Private John Coones – 195511 – ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)
On December 17, 1915 John Coones completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Army, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He was 23 years, 4 months old when, as a single man, he enlisted for the duration of the War. John indicated that he was born in Apsley, Ontario and gave his birth-date as August 23, 1892. On his Attestation Paper he indicated; he did not presently belong to a Militia Force nor had any previous Military experience. There is nothing on his File to indicate where he was educated or to what level. As far as his Trade or Calling is concerned, he lists Laborer. John was 5′ 10” inches tall, with a 36” chest (expanded) and weighed 150 pounds on enlistment. He had a fair complexion, with blue eyes and light brown hair. His Medical Examination was completed December 17, 1915 in Peterborough, Ontario. He had no medical issues or physical limitations and as such he was deemed fit for Overseas duty with the CEF. His next-of-kin was listed as his father; Mr. Benjamin Coones of Apsley, Ontario. John signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation on December 17, 1915. The Certificate of Magistrate was signed December 17, 1915 in Peterborough, Ontario. John Coones was taken-on-strength with the 93rd Battalion (Bn) CEF as a Private (Pte) and was assigned Service Number 195511.
The 93rd Battalion was authorized and formed up December 22, 1915. After training through the winter and spring at 5 different area Centres, Apsley being one, the Battalion departed by train from Peterborough, on May 29, 1916. The Battalion made a short stop at Camp Barriefield located at Kingston, Ontario before moving on to the main CEF Training Centre located at Valcartier, Québec, so as to complete Basic Infantry Training, before being transported overseas to the UK.
Pte Coones and the 93rd Battalion embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Empress of Britain on July 15, 1916.
Pte Coones and the 93rd Bn disembarked in England on July 25, 1916. They were stationed at Shorncliffe, England. The 93rd Bn provided reinforcements to the Canadian Corps in the Field.
On August 26, 1916 Pte Coones was admitted to Hospital at Moore Barracks with what was diagnosed as German Measles. He was discharged on September 9, 1916 and rejoined the 93rd Bn. September 27, 1916 Pte Coones was struck-off-strength from the 93rd Bn, upon transfer to the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion (Cdn Inf Bn) at Otterpool, England. On September 28, 1916 he was taken-on-strength with the 1st Cdn Inf Bn at the Canadian Base Depot at Le Havre, France. On October 7, 1916 Pte Coones left to join his Unit (1st Cdn Inf Bn) in the Field. He joined his Unit October 10, 1916.
The 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion (Western Ontario) was attached to the 1st Canadian Brigade – 1st Canadian Division.
There are no entries in Pte Coones’ Military File from October 10, 1916 to November 26, 1917.
To track the movements of Pte Coones through this period of time the War Diary of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion were used.
October 1916 – When Pte Coones joined the 1st Cdn Inf Bn, they were just in the process of being relieved on the Front. The Battalion marched to billets at Albert, France. On the 11th they marched to Bouzincourts, where they stayed until the 14th, when they marched with the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade to Rubempre. On the 16th they marched with the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade to Bonneville. The 17th to 19th were spent in Company training. The 20th to 24th were spent in a series of marches with the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade through Bernaville, Bonnieres, Monts en Ternois, and Frevillers, ending in Divisional reserve in the area of La Haie. On the 25th the Battalion moved to Brigade support where it relieved the 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade. ”A & B” Companies in trenches at Carency, and ”C” & “D” Companies in support trenches in Bajolle Line. On the 26th ”B” Company moved into close support, while the other Companies remained where they were. On the 29th the Battalion relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. ”A” Company holding the right sector from Gabron trench to Coburg Alley, ”B” Company remained in close support, ”C” Company the centre sector from Coburg Alley to Brisson trench, and ”D” Company the left sector from Brisson trench. There was no change in Company disposition on the 30th or 31st. Trench mortars were active on both sides. Every available man was employed in improving trenches.
November 1916 – Battalion dispositions remained unchanged. Battalion trench and Stokes mortars very active. Stokes mortars were 3.2″ (81mm) smooth-bore British trench mortars. Weather was described as wet. On the 2nd the Battalion was relieved by the 8th Cdn Inf Bn. Following relief it marched to billets at Camblain L’Abbe, where it stayed until the 8th. The days were spent ”training per the syllabus”. Training per the syllabus included: physical training, bayonet fighting, musketry (rifle), Lewis gun and bombing, close order and arms drills, and anti-gas drills.
On the 9th they marched to the Gas School at Maisnil Bouche for the purpose of being fitted with new gas respirators. The 10th they marched to Brigade reserve in relief of the 13th Cdn Inf Bn. The weather was reported as fine. The situation was reported as quiet for the 11th to 14th, with the usual trench mortar activity. Based on the weather being right for a gas attack, a gas alert was put in place at noon on the 14th and remained in affect through to the 16th. On the 16th the Battalion moved to the Front and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. The gas alarm remained on through the 18th. On the 18th the 3rd Cdn Inf Bn took over the Battalion position, and the 1st Cdn Inf Bn moved to the right sector and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. At noon on the 19th the gas alert was cancelled. During the day 6 rounds of high explosive shrapnel rounds were fired into Battalion position resulting in 3 casualties. On the 21st the enemy opened fire on the rear support dugouts in the Zouave Valley. No casualties were reported. Battalion Patrols went out at night and came back with valuable information on German strength and trenches. The gas alert was put back on at 10:00 AM on the 22nd. Battalion trench mortars opened heavy fire on enemy positions. There was a lot of aerial activity on the 23rd. Overall the enemy were quiet, but the Battalion fired a heavy trench mortar bombardment on enemy trenches. The 24th opened with another heavy bombardment of enemy trenches by Battalion trench mortars,
who responded with 4.2” fire. The great majority of these shells landing in the Zouave Valley were duds and didn’t explode. Overall the situation was otherwise quiet. The 25th was reported as unusually quiet, except for the usual trench mortar fire on enemy trenches. The Battalion was relieved on the 26th, by the 7 Cdn Inf Bn and proceeded to billets at Chamblaigneul. The 27th was spent cleaning up, and Company inspections. The 28th to 30th were spent in training rotations of 300 men at a time sent to the Divisional Training School. Those not at the Divisional Training School took training in accordance to standard syllabus. The gas alert was put on at 1:45 PM.
December 1916 – the 1st to 3rd were spent in the usual rotations to the Divisional Training School. On the 3rd 149 other ranks from the 157th Battalion, in England, arrived and were absorbed into the 4 Battalion Companies. It was noted that these men had only been partially trained. On the 4th these draftees were sent to the Divisional Training School. There is no mention of the gas alert being removed. At 10:30 AM, the Battalion proceeded to billets at Camblaigneul, France, where it relieved the 14th Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade support. The weather on the 5th was described as misty. The situation from the 6th to 11th was reported as quiet. The weather through this period was described as showery. On the 12th the Battalion moved into the right sub sector in relief of the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. It snowed heavily on this day. The 13th was described as normal, with the Allied 18 pounders busy all day. An Officer was reported killed by a German sniper while he was out on reconnaissance. The situation on the 14th was reported normal, although there was considerable artillery activity on both sides. Another man was wounded by a sniper. The Battalion Stokes Guns were very active throughout the 15th. Stokes guns were about 3′ long; 3″ smooth-bore British, basically trench mortars, which fired 18 pound “shells”. The enemy fired several ”Minnies” at the support lines.
“Minnies” was trench slang for a German trench mortar called a Minenwerfer. The shells made a moaning sound as they passed by.
The 16th and 17th were considered normal, although the artillery on both sides were fairly active. Enemy artillery was quite active during the day. One man was reported killed by a trench mortar. The Battalion was ordered to ”stand to” on information that the Germans may blow a mine by Kennedy Crater. On the 19th the Battalion was relieved by the 46th Cdn Inf Bn, which then moved over and took over positions held by the 25th Cdn Inf Bn. Several High Explosive shells hit in the rear killing one man and wounding two others. At 10:00 AM on the 20th the Battalion proceeded by road to the Village of Dieval, France, arriving at 2:30 PM being billeted for a period of training. The weather is now described as clear and cold. The men spent the 21st to 24th ”training in accordance with the syllabus” as laid down by the Brigade.
Christmas Day was a Holiday spent in football games between Companies and other sports activities. A Christmas Dinner was provided to all ranks and was most appreciated. The 26th to 31st were spent in training per the syllabus. A route march and church service was held and at 11:30 AM on the 31st, Major General A.W. Currie addressed the Battalion Officers and NCOs.
January 1917 – Opened with a Holiday for all ranks. Sports and games were indulged in. The weather was described as bright and cold. The 2nd to 6th was spent training in accordance with syllabus. On the 7th the Battalion paraded for Divine Service. The 8th was spent training with the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade while on a route march. The 9th to 16th were spent training per the syllabus. On the 16th the Battalion was inspected by Major General A.W. Currie during training hours. He expressed that he was very well satisfied with what he saw. Owing to heavy snow overnight and through the day of the 17th, no training took place. Instead the time was spent in lectures and cleaning up billets. The snow continued to fall on the 18th. Due to the weather no outdoor training took place. The weather was now described as frosty and cold and it would continue like that until the end of the month. On the 19th training took place in accordance with the syllabus. On the 20th the Battalion marched from Dieval to billets at Verdrel, France. On the 21st it marched to Bouvigny Huts in Brigade reserve. Owing to enemy areoplane activity no outdoor training was conducted on the 22nd. Areoplane activity continued on the 23rd. On the 24th the Battalion proceeded from Brigade support to Front-Line trenches in Souchez right sector and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. ”C” & “D” Companies in the Front-Line trenches with ”A” & “B” Companies in support. The situation from the 25th to 29th were described as quiet. One man was killed by sniper. On the 27th ”A” & “B” Companies and ”C” & “D” Companies switched places. On the 30th the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. Relief was completed without incident in the afternoon. The situation was described as extremely quiet. After the relief was complete, on the 31st the Battalion moved to Brigade support at Alba in St. Nazarene. ”A” Company was assigned to Mainstream Line, ”B” Company to Dugout Line, ”C” Company to Sugar Factory, and ”D” Company to Albain Line. Areoplanes from both sides were very active throughout the day.
February 1917 – The weather for the month was described as generally clear and cold. There was slight enemy artillery activity on the 1st and 2nd, but no damage. On the 3rd, after a very heavy preparation artillery bombardment on enemy lines on the Battalion’s right, a raid on Vimy Ridge took place. Operation was completed by 10:00 PM. By 11:30 PM everything was absolutely quiet. On the 4th Allied forces once again raided enemy trenches on Vimy Ridge. On the 5th the Battalion moved forward from Brigade support and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn in right subsection of Souchez section. Situation very quiet. The 6th to the 10st passed very quietly with no casualties. There was some enemy artillery activity on the 11th, but no damage was done. The Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn during the evening and proceeded to Brigade reserve at Bouvigny Huts. The men settled in by 2:00 AM. The 12th was spent cleaning and checking equipment. The 13th and 14th were spent carrying out training in accordance with syllabus. At 6:00 PM the Battalion moved into trenches at the Rendezvous. After an inspection by the Brigade Commander, the Battalion returned to billets. The 16th was spent training per the syllabus. On the 17th the Battalion relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn in Souchez 1 right section. The relief was completed by 11:20 PM without incident. The 18th and 19th were reported as situation quiet. The 20th to 23rd were also reported as quiet, but Battalion Patrols were out every night gathering information for a planned raid on enemy trenches. On the 24th the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn and proceeded to Brigade reserve at Albain St. Nazaire. The 26th to 28th were reported as situation very quiet.
March 1917 – The weather for the month was described as generally clear and cold. The situation was reported as quiet. On the 1st the Battalion relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn in Souchez 1 sector. Relief was commenced at 8:00 PM and completed at 11:00 PM without incident. The situation was reported as quiet on the 2nd to 4th. During the evening the Battalion was relieved by the 2nd Battalion Leinester Regiment (British). The Battalion moved back to Bouvigny Huts. On the 5th the Battalion marched to Hesdigneul. Followed by a march to Lapugnoy on the 6th. On the 7th, a muster parade was held. The balance of the day was spent reorganizing Platoons. On the 8th the Battalion marched to Ruitz, followed by another march on the 9th to Estree Cauchie. Following its arrival the Battalion was inspected by Sir Robert L. Borden, Premier of Canada, and Major General A.W. Currie. The 10th was spent in general cleanup and completing reorganization of Platoons. On the 11th training was carried out in Platoon work practicing rapid extensions, etc, and Companies in attack. Bombers, Rifle grenadiers, and Lewis Gunners received separate training instructions in their duties. On the 12th training was carried out in Company work, practicing rapid deployment into artillery formation and advancing.
An artillery formation was an advancing formation that reduced the vulnerability of the Unit to enemy artillery shelling, shrapnel, and machine gun fire. The formation could be used in a Platoon, Company or Battalion configuration. In essence, the distance between each man was five yards.
Bombers, Rifle Grenadiers, and Lewis Gunners continued their training separately. The training from the 13th to 19th was a repeat of that on the 12th. On the 20th and 21st the Battalion carried out training in assault in connection with Brigade Operations. The morning of the 22nd training was carried out by Companies and Units independently. In the afternoon the Battalion carried out practice in assault dealing with special situations; such as attack being held up by enemy Machine Gun fire and enemy strong points. The same training continued from the 23rd to 27th. On the 28th the Battalion moved from Estree Cauchie to billets at Bois aux Alleux and relieved the 13th Cdn Inf Bn. The 29th was spent resting. On the 30th the Battalion relived the 16th Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade support at Maison Blanche. The situation on the 31st was reported as quiet. The Battalion was employed in work parties.
April 1917 – The Battalion was still in Brigade support at Bois aux Alleux on the 1st and the men were employed in work parties. The Battalion relieved the 3rd Cdn Inf Bn in the forward areas of Labyrinthe, France on the night of the 1st – 2nd. The weather for the 2nd to 4th was described as raining and windy. The Front-Line was reported as generally quiet. At 2:00 AM on the 5th, in order to secure identification of enemy Units facing the Battalion, it was decided to make a raid on enemy trenches. Scouts were sent out at 2:00 AM to find ways through the wire. At 4:30 AM three raiding parties comprised of 30 men each and lead by a Lt would, following an Artillery barrage, make their way through the enemy wire and enter enemy trenches. The objectives of the raiding parties were to inflict on the enemy as many casualties as possible, while gathering Unit identification. The first raiding party entered its assigned trench and found it unoccupied, but with time short to the start of the barrage they withdrew. The Lt leading this raiding party was shot and killed by an enemy sniper. The second raiding party held up by opposition reached their objective just as the barrage started, but based on the fact that the barrage did not lift as planned they were forced to withdraw and make their way back to their lines through the shell holes. The third party had separated into 4 groups of seven men. Two of the groups withdrew based on the barrage not lifting. The other two groups made it into the trenches, but found them unoccupied, and as such withdrew. Other than the one Lt killed, there were no other casualties. Based on the fact that the identification required had not been secured, it was decided to repeat the effort in the daylight, this time without artillery assistance. At 2:00 PM, the three parties set out once again. Unable to enter their assigned trench, the first party withdrew. The second party had more success. They entered their trench encountered a group of Germans, killing five of them. Securing the required Unit identification, they withdrew. When the third party party entered their assigned trench, they came upon two enemy bombing posts. A Lewis Gun was turned on these posts, and the enemy were forced to retire down the trench. One enemy, who tried to escape overland, was killed. After stiff fighting the party withdrew without casualties. The Battalion was relieved by the 7th Cdn Inf Bn during the afternoon and evening. Upon completion of the relief the Battalion marched to billets at Camblain L’Abbe. The 6th and 7th were spent resting, organizing, checking equipment and kits. At 12:15 PM, on the 8th the Battalion moved to an area near Ecoivres and formed up in mass with other Units of the 1st Canadian Brigade. At 8:45 PM the Battalion marched via Brunehaut Farm and Ariane Dump to the forward assembly area.
At 5:30 AM, the 1st Cdn Inf Battalion advanced to the attack on enemy positions on Vimy Ridge.
The Battle for Vimy Ridge had started. This was the first time all four Canadian Divisions of the Canadian Corps came together in one Battle. Following a heavy artillery barrage of 1,000 guns; in the wind, sleet, and snow, 15,000 Canadian soldiers stormed the ridge and assaulted what was considered an impregnable position. By late afternoon – early evening, in-spite of heavy losses, most of the German positions had been captured. On the right of the line was the 1st Canadian Division. On the right of the 1st Canadian Division line was the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade with the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade behind. On the right side of the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade Front was the 1st Cdn Inf Battalion. The Battle Plan was: at 5:30 AM following a 1,000 artillery gun creeping barrage the 2nd Cdn Inf Brig would move forward, followed by the 1st Cdn Inf Brig. When the 2nd Cdn Inf Brig captured the Red Line, the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade would move through it and continue to advance on an 1,800 yard wide Front. The 1st Cdn Inf Battalion on the right side of the Brigade Front moved forward in an artillery formation with a Front of 400 yards.
The first objective of the 1st Cdn Inf Bn was to capture the Blue Line (Zwischen Stellung) and then continue on to the Island Traverse Trench (Blue Line).
By 7:05 AM, on the 9th, it was reported the Battle was progressing favourably, and the enemy were being pushed back along the whole line. At 7:49 AM the first wave had reached Zwischen Stellung. By 8:45 AM; ”B”, “C” & “D” Companies had taken Zwischen Stellung, and were ready to move on Island Traverse Trench. At 10:50 AM, the final objective at Blue Line was captured. In the late afternoon, the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn took over the position and the 1st Battalion withdrew and consolidated positions at Albrecht Avenue and Zwischen Stellung. On the 10th the Battalion moved forward and took up positions on the Front-Line at Bois de la Ville, where it stayed until 1:30 AM on the 13th, when it was relieved by the 7th Cdn Inf Bn. The Battalion proceeded to occupy quarters in an old German Front-Line, near Douai Tunnel.
During the preceding 4 days, since the Battle started, the Battalion had suffered the following casualties: 2 Officers killed and 4 wounded; 47 other ranks killed, 156 wounded, and 26 missing.
Pte John Coones’ twin brother – Private Thomas Coones was one of those killed on April 9, 1917.
In a letter written by John to his cousin Ella Brown in Apsley on April 19th, he described losing his brother. “Well, Ella, I lost my dear brother Tom in the battle of Vimy Ridge, but never mind Ella he was a good soldier and died honourably for his country, on the blood-stained battlefields of France. He died easy, right in my sight, in fact, right at my feet …. I miss him, but I’m proud of him. He fought faithfully unto death ….. Here I am, fighting away, but don’t worry, I will do all I can to keep up courage. I will …. Oh, I forgot to tell you that Tom got your box the day before he was killed, and we were sitting eating the contents among nearly a whole Canadian Army, and he said to me “this is just before the battle ………” and it was quite true. He was killed the next morning. Source: Coones-Wilson Family Genealogy
Compliments of “Apsley Backroads” Magazine dated September 1, 2016 – www.apsleybackroads.com.
On the 14th and 15th, the men were employed in road work. 600 men marched to bathes at Ecoivres. The morning of the 16th 600 men were employed in work parties. In the afternoon, the Battalion moved to tents and shelters near Brunehaut Farm. Due to rain the area was very muddy. From the 17th to 21st the Battalion remained in this location. The Battalion relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade support at Farbus Wood on the 22nd. On the 23rd the men were employed in work parties digging a main resistance line. On the 24th a large work party spent the day digging a jumping off trench. The 25th was considered normal. The Battalion was relieved on the 26th by the 8th Cdn Inf Bn, and it moved to tents at Maison Blanche. The 27th was spent resting. At midnight of the 28th the Battalion moved forward to Island Traverse Trench and were in position by 3:00 AM, during an attack by the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn on Arneux. The Battalion was not called on to move, so at 6:00 PM it was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and moved to billets at Mont St. Eloi. The day was spent resting. On the afternoon of the 30th the Battalion moved to tents and shelters at Maison Blanche.
May 1917 – On the 1st, the Battalion relieved the 13th Cdn Inf Bn in the Willerval Sector. Other than enemy artillery being very active, the 2nd was quiet. On the 3rd the Battalion attacked and captured enemy trenches to the north of Fresnoy (Arleux Loop). The Battalion strength was listed as: 23 Officers, and 873 other ranks. The 4th was spent holding the captured positions. During the evening, the Battalion was relieved by the 12th Gloucester Regiment – 95th Brigade (British) and move back to Maison Blanche. Battalion casualties were: 4 Officers killed and 16 wounded; 48 other ranks killed, 208 wounded, and 70 missing. On the 5th the Battalion was inspected by Major General A.W. Currie. Other than two other inspections: one by Lt Gen J. Byng – Commanding Cdn Corps and another by General Officer Commanding (GOC). 1st Cdn Inf Brigade; the rest of the month was spent training, muster parades, bath parades, church services, a route march and a shooting competition.
June 1917 – The 1st and 2nd were spent training as usual. On he 3rd the Battalion moved to a Reserve Camp in the right sector of the Canadian Corps Front. Except for one day of extreme heat, the 4th to 9th was spent training. On the evening of the 9th the Battalion moved forward to the Thelus Cave area and relieved the 7th Cdn Inf Bn. On the 10th the Battalion was relieved by the 16th Cdn Inf Bn and in turn relieved the 13th Cdn Inf Bn in the Railway area. The 11th and 12th were reported as quiet. On the 13th the Battalion moved to the Front and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. On the 14th ”A” Company was holding the Right Front, ”B” Company was holding the left flank, ”C” Company was in support at Winnipeg Road, and ”D” Company was in reserve at Saskatchewan Road. The 15th and 16th were very quiet. Work parties were engaged improving the trenches, which were in a very unsanitary condition. Many latrines had to be built to deal with the situation. 6 men were reported wounded. On the 17th the Battalion was relieved by the 7th Cdn Inf Bn and marched to Brigade support at Paynsley. The 18th to 24th were spent in work parties at Canada trench. On the 25th marched to Fraser camp at Bois de Alleux. The 26th to 30th were spent training.
July 1917 – On the 1st the Battalion attended a Brigade Divine Service commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Confederation of the Provinces and the Dominion of Canada. The night of the 2nd – 3rd the Battalion relieved the 9th Cdn Inf Brigade in Brigade support. The situation for the 3rd to 12th were reported as very quiet. The men were employed in work and carrying parties. During the evening, the Battalion relieved the 11th East York Battalion (British). Early on the 13th they moved to billets in Neuville St. Vaaste area, and then during the evening moved on to Le Perdu Huts, Mont St. Eloi area. The 14th to 18th were spent cleaning up, and training. On the 19th the Battalion marched to Hallicourt. Followed on the 20th by a move to Bruay. On the 21st they rested, and on the 22nd moved to Les Brebis Camp. The evening of the 23rd they moved forward and relieved the 7th and 8th Cdn Inf Bns in the right subsection of the Loos Sector. From the 23rd to the 31st the Battalion remained in the trenches. During this period the artillery, on both sides, was quite active resulting in a number of Battalion casualties every day.
August 1917 – The situation on the 1st was described as lively. The weather was dull and inclined to rain. The night of the 2nd – 3rd the Battalion was relieved by the 7th Cdn Inf Bn. Following relief the Battalion marched by Platoons, to billets at Les Brebis. During the march all ranks wore Small Box Respirators for a distance of a mile to get use to wearing them. The morning was spent resting, as all ranks were fatigued. In the afternoon, they marched to Foose – Barlin arriving in the early evening. The weather on the 4th was showery. The morning was spent in general cleanup and reorganizing Companies. A Muster parade was held in the afternoon. On the 5th following Divine Service the men marched to bathes at Houchin. The 6th to 8th was spent training by Companies. On the 9th the men went in Companies to Houchin and there passed through the testing ”Gas Chamber”. The 10th was spent training and cleaning up for an inspection that didn’t take place. Later in the day the Battalion moved to Les Brebis. The 11th to 13th were spent in work parties. In the evening they marched to Hersin occupying billets vacated by the 10th Cdn Inf Bn. On the 14th it was back to billets at Les Brebis. The weather on the 15th is now described as fair and warm. The Battalion was ordered to ”stand to” and be prepared to move on 20 minutes notice. At 10:30 PM on the 16th the Battalion received the order to move forward to cellars and tunnels in the area of Loos which had previously been occupied by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. As a result of enemy artillery fire on Battalion position, on the 17th and 18th 3 Officers and 19 other ranks were wounded. On the 19th 5 Bn Platoons relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn in the Chalk Pit, while the rest of the Battalion remained where it was. 1 Officer was reported wounded, along with 3 other ranks killed and 29 wounded. On the 20th the 5 Platoons returned to the Battalion position. 6 other ranks were killed and 17 wounded. The 2nd Cdn Mounted Rifles relieved the Battalion on the 21st. The Battalion was back at Les Brebis on the 22nd, but moved to Bracquemont and then to billets at Houvelin, in the same day. The 23rd was spent in rest. On the 24th there was an inspection of equipment and rifles. The 25th and 26th were spent in a Muster parade, being issued new clothing and a church parade. On the 27th the Battalion marched in formation to Berhgnsarte for inspection by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig Canadian Infantry Corps (CIC) of the British Armies in France. The mornings of the 28th to 31st were spent training in accordance with the syllabus, while the afternoons were spent in sports and games.
September 1917 – The 1st and 2nd were spent training and inspecting equipment. The morning of the 3rd the Battalion moved to Foose 10. In the afternoon they rested. The night of the 4th – 5th the Battalion relieved the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCRs) in reserve at St. Pierre. Shortly after relief the enemy opened fire with gas shells. No casualties were reported. The night of 5th – 6th the Battalion relieved the 49th Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line trenches. There was slight enemy bombardment of position with gas shells, but no casualties. On the night of the 7th the enemy fired artillery shells into the area, which resulted in 3 other ranks killed, and 12 wounded. Battalion Patrols were out at night, but came back with nothing to report. The 8th and 9th were reported quiet. On the 10th the Front-Line faced a heavy concentration of enemy artillery and trench mortar fire, but no casualties reported. On the night of the 11th – 12th during a heavy enemy artillery bombardment the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. Upon relief the Battalion moved independently in Platoons back to Foose 10. The weather was reported as generally fine. On the 13th the Battalion paraded, by Platoons and Companies, for inspection of equipment and clothing. The 14th to 17th were spent training. The 18th was spent preparing to move to the Front-Line trenches. At 7:00 PM they marched forward and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn in the left St. Laurant Sector. The 19th to 21st were reported as quiet. The night of the 21st – 22nd the Battalion was relieved by Units of the 16th and 18th Cdn Inf Brigades. Following relief they moved back to Foose 10 and spent the day resting. On the 23rd the Battalion marched to billets at Bruay. On the 24th the Battalion paraded for an inspection of clothing and equipment, including Box Respirators and Anti-Gas equipment. The 25th to 30th were spent in training, and time on the musketry (rifle) range. Box Respirators were a type of Gas Mask that the men carried with them at all time in the Front-Line trenches.
October 1917 – The month opens with the weather described as fine and warm. The men spent part of the day at the Gas School testing their Box Respirators. The balance of the day was spent training. The 2nd to 5th were spent training, practice at the rifle range, sports and games. The 6th was wet and cold, when the Battalion marched, by Platoons, to huts at Marqueffles Farm, where they relieved the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn in support. The 7th to 10th were reported quiet as the men were engaged digging communication trenches. The 11th was spent repairing trenches. On the evening of the 12th the Battalion was relieved by the 2/5th South Staffords (British), and they moved back to Marqueffles Farm. On the 13th they marched to Maisnil Ruitz. The 14th to 19th were spent in bath parades, a Muster parade, an inspection by an Army Commander, being issued new boots and winter underwear, inter-Brigade baseball games. The 20th to 22nd were spent in daily marches through Manqueville, then Les Cisseaux, finally ending up in the Oxelaere area. As the result of heavy rain, no training took place on the 23rd and 24th. When the weather improved it was back to training, in the morning, on the 25th and 26th, with games and sports in the afternoon. On the 27th the Battalion was inspected by a Corps Commander. The 28th to 31st were spent practicing rapid wire, assembling and advancing on enemy strong points. Battalion Officers spent time viewing a model of Passchendaele.
November 1917 – The weather is reported as fine. The 1st was spent training, and preparing for a move. Muzzle covers were made for all rifles. An issue of chocolate was given to all ranks. On the 2nd the Battalion moved by tactical train to Ypres Station, settling in billets at the Wieltje area, in Belgium. On the 3rd ”A” & “D” Companies moved to Capricorn east, while ”B” & “C” Companies remained at Wieltje. On the night of 4th – 5th ”A” & “D” Companies relieved the 16th Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line trenches, while ”B” & “C” Companies moved forward to Capricorn west. The 5th was reported as quiet. In the evening ”B” & “C” Companies moved, by Platoons at 50 yard intervals, to the assembly area. The 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade had decided to resume the offensive on the 6th. Zero Hour was 6:00 AM zero hour, following a creeping barrage, the 1st Cdn Inf Bn would attack, on a two Company Front with ”A” Company on the right and ”D” Company on the left. Each Company would advance on a two Platoon Front. When the first objective was reached, they would pause and ”B” & “C” Companies would pass through their Line and continue the assault to the second objective and then following the creeping barrage would assault and consolidate the final objective. As each objective was taken, the Companies in the rear would move forward and mop up. The assault went quite good as the men were in position on the final objective by 7:40 AM, where they held through the balance of the day and 7th. A heavy artillery bombardment of enemy positions prevented a buildup for a counter attack. The Battalion was relieved by the 16th Cdn Inf Bn on the evening of the 7th and moved back to billets at Wieltje. Battalion casualties during this assault were: 11 Officers killed or wounded and 278 other ranks killed or wounded; approximately 50% of the Battalion strength. On the 8th the Battalion was moved by train to Brandhoek, Belgium. The 9th was spent resting and cleaning up. On the 10th the Battalion was moved by bus to Robecq, France. There was another move on the 11th, by bus, to Bethune. Followed by a move on the 12th back to billets at Marqueffles Farm. A Muster parade was held on the 13th to verify Roll count. Companies reorganizing. On the 14th the Battalion moved to a support area at Lieven and relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. The situation was reported quiet from the 15th to 22nd. The men were employed in work parties. On the evening of the 22nd the Battalion was relieved by the 7th Cdn Inf Bn and was moved by train to Divisional reserve at Vancouver camp. The rest of the month was spent training, bathes, range practice, and continuing reorganizing the Companies. On November 26, 1917 Pte John Coones was granted a 14-day Leave. He returned from Leave on December 14, 1917 and rejoined the 1st Cdn Inf Bn.
December 1917 – When Pte Coones rejoined the 1st Cdn Inf Bn, they were in a Reserve position. The 15th to 17th were spent resting and cleaning equipment. The weather was described as cold. The 18th was spent in preparations to be moved by train to Gouy Servins, France. On the 19th, they moved again, this time to billets at Ourton. The 20th to 24th were spent cleaning clothes and equipment, a Muster parade, Divine Service, bathes, and training. On the 25th, a Christmas Dinner was held followed by a Musical Program. The 26th to 31st were spent in training.
January 1918 – On New Year’s Day all training was canceled and replaced with organized games and sports events. The 2nd to 20th were spent training per the syllabus, which included; physical training, bayonet fighting, gas drill, and inspection of anti-gas appliances. The morning of the 21st was spent getting ready to proceed to support area at Cite St. Pierre and relieve the 58th Cdn Inf Bn. On the 22nd the Battalion relieved the 43rd Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line. The entries in the War Diaries for the 23rd to 26th are unreadable. Bn Patrols went out at night on the 27th and reported back that enemy wire was in good shape with no gaps. No enemy Patrols were encountered. On the 28th a strong Patrol was sent out to reconnoitre enemy wire, but were forced to retire on account of the Brigade on right putting down a barrage in front of them. Bn Lewis guns were very active all day keeping down the enemy machine gun fire. On the 30th the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn and it moved back to a support position in St. Pierre. Every available man was engaged in work parties on the 31st.
February 1918 – The men of the 1st Cdn Inf Bn spent the 1st to the 7th employed in carrying ammunition, or work parties, building Machine gun emplacements, or repairing trenches. On the 8th they were relieved by the 10th Cdn Inf Bn and moved to billets at Bully Grenay. The 9th to 15th were spent training. On the 16th they relieved the 10th Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line trenches in Hill 70 Section. The situation was reported quiet on the 17th. Bn Patrols were out throughout the night and came back with nothing to report. During the early morning hours of the 18th, there was a very intense trench mortar and pineapple barrage on the Bn’s trenches, but no casualties were reported. It was quiet through the rest of the day. The 19th was reported quiet. No-Man’s-Land was patrolled all night and enemy wire examined. No enemy were encountered. On the 20th enemy machine guns were very active. Battalion 18 pounders and trench mortars responded. The 21st and 22nd were reported quiet. On the 23rd a party of 10 enemy raided a forward observation post, but were driven back by Lewis gun fire. The Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn and moved to reserve billets in the Village of Loos, France. In spite of the enemy firing many gas shells into the area, no casualties were suffered, and the situation was reported as quiet for the rest of the month was reported quiet.
March 1918 – The situation from the 1st to 3rd was reported normal. The men were employed in work parties ”deepening and berming” Railway Alley. “Berming’ would refer to finishing the top of the trench by raising it a bit”. On the 4th the Battalion was relieved by the 10th Cdn Inf Bn and moved to billets at Bully Grenay. The 5th was spent in a general clean-up and a march to bathes at Les Brebis. The weather was reported as fine. On the 6th a draft of 100 other ranks arrived and were distributed between Companies. The 7th to 14th were spent in training, an inspection by the Commanding Officer, Divine Service, a football game, an all-day route march and small box respirator drills. The 15th to 18th the men were employed in work parties per Brigade Command. The 19th was spent in preparation to move on the 20th. The Battalion relieved the 5th Cdn Inf Bn in the Hill 70 section right Front-Line. With the exception of a few enemy gas shells falling between the Front-Line and support trenches, the 21st was quiet. The Battalion projected a very large gas attack on enemy positions on the 22nd. Allied artillery, Bn trench mortars and Lewis guns very active all day. The Battalion was relieved by the 44th Cdn Inf Bn on the 23rd and moved to billets at Neoux Les Mines. On the 24th the enemy shelled the Town for 15 minutes, but caused no casualties. Based on enemy action in the Cambrai Front, the Battalion was placed in ”mobile reserve” and told to be ready to move within one hour. The order was withdrawn on the 25th, and the Battalion marched to bathes at Houchin. On the 26th the Battalion was, once again ordered to ”stand to” and be ready to move. They remained in this condition for the day. The order was cancelled. On the 27th they marched to Villers Au Bois and took up quarters on Mont St. Eloi Road. Where they engaged in sports. At midnight of the 28th the Battalion was bused to Dainville, just west of Arras and warned to ”stand to”. Battalion strength is now shown at 943 all ranks. During the 29th they remained in readiness to move. On the 30th the Battalion relieved the 9th Bn Gordon Highlanders (British) in the Ficheux Telegraph Hill Switch area. After relief was completed, the enemy laid on a heavy artillery bombardment of the position, resulting in only 3 casualties. On the 31st the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cdn Inf Bn and moved to Brigade support.
April 1918 – It was reported on the 1st to 3rd enemy artillery was active, to which Allied artillery responded. The night of 3rd – 4th the Battalion relieved a portion of the 8th Seaforth Highlanders and a Company of the 8th/10th Gordon Highlanders in the Front-Line. On the 5th there was very heavy bombardment of position by the enemy, resulting in 1 Officer wounded, 7 other ranks killed, and 14 wounded. At about 7:45 AM a party of approximately 100 enemy infantry were spotted approaching Bn outposts. They were allowed to advance to about 175 yards, when Lewis guns and rifles opened up on them. This resulted in them breaking up into small groups, but they continued to advance. When they got to 100 yards of the outposts, they were met with very heavy rifle fire which forced them to withdraw after experiencing and estimated 30% casualties. On the 6th the Battalion was relieved by the 16th Cdn Inf Bn and were moved, by train, to billets at Warlus. The morning was clear and cold when the Bn arrived at billets and were provided a hot meal, rum ration, dry blankets and socks. The morning was spent resting. In the afternoon, the Battalion marched to Durham Camp in the area of Mont St. Eloi, where they were received and ordered to be ready to move at 4:00 AM. The 7th was spent ”standing to” ready to move on an hour’s notice, which didn’t happen. The 8th to 10th were spent resting, cleaning up, a pay parade, and attending a band concert. It rained most of the day on the 10th. Turning the Camp into a sea of mud. On the 11th the Battalion marched to Victory Camp in the St. Catherine’s area. On the 12th a draft of 1 Officer and 40 other ranks were received from the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp CCRC) and were absorbed into the Companies. On the 13th the Battalion relieved 3 Companies of the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and 1 Company of the 16th Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line. Generally the 14th was quiet, other than a lively strafe of Bn position by enemy 4.1” and whiz bangs. No casualties were reported. On the 15th the Bn was relieved and moved to a support position. The 15th to 20th were reported as situation normal. On the 21st the Battalion relieved the 3rd Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line. There was a heavy enemy strafe of the right flank of the Bn, but no casualties were reported. The situation for the 22nd to 27th were reported as normal. Patrols were out every night, but came back with nothing to report. On the 28th the Battalion was relieved and moved to Corps reserve at Anzin, France. The 28th to 30th were spent resting, cleaning up, a band concert, sports, bathes, work parties, and an inspection of equipment and rifles. It rained heavily for most of the time.
May 1918 – On the 1st a Church Service was held, followed by an inspection by the Commanding Officer. The 2nd and 3rd were spent in work parties. On the 4th the Battalion moved to billets at Lancaster Camp, Mont St. Eloi, where they were concentrated with the 1st Cdn Division in the Hermaville, France area. The Battalion moved to billets at Penin on the 5th. The 6th to 19th were spent in training. Special attention was given to musketry (rifle) work. The Battalion also practiced attack and counterattack tactics. They now marched to Anzin – St. Aubin and Camp Y. The Battalion march was observed by the Corps Commander, who complimented them on their sharp turnout and march discipline. The 20th to 28th was spent in training, work parties, and more inspections by senior Officers. On the 29th the Battalion got word of a pending change in training tactics, as the focus was going to be on ”open or semi-open warfare”. The men were encouraged to participate with ideas. The 30th was back to work parties. The 31st was spent training.
June 1918 – The 1st was spent in work parties. On the 2nd the Battalion marched to billets at Mingoval. On the 3rd, the Companies were inspected by their Commanders. There was special Lewis Gunnery and Musketry (rifle) training with emphasis on judging distance, recognition of targets, rapid fire and fire control. The Platoons and Companies practiced rapid deployment exercises. The 4th and 5th were spent practicing newest ”Company Scatter Tactics”. The 6th to 10th were spent practicing tactical exercises, Lewis Gunnery and musketry training, church parades, bathes, issuance of clean clothes, etc. The 11th to 30th were pretty much a repeat of the first days of the month. It was during this time that the Companies were introduced, through lectures, to open warfare tactics. The also practiced the tactics. The Battalion also participated in 1st Cdn Inf Brigade Sports days, where they did fairly well. On the 30th the Battalion marched to billets at St Aubin, where it relived the 15th Cdn Inf Bn.
July 1918 – Dominion Day was celebrated by with a Canadian Corps Sports Day at Tincques, France. There were approximately 50,000 troops in attendance. Special guests included: HRH the Duke of Connaught, General Petain, Premier Borden, Hon NW Rowell, Lt Gen Currie, Maj Gen Macdonell, Brig Gen Griesbach, and Gen Horne – Commanding 1st Army. The 2nd to 9th were spent in work parties at Ecurie Switch and Madagascar Post, Church Parades, and inspections. On the 9th the Battalion moved to ”E” Block ”Y” Camp. The 10th to 12th were spent in work parties at Brunehaut Farm, training and sports. On the 13th the Battalion moved to a forward support position in Oppy Sector and relieved the 4/5th Black Watch. The situation was described as quiet. The 14th to 19th were reported as quiet. Time spent in work parties and Patrols. The evening of the 18th an order was received to prepare to move to the Front and put on a raid. On the 19th the order was cancelled and the Battalion was relieved by the 72nd Cdn Inf Bn and was moved by train to St Aubin. The 20th to 23rd were spent in the usual routine of training, sports, Church parade, and inspections. The evening of the 23rd, the Battalion marched to St Vaast where they were taken by train to the Front-Line, where they relieved the 116th Cdn Inf Bn in the Telegraph Hill Sector. The trenches were found to be very wet and muddy. The 24th to 30th were spent in repairing and draining trenches, and sending out Night Patrols. The situation remained quiet. On the 31st the Battalion was relieved by the 8th Middlesex Regiment (British) and were bused to billets at Warlus.
August 1918 – The morning of the 1st was spent having bathes and being issued clean clothes. In the afternoon the Battalion was bused to Liencourt, after which it marched to billets at Grand Rullecourt. It drizzled all day on the 2nd, and as such there was no set training syllabus. The day was spent resting, cleaning, and re-equipping. The 3rd began with a march to Houvin, where it boarded a train which carried the Battalion to Abancourt, arriving at 9:20 AM on the 4th. After a brief cleanup and hot tea, the Battalion marched to billets at Lignieries en Vimeau in the evening. After resting most of the 5th the Battalion began a journey which took them to Boves Wood arriving at 6:45 AM on the 6th. Where they were served a hot meal with bacon. It was still raining and the balance of the day was spent trying to keep dry. On the 7th the Battalion marched to the assembly area west and south of the Village of Gentelles. Due to the amount of congestion on the road progress was slow. At midnight of the 8th the Battalion moved forward to Brigade reserve at U d 8 on the Demuin Map. A major offensive by the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade was planned for the 8th. At zero hour when the assault began, the 1st Battalion was to move forward following the advancing troops, but to remain 1,000 yards behind. During the 9th to 12th the Battalion remained in reserve, resting and re-equipping ready to move forward when ordered. During this time several orders to move forward were issued, but were later cancelled. Reports came back that the Hun were on the defensive. The 13th and 14th were reported as very quiet. It was reported on the 15th that the assault had been successful and the planned objectives has been taken. On the 16th the Battalion moved back from Brigade reserve to Divisional reserve in the Folies area. Here they relieved the 5th Cdn Mounted Rifles. The 17th and 18th were reported as quiet. On the 19th the Battalion was relieved by the 55th French Inf Regiment – 126th Division. Upon relief the Bn moved to the Cayeux area. The 20th to 22nd were reported as quiet. The weather was fine. The Bn was inspected. Cigarettes and chocolate was issued. The evening of the 22nd the Battalion marched to Gentelles Wood. On the 23rd they marched to Dury Vers and then on to Bacouel. The brass and bugle bands played alternately the whole way. The 24th was spent cleaning and resting. On the 25th orders were received that the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade, which included the 1st Cdn Inf Bn, was moving from the 4th Army to the 1st Army. They were moved overnight of the 26th – 27th to Aubigny. On the 27th orders were received to take up position in the Telegraph Hill Sector. On the 28th the 1st Cdn Inf Brigade relieved the 2nd Cdn Inf Brigade in the Front-Line. The Battalion area was shelled almost continuously during the afternoon of the 29th. An order was given for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Cdn Inf Bn to attack and outflank the enemy through Upton Wood to Vis En Artois Switch. Zero hour was 4:40 AM. Assisted by a powerful artillery barrage, all Bn objectives were reported taken by 9:20 AM. At 11:45 AM the Hun counter attacked in force and turned the left flank of ”B” Company and forced then to withdraw to the Line held by ”D” Company. A Battalion counterattack was organized using reserves and the enemy were pushed back. The Battalion casualties were 7 Officer and an estimated 160 other ranks. The morning of the 31st the Battalion was ordered to ”stand to” based on a pending attack by the enemy. By late afternoon the order was cancelled. Word was received that the Battalion would be relieved during the night.
September 1918 – Coming out of the Line about 6:00 AM on the 1st, the Battalion spent the day resting and re-fitting. Clean clothing was issued and ammunition supplied. At 5:30 AM, the morning of the 2nd the Battalion moved to an assembly area to the rear of the 3rd Cdn Inf Bn. At 7:30 AM it dispersed as follows: ”C” Company on the right, ”D” Company on the left, ”A” Company in support, and ”B” Company in reserve. Each man carried two extra bandoliers of ammunition, 24 hours of dry rations, a fresh cooked ration, and two bottles of water. At 7:50 AM the 3rd Cdn Inf Bn started to move forward with the 1st Cdn Inf Bn following 300 yards behind. They moved across open ground pitted with shell holes. The advance went on through the day eliminating one enemy outpost after another. Casualties were reported as minimal. At 8:00 AM on the 3rd Patrols were sent out and found that the trench at the Switch Line abandoned and the enemy retreating across the Canal du Nord. The 2nd and 4th Cdn Inf Bns then advanced with the 1st Cdn Inf Bn in support, and 3rd Cdn Inf Bn in reserve. The 1st Battalion occupied both trenches of the Buissy Switch Line. The 63rd Naval Bn on the right of the Battalion took the Village of Inchy en Artois. Except for intermittent enemy shelling the rest of the day was quiet. During the afternoon of the 4th, it was noticed that the enemy were massing for a counter-attack, but the attack was broken up by a heavy artillery barrage of the area. At 11:00 PM word was received that the Battalion could vacate its position and proceed to the Drocourt – Queint Line. The troops were settled in by 3:00 AM on the 5th. At 10:00 AM the Battalion marched 7 kilometres to Cherisy where they boarded buses which took them to Wailly Wood Camp, where they rested and cleaned up. The 6th was occupied with cleaning up and re-equipping. A movie picture show was presented in the evening by the YMCA. A draft of 1 Officer and 46 other ranks reported. On the 7th a bath parade was held as well as Company inspections. Word was received to prepare for a move to Agnez Les Duisans on the 8th. During the morning of the 8th the Battalion marched to Agnez Les Duisans. A comprehensive training syllabus was laid down with special emphasis on Lewis Gun and Musketry (rifle) work. In the evening the Bn was entertained by a concert put on by a Brass Band. On the 9th although the weather was rainy, training continued. Officers spent the day reviewing the previous Bn action. A Ceremonial Parade was held on the 10th, followed by physical training. Lectures were given, by Officers, on previous Bn action. In the evening a cinema show and concert was presented. The 11th to 14th were spent in training. Another draft of 13 other ranks reported. At 8:30 AM on the 15th the Bn fell in and marched to ACQ where it entrained for Croisilles. This was followed by a route march to trenches east of Cagnicourt, where the Bn was in support. The 16th was reported as quiet. Allied artillery kept up harassing fire on enemy positions. At 11:30 AM gas shells were fired for approximately ½ hour. A draft of 7 Officers reported. It rained heavily on the 17th. It was reported that tactically, the 1st Cdn Brigade was under orders of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2nd Cdn Division. The Brigade was to remain in present location. There were several artillery shoots on enemy positions on the 18th. Between 3:30 and 4:30 PM, on the 19th the Battalion moved in small parties to trenches 1 kilometre west of the Village of Gagnicourt. There were intermittent enemy shelling of the area, but no casualties were reported. Reconnaissance parties and Patrols were out at night. The situation was reported as quiet. On account of enemy shelling of the area and aerial activity all Bn activity on the 20th was kept to a minimum. On the 21st the artillery kept up its usual harassing fire on enemy positions. There was occasional enemy shelling of the area, but no casualties. On the 22nd the Battalion marched to bathes at Hendecourt, where they were also issued clean clothes. Four casualties were reported. The 23rd to 25th were reported as very quiet. The weather was misty with occasional showers. The days were spent re-equipping. Allied artillery were very active. At 7:30 PM on the 26th the Battalion moved forward to an assembly area in preparation for a Cdn Corps offensive, which was planned for the 27th. The troops made themselves as comfortable as possible for the night, waiting for Zero Hour which was 5:20 AM. At 5:20 AM on the 27th the offensive began with a heavy artillery bombardment of enemy positions. The enemy replied rather feebly. Companies of the 1st Cdn Inf Bn jumped off as follows: ”D” & “C” Companies at 6:00 AM, ”B” Company at 6:10, and ”A” Company at 6:15 AM closely following the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. Due to heavy enemy machine gun fire progress was slow, but by 11:00 AM the Green Line was in Bn hands. At 2:05 PM the 2nd Cdn Inf Brig passed through the 1st Cdn Inf Brig and crossed Cambrai Road. Following orders to ”stand fast” for the night, the 1st Battalion dug in and consolidated their position in anticipation of an enemy counter-attack. Casualties for the day were estimated at 130 other ranks of which 20 were killed. At 6:00 AM on the 28th the Cdn Corps resumed the offensive with the 4th Cdn Division taking over and advancing through the 1st Cdn Division Front. The 1st Cdn Inf Bn was in support with orders in the event of a counter-attack to occupy the high ground east of a Railway Line. While waiting, they reorganized and re-equipped. At 10:22 AM the Battalion was ordered forward into a support position west of the Village of Hayecourt. Four casualties were reported due to enemy shelling. General Currie – Corps Commander sent a dispatch which read: ”I am proud to have the honour of cordially congratulating the 1st Cdn Division on the splendid victory achieved today and wish them the same measure of success tomorrow”. On the 29th orders were received for the 1st Cdn Inf Brig to relieve the 2nd Cdn Inf Brig in the Front-Line. The 1st and 4th Cdn Inf Battalions were to move as soon a light permitted. The day was devoted to re-equipping and reorganizing. On the 30th plans were announced to continue the offensive on October 1st. 1st Cdn Inf Battalion was to take the high ground identified as M 33 and the Village of Abancourt.
October 1918 – The 1st Cdn Inf Bn was detailed on the right of the main assault. The rate of advance was to be regulated by the speed of the rolling artillery barrage which was to lift 100 yards every 4 minutes until it reached the railway embankment, where it would concentrate for 15 minutes before resuming the former rate. 1st Cdn Inf Bn Companies would advance on two Platoon fronts as follows: ”C” Company to advance on the right, ”D” Company on the left, ”A” Company in support, and ”B” Company in reserve. Zero Hour was set for 5:00 AM. ”C” & “D” Companies moved off at 5:00 AM and encountered no opposition for about 800 yards. Then it ran into heavy machine gun fire from the area of the Sunken Road, which were dealt with. They pushed on beyond the road killing many of the enemy with bayonets. ”A” Company in support moved off at 5:15 AM and were to ”mop up”. They immediately encountered large numbers of enemy, all of which were dealt with. ”B” Company moved forward at 5:22 AM but were to avoid becoming committed until ”C” & “D” Companies had gained their objective. When ”C & D” Companies were in place, ”A” company was to move through their position on a three Platoon front with ”B” Company moving into support. ”A” Company was to continue the advance and seize the high ground around the Village of Abancourt. ”B” Company would then secure the flanks. Followed by ”C” & “D” Companies to consolidate the the objective. It was reported that the artillery barrage was of little use to the Companies during the advance. Casualties for the day were: 4 Officers killed and 8 wounded; 25 other ranks killed, 117 wounded, and 29 missing. After reaching and holding the objective the 2nd was spent resting and cleaning up. On the 3rd the Battalion moved off independently by Companies to a bivouac area at Bois de Bouche near Cagnicourt. The 4th was spent cleaning up and Company reorganizations. The 5th was cold and windy, when the Companies marched to bathes at Haynecourt, where they were also issued clean clothes. The afternoon was devoted to Company Officers giving lectures to their men on lessons learned from recent operations. Orders were received on the 6th for the 1st Cdn Inf Brig to march across country, avoiding the Arras – Cambrai road to Vis-en-Artois in Divisional reserve. The 7th was spent in training which consisted of physical conditioning, lectures given by Company Officers on selected topics, with special attention given to Lewis Gunnery and Musketry (rifle) practice. The training ground was heavily pitted with shell holes, and intersected by trenches. The rest of the 7th was spent improving trenches and billets. The weather on the 8th and 9th was fine and cold. The days were spent as a repeat of the 7th. Word was received that the 3rd Cdn Division had entered Cambrai and that the troops were pushing on through to an area east of the City. The GOC of the 1st Cdn Inf Brig indicated that in his opinion the stay in this present area would not be a long one. Word was received on the 10th that the enemy were withdrawing on the whole Cdn Corps Front. Orders were received for the 1st Cdn Inf Brig to relieve the 3rd Cdn Inf Brig in the Line on the night of the 12th/13th. On the 11th a reconnaissance party was sent forward to select a route. Twice during the day orders were received to be ready to move with one hour’s notice and twice they were cancelled. On the 12th the Battalion was ordered forward to Brigade reserve in the area of Sunken Road and to complete relief as soon as possible after dusk. Early evening the troops made themselves as comfortable as possible in gun pits, funk holes (usually in the wall of a dugout or trench for eating or resting), and trenches. The situation on the 13th was very quiet. As the men hunkered down, they were served hot tea, and bacon. Following this the Company cooks were ordered to provide as many hot meals as they could to the men. In the evening a message was received from Brigade HQ that Germany had agreed to President Wilson’s 14 points and were ready to vacate Belgium and France. Drizzle continued on the 15th, but the situation was very quiet. Plans were discussed as to what was to happen if the enemy did retire. The 16th was spent preparing to relieve the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade reserve the night of 18th/19th. Word was received that the enemy had retired from the area of the Canal de la Sensee and that the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn had crossed the Canal and had occupied the town of Penin. The 1st Battalion was ordered forward and occupy the area vacated by the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn. At 5:05 PM the Battalion moved across the Canal and took up positions in Penin for the night. On the 18th the Battalion was ordered to pass through the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn and continue the advance. There are no reports of encounters with the enemy during this advance, although large numbers of the enemy were seen retiring from Towns and Villages. During this day the 1st Cdn Division advanced 10 kilometres and liberated 20 Town and Villages. At the end of the day the men of the Battalion were served a hot meal, including tea, and a ration of rum. On the 19th the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn passed through the 1st Bn. The Battalion were resting in farm buildings south of Matchiennes. During this day the 1st Cdn Div advanced 11 kilometres and liberated another 40 communities. On the 20th the Battalion passed through the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn and continued the advance. The Battalion entered Grand Bray in the morning of the 21st. In the evening they moved to billets at Les Faux. Casualties during the 4 day advance were reported as 1 Officer killed; 2 other ranks killed and 12 wounded. The 22nd was spent cleaning up, resting, and re-equipping. On the 23rd the Battalion marched billets at Pecquencourt. The rest of the month 24th to 31st was spent in resting, issue of new clothes, training, sports, gas drills, muster and bath parades.
November 1918 – The 1st to 3rd were spent by the Battalion in training, lectures, concerts, and sports. At 10:05 PM a message was received that an Armistice had been signed by General Diaz Sunday afternoon and is to come into operation on Monday afternoon. Terms of the Armistice to be announced Tuesday. The Companies were immediately notified of the contents of the message. The 4th to the 10th were just a continuation of training, lectures, clothing and bath parades. Companies were informed daily of the progress of Armistice negotiations. On the 11th the Battalion in conjunction with other Battalions of the 1st Cdn Inf Brig paraded to the 4th Cdn Inf Infantry Battalion Parade Grounds for inspection by GOC Canadian Corps. It was announced the successful completion of Armistice negotiations. The King and GOC were heartily cheered. Now began a series of daily marches to Wallers Bellaing – Oisy area, then to Quievrain, and then to Boussu. The 16th and 17th were spent at rest. On the 18th the Battalion marched to Naast. The 19th and 20th were spent at rest. On the 21st the Battalion marched independently by Company to Gosselies Nivelles, Belgium. The 22nd and 23rd were spent at rest. On the 24th the Battalion marched to Villers Perwin, Belgium. The Battalion marched to Beuzet, Belgium on the 25th. The 26th was spent at rest. On the 27th they marched to Andenne. The 28th they marched to Clavier. The 29th was spent at rest. On the 30th the Battalion marched to the area of Grimonstee – Rouge Miniere. It was reported that in spite of the distances covered and the conditions, it rained most of the time, the spirit displayed by the troops was one of unfailing cheerfulness.
On November 30, 1918 Pte Coones was granted a 14 day Leave in the UK. There is a reference to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp (CCRC) on December 23, 1918, but the entry is unreadable. On December 27, 1918 he rejoined the 1st Cdn Inf Bn from Leave. There are no entries in the File from December 27th, 1918 to March 26th, 1919. On March 26, 1919 he was taken-on-strength from the 1st Cdn Inf Bn at Camp Bramshott, England pending his return to Canada. On April 14, 1919 Pte Coones was struck-off-strength from Camp Bramshott on his return to Canada. He embarked from Southhampton, England aboard the RMS Olympic, which was the sister ship of the Titanic.
An entry indicates that on April 15, 1919 Pte Coones was taken-on-strength with No 1 District Depot (London, Ontario). On April 24, 1919 Pte John Coones was struck-off-strength upon his discharge from the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The Discharge Certificate indicates that he enlisted with the 93rd Bn and served in 1st Canadian Bn.
There is no reference, in Private John Coones’ Military File indicating what Military Medals he was awarded but based on his Military Service, he should have received:
British War Medal 1914 – 1920; and
He also qualified for War Service Badge CEF Class “A”.
Based on his Military File, Private John Coones served a total of 3 years, 4 months, and 9 days with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: 7 months and 9 days in Canada, 6 months and 28 days in England, and 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days in France.
An excerpt from an article in Maclean’s Magazine by Barbara Ameil, September 1996:
”The Military is the single calling in the world with job specifications that include a commitment to die for your country. What could be more honourable”?
John Coones was born in Apsley, Ontario, Peterborough County on August 23, 1892 son of Benjamin Franklin Coones and Emma “Lucy” Susan Wilson. He went by “John” and received his education in the Apsley Public Schools; prior to enlisting in WW I John was working as a labourer with his father who operated the first hotel in the Apsley area known as the Union Hotel.
Twin boys, John & Thomas Coones both enlisted in the Canadian Army, Canadian Expeditionary Force to represent Canada in World War I.
When John returned home from the war, he took up the barbering trade and had a barber shop and pool hall in the village of Apsley. He was known throughout the area as the “Happy Barber”. He was active in many community affairs and was a life member of the Clementi Lodge Ancient Free (A.F.) and Accepted Masons (A.M.), Lakefield and a member of St. George’s Church in Apsley.
John passed away on January 16, 1976 at 83 years of age and is buried in the Union Cemetery in Apsley, Ontario.
THE JOHN COONES FAMILY OF APSLEY, ONTARIO
John’s paternal grandparents were John Coones and Hannah “Nancy” Blakely. His maternal grandparents were Thomas J. Wilson and Betty Ann Bedford.
John Coones’ parents were Benjamin “Ben” Franklin Coones, born March 31, 1863 in Trenton, Ontario, and Emma Wilson, born January 23, 1865 in Burleigh Township. They were married in Apsley, Ontario on April 20, 1887. Benjamin was a farmer in Burleigh Township and operated the Union Hotel, later known as the Marmonte Inn. Ben and Emma had seven children: Maud, born April 17, 1885; Clara, born January 20, 1888; David Henry, born October 29, 1890; twin boys, Thomas & John, born August 23, 1892, daughter Elizabeth Ann “Annie”, born December 17, 1894 and Hilda “Olive” Coones born January 13, 1899; died August 27, 1901 in Burleigh Township, 2½ years old, due to spinal disease from birth.
Benjamin Franklin Coones passed away in 1934 and his wife Emma “Lucy” Susan Wilson died in 1945; both are buried in the Union Cemetery in Apsley, Ontario.