DIVISIONAL UNIT: 4th Canadian Infantry Division
10th Infantry Brigade
47th Battalion - West Ontario
Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO: 654652
RESIDENCE: Sheppardton – Ontario
DATE OF BIRTH: October 24, 1886
Lobo Township – County of Middlesex - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH: September 27, 1918 31 years 11 months
CEMETERY: Quarry Wood Cemetery – Sains-les-Marquion –
Pas de Calais – France
I A 3
PARENT: Mrs. Phillip Steels – Sheppardton - Ontario
Occupation: Farmer Religion: Methodist
Enlistment: Goderich – March 22, 1916 – 161st Huron Battalion
Enlistment Age: 29 years 5 months
The unit departed from Halifax on November 1, 1916 and arrived overseas in England on November 11, 1916. Private Steels was then Struck off Strength of the 161st Battalion and transferred to the 47th Battalion based at Witley Camp – Surrey on March 18, 1918.
He then went overseas into France and joined his unit in the field on April 2, 1918.
This was the final push for the Canadian Corps and their objective on September 27th was to cross the Canal du Nord and move east and attack and capture the enemy Canal du Nord trench line. Units would then continue advancing and take the Marcoing Line. Other units would advance, attack and take the village of Bourlon and the very important Bourlon Wood. Still other units including the 47th Battalion would be employed to advance to the east of Bourlon and attack and take the Marcoing Line.
As they attacked the 44th & 46th Battalions were successful in their advance but other units met heavy enemy machine gun fire from the flank on the south. One unit went around the wood to the south and suffered heavily. By 10 am the village of Bourlon was captured and the advance moved around the wood toward the Marcoing Line. The attack continued east of the Bourlon Wood and at nightfall the advance was halted. They were west of the Marcoing Line.
The weather on September 27, 1918 was very good with excellent visibility and winds were blowing from the north-east.
There were 637 men on the line this day and the 47th was in behind the 44th Battalion and were the support unit. The 50th Battalion was the left support Battalion in behind the 46th Battalion while the 52nd British Division was on the right.
At 5:20 am the barrage came down onto the enemy and the advance moved forward with the 47th following close to the 44th Battalion to avoid the enemy counter barrage. The objective of the 44th was the Canal du Nord Canal line and here the 47th was to leap frog them on the Sunken Road and then capture the Red Line. There was little enemy resistance until the Battalion neared the Red Line at which time they encountered very heavy enemy machine gun but they advanced and took this objective at 7:15 am. Here they consolidated and re-organized. Casualties were quite heavy to this point.
At 11 am the 11th & 12th Brigades passed through and went well forward.
At 2 pm word was received that the 52nd British Division could not move forward off the Red Line because of very heavy enemy resistance.
Casualties to mid afternoon were 273 men killed, wounded or missing. They then consolidated their positions and prepared for the advance on the following morning.
It was during this day of battle where Private Steels fell in battle.