THE HUNDRED DAYS CAMPAIGN
The Hundred Days campaign began with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. The Canadian and Australian Corps, shrouded in the pre-dawn fog and backed by some 400 tanks and the element of surprise, drove deeply into German lines, advancing 13 kilometres
in a single day. It had been important to conceal the whereabouts of the crack Canadian Corps since its location often pointed to an impending assault. While it was not possible to exploit very far beyond the first day’s gains, it was clear at Amiens
that the Germans’ morale had cracked, both in the field and in the high command. They suffered 27,000 casualties and lost hundreds of artillery pieces as well as thousands of machine guns and mortars.
The Canadians’ next objective was Cambrai, an important transportation centre and a pillar of German defences in the West. The Canadian Corps launched its assault on 26 August and in two days had advanced five miles. Pausing to allow their artillery to
pummel the German defences and cut much of the barbed wire entanglements, on 2 September the Canadians attacked the Drocourt-Quéant Line and, despite fierce German resistance, had penetrated the enemy defences by nightfall. The Germans were obliged to
withdraw to the Hindenburg Line. In two days’ hard fighting the Canadian Corps had suffered some 5,500 casualties. On 27 September they breached the Canal du Nord and finally captured Cambrai on 11 October, following another very difficult battle.
The Germans retreated and the Canadians pursued them to Valenciennes and, crossing into Belgium, to Mons where on 11 November news reached them of the Armistice coming into effect at 11 a.m. that morning. The war was over. The Hundred Days Campaign might
have further solidified the Canadians’ reputation as superb shock troops, but those three months had cost Canada 45,000 casualties, more than during any comparable period of the war.