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The Battle at the Canal du Nord - Royal Marines in Action

September 27, 2019

27 September-1 October 1918: Battle of the Canal du Nord (Third phase of Hindenburg
Line Battle), Royal Marines Light Infantry and the Royal Marines Artillery


After a few weeks break for training and reinforcement, the 63rd Division took part in the Battle of the Canal du Nord on the 27th September, crossing the Canal du Nord opposite Moeuvres and then pushing forward through Anneux and Graincourt, and then over the Canal d’Escaut into the southern outskirts of Cambrai.


The Divisional history comments: 


In four days the Naval Division had advanced, fighting almost the whole way, for a distance of over seven miles, and had carried four successive prepared positions, the last held by the enemy in front of Cambrai and each one resolutely defended.


Considering the magnitude of the operation, the importance of the results obtained and the vigorous character of the enemy resistance, it would not be wrong to regard this engagement as one of the most successful ever fought by the Division.


Friday 27 September 1918


Capture of ANNEUX by the 3rd Division supported by numbers 1, 3 and 8 RMA
Howitzers. 61 Royal Marines killed


Saturday 28th September 1918

The number 1 RMA Siege Battery brought in to support the 63rd Division with a rail mounted 9.2 inch gun. 25 Royal Marines killed


Saturday 28th - 29th September 1918


The Bridging of Canal de L'Escaut on the Western Front involved the 63rd Royal Naval Division


Sunday 29th September 1918


The Seizing of a Crossing of the Escaul on the Western Front involved the Drake and Hawke Battalions.


Sunday 29th September - 2nd October 1918


The Battle of St Quentin Canal on the Western Front involved No 1 RMA Siege Battery and No's 5, 6 and 12 RMA Howitzers


Sunday 29th - 30th September


The attacks on Cambrai on the Western Front involved 188 and 190 Brigades.


29th September

A further 15 Royal Marines killed


30th September

A further 22 Royal Marines killed


Tuesday 1st October 1918


The attack on strong point at Cambrai on the Western Front involved D Company 1/RMLI.


Casualties listed from:


RND, 1st RM Battalion

RMA, Howitzer Brigade

RND, 63rd Divisional Train
RND, Anson Battalion, attached 1st RM Battalion

RND, Hood Battalion, attached 1st RM Battalion

RND, 63rd Machine Gun Battalion

RND, 149th RN Field Ambulance, RM Medical Unit

RND, 150th RN Field Ambulance, RM Medical Unit


The Battle


The Battle of Canal du Nord was part of the Hundred Days Offensive of the First World War by the Allies against German positions on the Western Front. The battle took place in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, along an incomplete portion of the Canal du Nord and on the outskirts of Cambrai between 27 September and 1 October 1918.


To prevent the Germans from sending reinforcements against one attack, the assault along the Canal du Nord was part of a sequence of Allied attacks at along the Western Front. The attack began the day after the Meuse-Argonne Offensive commenced, a day before an offensive in Belgian Flanders and two days before the Battle of St. Quentin Canal.


The attack took place along the boundary between the British First Army and Third Army, which were to continue the advance started with the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line, Battle of Havrincourt and Battle of Epehy.


The First Army was to lead the crossing of the Canal du Nord and secure the northern flank of the British Third Army as both armies advanced towards Cambrai. The Third Army was also to capture the Escaut (Scheldt) Canal, to support the Fourth Army during the Battle of St. Quentin Canal.





More Here; Private Harry Barter, 1st Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry




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