The Final 100 Days: The Pursuit to the Selle - October 12, 1918

The Hindenburg Line had been totally overrun. German forces had been routed. A full retreat from Cambrai to Le Cateau saw Canadian Forces hot on their heels, inching ever closer to victory on the Western Front.

By now, the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions (in conjunction with the 56th British) were responsible for a wide portion of the front line, stretching from Aubencheul-au-Bac in the north to Le Cateau in the south. 

Near Cambrai, the 2nd German Army stood directly in the path of the 3rd and 4th British Armies. Though commanded by Arthur Currie, the Canadian Corps still fell under the jurisdiction of the British High Command, and served as a detachment of Henry Rawlinson’s Fourth Army. 

The past week had seen Canadian successes at the Canal du Nord and Cambrai. The 2nd Canadian Division led the charge. Moving to the north-east, the towns of Escaudoeuvres, Naves, and Iwuy fell into their hands. 

The hard-fought victories resulted in a full retreat by German forces to the unfinished Hermann Position, running south from Valenciennes to Le Cateau. 

Still, the German Army fought with grit and determination. Paul Von Hindenburg, Chief of the German General Staff, made it clear to troops in the field that a favourable negotiation position was based on their holding of captured territory. 

The next few days’ fighting would be difficult, as the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions pushed northwards towards Valenciennes.