The Final 100 Days: The Battle of Courtrai - October 14, 1918

In Artois, the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions held the line. 

Probing assaults by the 1st Division reached the town of Férin, but stiff counterattacks forced a withdrawal. 

To the north, in Flanders, the Battle of Courtrai began. In a similar fashion to other Allied offensives, it was meant to divert German troops to Belgium and create openings for Allied troops in France. It would be spearheaded by Army Group Flanders.

At the head of Army Group Flanders was Albert, King of the Belgians. At his command were 12 Belgian Divisions, 10 British Divisions, and 6 French.

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment accompanied the British. They capture of Ledeghem would fall to them. 

Opened by a creeping barrage at 5:45 AM, the offensive proved to be overwhelming successful. The day’s gain along the line (from Comines in the south, to Dixmude in the north) happened to be roughly 5 kilometres. By the end of the day, the towns of Cortemarck, Moorslede, and Roulers would fall to Allied Forces. 

The town of Ledeghem would fall to the Royal Newfoundlanders, but with immense difficulty. Stiff defences and a German battery delayed the advance of the 1st Battalion, and inflicted huge casualties on the Newfoundlanders. 

Pvt. Thomas Ricketts, a 17 year old from Middle Arm, Newfoundland, diverted fire from the battery. Rushing forward with a Lewis machine gun, Pvt. Ricketts forced the withdrawal of the German troops, and he and his company captured 4 heavy guns, 4 machine guns, and 8 German prisoners.

For his actions, Pvt. Ricketts would be awarded the Victoria Cross - before he turned 18. 

In Washington, President Woodrow Wilson acknowledged and responded to German Chancellor Maximillian’s peace proposal. Wilson made it clear that peace in Europe was contingent on Germany’s cessation of submarine warfare, evacuation of captured territories, and restructuring of their government to a democratic model. 

The end of the war was in sight, though it would be weeks before the Armistice was signed.