1917 

First World War diaries of Horace Brown
CWM 20110098-001
George Metcalf Archival Collection
Canadian War Museum 

Not to be reproduced without the permission of the Canadian War Museum  

Jan 1st, went back into trenches today and Heinie was not a bit nice to us. We stayed in trenches for 8 days, coming out on Jan 9th to practice for a raid, the first daylight raid to be pulled off in this war.   

Jan 11.   Practiced for the coming raid today.  It must be some raid from the amount of men going over.   800 of us all volunteers from two Battalions.   We have practiced this raid every day from Jan 11 to Jan 17th.  Tomorrow morning at 3 am we move into trenches ready to go over the top at 8 am. 

At 3 am on 18th we started for the front line.  It was snowing a regular storm.  We were nearly frozen to death waiting for the attack in the morning.  I took too much rum and had to lay out in our wire entanglement from 9 am until 8 pm at night.  Could not get back.   Vowed I would never take another drink of rum in France. 

The old French couple who I had been billeted with in Bully Grenay thought I was killed and they were both sitting before the fire crying when I opened the door and walked in.  Poor old folks.  I can never forget how overjoyed they were to see me still alive.   

The raid was very successful from the High Commander’s point of view.  We took 134 prisoners with 18 officers brought back, 21 machine guns, 10 trench mortars, blew up 27 guns and mortars and blew 38 dugouts.  We lost 76 killed and wounded out of 800 men.   

We went back into front line on Jan 22nd.  P of W talked to me while in front line this trip.  Nothing stuck up about that boy.   

We made another raid on 23rd.  Brought back 11 Huns, no one lost.  Made another raid on 25th and got 2 Huns.  Another raid on Jan 27 got 5 Huns.  

Heavy shelling on Jan 28th.  Made a raid 29th, got 4 prisoners and just before 3 o’clock in the morning the Huns made a raid on us.  53 of them and we took every one of them prisoners along with 3 officers.  This is about the best way to get prisoners that I know of. 

I am going down to Canadian Corps School at (unreadable) on Feb 8 for a six weeks course.   More of a rest I guess in preparation for a big attack which is going to take place.  Well I feel a lot better after my six weeks at (unreadable) but I got into a jack-pot the last day though telling the Colonel my views thus March 20th and I am back with my Battalion and they have moved to a new front while I have been away.  Things are fairly quiet on this front.  We are now at Vimy Ridge.  The Huns gave us the devil for 2 days, March 24 & 25th  

Left the trenches on March 27th.  Went up in Areoplane sic on 28 and again on 29th to view the German trenches from the air.   We are going to attack V           R         on             .  We are now maneuvering every day in preparation for the attack. 

Well part of the Vimy Ridge scrap is over.  What a sight that was.  Hundreds of thousands of men swarming out of the trenches and going up those slopes and not a Hun left on the ridge at 20 minutes past 6 am.  Only 11,000 prisoners.  I am taking my platoon over the Ridge tonight for S             .  This is April 9th.

 

Although the diary ends at this point, Sgt Brown remained with the Battalion for an additional month, being wounded on May 9, 1917 and eventually invalided to England. 
I suspect that there is a 3rd book with the remainder of his diary, but that has yet to be uncovered.

Al Lloyd


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