From: Los Angeles
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.
< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 8/8/2018 3:31:48 AM >
Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?