Adam Murdie Hogg - Part 3
85th Battalion badges
In 1920 a history of the 85th Battalion Canadian infantry was written by Lt Col Joseph Hayes. Although not mentioned by name until the Battle of Valenciennes towards the end of 1918, the history details all the battles that Adam fought in, so we can get a glimpse of what Adam had to endure.
On 10 February 1917 the 85th Battalion sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne. On 14 February after travelling by train and then marching, the battalion arrived at Souchez in the Vimy Ridge sector, just before the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. On 26 March the 85th Battalion was told that at the start of the battle it would be in reserve to be called upon in case of emergency. Until then they would be employed on various tasks including the making of dugouts, looking after stores dumps, maintaining communication trenches, carrying ammunition and following the attacking troops to deal with any residual resistance.
During the winter of 1916/17 immense preparations for the Battle of Vimy Ridge were undertaken. Tunnels had been dug, running from the support trenches through to the front line. Through these tunnels soldiers could safely reach the front without being shelled or shot at. Food, ammunition, stores and reinforcements could also safely pass through to the front. For three weeks before the troops 'went over the top', artillery pounded the German defences, stopping and starting at irregular intervals, so that the enemy was never quite sure when the attack might commence. When the attack finally came it was heralded by the explosion of many mines under the German front line. The Battle of Vimy Ridge commenced at 5.30am on Easter Sunday, 9 April 1917 and raged until 12 April.
Trench Map of Vimy Ridge - Click image to enlarge
Although in reserve, by the afternoon Adam's Battalion was ordered to attack a German strongpoint that had withstood the initial assault. This they successfully did, but for the loss of 56 men killed and 282 wounded, over 25% of the Battalion strength. Adam was not one of the casualties. The Battalion was relieved very early on 12 April by a Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, and marched back to camp at Bouvigny Huts.
It is generally agreed that the taking of Vimy Ridge by the Canadians, elevated Canada from colonial status to Nationhood. At the highest point of the ridge on Hill 145, within a 100 hectare park, stands the magnificent Canadian memorial,
a tribute to all Canadians who fought. Inscribed on the walls are the names of some 11,285 Canadians who have no known grave.
During the period between the end of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and the commencement of their role in the battle of Passchendaele in October 1917 the Battalion did not fight in any major battles. Nevertheless they were kept busy holding the line, digging trenches, making trench raids, beating off counter attacks, staging practice attacks, and making small-scale attacks to improve defensive positions, all of which saw the Battalion continue to receive casualties.
By 17 October Adam was in the Ypres salient near Poperinghe where a 1-1000 scale model of the village of Passchendaele was shown to the Battalion. On 23 October the Battalion was transported by bus to a very muddy camp at Brandhoek.
On 28 October the Battalion entrained for Ypres, and then marched to Potijze. Here they were equipped with bombs, ammunition, Very lights, extra rations and water. Once fully equipped they marched on into a salient towards Zonnebeke, in order to be in the line ready to 'go over the top' the next day. However, just as they reached the line they were counter attacked by a large force of Germans. This attack was beaten off but caused the Battalion many casualties.
Trench map of Zonnebeke - Click image to enlarge
October 29 was spent in the line of shell holes and shallow trenches, keeping quiet, as the Germans were only 15 to 20 yards away and the attack was due to start next morning. Once the attack started it became apparent that the barrage had not been effective and many machine guns opened fire. Many enemy machine guns were attacked and silenced with acts of immense bravery, but only at the cost of a great number of casualties to the 85th, who lost most of their officers. It was during this battle that Adam was seriously wounded.
The bullet that wounded Adam at Passchendaele.