Belgium: Today 104 years ago, on October 14, 1918, the Battle of Courtrai (Kortrijk) began as part of the Hundred Days Offensive, also called the Second Battle of Belgium.
On September 28, 1918, the Allies had launched the Fifth Battle of Ypres, eliminating the Ypres Salient and pushing the Germans eastwards. The offensive was called off on October 2 due to bad weather, German reinforcements, and supply issues for the Allies. However, as soon as the weather improved, the Allies were planning on going on the offensive again to fully liberate Belgium.
The 12 Divisions of the Belgian Army, 6 French Divisions of the French 6th Army, and 10 British Divisions of the British 2nd Army all grouped together under the “Army Group of Flanders”, commanded by Belgian King Albert I, which were to attack along the Lys river in Flanders.
On October 14, 1918, the Belgian, French and British forces attacked, supported by a very effective creeping barrage. In the north, the Belgians swiftly advanced, capturing Ostende, Bruges, Zeebrugge, and reaching the Dutch border by October 20. The Germans withdrew behind the Deinze-Bruges Canal and halted the Belgians.
In the middle, the French also advanced and captured Roulers on October 16. The British forces in the south crossed the Lys and captured Lille, Douai, and Courtrai by October 19. The Germans withdrew behind the Scheldt river (l’Escaut) and halted the Allies there.
The advance exhausted the Allied troops, so 2 U.S. Divisions were moved to Flanders to reinforce the French. On October 20, the Allies launched a fresh attack along the front in the Battle of the Lys and Escaut.
The Belgians faced heavy German resistance when trying to eject them from the Deinze-Bruges Canal, suffering heavy losses. The French and Americans also had trouble crossing the Scheldt river, but did manage to create a bridgehead.