Sir John French Gives Praise to Canadians in 1915

Thursday, April 15, 1915

Billets, Cassel

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Left at 1:30 p.m. for Steenvoorde, arriving about 4 p.m. and billeted for night”. [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: This move was a first step towards taking up new positions on the front.

15 April 15_A“(Canadian Associated Press Cable) London, April 15 – Although Canadians are having what is called a quiet time at the front just now it must not be imagined that even those who have not yet returned to holding the trenches are merely lazying the time away. A letter received today from an officer of the Montreal Highlanders speaks of how the battalions away from the firing line are doing eight or ten hours of work daily in special drills and devices of immense value when next they make the forward move. This officer speaks of the exceptionally good spirits prevailing among all ranks, especially among the Highlanders. Everyone is waiting the word to move forward.”[3]

15 April 15_B“(Canadian Associated Press Cable) London, April 14 – The following comment on the Canadian Division appears in Sir John French’s despatch issued today:-

‘On the 15th of February the Canadian Division began to arrive in this country. I inspected the division, which was under the command of Lieut.-General Alderson on February 20th, and they presented a splendid and most soldier-like appearance on parade. The men were of good physique, hard and fit, and I judged by what I saw of them that they were well-trained and quite able to take their places in the line of battle. Since then the division has thoroughly justified the good opinion I formed of it.

The troops of the Canadian division were first attached for a few days by brigades for training in the 3rd Army Corps trenches under Lieut.-General Sir William Pultney, who gave me such an excellent report of their efficiency that I was able to employ them in the trenches early in March. During the battle of Neuve Chapelle they held a part of the line allotted to the First Army and, although they were not actually engaged in the main attack, they rendered valuable help by keeping the enemy actively employed in front of their trenches.

All soldiers of Canada serving in the army under my command have so far splendidly upheld the traditions of Empire and will, I feel sure, prove to be a great source of additional strength to the forces in this country.” [5]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, April 15, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   “The Canadians Behind The Line,” The Ottawa Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Thursday, April 15, 1915 pg. 1, col. 7.
[3]   Ibid
[4]    “Gives Praise to Canadians,” The Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Thursday, April 15, 1915, pg. 11, col. 6.
[5]    Ibid