The classic Battle of Mount Sorrel 2nd June 1916 Canadian Prisoner of War pair awarded to Private H. Woodward, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, who joined his regiment in the field in January 1916, and was then taken prisoner of war at Mount Sorrel on...

£475.00
Availability: IN STOCK
Product ID: CMA/31150
Condition: Good Very Fine
Description:

The classic Battle of Mount Sorrel 2nd June 1916 Canadian Prisoner of War pair awarded to Private H. Woodward, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, who joined his regiment in the field in January 1916, and was then taken prisoner of war at Mount Sorrel on 2nd June 1916. In the spring of 1916, the 3rd Division of the Canadian Corps defended Mount Sorrel, a 30-metre hill with a commanding position over the city of Ypres. The wooded elevation also overlooked the important road between Ypres and the town of Menin. Heavy rain and constant shelling left the ground a soggy mess punched apart by holes. On 2nd June, German troops attacked the Canadians with an artillery barrage. The Allied trenches were blown apart, the explosions killing hundreds of Canadian troops and blasting apart their garrisons. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles was nearly wiped out — 89 per cent of the regiment's men were killed or injured. Of the 702 soldiers in the regiment who defended against the German attack, only 76 were unhurt by the end of the battle. The Germans also attacked from below, detonating mines they had dug beneath the Canadian positions. German infantry swarmed across the broken plains and up Mount Sorrel. German forces soon overwhelmed the Canadian defenders and captured Mount Sorrel along with nearby peaks Hill 61 and Hill 62.

British War Medal and Victory Medal; (113647 PTE. H. WOODWARD. 4-C.M.R.)

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with the recipient’s Great War identity bracelet, stamped: ‘H. Woodward 113647 4 C.M.R.’

Henry Woodward was born on 3rd April 1891 in Neatly, near Longfield, Kent, and having emigrated to Canada, then worked as a labourer before attesting for service with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at Saint Catherine’s, Ontario, on 21st January 1915, joining as a Private (No.113647) the 8th Canadian Mounted Rifles. Arriving in England on 9th October 1915, he was sent out to the Western Front and taken on the strength of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles ‘in the field’ on 29th January 1916.

In the spring of 1916, the 3rd Division of the Canadian Corps defended Mount Sorrel, a 30-metre hill with a commanding position over the city of Ypres.The wooded elevation also overlooked the important road between Ypres and the town of Menin. Heavy rain and constant shelling left the ground a soggy mess punched apart by holes. On 2nd June, German troops attacked the Canadians with an artillery barrage. The Allied trenches were blown apart, the explosions killing hundreds of Canadian troops and blasting apart their garrisons. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles was nearly wiped out — 89 per cent of the regiment's men were killed or injured. Of the 702 soldiers in the regiment who defended against the German attack, only 76 were unhurt by the end of the battle. The Germans also attacked from below, detonating mines they had dug beneath the Canadian positions. German infantry swarmed across the broken plains and up Mount Sorrel. German forces soon overwhelmed the Canadian defenders and captured Mount Sorrel along with nearby peaks Hill 61and Hill 62.

The regimental history of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles 1914-1919 gives the following:

‘June 2, On June 2nd, which at sunrise promised to be as other days, everyone was about early preparing for a visit from the Divisional Commander, Major-General Mercer. About 6 o clock, Lieut. -Colonel Ussher went around the front line, making a preparatory inspection and had returned down the communication trench to Battalion Headquarters to meet General Mercer and his A.D.C. Captain L. E. Gooderham, who were accompanied by Brigadier-General Williams, and the Brigade Orderly Officer, Captain Fraser. All left Brigade Headquarters shortly after dawn and arrived at Battalion Headquarters about 8 o clock. Lieut.-Colonel Ussher met them there and escorted them at once towards the front line. It was a calm, beautiful and noticeably quiet morning.

Suddenly, without warning, from a heavenly, peaceful sky broke a deafening detonation and cloud of steel which had no precedent for weight and violence. Every conceivable type of gun, howitzer and trench-mortar around Ypres poured everything it had upon the Third Divisional front. The most extravagant imagination cannot picture such a downpour of destruction. Even those who had tasted the bitterest in modern warfare were staggered by the violence of this onslaught. Nothing like it had been experienced heretofore and it is doubtful if its fierceness was exceeded by any later bombardment. It continued in fullest intensity for four-and-a-half hours. The greatest concentration was directed against the 8th Brigade, but even the trenches which were shelled the least became mere jagged scars, unfit for defence. That anyone lived through it is a miracle. Trenches were soon demolished, shelters caved in, the ground over which tall weeds and long grass had grown was ploughed, beaten and pock-marked by shells. Sanctuary Wood, Armagh Wood and Maple Copse which a few hours before were verdant woods were transformed into charred, jagged stumps.

At 1 o clock the bombardment ceased, but only as a signal for the preparation of further violence. The ground quivered and gently heaved and then came the volcanic roar of a mine. It hurled into the air a large part of the front line and its defenders. Sandbags, wire, machine guns, bits of corrugated iron and bits of men were slung skyward. After this final eruption all was quiet, even our own guns. Immediately the German infantrymen appeared in full equipment, with long spades slung over their backs. They advanced in large numbers with an air of assurance and confidence that all resistance had been removed by their artillery.

As soon as the bombardment commenced, all realized that this was an affair of prime importance. The men manned the fire-bays until blown out or buried under the debris; some searched for cover to save their lives for the attack they knew would follow. A few went to the Tunnel," only to be buried or taken prisoner in the defenceless trap. A very few survived to tell what happened on that terrible morning.

Space will not permit of a detailed account of what happened to those who survived or perished, nor can the many acts of individual heroism and self-sacrifice be narrated in this short historical outline. Of the tactics and changing dispositions of the various units of the Division in its defence of this sacred ground, much has been written. For the 4th C. M. R. it was a day of obliteration. Only three officers out of twenty-two came back from the trenches. Seventy-three men out of 680 answered to their names on June 4th. General Mercer’s body was afterwards found in Armagh Wood and buried at Poperinghe. Brig.-General Victor Williams, who was very seriously wounded, and Lieut.-Colonel Ussher were trapped in the "Tunnel" and fell into the enemy s hands.’

One of those men of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles to be posted as missing and then confirmed as taken prisoner of war at Mount Sorrel on 2nd June 1916 was Woodward. On 6th July 1916 he was unofficially confirmed as a prisoner held at Dulmen, and was officially confirmed as such on 31st July. Held in captivity for the rest of the war, he was repatriated to England on 8th December 1918, and discharged on 21st March 1919. Confirmed as his full entitlement.