Canal du Nord

In March 1918 the German High Command commenceda series of large scale offensives along the Western Front. Although German forces achieved initial significant gains, the Allies eventually contained the breakthroughs.In July the French counter-attacked and on 8th August 1918 the British struck back on the Somme.  After winning a key victory at Amiens under the British 4th Army, the Canadian Corps joined the 1st Army in the Arras sector. The Canadian objective was Cambrai. On 26th August the Canadian  Corps began its advance from Arras pursuing the retiring Germans through the “Hindenburg Line” and the “Drocourt-Quéant Switch”.The Canadians were now confronted by the imposing obstacle of the Canal du Nord. In the north, above Ecluse No 3 at Sains lès Marquion, the canal had been finished and it was filled with water. From there, to the south, as far as Inchy the foundations were only half completed.The 1st Canadian Division assaulted across  the canal at Sains lès Marquion on the 27th September 1918. The 15th Battalion began its advance towards the canal at 0845 hours. German machine gunfire from Keith Wood had prevented the Canadian Engineers from building more than one bridge. Under constant fire, the Highlanders dashed across the canal and then the Agache River by making a plank bridge and the Companies spread out, taking different routes northwards between the canal and the main road. No 3 Company advanced just to the west of Keith Wood while No 2 Company remained closer to the canal and entered Marquion on its western side near the bridge destroyed by the Germans.

A bitter struggle began for the streets with the German defenders  fighting for every house. By 1330 hours although Marquion had been taken the attack was now behind schedule and the Highlanders were forced to continue on to Sauchy without artillery support.  During the day the 15th Battalion captured 300 prisoners but the cost had been 153 casualties.

Period sketch by Lt Banton 15th Battalion Period sketch by Lt Banton 15th Battalion
Pte JA Barker KIA
     27 Sept 1918
 Headstone of Pte JA Barker
Sains-Les- Marquion British Cemetery
Engineers Arial photo

Canadian Engineers bridging the Canal du Nord

Aerial photograph of the Canal du Nord near
Sains le Marquion