Wednesday Usual activity last night In the dugout all day wrote Bert [Theobald] and Mother The weather remains good I am in the pink Fritz shelled the Fosses today as usual Another casualty last night up at the new position About 7 this evening a lively air duel took place none came down I’m on guard tonight the night is fine 8:30 pm [pencil]
“There is not at any point an offensive of serious proportions.” (1) The War Diary concurs — “No activity on the front” — (2) but there is always something happening in the way of raiding parties. Today, for instance, we are told that a party of Germans attacked a “certain ruined house in the western part of Lens, occupied by us as an outpost.” (3) Driven off initially, they returned in stronger numbers and took the house, but the Canadians “at once organized a counter-attack” and resumed possession. (3)
Meanwhile, the Battery keeps a watch for SOS calls, should artillery support be needed. It also has identified “several retaliation targets, chiefly … enemy mienewerfer [sic] positions.” (4) Minenwerfer are German trench mortars — small, portable devices for launching bombs over relatively short distances — useful for clearing barbed wire or damaging bunkers. The British equivalent is the Stokes trench mortar.
Stewart Lyon tells readers at home that the air duels Percy is observing are “not infrequent,” and are probably associated with an increase in the enemy’s “long-range shelling of the back areas and the counter-battery work.” (5)
The new position Percy refers to is part of preparations for a new attack on Lens to be launched from Méricourt in the south. (4)
For a day in which nothing officially happened, the toll is high: in addition to the casualty Percy notes, an officer and two other ranks are killed today, and three other men are injured among the Canadian artillery in this sector. (6)
(1) War Summary. The Globe (1844-1936). September 20, 1917. 1 Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
(2) War Diary of the G.O.C.[General Officer Commanding] Royal Artillery Canadian Corps. Vol. 18 (September 1917): 3. Library and Archives Canada.
(3) Lyon, Stewart. “Canadians in Sharp Fight,” The Globe. September 20, 1917. 1
(4) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. 1919. 19
(5) Lyon. “Canadians on Alert Always,” The Globe. September 24, 1917. 1
(6) War Diary. 18: Appendix B.2 Casualties.
Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”