NAME: BRITTAIN Frederick James photo
DIVISIONAL UNIT: 4th Canadian Infantry Division
12th Infantry Brigade
4th Divisional Canadian Machine Gun Battalion
12th Machine Gun Company
Canadian Machine Gun Corps
SERVICE NO: 654421
RESIDENCE: Fordwich – Ontario
DATE OF BIRTH: November 19, 1891
Cardiff - Wales
DATE OF DEATH: September 29, 1918 26 years 10 months
CEMETERY: Raillencourt Communal Cemetery – Raillencourt –
Nord – France
I B 13.
PARENTS: Mr. William Edgar and Elizabeth Brittain – Fordwich & Palmerston - Ontario
Occupation: Clerk Religion: Church of England.
Enlistment: Wroxeter – February 9, 1916 – 161st Huron Battalion
Enlistment Age: 23 years 3 months
Private Brittain arrived in England on November 11, 1916. Private Brittain on March 3, 1918 at Witley Camp – Surrey joins the 47th Battalion and goes overseas the same day. He joins his unit in the field on March 4, 1918. On May 4th, he transfers out of the 47th Battalion and joins the 4th Divisional Canadian Machine Gun Battalion.
The 3rd & 4th Division began their advance at 6 am and the 4th Division captured Sancourt then crossed the Douai-Cambrai railroad line and fought their way into the village of Blecourt, could not hold and fell back to the rail line prior to a enemy counter attack. The 38th & 72nd Battalions attacked with “K & M” Batteries but the Battalions were forced back to the rail line and because of this “L & J” Batteries were forced into defensive posture.
Private Brittain was with No. 1 Company and our research indicates he was posted to “L” Battery.
On September 29th, the 12th Infantry Brigade advanced forward and attacked through the 10th Infantry Brigade with
“K & M” Batteries while “L” Battery remained with the 10th Infantry Brigade in support.
No. 1 Company was withdrawn from the line during the afternoon to reorganize. They were now in divisional reserve near the Coubez Mill north of Bourlon.
Private Brittain was in a trench on the east side of the Canal du Nord. This was situated east of Sancourt. The Germans had been shelling intermittently all day. It was at approximately 4 pm that afternoon when an enemy shell exploded directly above and behind him and he died instantly.
Private Brittain was located at “B” Echelon Transport when he was killed. He was the only person to lose his life from that shell exploding.
At this point in the war each division had its own machine gun battalion. The 4th Division had 96 Vickers machine guns with tripods, approximately 63 Officers and 1,495 men. Therefore, each Company had 24 machine guns, approximately 15-16 Officers and approximately 375 men. Horses required for transport of spare parts, ammunition and supplies to the front would be approximately 326 horses or 82 horses per Company.
There were horse drawn limbers and wagons, pack saddles for the transport of the machine guns.