Battle of the Sambre (1918)
The Second Battle of the Sambre (November 4, 1918) (which included the Second Battle of Guise and the Battle of Thiérache ) was part of the final European Allied offensives of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...



At the front, German resistance was falling away. Unprecedented numbers of prisoners were taken in the Battle of the Selle
Pursuit to the Selle
The Pursuit to the Selle, a portion of which is referred to as the Battle of the Selle, was a series of skirmishes between allied forces and the German Army, fought during what is known as The Last Hundred Days of World War I, and which occurred after the Second Battle of Cambrai.The pursuit began...

, and a new attack was quickly prepared. The French First Army and the British First, Third, and Fourth Armies were tasked with advancing from south of the Condé
-Places in France:*Condé, Indre, in the Indre département*Condé-en-Brie, in the Aisne département*Condé-Folie, in the Somme département*Condé-lès-Autry, in the Ardennes département*Condé-lès-Herpy, in the Ardennes département...

 Canal along a thirty-mile front towards Maubeuge
Maubeuge is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It is situated on both banks of the Sambre , east of Valenciennes and about from the Belgian border.-History:...

Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

, threatening Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

. Together with the American forces breaking out of the forests of Argonne
Argonne may refer to:*The Forest of Argonne in France*Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. D.O.E. National Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois*Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also called the Battle of Argonne Forest, a World War I battle*Argonne, Wisconsin, a town, US...

, this would, if successful, disrupt the German efforts to reform a shortened defensive line along the Meuse.

At dawn on November 4, 17 British and 11 French divisions headed the attack. The Tank Corps, its resources badly stretched, could provide only 37 tanks for support.


The first barrier to the northern attack was the 60- to 70-foot-wide (60 foot) Sambre Canal
Sambre-Oise Canal
The Sambre-Oise Canal is located in northern France. It forms a connection between the river Sambre at Landrecies and the Oise at Tergnier. The canal is 71 km long, and has 38 locks...

 and the flooded ground around it. It was there that the BEF had fought over four years ago. The XIII
XIII Corps (United Kingdom)
XIII Corps was a British infantry corps during World War I and World War II.-World War I:XIII Corps was formed in France on 15 November 1915 under Lieutenant-General Walter Congreve to be part of Fourth Army. It was first seriously engaged during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. On the First day on...

 and IX Corps reached the canal first. German guns quickly ranged the attackers, and bodies piled up before the temporary bridges were properly emplaced under heavy fire. The 1st and 32nd divisions of IX Corps lost around 1,150 men in the crossing, including celebrated war poet Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War...

. Even after the crossing the German forces defended in depth amid the small villages and fields, and it was not until midday that a 2 miles (3.2 km) by 15 miles (24.1 km) breach was secured. Lieutenant Colonel D.G. Johnson
Dudley Graham Johnson
Major General Dudley Graham Johnson VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Military career:Johnson served with the Wiltshire Regiment...

 was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 for leading the 2nd Battalion Sussex Regiment's
Royal Sussex Regiment
The Royal Sussex Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1966. The regiment was formed as part of the Childers reforms by the amalgamation of the 35th Regiment of Foot and the 107th Regiment of Foot...

 crossing of the canal.

Further north, IV and V
V Corps (United Kingdom)
V Corps was an army corps of the British Army in both the First and Second World War. It was first organised in February 1915 and fought through World War I on the Western front...

 Corps attacked into Forêt de Mormal
Forêt de Mormal
The Forêt de Mormal is a forest in France, near the Franco-Belgian border. It is best known to the British for its role in the retreat from Mons in August 1914. Its lack of passable roads forced I and II Corps of the British army to divide and the two corps did not reunite for some days.- External...

. At Le Quesnoy
Le Quesnoy
Le Quesnoy is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.Le Quesnoy's inhabitants are known as Quercitains.- Economy :The town of Le Quesnoy has somehow missed much of the Industrial Revolution. Unlike the neighboring towns of Valenciennes or Maubeuge, iron/steel works did not take hold...

, the Germans defence was haphazard: the 13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers hardly needed to use their guns, while the 9th Battalion of the 17th Division lost all but two officers and 226 of 583 soldiers. Despite this, the advance continued and the battle objectives were reached on the 4th or the following day.

To the south, the French First Army attacked, capturing the communes of Guise
Guise is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-Population:-Sights:The ruins of the medieval castle of Guise, seat of the Dukes of Guise, are located in the commune.-Miscellaneous:...

 (the Second Battle of Guise) and Origny-en-Thiérache
Origny-en-Thiérache is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-Population:-References:*...

 (the Battle of Thiérache).

This resulted in a bridgehead almost fifty miles long being made, to a depth of two to three miles deep.

From this point, the northern Allies advanced relentlessly, sometimes more than five miles a day, until the Armistice Line of November 11 from Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

, through Hourain, Bauffe, Havre
Havre may refer to:* Havre, Montana* Havre de Grace, Maryland* Havre , Norway* Havre-Aubert, Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Canada* Havre Boucher, Nova Scotia, Canada...

, to near Consoire, and Sivry
Sivry is a village in Burgundy.It is part of the Commune of Saisy in Saône-et-Loire département...

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