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Armistice 1918: The Last Days of The First World War Told Through Newspaper Reports, Official Documents and the Accounts of Those Who Were There (Voices from the Past)
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ARCHIVED READS > 2018 - The Great War - Theme Read on any book or books covering 1918.

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments This theme is a year long theme to allow group members to comment and discuss any book they are reading that covers an event during 1918.


message 2: by Dimitri (new)

Dimitri | 1319 comments AR, just wait until I'm back from Budapest :-D - got a whole AEF shelf ready plus Middlebrook for the Kaiserschlacht !


message 3: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 1780 comments Dimitri wrote: "AR, just wait until I'm back from Budapest :-D - got a whole AEF shelf ready plus Middlebrook for the Kaiserschlacht !"
I've hit it pencilled in for March, having risked life and limb retrieving it from storage..


message 4: by Colin (new)

Colin Heaton (colin1962) | 1980 comments I am rereading The Great War in Africa by Farwell, as well as von Lettow-Vorbeck and Jan Smuts' autobiographies on the 1918 east African campaign. These were just a couple of the great sources I cited when I wrote Four War Boer.


message 5: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Sounds like some good reading there Colin! I quite enjoyed Farwell's "The Great War in Africa". I am thinking of making this my first book on 1918:

Amiens to the Armistice The BEF in the the Hundred Days' Campaign, 8 August - 11 November 1918 by John Paul Harris Amiens to the Armistice: The BEF in the the Hundred Days' Campaign, 8 August - 11 November 1918 by John Paul Harris


message 6: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Dimitri wrote: "AR, just wait until I'm back from Budapest :-D - got a whole AEF shelf ready plus Middlebrook for the Kaiserschlacht !"

Middlebrook for the Kaiserschlacht is an excellent choice :)

The Kaiser's Battle by Martin Middlebrook by Martin Middlebrook


message 7: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 499 comments I am reading THE AUSTRALIAN VICTORIES IN FRANCE IN 1918 by Sir John Monash.


message 8: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments A classic account Betsy, I'll be interested to hear your final thoughts on the book when you are finished.

The Australian Victories In France In 1918 by John Monash The Australian Victories In France In 1918 by Sir John Monash


message 9: by Colin (new)

Colin Heaton (colin1962) | 1980 comments I would recommend my own book, Four War Boer, but Piet's biography only has 3-4 chapters on WW I in Africa, although they are grueling pages indeed. One thing I did not know was that his Askari Schuetztruppe performed the longest infantry combat patrol in history, covering 1300 miles in six months over land, water, through jungle. Incredible. His personal relationships with von Lettow-Vorbeck during the war and Jan Smuts before and after the war allowed Piet to describe these men as he knew them.


message 10: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Colin wrote: "I would recommend my own book, Four War Boer, but Piet's biography only has 3-4 chapters on WW I in Africa, although they are grueling pages indeed. One thing I did not know was that his Askari Sch..."

That's a pretty decent combat patrol indeed!


message 11: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Well I am about to start my first book for this year-long theme, one I have had sitting in my library for way too long!

Amiens to the Armistice The BEF in the Hundred Days' Campaign, 8 August - 11 November 1918 by John Paul Harris Amiens to the Armistice: The BEF in the Hundred Days' Campaign, 8 August - 11 November 1918 by John Paul Harris


message 12: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments Today I received a nice used copy of Martin Middlebrook's

Kaisers Battle 21 March 1918 by Martin Middlebrook Kaisers Battle 21 March 1918.


message 13: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 1780 comments Manray9 wrote: "Today I received a nice used copy of Martin Middlebrook's

Kaiser's Battle, 21 March 1918 The First Day of the German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook Kaisers Battle 21 March 1918."


Looks like we're greasing up for a March buddy read...


message 14: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments A good book, I hope you both enjoy it.


message 15: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments From the book I'm currently reading; "Amiens to the Armistice" in regards to the use of British cavalry during the offensive on 8th August 1918;

"This was the British cavalry's most successful day of the whole war on the Western Front. The 2nd Cavalry Division, which was Lieutenant-General Kavanagh's Corps reserve at the start of the battle, saw little action. But the other two - the 1st Cavalry Division north of the Luce and the 3rd Cavalry Division south of it - saw plenty, successfully passing through the attacking infantry in the latter part of the morning. They played a significant role in maintaining the momentum of the Fourth Army attack and carrying it rapidly forward to the Amiens Outer Defence Line. The cavalry certainly took well over 1,00 prisoners on 8 August, probably as many as 3,000, as well as numerous guns. One regiment, the 5th Dragoon Guards, of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, in the 1st Cavalry Division, took about 600 prisoners in a single incident, intercepting a trainload of reinforcements between Vauvillers and Framerville."

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battle...


message 16: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments I found this bit of information quite interesting, good example of how tactical thinking had advanced in the BEF by 1918:

"By 20th August the III Brigade RAF, an integral part of Third Army, included ten squadrons of single-seat fighters (largely Camels and SE5a's). It also had squadrons of day bombers and corps aircraft. The cavalry and the Tank Corps each had one corps squadron attached for contact patrol work. One Camel squadron was tasked to deal with German anti-tank guns and a map was prepared for it showing the probable location of such weapons."


message 17: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Here is an extract from "the Australians' final campaign 1918″ (silent):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bggG...


message 18: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments From the book; "Amiens to the Armistice":

"South of the Somme the Australian Corps mounted an operation of considerably greater tactical complexity than any carried out by a Third Army corps that day. Space permits little more than a mention here. Supported by a limited operation by the 32nd Division on its right, the 1st Australian Division captured Froissy plateau and the village of Chuignes, shattering three German divisions and capturing 2,596 prisoners, 23 guns and 167 machine guns in the process. It was one of the most remarkable performances by any BEF division in the whole war, achieved against an enemy who (though demoralised) was fairly alert from the outset and whose artillery remained active all day. The Australians suffered about 1,000 casualties in the process."

Amiens to the Armistice The BEF in the Hundred Days' Campaign, 8 August - 11 November 1918 by John Paul Harris Amiens to the Armistice: The BEF in the Hundred Days' Campaign, 8 August - 11 November 1918 by John Paul Harris


message 19: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 499 comments Monash discussed Chuignes, Hamel and the fighting after August 8 in his book. The Australians certainly did themselves proud.


message 20: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Jan 10, 2018 04:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments I managed to find this old newspaper article on the Internet in regards to this action:

Western Mail – Perth, Western Australia, Thursday 25th March 1920

BATTLE OF CHUIGNES.
MONSTER GUN CAPTURED.
(BY LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR JOHN
MONASH.)


“The great attack by the First Division supported by the 32nd Division, which has come to be known as the Battle of Chuignes, was launched at dawn on August 23, and was an unqualified success. The main Valley of the Somme in this region is flanked by a number of tributary valleys, which run generally in a north and south direction, extending heel from the river four or five miles. They are broad, with heavily-wooded sides, and harbour a number of villages, such as Proyart, Chuignolles, Herleville, and Chuignes, which cluster on their slopes.

One such valley, larger and longer than any of those which, in our previous advances, we had yet crossed, lay before our front line of that morning, and square across our path. It ran from Herleville northwards, past Chuignes, to join the Somme in the Bray bend. It was the most easterly of all the tributary valleys to which I have referred, and it was also the last piece of habitable country before the devastated area of 1916 was reached just a mile to the east of it.

The valley afforded excellent cover for the enemy's runs, and the expectation was that some of them would be overrun by our attack. It was also ideal country for machine gun defence, for the numerous woods, hedges, and copses afforded excellent cover, and had in all probability been amply fortified with barbed wire. It was a Formidable Proposition to attack such a position on such a frontage, with only two brigades. The 2nd Brigade (Heane) attacked on the right, the 1st Brigade (Mackay) on the left, and the first phase was completed to time-table, with the green objective line, located on the east side of the long valley, in our possession. The only temporary hitch in the advance along the whole front was at Robert Wood, where the enemy held out, and had to be completely enveloped from both flanks before surrendering.

Then came the second phase, and no difficulty was experienced in advancing our line 1,000 yards east of the green line, nor in establishing there a firm line of out-posts for the night. The third phase presented a great deal more difficulty than I had anticipated. It was to have been undertaken by the 3rd Brigade (Bennett), pushing without delay through the 1st Brigade and advancing in open warfare formation north-easterly towards Cappy, for the seizure of Hill 90, overlooking that village, and on the south-west of it, and terminating at its northern extremity in the, high bluff of Froisay Beacon.

There was, however, some unexplained delay in the initiation of this advance, and it was not until about 2 o'clock that the 3rd Brigade moved forward to the assault of the lone slope of the Chuignes Valley which still lay before them in this part of the field. The enemy, under the impression that our attack had spent itself, had occupied the plateau in great strength and at first little progress could be made. Mobile artillery was, however, promptly pushed up, and this proved of great assistance to the infantry. Garenne Wood, on the top of the plateau into which large numbers of the enemy had withdrawn, proved a difficult obstacle, and incapable of capture by frontal attack. It, too was conquered by enveloping tactics, and, with its toll, the resistance of the enemy rapidly subsided, and the 3rd Brigade had the satisfaction of hunting the fugitives clean off the plateau into the Cappy Valley.

The whole of this phase of the battle was an especially fine piece of work on the part of the regimental officers. It was open warfare of the most complete character, and the victory was won by excellent battle control on the part of the Battalion Commanders, by splendid co-operation between the four battalions of the brigade, and by intelligent and gallant leadership on the part of the company and platoon commanders. Beset as I had been by many anxieties during the early afternoon as to how the Third Brigade would fare in the difficult task which had been given it, rendered difficult by the delay of which I have spoken, I had the satisfaction that night of contemplating a victory far greater than I had calculated upon.

For, the 32nd Division had successfully captured Herleville, and the First Division had seized the whole country for a depth of 1½ miles up to a little extending from Herleville to the western edge of Gappy. The whole Chuignes Valley was ours. By its capture the enemy had been Despoiled of All Habitable Areas and had been relegated to a waste of broken and ruined country between us and the line of the Somme. We took that day 21 guns and over 3,100 prisoners from ten different regiments. The slaughter of the enemy in the tangled valleys was considerable, for our infantry are always vigorous fighters. They received much assistance from the tanks in disposing of the numerous machine gun detachments, which held their ground to the last. It was a smashing blow, and far exceeded in its results any previous record in my experience, having regard to the number of troops engaged. Its immediate result the same night was the capture of Bray by the Third Division, north of the river, thus completing the work of that division, which the failure of the 47th Division on their left the day before had compelled them to leave unfinished. The 40th Battalion took 200 prisoners, with trifling loss to themselves. A more remote result, which made itself apparent in the next few days, was that it compelled the enemy to abandon all hope of retaining a hold of any country west of the Line of the Somme; it impelled him at last to an evacuation of the great bend of the river, a process which he began in a very few days.

Such was the battle of Chuignes. Much of the success of this brilliant engagement was due to the personality of the Divisional Commander, Major-General Glasgow. He had commenced his career in the war as a major of Light Horse, and had participated in the earliest stages of the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Speedily gaining promotion during that campaign his outstanding merits as a leader gained him an appointment to the command of the 13th Bridage, 'when the latter was formed in Egypt in the spring of 1916. For two years he led that brigade through all its arduous experiences on the Somme, at Messines, and in the third battle of Ypres. This fine record was but the prelude to the history-making performances of the 13th Brigade in 1918 at Dernancourt and Villers-Bretonneux, and Glasgow seemed easily the most promising, among all the Brigadiers of that time, as a prospective Divisional Commander-a judgment which fully justified itself. Of strong though not heavy build, and of energetic demeanour. Glasgow succeeded not so much by exceptional mental gifts or by tactical skill of any very high order, as by his personal driving force and determination, which impressed themelves upon all his subordinates. He always got where he wanted to get; was consistently loyal to the Australian ideal, and intensely proud of the Australian soldier.

Among the captures of the battle of Chuignes, which, as usual, comprised a large and varied assortment of warlike stores, including another great dump of engineering materials near Froissy Beacon, and two complete railway trains, was The Monster Naval Gun of 15-inch bore, which had been so systematically bombarding the City of Amiens, and had wrought such havoc among its buildings and monuments. It was first reached by the 3rd Battalion (1st. Brigade) during a bayonet charge, which cleared Arcy Wood, in the shelter of which the giant gun had been erected. The gun, with its carriage, platform, and concrete foundations, weighed over 500 tons. It was a naval gun, obviously of the type in use on the German Dreadnoughts, and never intended by its original designers for use on land. It had a range of over 24 miles, fired a projectile weighing nearly a ton, and the barrel was 70 feet long. It had been installed with the elaborate completeness of German methods. A double railway track several miles long, had been built to the site, for the transport of the gun and its parts. It was electrically trained, and elevated. Its ammunition was handled and loaded by mechanical means. The adjacent hillside had been tunnelled to receive the operating machinery, and the supplies of shells, cartridges, and fuses. The gun and its mounting, when captured were found to have been completely disabled. A heavy charge of explosive had burst the chamber of the gun, and had torn off the projecting muzzle end, which lay with its nose helplessly buried in the mud. The giant carriage had been burst asunder, and over acres all around was strewn the debris of the explosion.

This is the largest single trophy of war won by any Commander during the war, and it was a matter of great regret to me that the cost of its transportation to Australia was prohibitive. The gun, as it stands, was therefore fenced in, and it has been formally presented to the City of Amiens as a souvenir of the Australian Army Corps.”

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/ar...


message 21: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 499 comments This is basically what he said in the book. Thanks for posting.


message 22: by Leigh (last edited Jan 11, 2018 07:02AM) (new)

Leigh (wellsmith) | 143 comments Hi all I'm reading " Secret Army" by Barry Stone

Secret Army by Barry Stone Secret Army

My wife got it for me (which was a shock, a military history book there must be a catch it wasn't even my birthday), she reconsigned her great grand father on the cover (We didn't even know he was in this force). Its the tale of the Dunsterforce sent to Persia after the Russian revolution. Hope to finish it next week!!


message 23: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 16 comments Leigh wrote: "Hi all I'm reading " Secret Army" by Barry Stone

Secret Army by Barry StoneSecret Army

My wife got it for me (which was a shock, a military history book there must be a catc..."


That's a cool connection!


message 24: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Leigh wrote: "Hi all I'm reading " Secret Army" by Barry Stone

Secret Army by Barry StoneSecret Army

My wife got it for me (which was a shock, a military history book there must be a catc..."


An interesting subject and I also have a copy of the book I'm yet to read so keep us posted on your thoughts. Great story about the family connection!


message 25: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments This book has been quoted a fair bit by the author of; "Amiens to the Armistice" and looks like a solid and detailed read of the Hundred Days campaign of 1918:

Story of the Fourth Army in the Battles of the Hundred Days August 8th to November 11th 1918 Volume One by Archibald Montgomery Story of the Fourth Army in the Battles of the Hundred Days: August 8th to November 11th 1918 Volume One by Archibald Montgomery


message 26: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Damn, found a softback copy on E-bay for $17 with free postage, too hard to pass up :)


message 27: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments The British cavalry at work again during the German retreat to the River Selle in October 1918:

"On 9 October the pursuing Allied forces met resistance only from rearguards consisting principally of machine guns and field artillery. The cavalry had its most exciting day since 8 August. The 6th Cavalry Brigade and the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, both of 3rd Cavalry Division, each made mounted charges near the village of Honnechy, taking, between them, 500 prisoners, 10 guns and about 150 machine guns, though at considerable cost to themselves. (The Cavalry Corps suffered 604 casualties to personnel that day and considerably heavier equine losses.) Cavalry patrols got as far as the outskirts of Le Cateau, a town of about 10,000 inhabitants on the River Selle."


message 28: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments The author of my book also states:

"Almost no-one has now heard of the Battle of the Selle. The Australians and Canadians, who tend to commemorate their First World War endeavours rather more than the peoples of the British Isles, were but little involved. American historical attention has tended to focus on St Mihiel and the Argonne-Meuse offensive to the detriment of the II Corps' achievements. Perhaps because 1918 was so crowded with events, or perhaps because of the national tendency to focus on military disasters rather than triumphs, the Battle of the Selle seems never to have entered British national consciousness. Objectively, however, it must be regarded as one of the greatest military victories in the nation's history. A total of 1 New Zealand, 2 American and 23 British divisions had engaged 31 (numerically much weaker) German divisions. They had captured some 20,000 prisoners and 475 guns."

Here is a detailed paper on this battle that may interest some folks:
http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/6799/9/Clay...

The New Zealand contribution:
http://newzealanddivision.org/page/th...

Order of Battle and map:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battle...

And a new book on this action:

The Battle of the Selle Fourth Army Operations on the Western Front in the Hundred Days, 9-24 October 1918 by Peter Hodgkinson The Battle of the Selle: Fourth Army Operations on the Western Front in the Hundred Days, 9-24 October 1918 by Peter Hodgkinson
Description:
This book considers a relatively unknown series of actions of the victorious Hundred Days of 1918: the operations at the River Selle. Between 9-24 October, the British Fourth Army drove elements of two German armies back from the Hindenburg support line in the 'Pursuit to the Selle' (9-11 October); prepared and fought the set-piece Battle of the Selle (17-18 October); and then drove in the flank of the German Second Army towards the Sambre-Oise Canal (23-24 October). Contrary to expectations, the enemy resistance on 17 October (as Fourth Army crossed the river) was strong and effective, which contradicts the idea that the German Army was an entirely spent force at this late point in the conflict. Furthermore, Fourth Army suffered its worst intelligence failure of the war and artillery, airpower and armour were unable to support the infantry effectively; it was largely the infantry, fighting a 'soldier's battle', that gave victory. The book gives a detailed account of the fighting and the infantry tactics deployed, and it analyses why Fourth Army's 'weapons system' struggled to be effective - weighing the contribution of each element and the qualities of the infantry that made victory possible. It also examines the nature of 'semi-mobile' warfare in the Hundred Days and assesses the limitations of the British ability to pursue this. The idea that the BEF had an invincible formula - repeatedly deployed - that ensured success is challenged; similarly, the nature of the German resistance is subject to analysis. The book further examines Fourth Army's planning process and the efforts of the Royal Engineers and the logistics system, without which no victory would have been possible.


message 29: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2943 comments Picked this one to start on 1918 theme. The Last of the Ebb The Battle of the Aisne, 1918 by Sidney Rogerson [book:The Last of the Ebb: The Battle of the Aisne, 1918|1408996

The IXth British Corp, 8th, 21st, 25th and 50th Divisions, mauled by earlier German attacks, are sent to the quiet Champagne area to rest and refit. The Germans are going to attack here shortly, which will carry them to the Chateau Thierry region and the Marne. The Brits, under French command, are placed in the 1.5 mile ground between the Aisne River and the German lines. A tactical error plain to even a brand-new lieutenant. But the sector had been quiet and the French general was not going to give the Brits a chance to move to more favorable position. A beautiful area in springtime, the attack begins:

(view spoiler)


message 30: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Great account Mike, I will be keen to hear more as you are reading the book.


message 31: by Bernie (new)

Bernie Charbonneau (skigolf) | 9 comments Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I

Ok, I'm in, this is the book that will commence my 1918 group read. I know nothing about this author but reviews seem favorable and, well, library had it.


message 32: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Hopefully it will be a good book to start off with Bernie. The author has written a few books on WW1 subjects including Loos and Passchendaele. Keep us posted on your thoughts as you go.


message 34: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Keep us posted on your thoughts MR9.


message 35: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (last edited Jan 20, 2018 07:39PM) (new)

Mike | 2943 comments Finished The Last of the Ebb: The Battle of the Aisne, 1918.

A short account of the battle but well written. I particularly liked this account of one of the survivors, Dublin, the battle cat:

Among the many survivors who entrained that day was one I was particularly, though admittedly sentimentally, glad to see. As the skeleton remains of the luckless, gallant 5th Battery drove into the station yard, Mickey O’Sullivan, their veterinary officer, brought with him old “Dublin.” “Dublin” was a character. He was a cat, large, black, and plebeian, and what he did not know about trench warfare was not worth knowing. Could he not tell which way a shell was coming, and to watch him was to have a shrewd idea of whether it was likely to burst close or not. If he did not move there was no need to worry. “Dublin” went right through the war, landing in France with the 8th Division on November 5, 1914, and leaving after the Armistice. He returned to die of old age many years afterwards in his native Ireland.


message 36: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments Mike wrote: "Finished The Last of the Ebb: The Battle of the Aisne, 1918.

A short account of the battle but well written. I particularly liked this account of one of the survivors, Dublin, the ..."


Here's to the Battle Cat!


message 37: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Great story Mike!


message 38: by Manray9 (last edited Jan 21, 2018 08:17AM) (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments From Martin Middlebrook's The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive.

Middlebrook makes interesting points about the state of the BEF and the French army at the beginning of 1918. The French morale had been sapped by casualties, but more so by mutiny. The BEF was 70,000 men below establishment and, per the author, it was “probable that the average division was short of 2,000 men.” He points the finger at politicians at home for these shortages:

There were more than enough troops in England to make Haig's divisions up to strength. War Office returns for 1 January 1918 show that no fewer than 38,225 officers and 607,403 men were in England, fit, fully trained, and immediately available for service in France. Just 150,000 of these men would have brought Haig's divisions up to full strength and provided a pool of reinforcements...but Lloyd George had had enough of offensives and, to stop Haig, he simply kept the reinforcements back at home.


Lloyd George's caution can be easily appreciated. Since 1 July 1916, when the offensive on the Somme kicked off, the BEF under Haig had suffered:

The Somme (Jul – Nov 1916) 415,000 casualties
Arras (Apr – May 1917) 139,867
Passchendaele (Jun – Nov 1917) 250,000
Cambrai (Nov – Dec 1917) 70,264

That's over 875,000 casualties in 18 months – not counting the so-called “wastage” of routine trench operations. The Germans suffered too, but not like the BEF, because they had been on the defensive since Verdun in 1916.


message 39: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Jan 21, 2018 12:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Excellent bit of information there MR9, thanks for posting the details. The infighting between Haig and Lloyd George back home has always interested me. I think both sides had a bit of right and a bit of wrong on their side but their actions at times were quite underhand.


message 40: by Manray9 (last edited Jan 22, 2018 08:27AM) (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments From Martin Middlebrook's The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive.

The sheer numbers unleashed against the British front were mind-boggling. The Germans opted for a short (5 hour) "hurricane" bombardment rather than a prolonged one. The German artillery consisted of 6,473 guns -- 3,965 field guns, 2,435 heavies, and 73 super-heavies (210 mm and larger). The guns would fire 1,160,000 shells in five hours. Added to this maelstrom would be shells from 3,532 mortars. The bombardment would include deadly phosgene gas shells interspersed with high explosives and tear gas. British gas masks were ineffective against the tear gas, forcing the troops to remove their masks and then to inhale the phosgene. Instead of the standard 50/50 mix of gas and HE shells, the guns targeting British artillery would use four gas shells for every HE.


message 41: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Those are amazing figures MR9. I'd hate to be on the receiving end of so much steel!


message 42: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments From The Kaiser's Battle 21 March 1918 The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook.

I was unaware that some American troops were serving in Gough's army when it received the German attack on 21 March 1918. There were American surgical units and nurses at the Casualty Clearing Stations. Most significantly, however, three regiments of U.S. Army engineers -- the 6th, 12th, and 14th -- were present. Gough described them as "a fine body of tall, strong, active men."


message 43: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2943 comments Manray9 wrote: "From The Kaiser's Battle 21 March 1918 The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook [book:The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive|8686..."

Just realized I have a copy of this on my shelf, unread. Might just pick it up.


message 44: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments Mike wrote: "Manray9 wrote: "From The Kaiser's Battle 21 March 1918 The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook [book:The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Sprin..."

I am about one-third through it, Mike. It's very good.


message 45: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments I thought it was almost as good as his book on the Somme. I don't think you will be disappointed if you pick it up to read Mike.


message 46: by Manray9 (last edited Jan 24, 2018 08:43AM) (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments From The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook.

The initial stages of the German bombardment and infantry assault were overwhelming. The “hurricane” bombardment went from 4:40 am until 9:40 am (Middlebrook stated that am and pm were used then, not a 24 hour clock) and was followed immediately by the tactically-innovative infantry attacks. The British Forward Zone defenses were virtually eliminated by 11:00 am. As Middlebrook wrote:

...the British Third and Fifth Armies had lost approximately forty-seven battalions of their infantry. The proportion of men in these battalions who were killed was not high; most were prisoners or were tied down in positions that still held out, but all were as good as completely lost to the British commanders. This loss was the equivalent of almost one-fifth of the total infantry strength of the British divisions facing the German attack...Even counting in that part of the cavalry divisions which would fight as infantry, Gough (Fifth Army) lost thirty per cent of his effective infantry in the first hour and a half of a battle that would rage for sixteen days!


The author pointed out this was the first instance in WW I of large scale surrender by British troops.


message 47: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments Manray9 wrote: "From The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook.

The initial stages of the German bombardment and infantry assault were o..."


"one-fifth of the total infantry strength of the British divisions facing the German attack" is quite a significant loss eh!


message 48: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4376 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Manray9 wrote: "From The Kaiser's Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day Of The German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook.

The initial stages of the German bombardment and infantr..."


Yes, in the first 90 minutes!


message 49: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Jan 24, 2018 11:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments You can understand why their front cracked open when they sustained such losses in such a short period of time..


message 50: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17753 comments I'm almost tempted to order a copy of this book when its released as a good companion study to Martin Middlebrook's; "The Kaiser's Battle".

Death of a Division Eight Days in March 1918 and the Untold Story of the 66th (2/1st East Lancashire) Division by David Martin Death of a Division: Eight Days in March 1918 and the Untold Story of the 66th (2/1st East Lancashire) Division by David Martin
Description:
The war had dragged on towards its fourth year. There seemed little prospect of any immediate end to the ceaseless slaughter. Field Marshal Haig saw the war as a continual battle of attrition until the Germans were finally battered into submission. In Germany the economic blockade that had been imposed upon it, enforced by the Royal Navy, was slowly strangling the country. The Kaiser and his generals knew that the longer the war dragged on the greater was the prospect of an Allied victory. At 09.35 hours on Thursday, 21 March 1918, one million German soldiers left their trenches to attack the British Expeditionary Force along a front of nearly fifty miles. It was Germany s last major effort to win the war, and it very nearly succeeded. Facing the onslaught from more than forty German divisions stood just a dozen British divisions. Though overwhelmed and compelled to retreat, the British fought a tenacious rear-guard action which hampered the German attack, allowing other BEF and Allied units to take up new defensive positions. During the retreat three British divisions bore the brunt of the fighting, suffering crippling casualties. One of those was the 66th (East Lancashire) Division which lost more than 7,000 men. Effectively destroyed, the division had to be withdrawn from the line to be rebuilt. The loss of so many men had a devastating effect on the lives and economy of cotton-manufacturing towns of East Lancashire. Illuminated with the dramatic recollections of those Lancashire lads who survived the disaster, Death of a Division is one of the most stirring stories of the First World War.


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