Webmatters Title
Webmatters : Fort Garry Horse War Diary
Rough Map of Area

War Diary

Fort Garry Horse


16 11 17
Weather fine. Erecting shelters and stables. Exercise rides.

17 11 17
Weather fine. Erecting shelters and stables. Bathing Parades. Lieut Col R W Paterson DSO resumed command of the Regiment.

18 11 17
Weather fine. Exercise rides. Preparing for move to forward area

19 11 17
Weather showery. Day spent in preparation for move to forward area. The Regiment moved forward from BOUCLY at 11 pm destination being a forward concentration point NE of FINS.

The move to FINS was completed without incident, and the Regiment stood to awaiting further instructions.


20 11 17
Weather fine. The Regiment saddled up and stood to in the morning, in readiness to move forward on receipt of orders. At 12.07 pm the Regiment moved forward as Advanced Guard to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, by the KAVANAGH TRACK, but as this was not entirely completed, the advance was completed by the sunken road running through M.10 and M.5 central to the SW Exit of MASNIERES.

The following report by Lt Col R W Paterson DSO gives in detail the subsequent action of the Regiment on November 20th:

Forward Area

At 2.15 pm on receipt of orders stating that the bridge at MASNIERES was clear for cavalry, and that I was to push on according to previous instructions, I advanced into MASNIERES. On reaching the bridge in Main Street I found that it had either been blown or broken in by the weight of a Tank. I at once instructed Major SHARPE to reconnoitre a crossing on the right, stated by civilians to be suitable for horses in single file, and over which I could see the infantry crossing.

Shortly after 3 pm I received a message from Major WALKER, stating that a crossing had been constructed. I forwarded this message to Brigade, advising them that I was pushing on. Major SHARPE not having returned, but a guide from the Infantry reporting, I instructed Captain CAMPBELL of B Squadron to take his Squadron across the Canal and that I would follow with the balance of the Regiment as soon as he had got over. I watched B Squadron crossing, which they did at 3.30 pm, then pushed on myself to make certain that they would clear the bridge successfully. Having ascertained this, I sent a messenger (MOHUIDIN KHAN) to instruct C Squadron to follow. I then crossed the temporary bridge to the Lock House, where I found Major WALKER of the Machine Gun Squadron, and at the same time received a message from the rear that I was not to cross the Canal and was to withdraw any of my troops which had crossed. No other messenger being available, Corporal RYAN of the M G Sqdn who had already been shot through the arm volunteered to carry a message forward to B Squadron, in which I instructed them to return at once. I then sent back a messenger to the Brigade, advising them of the situation and pushed forward myself in endeavour to reach B Squadron, which by this time had passed through the Infantry and was right out of sight over the ridge in front. The Infantry gave me the direction in which they had gone, but my horse being injured by a fall into a sunken road, I was unable to catch them, and wounded men returning informed me that the Squadron was pushing forward at the gallop, and that they had captured a battery of Field Guns, and had suffered a number of casualties from MG fire. It was then getting dusk, and the Infantry Commander informed me that he was unable to push forward any further as his men were exhausted, so I gathered up some wounded men and prisoners and reported to Brigade Headquarters. Lieut STRACHAN’s report of subsequent operations of the Squadron is attached.

On returning to the Lock Crossing, I found Corporal RYAN who had been unable to locate B Squadron, and who had returned, bringing with him a wounded man…

R W Patterson, Lt Col F G Horse


Lieutenant Strachan’s Report

On the 20th November at 3.30 pm I accompanied B Sqdn Fort Garry Horse, with Captain CAMPBELL in command, on a special mission.

We left MASNIERES by the E Exit at 3.30 pm, and crossing the Canal by a temporary bridge, after crossing some marshy ground under M G Fire we moved N from the Canal, and entered the enemy’s line by a gap cut in the wire by our own troops. At this point Captain CAMPBELL and one or two Other Ranks were hit, also by M G fire. We moved N and encountered the camouflaged Road SE of RUMILLY. This we cut under M G fire, and the Squadron went through in sections. On crossing the Road the Squadron formed line of Troop Columns, and immediately encountered a Battery of Field Guns. Two guns were unmanned, the crew destroyed another, and the other fired one round point blank which missed. The Squadron charged the Battery, and those of the crew who were not killed, surrendered. The prisoners were left to be dealt with by our supports, and the Squadron then took on the enemy’s Infantry, who were retreating and disorganised. These either took refuge in shell holes or surrendered or were killed.

The operation had been carried out at he gallop, and on nearing RUMILLY, the Squadron, which had about 40 casualties from MG fire from flanking block-houses, were brought down to a walk, and we then seemed to be isolated. We took up a position in a sunken road about one kilometre East of RUMILLY, and held out until dark, during which three telephone lines leading East were cut. A message was sent from here in duplicate to OC FGH and both bearers got in. After dark the Squadron decided to abandon horses and fight its way out, all horses except five being wounded. The horses were stampeded, attracting the attention of the Machine Guns, and the Squadron moved off in the direction of MASNIERES. Four parties of the enemy were encountered on the journey, and retired leaving casualties. These were mostly working parties. On reaching the wire through which we entered, the Squadron had 7 prisoners, and 2 more were taken at the wire. At this point the party became separated and Lieut COWEN who had previously been hit reached home with 10 Other Ranks and 9 prisoners. The rest of the Squadron, 2 Officers and 11 Other Ranks, entered MASNIERES at the Eastern entrance, and moved down Main Street, crossing the Canal by the broken bridge, where a sniper was encountered and hit but not captured. There were no further casualties.

I would give as a conservative estimate at 40 going out and 60 on the return trip.

H Strachan Lieut F G Horse.


Forward Area

21 11 17
The Regiment marched back to ECQUANCOURT in the morning and bivouacked at that village for the remainder of the day, and the night of the 22nd/23rd.

The casualties in the action of the 20th/21st were :

Killed: Captain D CAMPBELL MC and 6 Other Ranks
Wounded: Major W J SHARPE, Lieut E Mc I HOLIDAY and Lieut W J COWAN and 18 Other Ranks
Wounded and missing: 54 Other Ranks.
Horse Casualties: Killed wounded and missing 140

The cemeteries

Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery
Captain Duncan Campbell MC
Husband of Muriel Campbell
of St John, Quebec
Aged: 37 Grave: VI B 16
Marcoing British Cemetery
Private Richard Conklin 657
Son of N Conklin
of Sudbury, Ontario
Aged: 27 Special Memorial: 7
Private Cecil Conrad 115059
Son of B and Isabella Conrad
Native of Ontario
Aged: 22 Grave: I E 10
L/Corporal Otto Dunning 114768 MM
Son of David and Phelicia Dunning
of North Granville, PEI
Aged: 24 Special Memorial: 9
L/Corporal John Henderson 116075
Brother of W Henderson
of Peterboro, Ontario
Aged: 33 Special Memorial: 13
Private Arthur Jensen 552449
Son of James and Mary Jensen
of Aetna, Alberta
Aged: 21 Grave: II C 1
Private Kenneth MacDonald 552768 MM
Son of Kenneth and Sarah MacDonald
of Aldersyde, Alberta
Aged: 22 Special Memorial: 18
Private Cecil McArthur 117084
Son of W McArthur
of Innisfail, Alberta
Aged: 22 Grave: II C 34
Corporal Albert Webb 109664
Son of James and Florence Webb
of 8 Earl St, Stafford
Aged: 27 Grave: I E 7
Vimy Memorial
Trooper Norris Farrar 553017
Son of Alfred and Caroline Farrar
of Newton-on-Derwent, England
Aged: 27  
Trooper John Gould 111202
Son of Mr and Mrs William Gould
of Steam Mill Village, Nova Scotia
Aged: 20  
Private John Merrian 476338
Son of Allen Merrian
of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Aged: 21  
Private George Norris 118089
Son of George and the late Mary Norris
of 5 Palk Row, Tredegar, England
Aged: 29  
Private Harold Peters 476343
Son of Frederick Peters
formerly of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Aged: 19  
L/Corporal James Thomas 114883
Son of John and the late Elizabeth Thomas
of Chatham, Ontario
Aged: 26  


The memorials in Masnières