28th Battalion History

First Winter at the Front 1915-16

September 18, 1915

Arrive at Boulogne just prior to 5 AM after a rough crossing and little sleep. A British N.C.O. announces that reveille will be at 0600, and breakfast 0700. The Battalion entrains for the Front area at noon. Entrained to St.Omer 1500, proceed to Cassel by train 1915 and Billets at St.Sylvestre Cappel, Bn.Hq at Drouleux Farm.

September 18, 1915

One Segeant, 2 Lance Corporals and 22 other ranks are sent for training in tunneling and mining.

September 21, 1915

0900 Battalion marchs to reserve camp at De Groute Farm via Chestre, Fletre, Meterca, Bailleul, Le Leuthe to point 14. Arrived 16.15 in Belgium behind the woods known as "Plugstreet" (Ploegsteert) Bivouac in the open in the farm fields of De Groute Farm for a couple of days.

September 25, 1915

Major General Alderson addresses the Battalion in a muddy field in the pouring rain. He orders the Battalion to enter the trenches that night. The march forward led through Neuve Eglise, then to Kemmel. Guides from the 15th Battalion (whom they were to relieve) met them at the crossroads known as "Suicide Corner" and led the various platoons to their places in the line. Battalion HQ moved into a two-story house known as "Doctor's House" because the former occupant was a physician.The

Battalion would carry on with trench routine, rotating in and out of the line, for the rest of the winter. They would work to improve field works, dressing stations & actively patrol "No Man's Land". Here, Alex Ross recalls:

"When we took over the trenches they seemed to be very nice but, of course, they were situated on the east slope of Wytschaete Ridge, and when the fall and winter rains came our trenches almost disappeared. we were left naked to the world for a while and so we had to start in the winter to reconstruct practically the whole line".

Rest periods were at the nearby village of Locre. Hot baths were 1 franc at the local convent, soap & towels not included. Meals at the convent were a welcomed break from the regular fare.

September 26, 1915

The trenches were bombarded at G2 (B-company) by German trench mortar. 1 man was killed. Six German 8" shells land in HQ area, one clips the roof of Doctor's House, but there were no casualties. Despite being in plain sight, there was no more shelling of the house that winter.

September 26, 1915

Trench mortars again bombarded G2, killing two more men. Another man was killed by a sniper.

September 30, 1915

The is Battalion relieved and march to Kemmel Shelters.

October 1, 1915

The Battalion proceeds to Locre into Divisional reserve.

October 2, 1915

140 men parade as a working party for C.E. (Canadian Engineers?). Two working parties of 40 men each went to engineers.

October 3, 1915

300 men parade for engineers.

October 4, 1915

240 men parade for engineers.

October 5, 1915

240 men parade for engineers.

October 6, 1915

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in the trenches.

October 8, 1915

Lt. Macintyre made a report of sounds of tunneling to British Tunneling Unit. He was told that counter saps were being dug to intercept the German tunnels. At 5:00 PM, 2 mines exploded under the "Glory Hole" section of trenches (trenches G1 & G2) where Major C.R. Hill's D Company, from Saskatoon and Prince Albert, was posted along with the Battalion Bombing Section. Men were blown 50 yards by the blasts and the brass buttons on their tunics were flattened. The company was nearly wiped out with . 19 killed, 30 wounded and 7 missing. The explosion was followed by heavy artillery and rifle fire and bombing attack. The battalion repulsed the following German attack with rifle and grenade fire from the trenches on either side of the craters. The Battalion held the original line and denied the craters to enemy.

October 9, 1915

At 3:00 PM, Battalion troops at the "Glory Hole" area were shelled by large shells known as "coal boxes" (5.9"). These left fairly large craters, about six feet deep and fifteen feet in diameter.

October 12, 1915

Battalion was relieved by 31st Battalion by 2300 and moved to Divisional reserve at Locre.

October 13, 1915

Battalion in Divisional reserve at Kemmel Shelters. 200 men parade for engineers.

October 14, 1915

200 men parade for engineers.

October 15, 1915

200 men parade for engineers.

October 16, 1915

200 men parade for engineers.

October 17, 1915

200 men parade for engineers.

October 18, 1915

200 men parade for engineers.

October 19, 1915

Battalion Relieves the 31st Battalion in the trenches.

October 24, 1915

31st Battalion relieve the 28th from the trenches. Battalion moves to Brigade reserve at Kemmel Shelters.

October 25, 1915

Battalion moves into Divisional reserve at Locre.

October 26, 1915

400 men parade for engineers.

October 27, 1915

Three Officers and 50 other ranks reviewed by the King at Locre with other members of the Canadian Corps. 400 men parade for engineers.

October 29, 1915

400 men parade for engineers.

October 30, 1915

Pte H. B. Compton, No.73741, receives D.C.M for conduct on October 8, 1915. This is the first award to the 2nd Canadian Division. Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in the trenches.

November 1-5, 1915


From a Winnipeg paper,
March 15, 1916

Battalion man the trenches at Kemmel.

November 5, 1915

The Battalion moves into Divisional reserve at Locre.

November 7, 1915

The Battalion in Brigade reserve at Kemmel Shelters, working parties to engineers as usual.

November 9, 1915

Lieutenant A.W.Northover is presented with the Military Cross for distinguished services on October 8th, 1915. (This may have taken place on November 2, according to some sources)

November 11, 1915

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in trenches.

November 17, 1915

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion and move to Divisional reserve at Locre. Working parties supplied to engineers as usual.

November 21, 1915

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in trenches.

November 25, 1915

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion and move to Divisional reserve at Locre. Working parties supplied to engineers as usual.

November 29, 1915

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in trenches. Lieutenant D.E. Macintyre drills his men in the use of their p-helmets, used to protect them from poison gas. He said that he made his men "practice breathing with our gas helmets on and our men surely do look a weird sight when they are wearing them. Great goggle-eyed things like a false face".

December 19, 1915

The Germans use the poison gas phosgene on the western front for the first time. They released a cloud of the gas against the British holding the front line at the ruins of Wieltje on the Ypres Salient. The 28th Battalion was billeted some distance to the rear and south of that position, yet felt the effects of the gas. Lieutenant D.E. Macintyre said

"I was awakened about 5:30am by a heavy wind which shook the house in gusts. After a while a baby began to cry upstairs and I heard the Colonel get up and tell someone that the baby was scared to death of the wind. Pretty soon we all noticed the smell and discovered that it was GAS!... We were seven miles away but the gas made us cough and our eyes water. We heard the attack was a complete failure, the Germans not getting a man across".

December 25, 1915

Private J.C. (Darky) Andrews, a sniper from the 28th, observes and breaks up group of soldiers, about 20 from each side, exchanging cigarettes & souvenirs between the trenches. That night, the German sang hymns and carols, Many of the Battalion joined in on "Silent Night".

December 27, 1915

Battalion relieved on the night of the 27th for six days rest. A New Years Eve party is planned for December 31 at a nearby convent. The battalion band is expected to play and a fine feast is planned.

January to June 1916

Battalion slides to the north to hold the line along the Ypres-Commines canal at the Bluffs, then further north to lines across the Ypres-Menin Road.In Divisional reserve at Locre

January 1, 1916

The Battalion is in Divisional reserve at Locre.

January 2, 1916

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in the trenches.

January 8, 1916

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion, casualties for the six day tour are 3 killed, all by rifle or machine-gun fire. The Battalion moves to Brigade reserve at Kemmel Shelters, working parties supplied to engineers.

January 14, 1916

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in trenches in front of Kemmel. The enemy trenches are very close by the front line, 30-40 yards away in places. Leave officially started all round. Two officers and 8 other ranks receive leave for a week.

January 17, 1916

The battalion's trenches are heavily shelled. In places where the trenches are close to the German lines, the enemy used direct fire field guns (like the 77mm whizbang) because indiect fire might fall short on their own lines. Casualties included 73017 Sergeant L. R. Duff.

January 20, 1916

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion. One sergeant wounded during tour. Battalion moves to Divisional reserve at Locre.

January 26, 1916

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in trenches.

January 30, 1916

A trench raid, the 28th Battalion's first, is planned for the night of the 30-31. Between 10:00 PM -1:45 AM Scout-Sergent Turner and Corporal Conlin cut a path through German wire at the foot of Messines Ridge near Wyschaete, Belgium.

January 31, 1916

The trench Raid 2:30 AM, north of Kemmel is timed to coincide with a raid to the south by the 29th Battalion. Lieutenants D. E. Macintyre and K. C. Taylor lead 30, 33 or 39, depending on accounts, men into the enemy trenches through the path cut in the wire. The men had blackened their faces to make them less visible to enemy sentries watching under the uncertain light of the occasional flare. Six minutes after entering the enemy trenches, the band rallied at entry point & retired back to their own lines. Corporal Conlin was killed along with one or two others, depending on the account. Captain Taylor and another officer were wounded along with 6-8 men, most by a machinegun that enfiaded the trench. The raid was considered a success by higher command,with 39 enemy killed for light casualties. The raid resulted in promotion of Lt. D.E. Macintyre to captain and transfer to 6th Brigade staff as Staff Captain (Intelligence).

February 1, 1916

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion and moves into Brigade reserve at Kemmel Shelters.

February 3, 1916

The Battalion transfers to Berthen for rest and training.

February 16, 1916

The 28th and 29th Battalions extend their lines 700 yards north to free up the Northumberland Fusiliers for action elsewhere.

February 18, 1916

The Battalion transferred to Scherpenberg.

March 1, 1916

The Battalion is at Berthen for rest and training.

March 8, 1916

The Battalion moves to Reserve Billets at Locre, then relieves the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry in the trenches.

March 13, 1916

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion and moves into Brigade reserve at Kemmel. Working parties are detailed to engineers.

March 16, 1916

The Battalion receives 39 reinforcements.

March 19, 1916

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in the trenches.

March 20, 1916

The Battalion receives 60 reinforcements.

March 25, 1916

The Battalion is relieved by the 31st Battalion and move to Divisional reserve at Locre.

March 30, 1916

The Battalion is transferred to Mettern.

28th (North-west) Battalion Headquarters is © Copyright 2002 Robert Lindsay. All Rights Reserved