Action by the 72nd Battalion C.E.F. Seaforth Highlanders

June 26th and 28th 1917

After participating in the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge in the Northern France in April 1917 John Lewis Moilliet participated in the skirmish to take the trenches near the village of Avion in Northern France. Following is the official account of the battle.

Map

72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry
recorded July 3, 1917 by Lieut. Col. J.A. Clark

 

Account of Operation carried out by the 72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry from 7:00 a.m. June 26th, 1917 to 7:10 p.m. June 28th 1917, consisting of three separate attacks.


ATTACK No. 1


This attack, which had been previously practiced over tapes, was carried out as follow:
                At 7:00 a.m. of the morning of the 26th June 1917, under command of Lieut. E.A.S Chowne, “A” Company under coverage of a barrage, left their point of assembly in the PARTRIDGE Trench.  The attack was carried out in a three wave formation, the first wave keeping within forty (40) yards of our barrage throughout. A good line was kept by the various waves.
                The first wave, under command of Lieut. T.C.McP. St. E. deWolf, attacked THE BREWERY, in conjunction with the 85th Battalion; this task was completed, the wave then advanced to about one hundred and twenty-five (125) yards beyond the LENS-ARRAS Road and commenced to dig in. A block was established in the POUPORE Trench.
                The second wave, under the command of Lieut. C.F. Stiver proceeded straight to their front, for the purpose of establishing a line of consolidation seventy-five (75) yards in front of the LENS-ARRAS Road, where they proceeded to dig in. This however was not proceeded with, the wave being moved forward into QUEBEC Trench, where consolidation was pushed vigourously forward, and touch established with the 38th Battalion on the RIGHT.
                The third wave, under command of Lieut. H.T. Kirby was responsible for the “mopping up”. All suspicious points were dealt with and a Block established in PATRICK Trench. The foregoing operation resulted in the capture of QUEBEC Trench, from and including the BREWERY, to beyond PATRICK, and a piece of KIRK. The final objective was reached at 7.18 A.M. In co-operation with “A” Company’s attack, one platoon of “C” Company, divided into two squads, under Lieut. C.G.R. Kilpatrick, advanced one up CLUCAS and “Mopping up”. They encountered no opposition and they dug in in rear of QUEBEC Trench, from N.31d.3.2.to N31d.3.5. This was completed by noon and taken over by the 38th Battalion, the platoon retired to support.


ATTACK No. 2


The objective of this attack was the capture of AVION Trench, from PATRICK, inclusive, to McDOWALL, inclusive, a frontage of approximately six hundred and fifty (650) yards.
At ZERO Hour, 2.30 a.m. June 28 1917, “D” Company under the command of Capt. W.G. McIntosh left their assembly trenches, which consisted of a portion of QUEBEC Trench, and a taped line, and under cover

of a barrage proceeded to attack their objective; two platoons, under Lieutenants E.A. Edwardes and C.F. Xandel, attacked between POUPORE and PATRICK. Little opposition  was met with to the RIGHT of POUPORE but between EDWARDS and POUPORE work with the bayonet and bomb was required. All objectives were successfully attained and AVION Trench was captured and consolidated.In co-operation with this attack, one platoon of “C” Company, under Lieut. S,R, Say, followed up “D" Company, forming an additional wave: passing through “D” Company this platoon pushed forward and took up a position in front of SASKATOON Road with the objective of forming a series of posts there. It was found however that the Enemy were able to enfilade this position from the LEFT and it was deemed advisable to withdraw.
This was done and blocks were established in McDOWALL and POUPORE, also one in PATRICK by the 38th Battalion.
As soon as possible afterwards Scouts were pushed out to reconnoitre SASKATOON Road and its environments, but no trace of the Enemy was found. During this progress of this attack at least twenty (20) Huns were killed and thirteen (13) prisoners captured and passed back, a number of these were used as Stretcher Bearers.


ATTACK No. 3.


In conjunction with Operations on our RIGHT and LEFT “D” Company, under command of Capt. W.G. McIntosh left their assembly Trenches in SASKATOON Road at 7.10 p.m., on the 28th of June, under cover of a barrage, for the purpose of pushing forward and establishing Outposts in the HORSE-SHOE Systems of Trenches. Posts previously selected were found to be not altogether suitable owing to the marshy condition of the country, and four (4) Posts were subsequently established in the following positions;
                    N.           26d, 1, 5.
                    N.           26c, 2½ . 4.
                    N.           32a, 8. 8½
                    N.           32a, 7. 7¼  
Touch was established with the 85th Battalion on the LEFT, and later the 3rd Division, on the RIGHT.
Throughout these three attacks, and at frequent intervals between then, we were subjected to considerable Enemy shelling. Our casualties for the period were
Killed         14                            Wounded   84                         Missing        2                        
Total        100
No counter attacks were delivered and all the captured territory was consolidated and strengthened.

J.A. Clark
Lieut. Colonel
C.C., 72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry.

   
It is not known definately which Company John Lewis served in however there is a "D" on one page in his war record. "D" Company carried most of the battle to take the trenches around Avion.
The account seems to be quite sterile with no 'colour' of the battle recorded, very little of what the men faced in taking these trenches.
A little more description can be found on pages 66 ff. in the official history of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders (33 meg PDF) by Bernard McEvoy and Capt. A. H. Finlay, published in 1920.

Private JOHN MOILLIET

129546, 72nd Bn., Canadian Infantry (British Columbia Regt.)
who died age 35
on 28 June 1917
Private  MOILLIET, Son of Mrs. S. K. Keir Moilliet, of Abbotsleigh, Malvern.

Remembered with honour
VILLERS STATION CEMETERY, VILLERS-AU-BOIS

Pas de Calais, France

Grave site X-D-9

John Lewis Moilliet's final rest.