Thursday, October 11, 2018

One Hundred Years Gone By.....

October 11th, 1918

The second Battle for Cambrai

Canadian Troops along the road to Cambrai

On the morning of October 11th, 1918 Canadian troops were advancing north-east of CAMBRAI, preparing to resume their clean-up of the siuation at  Iwuy, and in conformity with these plans the 31st Battalion would soon reach Hordain, there to establish a screen of outposts to protect the left flank of the Division

Promply at 9:00 a.m. the Brigade began to move.

"No sooner had the advance commenced, however, than German artillery observers, watching the lines of infantry as they moved forward, signaled to their batteries, and within a few minutes a devastating barrage had been brought down upon the Canadian formation".

For a time hell was loose among the men of Alberta - as they fell the shells detonated off the trees that covered the Battalions assembly area, and the wounds caused by the flying shell splinters were terrible. *

"....the deafening crash of bursting shells, the rending of riven timber and the continual stammer of the machine guns combined in an inferno of din sufficient to strike terror in the heart of the bravest".

The Battle for Cambrai continued through the day and that evening word was received that the 31st Battalion would be relieved during the night, and thus ended the part played by this particular Battalion in the advance of the Canadian Corps upon Cambrai. (information from 'A History of the 31st Battalion')

*My twenty year old father, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, fell victim in the early hours of the battle to the barrage which resulted in the flying shell splinters and a fracture of his right forearm.

In the dreadful confusion of battle it was some time before he reached the Field Hospital, and the wound there was described in his medical records as "very dirty"...."urgent".

In the end an Osteo infection set in, and he spent over a year in hospitals in France, in England, in eastern Canada and finally in the Col. Belcher hospital in Calgary, his home town.

After this lengthy recuperation he was declared fit and discharged on the 19th of December, 1919 and was able to resume a fairly athletic civilian life.

He met my mother, - a nice romance!!

They married, moved to Edmonton and for twenty some years
enjoyed good health and dear friends... a bit of tennis and hockey,
lots of bridge, and a firm foundation in the Anglican Church..

Alas, the Osteo infection which had lain dormant in my father's body
for so many years
came to life, and laid him low for the next two years.

He eventually recovered, but the infection had left him 
with  a stiff leg, and he required a cane,
not to swing and be debonair
but just for perambulation!!

My cousin, at that time, was a member of the Medical Corps
in the Canadian Army
and on behalf of my father he set the wheels in motion for a pension
and was eventually successful.

My father received a cheque for seven dollars and some cents
from that time until his death.

Ah well, life is such a mixture of happiness and disaster.

I write this on the 100th anniversary of 
the Battle for Cambrai
and the 100th anniversary of my father's wounding.

I write it in remembrance
so that he will remain alive in the memories
of his grandchildren
and his great-grandchildren,
and perhaps even beyond that!

He was a sweet and gentle man


Barb said...

So interesting, Hildred. A wonderful remembrance. What a windfall that pension was!

Barb said...

PS Love the old pics.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

it is a great story. I have thought of starting a family remembrance blog for the reasons that you say you wrote this.