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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. 

BC Archives MS-0055BC Archives MS-2879



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hills east of Mons, and from Bois-le-haut, Boche artillery kept up all that Sunday a heavy bombardment. passing through Jemappes, a couple miles away, the same officer had seen women and children killed in the public square. It was the tragedy of those closing days that the Belgian folk of liberated areas were quite careless of danger. Forgotten was the swift panorama of August, 1914; meaningless was the cry , "Aux caves; aux caves'" and women and children gave their lives those days because they could not recognize swift-winged death in bursting shrapnel.

Further forward still, on the very outskirt of Mons, "A" Company had established an "O-Pip". From this observation post and across the canal lay in full view the ancient city of Mons, crowned by the silver-tongues belfry, and the naked eye could read the time on the clock tower. "Four o'clock! I had no idea it was as late as that!". But it was Boche time, one hour ahead of Allied time. The clock was put back next day.

Actually in Mons

Yet a little further on, and "A" Company's outpost that Sunday afternoon was actually in Mons, for to reach the platoon it was necessary to pass the familiar Octrol post that marks the city limits, as we say in Canada.

Fronting the outpost was a little square, and not more than a hundred yards or so across it was hid a Boche machine-gun post. Early that Sunday morning he had made a raid and some of his dead in the familiar field-grey lay in the little square amid a tangle of broken trolley poles and wire. During the same afternoon the Royal Canadian Regiment on the left of the P.P.L.I., Captured Ghlin, northwest of Mons, and thence pushed an outpost into the city.

How did the Canadian Corps come to find itself in Mons on Armistice Day? After the capture of Valenciennes on Nov. 1 by the 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions -- scene of a very brilliant exploit by the 10th Brigade--the pursuit was pushed hard, the enemy stoutly contesting every foot of ground. He had flooded much of the terrain, and his defence, otherwise unorganized, was assisted by numerous small rivers and by the fosses or great slag heaps of this mining country. And so, our men sometimes waist deep in water, he was driven back from France, the Canadians being first of the Allied troops to cross into Belgium.

Antecedent Events.

During the night of November 6-7 the 2nd Canadian Division relieved the 4th Canadian Division, the latter being withdrawn to rest just west of Valenciennes. At this time the 1st Canadian Division was in billets east of Douai, and so swift was the denouement that neither of these division again came into the line. Thenceforth the pursuit was carried on by the Canadian Corps with the 2nd Division on the right, south of the Valenciennes-Mons road, and the 3rd Division on the left, operating along the road and as far north as the Oonde canal. On the flank was the Corps Cavalry reinforced by the Fifth Lancers, whose pennons after four years were once again to flutter in the Grand Place of Mons.

Every mile of advance through this densely populated mining country saw the liberation of thousands of Belgian civilians -- old men, women and children. hardly was the enemy driven from the east end of a village than the entire population fell upon our men. garlanding them with flowers, frantically greeting their "brave saviors", actually impeding their advance.

Alternative for Canadains

Speed was essential. For if, as was possible, the armistice negotiations broke down, Foch had ordered the Canadian Corps must take and hold the heights east of Mons. The enemy, falling sullenly back, systematically destroyed railways, roads and bridges. It was bitterly cold; rain fell relentlessly; but with victory in sight nothing could daunt our men, and they pushed on so inexporably as to leave far behind them British troops on either flank. Wonderful work was done, too, by the Canadian Engineer Battalions.

It thus came about that on Sunday, November 20, the 2nd Canadian Division, with the 4th Brigade of Ontario troops in line, had pushed on well southeast of Mons, while the 3rd Canadian Division, with the 7th Brigade in line, was in the outskirts of the city itself. The situation is thus explained by the corps commander, Sir Arthur Currie:

"By the morning of Nov. 10 the 52nd Division (8th Corps) had advanced and relieved the part of the 3rd Canadian Division operating north of the left boundary of the Canadian Corps.

Protecting Civilians

"The 3rd Canadian Division's advance on Nov. 10 brought our troops to the southwestern outskirts of Mons, while the 2nd Canadian Division had reached the Mons-Givry Road, outflanking the city from the south, but owning to the large number of civil [illegible]. Mons by way of the railway station was effected before midnight. By 6 pm. on November 11 the stubborn machine-gun resistance had been broken and the town cleared of the enemy.

"The 2nd Canadian Division had, during the night, taken the Bois-le-Haut, a wood crowning a large hill on the southeastern outskirts of Mons, thus securing the right flank of the 3rd Canadian Division. The capture of this high ground forced upon the enemy a further retirement, and our troops, still pressing on, reached and captured St. Symphorien and Fbg. Barthelmy by 8 am.

Hostilities to Cease

"In the meantime, word had been received through the First Army that hostilities would cease at 11 am on November 11, the armistice having been signed in acceptance of our terms.

"To secure a satisfactory line for the defence of Mons our line was further advanced, adn the Bois-d'Havre, Bois-du -Rapois and the town and villages of Havre, Bon Vouloir, La Bruyer, Maisieres, St. Denis and Obourg were captured before hostilities ceased".

BC Archives, MS-2879 Box 83 File 1 / CREASE FAMILY /"diary of the War", Diary and scrapbook of Arthur Douglas Crease, 1915-1919.

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