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The 28th (Northwest) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) By August, 1914, the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles established recruiting centre's throughout Regina and was actively recruiting officers and men for the 95th’s contribution to the 1st Canadian Contingent (CEF) and later the 2nd Canadian Contingent CEF. On October 12th, 1914, authorization was given to form the 28th (North West) Infantry Battalion, CEF as part of the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Contingent The 6th Brigade was concentrated in Winnipeg and at the time the 28thconsisted of 35 officers and 1,100 men. “B” Company of the 28th came from the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles.
Other Battalions formed in Regina during World War I When World War I began in 1914 and the 28th Battalion was being organized, the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles continued to contribute to the war effort by recruiting for other overseas battalions including: 1) The 68th Battalion (Overseas Battalion Regina) 2) The 195th (City of Regina) 3) The 249th Battalion
Mount Sorrel The Regiment’s First Battle Honour
The 28th (Northwest) Battalion goes to war After completing work-up training in Winnipeg, the 28th sailed for England in late May of 1915. In England, the 28th trained from July – Sept. of 1915, was given a final inspection by King George V and left for France on Sept. 17th, 1915. On Sept. 25th, 1915, 8:30 am on a rainy, dark morning the battalion fell in and marched to war proceeding to the western front near Kemmel Hill in the area of the Ypres Salient.
The Ypres Salient is centered around the ancient town of Ypres in Belgium (now known by its modern Flemish name — Ieper).
The Ypres Salient A salient is an area of the battlefield that extends into enemy territory and surrounded on three sides. Passchendaele and Ypres were both part of the Ypres Salient, an extremely strategic area that controlled access to the English Channel.
The Ypres Salient was formed after the German army was forced out of Ypres early on in the war to the higher ground that surrounds it on the North, East and South.
If the Germans had controlled Ypres they could have cut off the supply route from England to France. This potentially could have knocked England out of the war.
The action described as the Battle of Mount Sorrel took place between Hill 60 at Zwarteleen and Hooge. Much of the ground was wooded, as it is again today.
The Battle of Mount Sorrel begins2nd June 1916
Enemy Objective– The XIII (Wurttemberg) Corps planned to:
a) capture and retain the Tor Top ridge (Hill 62) and thus grab the last dominating observation position in front of Ypres b) keep as many British units as possible pinned down in the area. Major-General M. S. Mercer (GOC 3rd Canadian Division) is killed as artillery fire intensifies.
Mount Sorrel and Hill 62 lost By 1300 hrs, 2nd June 1916, the Germans had overrun the British line in many places, capturing the heights at Mount Sorrel and Tor Top and advancing some way down the slope to take a number of strong points. 3rd June 1916 - The first Canadian counter attack fails, with heavy losses. Weather deteriorates and a second counter-attack is delayed.
The German army launches a violent attack, shifting still northward, this time at Hooge, the little village on the Menin road which the Germans regarded as a vital position that kept them from breaking into the salient which barred their way to Ypres.
The Attack on Hooge - June 6th “Drive the Canadians from the Hooge and straighten out their line before the main attack took place”
0700 hrs - Intense bombardments delivered on the Hooge positions.
For seven hours the guns roared continuously and the shells crashed into the crumbling trenches of the 28th Battalion.
At precisely 1400 hrs, four large mines were exploded under the Canadian trenches.
The 6th was the blackest day in the history of the unit... The story of the Twenty-eighth (Northwest) Battalion, 1914-1917- Hewitt, G. E “A” and “B” Companies were all but wiped out by the initial explosions. 168 men of the 28th killed outright by the explosion. German artillery lifted and infantry advanced with flame throwers.
A column moves along the Menin Road near Hooge 1915-16
The 28th fights on! The 28th’s Battalions machine guns are posted on both sides of the Ypres-Menin Road. The German army is caught in massed formation and are literally ”sprayed with death.” Although the Germans quickly captured the front lines, the reserve line west of Hooge is held. The German army attacks 5 times and is checked and driven back each time by the 28th and 31st Battalions.
German trenches demolished by artillery (Battle of Mount Sorrel, Belgium), showing German dead. June, 1916.
The 28th pays a heavy toll For it’s gallant and stubborn action at Hooge, the 28th Battalion gained it’s first battle honour “Mount Sorrell.” Mein, Stewart A.G. Up The Johns! The Story of The Royal Regina Rifles (The Senate of The Royal Regina Rifles, 1992), p.31 300 men became casualties and 3 officers were taken prisoner.
Heavy losses for the Canadian Corps Between 2 June and 14 June 1916, the Canadian Corps suffered a total of 8430 casualties. German losses recorded were a total of 5765.
Post-battle image of the June 1916 Mount Sorrel battlefield. The debris is all that remains of a dugout and shelter destroyed by artillery fire. Prior to the war, most of the terrain here was heavily wooded.
Mount Sorrel and Hill 62 re-taken Commander of the Canadian Corps, Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng, was determined to win back Mount Sorrel and Hill 62. Preceded by a vicious bombardment, the Canadian infantry attacked on June 13 at 1:30 a.m. in the darkness, wind and rain. Careful planning paid off, and the heights lost on June 2 were retaken.
In Ypres, the Canadian Memorial at Hill 62 is signposted and accessible from the Menin Road. This memorial is on Tor Top, right in the middle of the Mount Sorrel battlefield. The views across to Ypres reveal why this position was so important to hold.
The 28th (Northwest) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
The 28th was officially disbanded on June 1st, 1919.
During it’s brief 5 year history, the Battalion sustained 6,000 casualties, of which 922 which were fatal.
Battle Honours earned by the 28th (Northwest) Battalion: The honours in redmay be emblazoned on the Regimental Colours. Since Rifle regiments do not carry colours, the battle honours are inscribed on the regimental badge and drums. -Mount Sorrel - Somme,1916,'18 - Flers-Courcelette – Thiepval Ridge - Ancre Heights - Arras,1917,'18 - Vimy,1917 - Scarpe,1917,'18 - Hill 70 - Ypres, 1917 – Passchendaele – Amiens - Drocourt-Queant Line - Hindenburg Line - Canal du Nord - Cambrai,1918 - Pursuit to Mons - FRANCE AND FLANDERS, 1915-18 In 1926, the 28th Battalion Association built its own memorial statue on the Legislative Grounds, Regina, SK.