Into the Breach – The Western Front

Within a few hours of their train ride, the Battalion arrived at their destination – Godersvelde, Belgium only a few mile from the front. They were moved from there to some farms at Sylvestre-Cappel, just southwest of Godersvelde, where they were greeted by cold, clear weather. They shared their sleeping quarters in a barn with domestic livestock, yet, a second time. There wasn’t much room to spare, with close to a thousand men and dozens of animals, all packed into a few barns. The officers were billeted in the farmhouse.

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They were to remain in Sylvestre-Cappel until the first of March. Then, they would march to a place called the Aldershot Huts between Sylvestre-Cappel and Loker, and they would remain there for ten days to partake in trench training and bombing.

The Battalion was now getting close to the range of the German Artillery. Any maneuvers had to be done under the cover of darkness because the enemy was employing blimps and airplanes to observe any troop movements. The Battalion Adjutant, Capt. McKeand was now keeping a battalion diary. Fortunately, these diaries  are now available for public consumption at the Library and Archives in Ottawa.

58th Battalion Diary.  click to see

 

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For me, as an author, having the Battalion Diaries was a Godsend. It allowed me to follow the Battalion in their daily routine – even check the weather. Beginning on the 3rd of March, the Battalion was providing work parties for some other brigades that were at the Front Line. Their duties would range from bringing up ammunition to fixing trenches – all done at night. The Zone of Stealth. When they weren’t providing work parties they continued doing training exercises.

On March 15, the Battalion marched to Loker (Locre). At this point they were in range of the big German guns and would soon be tested in the trenches. They were now at Death’s Door.

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