Battle of Courtrai (1918)

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Battle of Courtai, 1918
Part of the Western Front of World War I
Western front 1918 allied.jpg
Map of the final Allied offensives on the Western Front, 1918
Date 14–19 October 1918
Location Ypres, Belgium to Ghent, Belgium
Result Decisive Allied victory
Belligerents
 Belgium
 British Empire

 France
 United States

 German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Belgium King Albert I
France Jean Degoutte
United Kingdom Herbert Plumer
German Empire Erich Ludendorff
German Empire Crown Prince Rupprecht
German Empire Sixt von Armin
German Empire Ferdinand von Quast
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown losses,
12,000 soldiers captured,
550 artillery pieces captured.

The Battle of Courtrai (also known as the Second Battle of Belgium (French: 2ème Bataille de Belgique) and the Battle of Roulers (French: Bataille de Roulers)) was one of a series of offensives in northern France and southern Belgium that took place in late September and October 1918.

Background[edit]

After the Fifth Battle of Ypres and the successful breaking of the Hindenburg Line further south, the Allies conceived a strategy of pursuing the Germans for as long as possible, before movement was stopped by the winter rains.[1] Mud and a collapse of the supply-system had stopped the advance of the Groupe d'Armées des Flandres (G.A.F.) ending the Fifth Battle of Ypres (28 September – 2 October).[2] By mid-October the GAF (comprising twelve Belgian divisions, ten divisions of the British Second Army) and six divisions of the French Sixth Army, under the command of King Albert I of Belgium with the French General Jean Degoutte as Chief of Staff, was ready to resume the offensive.[3]

Battle[edit]

The offensive began at 5:35 a.m. on 14 October, with an attack by the GAF from the Lys river at Comines northwards to Dixmude. The British creeping barrage advanced at a rate of 100 yards (91 m) per minute, much faster and much further than the practice in 1917, in expectation that there would be little resistance from German infantry.[4] By the evening the British forces had reached high ground which dominated Werviq, Menin and Wevelghem in the south; further north the British captured Morslede and closed up to Gulleghem and Steenbeek. Belgian troops on the left reached Iseghem, French troops surrounded Roulers and more Belgian troops captured Cortemarck.[5] Roulers fell the next day and by 16 October the British held the north bank of the Lys up to Harlebeke and had crossed the river at several points.[6] By 17 October Thourout, Ostend, Lille and Douai had been recaptured; Bruges and Zeebrugge fell by 19 October and the Dutch border was reached the following day.[7] The crossing of the Lys and the capture of Courtrai by the British Second Army on 19 October, led to a German retreat on the front of the Fifth Army further south, which encircled Lille on 18 October.[8] Next day the British were in Roubaix and Tourcoing and by the evening of 22 October the British had reached the Scheldt from Valenciennes to Avelghem.[9]

Aftermath[edit]

By the time the Armistice had been signed, the front-line had advanced an average of 45 miles (72 km) and ran from Terneuzen, to Ghent, along the River Scheldt to Ath and from there to Saint-Ghislain where it linked up with the BEF on the Somme.[10]

Western Front, 16 October 1918

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1947, pp. 1–2.
  2. ^ Sheffield 2011, p. 318.
  3. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1947, pp. 269–271.
  4. ^ Harris & Barr 1998, p. 242.
  5. ^ Boraston 1919, p. 290.
  6. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1947, pp. 271–276.
  7. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1947, pp. 276–294.
  8. ^ Sheffield 2011, p. 329.
  9. ^ Boraston 1919, p. 291.
  10. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1947, pp. 426–453, 546–551.

References[edit]

  • Boraston, J. H. (1919). Sir Douglas Haig's Despatches (1920 ed.). London: Dent. OCLC 633614212. 
  • Edmonds, J. E.; Maxwell-Hyslop, R. (1947). Military Operations France and Belgium 1918. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. V 26th September – 11th November The Advance to Victory (IWM & Battery Press 1993 ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 0-89839-192-X. 
  • Harris, J. P.; Barr, N. (1998). Amiens to the Armistice: The BEF in the Hundred Day's Campaign, 8 August – 11 November 1918. London: Brassey's. ISBN 1-85753-149-3. 
  • Sheffield, G. (2011). The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army. London: Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-84513-691-8. 

External links[edit]