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2. Anniversaries of Significant Canadian Battles
Anniversaries of significant Canadian battles, or battles in which Canadians had some participation, can be special themes at Remembrance Day services. See also Raymond Shirritt-Beaumont's illustrated account of his battlefields tour of France and Belgium.
General Overview of World War I Battles
The Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group “The Matrix Project”: Nicholson Matrix
is an online version of Nicholson, G.W. L. Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919
. Ottawa, Canada: Queens Printer and Controller of Stationary, 1962. This is an excellent source of textual information and detailed maps of various kinds.
The BBC Western Front, 1914-1918
, consisting of animated maps and summaries, is another excellent site for an overview of the main action of World War I.
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General Summary of Canadian Involvement
Canada's Involvement 1914-1915
Canada entered the war in August 1914 and began preparations immediately. By the end of August, there were 30,000 volunteers from across Canada at the Canadian training centre at Valcartier, Quebec. On 3 October 1914, over 30,000 Canadian troops set out by ship for England and were joined on October 6th by the Regiment from Newfoundland, which was not at that time a part of Canada. They arrived at Plymouth on October 14 and moved to the Salisbury Plains for training. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (P.P.C.L.I. or "Princess Pats") was the first Canadian fighting unit to go to France. It joined the 27th British Division, and would not become a part of the Canadian Forces until a year later. The remaining 1st Canadian Division left for France in February and in April 1915 replaced the French on the north sector of the Ypres Salient, which was a bulge along the front lines in Belgium Flanders. Almost immediately, the Division became involved in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. For more detailed information, see The Canadian Military Heritage Project and Collections Canada.
Canada's Involvement 1915-1916
The 2nd Canadian Division trained at various places in Canada during the winter of 1914-1915 and traveled to England in the spring of 1915. The Division trained at Shorncliffe in Kent during the summer of 1915 and left for France in September. It went to the south sector of the Ypres Salient and was amalgamated with the 1st Division (north sector) into the Canadian Corps. Throughout the winter of 1915-1916, these Canadian soldiers gained proficiency in trench warfare, including grenade throwing, trench raiding, and patrol fighting, and gradually gained the respect of their German counterparts as a superb fighting force. After training at Shorncliffe, the 3rd Canadian Division arrived in the Ypres Salient at the beginning of 1916. It was joined there by the Princess Pats, who had been fighting for a year under British command, and by the Canadian Mounted Rifles, who now became infantrymen.
Two major battles occurred in the Ypres Salient in the first half of 1916. During the April Battle of St. Eloi, in the south sector, the 2nd Canadian Division was driven back from a section of trenches that had just been captured by the 3rd British Division. At the Battle of Mount Sorrel and Sanctuary Wood in June 1916, the Mounted Rifles and Princess Pats of the 3rd Canadian Division were nearly destroyed by a German attack, but the enemy was driven back some days later in a counterattack by the 1st Canadian Division.
The 4th Canadian Division arrived in August and the entire Canadian Corps moved down to the Somme at the beginning of September. The Battle of the Somme had been raging since July, a fierce encounter that had virtually annihilated the Newfoundland Regiment on July 1 at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. The Canadian Corps played its part between the middle of September and November in the Battles of Courcelette and Thiepval Ridge, but at enormous cost - over 24,000 casualties for a few kilometres. Nevertheless, through these battles, the Canadian Corps became a fighting force to be reckoned with. For more details, see The Canadian Military Heritage Project.
Canada's Involvement 1917
In a major Allied offensive during the spring of 1917, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together in the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge. Between April 9 and 12, the Canadian force took the seven kilometre long ridge from its German defenders and managed to hold onto it. It was a major Canadian victory, one which would become symbolic of Canada's growing sense of nationhood. However, there were 10,000 Canadian casualities, and the Allied offensive as a whole was unable to follow up on this initial success and break the German lines. The result was a stalemate. In August, the Canadian Corps was again involved in another successful offensive known as the Battle for Hill 70, which overlooked the German-held town of Lens to the north of Vimy. The 1st, 2nd, and 4th Divisions of the Canadian Corps captured the hill and held it in spite of 21 counterattacks from the Germans. This battle marked the first use of mustard gas by the enemy on the Western Front and inflicted nearly 500 casualties on the Canadians. In October the Canadian Corps moved north from the Somme to the Ypres Salient as reinforcement for the 3rd Battle of Ypres. This offensive had commenced on July 1 as a diversionary tactic to draw the German forces north and reduce the pressure on the beleaguered French forces further to the south. On October 26, with the Australians and New Zealanders on their right and the British on their left, the Canadian Corps became engaged in the Battle of Passchendaele. In four attacks between October 26 and November 10, they managed to take the village of Passchendaele and the high ground overlooking Ypres. The Ypres Offensive resulted in 260,000 casualties, which included over 15,000 Canadian dead and wounded during the Battle of Passchendaele, which was perhaps the most horrific engagement of the entire war.
Canada's Involvement 1918
The Canadian Corps moved from the Ypres Salient in Belgium across the border into north-eastern France, where it provided support to the British and French forces during the early months of 1918. The P.P.C.L.I., for example, was stationed west of Lens and Arras until late July 1918, when it moved south to the region west of Amiens. Here the entire Canadian Corps of four infantry divisions gathered undetected by the Germans in preparation for a major Allied advance. The Battle of Amiens commenced on 8 August 1918, with the Canadians, aided by the Australians at the forefront, and during the next four days, they moved ahead rapidly with the aid of tanks, artillery, and cavalry. This was the beginning of the end for the German army, which began to surrender in large numbers. In the so-called "hundred days" that followed, the Canadians moved rapidly eastward and took the town of Valenciennes near the Belgium border on November 2. A week later, they were on the outskirts of Mons, where the war ended on 11 November 1918 with the surrender of Germany.
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Major Battles with Significant Canadian Involvement
For general information on battles in which Canadians had significant involvement, see Canada and World War I Battles and The First World War: A Short Time Line.
Wikipedia's Canadian Corps is a particularly good source of information on each of the Canadian Divisions, including their brigades and the battalions within those brigades. This can be useful if you know a particular soldier’s battalion and want to know where he fought. One cautionary note is in order. The naming of battles varies from one list to another. In Wikipedia, for instance, the Battle of Le Transloy is described as a separate engagement, but in our list it is part of the Battle of Ancre Heights.
For yet another classification of the battles in which Canadians fought during World War One, see the list of “Campaigns, Battles and Other Engagements in which Canadian Troops participated in the Great War 1914-1919” France and Flanders, 1914-1918.
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1st Battle of Ypres (October-November 1914)
There was no Canadian involvement in this major battle, but characterised by trench warfare with high casualties, the battle established a precedent for armed conflict along the lines until the Battle of Amiens in August 1918, when trench warfare came to an end. For details on the 1st Battle of Ypres, see FirstWorldWar.Com.
The Battle of Neuve-Chapelle (10-12 March 1915)
This battle was the first action by the 1st Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in France. The Canadians provided a diversionary barrage to the north of Neuve-Chapelle that kept the enemy occupied while the British took possession of Neuve-Chapelle, a village about 15-20 km north of Lens. Unfortunately, the British did not follow up on their initial success before the German counterattack. In the end, they were only able to consolidate their gains rather than break through enemy lines. For more information, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 3, The Battle of Ypres, 1915, “Neuve-Chapelle, 10-12 March 1915,” p. 50, and Sketch Map 4.
Battle of St. Eloi Craters (3-16 April 1915)
The 4th and 6th Canadian Infantry Brigades of the 2nd Canadian Division were involved in this battle, which ultimately ended in defeat. The battle took place in the Ypres Salient, and a detailed account can be found at WarMuseum.ca.
2nd Battle of Ypres (22 April - 3 May 1915)
The Germans used poison gas for the first time on the Western Front against the Allied Forces, but the 1st Canadian Division held the enemy at bay, although at great cost. Of the 18,000 Canadians involved, there were nearly 6000 casualties, including 1000 deaths. For a detailed account go to FirstWorldWar.com and scroll down to “The Second Battle of Ypres, April 1915” by Dave Love. See also Tim Cook, At the Sharp End, Chapters 8-12, pp. 109-169.
There were several major battles during this engagement. For details, see Wikipedia.org.
- The Battle of Gravenstafel [and Kitcheners Wood] (22-23 April 1915)
This battle involved Canadian troops of the 1st Canadian Division, which helped prevent the Germans from exploiting the initial success of their gas attack. For a detailed account, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 3, The Battle of Ypres, 1915, “The Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge - The First Gas Attack, 22 April,” p. 61, “The Counter-Attack of 22-23 April,” p. 66. At the Battle of Kitcheners’ Wood, the Canadians pushed the Germans back but sustained high casualties.
- The Battle of St. Julien (24 April 4 May 1915)
The 1st Division was unable to hold St. Julien after a German gas attack and British efforts to retake it failed. For details, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 3, The Battle of Ypres, 1915, “The Battle of St. Julian-The Second Gas Attack, 24 April,” p. 71, and Sketch Maps 9-11.
- The Battle of Frezenberg and Bellewaerde Ridge (8-13 May 1915)
The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), which was part of the British Army at the time, helped stop the German advance at Bellewaerde Ridge but sustained enormous casualties in the process. Survivors were known as the “Originals.” The University Companies that had been recruited at McGill and other universities from across Canada helped to restore the battalion to full strength once more.For details on this battle, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 3, The Battle of Ypres, 1915, “The P.P.C.L.I. in the Salient,” p. 89, and Sketch Map 14.
Battle of Festubert, (15-25 May 1915)
The 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigades of the First Canadian Division were involved in this battle, which was initiated by the British Army along the front about 35 kilometres south of Ypres. Although it resulted in a gain of 600 metres along a 1.5 kilometre front, it was no victory. There were 2606 casualties among the Canadian forces alone, a figure described by historian Tim Cook as "the most callous sacrifice of Canadian lives," and no breach had been made in the German defences. For more information on this infamous battle, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 4: Festubert and Givenchy, 1915, “The Battle of Festubert, 15-25 May”, p. 97, Normal Map 2, and Tim Cook, At the Sharp End, Chapters 13-16, pp. 171-215.
Battle of Givenchy, (15-16 June 1915)
The 1st Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division fought with the British at the Battle of Givenchy just south of Festubert on 15-16 June 1915. It was a small and unsuccessful engagement with high casualties on both sides, including a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross named Frederick William Campbell of Glendale, Ontario. For a detailed account of this battle, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 4: Festubert and Givenchy, 1915, “The Action at Givenchy, 15 June”, p. 104, and Sketch Map 16. For a recent account, see Tim Cook, At the Sharp End, pp. 214-215.
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Battle of St. Eloi Craters (27 March-16 April 1916)
This was the first battle of the 2nd Division of the Canadian Corps. After the explosion of six enormous mines that devastated the German front lines, Canadian and British forces attempted unsuccessful to consolidate their gains over the next few days. The Germans regained most of their positions by battle’s end, leaving the British and Canadian military leaders frustrated and looking for someone to blame. For a detailed account of this dismal failure, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 5, St. Eloi Craters and Mount Sorrel, 1916, “The St. Eloi Craters, 27 March-16 April,” p. 137, and Sketch Map 23.
Battle of Mount Sorrel and Sanctuary Wood (2-13 June 1916)
This battle in the Ypres Salient involved the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd divisions of the Canadian Corps. For details, see Wikipedia Battle of Mont Sorrel, Sanctuary Wood, and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 5, St. Eloi Craters and Mount Sorrel, 1916, “The Battle of Mount Sorrel, 2-13 June,” p. 147, and Normal Maps 4a, 4b, and 4c.
The Somme Offensive (1 July - 19 November 1916)
This prolonged offensive cost the Allied Forces more than 600,000 casualties for a mere 125 square miles of "bloody mud." For an outline of the major battles during the Somme Offensive, see Chronology of the Battle of the Somme. For an article by Eric Margolis critical of the Somme Offensive, go to Trenches on the Web. For a video on Canadian involvement in the battle, go to CBC Digital Archives.
- Battle of Beaumont Hamel (1 July 1916)
There were heavy allied losses during this battle. The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was almost destroyed. For a teacher's instructional guide on this significant battle and on Vimy Ridge as well, go to Parks Canada - Teachers' Corner.
- Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15 – 22 September 1916)
This was one of the battles in the third and final British offensive of the Battle of the Somme, but it like the others failed to achieve the hoped for penetration of the German lines. The tanks, which were introduced for the first time during this battle, initially intimidated enemy soldiers, but they were disappointingly ineffective in taking allied forces forward. Nevertheless, the Canadian Corps captured the Village of Courcelette on September 15, a stunning success that beat back seventeen counterattacks, although at a cost of 7,230 casualties. . For a summary of this battle, see WorldWarOne.Com, The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 6, The Battles of the Somme, July-November 1916, “The Battle of Flers-Courcelette,” p. 167, and Sketch Maps 27 & 28. See also Tim Cook, At the Sharp End, Chapter 34, pp. 447-465.
- The Battle of Thiepval Ridge (26 September 1916)
This battle involved a combined British and Canadian attack along a 6,000 metre front. On September 26, the First and Second Canadian Divisions attacked German positions on the Thiepval Ridge, which was about a thousand metres northeast of Courcelette. In a brutal three-day battle, Canadian troops fought their way forward to take control of the ridge, which would provide the high ground advantage in future assaults on the enemy to the east. They captured three of the four German trenches assigned them, but did so at enormous cost in human lives. See Wikipedia Battle of Thiepval Ridge for a detailed summary of this offensive; also The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 6, The Battles of the Somme, July-November 1916, “Thiepval Ridge, 26-28 September,” p. 174, and Sketch Maps 29-31. For a graphic account of this battle, see Tim Cook, At the Sharp End, Chapter 35, pages 467-484. His illustration of the battle field is on page 484.
- The Battle of the Ancre Heights (1 October – 11 November 1916)
The aim of the last Canadian offensive in the Battle of the Somme was the capture of Regina Trench, which ran the entire length of the Canadian section of the front lines. It had eluded capture at the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, but in five separate attacks between October 1 and November 18, the Canadians captured this trench, as well as Desire Trench beyond it. However, victory came at a terrible cost in casualties. The Battles fought during the Somme Offensive resulted in more than 24,000 casualties in
the 65,000 strong Canadian Corps, over 10,000 of them from September until the end of the Battle of Ancre Heights on November 18. The total allied casualties were about 650,000, including 200,000 dead, while the Germans had 500,000 casualties with about the same number of deaths. It was hell for all. For more information on this battle see Wikipedia Battle of the Ancre Heights, The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 6, The Battles of the Somme, July-November 1916, “The Battle of Ancre Heights Begins,” p. 180; “Regina Trench (1) The Corps Attack on 1 October”, p. 182; “Regina Trench (2) The Corps Attack on 8 October, 184; “Regina Trench (3) The Attacks of 21 and 25 October, p. 190; Regina Trench (4) The Capture of Regina and Desire Trenches, p. 192, and Sketch Maps 32-36. See also, Tim Cook, At the Sharp End, Chapters 36-39, pp. 485-526.
The Arras Offensive (9 April-16 May 1917)
The Arras Offensive included a number of major battles in which Canadians were involved.
- The Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-12 April 1917)
At the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which was located between Lens on the north and Arras on the south, the four Divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first time and won the ridge. Canadians wounded, 10,602; killed 3,598. For more information on this successful Canadian battle, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 8, The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-14 April 1917, p. 233, and Normal Map 7.
- Attack on La Coulotte (23 April 1917)
This was a subsidiary action by the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions during the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe on 23-24 April 1917, which was primarily a British engagement. La Coulotte was located between Souchez and Avion, which was captured by the Canadians in June.
For details, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 9, The Capture of Hill 70, 1917, “The 2nd Battle of the Scarpe and the Attack on the Arleux Loop, 23-28 April 1917,” p. 269, and Sketch Map 39.
- The Battle of Arleux (28-29 April 1917
This battle was fought to remove the German threat from the southeast flank of Vimy Ridge through a combined British-Canadian attack on the villages of Arleux-en-Gohelle and Gavrelle, which lay 4.7 km to the south of Arleux. It was successful, but did not lead to any major breakthrough in the German lines. For details on the Canadian action at Arleux, and an excellent map, see the biography of Frank R. MacMackin, a 15-year old Canadian soldier who received the Military Medal for his actions that day.
For details, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 9, The Capture of Hill 70, 1917, “The 2nd Battle of the Scarpe and the Attack on the Arleux Loop, 23-28 April 1917,” p. 269, and Sketch Maps 40.
- The 3rd Battle of the Scarpe (3-4 May 1917)
The 2nd Canadian Battalion, 1st Brigade of 1st Division Canadian Corps, captured Fresnoy-en-Gohelle, 1.8 km east of Arleux, but with over four hundred casualties. Fresnoy was lost a few days later in this failed offensive, which may explain why the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe is not better known. For a few details on the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe and Fresnoy, see the Biography of Pte. Ira Kilbourne Arnott.
See also The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 9, The Capture of Hill 70, 1917, “The 3nd Battle of the Scarpe, 3-4 May 1917,” p. 272, and Sketch Maps 41-42.
Affairs south of Souchez River (3-25 June 1917)
The 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions were involved in moving the line from Souchez eastward about 5 km to Avion, which was on the outskirts of Lens-Liévin. The action involved the use of gas by the Allied side. For details, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 9, The Capture of Hill 70, 1917, “Raids Along the Souchez, May-June 1917,” p. 279 and Sketch Map 42.
Capture of Avion (26-29 June 1917)
The 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions captured Avion, just outside of Lens-Liévin, which helped to straighten out the Allied lines and consolidate the earlier gains at Vimy Ridge.
Battle for Hill 70 (14-18 August 1917)
For a detailed account of this little known battle success of the Canadian Corps, see Canadian Great War Project and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 9, The Capture of Hill 70, 1917, “A Canadian Corps Commander,” p. 283; “The Assault on Hill 70, 15 August,” p. 284 and Normal Map 8.
The Ypres Offensive 1917 (31 July- 18 November 1917)
(Also known as the 3rd Battle of Ypres or Battle of Passchendaele)
- Battles of 3rd Ypres [July 31], Langemarck [Aug 16], Polygon Wood [Sep 26], Broodseinde [Oct 4], Poelcappelle [Oct 4], and 1st Passchendaele [Oct 12]
British, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers fought in the above battles during the first three months of the Offensive with 100,000 casualties and little to show for it. For a summary of the major events of the Ypres Offensive, see First World War.com and Library and Archives Canada Battle of Passchendaele. Geoffrey Miller’s The Battle of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele) is another detailed summary. The author notes that all soldiers left Ypres for the battlefield via the road where the Menin Gate Memorial now stands. See also Tom Morgan’s The Menin Gate, Ypres.
- 2nd Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917)
The Canadian Corps’ involvement in the Ypres Offensive was at the 2nd Battle of Passchendaele. 20,000 Canadians were involved in this worst of all battles, and over 15,000 of them were casualties. A detailed account of Canadian participation in this battle can be found at
The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 10, Passchendaele, October-November 1917, especially from “The Canadians at Passchendaele,” p 311, to “The Capture of Passchendaele, 6 November,” p. 323, text accompanied by Normal Map 9 and Sketch Map 43. See also Library and Archives Canada for photographs and witness accounts.
A 1967 documentary on the 50th anniversary of Passchendaele can be found at CBC Digital Archives.
For information on Paul Gross’s 2008 film Passchendaele, see a short promotional film at YouTube Passchendaele: The Movie.
Battle of Cambrai (20 Nov-3 Dec 1917)
The Battle of Cambrai was fought in the region between Arras and Cambrai to the southeast. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade and the Newfoundland Regiment fought with distinction in this British-led battle, which involved the first successful use of tanks, and “the Newfoundland Regiment was granted the title "Royal" - the only regiment so honoured during the war.” See Veterans Affairs Canada.
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Battle of Moreuil Wood (March 30, 1918)
For a detailed account of the action of the Canadian cavalry in this battle, go to: The Battle of Moreuil Wood
by Captain J. R. Grodzinski. For the context in which this battle was fought, see The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 12, The German Offensive of 1918, p. 362, as well as Normal Map 10 and Sketch Map 46.
The Battle of Amiens “Black Day of the German Army” (8-11 August 1918)
In a surprise attack from trenches east of Amiens, Canadian and Australian troops, along with 600 tanks, broke through German defences and moved about 12 km the first day. French troops to the south and British to the north also advanced and German soldiers began to surrender by the thousands, a clear indication that morale was faltering in the German army. It was the beginning of the end, although it would still be nearly three months before the war was over. See Wikipedia Battle of Amiens for a detailed account of the battle.
Also, see www.historyofwar.com and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 13, Amiens, 8-11 August 1918, p. 386 , text accompanied by Sketch Maps 47-49 for additional information.
Action around Damery (15-17 August 1918)
All four Canadian Divisions were involved in the action around Damery, which was about 39 km southeast of Amiens. See Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days for this and all other Canadian action from the first day of the Battle of Amiens until the capture of Mons.
The Arras Offensive or 2nd Battle of Arras (26 August-3 September 1918)
This offensive was an allied offensive spearheaded by the Canadian Corps which pushed eastward from Arras in two major engagements, one called the Battle of the Scarpe, after the Scarpe River, and the other the Battle of Drocourt-Quéant, named after the towns at either end of a strong German trench system that the allied forces were determined to capture.
- The 4th Battle of the Scarpe (26-30 August 1918)
In this battle, the allied forces, including the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the Canadian Corps, moved about 8 km eastward from Arras capturing Monchy-le-Preux and the villages of Guemappe and Wancourt along a line between the Scarpe River on the north and Neuville-Vitasse on the south. It brought them to the heavily defended German line of Drocourt-Quéant, which was the next objective. For details on the battle, see Canada and the First World War, 2nd Battle of Arras, August 26-September 30, 1918 and Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days, and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 14, Through the Hindenburg Line to Cambrai, “The Battle of the Scarpe, 1918, 26-30 August,” p. 427, text accompanied by Normal Map 12 and Sketch Maps 50-51.
Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line (2-3 September 1918)
The 1st and 4th Divisions of the Canadian Corps took the lead in this battle, which moved the allied forces eastward another 8 km with the capture of Dury and the collapse of the Drocourt-Quéant Line. The Allies now moved forward to prepare to take the next obstacle, the Canal Du Nord. See Canada and the First World War, 2nd Battle of Arras
, August 26-September 30, 1918, Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days
, and The Nicholson Matrix
, Chapter 14, Through the Hindenburg Line to Cambrai, “Plans for Attacking the D-Q Line,” p. 432; “Assault and Capture, 2-3 September,” p. 436, text accompanied by Normal Map 12
and Sketch Maps 50-51
Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September-3 October 1918)
The 1st and 4th Canadian Divisions, with reinforcements from the 3rd, pushed across Canal-du-Nord on September 27 and captured the village of Bourlon, which was about 14 km southeast of Dury and 12 km west of Cambrai, the major German supply centre for the region. On the following day, they captured Raillencourt-Sainte-Olle and Sailly-lez-Cambrai about 5 km directly west of Cambrai. On the 29th, they captured Sancourt and held Blécourt briefly about 7 km north of Cambrai with two battalions fighting to the edge of Neuville-Saint-Rémy, a suburb of Cambrai. Nearby Tilloy-les-Cambrai fell to the PPCLI on September 30 and the position was consolidated the following day. The exhausted 1st and 4th Divisions now went into reserve and were replaced by the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions on the front lines. For more details on this battle, see Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 14, Through the Hindenburg Line to Cambrai, “Fashioning the Next Blow,” p. 440; “The Canal du Nord and Bourlon Wood, 27 September,” p. 445, “The Marcoing Line and the Fighting Towards Cambrai, 28 September-1 October,” p. 448, text accompanied by Normal Map 13 and Sketch Maps 51.
Battle of Cambrai (8-9 October 1818)
On October 9, the 3rd Canadian Division captured Cambrai and joined the 24th British Division that had come up from the south. See Canada and the First World War, Canal-du-Nord and Cambrai, September 27 – October 11, 1918, Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days, and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 14, Through the Hindenburg Line to Cambrai, “The Capture of Cambrai, 8-9 October,” p. 456; “The End of the Battle,” p. 459, text accompanied by Normal Map 13 and Sketch Maps 51.
Battle of Le Cateau (9 October 1918)
The Canadian Cavalry Brigade with the British 4th Army advanced nearly 13 km, captured weapons and over 400 prisoners as well as disrupted German demolition efforts. For a link to a detailed map of the Battle of Le Cateau, see Day 63 at Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days.
Additional information on this battle, can be found in the first paragraph of Captain J. R. Grodzinski’s detailed account of the Battle of Moreuil Ridge. See also The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 15, The Final Advance 12 October-11 November, “The Last Cavalry Action,” p. 462, text accompanied by Sketch Map 52.
Pursuit to the Selle (9-12 October 1918)
On October 9, the 2nd Canadian Division captured the towns of Ramillies, Escaudoeuvres, and Eswars northeast of Cambrai. On October 10, it took the villages of Thun-Saint-Martin and Naves, 2-3 km further east. By October 12, the frontlines of the Canadian Corps stretched along a 12 km stretch northeast of Cambrai, from Aubencheul-au-Bac on the northwest to Iwuy on the southeast. See Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days and See also The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 15, The Final Advance 12 October-11 November, “The Pursuit from the Sensée,” p. 465, “A Pause at the Escaut,” p. 470, text accompanied by Sketch Map 53.
Battle of Valenciennes (2 November 1918)
During October, the Canadian Corps steadily moved east until they reached Valenciennes on November 1. Because there were so many French refugees in the city, the Canadians did not press the offensive on Valenciennes directly. However, even though the Germans held out here and at nearby Marly, over 800 of their soldiers were killed and 1800 more captured by the Canadians on November 2. On the same day, the 4th Canadian Division captured the village of Saint-Saulvé about 1.5 km east of Valenciennes and by November 4, the 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions had reached Vicq and Onnaing about 7-8 km further east. They were now about 25 km from Mons. See Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days and see also The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 15, The Final Advance 12 October-11 November, “Mont Hoey Captured-Valenciennes Liberated,” p. 471, text accompanied by Normal Map 14.
Passage of the Grande Honelle (5-7 November 1918)
The 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions captured Vicq and Quarouble on November 5 and were in control of the Petite and Grande Honelle Rivers by November 6. On November 7, the 3rd Canadian Division had crossed the border into Belgium and taken control of Hensies. To the south, the 2nd Canadian Division took Élouges, and were still moving east. They were now less than 15 km from Mons. See Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 15, The Final Advance 12 October-11 November, “The Advance to Mons,” p. 475, text accompanied by Normal Map 15.
Capture of Mons (8-11 November 1918)
On November 8, the 3rd Canadian Division captured Thivencelle and Saint-Aybert to the west of Hensies, then moved east again. On November 9, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, 3rd Canadian Division, moved 8 km east to Jemappes, which was less than 5 km west of Mons. The 2nd Canadian Division to the south reached Dour on November 8 and Bougnies, about 7 km south of Jemappes, the following day. On November 10, the 2nd Canadian Division reached the village of Hyon on the outskirts of Mons and by 11 p.m. platoons were moving into the city. Early the following morning, they were in control of Mons. See Veterans Affairs Canada The Last Hundred Days and The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 15, The Final Advance 12 October-11 November, “The Capture of Mons,” p. 480, text accompanied by Normal Map 15.
Armistice and End of the War (11 November 1918)
At 6:30 a.m. the headquarters of the Canadian Corps received word that an armistice had been signed and the war would come to an end at 11:00 a.m. After nearly five years of hell, the soldiers could finally put down their guns. See The Nicholson Matrix, Chapter 15, The Final Advance 12 October-11 November, “The Armistice,” p. 483.
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Click on the footnote number to return to the text:
 The No. 2 Stationary Hospital, the first Canadian unit to go to France, had gone on 8 November 1914.
 During that time, the PPCLI lost seventy-five percent of its manpower, expecially during the Battle of Ypres, April-May 1915. See CollectionsCanada.gc.ca
 “In the Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge, the P.P.C.L.I. held out against several German frontal assaults. Facing heavy artillery and machine gun fire, the last of the P.P.C.L.I. originals stood firm and ‘counted not the cost’. The regiments on both of their flanks were driven back and the men were almost surrounded. Reinforced by a trickle of British soldiers their stand proved successful and by 3 p.m., 8th May 1915, the battle was over. The line had held. The casualties of the P.P.C.L.I. were 392 killed, wounded and missing. Over 80% of the men had become casualties.“ See N. M. Christie, ed., Letters of Agar Adamson 1914 to 1919: Lieutenant Colonel, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, (Nepean, Ontario: CEF Books, 1997), 74.
 The following biography of Frederick William Campbell VC is from an article by Arthur Bishop, dated 1 July 2004 and entitled “The Class of 1915: Part 4 of 18” that appeared in The Legion Magazine.
Victoria Cross recipient Frederick William Campbell had a lot of military inheritance to live up to. His great-grandfather had served with distinction under General Isaac Brock in the War of 1812. Campbell was born June 15, 1867 in Mount Forest, Ont. A year later his family moved to a farm at Glendale where he attended school. He developed a keen interest in the military and when he turned 18 joined the 30th Bn., Wellington Rifles, the local militia. When the Boer War broke out in 1899, he joined the 2nd Bn., Royal Canadian Regt. of Infantry. As a member of a machine-gun squad he took part in four major battles and was awarded the Queen’s Medal with clasps for Johannesburg, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Cape Colony. A particular feat during one of those actions earned him special mention. When the spokes of one of the wheels of his gun carriage were shot off, Campbell showed exceptional ingenuity by replacing the spokes with legs from a table he found in an abandoned house. He returned home after the war—with the rank of sergeant—and bought a farm next to his parents, where he raised horses. He rejoined his old militia unit and became a school trustee and a director of the Mount Forest Agricultural Society.
At the outbreak of WW I, Campbell, who by that time held the rank of captain, was ready. He was assigned to the 1st Bn. of the Western Ontario Regt. and by the time the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force sailed for England on Sept. 24, he had been appointed officer-in-command of the machine-gun section. The battalion went into action for the first time during the Second Battle of Ypres, but in a reserve capacity.
On June 15, 1915, the brigade took part in the Battle of Givenchy. It was an isolated but bloody engagement. In one day there were 400 casualties. At 6:10 p.m. that evening, the brigade attacked in support of the British 7th Div. During the encounter, Campbell led two gun crews over the top in a wild dash through enemy fire across no-man’s land in which one crew was wiped out. Only Campbell and a gunner, Harold Vincent, reached the trench that the wave ahead of them had captured. When a German counterattack developed the survivors of the charge ran out of grenades. Campbell ordered them to retire and decided to set up the Colt to cover their retreat. However, the gun’s tripod had been shot away and no substitute was available so Vincent volunteered to support the machine-gun on his back. In this way they were able to ward off the enemy in which Campbell fired off 1,000 rounds. Then a bullet struck him in the right thigh near the joint and he was unable to continue. Badly burned by the machine-gun, Vincent was able to carry the gun back to their own lines. Campbell managed to crawl back and was rescued. Two days later he was taken to the No. 7 Stationary Hospital at Boulogne. On June 19, he fell into a coma from which he never recovered. He died three hours later. In July 1965, a commemorative plaque was unveiled by Frederick Campbell’s daughter on the grounds of Capt. Fred Campbell VC Branch of The Royal Canadian Legion in Mount Forest.
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November 8, 2010
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