Battle of the Canal du Nord

Battle of the Canal du Nord

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Canal du Nord
partof=Hundred Days Offensive (World War I)

caption=Canadian Combat Engineers constructing bridges across Canal du Nord, September 1918
date=27 September to 1 October, 1918
place=Canal du Nord
result=Allied victory
flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom
flag|New Zealand
combatant2=German Empire
commander1=flagicon|UK Julian Byng
flagicon|UK Henry Horne
flagicon|Canada|1868Arthur Currie
flagicon|New ZealandAndrew Hamilton Russell
strength1=13 divisions
The Battle of Canal du Nord was a military offensive of World War I by the British First Army and British Third Army against the German troops along the Western Front in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, from 27 September 1918 to 1 October 1918. The Canadian Corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, spearheaded the assault.


"For more information, please refer to Canal du Nord"

Canal du Nord, building of which started in 1913 but was not completed till 1961, was located approximately 7 km west of the town of Cambrai, and was a major roadblock in the advance towards that town [Zhuelke, Mark "Canadian Military Atlas"] . On September 3, when Canadian forces reached the canal, German resistance began to intensify. When Haig ordered Currie to attack over the newly made canal in early September 1918, Currie flatly refused, since the reverse side contained a heavily defended German trench line. Currie believed, however, that a night attack across bridges might work. Many British generals, including Haig, tried to defuse the idea, without success [Berton, Pierre, "Marching as to War", Berton Books, 2001] . Haig then called in Julian Byng, Currie's old colleague, to attempt to dissuade him. Currie, however, managed to persuade Byng to assist him with the attack.


Over the next week, Currie and Byng prepared for the engagement. Two divisions were sent south, to cross the canal at a weaker point, while Canadian combat engineers worked to construct the wooden bridges for the assault [Berton, Pierre, "Marching as to War", Berton Books, 2001] . In the early morning of September 27, all four divisions attacked under total darkness, taking the German defenders by absolute surprise. By mid morning, all defenders had retreated or been captured. Stiffening resistance east of the canal proved that only a surprise attack had the possibility of ending in victory. Because of Canal du Nord's capture, the final road to Cambrai was open.

ee also

*List of Canadian battles during World War I


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