If Ye Break Faith

This blog is dedicated to the promotion of educating about the Canadian experience of World War One. To discover who we are as a nation in the 21st Century, we must understand our past.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Minor Operation no. 7:

The Concrete Machine Gun Position at M.30.d.2.3

“It was decided that it was necessary to again
re-gain control and hold the enemy strong point North
of the RIVER.”- Maj. WH Collum MC, Bde Major
11th Canadian Infantry Brigade

12 June 1917

It wasn’t déjà vu, Lieutenant CS Griffin, ‘A’ Company, 102nd (North British Columbians) Battalion had been here before.  “The main objective was the enemy strong point at M.30.d.2.3, ‘TRIANGLE.’”[1]  Griffin, and many of the men in the platoon he was leading into this attack had been by this way only two days ago.  Surprise had an elemental role in that effort, where a prepared and numerous garrison kept the Canadians from gaining the position.  No preliminary bombardment had been lain on for the sake of surprise and the Germans held this line in force.

The Triangle was a jumbled mass of trenches, rifle pits made from shell-holes, well sited strong-points and a concrete blockhouse fielding two machine guns, the lot of which was behind a bumper crop of barbed wire.  This patch of land, a mere handful of square yards, had been the focus of attention for nearly a week of constant attacks and repulses.  Besides Lt. Griffin’s go at it day before last, Lt. Lowrie of ‘B’ Company had led the way in attacks twice here himself, on the 7th and 8th of June.  The task on the 7th was to clear the wire with ammonal tubes and then “raiding and destroying, if possible,enemy                                                                                                concrete machine gun position at M.30.d.2.3.”[2]

This was rebuffed even before the tubes were in position to be blown.  “The enemy immediately opened with heavy machine gun fire necessitating the withdrawal of the attacking troops.”[3]Mr. Lowrie was able to accomplish this without any casualties.  The very next day, Lt. Lowrie and his platoon had gone up in a prepared attack; in conjunction with a trench-clearing operation put in by the 5th Battalion, the Royal Leicestershire Regiment.

It was a splendid assault, the men having trained specifically for this task leading up to this trench tour.  All objectives were held within forty minutes.  “The operation resulted in the capture of twelve prisoners…thirty enemy dead were counted in the trenches and dugouts.” Lt. Lowrie didn’t live long enough to see it accomplished.  He had been shot dead within moments of the attack’s beginning.

All of that had been after Lt. Dimsdale had two quick attempts at it on the 5th.  It was determined that “the enemy was holding his trenches in force and apparently had no intention of evacuating.”[4] Dimsdale’s work was that of opportunity.  Upon taking over the trenches during the relief of 4/5 June, Lt. Dimsdale’s Company Commander, Major Scharschmidt had pushed his outposts forward to determine the whereabouts of the enemy.  Making contact had shaped into a hasty attack, with ‘D’ Company managing to capture the Electric Generating Station, and installation south of where the Souchez River passes by the town of Fosse.  It was an unexpected success, to say the least, but it left that mess of nastiness which was the Triangle between the Station and the Souchez’ southern embankment under German control.

Planning had looked to capturing the line intact with the combined operations aside the 5/Leicesters on the 8th.  Maj. Scharschmidt’s bold move had created a more urgent case.  So long as they held the Electric Generating Station, the hard point at M.30.d.2.3 had to go.  ‘D’ Company’s work on the 5th had done a lot of good, as it “placed the major portion of CALLOUS and CANCEL trenches in our hands and there remained only the consolidation of the balance of these trenches to bring them into our defensive system.” [5]

The organised attack set for the eighth would work out the kinks.  It had to.  Further operations were based upon having that area secure by no later than the twelfth.  With two men killed in the attempt and five more wounded besides, M.30.d.2.3 had been taken, and was handed over, as per orders to the 5/Leicesters.  They were unable to hold the position, and once again, the bastard thing was doing German business under the new/old management. 

Accordingly, on the tenth, Lt. Charles Stuart Griffin, a 26 year old clerk born in Hollister, California but living in Sidney, British Columbia before the war, and Sgt. Archibald Law, a Calgarian teamster by way of Glasgow sortied towards the Triangle in two concurrent raids. This was the affair put on without benefit of artillery preparation or shielding barrage on account of the idea of keeping the operation a surprise.  Primary objective (Griffin) was to gain CANADA trench, a line meant to be arcing north to south from the embankment and representing the eastern edge of the Triangle.  Secondary objective (Law) was the reducing and capture of the enemy strongpoint.

Both were no stranger to this sort of enterprise.  Lt. Griffin had seen a fair deal of action serving as an NCO with the 7th Battalion, being afield with them from August 1915.  Twice wounded in 1916, he would become the second highest ranking effective man in his company, cleaved in half to a meagre 60 men at Vimy.  Under Lt. L.J. Bertrand, who had been a junior subaltern until the events of the morning placed him in command, No. 4 Company, 7th (1st British Columbians) Bn. held their objective despite their heavy losses.  Griffin was promoted to Sergeant, awarded the Military Medal and then given a commission and transferred to the 102nd.  Lt. Lancelot Joseph Bertrand, born in Grenada, British West Indies, making him one of the very few Caribbean Canadian officers to serve overseas, received the Military Cross.  He would be subsequently killed in action at Hill 70 in August of 1917.

Sgt. Law, his nearly two years overseas with the 102nd punctuated with an MM at Vimy, saw his effort come awry with the detonation of a small enemy mine which either had alerted or had been instigated by a prepared and numerous garrison who “opened fire with bombs and machine guns….the men could not reach the Hun with hand grenades, but covered their own retirement by rifle fire and rifle grenades and our Stokes guns threw 20 rounds into the enemy, causing heavy casualties.[6]

Lt. Griffin had a similar rebuff.  His men had succeeded in gaining the first line of trenches and putting in place one of the blocks they had been tasked with, “but then found that CANADA trench south was a series of shell holes; this exposed area was swept by enemy machine-gun fire and whizz-bangs; moreover, much of the trench as was left was heavily manned by the enemy.”[7]  Both raids returned to their starting points having achieved little at the expense of three men killed and eight wounded.

Never mind.  Lt. Griffin’s platoon had been selected for the attack on the twelfth to take the trenches beyond that irksome concrete box.  The platoon would just have to pick it up on their way, so.

“Preparations,” the 102nd War Diary closes the entry for 11 June 1917, “were complete for attack on the following morning.” Lt. Griffin and his men, many of whom had made the prior attempt, went over at 7 a.m.  In the days between attacks, more artillery had become available.  Canadian Corps Heavy Artillery walloped the area on the 11th with 350 immense shells.  Australian and British field guns on loan to the Corps provided covering and creeping barrages in direct support of infantry operations.  The objective was taken in ten minutes with little opposition.  Most Germans who could broke for the rear.  Sixteen were taken prisoner, along with two machine guns.  Artillery fire had killed 14, wounded 10, not including what prisoners stated were the five killed and ten wounded since midnight who had already been evacuated by German medical services.

This wasn’t the end for Lt. Griffin’s platoon.  While they set up blocks and repaired the line, supporting troops hurriedly dug saps out to link the old line with the new.  Within the first quarter hour of Canadian possession, the first counterattack was made.  “An unorganised attack was launched by…about 100 men in mass formation…followed by an officer with a revolver who appeared to be driving them on.”[8]  This was utterly shattered by Lewis gun fire and requested artillery.  Germans came on again, 150 strong at 10 o’clock.  A more organised and disciplined effort, it was likewise put on its heels.  Lt. Griffin’s sparse line had been bolstered by two bombing sections from ‘B’ Company, and work to consolidate the ground continued.

Another counterattack was checked at 3.30 “by bombs and rifle grenades which inflicted heavy casualties on the Hun.” Once again, the Germans tried, at ten that evening “under a very heavy barrage.”  Arriving in force, this attack “was dispersed by our Lewis gun, rifle and grenade firing.  It was also dealt with by our artillery barrage.”[9]

Six men were dead, twenty-eight wounded, including Lt. Griffin.  Shrapnel had broken his right arm and lacerated his left hand.  The concrete machine gun emplacement and the Triangle it guarded lasted out in Canadian hands, the hard fought men of the 102nd relieved that evening by the 85th Battalion.

“In nine days the Battalion, or some substantial part of it, had "gone over the top" six times; in the face of desperate resistance it had eventually carried out all the tasks assigned to it, and in addition to immeasurably strengthening the Canadian positions in the area it had inflicted incredible casualties on the enemy. But our own losses were found to be very heavy.”[10]

Charles Griffin was awarded the Military Cross for holding throughout the counterattacks on the twelfth, though his wounds would prevent his return to the front.  Sgt. Law was given a bar to his MM.  He would die of pneumonia in 1918.


[1] 102nd Battalion War Diary 12 June 1917
[2] Maj. WH Collum MC, “Report on Minor Operations” 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade War Diary, June 1917
[3] Maj. WH Collum MC, ibid.
[4] ibid.
[5] ibid.
[6] 102nd Battalion War Diary 10 June 1917
[7] 102nd Battalion, ibid.
[8] Maj. WH Collum MC, “Report on Minor Operations” 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade War Diary, June 1917
[9] Quotes From 102nd Battalion War Diary 12 June 1917
[10] Sgt Leonard McLeod Gould “The Story of the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion From BC to Baisieux “ Chapter V (102ndbattalioncef.ca)

Monday, 29 May 2017

When the Battle’s O’er

“With the forces at my disposal, even combined with
what the French proposed to undertake in co-operation,
I did not consider that any great strategic results would be
gained by following up a success on the front about Arras.”
-Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
Despatches, pg. 82

By late spring of 1917, it had become evident that the results promised by the French Commander-in-Chief, General Robert Nivelle for his grand offensive were not to be realised.  In actual fact, the French Army was very near collapse: Nivelle ousted in disgrace and a growing unrest among its soldiers coming to a quick boil of outright mutiny; many details of which are still kept secret.[1]

Without the decisive breakthrough Nivelle had sought, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, was now permitted as had been an agreed contingency to dedicate his resources to his preferred operational area of Flanders.  British troops were already in preparation for this new effort which would begin in June with the taking of Messines Ridge.; the overall objective was to secure the Belgian coast.

As a “necessary part of the preparations” for this attack in Flanders, Haig ordered his forces on the Arras front- which included the Canadian Corps- to continue limited and diversionary operations “sufficient to keep the enemy in doubt as to whether our offensive there would be proceeded with.”[2]

Very little of any of this would be known, beyond the abstract, to those most intimately involved in the implementation of these grand schemes; the ordinary front line infantryman, one of whom is caught in his own contemplations.

* * * * *

It were just after lunch when Sergeant Douglas came by.  I hadn’t noticed as I were set against a tree, looking up through branches no’ yet in full leaf, trying tae catch a gander at the ‘planes o'erhead.  Suppose it’s why I dinnae hear him an’ aw, the sky quite busy with the chop of their engines coming and going, but never really fading, while here and there, quite distant, thank goodness, the rumbling thunder of big shells bursting.  It gets so I dinnae really notice it ony mair, no’ when it’s that far off, and thair’s even times when I have to concentrate to hear it at aw.

Has a knack for doing this, does auld Douglas; a’ways finding ye for giving bad news after ye’ve had a good feed.  Mind, a tin of bully et cauld frae the tin isn’t a grand notion of a good feed; though it’s better than nothing at aw, and thair’s been plenty times of that.  Bad news is a’ways easier to take when thair’s at least something in yer gut.  It stops that sinking feeling what comes alang wi’ it.  Well, no’ stops it sae much as makin’ it no’ as bad.

            “Alright, Catscratch?” he asked as he drew up to the tree I were leaning against.

            “Suppose so, Sarge,” I says.  ‘Catscratch’ is what the older chaps in the platoon ken me as, coming frae ma first name being Felix and that no’ one in ten realising ma second name, Strachan, is no’ pronounced as it’s spelt.
            “Good.  Best get your men sorted.  We’re moving up to the line.”  There it was, then.  I’d some notion of it, as the reason why ma lunch was tinned beef was that the company kitchens had started packing up after breakfast.  Ye cannae spend aw this time abroad and no’ pick up a sense for these things.

            “Awright,” which wasn’t sae much ma agreement, but just the thing one says to make it seem like it was the thing tae be done as if choice played a part, “when do we go?”

            “Form up in Companies at eight, stepping off at eight-thirty,” he checked his watch.  “Gives us about seven hours.  Make sure your Section’s area is tidied up, nothing left behind.  Small packs are to be given over to Battalion Transport.”

            “Onything going on?”

Douglas shrugged.  “Routine; though it is a new part of the line for us.  Bert went up with the scouts and guides yesterday.  Talk to him is you want to know more about where we’re going.”  He made to leave, paused.  “Oh, and Catscratch, mind the new fellahs.  Be certain they know what to do.”

With that, he was aff, moving through the wooded glade what had been oor hame near tae a fortnight while oor Brigade had been in support.  What this meant was we were tae be ready tae gae intae a counter attack should the Hun put force against oor line. As that may no’ happen, oor day-tae-day was providing parties of men tae carry aw manner of supplies tae the front, or be given o’er tae the Royal Engineers as brute labour in fixing roads and laying rail.  This, after a fashion, had been another clue that we were tae be on the move.  Why else would I have had a spare moment tae sit against a tree and count aeroplanes?

We were that far back frae where oor front lines were now that we would be going o’er the ground we had that big scrap for last month.  That was a weird sensation, right enough.  Since the New Year, when the Division had been brought up, aw of us had been faced with that high ridge, with only oor imaginations tae fill minds with the battle tae come.  Now that had been and gone, we tramped aw o’er it with nae bother at aw, liked we owned it- which I suppose we did.

We’d certainly paid for it.  Frae what I heard, it were eleven thousand casualties in those four days of fighting, and that’s no’ considering the trickle of blood in the months afore while we set out patrols and raids in the getting ready for it.  That trickle was never fully staunched, and after that tough go at Easter, it kept up, a drip, drip, drip of small haunfulls of men day tae day tae day.  It’s that bloodletting as tae why Sergeant Douglas had charge of Six Platoon.  Oor officer, Mister Thorncliffe was awa’ tae England tae see about getting iron pepper oot his arm and face for having been too close tae a Hun bomb.  Hopefully he’d be back in due course, preferably afore the platoon picked up a new officer.  Seeing as how poorly it had gone for aw involved the last time that happened, best tae avoid a possible repeat of a bad show↟.

Mair important tae ma state of affairs was that this flow of life and blood these past five months tae get us where we were now is reason that I found maself with the ‘new fellahs’ Douglas had telt me tae mind. With nae work the day, the kitchens hitching up and these three lads put tae me just this morning it were a cinch we’d be moving tae the line.  Aw Douglas had tae give me was what I didnae ken- which was exactly when that move would be.  Now, besides squaring awa’ ma neck of the woods (no’ meaning a joke, there) I’d have tae do what I could tae give these lads enough of a lesson tae no’ do anything daft.  Solve that, and maybe they’d last lang enough tae learn something of substance.

With that thought rolling around ma coconut, I stood up tae walk o’er tae Two Section’s area and follow the Sarge’s advice in having a chat wi’ Bert Ellins, for what he might tell me of the road ahead; but no’ afore I put ma ain section on warning tae move.

            “Pretty rough up there,” he says, and lets me in on what he saw.  We’re holding trenches what used tae be well intae Fritz’s rear areas.  Meaning that what was his support lines were now oor front lines.  As support trenches, being further back aren’t usually dug as deep or fixed up as well as fighting trenches, and the whole lot has been under oor artillery for the best part of this year, Bert says tae me that they were pretty mean.  Just deep enough to be head high in most places, nae dugouts, very little in the way of revetting.  That’s no’ at aw comforting, especially with those what haven’t been up front afore.  New fellahs are awfy prone to sticking their heads oot tae have a look aroon’.

            “It’s been pretty brisk business for sniping on both sides,” Bert added, “everyone’s been working like mad to get the trenches in decent shape.  Wiring parties and patrols are going out every night.  Looks as though we’re fixing to stay a while.”

I trust Bert’s opinion.  No’ that he’s got ony mair information than the rest of us, but he’s that bright tae put what little we do ken intae the right picture.  After a moment when neither of us had much else tae say, he added, “Pretty dry, though.”

            “Well,” I says tae him, “at least there’s that.”

What he said which most concerned me was that we were, of course, holding ground which had been Fritz’s backyard.  I already ken that, but what Bert reminded me of was that aw roads, cuttings and approaches leading to oor lines were well ken tae the Hun, and his guns were dropping aw manner of guff here and there along these routes.  Bert had a few close calls himself the night afore.  Lucky for us, it were meant tae rain a wee bit tonight, which was nae guarantee, but at least a safe bet that Fritz wouldnae send o’er ony gas shells, which he’d been doing quite frequently of late.

Another thing struck me then as well.  If Bert were right, aw this work intae getting these trenches in shape meaning that we weren’t pushing ahead again ony time soon.  Well, just wha’ the Hell happened tae “This push will be the big one, boys,” aw the hoi polloi in their Chateau headquarters promising us that aw we’d been doing was gonnae knock the pegs oot of the Hun onyhow?  It set me thinking.

Near six months in the making tae have a go at that bloody Ridge, and near two months by that and we can still see it frae where oor front line is now.  I have nae idea how far it is from here to Germany, but it seems tae me at the rate we go, nane of us here now will see it.

It’s ma birthday in two months.  I’ll be nineteen, if I live.

* * * * * 

The monologue above is a work of imagination; but it closely portrays the realities of a Canadian soldier in late May, 1917.  The Battle of Vimy Ridge had been won, but an end to the war was nowhere in sight.  Situational specifics were drawn from unit War Diaries and their Appendices contemporary to 27-29 May 1917. 

The characters of Corporal Felix Strachan, Sergeant Basil Douglas and Corporal Bert Ellins feature in my ground breaking, realistically tense WWI novel, “Killing is a Sin” available in print and e-book from Amazon sites and by request at book retailers & libraries world-wide.  

[1] Meyer, G.J. “A World Undone: The Story of the Great War 1914 to 1918” Delta Books, 2006 pg. 540
[2] Boraston, JH, Lt Col. (ed.) “Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatches: December 1915-April 1919” JM Dent & Sons, 1919 pg. 101
Here, Felix hints at the plot of "Killing is a Sin"-the events of which he has, in this monologue, just recently come through.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Hot Courage

“Have reached black objective, in touch on right with
16th Bn. Am consolidating Black objective, awaiting
message from left.”-Maj. WJ Gander, O.C. ‘C’ Coy,
18th (Western Ontario) Battalion

By the time Major Gander had scratched the short note and sent it to Battalion H.Q., the three forward companies of the 18th (Western Ontario) Battalion (4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division) had held their portion of the Black Line for little more than half an hour.  The first main objective line in the battle for Vimy Ridge was mostly in Canadian hands, which would allow the advance to the subsequent reporting lines to continue as planned.  “At 6.05 a.m.,” the 18th Battalion War Diary records, “the Black Objective had been captured….The casualties up to this point had been very slight, considering the magnitude of the operations.”[1]  One of these casualties was Major Charles Gwyn, struck dead by machine gun fire just short of reaching the objective.  Major Gwyn had been the officer commanding the 18th Bn.’s attack, the vacancy now being filled by Major Gander.

Despite the loss of Major Gwyn, “one of the most…popular and efficient officers”[2] of the Battalion, the attack had maintained good order and momentum, taking the Black Line without loss of unit cohesion.  Most critically, for their part and for the battalions shortly to pass through them to assault the Red Line, they had gained their objective on time.

A battle on such a broad front incorporating a dynamic topography as Vimy Ridge was reliant on precise synchronicity, and time is an entirely fickle variable.  Attacking units were to advance behind a creeping barrage which had been arranged to the minute.  This fire plan could not be changed or adjusted on a whim.  Four Divisions had to reach each objective line nearly simultaneously or they would risk creating a gap of several hundred yards which a German counter-attack would be certain to exploit.

That the 18th Battalion was where they were; where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there was owed entirely to one man and his quick response to the conditions encountered on the advance.

“Very little opposition was met with whilst capturing the first line of trenches.”[3]  Reports such as that from the 18th Battalion were fairly common.  The German Front Line had become untenable.  Pounded ceaselessly with high explosive and shrapnel, what was once a formidable obstacle had been ground down to a loose collection of shallow ditches which were passed by in the first few minutes of battle.  The troops were held up more by the fractured ground than by any hostile defenders.  “The ground was very broken up by shellfire and the going was very heavy owing to rain and snow.”[4] An
undesirable side effect of this, particularly in 2nd Division’s operational area was that all of the eight tanks seconded to the Division for the operation would ditch or be otherwise disabled before reaching the Black Line, due “to the extremely bad state of the ground.”[5]

While it seemed to be fortuitous for the assault to breeze through the forward lines, their vacancy was deliberate.  German tacticians had begun to realise the futility of a rigidly defended front line.  No matter how strong a position might be, a determined and consistent attack always had the potential of breaching it.  In addition, the pattern of softening up these trenches with overwhelming artillery fire prior to an attack did nothing for a heavy forward garrison than put men at risk for no conceivable gain.

No, the enemy was well disposed to let the attack “walk over” the now pulverised front line system.  The broken ground between the Canadian line and where the attack would be repulsed- the Main Line of Resistance; the Black Objective- would serve to slow progress and disperse tight formations as ways over or around shell damage were sought.  Plus, it was the ideal place to conceal machine gun teams with instructions to ravage the attack as much as possible before retiring to the MLR.  This tactic- colloquially known as “Elastic Defense”- had been created with the objective of draining strength and concentration from an attack so that when, much reduced and spent, it crashed against the main line it would be checked and then rolled up with units especially trained for counterattacks.  That was the ideal notion, anyway, and in early 1917 it was still a work in progress.

Nevertheless, three companies of the 18th Battalion, advancing abreast in platoon waves were through what little was left of the German front line in five minutes, and well on their way to crossing the support line in the same fashion.

‘C’ Company, Major Gander’s company, was the centre of the battalion’s advance, and just shy of the support line, where, among a knot of shallow trenches and communications lines, a solitary machine gun ripped into action, “doing considerable damage.”[6]  ‘C’ Company was checked, and if they were stalled for long, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies on either side would have a hole between them and no way to fill it; precisely as this style of defense was designed to work.

Moments such as these; relatively small episodes of crisis, have the potential to overturn the outcome of the larger event of which they are part.  No amount of training can adequately prepare for these furious blinks of time, and none can predict how they might respond.  “Personality type,” says Professor Patrick Tissington, a psychologist who has studied such instances, “is not a good generic predictor of behaviour like courage.”  Rather, it is an intricate and unquantifiable combination of situational factors and both psychological and physiological responses. “What tends to happen,” Prof. Tissington has found, is that “a particular situation develops where an individual realises that someone has to do something (the individual) knows what that something is (and that they are) the only person who is able to do it.”[7]

I consulted with Professor Tissington because the individual in question on a muddy Monday morning a century ago, stalled with the rest of ‘C’ Company under the barking muzzle of a German machine gun was Lance Sergeant Ellis Wellwood Sifton, whose imprint on history up to this point had been unassuming in the least way.

L/Sgt Sifton, a twenty-five year old farmer from Wallacetown Ontario had sailed out with the 18th Bn. in April 1915, along with the troops who would form the 2nd Canadian Division.  “I am feeling fine,” is how he would close a collection of letters written to his sister, Ella, during the ocean crossing.  All evidence, particularly his service records, point Sifton out as being quite ordinary.  He accrued, in the eleven months between enlisting and arriving in France with his Battalion no mentions of merit, nor any charges; and had not even reported sick.  His promotions- to Corporal just prior to embarking for France and more recently (less than a month prior to Vimy) to Lance Sergeant give the impression of someone at least noticeable enough to be vested with the responsibilities of a Non-commissioned Officer.  Other than that, there is nothing which might lead to predicting what he might do in such a dilemma as faced him and his comrades in that hanging moment.

“Having located the gun, he charged it single-handed, killing all the crew.”[8]  The Battalion diary specifies that Sifton “attacked the Gun crew and bayonetted every man,” a feat, plainly speaking, of quickly stabbing five men to death.  Having gained the position, Sifton continued to hold out against a small enemy party advancing to the aid of the gunners.  He “held them off with bayonet and clubbed rifle until his comrades arrived to end the unequal fight.”[9]

With the German gun silenced, the advance to the Black Line continued unimpeded.  In the space of thirty-five minutes from Zero Hour, the 18th Battalion was on line, consolidating their gains and shoring up with flanking units, as Major Gander’s note stipulated.

Lance Sergeant Sifton was not with them.  One of his adversaries, in his dying throes managed to deliver a parting shot.  “In carrying out this gallant act he was killed, but his conspicuous valour undoubtedly saved many lives and contributed largely to the success of the operation.”[10]  His Victoria Cross would be awarded posthumously.

General Sir Henry Horne, General Officer Commanding First Army sent a congratulatory note to all units involved in the attack, specifically mentioning the Canadian capture of Vimy by saying: “To have carried this position with so little loss testifies to soundness of plan, thoroughness of preparation, dash and determination in execution and devotion to duty on the part of all concerned.”[11] In his last point, General Horne pays unnamed tribute to Lance Sergeant Sifton, and all the other unassuming Canadian boys possessed with hot courage.

The rush of raids, the tension of late night patrols, a great Canadian battle and men on the razor's edge between life and death are all part of my acclaimed premier novel

Now available from Amazon sites worldwide.

Some praise received for "Killing is a Sin":

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[1] 18th Battalion War Diary 09 April 1917
[2] 18th Battalion, ibid.
[3] ibid.
[4] 2nd Canadian Division War Diary, April 1917, Appendix 702
[5] 2nd Canadian Division, ibid.
[6] 18th Battalion War Diary 09 April 1917
[7] Quotes taken from correspondence between Author and Prof. Patrick Tissington April 2017
[8] Supplement to the London Gazette No. 30122, 08 June 1917, pg. 5704
[9] Nicholson GWL, Col “Canadian Expeditionary Force: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War” Roger Duhomel, Queen’s Printer Ottawa, 1962 pg. 254
[10] Supplement to the London Gazette No. 30122, ibid.
[11] 2nd Canadian Division War Diary, April 1917, Appendix 704