Battle of Valenciennes and Mons

November 1 – 11, 1918
“Hustle the Hun!”

After the victory at the Canal du Nord and Cambrai in early October the pursuit was on. The Canadian Corps, and the rest of the Allied armies, began a running battle with retreating German forces. During this time the Canadian Corps advanced over 70 kilometres.

The last French city held by German forces was Valenciennes. The attack on Valenciennes was the culmination of all the lessons the Canadian Corps had learned during the war. The artillery fired a creeping barrage, as well as reverse creeping barrage, and a barrage that ran perpendicular to the German line. This created a box of four walls of fire that would have been like biblical fire and brimstone. The plan called for taking the high ground at Mount Houy, and then capturing Valenciennes.

The 44th Battalion attacked up Mount Houy on the morning of November 1. The artillery had done their job, as hundreds of German soldiers surrendered. Apart from the prisoners, the 44th captured a mind-boggling 83 heavy machine guns that were being used to defend the hill.

Once the high ground had been taken, the assault on the city began. The fighting around the city was severe despite the artillery barrage. It was a two-pronged attack from the south and west. The attackers from the west had to cross over a canal while under fire using small boats and a
cork bridge.

By November 2 ,Valenciennes had been surrounded and all German forces defending the city had been killed or captured.

The pursuit continued, and by November 10 the Canadian Corps was outside of the Belgian city of Mons. Fighting patrols around Mons, and into the city continued until 6:30 AM when the Canadian headquarters was notified the ceasefire would take effect at 11:00 AM.

The success of the Canadian Corps in the last 100 days of the war came at a terrible cost. From August 8 until November 11, 1918, the Canadian Corps suffered 45,835 wounded and dead- about 20% of their entire total during the war. Speeches about glory, and accolades as shock troops, were little consolation for the battered and weary soldiers of the Canadian Corps. But, their war was over, and during the next year the citizen soldiers of the Canadian Corps made their way back to Canada to live in peace once more.

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