The victories at the Canal du Nord and Bourlon Wood cleared the way to Cambrai. Between October 8th and 10th, Canadian, British, and New Zealand troops fought in and around the city. Compared to the resistance they had experienced at the Canal du Nord and on the outskirts of Cambrai in the previous days, taking the city itself proved to be an easy task for the liberators, the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions.
Leading up to the Battle of the Canal du Nord, Canadian Engineers worked tirelessly to construct bridges across the Canal, ready for the assault that would take place on September 27th. On that day, the Corps advanced approximately four kilometres before being held up for a time near Bourlon Wood.
In the following days, Canadian troops cleared enemy trenches and liberated multiple French villages, before encountering extraordinarily harsh fighting on the outskirts of Cambrai. Between September 27th and October 2nd, Canada suffered more than 13,600 casualties – one of the most costly actions of the war.
Above photograph from Where the Red Willow Grew, page 235
The archives recently received a query from a researcher in Germany. Jürgen kindly gave us permission to share some of his family’s story on our blog today.
“My paternal family lived for several generations until the Second World War in a small village west of the town of Lutsk in Volhynia, now Ukraine. They were descendants of German colonists who had left their homeland in the 18th century to seek a better life in the East. Almost all of them were farmers.
At that time, life there was really not easy and people had to work very hard to make ends meet. In the late 1920s, the population in the villages had grown so much that there was not enough land left to feed all of them. Therefore, many families decided to leave Volhynia. They emigrated to distant countries like Brazil, Argentina, the US and Canada.
A few of my relatives sought their fortune overseas. One of my father’s oldest cousins, Alvina Reichert (Mundt), emigrated together with her husband Arnold and their children to Canada in 1929. In the first years, they maintained contact with their relatives left behind in Volhynia, but after the end of the Second World War they certainly lost touch.
I have already been researching my family history for several years and one day, I wondered how the life of Alvina and Arnold had gone further after they had arrived in Canada. Unfortunately, I did not know exactly where they had settled in Canada. So I started looking for any clues of them on the internet. Finally, I discovered this wonderful website of the South Peace Regional Archives. There I found the names of my relatives listed in the database “Compiled Community Book Names Index”. Then I contacted the archive by email and I asked for assistance. I was surprised to receive an answer to my request the same day. The staff were extremely friendly and they helped me a lot in my search for information about my relatives. Really amazing!
I am very happy to have found this website and I recommend it to anyone who wants to do research in this region.
Many thanks and kind regards from Germany!
The Drocourt-Queant Line was a part of the Hindenburg Line, an extensive German defence system built in the winter of 1916/1917. On September 2, the first day of fighting at the Drocourt-Queant Line, a section more than six kilometres wide was captured. By the following evening, Canadian troops had reached Canal du Nord. This victory cost the Canadian Corps 5,622 casualties in a span of three days.
We thank everyone for their interest in this project. We have now located a volunteer to complete this. However, if you are interested in completing similar projects, please do not hesitate to let us know! The Archives collections include many records in French that we would be delighted to have translated and transcribed.
The Archives is currently seeking a volunteer with knowledge of the French language to transcribe and translate a short speech by Pierre Lozeron, to be included in the next issue of Telling Our Stories.
Pierre Lozeron was born in 1887, in Auverern, Canton of Neuchatel, Switzerland. Pierre arrived in the South Peace in 1912, having walked over the Edson Trail to settle in this area. Like many immigrants in the early 20th century, Pierre rarely saw his family, but corresponded with them regularly. In 1959, Pierre traveled back to Switzerland to visit his family. During this visit, he presented a speech on his pioneering life in Canada. We are interested in showcasing this speech in our special travel themed issue of our magazine. It is four typed pages long, and written in French. According to Pierre: “Je suis agriculteur. Je ne suis pas orateur.” (I am a farmer. I am not a public speaker).
If you, or someone you know, would be willing to transcribe and then translate this speech, please contact email@example.com
The Battle of the Scarpe lasted from August 26th to August 30th. Bad weather delayed the attack, but despite the rain and heavy resistance from the enemy, nearly ten kilometres of ground were gained in the first three days of the battle. Important strongholds along the German’s Fresnes-Rouvroy line were also seized by Canadian troops.
Between August 14th and 17th, Canadian troops fought their way into Parvillers and Damery (approximately 35 kilometres east of Amiens). Despite heavy shelling and counterattack, they were able to hold both villages and take prisoners. Vincent Noskey, a South Peace soldier, was killed in action at Parvillers. You can read his story on YouTube or our Soldiers’ Memorial.
The opening day of the Battle of Amiens (August 8, 1918) was labelled by General Ludendorff as “the black day of the German Army in the history of the war”. The Canadians pushed his troops back as much as twelve kilometres on the first day of the battle, and on the 11th of August, the battle ended in a decisive victory for the Allied troops. A total of 5,033 prisoners were taken at Amiens by the Canadian Corps.
Norman Johnston was a South Peace soldier who served at Amiens, and was awarded the Military Medal for his brave actions. His story has been shared on YouTube and on our Soldiers’ Memorial.
August 8, 1918 marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. During these crucial final battles, Canadian troops were chosen to be at the forefront of the attacks on the Germans’ main defensive lines.
More than 6,800 Canadians were killed and approximately 39,000 wounded between August 8 and November 11. To commemorate the triumph and sacrifice of our soldiers during the Hundred Days Offensive, the South Peace Regional Archives will be sharing short videos in the coming weeks, featuring the stories of local soldiers who were part of that final big push that led to the Armistice.
South Peace Regional Archives is hosting a cemetery tour next week and we’re inviting you to join in!
The tour takes place on Wednesday, August 8 at 7:00 PM. Join us at the Grande Prairie Cemetery (84 Avenue and 112 Street) to discover the rich history of Grande Prairie and area through the stories of its people.
Call the Archives at 780-830-5105 to register. (limit of 25 participants per tour)