April 24, 2022: The 107th Anniversary of 2nd Ypres
15th Bn Cap Badge

On April 22, 1915 the German 26th Reserve Corps launched the opening attack of the battle of 2nd Ypres  against the French 87th Territorial and 45th Algerian Divisions on the immediate left flank of the 1st Canadian Division. The assault was preceded by the first mass use of poison gas in modern warfare and the effect was devastating.  By midnight the Germans had penetrated deep into the French sector and were threatening the now exposed Canadian left flank.

The British/Canadian frontline had effectively become a pronounced salient. At the apex of that salient, the positions occupied by the 13th and 15th Battalions of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Brigade, were under threat of enfilade fire and encirclement from their rear. In an attempt to plug the open left flank, on the night of April 23rd hasty counterattacks were conducted against the advancing Germans at Kitchner’s Wood by the 10th and 16th Battalions. On the 23rd units were rushed to form a new hasty defence line all along the open flank from the Canadian frontline at the apex all the way back to the Yser Canal.

The area on the exposed left between St Julian and the front line positions of the 13th and 15th Battalions was under the most serious and immediate threat.  Therefore to plug that hole, the 13th Battalion line folded back on itself to form a right angle (a maneuver called ‘refusing the flank’) and elements of the 7th Battalion and the British 2/East Kent Battalion (The Buffs) were moved in on the 13th’s left.  The 15th Battalion was now literally at the very apex of the Canadian salient and being subjected  to artillery and small arms fire from the front, left flank and rear.

At approximately 4 AM on the morning of the 24th, the Germans launched a second gas attack which hit the apex of the line descending most heavily on No. 1 and part of No 3 Company on the right of the 15th’s line as well as part of the 8th Battalion’s line to their right. No. 1 Company was effectively annihilated by the combined effects of the gas, artillery and the follow-on assaulting German infantry which penetrated that portion of the 15th’s line. Of all the Canadian units engaged that day, the 15th Battalion was the only one without any artillery support as their supporting battery had mistakenly pulled back out of range.

In terms of what followed the collapse of No. 1 Company’s position, it is unfortunately reasonably simple to explain tactically. As the surviving elements of No. 3 Company in the centre and No. 4 Company on the right were effectively pinned in position by fire from the front and enfilade from the exposed left, the Germans rolled-up the line from right to left one platoon at time.  To be sure, there was desperate fighting and Major Marshall’s close support element at Death Mill delayed the enemy penetration into the rear of the front line positions somewhat but in the end as the apex was gradually lost, the survivors fell back as best they could to reserve positions hastily formed along Gravenstafel ridge by other Canadian units rushed into place.

No. 2 Company which had been left in Reserve at St Julian had become part of a combined force defending the town and the new left flank against the German advance that penetrated the French line on the 21st. With the front line at the apex collapsing and German pressure on the left continuing, the sub units of the St Julien `garrison` were overrun and surrendered on April 25th.

When the 15th Battalion moved into the forward line to relieve the 16th Battalion on April 20th, it had a field strength of approximately 900 all ranks. When the surviving elements of the battalion regrouped at Wieltje on April 25th, approximately 647 had become casualties – 233 dead ,of which 187 were MIA, 248 POWs and the remainder wounded with many of those eventually dying. There is a well-known period photograph referred to as ‘The Roll Call’ that shows survivors lined up in the battalion’s transport lines with an NCO calling the roll. Those who answered that roll call totalled 3 Officers and 150 Other Ranks. Battalion leadership, both Officers and Senior NCOs, was decimated – the battalion had in-effect been destroyed.  As The Official History of The Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1918 states: “No other Canadian battalion, and few British battalions, ever suffered so heavily in so short a time. “ The battalion would be quickly rebuilt with hundreds of reinforcements from CEF units in the UK. It would go on to take part in every major campaign and battle in which The Canadian Corps was involved for the duration of the war winning 20 Battle Honours in process. Ypres had been a successful defense but a costly ‘baptism of fire.’

The attached video ‘Roll Call’ of The Fallen from 2nd Ypres ‘speaks their names’ and in doing so insures that they have not disappeared from our memory and are not truly gone.

Click the image below to watch the video.

April 20-29 1915 2nd Ypres – The Fallen of the 15th Battalion – Dileas Gu Brath

OUR LATEST IMAGES FROM INSTAGRAM

ON EXERCISE URBAN FALCON 2022, Soldiers of the 48th Highlanders, had their urban ops skills put to the test as they practiced fighting through and clearing subway cars through a subway station with simmunition rounds. In their exercise scenario, their mission was to rescue and secure a hi-jacked train from a well trained enemy. They fought against a simulated enemy force of other infantry Master Corporal’s and Sergeants, who set traps and obstacles in their path to test how they would react. Attached to the regiment in this exercise were a small amount of medics and Intelligence personnel from @25fdamb as well as @2intcoy_2cierens, which enabled soldiers to practice intel gathering/handling as well as dealing with casualties in a realistic manner.

Video filmed by Capt Lau and Cpl Chung
Video edited by MCpl Clark


Voici ce qui s'est passé lors de l'exercice Urban Falcon 2022. Les soldats des 48th Highlanders ont vu leurs compétences en opérations urbaines mises à l'épreuve alors qu'ils s'entraînaient à combattre et à dégager les voitures de métro à travers une station de métro avec des balles de vaccination, dans un scénario où leur but était de sauver et de sécuriser un train détourné d'un ennemi bien entraîné. Ils se sont battus contre une force d'opposition de caporal-chef et de sergents, qui ont tendu des pièges et des obstacles sur leur passage. Au régiment dans cet exercice se trouvaient un petit nombre d'infirmiers et de personnel du renseignement de @25fdamb ainsi que de @2intcoy_2cierens, ce qui a permis aux soldats de pratiquer le rassemblement/manipulation de renseignements ainsi que de faire face aux victimes de manière réaliste.
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On March 5th and 6th, Soldiers of the 48th Highlanders, with members from @2intcoy_2cierens and @25fdamb, who augmented our soldiers as an opportunity to practice their trade skills under the Tactical-Control of an infantry platoon, run through their “prepare for battle” phase during their simulated mission on Exercise Urban Falcon 2022, in which the soldiers were put under the stress of fighting in close quarters, and learning to maneuver and communicate in an entirely new environment.

Video editing by MCpl Clark
Video filmed by Capt Lau and Cpl Chung


Les membres des 48th Highlanders, avec des membres de @2intcoy_2cierens et @25fdamb, qui ont augmenté nos soldats comme une occasion de pratiquer leurs compétences professionnelles sous le contrôle tactique d'un peloton d'infanterie, pratiquent la phase de « préparation à la bataille » au cours de leur mission simulée dans le cadre de l'exercice Urban
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