The Final 100 Days - August 20, 1918

88 Days Until Armistice

By August 20th, the Allied Forces under Ferdinand Foch had secured astonishing gains. The Canadian Corps alone had penetrated over 22 kilometres into German territory, recovering ground that had been lost in the Spring Offensives. Though significant progress had been (and continued to be) made in whittling down the German war machine, the blood cost of these victories had been high - 11,822 casualties over the course of 13 days.

Understandably, the 4th Army under Julian Byng advanced with caution, but did not produce the same results. Fresh assaults along the entirety of the Western Front tried to grind down the Germans, if only through a war of attrition. Small victories were celebrated every day, but a total Allied victory rested on an explosive breakthrough.

 Julian Byng

Julian Byng

The Final 100 Days - August 19, 1918

89 Days Until Armistice

The plans were in motion. The next strike made by the Allies would be in the Arras region – one that the Canadians were familiar with. The previous years’ offensives in Arras saw the Corps come together as one and capture Vimy Ridge, in a battle considered to have forged a national identity. A year of battle had neither diminished nor dimmed that national identity, only strengthening it, as the Canadians began being driven by bus and taken by train northwards to join the British First Army in the sector.

The Final 100 Days - August 18, 2018

90 Days Until Armistice

The Allies and their constituent forces were in a tight spot. The surprise assault at Amiens had routed the German Army – but although they had been beaten, they had not been broken. The stabilization of German defenses meant the Allies could no longer achieve the same successes they had achieved on the 8th of August, and that (in the words of Sir Arthur Currie) restarting the operation would “cost a great many casualties”. It was apparent that the campaign must continue, but within a different sector on the Western Front.

While the French First Army (under General Marie-Eugene Debeney) and British Fourth Army under Henry Rawlinson would keep the German forces occupied in the Roye region, the might of the Allies would be unleashed on a less-suspecting, less-prepared region. On the 18th, plans were finalized. A French offensive just north of the Aisne River would be supported by British forces, on familiar ground – Arras.

The Final 100 Days - August 17, 1918

91 Days until Armistice

As operations wound down in the Amiens area, mopping up operations moved to secure their final objectives and create a firm front line. Daybreak on August 17th, 1918 saw the Corps make final attempts to capture Fresnoy-les-Roye – though they would abandon the objective by the end of the day. Although the routing of German forces from the area could be considered a minor success, the mounting difficulty of conducting operations in the area illustrated the futility of undertaking any further actions. Though the cities of Chaulnes and Roye lay just beyond the Corps’ newly established front lines, it would fall to the French Army to capture them.

The Final 100 Days - August 16, 1918

93 Days until Armistice

As Allied High Command continued preparations for a new offensive, the British Expeditionary Force and its contingent corps remaining German forces. The recently recaptured town of Damery served as an operations hub for assaults on the villages of La Chavatte & Fresnoy. General Arthur Currie ordered elements of the 1st Canadian Division to occupy Fransart – a small town located just north of La Chavatte. The 13th “Royal Highlanders” Battalion made 3 separate attempts to capture La Chavatte, but 8 continuous days of fighting had taken their toll on the Corps. Probing assaults on Fresnoy were repelled as well.

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