Witness to War: Monday, Dec 16, 1918

Private Raymond Duval, MM, was a soldier of the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) CEF who served overseas during the last two years of the First World War. He participated in some of the fiercest fighting seen by Canadians during the war and was decorated for bravery at Passchendaele. Determined to preserve his memories of the First World War, he maintained a daily record of his experiences. Here is what he wrote precisely 100 years ago today:

Monday, Dec 16, 1918: Worked on banks all day Rained quite a bit Rec’d parcel from Clare.

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The RMR Foundation thanks Natalie Dyck for generously sharing her publication of “The Diary and Memoir of Private Raymond Duval” in order for us to be able to share his story with you 100 years on. You can learn more about Private Duval here.

From the War Diary of the 14th Battalion (RMR):

Dec 15 th A voluntary Church Parade for Roman Catholics was held at 11:00 a.m. in the Church at IMMELKEPPEL. Otherwise the day was spent in rest.

The Brigade Y.M.C.A. opened up in the Battalion area and did a large business. With the arrival at the present location it may be said that the long forward march has been
completed, the Battalion being now close to the eastern extremity of the COLOGNE Bridgehead to be held under armistice conditions.

Taking the beginning of the advance to have been FENAIN on November 13 th and the close at UNTER-ESBACH on December 14 th , the time taken was thirty-two days, and the total distance covered, 436 kilometres or an average of 13 ½ kilometres daily. However, of these thirty-two days, eleven were spent in rest, making twenty-one spent in actual marching or an average of nearly 21 kilometres a day.

The last nine days were of continuous marching. The longest distance covered in one day was forty-two and a half kilometres, (BONSIN – BRA) and the shortest, (VOLBERG – UNTER-ESBACH) with the exception of three days marching, the men carried packs. The ration strength on arrival was 823 all ranks as compared with 805 on starting. Practically no trouble or sickness was experienced during the time except towards the end of the march many of the boots became worn out. Also at one time delay was occasioned owing to difficulty in bringing up rations.

Dec 16 th: In accordance with instructions received from 3 rd Canadian Infantry Brigade the area occupied by the Battalion becomes the main line of resistance. On this account parties of Officers and N.C.Os. were sent out to reconnoitre positions to be taken up in the event of an attack on the outpost line.

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