The Canadians on the Somme
The Canadian Corps was deployed to the Somme at the beginning of September 1916, after having experienced their first baptism of fire on the Ypres Salient in 1915. Their first action on the Somme took place on 15 September 1916, during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, a battle made famous by the tanks that were used for the very first time.
That morning, the Canadian Corps launched an attack on the German positions in the ruined village of Courcelette. By 8am, they had secured their main objective of the Sugar Factory, a German strong hold, and were pushing on to Courcelette. Despite being hit by numerous counter-attacks, the Canadians managed to hold their new positions.
During the following weeks, the three divisions of the Canadian Corps launched attacks on a series of enemy trench lines. The ultimate objective was Regina Trench, but this position defied capture and although ground was taken, the position could not be firmly held.
The 4th Canadian Division was sent to relieve the Canadian Corps in mid-October. The weather had turning for the worse and the men experienced terrible conditions on the cold, wet and muddy battlefields of the Somme. Regina Trench was finally captured on 11 November, and a week later the fight continued for Desire Trench, in the rain and snow. This was the final attack of the Somme Campaign.
The Canadians lost more than 24,000 men during the Battle of the Somme but had proved their worth. Lloyd George wrote: "The Canadians played a part of such distinction that thenceforward they were marked out as storm troops. For the remainder of the war they were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another. Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."
The Courcelette Canadian Memorial
Hidden from the road by tall trees, the Canadian Memorial at Courcelette stands at the centre of a circular memorial park in remembrance of the Canadians who fought in this area during the Battle of the Somme. On the block of granite which forms the memorial, the following inscription can be read, in English and in French: "THE CANADIAN CORPS BORE A VALIANT PART IN FORCING BACK THE GERMANS ON THESE SLOPES DURING THE BATTLES OF THE SOMME SEPT. 3RD - NOV. 18TH 1916"
- Free access to the memorial all year round
- Address: Route D929 (route de Bapaume), 80300 COURCELETTE
- Email : email@example.com
- Longitude 2.752765 | Latitude 50.055949