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German Long Range Shelling

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German Long Range Shelling

St. Pol was where all the supply dumps, you know, when you were running battles you had to have food and you have to have everything ahead of time and they had what they called dumps of these things and the Germans had eleven inch naval shells they were firing into this St. Pol area trying to hit these dumps and one thing and another and we discussed... the signal school, there was an escarpment there and they couldn't put a shell in there because this escarpment was going up towards the Germans like that toward the German lines, you see. So the signal school was in safety there but our quarters weren't. They were down below and there was an army headquarters of some kind there and and we argued whether if they could, started firing whether they could fire a shot and come over into that town, well, we found out they could because they started every day at about 11 o'clock they would put about four or five of these shells into the town and then 5 o'clock in the afternoon they would put another four or five shells in and about at 11 o'clock at night just when everybody is packing up for the night they would put four or five more in, these were big shells. The fragments would maybe travel a half a mile sometimes. Two of our fellows, they had a piece of sheet iron leaning up against the fence like that and a chunk of this stuff came down and hit that sheet iron and landed in the ground between the two of them and that's how close they were. You see, there was no place where you could be guaranteed safety.

Mr. Burton describes the Germans' use of long-range naval guns to shell the storage yards at St. Pol. He describes the predictable timing of the bombardments and the unpredictability of the bomb fragments.

Robert Burton

Robert Burton was born on February 21, 1896 in Dundas, Ontario. After public school, he was accepted into university which he attended from 1914 to 1916, in the Canadian Officer Training Corps. For a time, he worked at Massey, checking shrapnel shells. Despite being shortsighted, Mr. Burton was recruited into the 13th Brigade in Mar, 1916. In England, he joined the 5th Division, a reinforcement unit, and deployed to France with the 2nd Division as a sapper. Mr. Burton became a mounted courier at Courcelette, and had several interesting experiences in that capacity. He witnessed and was attacked by Gotha bombers at Arras, and was shelled at St.Pol. Mr. Burton also served in the trenches at Amiens. During the 2nd World War, he was a very successful engineering instructor at camp Petawawa, where he attained the rank of Major.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Burton
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
2nd Division (Special Force)

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