Cambrai November 1917

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    After the failure of British tanks in the thick mud at Passchendaele, Colonel John Fuller, chief of staff to the Tank Corps, suggested a massed raid on dry ground between the Canal du Nord and the St Quentin Canal. General Sir Julian Byng, commander of the Third Army, accepted Fuller's plan, it was originally vetoed by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Douglas Haig.

    After the failure to break through at Ypres, Haig changed his mind and ordered a massed tank attack at Artois. Launched at dawn on 20th November, without preliminary bombardment, the attack completely surprised the German Army defending that part of the Western Front. Employing 476 tanks, six infantry and two cavalry divisions, the British Third Army gained over 6km in the first day. Progress towards Cambrai continued over the next few days but on the 30th November, 29 German divisions launched a counter-offensive.

    By the time that fighting came to an end on 7th December, 1917, German forces had regained almost all the ground it lost at the start of the Cambrai Offensive. During the two weeks of fighting, the British suffered 45,000 casualties. Although it is estimated that the Germans lost 50,000 men, Haig considered the offensive as a failure and reinforced his doubts about the ability of tanks to win the war.
  2. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    cambrai drumhead.jpg Cambrai dead.jpg
    The Battle of Cambrai is celebrated every year by the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR). This battle although it ended in stalemate, brought mobility back to the battlefield and was instramental in bringing to an end the slaughter of trench warfare. This is symbolised in the regimental colours of the RTR, Brown, Red, Green, from Mud, through blood, to the green fields beyond.

    This year (2012) was the 95th anniversary of the battle. I was fortunate to be able to travel to Cambrai to take part in the Celebrations.

    The photo's show the RTR drumhead service at the British Empire memorial to the fallen of Cambrai 1917
  3. Barnbarroch

    Barnbarroch New Member

    My great uncle, Frank Vans Agnew MC was captured at Fontaine-notre-Dâme during the battle. He wasn't impressed by the constant changes of plan leading up the the attack. I don't think he thought highly of the planning at all, in fact!

    From Hanover on 3 January 1918 he wrote home: 'The German papers say there is to be a Commission of Enquiry into the conduct, on our part, of the late battle (Cambrai). I am glad to hear it and wish I were there to give evidence. My being here is all a gross mistake, on someone’s part, for I obeyed orders to the letter and had not a ghost of a chance, as it so turned out. I attach not a bit of blame to myself in any way. I hope the family is not too disgusted, but please tell them what I say.'

    He wouldn't have thought much of the whitewash job that senior officers managed to do on their own part, throwing the blame onto the junior officers and men in the field.
  4. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    This year is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai. I will in Cambrai for 4 days to take part in the celebrations which include the Royal Tank Regiment being granted the "Freedom of Cambrai". I will a post a selection of photo's after the event.

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