Battle of Cambrai (1918)

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For the first major tank offensive, see Battle of Cambrai (1917).
Battle of Cambrai (1918)
Part of the Hundred Days Offensive of the First World War
Canadian troops on Arras- Cambrai road-1918.jpg
Canadian troops advancing along the Arras-Cambrai Road
Date 8–10 October 1918
Location Cambrai, France
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
 British Empire  German Empire
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Henry Horne
United Kingdom Julian Byng
United Kingdom Henry Rawlinson
Strength
21 British divisions
3 Canadian Divisions
1 New Zealand Division
180,000
Casualties and losses
12,000 10,000

The Battle of Cambrai was a battle between troops of the British First, Third and Fourth Armies and German Empire forces during the Hundred Days Offensive of the First World War. The battle took place in and around the French city of Cambrai, between 8 and 10 October 1918. The battle incorporated many of the newer tactics of 1918, in particular tanks, meaning that the attack was an overwhelming success with light casualties in an extremely short amount of time.

Battle[edit]

There were three German lines, spanning some 7,000 yd (6,400 m); held by the 20th Landwehr and the 54th Reserve divisions, supported by no more than 150 guns.[1] The weak defense was due to the Allied general offensive across the Western Front, and specifically in this sector, the rapid approach of the Canadian Corps, whom had overwhelmed much strong defenses in the prior days.[2] The German defenders were unprepared for the "hurricane bombardment" by 324 tanks, closely supported by infantry and aircraft.[3]

On 8 October, the 2nd Canadian Division entered Cambrai and encountered sporadic and light resistance. However, they rapidly pressed northward, leaving the "mopping up" of the town to the 3rd Canadian Division following close behind. When the 3rd entered the town on 10 October, they found it deserted. Fewer than 20 casualties had been taken. Frederick Banting, the discoverer of insulin, was wounded in this battle as he was performing his duties as a medic.

Aftermath[edit]

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.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Keegan (UK ed), p 396
  2. ^ Christie, p 125
  3. ^ Keegan (UK ed), p 397

References[edit]

  • Brown, Angus (2006). In the Footsteps of the Canadian Corps; Canada's First World War 1914-1918. Ottawa: Magic Light Publishing. ISBN 1-894673-24-7. 
  • Berton, Pierre (2001). Marching as to War: Canada's Turbulent Years, 1899–1953. Toronto: Doubleday Canada. ISBN 0-385-25725-2. 
  • Keegan, John (1999). The First World War (UK ed.). London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-6645-1. 
  • Christie, Norm (1997). For King and Empire: The Canadian at Cambrai, September-October 1918. Nepean, Ontario: CEF Books. 

External links[edit]