The Last Hundred Days

Alec MacDougall
Trench Warfare (condensed) (Transcript)

September 01

Day: 25 Allie Image

Troops of the Canadian Corps capture the Crow's Nest, an enemy strong point on a high bluff overlooking a large section of the Drocourt-Quéant Line. After three stubborn German counterattacks, all of them pushed back, the Canadians capture 200 prisoners, nine light trench mortars and upwards of 80 machine guns.


A Canadian cyclist shouting down a dug-out in German for men to come out.  Advance East of Arras.  September, 1918.  Photo: Library and Archives Canada/PA-003071

A Canadian cyclist shouting down a dug-out in German for men to come out. Advance East of Arras. September, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada/PA-003071

September 02

Day: 26 - Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant LineAllie Image

The Drocourt-Quéant Line is assaulted and overrun on a frontage of more than six kilometers. Troops of the Canadian Corps capture the Buissy Switch and the villages of Villers-lez-Cagnicourt and Cagnicourt. Others manage to achieve the objective of the day, the Red Line, and take the village of Dury, but can advance no further.

Victoria Cross recipients:

September 03

Day: 27 - Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant LineAllie Image

By nightfall, the Canadian Corps controls all ground west of the Canal du Nord, between Sains-lez-Marquion and the Sensée River, but suffer casualties of 297 officers and 5,325 other ranks between September 1 and 3. In assaulting and capturing both the Fresnes-Rouvroy and Drocourt-Quéant lines, the Corps penetrates more than eight kilometers.

September 04

Day: 28 Allie Image

The German High Command throws seven divisions at the Canadian Corps and the British Third Army to counter their advance. The Corps captures approximately 6,000 unwounded prisoners.

September 05

Day: 29

British and French troops cross the Somme River. The Germans are driven from the banks of the Vesle River.

September 06

Day: 30

The village of Ham is captured by French troops, while British troops advance east of Peronne.

September 07

Day: 31

Havrincourt Wood is captured by British troops, while French troops capture the town of Tergnier.

September 08

Day: 32

British and French troops reach the old Hindenburgh Line, a German defence system, from Cambrai to near Soissons.

September 09

Day: 33

British troops begin to evacuate from the town of Baku in Azerbaijan, a country next to Iran.

September 10

Day: 34

The Allies bomb the German submarine shelters at Bruges and the docks at Ostend, cities in Belgium.

September 11

Day: 35

Troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) prepare to launch an attack at St. Mihiel, one of the first solo operations of the AEF since its entry in the First World War.

Operation: The Battles of the Hindenburg Line - September 12 to October 9, 1918

September 12

Day: 36

Troops of the British army capture the village of Havrincourt in the Battle of Havrincourt, while the Americans begin their offensive at St. Mihiel.

September 13

Day: 37

American troops break through the St. Mihiel salient taking some 13,000 prisoners.

September 14

Day: 38

British troops advance on the town of Cambrai and around the village of La Bassée, while American troops are within roughly 16 kilometers of the city of Metz, a city France and Germany have long claimed as their own.

September 15

Day: 39

British troops capture the village of Maissemy while an Allied offensive opens on the Serbian front.

September 16

Day: 40

French troops capture the villages of Vailly and Mont des Singes.

September 17

Day: 41

German troops counterattack and recapture the village of Moeuvres, taken from them by the British on September 12.

September 18

Day: 42

British and Australian troops capture the village of Épehy, taking some 9,000 prisoners and capturing 100 guns.

September 19

Day: 43

British troops capture the village of Lempire and French troops advance beyond the village of Contescourt.

September 20

Day: 44

French troops hold fast against five German counterattacks on their new positions near Allemant, north of the Aisne River. They advance east of Essigny-le-Grand.

September 21

Day: 45

After a series of deceptive moves, British troops break the Ottoman Line at the Battle of Megiddo, in Palestine, routing the Ottoman Army.

September 22

Day: 46

South of St. Quentin, French troops reach the outskirts of the village of Vendeul and gain ground east of the village of Sancy.

September 23

Day: 47

French troops advance their line east of the St. Quentin Canal. They reach the Oise River, roughly five kilometers north of the town of La Fère.

September 24

Day: 48

French and British troops co-operate in an attack in the St. Quentin sector and make good progress in spite of German strong resistance around the hamlets of Salency (Noyon) and Gricourt.

September 25

Day: 49

In Palestine, the British cavalry reaches the Sea of Galilee in pursuit of Turkish troops, who are fleeing towards Damascus.

September 26

Day: 50

In a joint attack on a 65-kilometer front, from the middle of Champagne to the Meuse River, the French and American armies advance several kilometers and capture Montfaucon and Varennes, among many other villages.

September 27

Day: 51 - The Battle of the Canal du Nord, September 27 to October 2Allie Image

The battle area map

On the left, troops of the Canadian Corps reach the Douai-Cambrai road and make its main objective, the Blue Line[5], by 2:00 p.m., in the face of a reawakened German resistance at Chapel Corner. On the Corps right, having advanced roughly four kilometers, Canadian troops are held up just past Bourlon Wood.

Victoria Cross recipients:

  • Lt G. T. Lyall
    102nd Battalion, 4thCanadian Infantry Division
  • Lt S. L. Honey
    D.C.M., M.M., 78th Battalion, 4th Canadian Infantry Division
  • Lt G. F. Kerr
    M.C., M.M., 3rd Battalion, 1st Canadian Infantry Division
[5] A colour was often used to designate a specific objective, in this case a blue line drawn on a map, the troops were to reach during a battle.

September 28

Day: 52 - The Battle of the Canal du NordAllie Image

On the right, Canadian troops advance as much as two kilometers in a day of heavy fighting, clearing out the rest of the Marcoing Line trench system in their sector. Meanwhile, troops in the Corps center clear the villages of Raillencourt and Sailly, which straddle the Marcoing Line trench system. They are halted, however, by heavy German shelling short of the Douai-Cambrai road.

In Flanders, troops of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment push forward close to five kilometers, at a cost of only 15 casualties. They assist in clearing Château Wood and establish a line at Polygon Racecourse.

Victoria Cross recipient:

  • Lt M. F. Gregg
    M.C., Royal Canadian Regiment, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
Canadians constructing a bridge across Canal du Nord. Advance east of Arras. September, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada/PA-003456

Canadians constructing a bridge across Canal du Nord. Advance east of Arras. September, 1918. Photo: Library and Archives Canada/PA-003456

September 29

Day: 53 - The Battle of the Canal du NordAllie Image

On the left, Canadian troops take some 250 prisoners and 20 machine guns in the village of Sancourt, then reach the village of Blécourt and take 80 prisoners there before having to withdraw. On the right, Canadian troops push forward to the junction of the Arras and Bapaume roads, and two battalions fight their way to the outskirts of Neuville St. Rémy, a suburb of the town of Cambrai. In exceedingly bitter fighting, the Canadian Corps suffers 2,089 casualties.

In Flanders, troops of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment advance nine kilometers, capture a new six-inch gun along with a number of machine guns and prisoners.

Victoria Cross recipient:

  • Capt John MacGregor
    M.C., D.C.M., 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division

September 30

Day: 54 - The Battle of the Canal du NordAllie Image

It is an unsuccessful day of operations on the Canadian Corps center and right, as a planned smoke screen fails and unprotected flanks[6] suffer enfilade fire[7]. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry is, however, able to take the village of Tilloy.

[6] The side of an advancing or stationary military unit or group of soldiers.
[7] Weapons fire directed across the front of an attacking force.
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