The siege war was punctuated by attacks launched by the besieged seeking to break out of their prisons and attacks by besiegers eager to conquer.
In April the 1st Division was given two miles of front on the far left of the British Expeditionary Force and beside a French colonial division. From 20 April to 4 May 1915 the Germans would attempt to break through at this junction of the Algerian and Canadian "colonials."
In addition to heavily bombarding this sector, the Germans used gas for the first time. The Allied troops were unprepared for this. The Algerians fled and the Canadians fell back in order: Despite the suffering (3,058 casualties on 24 April alone), by engaging their reserves they managed to re-establish a continuous front. In this strictly defensive role and in a space of two weeks, the Canadians suffered 5,975 casualties: more than a thousand killed, with the remainder wounded, captured or listed as missing; of this total, 5,026 were infantrymen.
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