Bourlon Wood Canadian Battlefield Memorial ParkMemorial to the actions of the Canadian Corps in the final months of the First World War
©Memorial to the actions of the Canadian Corps in the final months of the First World War|Loane Haudebault
Canadian MemorialBourlon

Bourlon Wood Canadian Memorial

On September 27, 1918, the Battle of the Canal du Nord began.

The construction of this river canal, which was to connect the Oise to the Dunkirk-Scheldt Canal, began in 1913 but had to stop with the outbreak of World War I. Part of the earthworks already carried out was under German control and was used as defense by the enemy.

Primary Objective:

Bourlon Wood

After the battles east of Arras, British troops found themselves facing the canal and the Hindenburg Line. The objectives of the British 1st and 3rd Armies were to attack and cross the Canal du Nord, take the northern extension of the Hindenburg Line, and then capture the town of Cambrai, a real communications hub for the enemy.

The attack was given on September 27 at 5:20 a.m. to take the Germans by surprise.

Three brigades of the Canadian Corps used a narrow passageway that was not flooded by the enemy to make their way toward Bourlon Wood, the main objective. Behind these infantry brigades a specially ordered rolling barrage of artillery protected the advance of the soldiers in the open. Canadian engineer sappers followed closely behind the infantry in an effort to hurriedly build critically important bridges.

A lightning attack

Once the canal was crossed, the troops were ordered to assemble and expand the front at lightning speed, increasing it from 2 to 15 kilometers. The troops were then to encircle Bourlon Wood and prepare to advance toward Cambrai. In twelve hours of fierce fighting, the Canadians advanced more than 8 kilometers.

By mid-morning, the defenders were either taken prisoner or had retreated. The Canadian Corps captured Bourlon Wood where the enemy artillery was located.


Canada does not forget

In honor of the Canadian soldiers who fought, a memorial has been erected in the town of Bourlon. On the side of the road, a park and a stone recall the sacrifice and the courage that the Canadian soldiers had during the capture of the wood.