Ancre Heights

German Prisoners captured by Canadians in the storming of Regina Trench. October, 1916.

German Prisoners captured by Canadians in the storming of Regina Trench. October, 1916.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada; (MIKAN no. 3403055)

First World War

Date

1 October – 11 November 1916

Geographical parameters

Road Pys – le Sars – Martinpuich – Contalmaison – la Boiselle – Aveluy – Martinsart – Mesnil – Hamel

Context

A battle honour incorporating the tactical incident “Capture of Schwaben and Stuff Redoubts and Regina Trench”, formally entitled the “Battle of The Ancre Heights”, and itself being part of the “Operations on the Somme (1 July – 18 November 1916)”.Footnote 1

Description

The Honour “Ancre Heights” was given for British offensives in October and November 1916 meant to continue pressing the Germans towards Bapaume in the east and towards the Ancre River in the north. The objective of the battles for Ancre Heights was to capture the dominating ground that protected the German rear areas of the Ancre valley. As part of these offensives it was the task of the Canadian Corps (Lieutenant-General Sir J.H.G. Byng) to take Regina Trench, which was then to serve as a jumping off point for attacks further north. Situated over the crest on the highest point on the ridge, Regina Trench was difficult for artillery to target and an excellent position for the Germans to defend. On the 1st of October, the first attack by the Canadian Corps on Regina Trench was made primarily by the 2nd Canadian Division (Major-General R.E.W. Turner, VC) with the 8th Brigade (Brigadier-General J.H. Elmsley) of the 3rd Division attacking on its left. Only small parties of Canadians made it to Regina Trench. Regardless of their valiant efforts, most of the attackers were stopped by German machine guns and uncut wire. Ordered to continue the attack, the Canadian Corps had to wait a week due to bad weather. The second attempt to take Regina Trench was divided equally between 1st and 3rd Divisions, (Major-General A.W. Currie and Major-General L.J. Lipsett) each with two Brigades attacking. Again some groups of Canadians made it to Regina Trench but the Germans successfully repulsed the attacks, forcing the Canadians back to their start points. The same problems persisted as with the first attack. The artillery had not cut the wire nor destroyed the German positions in Regina Trench. This was the Canadian Corps final battle on the Somme, but the 4th Canadian Division (Major-General Sir D. Watson) newly arrived in France was assigned to the 2nd British Corps, taking its position on that Corps' right flank. On 21 October the Battle of the Ancre Heights was resumed. This time the heavy artillery bombardment succeeded in destroying the German wire and portions of Regina Trench were taken by the assaulting forces. For the next two weeks the steadily deteriorating weather precluded major operations. Then, at midnight 10/11 November 1916, the final assault went in, covered by what was described as a ‘perfect' artillery barrage. The remaining enemy positions were quickly secured and the Ancre Heights battle came to a successful conclusion.

Sir Julian Byng, General officer commanding the Canadian Corps, June 1916-June 1917. Location unknown. May, 1917.<br> Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada; (MIKAN no. 3213526)

Sir Julian Byng, General officer commanding the Canadian Corps, June 1916-June 1917. Location unknown. May, 1917.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada; (MIKAN no. 3213526)

Lieutenant-General R.E.W. Turner, V.C. Location unknown. 1914-1919 Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada /PA-007941; (MIKAN no. 3221894)

Lieutenant-General R.E.W. Turner, V.C. Location unknown. 1914-1919
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada /PA-007941; (MIKAN no. 3221894)

From left to right, General James Elmsley, Lieutenant-Governor Lionel Clarke and Reginald S.Timmis.

From left to right, General James Elmsley, Lieutenant-Governor Lionel Clarke and Reginald S.Timmis attending the opening of Provincial Parliament, Toronto, Ont. 1920. -Insc. on mount below photo: General Elmsley, Lt. Gov. Lionel Clarke and Self, oc Mounted Guard of Honour. Opening of Provincial Parliament, Toronto. 1920
Credit: Timmis, Reginald Symonds, 1884-1968; Baldwin Collection; Toronto Reference Library 995-1-10-13a

Lieutenant General Currie, Commander of the Canadian Corps in France, and A.D.C. Location unknown. June, 1917.

Lieutenant General Currie, Commander of the Canadian Corps in France, and A.D.C. Location unknown. June, 1917.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-001370; (MIKAN no. 3191901)

Major-General L.J. Lipsett, commander of the 3rd Canadian Division. Camblain l'Abbé. May, 1918.

Major-General L.J. Lipsett, commander of the 3rd Canadian Division. Camblain l'Abbé. May, 1918.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada; (MIKAN no. 3218379)

Major-General Watson, the Officer Commanding the 4th Canadian Division. Location unknown. October, 1917.

Major-General Watson, the Officer Commanding the 4th Canadian Division. Location unknown. October, 1917.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada; (MIKAN no. 3222150)

Awarded to:

Currently serving units

Units on the Supplementary Order of Battle

Disbanded Units

  • 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion, CEF
    Award to the 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion, CEF (GO 88/31)
  • 2nd Canadian Pioneer Battalion, CEF
    Award to the 2nd Canadian Pioneer Battalion, CEF (GO 123/29)
  • The Manitoba Regiment
    Award to The Manitoba Regiment (GO 123/29)
  • The North Alberta Regiment
    Awards to the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF (GO 110/29) and The North Alberta Regiment (GO 110/29)

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