Canada's Hundred Days

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Canada's Hundred Days

August 8 to November 11, 1918, became known as the “Hundred Days,” and for the Canadian Corps, it was in effect “Canada’s Hundred Days” as it was during this period that the corps was in the vanguard of the successful march to Mons.

When the Allied advance began, the Canadian Corps was assigned the task of spearheading an attack on an important salient near Amiens. Utter secrecy was vital since the Germans had come to regard any movement of Canadian troops as a sign of imminent attack. To deceive the enemy, part of the corps was sent north to the Ypres section. After making their presence known to the Germans, they hurried back
to Amiens. Preparations for battle were carried out at night, and there was no preliminary bombardment to warn the enemy of impending action. Surprise was complete. Flanked by Australians and French, and spearheaded by British tanks, the Canadians advanced 20
kilometres in three days. The three days of heavy fighting came at a cost – the corps suffered 9,074 casualties.

The Allied plan was to advance on a broad front with a series of connected attacks in sensitive areas. The Canadians were shifted back to Arras and given the task of cracking the Hindenburg Line – Germany’s main line of defence – in the Arras area. Between August 26 and September 2, the Canadian Corps launched a succession of attacks that broke through the German defences, including breaching the infamous Drocourt-Queant Line near the Canal du Nord, part of the main Hindenburg Line. The Canadians suffered 11,400 casualties.

The corps was now in front of the main part of the Hindenburg Line, which was protected by the Canal du Nord. In coordination with British troops from the south, the combined offensive to smash the line came on September 27. The whole Canadian Corps (with an attached British division) was to traverse a 2,400-metre dry section of the Canal du Nord. The attack along the whole front was accompanied by the most massive single-day bombardment of the war. The Canadians not only crossed the canal and breached three lines of German defences, but they also captured Bourlon Wood, a staggering achievement.

Further heavy fighting led to the capture of Cambrai. By October 11, the Canadian Corps had reached the Canal de la Sensée. It was the last of the actions of the whole corps. The Canadian troops remained in Europe to share in the Allied occupation. They crossed the Rhine into Germany at Bonn, where Sir Arthur Currie was accorded the distinction of taking the salute in honour of Canadian achievements.