Havrincourt is a village approximately ten kilometres south west of Cambrai and three kilometres south of the Cambrai to Bapaume road (N30). Follow the signs for Grand Ravine CWGC Cemetery which is signposted from the centre of the village. Continue along Rue de Ribecourt.
The memorial is on your right. Parking for a few vehicles is available.
On the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai the 62nd Division were part of IV Corps on the left of General Sir Julian Byng’s Third Army. The battle was the first time that tanks had been used en masse.
In places along the front of the Havrincourt Sector the Hindenburg outpost line was close to the British front line and had therefore not been subjected to the opening bombardment. To make matters harder for the advancing tanks part of Havrincourt Wood had already been felled by the Germans and this made the going difficult for the tanks of G Battalion (With a further Company of I Battalion).
On the right the 2/6th West Yorkshires of 185th Brigade took the Germans’ front trenches and entered Havrincourt where the Germans put up a stout resistance which took a number of hours to deal with.
The Germans had dug a trench system across the front of Havrincourt Château reinforced with machine bunkers and these made life very difficult for the approaching men of the 2/4th KOYLI in 187th Brigade. To their left the 2/5th KOYLI moved up alongside the Canal du Nord and succeeded in taking their Blue Line by 0830 hours.
Whilst the struggle for the village of Havrincourt continued the remainder of 62nd Division readied themselves for the attack on their second objective: the Brown Line which ran all but westwards from just behind Flesquières to the canal.
Despite isolated pockets of resistance the advance continued smoothly with the tanks supporting the infantry and by 1030 hours the second objective was in British hands.
Havrincourt was lost again on 23rd March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive.
On the 12th September 1918 Byng’s Third Army was once again in a position to strike against the Hindenburg Line (which ran through the village). He chose to put the 62nd Division back into the line in honour of their previous success.
The village was retaken and Byng considered the victory a turning point, though by no means easy, the advance from there on seemed to be come up against defenders who had lost heart.
The memorial was unveiled in 1922. At the top you will see a Pelican which was the Divisional emblem.