Sunday, March 30, 2014

96 Years Ago Today (3) - The Battle of Moreuil Wood

March 30th, 1918.
This is the tenth day of Operation Michael. The German army has advanced through British positions over a forty mile front. Now they are concentrating on driving a wedge between the British and French armies. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade is attached to the 3rd British Cavalry Division, which has been used mounted and dismounted to struggle against the onrushing Germans.
They are bivouaced at Guyencourt.
5:30 am - Troopers are "standing to their horses". Horses have been fed and saddled. Men had a quick breakfast supplied by the cooks.
             - Word is received--move cancelled for two hours.
9:00 am - The Brigade is on the move, crossing the River Noye and heading northeast.
The road to Castel, Moreuil Wood on the horizon
Some time later a motorcycle despatch rider intercepts them.
 They change direction and proceed toward Castel. Across the River Avre at Castel is Moreuil Wood.

General Seely leads the way across the river with his signal troop, establishing a position at the northwest corner of the Wood.
The bridge across the Avre River at Castel
He is joined by the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), the CCB Machine Gun Squadron, and Fort Garry Horse.
The Brigade is already desperately undermanned.
This day they will suffer many casualties, their ranks depleted by nearly another half. Killed, wounded and missing totalled 305 men, with the Strathconas suffering the most losses.
9:30 pm - The cavalry is relieved and proceed back across the Avre River to the Bois de Senecat, just west of Castel. They are mounted on whatever horses they can find.
midnight - The troopers are able to turn in.

For a copy of my novel Soldier of the Horse, the story of one cavalry trooper's time in the Great War, please see "buy my book" to obtain same from Amazon, or go to my website for a personalized copy.


Lamont said...

Other than the pavement in your photos it doesn't appear as though anything has changed in 96 years.

Robert Mackay said...

It certainly appears that way. The Wood is still there, visible from west of the River Avre from many miles away.

Gerald said...

Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.

Robert Mackay said...

Thanks, Gerald. As I write this, yet another anniversary of the battle is upon us.

Post a Comment