The Battle of Canal du Nord was part of a general Allied offensive against German positions on the Western Front during the Hundred Days Offensive of World War I. The battle took place in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, along a portion of the Canal du Nord. It began one day after the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, one day before an offensive in the Flanders region of Belgium, the assault position was directly along the inter-army boundary between the British First Army and Third Army. Both armies were tasked with continuing the advance started with the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line, Battle of Havrincourt and Battle of Epehy. The British Third Army was additionally tasked with securing the Escaut Canal so as to be in a position to support the British Fourth Army during the Battle of St. Quentin Canal. The British assault on the Drocourt-Quéant Line on 2 September 1918 resulted in the Germans being overrun along a 7, in an effort to gain direct observation of all bridges over the Sensée River and the Canal du Nord the British attack was supposed to continue the following day. However, the German preempted the British attack by withdrawing along a wide front, further to the south, the German Eighteenth and Ninth Armies were to follow in succession, resulting in the abandonment of the entire salient gained during the Spring Offensive by 9 September. In the north the German Fourth and Sixth Armies retreated between Lens and Ypres, abandoning without a fight the Lys salient and the gains made during the Battle of the Lys. British air patrols on the morning of 3 September reported seeing no Germans between the Dury Ridge and the Canal du Nord, likewise, the British Third Army was able to occupy the towns of Quéant and Pronville without any fighting and observed the Germans widely falling back. As the British troops advanced to meet the new German front line they reported the east bank of the Canal du Nord strongly held, the only exception was at Palluel where the Germans maintained a bridgehead on the western side of the canal. The construction of the Canal du Nord began in 1913 and was intended link the Oise River to the Dunkirk-Scheldt Canal, however, with the outbreak of the First World War construction was halted and the work was left in varying stages of completion. On 3 September Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies Généralissime Ferdinand Foch outlined the future course of the Allied offensive campaign along the Western Front. To avoid the risk of having extensive German reserves massed against a single Allied attack, the plan called for Allied attacks at four separate points in the German line, to be launched on four successive days. Army Group Flanders under King Albert I of Belgium would conduct the most northern operation and attack German positions in Flanders and move towards Ghent and Bruges. The British Fourth Army and French First Army would attack the Germans along the Saint-Quentin Canal in an effort to breach the Hindenburg Line between Holnon and Vendhuile. To the south, the First United States Army and French Fourth Army would mount the Meuse-Argonne Offensive between Reims and Verdun, moving along the Meuse River and through the Argonne Forest. The Canal du Nord defensive system was the Germans last major prepared defensive position opposite the British First Army and it was nevertheless a significant obstacle as the Germans had taken measures to incorporate the unfinished canal into their defensive system. The greater arm of the Hindenburg Support Line crossed the canal at Mœuvres and this was supplemented by the Marquion-Cantaing Line which ran along a north-south axis one mile east of the canal and the Marcoing Line located just west of Cambrai
Canadian Combat Engineers building a bridge across the Canal du Nord, September 1918
Battle planning map detailing the brigade boundaries and objectives of the Canadian Corps.