Lance Corporal Wilfred Hull – 412599 – ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)
On February 18, 1915 Wilfred Hull completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Army, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He was 18 years, 1 month and 12 days old when, as a single man, he enlisted for the duration of the War. Wilfred indicated that he was born in Lakefield, Ontario and gave his birth-date as March 30, 1896. 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 Agent. Wilfred was 5′ 7” inches tall with a 34” chest (expanded) and weighed 150 pounds on enlistment. He had a ruddy complexion with blue eyes and auburn hair. His Medical Examination was completed January 16, 1915 in Port Hope, Ontario. He had no medical issues or physical limitations and as such he was deemed fit for Overseas duty with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His next-of-kin was listed as his father, Mr. John Hull of Lakefield, Ontario. Wilfred Hull signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation on February 18, 1915. The Certificate of Magistrate was signed February 23rd, 1915 in Port Hope. Wilfred Hull was taken-on-strength with the 39th Battalion (Bn) CEF as a Private (Pte) and was assigned Service Number 412599.
There is nothing in the Military File to indicate where Pte Hull and the 39th Bn trained but based on the dates and research on the Internet, it is possible that their training for the next 4 months took place at Camp Barriefield located at Kingston, Ontario. Pte Hull and the 39th Bn embarked from Montréal, Québec aboard the SS Missanabie on June 24, 1915.
Pte Hull and the 39th Battalion disembarked in England on July 3, 1915. They were initially stationed at Shorncliffe, England for about 2 months of training. On July 15, 1915 for an unspecified reason Pte Hull forfeited two day’s pay. On September 24, 1915 they were moved to West Sandling, England; the 39th Battalion was used as a Reinforcing Unit.
He was transferred to the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada – the Black Watch) in France on September 16, 1915. The 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion was attached to the 3rd Brigade – 1st Canadian Division. Pte Hull arrived in France on September 17, 1915 and was taken-on-strength with the 13th Battalion; he joined his Unit in the Field on September 22, 1915. The next entry in his File is June 13, 1916 when Pte Hull was appointed Lance Corporal.
To track the movements of Pte Hull through this period of time from September 16, 1915 and June 13, 1916 the War Diaries of the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion were used.
September 1915 – When Pte Hull joined his Unit September 22nd, they were in the Front-Line trenches at Lindenhoek, Belgium. The next couple of days were relatively quiet and time was spent in work parties. The Battalion did experience a few casualties as a result of enemy trench mortar shelling and snipers. On the 24th the Battalion was relieved by the 11th Cdn Inf Bn on the Front-Line and marched to billets in Locre Village. On the 25th they marched to Aldershot Huts. The weather for the rest of the month was described as everything from ”fine, drizzle, heavy rain, to cold”. The 26th was spent in preparing to move into support trenches. News of British successes reached the Battalion and was received with much enthusiasm. During the evening the Battalion marched to the Village of Ploegstreet, Belgium and took up billets in a Convent. The 27th was spent ”standing to”. All ranks were confined to barracks waiting orders to move to the Front-Line. During the evening, the Battalion marched forward and relieved the 6th Buffs (British East Kent Regiment) in the area of Des Pierres Farm. Companies No 1, No 2 & No 4 went into the Front-Line trenches, while Company No 3 went into the support trench. Other than a few enemy artillery shells landing around the trenches and enemy bi-planes overhead, the day was spent relatively quiet. The 29th was once again relatively quiet with enemy and Allied artillery exchanging fire. Heavy rifle and machine gun fire was heard in the distance. The Battalion experienced a few casualties from the 27th to the end of the month. Unable to read the entries for the 30th September, 1915.
October 1915 – The month opens with the Battalion still on the Front-Line. Enemy artillery fire was reported all around the Battalion position. On the 3rd the Battalion was relieved by the 11th Hussars (British) and moved to billets at Gourte Farm. The 4th was spent preparing to once again move back to Front-Line trenches. The move was completed the evening of the 4th. The 5th was spent in work parties improving the conditions in the trenches, which were full of water and mud. Heavy enemy transport was heard in the area of the Heseines – Warrinton Road. A significant number of casualties were reported due to the onset of Influenza. The 6th and 7th were reported as relatively quiet. The weather continued to be wet and cold. On the 8th the Battalion was relieved and moved to billets at Kortepyp Farm. The weather was reported as fine but cool. The 9th to 13th were spent cleaning up, inspections and various forms of training. The morning of the 14th was spent preparing to move to the Front-Line. The relief was complete by 9 PM, (relieved Unit not identified) with No 1 & No 4 Companies to the Front-Line, No 2 Company in support, and No 3 Company in reserve. For the rest of the month the weather was described as overcast, foggy, dull and wet. The 15th to 20th were reported relatively quiet, with light exchanges of artillery fire. The days were spent in work parties improving the trenches. On the evening of the 21st, the Battalion was relieved (relieving Unit not identified) and marched to Brigade reserve at Courte Dreve Farm. The 22nd to 24th were spent in what was described as the ”usual Brigade reserve routine” which basically included the men engaged in either work or carrying parties. The 25th was spent preparing and then moving back to the Front-Line. The 26th to 30th were relatively quiet. Once again the days were spent in work parties. During this period, the men drained the trenches, as well as ”considerable work was done” repairing parapets, loop holes, parados (a bank of earth behind a fortified place – especially a trench), etc. Parapets referred to the front wall of the trench closest to the enemy. It was often covered with wood and then covered with sandbags. Loop holes were usually steel plates which sat on top of the parapet, with holes in them, through which the soldier would aim his rifle. Parados referred to the back wall of the trench, the furthest from the enemy. These were usually built higher than the parapets so as to protect the troops from the impact of artillery shells exploding behind the Front-Line trenches. Dugouts were protective holes ”dug out” of the sides of the trenches. The sizes varied from holding 1 soldier up to 10; they were used to rest, eat, and sleep in. They were also used during times of enemy artillery attacks.
The evening of the 30th the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and by Company marched independently to Divisional reserve at Kortepyp Huts. The 31st was spent cleaning equipment, attending to shortages, and bath parades.
November 1915 – The weather for the first 6 days was described at rainy. The 1st was spent continuing to clean equipment, uniforms, etc. On the 2nd the Battalion was engaged in Platoon Commanders delivering lectures to the commands on lessons learned from previous operations. The 3rd was spent in Musketry (rifle) drills and fire control training. The 4th was spent in preparations to move back to the Front-Line. At 4:30 PM the Companies moved off independently, reaching the Front-Line at 6:30 PM. The 5th was reported as relatively quiet. Due to the recent heavy rains 470 men of the Battalion were employed in work parties in Front-Line and support trenches; repairing parapets, cleaning and draining trenches, rebuilding dug outs, etc. Once again the 6th was reported quiet and work on improving trenches continued. There were reports of isolated enemy rifle and machine gun fire in the direction of Battalion positions but with no casualties. Weather was now reported to be clear, fine, and cold. The 7th and 8th were spent in continuing work improving trenches. On the 9th the Battalion was relieved and marched to Brigade reserve at Court Breve Farm. The 10th to 13th were spent in ”usual Brigade reserve routine”, which included: physical training, Platoon and Company drills. The 14th was spent in preparation and moving back to the Front-Line, relieving the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. The weather is now reported as cold and frosty. With the 15th and 16th quiet, work parties were engaged in improving trenches. On the 17th the Battalion ”stood to”, as the 7th Cdn Inf Bn conducted a raid on German Front-Line trenches. The raid was reported as successful. The Battalion was relieved on the 18th and marched independently, in Companies, to Divisional reserve at Kortepyp Huts. The 19th and 20th were spent in cleaning equipment, clothing, etc. Close order drills by Platoon were carried out; along with Company training, and rifle inspections. On the 21st orders were received to move back to the Front-Line on the 22nd. In preparation for the move: the men were issued new underclothing, Church Parades were held, and lectures were delivered by Platoon Commanders. On the 22nd the Companies marched independently to the Front-Line at Ration Farm and relieved the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. No 1 & No 4 Companies went to the Front-Line trenches, No 3 Company in support, and No 2 Company was in reserve. On the 23rd enemy sniping was rather brisk during the night, but otherwise everything was quiet. The 24th and 25th were relatively quiet. On the 26th the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. The Companies marched independently to billets at Red Lodge. The weather for the rest of the month was described as ”cold, raw and wet”. The 27th to 29th were spent in the ”usual Brigadereserve routine”. On the 30th the Battalion was on the move back to the Front-Line and relieved the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. This time the entire Battalion was in the Front-Line trenches.
December 1915 – The weather is now described as dull with showers. The 1st to the 3rd were reported as quiet. The men were once again employed in work parties improving the trenches. On the 4th the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and marched back to Kortepyp Huts in Divisional reserve. The 5th to 7th spent in the usual routine of cleaning clothes and billets and Platoon and Company training. On the 8th, it was back to the Front-Line. The 9th to 12th were reported as quiet. The weather is now reported as fine but cool. The Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn on the 13th and marched to Divisional reserve at Red Lodge, where they stayed until the 15th. The 16th was devoted to preparing to move back to the Front-Line, which took place during the evening. The Battalion relieved the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. No 2 & No 3 Companies were in Front-Line trenches at Plus Douche, No 1 Company was in support at Stinking Farm, and No 4 Company was in reserve at Higgins Avenue. The 17th to 19th were reported as relatively quiet. Battalion patrols were sent out probing enemy positions. The Battalion was relieved on the 20th by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and marched to Divisional reserve at Kortepyp Huts. The weather now is described as dull and wet. The 21st to 23rd were spent in the usual routine. On the 24th, it was once again back to the Front-Line. No 1 & No 4 Companies in Front-Line trenches at Plus Douche, No 2 in support at Stinking Farm, and No 3 in reserve at Higginson Avenue. The weather now changes to mild and remained that way until the end of the month. The 25th to 28th were relatively quiet on the Front-Line. On the 29th the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and moved back to Brigade reserve at Red Lodge. The last two days of the month were spent in cleaning equipment, adjusting shortages, and cleaning up and making billets comfortable.
January 1916 – The weather is described as dull with showers. On the 1st Lt Col F.O.W. Loomis DSO relinquished his Command of the 13th Cdn Inf Bn and handed command of same over to Major V.C. Buchanan. There were no work parties during the day. The Companies held New Year’s Eve dinners. The 2nd was spent in cleaning billets, adjusting shortages of equipment, clothing, etc. The morning of the 3rd was spent in preparations for a move to the Front-Line, at La Plus Douce, and relieve the 14th Cdn Inf Bn, which was completed that evening. No 2 & No 3 Companies went into the Front-Line trenches, No 4 Company in support and No 1 Company in reserve. The weather is now described as fine but cold. The 4th to 6th were reported as quiet. The Battalion sent out a number of patrols each night, but came back with nothing to report. On the 7th the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and moved to Divisional reserve at Kortepyp Huts. Over the next several days the weather alternates between fine but cool to dull and with showers. The 8th was spent cleaning equipment and clothing, and making the Huts habitable. The 9th was devoted to bathing at Divisional baths. On the 10th an order was received requiring everyone to wear Gas Helmets at all times when in either Divisional or Brigade reserve. On the 11th, the Battalion relieved the 14th Cdn Inf Bn on the Front-Line. No 1 & No 4 Companies in Front-Line trenches, No 3 Company was in support, and No 2 Company in reserve. The 12th to 13th were reported as enemy quiet. The men of the Battalion were engaged in either work or carrying parties. Enemy snipers were quite active on the 14th and 15th, but quieted own when their positions were shelled by Allied artillery. No rifle or machine gun fire was reported. The Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and moved back to Brigade reserve at Red Lodge. The 16th to 17th were spent cleaning equipment and billets, as well as in work parties repairing Camp and working in support trenches. Heavy rain on the 18th brought a halt to all work. On the 19th the Battalion prepared to move back to the Front-Line trenches at La Plus Douce and relieve the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. The relief was completed without incident. No 2 & No 3 Companies to the Front-Line, No 1 Company in support, and No 4 in reserve. The 20th to 22nd were relatively quiet. There were a few exchanges of artillery fire. Battalion patrols were out all night, from 6:00 Pm to 5:30 AM, but reported everything quiet. On the 23rd, the Battalion was ordered to ”stand to” on word of a gas attack. The men quickly put on their gas helmets. It turned out to be a test to see how quickly the men could respond to a real warning. The Officers in Command were quite satisfied. Enemy artillery was quite active, but caused no damage or casualties. The Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and marched to Divisional reserve at Kortepyp Huts. The 24th was spent cleaning up equipment and making Huts livable. Work parties engaged in making wooden pathways and fixing up around the Camp. The 25th was spent marching to and from Divisional baths. The 26th was devoted to Company training, route marching, and practicing attack tactics. The 27th was spent in preparation to move back to the Front-Line and relieve the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. No 1 & No 4 Companies to the Front-Line at La Plus Douce, No 3 Company in support at Stinking Farm, and No 3 Company in reserve at Higgison Avenue. The enemy were reported more active than normal. Battalion patrols were out all night, but had no problems. The weather for the 28th to 31st was reported as misty with a light wind to very foggy. Except for enemy sniper fire everything was fairly quiet over the 4 days. The patrols went out every night but had nothing significant to report.
February 1916 – Weather reported as clear and fine. The Battalion was relieved by the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles and marched independently, by Companies, to Brigade reserve at Red Lodge. The 2nd was devoted to resting, cleaning equipment, great coats, etc in preparation for a march to rest-billets at Baillecul, France (close to the Belgium Border). The 3rd was devoted to overhauling equipment and restocking men’s kits. The 4th was spent in physical conditioning; Platoon, Squad, and Company drills. The Battalion was inspected by General Currie. Physical conditioning, musketry (rifle) instruction, and a short route march took up the 5th. On the 6th a Battalion Church Parade was held. The 7th a Muster Parade was held in the morning with an evening concert. The 8th was marked by physical conditioning, Company and Battalion drills and a route march. On the 9th the Battalion, by Company practiced assault tactics. The 10th was spent in more physical conditioning, followed by musketry (rifle) and Company drills with smoke helmets on. The Battalion was inspected by its Commanding Officer. The 11th and 12th the men were employed in work parties digging trenches near the Grenade School in preparation for practicing trench assault tactics. The 12th was a repeat of the previous day. The weather for the next few days was described as fine, but cold. On the 13th everyone, in the Battalion, was inoculated. The 14th to the 19th were spent in physical conditioning, practicing assault tactics, bayonet drills and taking turns on the rifle range firing 5 round groups. Kit inspections were held on the 20th and 21st. The weather was now reported as cold with snow. On the 22nd the Battalion spent the morning cleaning equipment and billets in preparation to moving to Brigade reserve at Red Lodge. Relief of the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles was completed during the evening. The 23rd was spent cleaning up billets and making them as comfortable as possible. The 24th to 26th were spent in work parties working on dug outs, defensive positions at Souvenir Farm and a communication trench at Surrey Lane. The weather is now described as dull and showery. The 27th was devoted to cleaning up equipment and billets in preparation to going for a tour in the trenches. The Battalion relieved the 14th Cdn Inf Bn at Fisher’s Place that evening. The 28th and 29th were reported as generally quiet with a few sporadic exchanges of artillery fire from both sides. Battalion patrols were out all night, but found everything quiet.
March 1916 – Opens with a reference to the President of the French Republic conferring the Legion D’Honneur – Croix D’Officer on Lt Col F.O.W. Loomis DSO (previous Commander of the 13th Cdn Inf Bn – Royal Highlanders of Canada) and the Croix de Guerre on Major W.H. Clark – Kennedy DSO. The Battalion was still at the Front-Line at Fisher’s Place. The weather is described as misty and cold. The 1st was reported as relatively quiet, with enemy activity limited almost entirely to its artillery, which resulted in only very slight damage to trenches. The 2nd was once again quiet. Patrols were out all night and came back with nothing to report. The 3rd was once again quiet. Men were engaged in work parties repairing parapets. Patrols were out all night. One Bn patrol encountered an enemy patrol coming from Sniper’s Cottage. The Bn patrol advanced within bombing distance and then threw 5 bombs at the enemy, who quickly withdrew being shot all the time. On the 4th the enemy were generally quiet, but sniping was brisker and more continuous than usual. Enemy artillery practically nil. During the evening the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and marched back to Divisional reserve at Kortepyp. The 5th was spent cleaning equipment and clothing, and in making the billets as clean and comfortable as possible. The 6th to 9th were spent in the same routine: mornings spent in Company training, afternoons practicing attack tactics, and in the evening 50 man work parties from each Company working on Front-Line trenches. On the 10th it was back to the Front-Line and relief of the 14th Cdn Inf Bn. Patrols were out all night and came back with nothing to report. The Bn Front was patrolled, in relays, all night. Only one patrol encountered any enemy. A patrol of six men under the command of a Lt were challenged by an enemy patrol. The enemy threw three grenades and opened with rifle fire. The Bn patrol replied with Mills grenades and rifle fire. The Germans withdrew and were joined by four more men. The Bn patrol continued to attack and drove the enemy back to the corner of a ditch, where they joined up with the main German body. The Bn patrol having expended their grenade supply had sent back for more, but in the meantime they used German grenades that they had found and continued the attack. The Enemy eventually retired to a barrier on the Wulverghen Road. Enemy activity was reported as the quietest it had been since Christmas 1915. The weather on the 12th was reported as clear and fine. Bn patrol activity continued, this time with a number exchanges of grenade and rifle fire. On the 13th the men were engaged in work parties improving the parapets, dug outs, and tracks. Patrols were once again out, with the enemy being reported as more hostile than the previous night. Allied activity was reported as active all day of the 14th. Bn patrols out continuously all night, but did not encounter any enemy. Work parties engaged in strengthening parapets and parados, building dug outs and draining trenches. Enemy rifle fire quite active from dusk to 9:00 PM, but no casualties. The 15th and 16th were relatively quiet with patrols out as usual. On the 17th the Bn was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and marched to Brigade reserve at Red Lodge. 19th to 22nd spent in the usual routine of cleaning equipment, work parties, etc. Lectures were given by Officers to NCOs and men on rapid fire techniques, march discipline and marching. The 23rd was spent cleaning up equipment and seeing that the huts and tents were left clean and sanitary. The Bn was relieved by the 9th Royal Sussex Regiment (British). The Bn formed up and marched to billets at Metteren, France. The 24th to 27th were spent in the usual routine of cleaning etc. On the 28th the men were engaged in packing up kits and blankets and giving the billets a final clean up. The Bn marched off to billets at Dickebusch, Belgium under strict march discipline. The 29th was spent resting after the long march. On the 30th the men spent preparing to march off and relieve the 6th Bn Northumberland Fusilleirs (British) on the Front-Line at Glasgow Cross Roads. The 31st was reported as the enemy generally active.
April 1916 – It was reported that enemy artillery was fairly active throughout the day of the 1st, but did little damage. Enemy rifle grenades and trench mortar fire did result in a few casualties. The 2nd was pretty much a repeat of the previous day. The 3rd was very quiet on both sides. The Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and marched to Huts at Dickebusch. On the 4th a bath parade was held for the Battalion at Poperinghe. The remainder of the day was spent cleaning equipment, and billets. The 5th was a repeat of the previous day. On the 6th the enemy shelled the billets at Dickebusch resulting in significant damage to the Huts, but few casualties. The 7th was spent repairing the damage and digging trenches in case of further shelling. The morning of the 8th was spent in preparation for a move to billets at Divisional reserve south of Poperinghe Station at Hop Station. A Battalion Church parade was held on the 9th. The 10th and 11th were dedicated to training: physical conditioning, musketry (rifle) and bayonet drills. The afternoon of the 11th the Battalion was entertained by the 2nd Cdn Brigade Band. That evening the enemy shelled Poperinghe doing considerable damage to the buildings, but no casualties. Due to bad weather the 12th was a quiet day. The 13th was spent in physical training and Companies practicing bayonet, counter attacks and gas helmet drills. On the 14th a large work party was engaged in burying a communication cable. On the 15th after thoroughly cleaning billets, the Battalion moved to the Front-Line relieving the 14th Cdn Inf Bn at Gordon Terrace. The attitude of the enemy on the 16th was described as aggressive. Artillery shells and bombs thrown from some type of automatic thrower hit the trenches in 5 second intervals. The Battalion reported 16 casualties, 12 associated with the bombardment. Throughout the 17th and 18th Allied artillery responded in retaliation to the previous day’s activity targeting enemy support and reserve positions. There were also exchanges of rifle and machine gun fire. 25 enemy whiz-bangs landed around Battalion HQ; nine casualties were reported. On the 19th the enemy heavily shelled the Front-Line and Support Lines as well as the communication trenches with high explosives and shrapnel resulting in heavy damage. 76 Battalion casualties were reported. On the 20th Allied artillery retaliated firing shells on enemy Front-Line and support trenches. Very little rifle or machine gun fire or enemy sniper action reported. Five Bn casualties reported. Enemy attitude on the 21st to 23rd was reported as generally quiet. Allied artillery continued to fire on enemy positions. Bn firing rifle grenades into enemy Front-Line trenches. Twelve Bn casualties reported. The Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn on the evening of the 23rd and proceeded to Brigade reserve at Dickebusch Huts. The weather is now reported as clear, fine and warm. The 24th was devoted to resting, cleaning equipment and clothing etc. A Bn foot inspection was held. On the 25th small work parties from each Company made repairs around the Camp. A large work party of 200 NCOs and men engaged at night working in the Front-Line. The 26th Bn held a Muster Parade, a Church Service. Large work party continued. On the 27th a special order was issued by Brigadier General G.S. Tuxford CMG GOC 3rd Cdn Inf Brigade expressing his appreciation to the 15th and 16th Cdn Inf Bn for support rendered to the 13th Cdn Inf Bn during action of the 19th/20th and also to the 14th Cdn Inf Bn for their offer of assistance. Work parties continued. On the 28th the Battalion marched to Divisional Baths at Poperinghe and cleaned up. Large work party, now up 300 men, continued to work in the Front-Line. A Bn rifle inspection was held. An order was issued stating the while the gas alert was on all ranks, in the Front system of trenches, must wear their gas helmets on and rolled up. The month closed with a Church Parade. Bn HQ’s, Bombers, and Machine Gun Sections parade to have their rifles inspected by the Bn Armourer. Remainder of the day spent cleaning billets, equipment, etc. Bn casualties over the last 6 days of the month were reported at 1 per day.
May 1916 – The weather was reported as clear, fine and exceptionally warm. On the 1st the Battalion marched by Companies to new billets at Dominion Lines. The 2nd was spent resting, cleaning equipment, as well as making repairs around the Camp. The morning of the 3rd was spent in Company training, bayonet work, and smoke helmet drills. In the afternoon, the Battalion was inspected by Lt Col V.O. Buchanan. The 4th was a repeat of the 3rd with the addition of Companies practicing attacking trenches. That night 500 NCOs and men were engaged in burying a cable. After spending the previous night burying a cable, the men had the morning off. At 2:00 PM, the Battalion was inspected by General Currie, who personally expressed his appreciation to the Battalion for the way it withstood the heavy German bombardment of its position on the 19th of April. The 6th was spent in Company Parades. The morning of the 7th began with Church Parades. Instructions were issued to all Officers to see that all NCOs and men under their command were fully equipped with iron rations, field dressings, tube helmets (gas masks) and identity discs. During the afternoon, senior Officers of the Bn reconnoitered the trenches to be occupied by the Battalion. 250 men were detailed to continue work on burying the cable. The 8th was occupied in work parties. The 9th was spent cleaning up billets, and equipment in preparation for a move to the Front. That evening the Battalion relieved the 4th Cdn Inf Bn. The enemy attitude, on the 10th, was described as passive during the day, but active at night. During the night the enemy fired several bursts at intervals from a very rapid firing machine gun. Rifle fire was fairly active, but sniping was slight. Four casualties were reported. On the 11th, Allied artillery was active all day against enemy positions. The enemy responded in the evening by firing 22 4.1” shells which landed about 100 yards in the rear of Armagh dug outs. Enemy rifle fire was very active, with the occasional bursts of machine gun fire. 250 men were engaged in repairing trenches. Three casualties reported. The 12th was reported as generally quiet, with a few exchanges of Howitzer fire, rifle grenades, and Mill stick bombs thrown. There were no reported casualties. Once again, on the 13th, the enemy attitude was quiet all day, but aggressive at night. During the day Allied artillery activity on enemy positions increased. The Battalion fired 88 rifle grenades and 30 Mill stick bombs on enemy trenches. 200 NCOs and men were employed at various times during the night repairing trenches, improving dug outs, wiring, and general repairs. Three casualties were reported. The 14th to 16th were pretty much repeats of the 13th. On the 17th the Battalion was relieved by the 14th Cdn Inf Bn and proceeded to a reserve position. Three casualties were reported. Except reporting 4 casualties nothing else was reported on the 18th. Based on the fact that the new billets in the reserve area were within observation of the enemy little could be done outside during the day. The Battalion spent the day inside cleaning rifles, equipment, and resting. Large work parties went to the Front-Line during the night to build dug outs, lay wiring, and repair parapets. The 20th to 24th were pretty much repeats of the 19th. During this time 7 casualties were reported. On the 25th the Battalion went by train to Poperinghe and then marched via Dickebusch to billets at Corps reserve at Patricia Line. Two casualties were reported. After a long march and 16 days on the Front-Line and reserves the 26th was spent resting and cleaning up. The 27th to 29th were spent in the usual routine of cleaning equipment, work parties, a Church Parade, and bath parade at Poperinghe. The 30th was spent in Company training and bayonet work. A Muster Parade was held and an order was issued to all ranks that no one, under any circumstance, could leave the billets unless in possession of a Pass. The Battalion held a route march on the 30th. There was also Company training, and a gas helmet drill.
June 1916 – The weather was described as clear and fine. The 1st was spent in physical training, route marches by Company, Company training, including gas helmet drills. The 2nd began in the same routine as the 1st, but changed when the Battalion was ordered to ”stand to” and be ready to move at a moment’s notice based on notification that the Germans had broken through the 3rd Canadian Division Front at Mount Sorel. The Battalion made a forced march from Patricia Lines to Zillebreke Etang to reinforce the 14th Cdn Inf Bn Line. The route of the march was under heavy enemy artillery fire most of the way. The men were reported as very tired when they reached their destination and dug in along the hedges of Manor House. On the 3rd with the 13th Battalion in position, the 14th and 15th Cdn Inf Bns made an attack upon the enemy’s Front-Line and took heavy casualties from machine gun and rifle fire. Their advance was also subjected to artillery, trench mortar fire, and bombs. In-spite of this they advanced 500 yards and held their position all day. Over the 2nd and 3rd, the 13th Battalion suffered 43 casualties. It rained heavily on the 4th. Due to the rain and the fact that the trenches were under enemy observation, the men were unable to light fires to cook or dry their clothes. Their positions were subjected to artillery fire throughout the day resulting in 62 casualties. As a result of the heavy rain, on the 5th the dug outs and trenches were in a fearful state due to the mud. The Battalion trenches continued to be bombarded by enemy artillery and fired upon by a very rapid firing machine gun. The Battalion was placed on ”stand to” orders, ready to counterattack at a moments notice. Thirty casualties were reported. On the 6th the weather was reported as clear, fine, and fairly warm. Artilleries, on both sides, were busy all day. All day, the Bn remained in a state of preparedness for any attempt by the enemy to break through. Small work parties were engaged during the night trying to improve the conditions in the trenches. Six casualties were reported. The weather now changed to a steady drizzle. On the 7th the Battalion was relieved by the 22nd Cdn Inf Bn. Following its relief it marched to the rear where it boarded buses and was taken to billets at Camp I. The 8th was spent resting, cleaning clothes and equipment. Company parades were held for the purpose of inspecting rifles. Defective rifles were turned over to the Armourer for repair. The 9th was spent resting and having bath parades at Reninghelst, Belgium. The 10th was spent in equipment inspections. Small work parties, from each Company, worked at making repairs around the Camp. The weather on the 11th started out clear and fair during the day, but changed to heavy rain over night. A Church Parade was held in the morning. The day was spent in fixing equipment and making preparations for a move to the Front-Line trenches. Battalion Officers gave lectures to the NCOs and men on the proposed attack, on the 12th of June, in which the 13th Battalion was to participate. During the night, the Bn moved to trenches south of Maple Copse in preparation. The overall objective of the attack was to take back trenches previously held and that had been overrun by the Germans. The planned assault had 4 objectives: the 1st objective was the present Enemy Front-Line from Observation Ridge to and in including Vigo Street. When this line was secure, the 2nd objective was the Old Reserve Line, known as Montreal. When this position was consolidated, the 3rd objective was the Old Support Line, known as Winnipeg. The 4th and final objective was the Old Front-Line, known as Vancouver. Each man, in the assault, was to carry 270 rounds of rifle ammunition, one days rations, one iron ration, a water bottle, two grenades, and five sand bags. They were also to carry one shovel for every two men. General Currie inspected the Battalion before it marched off. The Battalion relieved the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn at 11:30 PM. At midnight of the 12th the Battalion was in position for the assault. During the intense preparatory Allied artillery bombardment, Battalion trenches were subjected to heavy artillery fire from the enemy resulting in quite a number of casualties. When the Allied artillery lifted its barrage and moved forward to the old British trenches, 1st and 2nd Lines under Command of Major K.M. Perry and the 3rd and 4th Lines under Command of Major G.E. McQuaig sprang up on the parapet and set off at a steady pace, over very rough ground and through a heavy barrage of enemy fire succeeded to achieve its 1st objective. At 1:30 AM the artillery barrage again lifted and moved forward. The men of the 13th Bn once again moved forward in heavy enemy fire and achieved the next objective. This pattern would continue until the 4th and final objective was taken and consolidated. The Battalion suffered 242 casualties (dead or wounded) during this assault. Of this number were 50% of the Battalion’s Officers.
The Military File indicates that on June 13th, 1916 Pte Wilfred Hull was appointed Lance Corporal.
The Battalion was relieved the night of June 13th – 14th by the 2nd Cdn Inf Bn. Upon relief the Bn marched to billets at Patricia Lines. Being the first day in billets, after an exceptionally strenuous time in the trenches, the men were allowed to spend most of the 15th in rest, cleaning their uniforms and equipment. A Muster Parade was held in the afternoon for the purpose of getting an accurate count of Battalion casualties. The 16th was principally spent in preparing to evacuate their billets at Patricia Lines and move to new billets at C Camp near Poperinghe arriving at 5:30 PM. On the 17th short parades were held during the day, more for the purposes of seeing the men’s outfits were in good condition than for the purpose of doing anything in the way of strenuous work. Gas helmets were also inspected. Muster roll calls continued throughout the day for the purpose of correcting any errors in the casualty lists, and also to establish the actual fighting strength of the Battalion. The morning of the 18th a Church Parade was held. Immediately afterward, the Battalion was inspected by its Commanding Officer, who expressed how proud he was of the way that the men of the Battalion had conducted themselves during the assault. The men spent the rest of the day, as best they could, within the limits of the Camp. The 19th was spent in close order drills and Company training. Ten Officers joined the Battalion in the afternoon. On the 20th the men of the Battalion marched to 2nd Cdn Div baths at Reninghelst. In the afternoon the men were instructed in the use of smoke helmets. The 21st to 23rd were pretty much spent in training by Company, gas helmet and bayonet drills. The Battalion is now shown at Dominion Lines. Lectures were given by the Officers on trench routine. Company bomb throwers received instructions. Machine gunners also underwent additional training. Some Officers and NCOs went forward to inspect the trenches that the Battalion would be moving into. A voluntary church parade was held during the morning of the 24th. The rest of the day was spent in preparation to move to the Front. Each man was to carry rations, full water bottles, 2 Mill stick grenades, and five sand bags. The night of the 24th – 25th the Battalion moved to the Front and relieved the 7th Cdn Inf Bn in Halifax trench. Relief was completed by midnight. The 25th was clear and bright and very warm. Generally things were very quiet, as both sides were engaged in work improving their respective trenches. The 26th was a repeat of the 25th. The weather on the 27th was reported as dull and very wet, raining practically all night. At 4:00 AM the enemy opened up an intense bombardment with guns of all calibers and with heavy trench mortars, the latter especially causing great damage to Battalion Front and Support Lines. When the curtain of fire lifted about 5:00 AM three parties of Germans tried to enter Vancouver trench. The three attempts were repulsed by machine gun and rifle fire. The main German body, who were seen concealed, in front of their trenches, made no further attempt to advance. It turned out that none of the Germans got within 40 yards of the Battalion’s Line. Although Allied artillery support was called for during the enemy assault, it was viewed as neither quick nor intense enough. The Battalion suffered 67 casualties. One of the names appearing on the casualty list was Lance Corporal Wilfred Hull.
The Military File indicates Lance Corporal Wilfred Hull was reported Killed-in-Action June 27th, 1916.
Lance Corporal Wilfred Hull’s name is memorialized on a Plaque at the Menin Gate (Ypres) Belgium. His name appears on page 106 of the First World War Book of Remembrance located in Ottawa.
There is no reference, in Lance Corporal Wilfred Hull’s Military File indicating what Military Medals he was awarded but based on his Military Service, he should have received:
1914 – 15 Star;
British War Medal 1914 – 1920; and
He also qualified for War Service Badge CEF Class “A”.
The Medals and Decorations he was eligible to receive would have been sent to his father, Mr. John Hull of Lakefield. The Memorial Scroll was sent January 20, 1921, and the memorial Plaque on October 13, 1922. The memorial Cross was sent to his mother, Mrs. Elma R. Hull of Lakefield.
Based on his Military File, Lance Corporal Wilfred Hull served a total of 1 year, 4 months, and 9 days with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: 4 months and 6 days in Canada, 2 months and 13 days in England, and 9 months and 11 days in France plus 9 days travel time.
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”?
WILFRED JOHN CULLIS HULL
Wilfred John Cullis was born in Lakefield Ontario, Peterborough County on March 30, 1896, son of John J. P. Hull and Elma Rosalind Cullis. He went by “Wilfred” and received his education in the Lakefield Public Schools; prior to enlisting in WWI Wilfred was working as an Agent. The family resided on Bridge Street in Lakefield.
THE WILFRED JOHN CULLIS HULL FAMILY OF LAKEFIELD
John J. P. Hull was born in the Township of Whitby on March 9, 1842 and when he was 15 he moved to Tweed to learn the milling trade. After spending 6 years in Québec, he moved to Lakefield. John J. P. Hull was the owner and operator of a grist mill on the west-side (Smith Township) of the Otonabee River. On July 3, 1862, John J. P. Hull married Jessie McLean and they resided on Bridge Street in Lakefield. They had three children; Laura, Sarah and Henry – sadly all died in infancy.
In 1864 John J. P. Hull leased the Grist Mill built by Frank D’Arcy in 1858 located on the Smith Township (west-side) of the Otonabee River on the present site of Curtis Park. It was the only Water-Powered Mill built on that side of the Otonabee. John Hull operated the Mill for the next 41 years; purchasing the Mill in 1867. Jessie died on July 20, 1885, age 41 years. John was a community minded person and was elected to the first elected Council in 1874 and served as a Councilor for several years.
John J. P. Hull, a widower, born about March 9, 1842 in Ontario married Jennie Cullis, born on August 11, 1841 in England were married in Port Hope, Ontario December 14, 1886. Sadly Jennie passed away on March 28, 1894; they had no children. Jennie’s parents were Thomas R. and Elizabeth Cullis; Elma R. Cullis was a witness at the wedding.
Wilfred John Cullis Hull’s paternal grandparents were Thomas R. and Mary Ann Hull. His maternal grandparents were Richard and Emily Cullis.
Wilfred’s parents; John J. P. Hull, a widower, born about March 9, 1842 in Ontario married Elma Rosalind Cullis, born about 1865 in Ontario were married in Hamilton Township May 29, 1895. In 1901 they were living in Lakefield and had a family of 3 children: Wilfred John Cullis, 5; Judson “Mucker” Thomas Richard, born October 11, 1898, 2 and an unnamed baby 1 month old. In 1911 they living on Bridge Street in Lakefield and had a family of 4 children: Wilfred John Cullis, 15; Judson Thomas Richard, 12; Elmeta Cecile Victoria 10 and Burton Wilbert Henry, 7.