The Government of Canada Commemorates the Hundred Days Offensive National Historic Event
CAMBRAI, France, Oct. 9, 2018
Canadian Corps played a vital and decisive role during the last phase of the First World War
CAMBRAI, France, Oct. 9, 2018 /CNW/ - A century ago, between August 8 and November 11, 1918, the Canadian Corps led a series of successful Allied attacks in France and Belgium, known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which forced an end to the First World War.
Today, Mr. Graeme Clark, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Canadian Embassy in France, and Mr. Bernard Thériault, member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, commemorated the national historic significance of the Hundred Days Offensive with a special plaque unveiling ceremony in Cambrai, France. This commemoration was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna.
While the major Allied armies on the Western Front (British, French, American and Belgian) were all involved over the course of the last 100 days of the First World War, the Canadian Corps played a significant role in defeating the Germans in a number of important battles including the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August), the Battle of the Scarpe (26-30 August), the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line (2-3 September), the Battle of Canal du Nord (27 September - 1 October), the Battle of Cambrai (8-9 October) and the Battle of Valenciennes (1-2 November).
Though impressive, this Allied victory came at a high price, with more than 45,000 Canadians killed or wounded during the Hundred Days Offensive, which accounts to almost one fifth of the country's total casualties during the war. Nearly half of Canada's Victoria Crosses (the highest award for military valour) came from the final hundred days of the First World War.
The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places and events that contributed to our country's diverse heritage. The commemoration process is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,000 designations have been made.
National historic designations commemorate all aspects of Canada's history, both positive and negative. Designations can recall moments of greatness and triumph or cause us to contemplate the complex and challenging moments that helped define Canada today. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster better understanding and open discussions on Canada's history.
"The Government of Canada is proud to commemorate the national historic significance of the Hundred Days Offensive in Cambrai, France. These series of successful offensives that ended the First World War illustrate the courage and sacrifice of Canadian soldiers, whose actions and bravery will forever be remembered. I encourage all Canadians to learn more about this significant chapter in our country's history."
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"By 1918, among the Allies and enemy alike, the Canadian Corps had a well-earned reputation as an elite offensive fighting force. The Canadian Corps would play a pivotal role in battles during Canada's Hundred Days leading to the Armistice on November 11, 1918. A century later, we gather to honour their courage and the selfless spirit that lives on to this day among members of the Canadian Armed Forces. We will remember their sacrifice in defence of democracy and freedom today."
The Honourable Seamus O'Regan
Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
- The Battle of Amiens (8-11 August 1918) marked the opening of the Hundred Days Offensive, which ended on November 11, 1918 with the signing of the armistice. The Canadian Corps fought to the very end, capturing the city of Mons in Belgium on the final day of the war.
- During the Hundred Days Offensive, the Canadians Corps defeated elements of 50 divisions, which constituted a quarter of the German forces on the Western Front. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment also fought in the Hundred Days Offensive, notably in the Battle of Courtrai (14-19 October 1918).
- The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque commemorating the Hundred Days Offensive National Historic Event will be erected at the Place du 9 octobre in the town of Cambrai, France.
- Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada's history.
Hundred Days Offensive
Between 8 August and 11 November 1918, the Canadian Corps, commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, spearheaded the Hundred Days Offensive, a series of successful Allied attacks in France and Belgium that hastened an end to the First World War. In a gruelling advance against strong enemy defences, the Canadians helped defeat the Germans at Amiens, the Drocourt-Quéant Line, the Canal du Nord, Cambrai, and Mons. Success in battle came at an enormous cost, with more than 45,000 Canadians killed or wounded, almost one fifth of the country's total casualties during the war. In these final weeks of fighting, Canadians showed great valour, earning 29 Victoria Crosses.
By 1918, the Allied armies and German Empire had been at war for almost four years. Casualties on both sides of the Western Front had been extensive and the end of war seemed far in the distance. That spring, the Germans launched a series of attacks in hopes of forcing the Allies to surrender, but they were unsuccessful. Now it was the Allies' turn to go on the offensive. These final battles are known together as the Hundred Days Offensive.
The Canadian Corps, by this point, was confident. They had achieved hard-fought victories at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele and were seen by Allied leaders as a prime resource in the war. At the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August), which traditionally marks the opening of the Hundred Days Offensive, the Canadian Corps and Australian Corps, both of whom had earned a reputation as hard-hitting, elite forces, led the British Fourth Army to victory by serving as spearheads and taking on the battle's most challenging objectives.
Over the next hundred days, the Canadians fought their way eastward. At the Battle of the Scarpe (26-30 August), the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line (2-3 September), the Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September - 1 October), and the Battle of Valenciennes (1-2 November), the corps achieved major victories against incredible odds: entrenched defenders, swampy land, hidden machine-gun nests, canals, and German forces determined to fight tooth-and-nail until the war's last moment. On 11 November, the final day of the war, the Canadians captured Mons, Belgium, where they were greeted as liberators by the city's citizens.
During the Hundred Days Offensive, the Canadians continually "punched above their weight," defeating elements of 50 divisions, which constituted a quarter of the German forces on the Western Front. While the Hundred Days Offensive finally led to Allied victory, it was also marked by incredible sacrifice and loss for Canada. Nearly half of Canada's Victoria Crosses came from the final hundred days. In addition to the 29 Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians, one Newfoundlander, Thomas Ricketts, was also recognized for his "bravery and devotion to duty."
SOURCE Parks Canada