Lest We Forget: French village honours the RMR for liberation 105 years ago

French veterans and family members pose with the mayor behind the memorial plaque dedicated to the RMR honouring the RMR for liberating their town in 1918. Sains-les-Marquion, France, 11 November 2023. Photo credit: Marie-José et Maurice Perdu

Westmount, QC – 22 December 2023: The town of Sains-les-Marquion, France held their annual Remembrance Day service at 11h00 on 11 November 2023 where they specifically honoured The Royal Montreal Regiment (RMR) who had liberated their town on 27 September 1918.

Due to the initiative of Michel Gravel, a bronze commemorative plaque was positioned in the town in 2008, a gift from individual donors through the RMR Foundation, and the town continues to honour the Regiment every year. They also conduct a service in the ONTARIO CEMETERY, a Commonwealth Grave Commission graveyard where numerous RMR’s are buried, a result of the actions on 27 September 1918.

Remembrance service, being held in the ONTARIO cemetery, 11 November 2023, Sains-les-Marquion, France. Photo credit: Marie-José et Maurice Perdu

The liberation of Sains-les-Marquion by the RMR in September 1918 was a significant event during World War I and a part of the larger Hundred Days Offensive, which marked the final push by the Allies against the Central Powers. Sains-les-Marquion is a small commune located in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France.

The liberation of Sains-les-Marquion took place as part of the broader Battle of the Canal du Nord, which was a critical phase of the Hundred Days Offensive. The offensive aimed to break through the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line, a formidable defensive system that the Germans had constructed on the Western Front.

The Battle of the Canal du Nord began on September 27, 1918, when British and Canadian forces, supported by tanks and artillery, launched an attack to breach the German lines. The terrain around Sains-les-Marquion and the nearby Canal du Nord was marshy and heavily fortified, making it a challenging battleground.

Over the course of several days, the Allied forces fought fiercely against the German defenders, who were determined to hold their positions. British and Canadian troops advanced slowly but steadily, overcoming numerous obstacles and enduring heavy casualties.

By early October 1918, the Allied forces had successfully breached the Hindenburg Line, including the area around Sains-les-Marquion and the Canal du Nord. The liberation of the village and the surrounding territory marked a crucial step in the eventual defeat of the Central Powers.

The Battle of the Canal du Nord and the liberation of Sains-les-Marquion played a pivotal role in the broader Allied victory during World War I. The success of this offensive helped to weaken the German army’s position on the Western Front and set the stage for the Armistice of November 11, 1918, which brought an end to the hostilities of World War I.

The liberation of Sains-les-Marquion, like many other battles during the Hundred Days Offensive, was a testament to the determination and courage of the Allied forces and marked a significant turning point in the war, ultimately leading to the end of the conflict.

Special thanks to Marie-José and Maurice Perdu who send us the images every year.

We will remember them / Nous nous souviendrons d’eux.

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