Battle Honours and Honorary Distinctions

ARRAS, 1918



Canadians advancing through a German barrage.
Advance East of Arras. September, 1918.

Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library
and Archives Canada/; (MIKAN no. 3522265)

This battle honour designation refers to two battles of Arras in 1918:

Date

(a) 28 March 1918

(b) 26 August – 3 September 1918

Geographical Parameters

(a) Road Authuille – Bertrancourt – Couin – Gaudiempré – Arras – Oppy

(b) (no geographical parameters defined)

Context

(a) A battle honour formally entitled “First Battle of Arras, 1918” and itself being part of “The First Battles of the Somme, 1918”

(b) A group honour incorporating the “Battle of the Scarpe, 1918” and the “Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line”, formally entitled “The Second Battles of Arras, 1918”, and itself being part of “The Breaking of the Hindenburg Line (26 August – 12 October, 1918)” 1.

Description

(a) The German Spring Offensive's main effort was an attack in the Picardy and Somme regions against the British Fifth Army. Although the Canadian Corps (Lieutenant-General Sir A.W. Currie), in the First Army sector was spared from the initial attack several Canadian cavalry and machine gun regiments did see action. Their roles were to assist in preventing a German breakthrough. Both the cavalry and motor machine gun batteries could be moved quickly to fill in gaps as required or to cover the withdrawal of infantry.

(b) The first part of this offensive saw the Canadian 2nd and 3rd Divisions (Major-General Sir H.E. Burstall and Major-General L.J. Lipsett) take part in an assault to the east of Arras astride the Arras-Cambrai road. In the first three days of fighting over what was difficult terrain with well-prepared German defences, the two Canadian divisions advanced over five miles and had seized the German Fresnes-Rouvroy defence system by the 28th of August. With this position securely in Canadian hands the Canadian Corps began planning for the next phase the assault on the Drocourt-Quéant Line. In order to prepare the assault on this formidable position, the artillery conducted wire cutting barrages; the engineers prepared bridges to cross the Canal du Nord and a number of minor operations were conducted to improve the jumping-off lines. There were also huge efforts required behind the line to repair and extend roads as well as to extend the light rail lines in order to move much needed supplies. The attack on this formidable German defensive position began on 2 September. Most of the Canadian objectives were taken on that day and most importantly the Drocourt-Quéant line had been overrun on a width of about 1600 metres. Canadian orders at the end of 2 September were to continue to press the offensive on the 3rd but the Germans withdrew during the night to positions east of the Canal du Nord. This second phase had seen the Canadian Corps advance an additional five miles and to capture all German positions west of the Canal du Nord. Between 26 August and 4 September the Canadian Corps had advanced over ten miles and captured one of the most heavily fortified German defensive positions on the Western Front.



This photograph shows a Mk. V female tank advancing
across a sunken roadway on the Arras front. Advance
East of Arras. September, 1918.

Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library
and Archives Canada/; (MIKAN no. 3522274)

Awarded to:

Currently Serving Units

Units on the Supplementary Order of Battle

Disbanded Units