The german Spring Offensive

Fought between 21 March and 18 July 1918, 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.

The Battles

There were four major German offensives in spring 1918, codenamed Michael, Georgette, Blücher-Yorck, and Gneisenau. The CWGC commemorates tens of thousands of service personnel who died in France during the attacks.

How 21 March 1918 became the second worst day in British military history

This March marks 100 years since the German Spring Offensive. Codenamed Operation Michael, the first day of the attack saw the second worst day of losses in British military history with more than 38,000 casualties. The Commission commemorates more than 8,000 who died in France during the first day of the operation, which is depicted in a new film adaption of RC Sherriff’s play Journey’s End. Ahead of the film’s release this week, here is more about the offensive and CWGC sites where those killed are commemorated.

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

9 facts about Operation Michael

On 21 March 1918, the German Army launched its spring offensive with Operation Michael. Here are nine things you need to know about the attack.

The only lasting memorials to some of the most dramatic fighting of the First World War

In the 16 days of Operation Michael, the German and British armies both suffered terrible losses. The Commission commemorates almost 37,000 service personnel who died in France during the attack. More than 23,000 have no known grave and are commemorated on CWGC memorials to the missing.

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

9 facts about Operation Georgette

On 9 April 1918, the German Army launched the second attack of its spring offensive. Here are nine things you need to know about the attack.

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

9 things you need to know about Operation Blücher-Yorck

On 27 May 1918, the German Army launched the third attack of its spring offensive. Here are nine things you need to know about the attack.

The casualties of Spring 1918

Casualties of Spring 1918: Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob

On a misty morning in March 1918 a small group of soldiers faced being overwhelmed. Their task was to hold out for as long as they could. There was no chance of relief or rescue. They were led by a school teacher, Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob, whose example would inspire them to fight to the bitter end. “The Manchester Regiment will defend Manchester Hill to the last” - was Elstob’s final communication on 21 March 1918.

Casualties of Spring 1918: Private Hedley Kay

Today marks 100 years since Private Hedley Kay died during the German Spring Offensive. At just 20 years old he was a battle hardened veteran having fought in almost every British engagement of the First World War.

Casualties of Spring 1918: Second Lieutenant Walter Tull

Sunday 25 March will mark 100 years since Second Lieutenant Walter Tull was killed while leading his men into action. Described as "a class superior to that shown by most of his colleagues", Walter was one of the first black professional football league players, and later became one of the few black officers to lead white troops into battle during the First World War.

Casualties of Spring 1918: Captain Gordon Flowerdew

Saturday 31 March marks 100 years since Gordon Flowerdew died during the Spring Offensive. For his final actions he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery and dash when in command of a squadron”.

Casualties of Spring 1918: Second Lieutenant John Schofield

Today, 9 April, marks 100 years since John Schofield died during the Spring Offensive. For his final actions he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for “his fearless demeanour and bravery”.

Left to right: Sergeant John Robertson Field © IWM (HU 122039) and Lieutenant Colin MacPherson Dobell © IWM (HU 121316)

Casualties of Spring 1918: Serjeant John Robertson Field and Lieutenant Colin MacPherson Dobell

At the end of May, the German Army launched Operation Blücher-Yorck – the third attack of its spring offensive. In 11 days of fierce fighting both sides suffered an estimated 250,000 casualties; wounded, missing, killed, and taken prisoner. Here are the stories of two of the servicemen killed in the first few days of the battle.