28th Battalion History

Passchendael to Armistice - 1917-1919

April 12, 1917

The Battalion moves to Bois Des Alleux. Casualties for the day - one O.R. DOW.

April 14, 1917

The Battalion put to work on road in Vimy and one company on the Lille-Arras road. The task is completed at 2100 and the Battalion moves into the old German trenches (Red Objective) on Vimy Ridge. Casualties for the day - one O.R. KIA.

April 15, 1917

Casualties for the day - one O.R. KIA.

April 16, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 24th Battalion in support in Vimy area. "D" Company deployed along a line drawn through points T.19 d.4.6 to road B.2.a.5.3.

April 17, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in the line.

April 19, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 29th Battalion and moves to support position previously occupied.

April 20, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 27th Battalion and moves to observation line. Casualties for the day - five O.R. KIA, three O.R. missing.

April 21, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 19th Battalion and moves into rest area at Aux Reitz.

April 22, 1917

The Battalion holds Divine Service.

April 26, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 26th Battalion in the support area.

April 27, 1917

"D" Company in support area 0.62, Neuville St.Vaast.

May 8, 1917

Early in the morning, with light rain & heavy mist, and after a heavy barrage of gas shells, a group of German troops intent on an assault on the British troops at Farbus, got lost and blundered into the Battalion's lines at the Arleax loop and made it into the trenches. The 28th was in the process of being relieved by the 19th battalion. Despite the confusion of the relief, the two battalions stood together and threw back the enemy with a counter attack. The Battalion then moved to support area at 0.62, Neuville St.Vaast.

May 10, 1917

The Battalion moves back to camp near Aux Reitz.

May 13, 1917

The Battalion holds Divine Service, then relieves the 25th Battalion in the Main Resistance Line at Thelus. "D" Company is deployed from Thelus Trench to Lille-Arras road.

May 17, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 27th Battalion in Ridge Line and battalion moves into billets vacated by 27th Battalion at Neuville St.Vaast

May 19, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 25th Battalion in support, forward area along Bailleul-Riaumont-Loos line.

May 23, 1917

The Battalion relieves the 31st Battalion in front line. "D" Company in reserve at Arleux-Mont Foret Switch from T.16.d.1.7 to T.23.a.0.3.

May 26, 1917

The Battalion is relieved by the 18th Battalion and moves to Divisional reserve near Aux Reitz.

May 27, 1917

The camp is shelled by a large gun, no casualties.

May 31, 1917

The Battalion moves from rest camp at F.11 (Sheet 51.c) to Estree Cauchie.

August 21, 1917

During the attack on Lens, the 29th Battalion took heavy casualties when the Germans launched a spoiling attack. The 28th supported the 29th in pushing forward, clearing most of Nun's Alley & the northeast end of Cinnabar Trench. The Germans still held four to five hundred yards of Cinnabar Trench and several small trenches off Nabob Trench. This made the Canadian positions quite precarious. Further attacks by other battalions eventually consolidated the position by the end of the day.

October 30 - November 6, 1917

Passchendaele - The 78th Winnipeg Grenadiers had brought the battleline to the edge of Passchendaele on October 30th. The Canadians regrouped & the 28th was moved up to continue the attack. Alex Ross recalled:

"It was the one job we went into with no real heart. I had never seen my men so depressed as we moved into the Salient. They knew what the Salient was like, always had been like. It was the graveyard of everybody."

November 5, 1917

Operation Order 159 By C.R.A. 2nd Canadian Division, 5th November, 1917.

1. Intention.

The 2nd Canadian Division has been ordered to attack and capture Passchendaeleon (Za) Day.
The 1st Canadian Division are attacking Massel Markt at the same time. The operation will be known as ATTACK (8). Objectives are shown on the attached Barrage Map...

4. Infantry.

(a) The RIGHT ATTACK will be carried out by the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade (Hqrs.
D.21.a) with the 26th Battalion.

(b) The LEFT ATTACK will be carried out by the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade (Hqrs.
D.15.b) with the 27th Battalion on the RIGHT, 31st Battalion in CENTER and 28th
Battalion on LEFT...

6. S.O.S. & Light Signals.

(a) The S.O.S. Signal is a rifle Grenade signal showing three parachute lights, vis RED over
GREEN over YELLOW.

(b) The Capture of Objective Signal will be THREE WHITE VERY LIGHTS fired in quick
succession.

(exerpts from 2nd Divisional Artillery Headquarters War Diary)

Place: Boethoek
Weather: Fine

In the early hours of the morning the 27th Battalion moved up from POTIJZE to HILL 37 & 28th Battalion moved up after daylight to intermediate assembly positions in the vicinity of HILL 37. At mid-day units dispersed as follows:

29th Battalion - front line outposts and close support,
31st Battalion and 6th Trench Mortar Battery - ABRAHAM HEIGHTS,
27th Battalion - HILL 37,
28th Battalion - in rear of 27th Battalion at HILL 37.

In the course of the morning Brigade Major visited front line battalion and all units with a view to making final arrangements for assembly and times for forward movement of units, guides, rendezvous, etc. 5th C.I.B. also visited. By 3:00 p.m. all arrangments completed and necessary adjustments made. Shortly after dusk 31st Battalion followed by 27th Battalion and 28th Battalion in the rear commenced moving forward.HILL37 was heavily shelled causing casualties to 27th Battalion as the Battalion were moving off. Assembly was completed by midnight, when 29th Battalion moved back into Brigade support. 29th Battalion brought down an Enemy Aircraft by Lewis fire about 10:00 a.m.

(exerpt from 6th Brigade Staff Headquarters War Diary)

November 6, 1917

Clear skys, turning to cloudy but no rain. Pastor van Walleghem observed an enormous artillery barrage by several thousand cannons firing explosive and shrapnel shells with red and white rockets intermixed is opened up on the German positions from Wytschaete to Vrijboch at 6:00 AM. The Battalion moved forward as the barrage began. They came under heavy machinegun fire as the men struggled in the deep mud of the Ravebeek valley. The 6th Brigade report records thet the men "being knee deep, and in places waist deep, in mud and water".

When the 28th entered Passchendaele, The buildings had been smashed flat and mixed with the earth. Corporal H.C. Baker recounted that shell exploded bodies from previous attacks were scattered everywhere so that you could not avoid stepping on them and the German's fought a tough rear guard battle that was murderous for both sides. Men of the 28th were "falling like ninepins" but it was worse for the Germans. If they stood to surrender, they would be caught in the machinegun fire from their rear and killed, if they tried to move back, they were caught in the Allied artillery barrage. The advancing men moved from shell hole to shell hole and crouched in the cellars of destroyed buildings. By 7:10 am, the Canadians were streaming through the village,and bayonetting the Germans in the rubble along the main street. When they encountered pillboxes, especially at the north exit of the village, the soldiers laid down covering fire with Lewis guns and rifle grenades and then outflanked them. By 8:45 am, the village had been taken.

Another trouble was low flying enemy aircraft. The visibility limited air to air fighting, so both sides aircraft spent their time strafing the others infantry. Alex Ross recalled "... Low-flying airplanes. They came over and did quite a lot of damage, machinegunning, and for some reason or other we were not able to chase them away."

The Germans opened up a counter-barrage with their heavy artillery in preparation for a counter-attack. When that attack came, the Canadian troops fired signal rockets & the Allied artillery brought down a screening barrage. From close behind the forward positions, the Battalion's Lewis guns, as well as the Brigade's machineguns and captured German machineguns fired close over the heads of the Canadian troops.

Corporal H.C. Baker was then detailed to a group of stretcher-bearers in an attempt to get some of the wounded out. Nine bearers were carrying three wounded when a barrage caught them, killing four of the twelve men and wounding two of the bearers. Baker got his patient, an American with a smashed foot, back to the dressing station (a captured German pillbox), only to be directed to take him further back. On passing the dressing station on the way back to the frontlines, Baker saw that a heavy shell had landed amid the wounded outside the pillbox. All that could be seen was a large hole and some pieces of the men.

Corporal P.H. Linsell of 28th Battalion rushed through artillery barrage & Machinegun fire, captured a German machinegun at bayonet point, taking 16 prisoners. Private Harry Badger of the 28th attacked two German pillboxes. It is reported that, when called on to surrender by Badger, six soldiers emerged from the first pillbox & were bayoneted by private Badger. The second pillbox then surrendered and these troops pointed out a third strongpoint that also surrendered to Badger. In all, 15 prisoners were taken by this fellow.

The 27th Battalion completed the capture of Passchendaele Village, while the 28th and 31st Battalionscaptured the ridge north of the village.

Sir Douglas Haig wrote in his diary:

"Sunrise was red and the sky looked "lowering," but only a few drops of rain fell about 9 a.m., and then the day was fine. Glass began to fall last night. "Meteor" prophesied wind, but the day was quiet. Glass steadied at noon.

Canadian Corps attacked this morning at 6 a.m. with two divisions (2nd Division on right; 1st Division on left) north-eastwards along the Passchendaele ridge and on the spur north and north-west of the village.

The operations were completely successful. Passchendaele was taken, as also were Mosselmarkt and Goudberg. The whole position had been most methodically fortified - yet our troops succeeded in capturing all their objectives early in the day with small loss - "under 700 men"; the left battalion of the 2nd Division had hard fighting. 21 officers and 408 other ranks were taken prisoner. Today was a very important success."

(Sir Douglas Haig's Diary)

Place: Boethoek
Weather: Fine

During the early hours of the morning the enemy put down his usual intense barrage in the forward area. Largely due to most careful observation of hostile fire, the troops were assembled clear of the shelled area, and only very few casualties were caused whilst waiting for ZERO hour. ZERO hour was set for 6:00 a.m. when our barrage was put down. the barrage was even and very intense.

The attack of the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade was carried out as per instructions. The attack throughout was entirely successful, the assaulting waves carrying all before them. The Barrage inflicted many casualties on the enemy who was holding his line in strength. An examination of the battlefield after the attack disclosed the excellent bayonet work of the Brigade, a very large number of the enemy dead lying along this line. No prisoners were taken here. Considerable opposition was met from the "pillboxes" and from enemy lying in shell holes in their immediate vicinity. Here again the special attention given during training to the attack on isolated strong points of this nature proved its value. In every case these strong points were engaged by covering fire and outflanked.

At about 6:50 a.m. word was received that our men could be seen going over the hill and entering the village. Here again considerable opposition was met with and later many enemydead were to be seenon the main street and amongst the ruins of houses and cellarsshowing bayonet wounds. By 7:45 a.m. the final objective of the 27th attalion on the right and 28th Battalion on the left had been reached, and three WHITE very lights were observed on either flank, which was the signal for final objective captured. In the mean time the 31st Battalion were temporarily held up by "pillboxes" situated in the N.E. corner of their objective, but shortly after word was received that all objectives had been gained throughout the Brigade.

The attack of the 5th Brigade on our right was limited to an advance of their existing line to the slopes east of the ridge and beyond the ZONNEBEEKE Road, and was entirely successful. That of the 1st Division 1st Brigade on our left was also successful, and in the course of the morning the consolidation of our newlt won positions was completed and touch established on both flanks. The casualties of the Brigade for the operation were:

12 officers and 178 other ranks killed
30 officers and 659 other ranks wounded
70 other ranks missing.

The prisoners captured included the Battalion Commanders, vis., the Commander of the 10th Grenadiers and Commander of a Bavarian Regiment, with their Adjutants. The Bavarian Battalion Commander commanded the supporting Battalion which fact no doubt accounts for the failure on the part of the enemy to make an immediate counter attack of a serios nature. Total prisoners: 15 officers and 230 other ranks, 16 machinguns and 1 Minenwerfer.

During the day hostile planes were particularly active and fired on the men in our new positions. Hostile artillery fire on the whole of the high ground was very intense, also particularly so on approaches from the rear and the support areas. All tracks, headquarters and dressing stations etc. were sujected to intense fire. Despite all manner of hostile activity, which included attempts to regain the position, our gains were consolidated and the work of carrying forward water and ammunition to the front line was accomplished the evacuation of the wounded was also carried out.

(exerpt from 6th Brigade Staff Headquarters War Diary)

November 7, 1917

Battalion relieved by the 22nd Battalion. The men were told to pick up a wounded man, take him to the supply dump and then go to Ypres. Corporal Baker tried to find one of the fresh troops to help with the wounded.

"I went up the trench and called out "Hi there". There was no answer but I could make out blurred figures below, so I slithered down in, thinking they were sleeping. I shall never forget what I found. Down that stretch of trench the boys were sitting in grotesque positions, and every one was dead. The trench was only shell holes joined up, and it was open to overhead schrapnel fire from both sides."

Private Jacques Lapointe of the 22nd described the scene he saw when he arrived in relief:

"In a flooded trench, the bloated bodies of some German soldiers are floating. Here and there, too, arms and legs of dead men stick out from the mud, and aweful faces appear, blackened by days and weeks under the beating sun. I try to turn from these dreadful sights, but everywhereI look bodies emerge, shapelessly, from their shroud of mud. It would seem that life could never return to these fields of abundant death."

They made their way, by blasted road, duckboard & swamp to Ypres. There they directed to a covered-in stall and received a meal of hot soup. Bivouac in cemetery near Ypres. The next morning they discover that they are on what had been No Mans Land in the First Battle of Ypres in 1914 and, two years later, the blasted bodies of the French and Belgian soldiers remained unburied, gold braid, blue jackets, red panteloons, high topped boots and fancy dress helmets - elite troops to be sure. Not many men were left of the 28th to answer the roll call. H.C. Baker recalled:

"If there was no response when a name was called, the sergeant would shout out, "Anybody know anything about him?" Sometimes someone replied. More often there was silence. My impression was that we had won the ridge and lost the battalion..."

The ridge had not been entirely taken, But the Allies were well onto it with the help of the ANZACs and the Royal Navey Division. The ridge was finally secured after another attack by fresh troops on November 10, 1917, 156 days after the start of the battle of Passchendaele.

March 21, 1918

The Germans attack on a wide front pushing every one back except the Canadians. Rather than attack the Canadians at Vimy, they went around to either side. Alex Ross recalled:

"We expected it (the German attack) but were shocked at the advances they made. They were so spectacular as compared to anything that we had experienced before that we just couldn't understand it. When you heard of advances of ten or twelve miles a day why it was incredible. That we couldn't understand."

May 18/19, 1918

In Wanquetin, between Lattre-St. Quentin and Fosseux, a cabin was stuck by a bomb dropped by a German airplane on the night of May 18/19, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 20. The cabin had been occupied by troops from the 28th Battalion.

August 9, 1918

Amiens - The 28th and 27th take over the lead in the advance after the 29th drive the Germans out of a sugar factory.

August 26, 1918

The 27th & 28th Battalions outflank an enemy pocket opposite Neuville-Vitasse and round up the surprised defenders with ease. Another attack was then launched under a powerful barrage by these units at 4:30 PM. The attack was aimed at the high ground to the east of the River Cojuel, southeast of Wancourt, with the objective of the ruins of Wancourt Tower, 1200 yards south of Guemappe. At 4:40 PM, the 27th and 28th Battalions crossed the river, which was dry with steep banks, and attacked the ridge. The were supported by an effective artillery barrage. Despite great amounts of wire at the crest of the ridge, the high ground was taken, only to meet enfilade fire from a strong point, an outpost of the Hindenburg Line in the British section, on the right that had not yet been knocked out. A company of the 28th was sent over into the British section and soon knocked it out. Meanwhile the 27th was rebuffed in an attack on the "Egret" trench on the German forward slope after one company made it into this trench, but was forced back by heavy fire from both flanks. The 27th and 28th dug in at dusk, short of their objective. An assault on Egret Trench was made after dark, separately, by the 27th and 28th without a preparatory barrage, surprising the defenders and pushing them out. The commander of 6th Bigade, Brigadier General Arthur Bell, stated that "The operation was brilliantly carried out."

October 8-9, 1918

Second Division brought up and encircled the city of Cambrai and moved up to a canal. At midnight, they moved across the canal. Alex Ross recalls:

"So on a pitch black night and a little rain, we went down that slope in the darkness, undetected, rushed the canal, captured it, and across, then right through to Cambrai. With the Third Division on the right we advanced through Cambrai, cleared it out and reached the north".

October 11, 1918

General Burstall, Second Division Commander, ordered sixth Brigade to capture the Village of Iwuy on the division's left, as part of a complex battle plan. This village was on the heights east of the Erclin River and was the key position in the German rear guard. The attack was expected to be tough, as the 18th battalion had been pinned down the previous day after gaining a toe hold across thedry bed of the Erclin. Lieutenant Doug Oliver of the 18th recalled that "the machinegun fire was so violent you could lie on your back and watch the berry bushes being clipped off above your head... We couldn't move at all."

At 9:00 AM, the Battalion assaulted the sprawling village of Iswuy (Iwuy) which was held by units of the German Ersatz Division. There was heavy street to street, house to house fighting. The 31st Battalion came in to support, making the capture of the village by midday possible. General Burstall's plans were eventually cancelled due to the delay in taking Iwuy and a counterattack on the Division's right by the Germans, who used seven German and captured British tanks in the attack.

November 11, 1918

Private George Lawrence Price led a patrol across the Canal Du Centre, near Havre. At 10:55 AM, a German sniper shot Private George Lawrence Price of 28th Battalion in the chest. Pvt. Price died by 11:00 AM, the only Canadian killed that day. Private Lawrence is believed to be the last soldier under British command (and possibly on the western front) killed in the Great War and the only Canadian to die this day. Visit The Last Hours, The Last Man for the events leading to Private Price's death.

December 13, 1918

The Battalion marches over the bridge across the Rhine into Germany at Bonn.

December 30, 1918

The Battalion postponed Christmas dinner until this date, due to the late arrival of the turkeys.

November 1918-Spring 1919

The Battalion takes part in the occupation of Germany. The last Canadian troops depart the Rhineland in February & every division was home in Canada by May.

Post world War 1

The 28th Battalion was perpetuated in World War 2 as the Regina Rifles, now Royal Regina Rifles.


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