aum_kleem (aum_kleem) wrote,

Little known 1918 battle: Battle of Iwuy

Cimetiè re Iwuy carré  militaire.  Iwuy Military Cemetery</td></tr></table>
Niagara Cemetery, Iwuy Military Cemetery.</center>

Little known 1918 battle: Battle of Iwuy


English mirror site

A very worthwhile project has been initiated in the city of Iwuy (population 3,232), department Nord, district of Cambrai (region Nord-Pas-de-Calais), France. Michel Lespagnol, resident of the village hopes to pay tribute to all the people who participated in a little known 1918 battle that freed the village on the anniversary date of "The Battle of Iwuy." Lespagnol, retired now from the Railways, has a love of history becoming an amateur local historian of the area, and is requested by the teachers to help explain the great sacrifices undertaken by military personnel. With supporting documents and field trips, the classroom of youngsters are enriched by the knowledge imparted to them about the war effort. Lespagnol feels deeply about the great time lapse between current generations and the era of the "war to end all wars" and worries that after the interest re-kindled by the 100th anniversary of armistice that the youngest will forget these hard times too quickly.

Now a brief introduction to the Battle of Iwuy. "Combining elements of all-arms fighting, the last Canadian cavalry charge, and the only engagement of Canadian troops with German tanks during the First World War. Mike McNorgan's analysis [in the book, More Fighting for Canada: Five Battles 1760-1944] of the 1918 Battle of Iwuy is one of the most interesting and original of the essays in More Fighting for Canada by virtue of the fact that almost no one has ever heard of the action. "1

"The 21 st Canadian Battalion will cross the Canal de L'Escaut over bridge ...[location] at
0800 hours this date, and occupy billets in ESCAUDOEUVRES."Full text of "21st Infantry Battalion War Diary (1915-1919)" at

October 9, 1918 the Canadian Light Horse (CLH) had crossed the Canal de l'Escaut to seize the high ground northwest of Naves. Their attack was halted with heavy losses, by concentrated machine gun fire coming from Naves and nearby Iwuy."[5]

October 10, 1918 was a rainy, misty day. The "A" and "B" Companies and the 19th Battalion went ahead for the attack on the town of Naves establishing a position about 8:30 in the morning. "In the afternoon the cavalry came up to advance on the next ridge. They went over us about 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. They had to go down a hill and up another. A creek [the River Erclin] ran between them and the Germans, who were on the other side in trenches on the hill. The cavalry went forward, the horses ringing wet (with sweat). ...It is a pretty sight as they dashed down the hill and over the creek ...then the Germans opened up on them. It was a shame. They could not help but hit them with machine guns. All the men out of seventy five or so went down but one, and he finally went. But the horses were not all killed. That attack was a failure...The charge on October 10 cost the regiment seventy-one animals, of which sixty-six were killed. The losses among the men were considerably lighter, five killed and seventeen wounded."[5]

The 21 st Battalion War Diary mentions that on October 11th the Unit commanders met at 0100 hours to arrange the operation and details. The 20th Canadian Battalion was readied in the rear of the 21st Canadian Battalion, and they were ready to proceed at 0900 hours. The German troops shelled the area with H.E. and Gas from 05:30 hours onward. At 0900 hours, the 146th Bridage commenced to the the right of the 21st Canadian Battalion. Especially during the first hour of this advance on the high ground of Avesnes-Le-Sec many casualties were sustained as the Germans opened fire with machine guns. "Fifty percent of our Officers, N.C.O.s and Lewis Gunners became casualties during the first half hour of the action." 21st Battalion

"The 4 th Canadian Infantry Brigade will continue the attack tomorrow, 11 th October, at
0900 hours, with the object of capturing AVESNES-le-SEC and move on to NOVELLES, and
attempt to make good crossing over River ERCLIN.
" Full text of "21st Infantry Battalion War Diary (1915-1919)"

The action proceeded promptly at 0900 hours with the 146th Brigade on the right of the 21st Canadian Battalion. As the advance continued on the high ground south-west of Avesnes-Le-Sec and suffered many casualties from German machine gun fire. The enemy then brought out tanks as a counter measure. The Canadians withdrew to re-organize. 21 st Battalion war diary source

On October 11, 1918, the German counterattack involved military tanks. As the allies advanced, they were met by a bombardment of shells, and approaching tanks. After a reconnoiter by the military officers, the infantry was on task again. "Our officers began to figure it out and they yelled "come on Canadians." We went and all the Imperials as well, we were all mixed up, and the rally was followed all along the line. It was in the open and there were thousands of men. The Germans were thick too. They had two tanks on our front. Great big square tanks. We went on to meet them and about halfways several of the tanks were shot by bullets. By now, the Germans had stopped and were starting to go back."[5] In the aftermath, the reports differ as to the number of tanks, ranging from two to half a dozen tanks at this attack.

Deward Barnes states in his book, "Journal of Deward Barnes, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1916-1919" that "this episode is also peculiar because it saw an officer of the British Empire employing a captured, German-made rifle to help drive off a German attack consisting mainly of captured, British-made tanks?" Barnes states that about one hundred abandoned and damaged British tanks had been re-furbished by the Germans as only about twenty German-made tanks had been deployed.

Now the 20th Canadian Battalion, was immediately after the 21st Canadian Battalion, and the 20th was the left attacking flank. After the withdrawal, the advance continued onwards at 1530 hours on October 11th. Now the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade was fighting on the left. 21 st Battalion war diary source

As can be seen in the Military Cross Citation for Captain Baxter, "He [Baxter] pushed forward with his company, and having use of all his Lewis guns and three captured machine guns, was able to force the tanks to retire, thereby enabling the position to be held, and the advance to continue later." source- Battling Tanks at Iwuy: The last German use of tanks in World War 1

"Thirteen Officers of those who went forward with the Battalion became casualties on October 10th - 11th." Highest honours were bestowed. source 21 st Battalion war diary source

[October 11th/12th.] "Our casualties during the advance of the day were: Officers killed, 3; died of wounds, 1; wounded, 6; wounded at duty, 2; Gassed 1; Other Rankes, killed 39; wounded 272; Missing 2." 21 st Battalion war diary source

Stephanie Potter in her thesis states, " Cavalry was responsible for passing through the infantry line once objectives had been captured, and clearing the area of enemy troops while keeping pressure on the enemy retreat . In pursuit, speed was of the utmost importance to keep the enemy from reforming and reinforcing their lines and launching a counterattack. Cavalry was of vital importance in this particular role due to its superior mobility. Mounted troops were able to advance quickly, charge and disperse the enemy, and could efficiently round up small enemy parties or speed up their retreat." However, as cavalry advanced into open country, enemy fire consistently came from covered locations such as woods, villages, and houses, leaving cavalry vulnerable and hard pressed to put enemy guns out of action. Thus machine gun support was necessary to counteract enemy fire, form defensive flanks and pivots for the cavalry to manoeuvre from and retain mobility, consolidate captured ground, and to fire upon the retreating enemy."

Conversly, Potter states that tanks "were not designed to traverse trenches, but to advance across open country without being vulnerable to enemy fire." Tanks had "limited reliability and slow rate of advance." On observation tanks "were less vulnerable to machine gun fire than cavalrymen, but they could not sustain artillery fire.... Concentrated machine gun fire was capable of putting any tank out of action." "Armoured vehicles also provided...a larger target, and lacked the cavalry's mobility to escape ...quickly....The enemy of the tank is the gun. In 1918 tanks were also hampered by limited manoeuvarability. It was understood that all tanks were incapable of manoeuvring in confined spaces, such as woods and villages. ....tanks could not perform their own reconnaissance due to poor visibility [from within the vehicle] and difficult communication between vehicles with no radios. "

It is truly wonderful that Lespagnol is still in contact with the "family of George Hambley, one of the riders who wrote the last charge in his diary." Additionally, Lespagnol states that "there is a small cemetery with 200 tombs of soldiers of the great war" at Niagara Cemetery, Nord, France.

Tank à  Iwuy en 1918

Tank à Iwuy en 1918. A Tank at Iwuy in 1918.

According to Wikipedia, at Iwuy, there are two cemeteries which are managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. "The Communal Cemetery Iwuy (Iwuy Communal Cemetery) was enlarged by German troops during their occupation of the territory. This extension was granted by the municipality after the Armistice and the graves of German and French soldiers were moved to other cemeteries. The British cemetery was established by the 51st (Highland) Division in October 1918. The cemetery contains more than 100 graves of soldiers who died in 1914-1918 and 1939-1945
Niagara Cemetery was established in October 1918 during the occupation of the village by British troops. It contains more than 200 graves of victims of the First World War, with a few unidentified "

Niagara Cemetery inside

Cimetière Niagara intérieur. Niagara Cemetery inside

Approximately 26 soldiers with ties to Saskatchewan are buried at the Niagara Cemetery. One of whom was Métis Canadian Soldier, Charles Daniels Service No. 718433, born March 18, 1896 to John and Maria Daniels. Lespagnol was interested in finding out "who were the parents of this soldier, just to know the 2 nationalities just to show to the youngest that this was the concern of all the nations to put a end to this dramatic war." On the 1901 census his father, John Daniels (English) was born in Manitoba August 1855 and his mother Maria Daniels (Cree) was born 1871, in the North West Territories. They had seven children, Charles was the fourth child born in South Battleford, North West Territories. Charles enlisted twice, on February 5, 1916 he provided William Daniels of Frog Lake, Alberta, his brother, as the next of kin the next time he enlisted ~October 26, 1916 ~ he gave his sister Emma Martel of South Battleford as his next of kin. When Charles first enlisted he stated that he was a labourer at Onion Lake, and had previously served with the 22 Light Horse, Saskatchewan. He served six months over seas with the 107th over seas Battalion, C.E.F. in 1916 following his first WWI attestation. On his second enlistment papers, he was living in Saskatoon, and gave his occupation as farmer. He gave the supreme sacrifice October 11, 1918, while serving with the 28th Battalion.Charles had three younger siblings, Marianne Edward, and Dorothy. William was the eldest in the family then Emma and Natelline (Vatteline) nickname Lena.

It is very gratifying that Lespagnol is willing and enthusiastic to share his passionate study of history in respect to the Battle of Iwuy, this obscure World War I battle whose details are fascinating and slipping away from the lives of present day society. Lespagnol is able to take the individual soldier memorialized on the tombstones of the Niagara cemetery, and place them into their larger context, enabling the students to understand the era, the memories and sacrifices undertaken by the soldiers. The Battle of Iwuy which took place in October 1918, may seem remote, perhaps not as inaccessible as the Battle of Waterloo which also affected the villagers of Iwuy, however, Lespagnol brings the past into the present, helping the youngsters perceive history with a new perspective. Lespagnol's experience and knowledge enable the groups of students come to grips with a wonderment of "how did things come to be this way?"

Iwuy Niagara cemetery commons

Cimetière Niagara. Niagara Cemetery Author Camster CC 3.0

In remembering those who gave their lives during the Great War students and educators are honouring the past during the World War One centennary. Lespagnol says that it is of note that "all the nations [came together] to put a end to this dramatic war" On the 16th and 19th of November, 2015, Michel Lespagnol will lead 2 groups of students to the Niagara cemetery to explain to them about the Battle of Iwuy" at the very place where it took place. Here they will receive a more comprehensive understanding of the impact World War I had globally. By exploring the histories of those memorialized at Niagara Cemetery, the outing will show the international impact of the war, and how it involved the greater majority of countries at that time. Lespagnol hopes the next generation will remember the great sacrifices made in the "war to end all wars". The soldier's stories will thusly be recalled to mind, and the lessons from the Battle of Iwuy are learned through the soldier's voices. Lespagnol, hopes to make a link, a connection with the new generation, "a duty of memory not to forget the sacrifices of the allied who freed us from the invaders." Students will experience history of those brave men, the terrible losses experienced by families and counties, and the global impact of World War One. Lespagnol's "aim aim is to pay tribute to all the people who participated to free our village at the anniversary date of "The Battle of Iwuy."

Author Julia Adamson.

If you have further information about the Battle of Iwuy, know of a source of information, the global involvement of soldiers or biography of those who served from Saskatchewan at the Battle of Iwuy, please e-mail Julia Adamson, Saskatchewan and Michel Lespagnol, Iwuy, France. Thank you.


Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!

There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,

But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.

These laid the world away;

poured out the red Sweet wine of youth;

gave up the years to be Of work and joy,

and that unhoped serene,

That men call age;

and those who would have been,

Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

Blow, bugles, blow!

They brought us,

for our dearth, Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.

Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,

And paid his subjects with a royal wage;

And Nobleness walks in our ways again;

And we have come into our heritage.Rupert Brooke

Niagara cemetery

Niagara cimetière Niagara cemetery

1901 CENSUS for Charles Daniels Family

Name of each person in family or household on 31st March, 1901. Sex. Relationship
to head of
family or
widowed or
Month and date of birth. Year of birth. Age at last birthday. Country or place of birth
(If in Canada specify Province or Territory, and add "r" or "u" for rural or urgan as the case may be)
Racial or Tribal origin Religion Trade Mother Tongue (if Spoken) comments

25 42 Daniels John M Head M Aug 1855 45 Man English Church of England Employed 12 months in other occupation than trade in factory or home. 400 Extra earnings (From other than chief occupation or trade) Mother tongue English is crossed out and Cree written in  

26 42 Daniels Marie F Wife M   1871 30 NWT Cree "   Mother tongue if spoken is Cree  

27 42 Daniels William M Son S Feb 18 1887 14 " English "   Mother tongue if spoken is Cree Can read, write and speak English

28 42 Daniels Emma F Daughter S Sep 1889 11 " " "   " "

29 42 Daniels Natelline F Daughter S Nov 20 1891 9 " " "   " "

30 42 Daniels Charles M Son S Mar 19 1895 6 0* " " "   " "

31 42 Daniels Marianne F Daughter S Mar 17 1898 3 " " "      

1906 CENSUS for Charles Daniels Family

No. of
family in
order of
Name of each person in family. Relation to head of family. Sex. Married,
widowed or
Age. Country or Place of Birth

15 3 Daniels John Head M M 60 Man

16   Daniels Mary Wife F M 36 Sask

17   Daniels William Son M S 19 Sask

18   Daniels Eunice ? Daughter F S 18 Sask

19   Daniels Lena Daughter F S 16 Sask

20   Daniels Charles Son M S 11 Sask

21   Daniels Mary Ann Daughter F S 9 Sask

22   Daniels Edward Son M S 3 Sask

23   Bull ? Solomon Boarder M S 19 Sask

1906 Census Page Data

District: SK Saskatchewan District (#16)

Subdistrict: 33 (Town of Battleford) Page 22

Images are from the National Archives Web Site
Details: Schedule 1 Microfilm T-18360

Source : Automated Genealogy

Note: Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, before this, the births were recorded in the area known as the North-West Territories (NWT). Territorial evolution of Canada Atlas of Saskatchewan Boundary Evolution

Source Automated Genealogy
/ 1911 / Saskatchewan / Battleford / 47 Battleford / page 3

National Archives </td></tr><tr><td colspan="10">

Lieut. Rich. Hocken is killed in action.  Son of Former Mayor of Toronto - Lieut. G.E. Mills Reported in Wounded List.  Toronto Star, Oct. 16, 1918

Lieut. Rich. Hocken is killed in action.
Son of Former Mayor of Toronto
- Lieut. G.E. Mills Reported in Wounded List.
Toronto Star, Oct. 16, 1918


Richard Hocken


20th Battalion Central Ontario, CEF. Wikipedia

Canadian Expeditionary Force: Central Ontario Regiment A multimedia hsitory of world war one. 20th Battalion.

21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario), CEF Wikipedia.

21st Battalion, Nominal Rolls 1915 and 1918 Canadian Expeditionary Force. Minister of Militia and Defence.
Year 1915.

21st Battalion History PWOR. The Princess of Wales Own Regiment.

The 21st Battalion CEF

21st Battalion CEF Discussion Group Yahoo Groups.

21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario) CEF Canadian Expeditionary Force Biographies written by Al Lloyd

The 51st (Highland) Division The 51st Division War Sketches by Fred. A. Farrell.

ANDERSON, Carl Werner{Saskatoon, SK) Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial. SVWM.

Anderson, Carl Werner January 1, 1890 - October 11, 1918. Enlistment Nov. 6, 1916, Saskatoon, SK Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Government of Canada. Veterans Affairs.

Barnes, Deward and Bruce Cane. Chapter 11. The Armistice, October 9, 1918 to February 10, 1919 It made you think of home: The Haunting Journal of Deward Barnes, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1916-1919</a>
Edition illustrated, annotated,Publisher Dundurn, 2004, ISBN 1550025120, 9781550025125, Digitized online by Google Books. Pages 256-265.

Barry, Bill. Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial World War I, Use advanced search for Niagara Cemetery, Iwuy France.

Battle of Cambrai (1917) wikipedia

Battling Tanks at Iwuy the Last German use of Tanks in World War i Word Press. Link recommended by Al Lloyd historian for the 21 st Canadian Battalion

BENSON, William Jasper; {Cabri, SK) Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial. SVWM.

BEETHAM, William James; {Paddockwood, SK) Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial. SVWM.

BENSON, William Jasper, September 1, 1895-October 11, 1918, Watrous, Saskatchewan. Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Government of Canada. Veterans Affairs.

Between Long Lake and Last Mountain : Bulyea, Duval, Strasbourg.
Publisher, Date:
Strasbourg, Sask. : Strasbourg, Bulyea, Duval History Book Committee, 1982.
0889252327 (This book mentions Raynor Wright in the Roll of Honour listing.)

Borch, Peter. 28th Northwest Canadian Infantry Battalion. Saskatchewan Encyclopedia. Canadian Plains Research Center. University of Regina. 2006.

Cameron, James image Pages of the Past : History of Shell Lake-Mont Nebo districts

Published by Shell Lake: Shell Lake History (1986) (1986)

ISBN: 0 889 25487 7 , 9780 889 25487 9

Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. "The Matrix Project" 21st Battalion.

Canadian Great War Project

Canadian Virtual War Memorial Charles Daniels Veterans Affaires Remembrance Memorials Veterans Affairs Canada

Date modified:

Cavalry in Training. National Film Board. "The Canadian Light Horse (CLH), distinct from the CCB, was formed in early 1917 from the 19th Alberta Dragoons, the 1st Hussars and the 16th Light Horse. The unit reported to Canadian Corps Headquarters and first saw action at Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The CLH played a key role at Iwuy on October 10, 1918, where the last ever swords-drawn Canadian cavalry charge took place. In the final month of the war, the CLH were in front as a scouting force that ensured protection against attacks by German layback controls. "

[1] Chief Military Personnel CMP Home > Canadian Military Journal CMJ Home > More Fighting for Canada: Five Battles 1760-1944. Book Reviewed by Major James D. McKillip. Government of Canada. Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. Book recommended by Michel Lespagnol, Iwuy, France Historian

Conclusion of the Battle of Iwuy. Forgotten Canadas Hundred Days with the CAnadian Corps from Amiens to Mons. p. 310

DANIELS, Charles, (Battleford, Onion Lake, Saskatoon, Meadow Lake, Sk)Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial (SVWM)

DANIELS, Charles Canadian War Graves Commission CWGC

From Warriors to Soldiers. List of Native Veterans. Iwuy.

Frost, Cecil Gray (1897-1947) 6th Brigade Canadian Machine Gun Company. Cecil Gray Frots (1897-1947). WWI Correspondence 1917-1919. Letter 18 16 October 1918 - France - an extremely slight wound ... saw the fall of Cambrai

[5] Greenhouse, Brereton, James McWilliams, R. James Steel, Kevin R. Shackleton, George H. Cassar, and Bruce Cane. The Torch We Throw: The Dundurn WWI Historical Library: Amiens/Second to None/The Making of Billy Bishop/Hell in Flanders Fields/It Made you Think of Home The Torch We Throw: The Dundurn WWI Historical Library Illustrated Edition. Dundurn, 2014. ISBN 1459730305, 9781459730304 link recommended by Michel Lespagnol, Iwuy, France Historian

Horses in World War I Wikipedia.

HYDE, Levi {Springside, SK) Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial. SVWM.

Infantry Regiments. The South Saskatchewan Regiment. </a> Volume 3, Part 2. National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Government of Canada. 2010-11-25

Kemp, Montague Ewart Miller. May 25, 1898- October11, 1918. Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Government of Canada. Veterans Affairs.

In Memory by Pierre Vanderfelden The visit of Commonwealth graves in Communals Cemeteries & Churchyards in Belgium & France

KEMP, Montague Ewart Miller. (Prince Albert, Sk) Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial (SVWM)

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Military Heritage. Canada and the First World War.
Date Created: 2000-11-11
Date Modified: 2008-11-07

Lindsay, Robert 28th North-West Battalion Headquarters. 2006

McPherson, Arlean.

The Battlefords : a history.

Publisher, Date:
Saskatoon : Modern Press, [c1967]
Commissioned by the Town Council of Battleford and the City Council of North Battleford to commemorate the anniversary of 100 years of Confederation. (This book mentions that J. Daniels served with No. J. Company, North West Rebellion of 1885 according to a quote from the April 23, 1885 edition of the Saskatchewan Herald newspaper)

Minutes the Western Front Association.

Niagara Cemetery Iwuy, Nord, France. Private 886397 Peter L. Drake

28th Bn. Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment)


Son of Peter Montrose and Elizabeth Ann Cowell Drake of Dunn Township, Haldimand County, Ontario, Canada.

Row. E. 8.

Enlisted 18/02/1916

[2]Nicholson, G.W.L. (1964). Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 (pdf) (2nd ed.). Ottawa: Duhamel, Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery. p. 458. Retrieved 26 April 2011.

[3] Nicholson, G. W. L. 1962. Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919. Queens Printer and Controller of Stationary, Ottawa, Canada. Chapter XV Canadian Expeditionary Force (doc) The Final Advance. 12 October - 11 November. The Enemy Faces Defeat. Nicholson Matrix

Old Strathcona Remembers (OSR). (Edmonton, Alberta). Light Horse Park Application
Tags: 20th battalion, 21st battalion, 27th battalion, battleford, canada light horse, cavalry, census, centennary, central ontario regiment, charles daniels, clh, eastern ontario regiment, france, great war, iwuy, manitoba regiment, michel lespagnol, niagara cemetery, nord, rich hocken, salh, saskatchewan, the south alberta light horse, world war one
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