German Spring Offensive

The 1918 Spring Offensive, also known as the Kaiserschlacht, ‘The Kaiser’s Battle’, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War. They intended to force the Allies to the negotiating table before American forces arrived in large numbers. There were four major German offensives, codenamed Michael, Georgette, Blücher-Yorck, and Gneisenau.

German stormtroopers advancing through clouds of smoke towards enemy positions IWM Q 47997

Operation Michael

The first offensive was codenamed Operation Michael, the first day of which remains the second worst day of losses in British military history.

Lewis gun team on the bank of the Lys canal at St Venant , 15 April 1918. IWM Q 10902

Operation Georgette

The second major offensive was codenamed Operation Georgette. With fewer soldiers available the original German plan was reworked as a smaller attack.

Men of the Worcestershire Regiment holding the southern bank of the River Aisne at Maizy, 27 May 1918. IWM Q 6659

Operation Blücher-Yorck

In May 1918, German forces launched an offensive against a previously quiet sector of the Western Front, near the River Aisne in France. Five divisions of the British Army, sent there to rest, suffered particularly heavy casualties.