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The Last Hundred Days

Canada’s many achievements on the battlefield during the First World War were capped by a stretch of victories in the final three months of the war – often referred to as “Canada’s Hundred Days.”

August to November 1918

First World War


The Western Front was a string of trenches stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss border, with the Allied and German armies facing one another across a harsh “No Man’s Land” of barbed wire, shell craters and mud. It would be 1918 before a major breakthrough on the Western Front finally came.

Germany’s final offensive

Early in 1918, the situation looked grim for the Allies. Germany began launching a series of major offensives in March that pushed the Allied lines back, advancing to within 70 kilometres of Paris. But, this success on the battlefield could not be sustained – they had over-extended their army. After four years of war, their resources of men and supplies were depleted.

Meanwhile, the Allied forces were now being reinforced by American troops after the United States entered the war in 1917. The Allies regrouped and stopped the German advance, then set about to make their own major push to bring an end to the war.

The Canadian Corps

Members of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles posing on a tank. Amiens. August, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3405524

Decisive victories in battles like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele had earned Canada’s army the reputation for being the best-attacking Allied troops on the Western Front. When the Allies planned the offensives that would ultimately win the war, Canada’s soldiers were given the responsibility of leading many of the attacks.

The Canadian Corps – now comprised of four divisions - had a fierce reputation. The mere presence of Canadians on a section of the front would warn the enemy that an attack was coming. To outwit German spies, the movements of the Canadian Corps in these final months of the war had to be made in great secrecy. A large offensive is planned for August and Canadian troops are shifted north toward Belgium to deceive the enemy. As a result, the Germans now believe a major attack will occur there. Once the Germans moved more troops north to Ypres, the Canadians secretly rushed back to the Amiens sector for the real attack.

Getting 60 pounders into action within 1000 yards of the enemy. Battle of Amiens. August 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3643050

Battle of Amiens

08 – 11 August 1918

On 8 August, Canada led an offensive that advanced 20 kilometres in three days. To fool the Germans, this offensive was launched without the long artillery bombardment, as was usually done before Allied forces advanced. The Germans were taken totally by surprise.

Sir Douglas Haig congratulating Canadians. Battle of Amiens. August, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3404917

This breakthrough was a remarkable development and dashed enemy morale, with General Ludenhoff, the German high commander calling it “the bleakest day of the German Army in the history of the war.”

In just two weeks, the Canadian Corps had advanced 22 kilometres, liberated 27 villages and taken more than 9,000 Germans prisoner.

Deception at Amiens

View more “Heroes Remember” First World War veteran interviews

Canada’s Hundred Days: Amiens

Battle of the Scarpe

26 – 30 August 1918

General Arthur Currie, Commander of the Canadian Corps, now made plans for an attack on either side of the Arras-Cambrai road. This offensive would be known as the Battle of the Scarpe.

On 26 August, the Canadian Corps advanced more than 5 kilometers and captured the towns of Monchy-le-Preux and Wancourt.

Canadian armoured car going into action. August 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3194818

Heavy rains during the night made for slippery ground, which lead to difficulties in assembling troops and a late start. Combined with stiff resistance by the Germans entrenched in heavily defended positions, the Corps advanced only three kilometers on the second day of the battle.

After three days of intense fighting, the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions reported over 5,500 casualties. But, they had captured more than 3,300 prisoners and had seized an important portion of the German’s strong Fresnes-Rouvroy defence system.

German officer talking in French to Canadian Officer. Advance East of Arras. August 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3403190

The 12 Victoria Cross recipients during August

Canada’s Hundred Days: Arras

Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line

02 – 03 September 1918

With Allied leaders’ hopes now high for victory and an end to the war in sight, they kept up the pressure on the Germans. There would be little rest for the victorious Canadians. They were moved back north to the Arras sector and tasked with helping break the infamous Hindenburg Line—a key element of the enemy’s defenses. There was a week of fierce fighting against some of Germany’s best soldiers, in terrain that gave the enemy the advantage. But, on 2 September the Canadians broke through the Drocourt-Quéant Line, positioned just in front of the Hindenburg Line.

The 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade waiting alongside Arras-Cambrai Road. Advance East of Arras. September, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3522327

The German High Command will send seven divisions at the Canadian Corps and the British Third Army to counter their advance. It doesn’t succeed. In their victory, the Canadian Corps capture approximately 6,000 prisoners.

12 Victoria Cross recipients during September

Battle at the Canal du Nord

27 September – 02 October 1918

Next up was the Canal du Nord, which formed part of the main Hindenburg Line. The earthworks of the partially-completed canal made it a dangerous enemy position to attack, but General Currie came up with another daring plan. His men, along with a British division, would cross a 2,500 metre-wide dry section of the canal. The danger, however, was that this could cause Allied troops and equipment to bunch up and become easy targets.

Canadians constructing a bridge across Canal du Nord. Advance east of Arras. September, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3628666

To cover their advance, Currie unleashed the heaviest single-day bombardment of the entire war. As a result, the attack on 27 September was a stunning success.

The Canadians broke through three lines of German defences and pressed on to capture Bourlon Wood. Combined with other allied successes along the front, the Hindenburg Line had been breached. In exceedingly bitter fighting, the 1st Canadian Division alone suffers more than 1,000 casualties, but the battle is won and another 7,000 prisoners are captured.

Canada’s Hundred Days: Bourlon

The beginning of the end – Battle of Cambrai

09 – 12 October 1918

The German army was retreating but they never stopped resisting. After further heavy fighting, the Canadians Corps helped capture the town of Cambrai. By 11 October the Corps had reached the Canal de la Sensée.

Canadians moving up into the fight for Cambrai. October 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3522283

The Canadian Cavalry Brigade would see its last action of the war, and its first major role since the Battle of Amiens in August. The brigade, made up of the Fort Garry Horse, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, the Royal Canadian Dragoons and a battery of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, advances close to 13 kilometers on a front more than four kilometers wide. They capture more than 400 prisoners and many weapons, and disrupt the enemy’s many attempts at demolition.

The brigade reports a total of 168 men and 171 horses killed, wounded and missing.

This would be the last action taken by the Canadian Corps as a whole, but individual divisions continued to fight, overcoming stiff German resistance and would help to capture Mont Houy and Valenciennes by the beginning of November.

Three cheery wounded Canadians at advanced Dressing Station on Battlefield of Cambrai. Advance East of Arras. October 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3397069

On 19 October, the Canadian Corps liberates nearly 40 more communities, including the large industrial town of Denain. The day’s advance of almost 11 kilometers is the longest made by Canadians on any single day during the war.

Two men of 75th Infantry Battalion with their prisoner near the last mile stone to Cambrai. Advance East of Arras. October 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada- 3522299

On 30 October, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, kilometers behind the front lines and now in reserve, suffers its last battle casualty of the First World War. A shell from a German heavy gun explodes in a cook house, wounding Pte Ronald Courage.

On the same day, Turkey, a German ally during the war, signs an armistice and ends its involvement in the First World War.

Canada’s Hundred Days: Cambrai

The 5 Victoria Cross recipients during October

Battle for Valenciennes

Two days later, the Germans still control the city of Valenciennes and a strong position nearby in Marly, but the day for them is a disaster. The Canadian Corps captures roughly 1,800 enemy soldiers and more than 800 enemy dead are counted in the battle area. Canadian losses are far less; 80 killed and around 300 wounded.

The first Canadian platoon to enter Valenciennes from the west, advancing towards the Canal. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3194823

Victoria Cross recipient during November


At 6:30 a.m. on 11 November 1918, a message reaches Canadian Corps Headquarters that an armistice will be declared at 11:00 a.m.

Telegram to units of the 3rd Canadian Division informing them of the Armistice to take effect at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918. Photo: George Metcalf Archival Collection. Canadian War Museum - CWM 19810257-002

The advance of troops continues forward regardless, reaching almost eight kilometers to the northeast of Mons, when the armistice to end the First World War is signed and takes effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

On 11 November 1918, in a railway car near Compiègne, senior German and Allied commanders and politicians sign the Armistice to end the war. Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Allied supreme commander (centre), stands to accept the German surrender. Print: The Signing of the Armistice by Maurice Pillard Verneuil. Beaverbrook Collection of War Art. Canadian War Museum - CWM 19830483-001

Canadians fought to the very end with 40 men killed on this last day of the war. The last Canadian combat death—Private George Lawrence Price—happened in Mons, Belgium just two minutes before the fighting officially ended.


The Canadian Corps’ accomplishments in the last hundred days from August through November was truly impressive. In a four-year war where neither side ever gained much territory, the more than 100,000 members of the Canadians Corps had advanced 130 kilometres and captured approximately 32,000 prisoners.

Canadians marching through the streets of Mons on the morning of 11 November 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada-3194824

But, the triumphs came at a high price. More than 6,800 Canadians and Newfoundlanders were killed and approximately 39,000 wounded during the last three months of fighting.

Many of Canada’s soldiers would continue to serve with the occupation force that moved into Germany as part of the armistice. The occupation forces would remain there until 1930, but most of the Canadians would be sent home in 1919.

Photo gallery

Classroom materials

Classroom materials main page

Lesson plan: Ages 8-11

The Victoria Cross

To provide youth with a basic knowledge and appreciation of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery a Canadian could receive during the First World War.

Lesson plan: Ages 12-18

Remembrance Dog Tags - Fallen Canadians (Last Hundred Days)

To increase youth awareness of the sacrifice made by Canadians who served during the last hundred days of the First World War.

Historical sheet

Canada’s hundred days (PDF)

Related information

Canadian War Museum – Canada and the First World War

Vimy Foundation – Canada’s First World War battles

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