Cambrai Memorial

Location

The small village of Louverval is on the north side of the N30, Bapaume to Cambrai road, 13 kilometres north-east of Bapaume, 16 kilometres south-west of Cambrai. The Cambrai Memorial to the Missing and Louverval Military Cemetery are situated on the north side of the N30, south of Louverval village and CWGC signposts on the N30 give advance warning of arrival at the Cemetery.

The Memorial is clearly visible on this often very busy road. Louverval is a small hamlet so a GPS may find Boursies more readily. This is the village just on the Cambrai side of the memorial and cemetery along the main road.

The Memorial in snow

Historical Information

The château 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.

Stretcher Party Over the top

The Cambrai Memorial was designed by H Chalton Bradshaw with sculpture by C S Jagger.

The Cambrai Memorial commemorates more than 7 000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and whose graves are not known.

The Memorial in snow

The losses to the Tank Corps during the Battle of Cambrai were considerable and due to the nature of their injuries (many would have been incinerated within their burning vehicles) at least half of those casualties are commemorated on these walls.

If you look at the lists of names you may well remark the number of Victoria Cross winners who are mentioned here including Captain Richard Wain VC of the Tank Corps.

For most conspicuous bravery in command of a section of Tanks. During an attack the Tank in which he was, was disabled by a direct hit near an enemy strong point which was holding up the attack. Capt. Wain and one man, both seriously wounded, were the only survivors. Though bleeding profusely from his wounds, he refused the attention of stretcher-bearers, rushed from behind the Tank with a Lewis gun, and captured the strong point, taking about half the garrison prisoners. Although his wounds were very serious he picked up a rifle and continued to fire at the retiring enemy until he received a fatal wound in the head. It was due to the valour displayed by Capt. Wain that the infantry were able to advance.

The other six are:

Some of their stories can be found in the account of the battle.

Private George Clare VC

Private George Clare VC, 5th Lancers


To the left of the memorial is Louverval Military Cemetery which contains 124 First World War burials.

Louverval Military Cemetery Louverval Military Cemetery
 

Cambrai 1917

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 Battle of Cambrai The Battle of Cambrai 1917

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.