The War in Europe- Attain your knowledge

Battle Date Components Outcome/Significance
Ypres

 

First week of April- April 24, 1915 ·         Canadian troops were moved to a bulge in the Allied line- the Salient- in the front of the City of Ypres

·         Germans held higher grounds in the north; two British divisions were on the Canadian’s right and a French division of their left

·         On April 22, for the first time, the Germans released 160 tons of chlorine gas, following an intensive artillery bombardment, in attempt to remove the Salient

-This successfully left a gaping 6.5 kilometer hole in the Allied line

-Germans only advanced 3.25 km because they had a limited offense and the German troops were suspicious of the gas

·      The Canadian troops fought to close the gap and    launched two more disastrous attacks near St. Julien.

-Little ground was won and there were many causalities

·      On April 24, the Germans targeted the Canadian line to try to obliterate the Salient once and for all.

-Canadians held in until reinforcements arrived

·         In 48 hours, 6035 Canadians, one man in every three, became casualties of whom more than 2,000 died

·         No major ground was one for either side

·         This was Canada’s first major appearance on a European battlefield, and they had established themselves as a formidable fighting force.

Somme

 

July 1- November 18, 1916 ·         Canadian commander, Lieutenant- General Sir Julian Byng,

·         The Allies planned to launch on the Western, Eastern, and Italian Fronts; and the region of Somme was chosen as a joint for French and British assaults.

-This was plan was ruined when the Germans seized the initiative and chose to attack Verdun (which France valued heavily), which caused mainly the French but also the German army to suffer a depletion in their number of soldiers.

·         Sir Douglas Haig, the new British commander, hasten the Somme offensive to attempt to relieve Verdun.

-By the end of June, Haig had planned his assault that would destroy the enemy line and allow for the British cavalry to attack the rear areas of Germany. Unfortunately for him, Germany had strengthened their defense

·         On July 1, thousands of British and French troops across No Man’s land on a front of over 40 km towards German positions.

·         The “Byng boys” moved from the fields of Flanders to the Somme, on order to defend the front line in the village of Courcelette.

·         On September 15, the Canadian Corps assaulted a 2,000 meter sector west of Courcelette with the help of a creeping barrage and the tank (a new weapon) and successfully captured Regina Trench (on November 11), advanced to Desire Trench and then rejoined the Corps opposite Vimy Ridge.

 

·         57,000 British soldier casualties in one day

·         1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment lost two thirds of its entire strength

·         The French  and the British divisions in the south had gained nearly all their objectives, but the rest of the British sector had gained almost nothing.

·         Allies suffered some 650,000 casualties

·         Both sides had about 200,000 killed

·         Germans refer to it as das Blutbad, meaning blodd bath

·         Canada had 24.029 casualties

·         Canadians confirmed their reputation as hard hitting shocked troops

·         Lloyd George said,” the Canadians… were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another [leaving] the Germans … prepared for the worst.”

Vimy Ridge

 

March 20- April 9, 1917 ·         In March 1917, the Germans withdrew from Reims and Soissons, to strengthen new defenses in the Hindenburg Line.

·         Previous attempts to take Vimy had failed, but did succeed in pushing the Germans in to a position where they could not maneuver with the Douai Plain behind them.

·         Canadian commanders produced elaborate plans. Engineers dug tunnels to the ridge, roads and light railways were improved, and a vast mass of supplies of every type were readied. The troops also practiced their roles until every man was familiar with the ground and tactics expected of him.

·         Preliminary bombardment began on March 20, followed by crushing blows on April 2, and on April 8, all was ready for the mobilization of infantry.

·         On April 9, the infantry attacked and took control of the crest of the Ridge that day, and spent the following three days successfully taking control of hill 145 and the Pimple.

·         10,602 Canadian casualties

·         First time that four division of the Canadian Corps had attacked and triumphed together

·         Four Canadians won the Victoria Cross

·         Canadian Corps received its first Canadian commander when Sir Arthur Currie was promoted to lieutenant- general.

Passchendaele

 

July- November 1917 ·         Canadian forced were ordered to relieve the decimated Anzac forces in the Ypres sector and capture Passchendaele.

·         Lieutenant-General Currie protested that the battlefield’s conditions were too poor but was overruled.

·         On October 26, 20,000 men under heavy fire, inched their way across the battlefield.

·         On October 30, the two British divisions and the Canadians began their attack on Passchendaele itself

-they gained the ruined outskirts of the village

·         By November 11, Passchendaele became part of the Canadian Calvary.

·         Total attacker killed: 4,028

·         Canadian Casualties: 15654

·         Not strategically significant, but it became well known because of the Canadian and British victory in the rough conditions