HISTORY

On 20 November 1917, the British Third Army launched an attack towards Cambrai. The method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, a large number of tanks were used in significant force.

 

Sir Douglas Haig described the object of the Cambrai operations as the gaining of a 'local success by a sudden attack at a point where the enemy did not expect it' and to some extent they succeeded. The proposed method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, tanks would be used to break through the German wire, with the infantry following under the cover of smoke barrages.

The attack began early in the morning of 20 November 1917, and initial advances were remarkable. However, by 22 November, a halt was called for rest and reorganisation, allowing the Germans to reinforce. From 23 to 28 November, the fighting was concentrated almost entirely around Bourlon Wood and by 29 November, it was clear that the Germans were ready for a major counter-attack. During the fierce fighting of the next five days, much of the ground gained in the initial days of the attack was lost.

For the Allies, the results of the battle were ultimately disappointing but valuable lessons were learnt about new strategies and tactical approaches to fighting. The Germans had also discovered that their fixed lines of defence, no matter how well prepared, were vulnerable.

At the end of the battle on 6 December 1917, losses to both sides were great. However, the Allies learned valuable lessons about new strategies and tactical approaches to fighting.

The chateau at Louverval, was taken by the 56th Australian Infantry Battalion at dawn on 2 April 1917. The hamlet stayed in Allied hands until the 51st (Highland) Division was driven from it on 21 March 1918 during the great German advance, and it was retaken in the following September.

The memorial holds the names of seven recipients of the Victoria Cross.

It was unveiled by Lieutenant-General Sir Louis Vaughan on 4 August 1930. It was unveiled at the same hour on the same day as the memorials at Le Touret, Vis-en-Artois and Pozières in France.