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Charles Maitland


Larbert

1000443 Private

43rd (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion, 9th Canadian Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division

Age: 29

Date of Death: 27.10.17

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 24-26-28-30

Family history: Husband of Janet Maitland, Stewartfield Place, Larbert. Son of John & Marjorie Maitland, Castlehill, Larbert. He was employed as a ticket collector at Larbert station before he emigrated to Canada in 1912. Before enlisting on 28 December 1915 he was employed as Clerk in the Bank of Canada.

The action leading to his death

The Battalion was involved in the Second Battle of Passchendaele on the 26 October and moved forward on the night of 23/24 October to relieve the 3rd Canterbury Battalion, 4th New Zealand Brigade. The Battalion had their headquarters located at Waterloo Farm. The attack was scheduled to begin at 5.40am on 26 October and preceded by a barrage that moved forward with the advance.

(Linesman Map showing Canadian positions)



(Images from 43rd Battalion War Diary showing. Left image shows the condition of the ground. Right image shows the objectives of the attack)


Private R Le Brun was serving with the 16th Machine-gun company, 4th Canadian Division and was to give covering fire to the attack: ‘The infantry attacked early in the morning of 26 October. We had been ordered to fire 500 rounds every twenty minutes throughout the previous night at targets in front. We were right out in front of the line, and the mud was so deep in our shell holes that we had to put at least six boxes of ammunition underneath us - 303 ammo with 1,000 rounds to a box - just to stand on to get out of the mud. We had to keep on filling our belts with ammo. Whenever we did that, we put our groundsheets across to cover the shell holes while we loaded up. At dawn the infantry went on past us, and we elevated our sights to cover them.

(IWM CO2246. Pte R Le Brun nearest the camera. Ready to give fire support)


On the left of the attack, close to the Mosselmarkt road, the 43rd Battalion after heavy casualties managed to seize the Bellevue pillbox complex, but could make no further progress against the German shellfire.

(Linesman Map. showing pillboxes at Bellevue marked 'c')


In his book ‘The German Army at Passchendaele’ Jack Sheldon gives the story of the fighting from the German view:

Melder Pagenkamper, 3rd Company Infantry Regiment 164, When the drum fire began I was on my way between the KTK and the front line. The only man I could find there was Leutnant Hartmann who was ducked down in a shell hole. All the other company commanders had been forced to change positions because of the weight of fire. I took cover in the hole of Vizefeldwebel Einig. Gas and smoke clouds blocked any view of the ground to our front. ‘Look, here they come through the fog!’ bawled Einig. ‘Fire! Fire!’ One assaulting wave after another flooded up over the crest of the hill. Pack animals were moving ammunition and trench stores forward, amongst them wooden hurdles, which the assaulting troops threw down over the shell holes and patches of mud in order to get the assaulting troops forward faster and more concentrated. Everybody leapt up, aimed their weapons and started firing. The machine guns then opened up as well. Red flares curled upwards. The German guns opened fire. When it arrived it was exactly on target, all along the hills in front of Passchendaele and right in amongst the enemy lines of assaulting troops. The combination of artillery fire, machine gun fire and the courage of the brave fighters in the front line kept the British (sic) at bay, but more columns swarmed over the hill.’

This action is typical of the many that went on with hand to hand fighting. The Canadians advance was held up and they consolidated their position and were relived that evening and moved back to Otto Farm.


The Battalion casualties for the 26/27 October were:


(Taken from 43rd Battalion War Diary)

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