Amiens (August 8 – August 12, 1918)

Now considered the "shock troops" of the allies, the Canadians deal a major blow to German dreams of victory in the war.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the new Bolshevik government quickly made peace with Germany. Freed from a two-front war, Germany amassed its troops on the western front and made a concerted effort in the spring of 1918 to break the British and French line.

Despite some significant success, they were never able to crack the Entente defences. By August 1918, the British, French, and newly arrived Americans launched their counterattack. The Canadians, meanwhile, were encamped at Vimy Ridge, France, and avoided nearly all of the major fighting during the spring of 1918. Rested and ready, they would play a critical role during what today is known as the Hundred Days Offensive.

The first blow fell on German lines near the city of Amiens, France. After months of planning, the Canadians secretly moved into a position just beyond the city. When the Canadian artillery bombardment began on August 8, it caught the Germans completely off guard.

Despite a heavy fog blanketing the battlefield, the Canadians made good progress through the German front-line positions. Attacking side by side with the equally experienced Australian Corps, the Canadians punched a twelve-kilometre hole in the German line that changed the entire tempo of the war. By Great War standards, it was an exceptional advance. German General Erich Ludendorf described it as “the black day of the German Army” due to the large number of soldiers who chose to surrender rather than fight to the death. The Canadians suffered four thousand casualties.

The Battle of Amiens changed the course of the war, delivering a staggering blow from which the German army couldn’t recover. For the first time, the end of the war was in sight.

— Text by Joel Ralph

Sergeant Robert John Bell

Sergeant Robert John Bell

Robert John Bell enlisted in 39th Battalion, Canadian Infantry on 21 January 1915.
Laurence Edward Fry

Laurence Edward Fry

On or about August 11th during heavy fighting at the village of Hallu, Laurie was mortally wounded.