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Detail from the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge: the figure of Canada Bereft, or Mother Canada, looking down at a casket below her, mourns her dead. In the distance are the slag heaps of Lens and the Douai Plain.

Detail from the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge: the figure of Canada Bereft, or Mother Canada, looking down at a casket below her, mourns her dead. In the distance are the slag heaps of Lens and the Douai Plain. © 2013, John Shea

Headstone of Private W. H. Hodge of the Canadian Corps, 50th Battalion, died April 10, 1917, Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery.
Text:
434905 Private W. H. Hodge 50th Bn. Canadian Inf. 10th April 1917 Age 32

Headstone of Private W. H. Hodge of the Canadian Corps, 50th Battalion, died April 10, 1917, Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery. © 2013 by John M. Shea

View of the South African Memorial in Delville Wood, Longueval, France.

View of the South African Memorial in Delville Wood, Longueval, France. © 2013 John M. Shea

Cavalry commander Manfred von Richthofen visits his wounded son, the more famous Manfred von Richthofen, wounded by gunner second Lieutenant A.E. Woodbridge on July 6, 1917 in a fight with an FE2b of 20 Squadron.
Text:
Der Vater besucht den verwundeten Sohn.
The father visits the wounded son.

Cavalry commander Manfred von Richthofen visits his wounded son, the more famous Manfred von Richthofen, wounded by gunner second Lieutenant A.E. Woodbridge on July 6, 1917 in a fight with an FE2b of 20 Squadron.

The Newfoundland Memorial in the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Park pays tribute to the Newfoundland Regiment and its part on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.

The Newfoundland Memorial in the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Park pays tribute to the Newfoundland Regiment and its part on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916. © 2013, John M. Shea

Quotations found: 9

Tuesday, April 10, 1917

"By nightfall [April 10, 1917], the 'Southern Operation' had been completed; of Vimy Ridge, only the Pimple remained. It had cost the Canadian Corps 7,707 casualties (including nearly 3,000 killed), plus some 400 casualties in the brigades of the 5th Imperial Division. 8,000 killed and wounded, approximately, in two days' fighting. Light losses by the standards of the time. But as George Alliston put it, 'By the 11th, we had been reinforced twice to bring us up to strength, and I'm telling you we lost a few of the best boys a mother could have—all of them A-1 kids—all in a few days. The flower of the land, you might say Just a big loss to us.' Some 4,000 German prisoners had been taken (3,400 had been counted by midnight on the 9th). But prisoners live to return home, in the end." ((1), more)

Wednesday, April 11, 1917

"As we turned the bend of the road to go up the hill I stopped. The sight that greeted me was so horrible that I almost lost my head. Heaped on top of one another and blocking up the roadway as far as one could see, lay the mutilated bodies of our men and their horses. These bodies, torn and gaping, had stiffened into fantastic attitudes. All the hollows of the road were filled with blood. This was the cavalry." ((2), more)

Thursday, April 12, 1917

"From where I was sitting in a half-dug German Reserve trench, the noise of the German machine guns was completely inaudible and, as I watched, the ranks of the Highlanders were thinned out and torn apart by an inaudible death that seem[ed] to strike them from nowhere. It was peculiarly horrible to watch: the bright day, the little scudding clouds and these frightened men dying in clumps in a noiseless battle." ((3), more)

Friday, April 13, 1917

"The day began well. We had scarcely gone to an altitude of 6,000 feet when an English patrol of five machines was coming our way. We attacked them by a rush as if we were cavalry, and the hostile squadron lay destroyed on the ground. None of our men was even wounded. Of our enemies three had plunged to the ground, and two had come down in flames. . . .

In the evening we were able to send off the proud report: 'Six German machines have destroyed thirteen hostile aeroplanes.'

Boelcke's Squadron had only once been able to make a similar report. At that time we had shot down eight machines. To-day one of us had brought low four of his opponents. The hero was a Lieutenant Wolff, a delicate-looking little fellow, in whom nobody could have suspected a redoubtable hero. My brother had destroyed two, Schäfer two, Festner two, and I three."
((4), more)

Saturday, April 14, 1917

"At 5.30 a.m. [April 14, 1917], following a weak and scrappy barrage, the little force advanced. It was just daylight. The morning was misty and the ground soggy with the recent snow and rain. Over the first 200 yards some casualties were caused by machine-gun fire, but the Newfoundlanders on the right flank quickly surrounded and captured a troublesome strongpoint at Monchy windmill. With that secured they advanced on the Bois-du-Vert, the Essex moving in on the other wood to the left. The Germans were seen running back from their first trench and both this and a second trench further on were found practically deserted. After a pause, the two battalions went on in high spirits, meeting little opposition. At 7.20 a.m. the Essex telepohoned to Brigade HQ that the objective was taken. Observers in Monchy could see the Newfoundlanders digging in near some burning huts on the edge of a small copse — but that is the last that is known of them. The battalion never returned." ((5), more)


Quotation contexts and source information

Tuesday, April 10, 1917

(1) Britain's Arras Offensive, part of the Franco-British Nivelle Offensive, commenced Easter Monday, April 9, 1917. The Canadian Corps was assigned the task of capturing Vimy Ridge. On the first day, the Corps had largely completed its task, taking high ground that had cost thousands of French and Allied lives since 1914. 'The Pimple', Point 120, was captured on April 12.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Alexander McKee, page 194, copyright © 1966 Alexander McKee, publisher: Stein and Day, publication date: 1967

Wednesday, April 11, 1917

(2) Second Lieutenant Alan Thomas's description of his entry into what remained of the village of Monchy-le-Preux late on April 11, 1917 during the Battle of Arras. The British were unprepared for their success on the battle's first day, April 9, that included the capture of Vimy Ridge and an advance of up to three and a half miles. Their limited action on April 10 gave the German defenders time to bring in reinforcements and strengthen their positions, and they inflicted many casualties on the British infantry that advanced into Monchy with two tanks. The British cavalry, that could have been put into the battle on April 9 and 10 had been positioned too far behind the front to be of use. They rode into Monchy behind the infantry, were slaughtered, and retreated led by riderless horses. After losing the village, German artillery subjected it and the British to a box barrage, laying down a rectangular pattern around the village, then shrinking the box.

Cheerful Sacrifice: The Battle of Arras, 1917 by Jonathan Nicholls, page 147, copyright © Jonathan Nicholls [1990 repeatedly renewed through] 2011, publisher: Pen and Sword, publication date: 2010

Thursday, April 12, 1917

(3) Artillery subaltern Richard Talbot-Kelly writing of the April 12, 1917 advance of the 4th South African Scottish Battalion on the Chemical Works of Roeux, held by a strong German force with 30 machine guns. The Seaforth Highlanders and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers had tried to capture it the day before. The Highlanders lost all 12 officers and 363 of 420 other ranks. On the 12th, the South Africans, rather than taking the road that had proven so deadly the day before, advanced 1,800 yards down a 'slope in full view of the enemy.' The British were unprepared for their success on April 9, the first day of the Battle of Arras, a day that included the capture of Vimy Ridge and an advance of up to three and a half miles. Some commanders seem to have tried to compensate for their inaction on April 10 with commands in the following days that were little short of criminal.

Cheerful Sacrifice: The Battle of Arras, 1917 by Jonathan Nicholls, page 163, copyright © Jonathan Nicholls [1990 repeatedly renewed through] 2011, publisher: Pen and Sword, publication date: 2010

Friday, April 13, 1917

(4) Three paragraphs from the chapter 'My Record Day', April 13, 1917, by Manfred von Richthofen. The baron was then flying an all-red Albatros D.III. His victims were two-seater planes, an R.E.8 and two F.E.2b, four of the six men killed and two wounded. Von Richthofen was flying over the battlefield of Britain's Arras Offensive. The British losses were so heavy the month was called 'Bloody April': 245 aircraft and balloons lost and 316 airmen killed or missing. The Germans reported 76 planes and seven balloons lost. Oswald Boelcke had been Germany's leading ace with 40 victories when he died on October 28, 1916. Von Richthofen's victories were numbers 41, 42, and 43.

The Red Air Fighter by Manfred von Richthofen, pp. 118–119, copyright © Lionel Leventhal Limited, 1990, publisher: Stackpole Books, publication date: 1999

Saturday, April 14, 1917

(5) The Newfoundland and Essex Battalions had advanced into a German trap, were surrounded, and killed or captured on April 14, 1917 in the Battle of Arras, begun with significant success on April 9, and continued at great cost until May 17. The Newfoundland Regiment was among the few Dominion troops fighting with the British on July 1, 1916, the first day of Battle of the Somme. The unit had nearly been destroyed: Of the 752 Newfoundlanders who advanced, 26 officers and 658 men were casualties.

Cheerful Sacrifice: The Battle of Arras, 1917 by Jonathan Nicholls, page 165, copyright © Jonathan Nicholls [1990 repeatedly renewed through] 2011, publisher: Pen and Sword, publication date: 2010


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