Arras Front, July 10, 1918

Wednesday        The weather was much cooler and rain fell during the night A heavy rain fell this afternoon Working today on the wagons painting etc An inspection coming off on Saturday wrote letters tonight It’s raining now. Am well

Word has been received at 5th Divisional Artillery Headquarters that the Canadian Corps is coming back into the line after some weeks in reserve, being brought up to strength and undergoing training. (1) General Currie also took the opportunity to carry out some reorganization of engineers and machine gunners, including motor machine gun units. (2)

The 5th CDA will remain on the Arras Front, but will no longer be supporting the 15th  and the 51st Highland Divisions. The Canadians have earned the respect of the Scots for the reliability of their barrages, “and the Purple Patch of the Fifth Division has always been welcome in Glasgow and Edinburgh as a result.” (3)

The support went both ways. H.C. Mason, a student at the Ontario Agriculture College (Guelph, Ontario) when he enlisted eleven months ago, wrote about the relationship in Stark highlander.jpg“Scarlet and Purple,” published in 1921. The story is set in an estaminet which was “full of Jocks of the 51st Territorials – toughest fighting-men in all creation, catch-as-catch-can, no holds barred come one come all, – you know their record –everybody does.”  Some of the Purple Patch fellows were there too, and “everything was going along fine” until some First Division Canadians started “ragging the Fifth about this, that, an’ the other – you know how it used to go: shot short at Passchendaele and all that stuff. Now you know as well as I do that the Fifth weren’t within forty miles of Passchendaele, so it’s no wonder that sort of talk got underneath their skins.”

One of the Jocks, “six-foot, brawny, bandy-legged … and as hard as nails” issues a challenge:”‘noo then, he says. Gin ony o’ye hae onuthing taw say aboot the Fufth ye can say’t tae us. The Fufth has been sup-poor-r-tin’ us for twa months, an’ we like them 51st Highland Divisionfine. They’re gey guid lads; an’ they’ve backed us up weel – damn well; an’ noo we’ll back them up! Fa’oot the Jocks!”

Discretion being the better part of valour, the First Division men, wearing their red patches, “shut up like clams and began to drift out of the ‘staminet, and the Jocks and the Fifth were thicker than thieves.” (4)

The Highlander taking his ease is a sketch by William Redver Stark, from Library and Archives Canada. MIKAN 3028858.
The illustration comes from the website of the 15th Highland Division.

(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 18: 7-8. July 7, 1918. Library and Archives of Canada.
(2) Nicholson, G.W.L. Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War. 1962. 384.
(3) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. 1919. 42.
(4) Mason, H.C. [Harold Campbell].  “Scarlet and Purple.” Bits o’ Bronze. Toronto. [1921]. 81-87.

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