 12 to November 11 the enemy was retiring and rapidly through a large industrial area. Be-fore Valenciennes was reached over 70,000 civilians had been liberated by the Corps, and by October 19 40 towns and villages, including the town of Denain, had been freed. The pursuit was arduous, as the Corps Commander gave the enemy no rest. The capture of Valenciennes was car-ried out in conjunction with the 13th British Corps. The fighting was very fierce at times, the enemy taking ad-vantage of the numerous small houses for machine gun positions. In the actual operations round the town over 800 of the enemy were killed, and 1,800 prisoners taken, the Cana-dian casualties being only 80 killed and 300 wounded. On November 10 the Canadians were on the southwest outskirts of Mons, and by occupying the high ground to the south of the town fell in-to their hands like a ripe cherry. It is a striking testimony to Gen-eral Currie's tactics that he found it unnecessary to bombard Cambrai, Denain and Mons. The following figures show the success which met the efforts of the Canadian Corps during the last 100 days--August 8 to November 11:
BC Archives, MS-2879 Box 83 File 1 CREASE FAMLIY "Diary of the war", diary and scrapbook of Arthur Douglas Crease, 1919 -1919.