Amiens

Machine gunners advancing into a wood passing.

Machine gunners advancing into a wood passing German gun. Battle of Amiens, August, 1918.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada; (MIKAN no. 3397890)

The First World War

Date

8-11 August 1918

Geographical parameters

Between the roads Amiens — Royes and Amiens — Albert (Amiens exclusive)

Context

A group honour formally entitled The Battle of Amiens and itself being part of The Advance in Picardy (8 August — 3 September 1918).Footnote 1

Description

The Honour “Amiens” was awarded for the Allied offensive in the Picardy region of France to retake the ground gained by the German Army during the 1918 Spring Offensive. The British divisions in the area had been weakened by the many months of difficult fighting to halt the advance. The Canadian Corps (Lieutenant-General Sir A.W. Currie) had not suffered greatly from the German attacks and was selected along with the Australian Corps to form the British portion of an Anglo-French attack against the apex of the German salient east of Amiens. General Currie was made aware of the plan for his Corps as early as 20 July but planning for the attack was to be done under utmost secrecy. Canadian troops did not start moving to the area until after 1 August and only moved at night. To deceive the Germans, Canadian preparations for an attack in the Arras area continued and a few Canadian units and signalers were moved to the Flanders area to give the impression of a Canadian build up in that area. Division commanders were not told of the attack until the 30th of July and Canadian soldiers who began the move thought they were going to the Ypres front until they loaded onto vehicles in the rear areas and received orders to move toward Amiens. The logistical undertaking was enormous but in a short period most of the Canadian Corps' soldiers, equipment, guns and huge stocks of ammunition were in place for the attack. The left-hand Canadian Corps boundary, with the Australians, was along the railway line between Amiens and Chaulnes. On the Canadian right was the French 31st Corps to the south of the Amiens Roye road.

The Battle opened on the 8th of August under a heavy artillery barrage. To maintain surprise there had been no preparatory artillery fire. The Canadian Corps had the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions in the front line with each division having only a one-brigade frontage. The purpose of the attack was to advance deeply into the German defences. The brigades of the first wave gained their objectives within a short time allowing the brigades of the second wave to leap frog and continue to push the Germans back. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade (Brigadier-General J.E.B. Seely), as part of the 3rd Cavalry Division, also took part. This Division was tasked with continuing the attack on the Corps' right beyond the advance of the 3rd Division. On this first day the Canadian Corps took all its objectives and seized the German 'Outer Amiens Defence Line' advancing over 12 kilometres at its deepest point. Only the village of the Le Quesnel, an objective of the Cavalry Division, was still in German hands. The Germans brought up several divisions as reinforcements during the night of 8 — 9 August. Canadian plans for the next phase initially included a British Division that was removed from Canadian control at the last minute. This caused a great deal of confusion in orders and delayed operations on the 9th of August. Units of all four Canadian Divisions participated that day and in spite of the delays and increased German reinforcements, the depth of the advance increased by over 6 kilometres. The Canadian Corps continued to press the Germans the next morning, having reached the 1916 trench lines. The wire, obstacles and trenches of these former defensive positions proved difficult to move through in some areas. However, over the next few days in a series of small operations the Germans were pushed back beyond their old defensive positions. The last Canadian units in the area were relieved on 20 August after having advanced over 20 kilometres, capturing more than 9000 prisoners, 200 guns, over a thousand machine guns and trench mortars. The Canadians and their allies had taken back almost all the ground lost in Picardy during the German spring offensive but more importantly, with this attack, they had gained the initiative.

Canadian Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Currie is examining two types of 15cm German naval cannon on field carriages.

Canadian Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Currie is examining two types of 15cm German naval cannon on field carriages. Battle of Amiens. August, 1918.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada (MIKAN no. 3397915)

General Sir Sam Huges (left fore) visiting the Front

General Sir Sam Huges (left fore) visiting the Front, talking with Brigadier-Gereral Seely (middle fore). August, 1916. Location unknown.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence/PA-000599 Library and Archives Canada/PA-000599; (MIKAN no. 3221015)

Awarded to:

Currently serving units

Units on the Supplementary Order of Battle

  • 11th Field Squadron, RCE
    Award to The Lambton Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 12th Manitoba Dragoons 
    Award to The Border Horse (GO 59/32)
  • 14th Canadian Hussars
    Award to the 14th Canadian Light Horse (GO 5/31)
  • 21st Field Artillery Regiment, RCA
    Award to The Wellington Rifles (GO 71/30)
  • 24th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA
    Awards to the 54th Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF (GO 110/29) and The Kootenay Regiment (GO 110/29)
  • 26th Field Battery, RCA
    Awards to The Lambton Regiment (GO 71/30) and The Wellington Rifles (GO 71/30)
  • 27th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA
    Award to The Eastern Townships Mounted Rifles (GO 110/29)
  • 38th Field Battery, RCA
    Awards to the 2nd Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, CEF (GO 71/30), the Machine Gun Squadron, Canadian Cavalry Brigade, CEF (GO 5/31), the 1st Cavalry Machine Gun Squadron (GO 5/31), and the 2nd Motor Machine Gun Brigade, CMGC (GO 71/30)
  • 48th Field Squadron, RCE
    Award to The Lambton Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 50th Field Artillery Regiment (The Prince of Wales' Rangers), RCA
    Awards to the 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF (GO 123/29), the 4th Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps, CEF (GO 123/29), The Peterborough Rangers (GO 110/29), and the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, CMGC (GO 123/29).
  • 65th Field Battery, RCA
    Award to The Assiniboia Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 76th Field Battery, RCA
    Award to The Assiniboia Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 97th Field Battery, RCA
    Award to The Bruce Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 98th (Huron) Field Battery, RCA
    Award to The Bruce Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 99th Field Battery, RCA
    Award to The Wellington Rifles (GO 71/30)
  • 101st Field Battery (Self-Propelled), RCA
    Award to The Assiniboia Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • 118th Medium Battery, RCA
    Awards to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion, CEF (GO 110/29) and The Manitoba Mounted Rifles (GO 5/31)
  • 202nd Field Battery, RCA
    Award to The Yorkton Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • The Royal Rifles of Canada
    Award to The Royal Rifles of Canada (GO 71/30)
  • Victoria Rifles of Canada
    Awards to the 24th Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF (GO 110/29) and The Victoria Rifles of Canada (GO 110/29)
  • The Winnipeg Grenadiers
    Awards to the 78th Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF (GO 110/29) and The Winnipeg Grenadiers (GO 110/29)

Disbanded Units

  • 16th/17th (Reserve) Medium Battery, RCA
    Award to The Kenora Light Infantry (GO 71/30)
  • The Irish Canadian Rangers
    Award to The Irish Canadian Rangers (GO 71/30)
  • The Manitoba Regiment
    Award to The Manitoba Regiment (GO 123/29)
  • McGill University Contingent (148th Bn., C.E.F.), The Canadian Officers' Training Corps
    Award to the McGill University Contingent (148th Bn., C.E.F.), The Canadian Officers' Training Corps (GO 136/32)
  • The Middlesex and Huron Regiment
    Awards to The Middlesex Light Infantry (GO 71/30) and The Huron Regiment (GO 71/30)
  • The North Alberta Regiment
    Awards to the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion, CEF (GO 110/29) and The North Alberta Regiment (GO 110/29)
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