In the spring of 1918, the German Empire launched a series of large-scale battles known collectively as the German Spring Offensive. This offensive began with Operation Michael, launched on 21 March 1918, which aimed to cut through the Somme, and eventually surround the British Army.
At first German tactics were very successful as their small groups of highly trained soldiers, preceded by an artillery barrage, surged forward leaving the following waves of infantry to mop up behind them. On the 5th April, however, just before Amiens and the vital railway junctions of the city, the Allies managed to bring a halt to their advance.
The Canadian Corps had not been involved in these offensives, and thus its strong, fresh, well-trained and well-organized troops were ready for the Allied counter-attack that was being planned.
The Battle of Amiens
The Battle of Amiens began in the early hours of the 8th August 1918. Along a 22.5 kilometre front, with the French manning the southern sector and the Canadians and Australians spear-heading the British attack, the aim of this battle was to destroy and demoralize the German Army, with the help of heavy artillery and tanks. Ludendorff himself called this day “the black day of the German Army". In addition to the high numbers of German casualties that were inflicted, and the capture of hundreds of guns, mortars and machine guns, the Canadians had gained 13 kilometres of ground, the Australians 11, the French 8 and the British, acting as flank-guard, had captured 3.
To the south of Le Quesnel, on the road between Amiens and Roye, the Le Quesnel Canadian Memorial pays homage to the Canadian Corps that fought in this area during the Battle of Amiens. Engraved into the block of Quebec granite that forms the memorial are the words, in English and in French:
"THE CANADIAN CORPS ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND STRONG ON 8TH AUGUST 1918 ATTACKED BETWEEN HOURGES AND VILLERS-BRETONNEUX AND DROVE THE ENEMY EASTWARD FOR EIGHT MILES"