Old 10-17-2005, 04:42 AM   #1
Erik
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Default Second Battle of Ypres

The Second Battle of Ypres, Apr-1915

Upon their landing in Flanders, the 1st Canadian Division was assigned a sector in front of the Belgium city of Ypres, a place where the Allied line had pushed a bulge-like incursion into German-held territory - the Ypres Salient. Arriving on April 17, 1915 and lacking, as mentioned, any first-hand trench experience, the Canadians immediately moved into the front lines. While this sector had seen the severest fighting of the war the previous autumn, it was quiet on the Canadiansí arrival. Little did they realize, though, that within five days they would be involved in what turned out to be the greatest defensive battle ever fought by Canadian troops - the Second Battle of Ypres.


Dead horses lie amidst the rubble in front of Ypres Cathederal, Mar-1915.

While the Canadian division was under the command of General Alderson, a British professional soldier, and while the staff included several highly-trained British staff officers, command at the Brigade level and lower was practically all in the hands of Canadians - lawyers, businessmen, real estate agents, newspaper men, etc., whose only military experience was as part-time officers of the Canadian Militia. The men themselves were, if anything, even more inexperienced than their officers. Yet these amateur soldiers were to face an army whose officers and men were highly-trained professionals and who considered themselves invincible.

The situation on the eve of battle was that the Canadians had only just been moved up into the front lines and had not become fully oriented to their surroundings. The French army, consisting of the 87th Territorial and 45th Algerian Divisions (colonial Moroccan and Algerian troops), was on their immediate left flank while the line to their right was held by the British. Across No-Manís-Land, the Germans had achieved a local superiority of seven and a half divisions to the Allied forcesí six and were far stronger in artillery support.
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Old 10-17-2005, 04:43 AM   #2
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The Germans attacked on the evening of 22 April, 1915.


Despite the Hague Convention which outlawed chemical warfare (and two unsuccessful experiments with gas shells), the Germans decided to release 5700 cylinders of chlorine - this to be accompanied by heavy artillery bombardment and followed by strong infantry assaults. The gas was released from these cylinders just in front of the German lines or through potholes punched through trench parapets. As a weapon, gas was particularly advantageous when used against soldiers in defensive positions. Being heavier than air, chlorine followed the ground’s contours and sank into the trenches and shell holes soldiers used as protection against shrapnel and bullet. This forced them to abandon their defences in favour of higher ground. Those who did stay found it extremely difficult to fight with watery eyes, heaving stomachs and burning lungs. It could thus be more effective than artillery, which had to be very accurate to do any damage to a defensive position, or rifle fire, which required the enemy to expose himself.

The story of the gas attack has often been told - of an olive-green cloud rolling over Algerian positions on the left of the 1st Canadian Division, of many men dead or dying of suffocation and others running blindly to the rear. While the Canadians were not the direct target for gas attack on that first day of the battle, many were witnesses to the initial German assaults and many felt its residual effects. The 10th Canadian Infantry Battalion’s war diary reported the experiences of some of its officers: "Maj. McLaren, Maj. Ormond and Capt. Glidden [the Medical Officer] riding between Elverdinge and Brielen hear bombardment from the northeast and see shells breaking, also cloud of peculiar colour (greyish, yellowish, greenish), darker near the ground and lighter in colour near top." One Canadian officer, looking towards the French lines and seeing the greenish yellow mist, thought the infantry there were firing with a different kind of powder. Such short and confused reports announced the introduction of chemical warfare to the Western Front.

The French colonials, whose soldiers received full doses of the vapour, gave way before the gas attack, leaving a breach in the Allied lines of over four miles wide, which the Germans were quick to exploit. The Canadians were asked to try and seal off the gap and hold the line which now was coming under attack not only from additional gas and artillery, but also direct assaults by German infantry. In this the Canadians were largely successful. In particular, that first night, the 10th and 16th Canadian Infantry Battalions were ordered to recapture Kitchener’s Wood, a large copse of trees in which the Germans had set up new defences. Their attack was a typical example of the tactics of the day. The men formed up in a nearby field under cover of darkness to avoid the German shelling. When the time came to attack, the 1500 troops stood up in eight ranks at intervals of about thirty yards. There was just enough light for these soldiers to see the woods they were to capture, 500-600 yards away. A house off to one side, suspected (accurately) of harbouring machine-guns, they left alone, because officers determined, to their grief, it was not their job to take it. At 11:45 the attack began. At this point the two battalions were on their own, since they had no way to communicate with headquarters or supporting artillery, except through runners.

Artillery support having ceased, the Canadians had to rely on their rifles, bayonets and bombs to carry out the assault, which took place just three minutes after setting out. There was a momentary pause at an unexpected hedge which brought down a hail of bullets, due to the noise of breaking through. Those unhit burst through the hedge at a fast run and struck the foremost enemy trench, where work with bayonet and butt soon cleared the position. The whole body then swept forward and, after heavy and close fighting, cleared the wood. In spite of heavy German rifle and machine-gun fire and the absence of Canadian artillery support, the assault was a success. Casualties were high however and holding the newly-won line was to be more difficult than taking it had been. The Germans, as was common in 1915, organized their defences in depth, even if they had just recently captured the ground they were defending. The Canadians, as it turned out, had managed to cave in the first line, but there were others from which the German commanders could launch their men into counterattacks. Ultimately under a series of strong counterattacks and rising casualties, the two battalions had to retire.

Other similar Canadian counterattacks throughout the night and in brigade strength at least twice in daylight the next day were carried out. Casualties were very heavy and little ground was gained, but these further delayed German attempts at exploitation and gave other reinforcing troops - Canadian, British and French - sufficient time to close most of the gap. The result is that throughout the 23rd, the Canadians still held their positions more or less. As mentioned some retreat had occurred in order to consolidate forces, but the line was held.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:28 AM   #3
dave moore
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My name is Dave Moore and I live in Toowoomba in Queensland Australia. I have been doing alot of research into my family history and below is what I have come up with so far.

My father J.H. Moore before he passed away in 2001 left me his WWII medals. He told me about his father living in Canada after WWI and serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He mentioned that his father had been offered land in Canada after WWI and provided he worked the land it would then be his to keep. Unfortunately he got sick and had to return to England.

Shortly after Dad died in 2001, I was given another medal of which I knew nothing about. It is the 1914-1915 Star. On the back it is has Pte J.H. Moore 20509 10 CAN INF.

I phoned our War Memorial in Canberra and they gave me a Canadian website to look up and discovered John Hubert Moores attestation papers. I assumed this man to be my grandfather who has the same initials as my Dad.

I let this be for ten years until recently on the internet I discovered that John Moore 20509 died on 22Apr1914 and I would say he was in the battle of Kitcheners Wood and is interned at Menin Gate?

Anyway, Dad being born on the 2/9/1917 makes it impossible for John Moore to be my grandfather because of the dates.

Even though I do not know my Grandfathers name I think he was also in 10 Can Inf and survived and settled in Canada, hence the story above about living in Canada.

I reckon John Moore 20509 is my grandfathers brother (so my great uncle) and Dad was named in his uncles honour after he died.

Mum has passed also and no one else in our family knows anything.

Anyway I would love a copy of the guide to the Great War sites but not sure how to order from Australia.

Yours

Dave Moore
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Old 10-11-2011, 10:53 AM   #4
Dennis Ruhl
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Menin Gate means no known grave and died in Belgium.

He died 22Apr1915 not 22Apr1914.

I can't find any sign of John Hubert Moore in the 1911 Canadian census. If your grandfather moved to Australia, it might be easier to find his name and birthdate in Australia. Would it be in your father's military records?

In addition to the 1914-1915 Star, there would have been a British War medal and a Victory Medal.

Last edited by Dennis Ruhl : 10-11-2011 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:17 AM   #5
dave moore
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Thanks Denis you are right, he did die 22 Apr 1915, typo.
My original email is a little confusing but I still reckon that JH Moore 20509 is my great uncle.
His brother will be who my father was talking about that lived for a while in Canada after the war.
I just dont know grandfathers initials to be able to look him up and obtain his attestation papers.
I reckon my father was named JH Moore in honour the same as his fathers brother who died in france if that makes sense.
Maybe I need Ancestory.com to see if it will reveal anything further.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave moore View Post
I reckon my father was named JH Moore in honour the same as his fathers brother who died in france if that makes sense.
Maybe I need Ancestory.com to see if it will reveal anything further.
His service records from FWW, are on Line as his Attestation Papers. On CAW FWW general discussion I added over 100 Regiments War Diaries. The rest are available On-Line See LAC. Yes It makes sense, Best wishes on your endeavour.
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Old 10-12-2011, 01:22 PM   #7
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Check all the Moores online for common for common birthplace. Note that Hubert was married so you can't check for common parents so you can never be sure. I checked the other Moores in the original 10th Battalion and none fit.

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/d...2-100.01-e.php


As I tried to say above, there are way better sources for your grandfathers name other than army records such as getting a full copy of your father's birth certificate. A few dollars and you have it.
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Old 10-14-2014, 12:07 PM   #8
Dominique Hutchinson
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Smile on our way to Menin Gates

Hello I am looking for information about my husband grant father ;John William Hutchinson # 20323 and his friend William Woolley #20387 both from the 10th battalion. My husband grand papa survived the ww1 but he NEVER have mentioned anything about it.Too scared by the events.


WE are on our way to Belgium in Summer 2015 with our youth dance company(22 kids) to do a cultural exchange with a dance group from Gistel and we are creating memorial dance to the poem John McCray "In flanders Field" and we are trying to gather information ,picture video or stories anything that would help paint a more personal picture taken from authentic stories.
Anything would be amazing

thank you for your time
Sincerely
Dominique Hutchinson
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Old 10-14-2014, 01:17 PM   #9
Temujin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominique Hutchinson View Post
Hello I am looking for information about my husband grant father ;John William Hutchinson # 20323 and his friend William Woolley #20387 both from the 10th battalion. My husband grand papa survived the ww1 but he NEVER have mentioned anything about it.Too scared by the events.


WE are on our way to Belgium in Summer 2015 with our youth dance company(22 kids) to do a cultural exchange with a dance group from Gistel and we are creating memorial dance to the poem John McCray "In flanders Field" and we are trying to gather information ,picture video or stories anything that would help paint a more personal picture taken from authentic stories.
Anything would be amazing

thank you for your time
Sincerely
Dominique Hutchinson
Dominique, I'll see what I can find for you for both of them and post them up here. Check back often

Cheers
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Old 10-14-2014, 01:22 PM   #10
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Here's John Hutchinson's Attestation Papers






http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discove...&Ecopy=410697a

Last edited by Temujin : 10-15-2014 at 05:53 PM.
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