RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (Full Version)

All Forums >> [General] >> General Discussion


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/2/2018 2:50:05 AM)

2 August 1918

At his headquarters, Ludendorff had reluctantly accepted the need for his forces to go on the defensive, for the time being. Nonetheless, he requested his staff to prepare plans for further offensives. Surely this latest Allied push would soon exhaust itself, as all previous movements on the Western front had, and then it would be time for counter-strokes. The idea that this offensive might be sustained all the way through autumn seems not to have occurred to anyone in the German High Command yet.

The French and British units of General Mangin's Tenth Army had gathered enough strength for another push. They attacked, and gained nearly 8 kilometers (5 miles). This allowed the French to re-take the town of Soissons. This is one of the most ancient townships in France, and revered for the martyrdom of the saints Crispin and Crispinian in the 3rd century. It was, of course, considerably the worse for being bombarded at this point. But for many Frenchmen, the sacred soil of their homeland was being redeemed.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/4/2018 4:26:52 AM)

4 August 1918

General Ludendorff' probably realized that the reverses of the past two weeks meant something was needed to calm the Kaiser and the German populace, He therefore issued an official statement:

Foch's plan was undoubtedly to cut off the entire arc of our front south of the Aisne by a breakthrough on the flank.  But with the proved leadership of our Seventh and Ninth Armies that was quite impossible.

We figured with an attack on July 18th and were prepared for it. The enemy experienced very heavy losses, and the Americans and African auxiliary troops, which we do not underestimate, suffered severely.

By the afternoon of the 19th we already were fully masters of the situation and shall remain so. We left the abandoned ground to the enemy according to our regular plan.

"Gain of ground" and "Marne" are only catchwords without importance for the issue of the war.
We are now, as before, confident.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne,

It was true that the Germans were slowing the Allied offense north of the Marne. But the Allies had other attacks being prepared.

At Baku in the Caucasus, the British and Commonwealth troops to reinforce the “Dunsterforce” arrived. The reinforcements consisted of a company of the 1st/4th Hampshire and a company of the 1st/2nd Gurkhas, two mountain guns of the 21st Battery, and 500 Ford vans to carry the men, equipment, and supplies. They had won the race for position against the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, but they were too few. Much depended on whether other forces in the area such as Armenians and Russians could join them.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/5/2018 3:42:59 AM)

5 August 1918

Four Zeppelins attempted to bomb targets in the Midlands and the north of England. The airships reached the British coast before dark and were sighted by the Leman Tail lightship at 2010, although defending aircraft were not alerted until 2050. But it was enough: despite thick clouds two aircraft intercepted the raid, targeting the recently commissioned L 70. This Zeppelin happened to be carrying Peter Strasser, Führer der Luftschiffe (commander of airships) of the German Imperial Navy. It was shot down in flames with no survivors. Majors Egbert Cadbury and Robert Leckie, flying an Airco (AKA De Havilland) DH.4, were credited with the victory.

The remaining airships dropped their bombs blind, relying on radio bearings for navigational information, and none fell on land. Not surprisingly, the Germans now decided that the cost of Zeppelin raids on Britain was too high, and no more would be attempted.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/6/2018 2:45:31 AM)

6 August 1918

Local German counter-attacks in the Soissons area brought the French advance to a halt. The bulge in the Allied lines since Operation Blücher–Yorck had now been substantially rolled back, and the Germans now held a line running along the Aisne and Vesle Rivers. This shortened their front by 45 km (28 mi), giving them a strong defensive position.
This is considered to be the end of the Second Battle of the Marne, and though the Germans had lost no significant ground as yet to the Allies, it was decidedly an Allied victory. All four of the Allied powers had contributed and paid a price. The French had lost 95,165 casualties, the United Kingdom, 16,552 casualties, the United States, 12,000 casualties, and Italy: 9,000 casualties, for a total of roughly 132,700 men. However, Germany had lost 139,000 dead or wounded plus over 29,000 men captured.

Ludendorff’s last offensive had achieved less than any of his previous attempts, and in fact, had ended in an Allied offensive. For the victory, Ferdinand Foch was created a Marshal of France.

Now that the French had scored a success, it was the turn of the British. The German offensive in April, Operation Georgette, had thrown an embarrassing scare into the British high command. And though it had not captured any really valuable objectives, the important railway hub at Amiens was being hampered by shelling from a 280 mm (11-inch) Krupp railway gun. General Sir Douglas Haig had selected this area for a counter-offensive, and the supplies and equipment necessary were already being moved into place. Haig considered surprise to be crucial, so the British artillery shelling in the area was actually reduced for the time being, and some troops were withdrawn from the lines, making sure that the Germans could see them going.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/7/2018 3:17:06 AM)

7 August 1918

The Atlantic convoys gave more safety, but crossing the ocean in the face of the German U-boats was still a dangerous business. On this date, the French armored cruiser Dupetit Thouars was escorting a convoy of two dozen ships inbound from New York. Off Brest, at 20:51, one of her officers spotted an incoming torpedo, but it was too late to evade. She was hit on the port side underneath the forward bridge, and a few seconds later another scored under the aft bridge.

Damage reports indicated that Dupetit-Thouars had been fatally wounded, but she was not listing badly as yet, and would take time to flood. The ship steamed off the convoy route and sent out a distress call. The engines were stopped, and the order to abandon ship was given. The damage reports had seriously underestimated the situation: the cruiser rolled over and went beneath the waves while the last life-raft was being launched, drowning ten men.

To add insult to injury, the submarine U-62, which had fired the torpedoes, now surfaced and asked the name and tonnage of her victim from the floating survivors.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/8/2018 3:29:59 AM)

8 August 1918

In the Amiens sector, the Allies had managed to achieve surprise they sought. This was remarkable when it is realized that 10 infantry divisions along with 1,386 field guns and howitzers, 684 heavy guns, and 580 tanks had been moved into position. More, French units had been informed of the plan and moved up to support the right wing. (Although the British insisted that the French move out half an hour later than the British attack.)

Instead of a long and thorough preliminary bombardment, the Allied guns opened up at 4:30 am, only a few minutes before the advance began. There was heavy morning fog, which masked the troop movements and should have prevented the artillery from being effective, but the British had prepared a detailed plan for their batteries. Using sound-ranging and aerial maps provided days before, they placed their shells just where they wanted them, and then advanced the barrage just ahead of their troops.

The Germans were caught entirely off guard. Their counter-fire from their own artillery did not begin for five minutes or more, and then it hit locations that the Allied troops had already advanced beyond. In just three hours, the Allies were 3.7 km (2.3 mi) from their start, and still moving forward. A group of German officers, including divisional staff, were captured before they finished breakfast. By 11:00 am, the Allies had gained 4.8 km (3.0 mi), and were reaching the rear of the German defenses. Several German units simply collapsed instead of the orderly retreat that had been typical in times past, and the Allies took large numbers of prisoners.

By the end of the day, the Allied forces had averaged an advance of 11 km (6.8 mi), with some Canadian units gaining 13 km. The Germans had lost 14,000 killed and wounded, with 16,000 more taken prisoner. Ludendorff was shocked -- German soldiers were not supposed to surrender except in small isolated instances. He would describe it as "the black day of the German Army".

The crowning capture of the day, however, was mechanical rather than human. One group of Australians had manged to advance so quickly that they came upon the Krupp railway gun that had been shelling Amiens for months. It had been partially prepared to move, being coupled to a locomotive along with two cars of ammunition and several more cars meant to carry the crew. The rear of the train had caught fire, but the Australians quickly determined that the locomotive was in working order and decided to move the gun back towards the Allied lines. They detached the burning cars at the rear, shunting them to a siding, and raised steam. While this was going on, a bullet hit one of the locomotive’s steam pipes, but the undaunted Aussies wrapped the line with tracing-tape, and the train was started. The gun was moved back behind the new advanced lines, but it could not be moved much farther because the rails had been hit by shellfire at that point.

Eventually the gun would be moved to Paris for display, and then shipped to Australia as a war trophy. After WWII there was much less interest in the gun for a time, and the carriage of the gun was scrapped during the 1960’s. However, the gun itself is now on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/9/2018 4:05:16 AM)

9 August 1918

In the Amiens sector, the Allies continued to push forward. The advance was not as great as the day before, since many of the tanks had broken down, and the field guns could not be moved forward quickly enough to support the new infantry positions. A German position on Chipilly Spur delivered flanking fire which brought part of the Australian advance to a halt for a time. But late in the day a group of Aussies managed to get across the river and captured Chipilly village, forcing the Germans to evacuate.

Near Montdidier, to the south of the British offensive, the French had also advanced. They did not have the tank support the British had enjoyed, so they took proportionally more casualties, but they widened the base of the offensive. What little chance the Germans had of cutting off the British salient was gone.

As he had a habit of doing, Winston Churchill went to visit the scene:

[General Sir Henry] Rawlinson’s Headquarters were at Flixicourt, near Amiens. I was much delayed in reaching them by enormous columns of German prisoners which endlessly streamed along the dusty roads. No one who has been a prisoner of war himself* can be indifferent to the lot of the soldier whom the fortunes of war condemn to this plight. The woe-begone expression of the Officers contrasted sharply with the almost cheerful countenances of the rank and file. All had passed through a severe experience, the crashing bombardment, the irresistible on-rush of the tanks spurting machine gun bullets from every unexpected quarter, the catastrophe of surrender, the long march from the battlefield . . .

The battle was still in full blast and I asked how best to see it. There is a road well known to the Royal Air Force which runs straight as a die for 50 kilometres due East from Amiens to Vermand. ‘It is being shelled, but there is no congestion, you can go ahead along it as far as you care.’ So off we went along this famous road, through deserted, battered, ghostly Amiens; through Villers-Bretonneux, a heap of smouldering wreckage, threading our way through the intervals of an endless convoy which moved slowly forward from one shell-hammered point to another. The battlefield had all its tales to tell. The German dead lay everywhere, but scattered in twos and threes and half-dozens over a very wide area. Rigid in their machine-gun nests, white flaccid corpses, lay those faithful legionaries of the Kaiser who had tried to stem the rout of ‘six battle-worthy German divisions.’ A British war balloon overhead burst into a sheet of fire, from which tiny black figures fell in parachutes. Cavalry cantered as gaily over the reconquered territory as if they were themselves the cause of victory. By a small wood seven or eight Tanks with scattered German dead around them lay where a concealed battery had pierced them, twisted and scorched by the fierce petrol fires in which they had perished. ‘Crews nearly all burned to death,’ said the Officer of the burying party. ‘Those still alive are the worst off.’

–- Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, Vol. 3

* Churchill was referring to his capture during the Boer War.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/11/2018 4:28:51 AM)

11 August 1918

In the Amiens sector, the British advance came to a temporary halt. The Germans had fallen back to a fortified line established back at the beginning of 1915, and they had brought up a good deal of artillery support. The ground the British now had to take was much more difficult for WWI tanks to traverse. In fact the situation was much like the first Battle of Cambrai, the year before, the first major success using tanks on the battlefield. The advance had been pushed too far, and the German counter-attack had wiped out many of the gains after most of the tanks had broken down.

Therefore, General Haig decided to wait until his own heavy guns and ammunition could be put in place. This was against Marshal Foch’s directive: he wanted the British assault to continue, to distract the maximum number of German troops from the southern part of the front. For the time being, however, Haig had the final say.

Zeppelin L 53 had been a thorn in the side of the British for some time. She had made 4 attacks on England, but now was doing more effective service flying reconnaissance missions over the North Sea. The British commander in the area grew annoyed at having his ships spotted, and took measures. On this date, naval aviation history was made as a Sopwith Camel piloted by one Lieutenant Culley took off from a deck constructed on a lighter (a flat-bottomed barge) towed by the destroyer HMS Redoubt. After an hour’s flight, Culley intercepted the L 53, flying underneath it and then practically standing the Camel on its tail and opening fire. The 195-meter (640 ft) long Zeppelin went down in flames. It is likely no one knew it at the time, but she would be the last German airship lost in action.

The Japanese rice riots were now out of control. The violence had spread to the cities, and the police were largely being overwhelmed. There were lootings and fire-bombings of police stations and government offices. On this date, there was a grimly effective arson attack in the city of Kobe.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/12/2018 4:21:56 PM)

12 August 1918

Sir Douglas Haig received a visit from “Black Jack” Pershing on this date, however, it was not a pleasant one. Pershing was there to request the return of 5 American divisions then serving under British command. Haig was opposed to weakening his forces; he had every intention of pushing back the Germans after a brief respite. But Allied High Command had accepted the creation of the American First Army and was planning an attack to reduce St Mihiel Salient, which obviously required American troops. Marshal Foch managed a compromise, and persuaded Pershing to take only 3 divisions, allowing the 27th and 30th to remain with the British forces.

A more pleasant visit was received by Australian General John Monash at the Château de Bertangles. For his victory at Hamel, King George V made Monash a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, the first time in two centuries that a British sovereign had knighted an officer in the field rather than at a royal palace.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/13/2018 2:26:34 AM)

13 August 1918

The Czecho-Slovaks declared war on Germany. This might have displaced Honduras as the last country to enter WWI, but the Czecho-Slovaks had not yet declared themselves an independent nation. The announcement was made in the name of the Czech and Slovakian peoples. This was good enough for the British Government, however; on this same date they recognized Czechoslovakia as a nation. Of course, its exact borders would have to wait until the peace conference.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/15/2018 3:21:22 AM)

15 August 1918

At Sarcus, France, Ferdinand Foch was again reminded that his authority over the entire Western front was still not absolute. On this date, in a conference with Sir Douglas Haig, he repeated his demand that the British continue the offensive in the Amiens sector. If Foch had hoped that his compromise in getting Haig to keep two American divisions would win him some concession in turn, he was disappointed. Haig was courteous but firm in his denial. He spoke of his “sole responsibility to his government and fellow-citizens for the handling of the British forces.”

But Foch was not the man to allow Haig a complete victory. In turn, he removed the First French Army from Haig’s command and turned it over to Marshal Petain.

In fact, Haig had his plans already underway. He had chosen the Albert sector for his next thrust, and ordered the Third Army under Sir Julian Byng to prepare a fresh offensive. Troops and supplies were already being sent to the scene.

After somewhere between 320 to 367 shells fired, the long-range bombardment of Paris came to an end. Apparently the Germans were not willing to risk the capture of the Paris Gun after the Amiens gun was seized. They dismounted the gun and moved it east. Perhaps this was because the Germans did not wish anyone else to have the technology, or perhaps it was because they suspected those involved might well be tried for war crimes. Whatever the reason, they would do a thorough job of destroying it: neither gun barrels nor plans were ever found. A spare mounting and photographs were all the Allies would ever have.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/17/2018 3:53:52 AM)

17 August 1918

Now it was again the turn of the French to launch an attack. On this date, the Second Battle of Noyon began, with the French Tenth Army under Charles “the butcher” Mangin moving up. Success would not be as rapid as it had been in July at the Marne, but progress was made.

Mangin was notoriously insensitive to casualties; a quote of his was "Quoi qu'on fasse, on perd beaucoup de monde". (“Whatever one does, one loses many people.”) This had caused his removal from command after the disastrous Nivelle offensive in the Spring of 1917, which had come close to breaking the French army. But his aggressive temperament was now what Foch wanted. The Germans could not safely retreat forever: there were crucial railroad lines they could not afford to lose.

wodin -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/17/2018 5:02:52 AM)

Must own WW1 books below

Ralph Whiteheads "Other Side of the Wire " Volumes 1 to 3 (Vol 4 and last book in series due next year). WOW..the research this man has done. You relive this German Corps experience in the trenches down to individual men. Right through the War.

Jack Sheldons "German Army on\at......" series. Every book a winner. Must own set!

J Leonhards "Pandoras Box" Has to be the best book about the War from start to finish out there. If you can only own one book on WW1, it's this one.

J Dunn "War the Infantry Knew" One of the best memiors

R Hamilton "War diary of Master of Belhaven" Another must read memoir

A Rifleman "Four Years on the Western Front" and another must read memoir

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/19/2018 3:14:16 PM)

19th August 1918

In the north of France, the British did make slow progress. On this date, the town of Merville was retaken. Or at least, what was left of the town -- for all practical purposes, it had been entirely destroyed. Here was the difference of modern warfare. In times past, armies had been able to forage off the land they advanced through. But now, wherever the soldiers marched, they had to bring nearly all of what they needed with them.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/21/2018 3:25:36 AM)

21 August 1918

The Battle of Albert, or Second Battle of Bapaume, began with General Julian Byng launching the advance of his Third Army. Opening the assault were the New Zealand Division and 37th and 42nd Divisions. The “Kiwis” had experienced heavy fighting during the German Spring Offensives, but they had been wisely withdrawn from the front lines for a time and allowed to recover. They were now nearly at full strength again, something not many divisions in the British Empire could say at this point. And the Germans had learned to fear them; they were as fierce on the attack as any troops on the Allied side. The rumor had spread in the German ranks that they ate their captives, which amused the New Zealanders greatly when they learned of it.

(The writing on the corrugated iron reads: "THE CANNIBALS PARADISE SUPPLY DEN BEWARE")

The British had only 100 tanks to support them this time. For the first day, however, it proved to be enough. The Germans, not slow to learn from their own defeats, had established a defense in depth, with their forward lines only lightly held. The New Zealanders advanced roughly 1,000 meters, and then were “leap-frogged” by the other two British divisions. By the end of the day Byng’s forces had gained about 3.2 km (2.0 mi), but they had not reached the true German defensive line.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/21/2018 3:29:40 AM)


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/22/2018 3:05:45 AM)

22 August 1918

The Germans were experts at counter-attacks, and they believed now was the time. The British Third Army had paused at the end of the previous day’s push forward, and the German Seventeenth Army delivered its reply. In the morning, the German infantry came out of its trenches in a powerful assault.

Which was just what British commander Julian Byng had in mind. He also had not shown his full strength the day before. Now he fed in his reserves, and not only was the German counter-attack beaten back, but with the Germans out of their trenches, the Allies could advance still further. By the end of the day the town of Albert was in British hands – not without cost.

In Albania, the Italian offensive had stalled, and the Austro-Hungarians began a counter-attack. The Italians were considered an occupying force by the Albanians, and so the locals were more willing to help the Central powers forces. The Italians began to give ground.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/24/2018 2:51:42 AM)

24 August 1918

The next major objective for the British Third Army was the town of Bapaume. The approach to it involved the village of Grévillers, three kilometers in front. Optimistically, the New Zealand division planned a night-time attack on the place, with an advance all the way into Bapaume if things went well.

They did not. Machine-gun fire slowed the infantry, and artillery fire took out many of the supporting tanks. On top of that, the weather had turned. This was clearly going to be a harder nut to crack: the Allied advance was slowing, and the Germans had reinforced the area considerably. The Kiwis took over 100 casualties, but their ferocity on the attack remained. Grévillers was captured, along with 380 Germans.

It was not the full advance British commander Byng had hoped for, but he had some reason to be pleased. As his forces moved forward in one place and then another, the Germans were having to constantly re-adjust their lines to avoid being outflanked. Slowly, it was becoming a war of maneuver again.

The Allied force in Siberia now consisted largely of Japanese troops, since Japan was closest to the area. Be it noted there was a remarkable mix of other types from whatever could be scraped together to oppose the Reds. One British officer found himself in command of a company of the Middlesex Regiment, plus another company of Japanese infantry, a battalion of Czecho-Slovaks, roughly 600 Cossack cavalry, and Royal Navy gunners manning two 12-pounders each on two armored trains.

On this date, the Allied forces inflicted a sharp defeat on the Bolsheviks at a place called Dukhovskaya. The success encouraged the Allies to think about not merely rescuing the Czecho-slovak legion, but up a rival government of Russia that might re-join the war against the Central Powers.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/26/2018 3:43:03 AM)

26 August 1918

The city of Arras in the Pas-de-Calais area has been the site of numerous battles due to its location near shifting borders. (It is the site of the battle scene in “Cyrano de Bergerac”.) On this date began the Second Battle of Arras in the war. Having trouble moving supplies up to the front, the British now widened the area of attack. The front of the advance was extended by 12 km (7.5 mi), allowing the Allies to use more of the local roads.

But what the British really wanted was still Bapaume, and they did not want the death and destruction of house-to-house fighting. British commander Julian Byng ordered advances to the north and the south of the town, hoping to cut it off and capture both town and prisoners. Unfortunately, the Germans were ready and met the New Zealanders with heavy artillery and machine-gun fire. The Allies managed to advance to the Cambrai road, but were soon driven back. By the end of the day, the north pincer had managed to gain the desired flanking position around Bapaume, but the south pincer had been held to an advance of just 900 m (1,000 yd).

Near the city of Baku, the Islamic Army of the Caucasus reached the outer defenses. By now, the Baku political situation was messy, to put it mildly. A group of Bolsheviks had set up a “Commune” to govern the area, but they had been overthrown at the end of July by a group with anti-communist and pro-Armenian sympathies. The new rulers styled themselves the Centro-Caspian Dictatorship, and had assembled an army of about 6,000 men. There were also another 6,000 left from the Commune forces, plus Lionel Dunsterville's 1,000 British Empire troops. This was almost the size of the Islamic army, but they were low on equipment, and except for the Dunsterforce, morale and training.

The Battle of Baku opened with the Ottomans and Azerbaijanis attempting to take the high point of Wolf’s Gate and other positions commanding the area. At Wolf’s Gate and Binagadi Hill they were beaten back. However, they were ultimately successful at another elevated spot dubbed Dirty Volcano. Four charges were repulsed by a mix of British and local troops, but the defenders took many casualties. At the fifth attack, the supporting infantry melted away and the British were forced to yield the position.

In Albania, the city of Berat was recaptured from Italian forces by the Austro-Hungarians. The area, which has apparently been a population center of one kind or another since at least 314 BCE, has now been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/28/2018 3:56:02 AM)

28 August 1918

At Bapaume in France, the Germans realized that their position was becoming untenable. Artillery bombardment was reducing the town to ruins, and the Allies were creeping ever forward on both sides. The orders were given to withdraw from the town to a position less likely to be surrounded.

Near Baku, the Ottomans tried again to take Binagadi Hill, launching an assault of 500 infantry. The pro-Allied forces had their artillery in position, however, and the Ottomans were driven back. It was for the moment only: the weakened British troops realized they could not hold the position much longer, and drew back to a more compact line.

The Army of Islam then began to shell the city. This was probably unwise, because the main objective of the entire campaign was to seize the oilfields, preferably undamaged, for the fuel-short forces of the Central Powers.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/29/2018 2:51:21 AM)

29 August 1918

The fire from the German defenders in Bapaume had slackened considerably. The British guessed that the Germans, aware that the town was being slowly but steadily surrounded, had decided to pull out. Patrols entering the town early in the morning confirmed the situation. To Byng’s annoyance, the Germans had escaped to the village of Bancourt, 16 km (10 mi) south of Arras. Nor could they be immediately pursued, for they had left a number of booby traps which had to be disarmed before the roads through Bapaume could be used.

Using Bapaume as a place for people to live in would take even longer. The town had been heavily damaged, since it had changed hands four times during the war, and to top it off, one of the booby-traps the Germans had set was a time bomb in the Town Hall. The good news was that the timer had been miscalculated: the bomb went off just before the allied troops arrived.

The Allied advance was now over a wide front, hampering the German ability to stabilize their line. Further to the south, the town of Noyon was at last recaptured by the French who were supporting Byng’s right wing. It was now clear that, in this case at least, General Haig’s idea of changing his line of attack instead of Foch’s idea of continuing the push at Amiens had yielded better results. Foch gave effusive praise to the accomplishments of the British, though he did not admit to having been in error.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (8/31/2018 3:41:25 AM)

31 August 1918

The next French town for the Allies to re-take was Peronne, but the approaches to it were under the guns of the German positions on Mont St-Quentin. To capture them, there were two Australian battalions which had been badly worn down in the previous days of fighting. They totaled about 600 men, less than half of their original complement. The Allies had one big advantage, however: superiority in artillery.

The Australians attacked at dawn, behind a well-placed barrage. This disrupted the German defenders, and the Australians discovered they could concentrate superior numbers at the specific points being assaulted. The Germans were kept off-balance as they were ejected from one position to the next, and soon began surrendering in goodly numbers. By 0800 Mont St-Quentin had been entirely secured, and the Australians discovered that the number of prisoners they had taken exceeded their own numbers.
(painting by Fred Leist, 1920)

Elsewhere, more villages were being re-captured. Riencourt was seized by the 10th Manchester Battalion in a night-time assault. In this case, however, the Germans mounted one of their numerous counter-attacks, trying to slow the Allied momentum. At dawn, units from three divisions (the 23rd Saxon and the 16th and 4th Bavarian Infantry) went forward. They had even managed to put four of their few surviving A7V tanks into the field, but this turned out to be more trouble than help. Driven back back British artillery, they attempted to return to German-held positions. There was no friendly reception there: since there were so few German tanks, the Germans manning the lines assumed the A7V’s were British tanks on the attack, and fired on them. Two tanks attempted to dodge by going forward again, only to be captured by the New Zealanders. By the end of the day, whatever ground the Germans had manage to take had been recovered by the Allied counter-counter-attack.

At Baku, the defenders were not doing well. The Armenian soldiers, essentially a militia, tended to retreat after a short time in combat. The Russians were worse; they preferred to attend political meetings than man the front lines. The British “Dunsterforce” was inflicting serious casualties on the Muslim attackers, but they had been too few to start with, and they were taking losses of their own, especially in officers. General Dunsterville sent angry messages to General Dukuchayev, who invited the British commander to his council of war. This turned into what was essentially another political meeting, with long-winded speeches. Dunsterville eventually walked out.

The Allied cargo vessels sunk for the month of August climbed modestly upward to a total of 283,800 tons. However, U-boat losses for the month were up to 9, and at least six of those were due to mines. (The reason for the sinking of U-107 was never determined.) The U-boats were now being lost at a rate at least as fast as they could be launched, and experienced crews lost faster than new ones were being trained.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/1/2018 3:53:57 PM)

1 September 1918

The Islamic army of the Caucasus had made significant progress against the defenses of Baku. They had gained some of the heights around the city, and inflicted substantial losses on the pro-Allied coalition. However, they had paid a heavy price themselves. Ottoman commander Mursel Bey decided that a rest to re-fill his ranks and resupply his stocks of ammunition was necessary.

The breather was even more badly needed by the anti-Ottoman coalition. Having gotten nowhere meeting the Russian general, Lionel Dunsterville now tried a meeting with the “Centro-Caspian Dictatorship”, the group now in charge of the city. Dunsterville pointed out the poor performance of the militia over the last week of fighting, and implied that he would pull the British troops out if the situation did not improve. The dictators promised that matters would improve, and Dunsterville decided to keep his men in the front lines until the situation became clearly hopeless.

Thanks to the pause in the fighting, the dictators’ promise would not be put to the test for two weeks. In the meantime, a victory in a skirmish to the north cleared the way for reinforcements in the form of 600 Cossack cavalry to arrive.

In France, the Australians had mastered the key position of Mont St-Quentin, and now they attacked the town of Peronne. Fierce street fighting erupted, but momentum was against the Germans, and they Australians made progress hour by hour. At the end of the day the Germans still clung to a small area, but the majority of Peronne was in Allied hands.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/2/2018 3:30:42 AM)

2 September 1918

In Murmansk, the Allied Expeditionary Force gained a bit more diversity: an Italian contingent landed to bolster the pro-Western troops.

British and Canadian troops, in an especially well-conducted assault, now attacked the German Drocourt-Quéant Line. Starting at 5:00 am, the Canadian 1st Division hit the line to the south-east, south of the Arras–Cambrai road. The Canadian 4th Division moved against the center, between Dury and the main road. The British 4th Division went to the left wing. It took hours, but eventually the line was breached over a front of 9.5 kilometers (6 miles). Though the Allies had help from both tanks and aircraft, they received the most support from from artillery: British guns fired a remarkable (and remarkably calculated) total of 943,857 shells over course of the day. In addition to an unknown number of Germans killed and wounded, the Allies managed to bag 6,000 prisoners.

The news probably caused more shock throughout Germany than any other single defeat of the Hundred Days Offensive. It was bad enough that Ludendorff's Spring Offensives had failed, and the Germans were being pushed back. But if such solid defensive lines could now be breached, how far might the Allies advance?

The German soldiers in the trenches already knew -- the war would be lost sooner or later. Reinforcements arriving from Germany were not being welcomed, but rather told that they were prolonging the inevitable. The German High Command also could see the proverbial writing on the wall. In hindsight, their best move would probably have been to pull all the way back to the borders of Germany and make a stand there. With Belgium and Alsace-Lorraine regained, the Allies would have been less motivated to accept the huge casualties of continued battle, and the German soldiery more motivated to defend the soil of their fatherland. A negotiated peace treaty would likely have been within reach; a clause strictly limiting future submarine warfare could well have appeased the Wilson administration.

But there would have been problems as well. Giving up the coal and iron mines they had captured would have had a serious impact on the German economy. Although the German Empire had been strengthened in the east by the fall of the Russian Empire and the new "client" states such as Finland and the Ukraine, many in Germany would conclude that the war had been for nothing, and there might have been a major political reaction. But the most immediate concern for the German High Command seems to have been the abandonment of large amounts of equipment and supplies. Armies in WWI required more stuff, and more of it, than for any previous conflict in history. To name just one point, they now had to have airfields reasonably close by, which in turn needed petrol (AKA gasoline), spare parts, tools, maintenance hangars, equipment for filling shell and bomb holes in runways, and so on and so on. Evacuating the immense amount of gear and supplies over a transport network already busy furnishing the needs of millions of men would take more time than the Allies would allow. Allied General-in-Chief Foch, studying the map at around this time, is reported to have remarked, "This man [the Germans] could still get escape if he did not mind leaving his luggage behind him." But the German High Command apparently could not bring themselves to leave their luggage. They decided to gamble on holding the Allies at the Hindenburg Line.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/3/2018 4:10:26 AM)

3 September 1918

This date can be roughly considered the end of the Second Battle of the Somme and its subsidiary battles, Bapaume and Arras. The Germans had received their orders to pull back to the Hindenburg Line, abandoning all the gains of the Sring Offensive. British air patrols soon discovered the move, as did infantry probes which occupied a couple of towns and found no resistance. However, the, the east bank of the Canal du Nord was found to be still well-manned, with all bridges destroyed but one.

Généralissime (General-in-Chief) Ferdinand Foch had anticipated such a move, and he now outlined his plans to deal with it. Since previous advances had been stopped by the other side pouring in reserves to contain the assault, there would be simultaneous offensives along nearly the entire front, from Verdun all the way to the English Channel. Army Group Flanders, commanded by Belgian King Albert I, would be the left wing, and attack towards Ghent and Bruges, liberating Belgian soil. In the center, the British 1st and 3rd Armies would assault the Canal du Nord, and once across would seize the transport hub of Cambrai. The task of the British 4th Army and the French 1st Army would be to cross the Saint-Quentin Canal, and break the Hindenburg Line at that location. Lastly, on the right wing, the 1st United States Army and French 4th Army would advance between Reims and Verdun, which meant traversing the Argonne Forest.

Such a massive operation would take time to coordinate plans and lay in the immense stocks of supplies needed by the troops. In the meantime, it was a good idea to eliminate the triangular wedge that the Germans held at St. Mihiel. This would give the American troops, and especially the American staff and logistics organizations, some more valuable experience.

The U. S. Government joined the British, and recognised the Czecho-Slovaks as having a government.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/5/2018 4:20:41 AM)

5 September 1918

The Allies had made optimistic guesses about how the poor situation of the Central Powers, but they knew they had underestimated their opponents before. After all, there were only three months of campaigning weather left in 1918, and there was still a good deal of France and all of Belgium to reconquer. Therefore, the emphasis was still on making long-range plans. The Allies feared and wanted to avoid the war running on into 1920, and so focused on a decisive effort in 1919. Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill now wrote to the government in London:



1. The extremely important paper written by the Chief of the Staff on the 25th July [not printed here] affirms the conviction that the German armies in the West could be decisively defeated in the summer of 1919, provided that we selected a climax, concentrated every available resource upon it, and subordinated intervening events to it. The method of mechanical attack was also set out by the General Staff, and our preparations to produce the necessary vehicles are at hand. . . No doubt it is right to exploit to the full the present favourable situation, and we need not exclude the possibility of results being achieved of a very far-reaching character. On the assumption however that these results are not decisive, and that the winter closes down with an unbroken German front in the West, we ought now to have reached definite conclusions as to the character of next year’s campaign. The questions involved affect directly every arrangement for munitions supply and man-power. All these questions can be settled harmoniously if they are related to some central design . . .

2. The policy of aiming at victory next year would appear to require inter alia the following measures:—

(a) The bringing over of the largest possible number of American troops.
(b) In order to encourage the above, we must do our very utmost to arm, equip, and clothe them in advance of their own war industries.
(c) All works of construction which cannot yield a war result during the period of climax in 1919 should be rigorously pruned.

Churchill knew he would face stiff resistance from both industry and government departments as to where manpower should go. The Navy jealously guarded its resources, the factories and coal mines wanted to keep as many workers as they could, and of course the Army was unrelenting in its demands for more men to fill the ranks. He was therefore laying the groundwork for his own plans. But in three weeks, the situation would change drastically.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/6/2018 4:35:06 AM)

6 September 1918

In northern France, the Allies continued to move forward. There were no more of the gains of multiple miles in one day as had happened at the opening of the offensives, but day-to-day progress was still being made. On this date, French forces took the “communes”, or towns, of Chauny and Ham.

Ham had been the headquarters of the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of volunteer American pilots who had joined the fight against Germany before the U. S. declaration of war. When the Germans overran it in 1917, they had retaliated by virtually destroying the place, including the five-century-old chateau.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/8/2018 4:28:54 AM)

8 September 1918

Winston Churchill again showed up on the battlefield, providing eyewitness testimony for his push for a larger Tank Corps:

To the Prime Minister,


[ . . . ]

I spent yesterday [September 8] on the battle-front, and guided by General Lipsett of the 3rd Canadian Division, went over a large part of the ground taken by us beyond Monchy. I walked over the Drocourt-Quéant line and went on up to the extreme high watermark of our attack. I noticed several remarkable things. The Drocourt-Quéant trench was strongly held with Germans, and it was a very fine, strong, deep trench. In front of it was a belt of wire nearly 100 yards broad. This wire was practically uncut and had only little passages through it, all presumably swept by machine guns. Yet the troops walked over these terrific obstacles, without the wire being cut, with very little loss, killed many Germans, took thousands of prisoners and hundreds of machine guns. Three or four hundred yards behind these lines was a second line, almost as strong and more deceptive. Over this also they walked with apparently no difficulty and little loss. Behind that again, perhaps a mile farther on, were just a few little pits and holes into which German machine guns and riflemen threw themselves to stop the rout. Here our heaviest losses occurred. The troops had got beyond the support of the tanks, and the bare open ground gave no shelter. In one small space of about 300 yards wide nearly 400 Canadian dead had just been buried, and only a few score of Germans. The moral appears to be training and tanks, short advances on enormous fronts properly organized and repeated at very brief intervals, not losing too many men, not pushing hard where there is any serious opposition except after full preparations have been made. It is the power of being able to advance a reasonable distance day after day remorselessly, rather than making a very big advance in a single day, that we should seek to develop. This power can only be imparted by tanks and cross-country vehicles on the largest scale.
You would have been shocked to see the tragic spectacle of the ground where our attack for the time being withered away. It was just like a line of seaweed and jetsam which is left by a great wave as it recoils.

Though the “Spanish Flu” had been spreading around the world for months, it was not stopping. Instead, it now mutated into a more virulent and more contagious strain. Pneumonia and even hemorrhages into the lungs were now happening. On this date, the first cases of the deadlier version appeared at Camp Devens near Boston.


skr1107 -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/8/2018 6:33:14 AM)

I just watched the best show on Jutland. I think it was a Smithsonian show, I do not know. I never really knew that much about it, BOY, this was great. It explained two things I never knew (1) The British Vice Admiral was a lying POS, and (2) if British crews followed the correct safety/firing protocols, they would not have lost all those ships. The commanders stressed Rate of Fire over safety protocols. Again, I am not a history expert, so I loved it.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Centennial of the End of the Great War (9/11/2018 3:49:02 AM)

11 September 1918

German General-in-Chief Ludendorff does not seem to have been aware that the wedge-shaped area at St. Mihiel would be the target of the next Allied attack. However, he had decided that it was now too exposed, and he had ordered a withdrawal back to a shorter and more defensible line. On this date, the German troops began their pull-out, loading their wagons and limbering up their cannons.

On the American side, General Pershing had laid out detailed plans and issued his orders. This appears to be the first time that “D-Day” and “H-Hour” were used by the U. S. military, though many of the troops were still using the older “Zero Hour”:

We camped about ten miles back of the Front for about eight days, in dense woods It rained every day . . . we finally received orders to move to the Front. Although it was raining, we hiked all night, and the morning found in the front line waiting for Zero hour.

– Private William Francis, 5th Marines

Pershing had also been convinced of the value of tanks, and he had selected a promising 32-year-old Lieutenant Colonel named George S. Patton to command his 1st Provisional Tank Brigade for the assault. At this point, Patton may have had more courage than brains, for he decided to do his own scouting. He was spotted, but the Germans apparently did not care to start shooting while they were preparing their withdrawal. Some unknown German sentry warned Patton back with a whistle, and may thereby have, to some extent, altered the course of history.


Page: <<   < prev  3 4 [5] 6 7   next >   >>

Valid CSS!

Forum Software © ASPPlayground.NET Advanced Edition 2.4.5 ANSI