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Bourlon Wood

The Film


Running Time
08 min 48 s

Canadian War Records Office, Ministry of Information

On September 27, the Canadian Corps assaulted Bourlon Wood and crossed the Canal du Nord, both vital objectives on the way to the liberation of the key enemy road and rail junction at Cambrai. Unusually, the Canadians attacked without a preliminary artillery barrage, the guns not firing until the attack began. Accompanied by tanks and using machine guns extensively in the assault, the Canadians smashed through the defences.

As the clip shows, there were many prisoners. The POWs streamed to the Canadian rear, some moving in large columns, others straggling in small numbers. Strikingly, there were few escorts (though some North West Mounted Police, serving as military police, can be seen. The POWs passed through villages where townsfolk (those who had not been driven out by the Germans) watched or through crowds of Canadian soldiers, waiting their turn to go into the line.


Canadian Soldiers, Frenchmen and German POWs Trench Raids to Obtain Prisoners for the Identification of Units German Machine Gunners Giving Themselves up to Canadians, June 1917 Prisoners Marched in to Receive Their Sentence

Other Materials

The Canal du Nord and Bourlon Wood

Teaching Materials

How We View the Past