The Battle for the Scarpe
74 Days Until Armistice
The Battle for the Scarpe was in full swing. Canadian troops had once again made impressive gains through the course of the campaign, and the recently captured towns of Wancourt and Neuville-Vitasse stood as strong “jumping off” positions - however, logistical problems would soon befall the Canadians.
Heavy rains had turned the battlefield into a mire. Slippery roads and flooded fields created logistical problems, which would cripple the next day’s operations. In particular, the severely depleted 5th Brigade were in desperate need of reinforcements which simply could not reach the front. Despite their insufficient numbers, elements of the 5th Brigade (the 22nd and 24th Battalions) were ordered to press the attack.
The casualties were enormous. The 22nd Battalion lost every officer. Some companies were completely depleted. The sacrifices made were incredible, but for naught. Conversely, the 3rd Division achieved a breakthrough on the Fresnes-Rouvroy line, securing a little success on an otherwise somber day.
Oftentimes, commanding officers were killed in the field, leaving men either to fend for themselves, or retreat. In such an instance, W.H Clark Kennedy assumed command of his men, and through a hellish 2 day stretch, led his men to relative safety on the Fresnes-Rouvroy line.