Canadian Chaplains and breaking the Drocourt-Queant line.
By 17 August, the Canadian Corps had clawed deeply into German lines at Amiens. As the push ground down in the maze of old 1916 trenches, General Currie and Third Army Commander Rawlinson pushed for a relocation of the Canadians to where the Germans would not expect an attack. British Commander Douglas Haig concurred and persuaded the Supreme Allied Commander Ferdinand Foch to agree. Currie’s force was transferred to General Horne at Arras. Here the Germans had fortified a strong belt of defences, thirty kilometers deep, as far back as the partially-drained Canal du Nord. Behind it lay Cambrai. If the Canadians could break in here, the German defences southwards would be turned and the whole front opened for exploitation.
The Canadians had to work fast: Currie had two divisions in the line by August 23. They would jump off three days later, backed by the other two divisions and the 51st Highland Division. Twenty-six Brigades of Artillery and one British Tank Brigade joined in the attack. The first skirmishes at Neuville-Vitasse were over in minutes: hearing the Canadians were in the line, the German defenders were already evacuating the objective when the attack began at 3.am. After great initial gains the offensive ground down in heavy rain, bogged tanks and accidental attack by friendly air forces. When the Canadians finally outran the range of their guns, it was time to pause.
On 30 August the First Division carried out a textbook breakthrough and capture of the critical launching points for the new attack and held them against heavy counter-attacks. Currie planned a renewed attack for 2 September while his guns blasted fields of uncut wire. Altogether, over 101,000 Canadians and 47,000 British troops were under his command.