Thursday, June 24, 1915

Trenches – Givenchy

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Relieved in trenches by 2nd Battn. Gordon Highlanders.  Proceeded to Reserve Billets in Le Quesnoy.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  “On June 24, 1st Canadian Infantry Division moved about 16 miles from Festubert to the Ploegsteert sector, coming again under the British Second Army command and being assigned to Lt.-Gen. Sir W.P. Pultney’s III Corps. The division was assigned a 4,400 yard front between Messines and Ploegsteert, where it would remain for three months of comparative quiet.

The bloodletting of the first five months of 1915 had left both the Allies and German armies so depleted that an uneasy stalemate descended on the Western Front. With Germany removing troops to reinforce the Eastern Front, the British high command felt confident that no major enemy offensives would be forthcoming. This ensured time to strengthen forward defences and rebuild the British Expeditionary Force with little German interference.

Rebuilding proved more troublesome for the Canadian Division than was true of its other Commonwealth counterparts due to manpower supply shortages. Minister of Militia and Defence Sam Hughes had neglected to create an efficient system for raising and training reinforcements to replenish the contingent he had so erratically formed in the fall of 1914. The heavy losses of April and May had completely drained the division’s entire reserve pool in England, which had only numbered 2,000 men. This forced the dissolution of entire battalions stationed in England as part of the Canadian buildup there that were then fed piecemeal to the division. Even this measure failed to provide enough troops to bring the line battalions up to strength.” [2]

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, June 24, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[2]  Mark Zuehlke, “Brave Battalion, The Remarkable Saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World War,” Mississauga, Ontario, John Wiley and Sons, Co. Ltd., 2008, pg. 81

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