100 Days to Victory (2018) s01e02 Episode Script

The Fightback

Come on! Come on! Come on! Let's go.
Let's go! Load it! Get that thing firing! Spring 1918 a ferocious German offensive pushes the Allies to the brink of defeat.
The shock as the Germans unleash a hurricane fire.
It was basically the genesis of Blitzkrieg.
Their relentless attack stuns the Allies.
I think for a moment the Allies think they will lose the war.
Fire! Their backs against the walls Allied commanders dramatically change their approach.
Secrecy is vital.
With new weapons, new machines and radical new ways to coordinate infantry, artillery, air force and tanks.
Working together they manage to halt the German offensive.
We're advancing all along the line.
We have the enemy on his back foot.
But they've lost huge areas of French territory.
And their enemy is still fearsome.
There's still a lot of fight left in Germany and the Germans are still preparing to fight on and the Allied commanders think that the war will probably go on to the summer of 1919.
The German Army still don't believe that they're gonna lose the war.
They still don't believe that the German Army is gonna be destroyed on the Western Front so they're still a A formidable fighting force.
The Allied commanders are a diverse and unlikely team: British old school Field Marshal, Douglas Haig French Marshal, Ferdinand Foch and colonial outsiders Australian, John Monash, and Canadian, Arthur Currie.
They've turned the tide.
Now, they face the supreme challenge victory.
Welcome, gentlemen.
General Monash, good to see you.
General.
I suppose that it rarely happens that such a distinguished gathering should so meet under such stirring surroundings with the guns thundering all around.
An extraordinary meeting of the Allied High Command.
Just two days earlier, using ideas from Monash and Currie they defeated the German Army at Amiens advancing 12 kilometres in just four days greater gains than any time in the past four years.
Amiens was a significant blow against the Germans and I think the Allied Commander, Foch, realised that perhaps this was the moment where the attritional warfare had finally ground the enemy down and so there would be a series of battles to break the Hindenburg Line.
It was a fearsome position for the Allies to face.
This, gentlemen, is our next objective.
The Hindenburg Line is in fact five heavily-fortified trench lines connected by a series of concrete bunkers and bristling with machine gun nests and booby traps.
Stretching over 400 kilometres each line is protected by vast belts of barbed wire laid out to channel attacking infantry into killing zones.
It's more formidable than anything the Allies have faced in the entire war.
The Hindenburg line assumed almost a mythical status uh, for the Germans and for the Allies.
Uh, for the Germans it was their last great defensive line.
Um, for the Allies they knew that this was a line they would have to break if they wanted to break the German army.
The Allies create an ambitious plan Supreme Commander Foch orders a series of multi-pronged attacks on the German forces standing between them and the Hindenburg line.
Delivering a series of hammer blows against the Germans is absolutely crucial, and uh, the idea here of course is to keep hitting the Germans in multiple battles to wear them out to wear out their reserves, to force them, um, to continually fight.
The entire strength of the Allies on the Western Front will be needed to break through the Hindenburg Line.
Foch coins his famous war cry.
American forces, now a million strong will mass in the Argonne region.
The French in the Meuse, Champagne, and Picardie.
The Canadians, British and New Zealanders will attempt to break through at the Canal du Nord and Australian, British and American forces take aim at the Saint Quentin Canal.
And they face tough fighting before they can even reach the Hindenburg Line.
You have Foch and you have Haig planning battles and talking off the same page.
You've then got the acceptance and the use of these new technologies.
This leads to the opening up of the entrenched situation and then it is fighting this new style of warfare.
I think the fighting we see in 1918 is a precursor to the fighting we'll see throughout the 20th Century.
There'll be new technology of course but the idea of attacking together, um, in this combined arms warfare very much emerges from the trenches, from the Western Front from the need to find a way to break the stalemate.
The strategy is simple.
Keep the enemy on the move.
Instruct all ranks to act boldly.
Field Marshal, Douglas Haig makes sure the 1.
2 million British and Dominion troops under his command get the message.
Risks which a month ago would have been criminal to occur ought now to be incurred as a duty.
And it is risky.
The Germans still have four million men on the Western Front.
Another one from Westminster.
Don't tell me.
Wilson from the War Office.
Haig's reputation comes back to haunt him.
Earlier in the war, he's presided over campaigns producing colossal bloodshed for very little progress earning him the nickname Butcher Haig.
I know the War Cabinet would become anxious if we received heavy punishment in attacking the Hindenburg Line without success.
Now the politicians in London are getting cold feet.
What a wretched lot of weaklings we have in high places at the present time.
Haig and Wilson hate each other.
And that was typical in the The British army, the The These personal feuds and rivalries.
This was a famous one.
So all this warfare's going on while the rest of the warfare's going on in the The Western Front.
The high command is very fraught by this time.
The first target standing between the Allies and the Hindenburg Line is Mont St Quentin a pivotal German defensive position on the River Somme.
Monash's Australians are handed the task.
Monash was the huge advocate of carefully planned battles that take place step by step and having all the support in place and getting the tanks up and making sure the artillery is in place.
He kind of threw that out the window at Mont St Quentin.
He just basically said, "Here's a tough position.
We've got some infantry.
I reckon we can do this".
So, Monash General Henry Rawlinson, the commander of the British 2nd Army is sceptical.
It's risky, sir, I know but I believe it is a sound plan.
Mont St Quentin is a formidable obstacle in his way.
It's well-fortified.
It's being manned by the 2nd Prussian Guard one of the elite formations within the German army.
Right, gentlemen, here.
If they can take it the Australians will command a perfect staging ground for an attack on the Hindenburg Line.
You know what to do.
They had to cross the Somme River.
They were on one side of the river.
They had to cross over before they could approach Mont St Quentin and everything they did was under German observation.
The Germans were confident that this was where they were gonna stop the Allies.
The 31st August 1918.
Dawn.
The artillery bombardment begins.
The Australians advance under a creeping barrage.
I felt a blow on my face as if struck by an axe and a white mist flew before my eyes.
I could feel the broken jawbone, and a great rush of blood and I saw a little wooden cross before my eyes with my name and number on it.
Suddenly I saw the Sergeant drop like I've seen an animal drop that I've shot.
I wasn't long in reaching him, perhaps two seconds.
Even in that time he was black in the face and gasping for breath.
The pressure to keep attacking weighs heavily on Monash.
I was compelled to harden my heart.
It was imperative to recognise a great opportunity and seize it unflinchingly.
Casualties no longer mattered.
The Australian 2nd Division storms the slopes of Mont St Quentin.
The reports say that they charged at the Germans with rifle and bayonet.
They yelled like bushrangers as they charged up the slope to make the Germans think there were more soldiers than there actually were attacking.
For the next 48 hours the high ground on Mont St Quentin is won then lost then won again by the Australians amid vicious fighting.
So this isn't killing from afar by an artillery barrage this is desperate, hand-to-hand fighting and it's by no means clear which side is going to succeed.
Fighting at Mont St Quentin is Edward Phillips one of over a thousand Indigenous Australians who volunteer to fight.
And we should remember that these men are not even citizens of the country that they're fighting for.
And when they're in the line they do actually achieve equal rights alongside other soldiers.
Phillips is awarded a Military Medal for his bravery.
This NCO displayed great initiative and personal bravery in working his Lewis Gun.
He stood up on the parapet, firing his gun the hip causing very heavy casualties.
But in spite of his heroism after the war, he will remain a non-citizen.
The Australians have one Lewis gun for every ten men.
A potent open warfare weapon that is light, compact and can fire 600 rounds per minute.
After three days of bloody fighting Australian forces capture Mont St Quentin and take the town of Péronne.
In three days, the Australians suffer 3,000 casualties.
But their sacrifice is rewarded.
They force the Germans to withdraw eastwards back to the Hindenburg Line.
- Hello.
- Rawlinson.
- What is it? - We've done it.
- You've done what? - We're on top of Mont St Quentin.
- I don't believe you.
- Come and see.
Mont St Quentin was a fantastic victory in my opinion, one of the greatest Australian victories of the First World War.
But the victory belongs to the men not to Monash.
In his next step Supreme Allied Commander Foch orders Currie's Canadians to make a risky move on another strategic defence standing between the Allies and the Hindenburg Line.
That's a crucial bit of real estate.
Their target a German stronghold called the Drocourt-Quéant, or DQ Line a kilometre-thick fortified barrier of dugouts, trenches and machine gun nests protecting the Hindenburg Line.
In this new, more mobile war intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance is crucial.
The bombing and reconnaissance alternated and we were kept busy.
And Jerry had his crack squadrons with their finest machines against our front and seemingly intent to prevent photography at all costs.
The Allies need eyes in the sky.
It is the only way to reveal defences that have been deployed in depth.
The war in the air begins to take on a new urgency.
Every day we were at it attacked, trapped or chased.
Time after time, we ran the devils out of petrol sneaked back and stole the photos.
Aerial photos reveal the position of German artillery.
Increasingly confident in his men, his technology and the new tactics he has developed with Monash Canadian General Arthur Currie plans the attack in meticulous detail.
Believing the Drocourt-Quéant line to be the backbone of German resistance we have decided to put all our strength against it not to attack it until we are ready, and then to go all out.
The Drocourt-Quéant line is the hinge of the Hindenburg Line and really what it It did is defend the flank of the Hindenburg line.
So, if you can break the DQ line you can get in on the flank of the Hindenburg Line and then roll it up.
The Canadians will fight alongside the battle-hardened Scottish troops of the 51st Highland Division.
- Go on! Let's go! - Go boys! Let's go! Go! The fighting qualities of the 51st are second to none in all the Allied armies.
Come on.
Let's go! All right, lads.
Once more, on your feet.
At dawn, on the 2nd September the Canadians, Scots and other British forces launched their attack supported by 80 tanks.
But the German army has a new weapon the world's first anti-tank rifle.
It can pierce 22-millimetre-thick armour plate at 100 metres whereas German machine gun bullets just bounce off.
There we were, the engine roaring the guns blazing, the cab stacked with explosives with not even enough air to keep an oyster alive The armour was twice penetrated by an anti-tank gun Alright, let's get out! Move! A shell pierced the rear sprocket and put us out of action.
We went over the top along with a tank Take cover! but the Germans were using these anti-tank rifles.
One of our fellows got shot by one of these rifles.
It made a terrible hole, big enough to put your two fists in.
Come on! - Get out! - OK, follow us! Gas, gas.
Everybody masks on now! Look around! The barrages were terrific on both sides.
Went over the top with the battalion.
We passed through heavy shellfire and gas.
I dressed a few wounded in a sunken road and I kept 18 stretcher-bearers to carry them out.
I got a little sleep during the night but had to wear a gas mask for about four hours.
Gas, gas, gas, gas! My partner said, 'Do you smell anything strange Donald?' I said, 'No, do you?' 'Yes, it's faintly like lilac.
I'm not taking any chances.
I'm putting on my gas mask.
' It was mustard gas and apart from blinding it was very sore for those wearing a kilt.
After ten hours fighting, with heavy casualties on both sides the Canadians take the Drocourt-Quéant Line.
The breaking of the Drocourt-Quéant line has shaken the enemy badly and he's hurrying back to the line of the Canal du Nord.
That line joins into the Hindenburg Line further south.
The hinge of the German system has been broken.
We're advancing all along the line.
But despite the success of the Australians and Canadians the Allies still have ten kilometres of hard, pounding fighting before they even get to the most formidable defensive line in history the Hindenburg Line itself.
Now it is the United States' turn to lead the advance.
Until now, General Pershing the commander of the million-strong American army has refused to fight under British or French command.
The 26th of September 1918.
The biggest army in American history forms up along a 20-mile section of the Western Front known as the Meuse-Argonne.
During the battle of Meuse-Argonne you have something like 1.
2 million doughboys being sent into battle.
That's an enormous number of men.
And they're being supported by an enormous number of guns some 27 hundred guns are brought into play in the first four hours of fighting there.
Hundreds of thousands of untested American soldiers launch their attack into the milky fog.
So the Americans are making the same sorts of mistakes in making mass attacks taking huge casualties from machine gun and artillery fire just like the British did in 1915.
The Germans find that the Americans are often outrun their artillery or don't have properly coordinated artillery which then gives them the opportunity to, uh To destroy the Americans you know, on mass.
The Germans will not give way and General Pershing's Americans are bleeding casualties losing over 2,500 men per day.
America of course was reluctant to enter the conflict in the first place.
Pershing can't afford to have these kind of casualties.
He finally decides to stop the offensive to spare American lives and to spare American opinion.
With the Americans stalled Foch instructs the Canadians to build on their success at the DQ line and press ahead to make the first direct assault on the Hindenburg Line itself.
They must cross the biggest single barrier in front of the Hindenburg Line the heavily-fortified 37-metre-wide Canal du Nord.
The Canadian's had captured orders, um from the German High Command saying it must be held to the last man.
Now they had issued orders like this before but there is a sense here that the Germans will not give it up.
British commanders order Currie to conduct a direct assault on the canal.
The Germans have deliberately flooded the approaches and Currie thinks it is suicide.
Instead of simply rejecting the British plan Currie suggests a better, but even riskier one.
He locates a narrow dry choke point of the canal just 2,500 metres long.
Because it's so obvious, the Germans defend it heavily.
And then they almost take for granted that you can't cross there.
Like, it's impossible.
Nobody should even try.
Like we get it, that's the only place you can cross but because it's so obvious to us and to any attacker nobody's Like, it's crazy.
It would be crazy to try and attack across the Canal in that place.
And so, uh, that's exactly where Currie decides to attack.
Currie explains his plan to British Commander, General Henry Horne.
So if the German's laid down artillery fire or even worse, they feared gas, um, the assault would stall and the Canadians would be caught in a killing ground.
When he briefs his plan to, uh To Horne, Horne says, "I don't I don't think so.
That's way too risky".
You've got to reconsider.
Horne calls for Currie's trusted mentor, General Sir Julian Byng.
And Byng said, "It's too dangerous".
And Currie explained his plan to him.
If you fail, it means home for you.
I understand, sir.
And so Horne has to support this attack that I think he is really deathly afraid is going to be the end of not just his career but Haig's career, as well and maybe even a signif A A decisive defeat on the Western Front.
Currie has grown in confidence during the last few months but he knows that his reputation, and that of the entire Canadian Corps is now on the line.
He masses his men in the dangerous bottleneck.
60,000 of them will funnel through the dry canal.
Like they did at Amiens, Currie uses the element of surprise hiding his men in the woods until the moment is right.
At zero hour, the Allied artillery commence counter-battery fire to destroy the German guns.
Then lays down a creeping barrage to screen the advancing infantry.
I am in the state of waiting for news which is always most trying.
I hope and pray that all may go well.
Our third big show opened up at 5:20am on September 27th.
As the barrage would lift every four minutes the Infantry would advance and they say every gun seemed to have lifted together.
The Hun retaliated heavily on our position.
He's putting up an awful tough fight.
The old-timers say it's the hardest nut the Canadians have ever had to crack.
Currie and McNorton, his His chief counter battery advisor had a motto.
They wanted to pay the price of victory in shells and not in life so they used unreal amounts of artillery.
And it would shock GHQ and some of Haig's staff officers cos they're like, "That's ridiculous amounts of artillery".
But in using that much artillery, it really had a decisive effect.
By the Holy Moses, it was wicked.
The German soldiers are getting it now with a vengeance.
There are no rehearsals for these attacks now for it is all open warfare and trenches are all left far behind.
The Germans are rocked by the artillery barrage.
On 27th September, the Canadians are able to cross the canal and then flood into the fields beyond.
All succeeded in crossing the canal.
Currie's bold gamble pays off.
British, Canadian and New Zealand forces make big gains.
The Canadians have crossed the Canal Du Nord and have reached the outposts of the Hindenburg Line.
But the Germans dig in and hold them there.
But the Allies continue to pay a high price for Foch's ferocious, multi-pronged offensive.
I know.
I've got to change dressing In less than three months since Amiens the Canadians alone have suffered 30,000 casualties with over 6,000 killed.
Right across the Allied armies, manpower is running low.
They are now face-to-face with the deadliest killing zone on the planet the Hindenburg Line.
Northern France, late September 1918.
It's nearly 60 days since Foch and Haig launched their multi-pronged all arms attack against the German wall of iron.
Despite 75,000 casualties, they're still on track.
200 Allied divisions, about two million men gather along the Western Front, all pointed toward the Hindenburg Line.
While the Canadians are fighting hard to break through the Hindenburg Line near the Canal du Nord Foch and Haig aim a simultaneous hammer blow at another point the Saint Quentin Canal.
If they can take it, they will break the Hindenburg Line in two.
The Germans understand its significance and have made it the best-defended section of the entire Line.
As far as they're concerned, this is where the advance stops.
This is part of Northern France that they will occupy forever.
So it has both, a symbolic, as well as a strategic importance.
Once again Monash's Australians are chosen to spearhead the attack.
Their recent successes have brought them and their leader praise but also exhaustion.
We slept while riding our horses we slept while walking and we slept while standing up.
It's obvious to Monash that his exhausted troops have only one more battle left in them.
And so does he.
At times when I feel very tired I am tempted to hope that this will be the last serious work I shall ever have to do in my life.
British and untested American units will join the Australians in what could be the critical battle for the Hindenburg Line.
But Monash is given the responsibility of planning it.
The attack on the Hindenburg Line is made for Monash because it's a a battle that demands a methodical approach and that's exactly what Monash does.
So that it's a set piece.
Everyone knows where the ground is.
The Germans know where the attack's coming.
It calls on all the skills that Monash has perfected.
The battle is more a matter of engineering and organisation than of fighting.
Monash's engineer's brain analyses the task.
He plans to break the German defences set on top of the canal where it runs underground for over five kilometres at Bellicourt.
And he tries another of the Allies' tactical innovations the leapfrog.
The Americans will launch the initial attack.
Then the Australian divisions move forward through their lines to maintain the advance.
And the Allies now have a major advantage enormous artillery resources that can be unleashed with deadly mathematical accuracy.
Monash's superior, General Rawlinson, revises Monash's plan.
Ordering a British formation, the 46th North Midland Division to launch a head on assault directly across the canal.
Now crossing the canal is an incredibly dangerous task and it's a part of the strategy that Monash is nowhere near in agreement with.
Uh, he argues fiercely with Rawlinson over whether this is necessary.
Imagine those rafts crossing exposed to fire.
The 29th September, 5:50am.
Monash unleashes the greatest artillery bombardment of the war.
Aircraft and tanks wait to attack.
A thunderous attack opened up at dawn and four times that day our guns advanced.
Talk about work.
The noise was terrible with hundreds of guns, aeroplanes and hundreds of machine-guns screaming.
It was a scene never to be forgotten with infantry, tanks, guns, everything in action in a sort of inferno of smoke and shell bursts.
The explosive curtain of artillery fire creeps forward protecting the first wave of American infantry.
But the inexperienced Americans advance too fast and leave some well-defended German positions untouched behind them.
It wasn't anything to do with the Americans being bad troops.
They were just inexperienced troops, and by this stage the Australians had had four years of warfare uh, and, um And knew a lot about it.
They knew a lot about how to fight this war and And how to stay alive.
Machine guns opened out on us and this puzzled us cos we knew the Yanks were on ahead till we discovered that they had not mopped up the dugouts.
We found ourselves out of the frying pan and in the fire.
The air was thick with bullets.
Our boys were falling like apples from branches in a gale.
I saw many Huns still in the Hindenburg Line and a good number of tanks burning in front of it.
Called for flares but none were shown.
No advance appears to be made.
The whole situation is very obscure and dangerous.
The American advance is stalled.
Tell our boys to keep moving.
Whatever it takes.
In this battle, the Americans demonstrated their inexperience in war.
For these shortcomings, they paid a heavy price.
But Monash's powerful artillery is pulverizing German defences right along the Saint Quentin Canal.
Every kilometre is hit with 250 shells.
Every minute.
For eight hours.
A total of a quarter of a million shells.
There are still tens of thousands of German soldiers defending the Hindenburg Line as the British North Midland Division launches its attack across the Saint Quentin canal.
The opposite bank was pitted with machine gun nests.
How any of us even reached the water beats me but a surprising number did.
Holding a gun above my head was bad enough without being machine gunned as well.
I still don't know how we got away with it.
It's an astonishing moment.
The British don't just cross the canal supported by Monash's artillery they smash through the main defences of the Hindenburg Line itself.
It's broken.
The bloody Hindenburg Line is broken! It's the most extraordinary feat of arms and it's done by a division that is basically a run-of-the-mill British territorial division at the very end of the war, mixed in with conscripts and jaded and experienced volunteers.
And it's the demonstration that for all of Monash's methodical genius and the Australian's tactical skill this is an army that's learned how to fight on the Western Front in 1918.
So it's a British territorial division that actually breaks through the toughest bit of the Hindenburg Line.
And that's telling us something very important.
It's not actually the particular national uniform that you wear that matters.
It's not actually the individual attributes of those soldiers.
In the Great War, it's a question of where the artillery works the best.
Get this to the 46th at once.
The 46th North Midland Division draws a special mention in his dispatches from Field Marshal Haig.
So thorough and complete was the organisation for this attack and so gallantly, rapidly, and well was it executed by the troops that this one Division took on this day over 4,000 prisoners and 70 guns.
We were right in among the Germans firing point blank and bombing machine gun posts.
They came popping out of holes like rabbits, and as thick as rabbits.
With hands up they called for mercy.
Sometimes they got it and sometimes they did not.
Soon after, the Australians break through capturing the remaining German trench systems.
At the same time, the Canadians, Scots and other British forces break through the line at the Canal du Nord.
Outflanked, the Germans have two choices surrender or withdraw from their prized defensive position.
As the Australians get through the Hindenburg Line Monash pushes the Australians into one last fight on the Western Front.
5th of October 1918, they attack a village called Montbrehain and 135 Australians die in a battle that was totally unnecessary.
The village had no tactical significance.
No one can imagine the loss of life or the horror of war unless they were in it.
For the last three days we had to pretty well live in our gas masks.
The dead on the Battlefield was an horrific sight to behold.
Some of the men killed at Montbrehain the last battle of the war, had survived the war thus far had fought all the way from Gallipoli only to be killed at that further-most-point of the line.
And the sadness here is that that's a place unlike the great cemeteries of the Somme and Belgium, that Australians seldom visit.
It's It's a forgotten place, and it's a pity.
This demonstrates that Monash really did regard his men as as units as as production units, as as symbols on a map.
He didn't really care about the men that he was ordering into action.
And I think it is one the large the greatest criticisms of Monash greatest greatest flaws in Monash that he ordered that attack.
The Australians had fought their last battle.
After four years of war 214,000 Australian casualties and over 60,000 dead from a population of just five million.
Without conscription, enlistments have dwindled.
After their great successes along the Hindenburg Line Australia, against Haig's wishes, must pull back from the front line.
We have, the highest desertion rates of the war amongst Australian forces during 1918.
A lot of men are simply unable to fight anymore.
It'd always been Monash's strategy to preserve the strength of his men.
It'd always been his strategy to rotate divisions, to to relieve men so that they're not exposed to the trauma of fighting for too long.
1918 is where he begins to push his men just that bit too far.
The Hindenburg Line has been pierced but the Kaiser and Ludendorff still command three million men and an air force of fearsome skill.
The Allies must press ahead with their war of movement.
In early October the Canadians, New Zealanders and Scots target the city of Cambrai.
Currie knew that his corps, although battered and bruised could deliver another victory, and the prize was Cambrai the major logistical town that the Germans were using to supply the whole Front.
What Currie and Horne don't know is Cambrai is defended by three German lines spanning some six kilometres manned by 200,000 battle-hardened veterans all protecting this last great hub of German communications.
If you threaten that hub, or even better, if you can take it away the Germans lose their strategic mobility their ability to reinforce all along the Front.
The Canadians and British will send 324 tanks at the German lines closely supported by infantry and aircraft.
But they lack detailed intelligence on the enemy's strength and position It's a huge risk.
The armoured units will converge here.
We hear General Currie has said he will have Cambrai though he'd lose 75 per cent of his corps.
If so, he is a fool and a murderer.
You hear? The next show is in Cambrai.
Cambrai.
Jesus, will it ever end? Chin up.
It won't be long now.
Cambrai can be taken but we do not need to be slaughtered to capture it.
And really it comes down to those infantry battalions fighting for their lives against the German counter attacking forces in attack and counter attack.
Um, and I think it's an indication that the Germans though they've suffered tremendous defeats all along the Western Front they were still fighting fiercely for key positions and Cambrai itself was an absolutely crucial one.
My mood during 1918, was one of blank despair which tried to mask itself in a spirit of carefree military enterprise.
I was in frenzy for something to happen, wounds, death, anything.
You know after they start to win some of these battles there's that sense of I I might just survive so please let's not do another attack, let's not do another frontal.
Please.
You know, we've got the Germans on the run.
Let's not push it too hard so that we have to risk lives.
The end of the war feels close but the fighting will be as bloody as ever.
The attack began at 1:30 and has proved a brilliant success.
By eight o'clock this morning troops of the 3rd Division had passed through Cambrai north, south, east and west.
Caught the Germans asleep and we got through Cambrai.
It was a great thing getting him out of Cambrai but the brute has looted and destroyed a great deal of the town and started many fires.
This is a brutal occupation and it ends in a terrible way.
As the Germans withdraw from Cambrai there's a scorched earth policy.
They will leave nothing that the Allies might take advantage of.
German occupation was not nice.
It was often very harsh and the Germans did not treat the civilians well.
After years of occupation French citizens rejoice at the arrival of Allied troops.
But in spite of Foch's brutally effective assault on the Hindenburg Line and the loss of the strategic hub of Cambrai the Germans refuse to give up.
It will be a fight to the finish.
October 1918 the Hindenburg Line has been broken and the war itself will be over in 30 days.
For the commanders of the Allied armies on the Western Front ultimate victory.
Foch aims to drive the Germans out of France and Belgium and force them to cede everything to the Rhine River.
We have got the enemy down.
In fact he is a beaten Army.
And Haig wants nothing more than to press the Allied advantage.
And my plan is to go on hitting him as hard as we possibly can till he begs for mercy.
Dispelling all doubt that the war will continue on 25th October 1918, German commander, General Ludendorff issues a proclamation to his men.
Haig still sees the Germans as a threat and after meeting Monash on the 27th October orders the Australians to return to battle.
On 5th November three Australian divisions are moving back up to the front line And although the Allied advance continues at a ferocious pace the Germans resist them every step of the way.
The Germans place their machine guns and light artillery so as to delay our advance and as soon as we begin to press he moves off to the next suitable position.
Machine guns were waiting for us.
I never experienced so intense fire.
Field gunners from the Royal Artillery pursue the Germans east of the Hindenburg Line towards Germany.
We took risks in this advance.
Sometimes we were ahead of the footsloggers.
We were shooting with rapid fire and blasting machine gun nests, transports and German troops running back along the roads.
It was an artilleryman's paradise.
By the first week of November, France has been liberated and since August 1918 some 375,000 German soldiers have been taken prisoner.
There were rumours swirling among the soldiers that the war was coming to an end.
There had been rumours like this from the start of the war.
No one really believed them, but they could look around they could see the German army was defeated.
What becomes in the mind of the German army: the Canadian Corps, the B.
E.
F become unbeatable.
We can't stop them.
Our troops have again made good progress advancing an average depth of 5,000 yards being tonight within six miles of Mons.
One of the soldiers fighting town-to-town pursuing the German forces toward Mons, is Captain Charles Smith.
Captain Smith led his platoon forward with such rapidity that he surprised a party of enemy sappers preparing to blow up a road mine.
Smith is a Haudenosaunee of the Cayuga Nation one of more than 4,000 Indigenous Canadians to serve in World War I.
By diffusing the mine he saves dozens of his comrades' lives and for his valour, wins the Military Cross.
In the final days British and Belgian forces pursue the Germans across Belgium.
In the Argonne the Americans and French have forced them out of France.
The Canadians in General Horne's 1st Army move into Mons the town where the war began for the British.
It would be a great satisfaction to me to take Mons as I commanded the rear guard of the first Corps when we left it four years ago, last August.
The town of Mons in In Southern Belgium did hold a A very important place I think in For the memory of of Henry Horne.
Um, he had been in Mons in 1914 in August 1914 when it was lost.
He participated in what was called "The Retreat from Mons".
So if you think about it the sublime irony of, you know, this cataclysm, this huge thing that that changed the entire world.
And it begins and ends for the British Empire in exactly the same place.
The final fight for Mons sees house-to-house, hand-to-hand combat in the medieval city streets.
Around 5,000 men die on what will be the last day of the war.
Ludendorff and Hindenburg were finally having to admit that they couldn't carry on with the war and victory was getting more and more, elusive.
And so they suddenly turned to their civilian government and said, "By the way, things haven't been going very well you have to try and get some sort of armistice".
On the morning of 11th November, at 7am word arrives at the front lines, all fighting will cease at 11 o'clock.
I had the honour of being the first machine over newly captured ground.
From every house, civilians waved madly and in some cases, went as far as to wave tablecloths.
We were flying very low below the treetops sometimes.
When we marched through a French village the inhabitants were almost delirious with joy.
They lined the road and waved at us and the children ran alongside, crying 'Bon Canada'.
I'd like to be in Blighty tonight.
It'll be a grand evening to be home.
I'll bet there'll be something doing too.
Aye, I bet there'll be a few good tears, too.
The Scottish troops, in the same vein as as everybody else participated at all of the main points.
But I don't think any evidence exists which says that the Scottish formations performed any better or worse than.
.
than anybody else.
They They just did the thing that they were supposed to do which was to fight and often to die.
The moment that great silence falls across the Somme a nurse is serving in the Australian field hospital Villers-Bretonneux and alongside her is a boy who they all call Sunny Jim.
One very young boy, who's been suitably nicknamed Sunny Jim was practically dying when we went on duty this morning.
When the celebrations started at 11am he wanted to know the meaning of it.
He thought it was the commencement of a barrage.
When we told him that the war was over he seemed unable to realise it and during the next few hours remaining to him called to us frequently and asked, 'Is it really over? Won't I have to go back?' He seemed so happy each time we reassured him.
This poor little lad finished his battle towards evening.
He was barely 18 years and we were all so fond of him.
He was a Sunny Jim to the last.
The Great War has ground on for four years claiming 16 million lives and inflicting 23 million casualties.
In 1918, the Allies fight as one under fresh leadership using revolutionary tactics and end it in just 100 days but every yard is paid for in blood.
If you compare the 100 Days to the to the Somme the casualty rates are are quite similar in many formations.
You've got an awful lot of causalities.
But the operational success is there.
Victory is there.
And that's what is remembered.
And as politicians at Versailles re-draw the map of the world millions of front-line soldiers try to get on with their lives and come to terms with the terrible losses that continued to the very last day of the war.
General Monash returns to Australia.
He receives an enthusiastic welcome from a grateful nation.
But tragedy does not leave him alone for long.
Within a year, his wife succumbs to cancer and his own health begins to suffer.
After a decade of supporting returned soldiers and working in important government and academic posts Sir John Monash dies in 1931, aged 66.
His state funeral, with crowds of at least 250,000 a quarter of the population of Melbourne is the largest in Australia to that time.
Monash was a fantastic general.
He was one of our greatest leaders we've ever seen on the battlefield.
It took us a while to remember that after the war but I think it's really come full circle now.
We recognise that now um, of just the great work that he did on the battlefield.
Field Marshal Haig was immensely popular in the immediate aftermath of the war.
He served as President of the British Legion and devoted himself to lobbying government for better treatment of veterans.
Aged 66, Haig suffers a fatal heart attack in January 1928.
He receives a state funeral in London.
Marshal Foch comes to say goodbye to a rival who became a comrade.
The scenes around his funeral were rather like Princess Diana.
There was mass mourning.
Uh, he lay in state in London, uh, and then was bought to Edinburgh and, it's estimated 100,000 people filed past his coffin in Edinburgh a lot of them ex-servicemen.
Currie, dogged by years of allegations that he needlessly sacrificed Canadian lives to raise his own profile fights a court case in 1928 that clears his name.
Those rumours had been repeated by a small-town newspaper in Ontario that accused him of being a butcher and that was the time when Currie struck and he sued for libel and it was Currie fighting for his reputation.
He won, but he suffered a stroke afterwards.
He never recovered from that, and he died five years later in 1933.
Marshal Foch, the hard-driving Supreme Allied Commander dies in 1929.
He is entombed in Les Invalides the pantheon of French military heroes, next to Napoleon.
Having seen France invaded twice by Germany in his own lifetime he had insisted on harsh reparations for the German people in the Treaty of Versailles.
There was a fundamental mishandling of the German people and the German state towards the end of the, uh the peace conferences in 1919.
The idea that there should be reparations, that there should be retribution that that the German people should pay back what they started was perceived to be that, "Right, you started it.
You actually have to now pay this back to us.
You owe us".
Really more damaging to the future peace of Europe than any particular treaty was that the war itself tragically had left terrible damage and not settled all that much.
So it had destroyed lives, it had destroyed societies it had destroyed four great empires.
It had left a Europe that was not in particularly good shape.
This is not an honourable peace at all.
It's a peace of victors and it's a peace of villains.
And that means of course that there are old scores to be settled in 1939.
And the Germans who march to that war are of course the same Germans who marched to war in 1914.
The Germans learned from their World War I defeat.
Twenty one years later, General Heinz Guderian the architect of Germany's blitzkrieg in World War Il would point to a single battle as a crucial influence the great Allied fight back that began the 100 Days to Victory the Battle of Amiens on the 8th of August 1918.
The Germans learned the right lessons from Amiens and from the Hundred Days.
And the Allies in the rush to to forget about the war forget the lessons, and they wind up having to learn some of those harsh, important lessons on the Western Front in the Second War.
The tactics of 1914 would've been recognisable to Napoleon and the tactics of 1918 would be recognisable to a modern soldier.
That's how much they advanced.
So by 1918, by these attacks, this is the birth of modern warfare.
This is This is the way we still fight wars today.
Our lines are broken here, and here.
Four years of fighting the deadliest war in history transformed these commanders.
Some of them were men of another age others, misfits from the corners of the British Empire.
By November 1918 they had all become innovators and masters of war.
Today, we remember the Somme, Passchendaele and Gallipoli.
With catastrophic numbers of dead, all were failures.
But in the 100 Days from Amiens to the Hindenburg Line the Allies did something different.
They abandoned old methods and old rivalries and they learnt how to win.
Forward!