The Final 100 Days: Ludendorff Resigns - October 26, 1918

Movement resumed. The Canadian Corps and accompanying units continued to crawl toward Valenciennes. 

Men of the 51st British Divisions had crossed the Ecaillon, a small stream branching off from the Scheldt River. Punching through the village of Maing, the Highlanders were stopped just south of Valenciennes, establishing a line outside of Famars.

The new line afforded a direct, if dangerous view of the German positions along Mount Houy. 

Mount Houy in itself posed a difficult problem. Rising to a height of over 150 feet high, the vantage point from the top afforded a commanding view of the area south-east of Valenciennes. 

This natural barrier was fortified by German engineers. Rows of barbed wire and deep trenches added artificial strength to a natural obstacle. 

The architect of most German defences was Erich Ludendorff, who acted as Quartermaster General for the Imperial German Army. 

Generally speaking, he and Paul Von Hindenburg had established a military dictatorship in Germany, and had more or less assumed control over the entire military since 1916. 

From their positions in the German Army, both men could see just how desperate the situation was. In fact, it was these men who recommended surrender to Kaiser Wilhelm just a few months before. 

However, the Armistice terms presented to the German Chancellor Maximillian of Baden were “unacceptable” and “unworthy” of Germany. 

On October 25th (and without the Kaiser being informed), Ludendorff issued a general dispatch to all German Army Group commanders proclaiming they must “fight to the finish”. 

Von Baden was outraged. He met with the Kaiser and demanded Ludendorff’s immediate resignation. In a later meeting with the Kaiser, Ludendorff resigned his post as First Quartermaster General. 

His resignation was reported in German movie houses, to raucous applause. He would be replaced by Wilhelm Groener. 

The loss of Ludendorff illustrated just desperate the situation was for Germany. But, the army would hold on for a few weeks. Both sides continued to fight, as Armistice Day drew ever closer.