Ypres Salient map highlighting the Canadian 1st Division Front Line and rear area.Three gaps in the Allied Front Line

22 April 1915: 20.30

As the German attack progressed and the French troops retired, a dangerous gap had been opened up in the Allied line. The left of the 1st Canadian Division was exposed along the Franco-British Boundary to the Yser Canal at Brielen Bridge (Bridge No. 4).

Map showing gaps in the Allied Front Line.

The 3rd Canadian Brigade, together with some French troops, had managed to secure three important positions in the Canadian left flank but this still left three large gaps inbetween them:

The danger of the situation was such that even when British reinforcements did arrive in the Canadian Divisional sector, the new flank would be little more than an outpost line, with few trenches or wire defences. It was a line that was also only 6.5 kilometres away from the backs of the troops in the British 27th and 28th Divisions in the eastern and southern sectors of the Ypres Salient.(1)

Canadian 1st Division Urged to Secure the Left Flank

A message had been sent from British V. Corps HQ in Poperinghe to confirm that two battalions (2nd and 3rd Battalions) of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade had been placed at the division's disposal. This was received at 8.15pm at 1st Canadian Division HQ. The remaining two battalions of 1st Brigade (1st and 4th Battalions) were to form the V. Corps Reserve. The V. Corps HQ urged the 1st Canadian Division to make its left secure and to “make certain of the second line of defence at any rate”.(2)

Confusion Cleared Up: The Canadian 3rd Brigade is Holding On

The rumours and first reports received by General Alderson that the Canadian line had been pushed back were finally confirmed as mistaken. Concerning the three positions held by the Allies as mentioned above, Brigadier-General Turner, commander of 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade, reported from Mouse Trap Farm at 8.25pm. His message cleared up some earlier confusion about the desperate situation for the 3rd Brigade from previous messages. Brigadier-General Turner confirmed that the left of the Canadian front line was actually holding on but that there was a gap between St. Julien and Brigade headquarters in Mouse Trap Farm:

“Our left subsection reported holding on aaa It is supported between ST. JULIEN and trenches by one and half companies aaa ST. JULIEN to Bde H.Q. [brigade headquarters] not occupied at present aaa 3rd Fd. Co. [3rd Field Company, Canadian Engineers] Bomb Company and 3 companies 14th R.M.R. [i.e. 14th Battalion Royal Montreal Regiment] holding G.H.Q. [Line] from Bde H.Q. [brigade headquarters] to left 1000x [yards] aaa French troops mixed with them aaa We do not know what is on left aaa Ordered 1 co. 16th [Battalion] between ST. JULIEN and B.H.Q. [Brigade HQ] and 1 co. [company] to prolong left aaa 2 co. [companies] 16th to B.H.Q. [brigade headquarters] aaa Rifle fire stopped virtually aaa” (3)

British 28th Infantry Division Reports No Attack on its Front

At about 8pm the 1st Canadian Division headquarters had also sent a message to the neighbouring British 28th Division to inform them of the situation in the Canadian sector and to ask if they had been attacked.(4) Some thirty-five minutes later the reply was received from 28th Division that no heavy attack had been reported by its brigades in the front line.

Next>> 2nd Canadian Brigade Reserves Assist 3rd Canadian Brigade


(1) British Military Operations: France and Belgium 1915, p. 181

(2) Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, Appendices, no. 364, p. 242

(3) Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, Appendices, no. 370, p. 242 (This message was received by hand at divisional headquarters at about 9 pm.)

(4) Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, Appendices, no. 365, p. 242

Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, pp. 241-242