The Second Battle of Cambrai 1918

On 8 October 1918, the First and Third British Armies broke through the Hindenburg Line at the Battle of Cambrai, 1918 (also known as the Second Battle of Cambrai), a battle during the Hundred Days Offensive of the First World War. This collapse forced the German High Command to accept that the war had to be ended. The evidence of failing German morale also convinced many Allied commanders and political leaders that the war could be ended in 1918; previously, all efforts had been concentrated on building up forces to mount a decisive attack in 1919.

Men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment wearing Pickelhaube, German Army helmets, picked up while on patrol duty during the battle of Cambrai Oct 1918
Men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment wearing Pickelhaube, German Army helmets, picked up while on patrol duty during the battle of Cambrai Oct 1918

 

The battle took place in and around the French city of Cambrai between 8th and 10th October 1918. The success of the Canadian Corps during the Battle of the Canal du Nord had left the defences at Cambrai weak and the defending German divisions unprepared. On 8th October, the 2nd Canadian Division entered Cambrai encountering sporadic and light resistance. The German defenders were unprepared for the bombardment by 324 tanks, closely supported by infantry and aircraft.

The Allied troops rapidly pressed northward out of the town leaving the mopping up to the 3rd Canadian Division that followed behind. They advanced 3.2 km (almost 2 miles) beyond Cambrai and captured the French towns of Naves and Thun-Saint-Martin. When the 3rd Canadian Division entered the town on the 10th, they found it deserted.

Although the capture of Cambrai was achieved significantly sooner than expected, German resistance northeast of the town stiffened, slowing the advance and forcing the Canadian Corps to dig in. Over 10,000 prisoners and 200 guns were captured.

 

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