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|The Battle of Ypres|
On September 20, the Newfoundland Regiment
took over a line of trenches in front of Ypres, about 2000 yards behind
the line occupied by our Battalion in the Steenbeek engagement, 1917. The
Regiment now formed part of the 28th Brigade of the Ninth Division. No
actual fighting took place until the 28th, when, in conjunction with a
Belgian unit on the left and the Twenty-Ninth Division on the right, the
Ninth Division was ordered to attack and capture a line running from Zonnebeke
through Polygon. At 5.30 on the morning of the 28th, the British guns opened
a terrific bombardment, and half an hour after, the Newfoundland Battalion
went over, D Company moving in artillery formation with its centre on Plank
Road and B Company in the direction of Rifle Farm. A and C Companies were
in support. The advance progressed steadily, and, except for a short duel
with a machine gun in Chateau Wood, was uninterrupted during its early
stages. By noon the first objective was captured and organized for defense.
During, the evening an enemy counter-attack was expected from Keiberg,
and the front line platoons were ordered to put up a single line of trip
wire. The attack did not materialize, however, and the evening passed quietly.
Advance Continued on Second Day.
Shortly after 7 o'clock on the morning of the 29th, the advance was continued in conjunction with the Belgians on the left, whose objective was Moorsledge, and with the Thirty-Sixth Division on the right, whose objective was Terhand. In the Newfoundland Battalion the front line was comprised of A Company on the right, C Company in the centre and two platoons of B Company on the left. D Company and the remainder of B Company were in support. There was practically no artillery support, and when our Battalion crossed the Broodseind-Bacelaere Road it came under heavy enemy machine gun fire. On the left the enemy put down a heavy barrage, while on the right there was considerable rifle fire from Celtic Wood. Along the whole of the forward slopes the advance had to be carried out by rushes. At Keiberg Ridge, especially, did the enemy troops put up a strong resistance, and it was only by the most determined pushing that the Regiment was able to cross the valley. For a time B Company was held up by a six-inch gun with open sights and supported by machine guns. After much difficulty and great personal risk, half a platoon worked around and succeeded in gaining superiority over the machine guns. They then rushed the six-inch gun and killed the gun crew. This was a highly important piece of work. It enabled the Belgians to get north of Keiberg, and it enabled B Company to continue its advance in line with the other troops. It was reported by the artillery that the road was so blocked with German dead after the brief but fierce contest that all traffic was held up for a considerable time. About noon, A Company was held up by enemy machine guns which were in a commanding position, and by 2 o'clock the advance of the Newfoundland Battalion had ceased. Later in the day, B Company and parts of A and C Companies went forward with the 26th Brigade and helped to capture the village of Dadizeele. FROST.
The advance during these two days again brought out the fighting qualities with which the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was endowed. At several points, where the enemy showed strong resistance, individual initiative and courage enabled the advance to continue. On the second day of the engagement there were several such instances for which decorations were awarded. Captain C. S. Frost was in command of the left flank company of the Battalion. He led his company with great dash, and kept Head-quarters well informed as to the situation. When the advance was held up at Keiberg Ridge, by a six-inch gun and two machine guns, he pushed his Lewis guns out to both flanks, and made a direct attack by short rushes with a platoon. He assisted in capturing the three guns, and his prompt action led to the capture of the ridge. WILLIAMSON.
After the capture of Keiberg Ridge, an enemy machine gun opened fire about 80 yards in the rear. With one runner, 2nd Lieutenant H. Williamson dashed towards the spot and opened fire with his revolver, shooting both gunners. Later in the day when his company commander was killed, he took command and led the company successfully to its final objective. TAYLOR.
Second Lieutenant A. E. Taylor acted in conjunction with Captain Frost in the capture of Keiberg Ridge. He led his platoon forward by short rushes, and played a very important part in capturing the enemy guns that were holding up the advance. STANFORD.
On the same day, Sergeant R. F. Stanford distinguished himself by his conspicuous courage and coolness. When the right flank of his company was held up by machine gun fire from a farm house about 200 yards away he took six men with him in an attempt to outflank the guns. By the time he had gone 100 yards all the party except one man and himself, were casualties. As soon as he got near enough, he threw a bomb, and then dashed into the farm house. He defeated the enemy gunners and captured the two guns. O'QUINN.
Private J. H. O'Quinn displayed a spirit of heroism and sacrifice of a very high order. During the attack on Keiberg, Ridge he voluntarily went forward 100 yards in advance of his company to reconnoiter thick grass and bushes in front. He came upon three enemy snipers, all of whom he bayoneted. Later he carried an important message to Brigade Headquarters through heavy machine gun and shell fire. In the afternoon of the same day, although wounded, he carried on with his platoon until he fell, weak from loss of blood. Several runners and stretcher-bearers were also decorated for their heroic and valuable services.
Throughout the two days' fighting, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment lived up to its high reputation. Although the weather conditions were very unfavorable, the ground for the most part being a mass of heavy mud and the troops' clothes soaked by the torrential rains, the advance was carried out with admirable regularity. The whole British line was moving on to victory, and the part held by our Battalion was moved forward in conjunction with the rest.
Military Records Contact: Daniel B. Breen
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