- Battle of Flers-Courcelette
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, which began on
15 September, 1916and lasted for one week, was the third and last of the large-scale offensives mounted by the British Armyduring the Battle of the Somme.
The battle is significant for the first use of the
tankin warfare and expectations were high that it would prove a decisive weapon. However, the Mark I tank's performance in the battle was patchy and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, has been criticised for revealing the secret weapon too soon. He was warned against this by both his subcommanders (such as E.D. Swinton) and the French government which sent Colonel Jean-Baptiste Eugène Estienneand Subsecretary of State of Inventions Jean-Louis Bréton (normally arch-enemies) to Londonhoping to persuade the British government to overrule Haig.
Like the earlier offensives of
1 July( Battle of Albert) and 14 July( Battle of Bazentin Ridge), Haig had hoped to achieve a breakthrough of the German defences, enabling a return to mobile warfare. Though the British, Canadian and New Zealandforces did make significant gains on the day, a breakthrough was not forthcoming and the Somme front reverted to an attritional struggle, which, with the onset of wet weather, created dreadful conditions in which the infantry had to live and fight.
Objectives that were taken included
High Woodand the Switch Lineover which the British had been struggling for two months. On the left flank the Canadian Corpscaptured Courcelettewhile in the centre the villages of Martinpuichand Flers were taken but these were short of the original objectives of Gueudecourtand Lesbœufs. On the right, the German redoubt known as the Quadrilateral stopped the British well short of Morval. To take these remaining objectives, the British Fourth Armylaunched the Battle of Morvalon 25 September.
List of Canadian battles during World War I
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