In February 1915 the 1 Canadian Division crossed the English Channel to France and entered the front line trenches, near Ypres in Flanders. The Canadians were given a sector of line to hold, between the Ypres/Roulers railway line and the Ypres/Poelcappelle road; the men found the trenches in a terrible state, very shallow with thin parapets.
Canadian forces fought at the 2 Battle of Ypres in May 1915, where they were subjected to a heavy gas bombardment as they held the line. A memorial today, to the east of Ypres in Belgium on the roads to Langemark, commemorates the Canadian action holding a gap in the line when French Colonial troops broke under gas attack.
When the Germans launched the first gas attack of the war the 16 Battalion were in a barn behind the main line and stood watching as French Algerian troops, streamed past them in full retreat. The Canadians were then stood to and marched five miles into a gap left in the line by the French withdrawal. The Canadians filtered through the line between Mouse-Trap Farm and St Julian then counter attacked the Germans at Kitcheners Wood, managing to capture four guns taken in the initial enemy attacks.
The 10 and 16 Battalions launched their attack at midnight without the aid of machine-guns, bombs or artillery and men died in there hundreds. The Canadians entered the enemy trenches at bayonet point, clearing the woods before putting the captured guns out of action.
The Canadians then dug in under cover of the mist and fog covering the battlefield in the early morning, as they did this the battalions took a roll call. A total of about three hundred and sixty men were still standing of the one thousand men who had left the Canadian trenches, a loss of seven hundred and sixty men in a ten minute attack.
The objective had been taken and was held until reinforcements arrived to consolidate the line. The Canadians were then relieved and withdrawn to the shattered village of St Julian, as the battalions entered the village they came under heavy shellfire that set fire to several houses.
In July 1916 the 16 Battalion was involved in diversionary attacks near Ypres, drawing German troops away from the British attacks on the Somme. (See also George W Mackay Melness.)
The Canadians moved to reserve trenches on the Somme in September, staying in reserve for the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15 until 22 of September 1916). On the 24 of September the Canadian Divisions moved into the front line and prepared to attack Thiepval.
On the 1 of October the 16 Battalion moved into positions Northwest of the village of Courcelette, to take part in an attack on Le Transloy and the village of Grandcourt.
At 4:50am on the 8 of October 1916 the 16 Battalion attacked the German trenches in the pouring rain, taking the enemy trenches on the Le Sars line from Dyke Road to the Quadrilateral trench system. The enemy launched a counter attack at 1:20 p.m. and after hard fighting forced the Canadians to withdraw to their original start line trenches. The 16 Battalion entered Regina Trench alongside the 13 Battalion (Black Watch of Canada) but were unable to hold this position and had to retire. (See also Donald Rankine Melness)
Donald Munro fought at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in May 1915 when the Germans attacked for the first time with poisoned gas. He then at Ypres in July 1916 and during The Battle of the Somme at Thiepval and Flers-Courcellette.
Sergeant Donald Munro was killed in action as his battalion assaulted Regina Trench on the Somme; he was 25 years of age. His body was not recovered for burial once the fighting was over. He had two brothers who served in the forces during World War One, Alex served with the Royal Navy and Hugh in the Machine Gun Corps; they both survived and returned home.