Western Front 1918: The German Offensives

Amiens

Battle of Amiens: 8 - 11 August 1918

Fourth Armyís colossal surprise attack east of Amiens on 8 August, spearheaded by tanks and Canadian and Australian infantry, began with spectacular success; but the lavish scale of A front line observation post within two hundred yards of the enemy.   E02872 Australian War Memorialachievements could not be maintained and during the subsequent three daysí fighting forward impetus slowed. Facing increasingly difficult ground, defended by a reinforced enemy, the faltering rate of advance induced Haig to break off costly British assaults in favour of potentially more rewarding offensive operations on other fronts.

High tank casualties on the previous day meant that significantly fewer vehicles supported the renewed attacks on 9 August, which despite the early capture of Le Quesnel, were delayed and disjointed and failed to exploit the opportunities offered by an enemy in full retreat. By nightfall the important Chipilly spur had been secured and a general advance of around three miles achieved.

10 August, a fine summerís day, saw French advances on the extreme right of the battlefront (extended by the participation of the French Third Army), but poor communications and command anxieties about German counter-attacks (which effectively shackled the leading Dominion troops) constrained the British advance. Tank casualties were again high as German field gunners took the measure of British armour; Fourth Armyís maximum advance, in the Canadian sector, amounted to around two miles. This small progress convinced Haig of the need to switch the fronts of attack.

The good weather continued on 11 August, a day of minimal gains for Fourth Army as Rawlinson sought to conserve his tiring troops; a mere 38 tanks supported a much-restricted advance (including the Australian occupation of Lihons) as the re-organised German defence offered increasingly fierce resistance.

Though huge gains had been made in the four daysí fighting, offensive operations were now wound down as preparations began for a major British thrust north of Albert.

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