<– Part 196 – April 21, 1918 | Part 197 – April 28, 1918 | Part 198 – May 5, 1918


Diagram of the Zeebrugge raid

On April 22, a squadron of five Austro-Hungarian destroyers encountered four Allied ones in the Adriatic and traded shots; the HMS Hornet was seriously damaged, but the Central Powers were forced to withdraw.

The next day, Guatemala declared war on Germany. In the North Sea, the British launched a raid on Zeebrugge Harbor in Belgium. They were attempting to prevent Imperial German Navy access to the harbor by sinking large ships to block it, but two of the ships were dropped in the wrong place, and the Germans were able to clear it in a matter of days.

The German Spring Offensive continues, as the Germans rush to bring men from the now-ended Eastern Front to the West before American reinforcements are enough to turn the tide of war. On April 4, a second battle was fought at Villers-Bretonneux as part of Operation Georgette. An artillery barrage the night of the 23/24 was followed by the German infantry taking. Scouting tanks on both sides engaged one another in the first tank battle, as three German tanks encountered three British; however, two of the British tanks were of the “female” type, having only machine guns, as opposed to the “male” tanks with a larger gun. The Germans damaged the two light tanks, but the British “male” tank was able to hit the lead German tank. The British then counterattacked, retaking the town. 10,400 German casualties and 15,500 Allied casualties were the results.

From April 25-26, the offensive saw fighting at Kemmelberg. A French division was able to relieve the British forces but was then pushed back by the German Fourth Army. Despite this, the Allied line held.

Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, died in Terezín prison of tuberculosis on April 28. Terezín, an Austro-Hungarian fortress mainly used for political prisoners, is in the midst of Czech lands.

In Persia, the British took Kifri, but have begun shifting troops west to support the Sinai/Palestine offensive.

<– Part 195 – April 14, 1918 | Part 196 – April 21, 1918 | Part 197 – April 28, 1918

Operation Georgette continues, with the German Fourth Army attacked towards Kemmelberg April 17, but called off the attack April 19 after a strong defense by the British.

The Red Baron

The Sixth Army attacked the British towards Bethune April 18, but likewise were repulsed.

The famed German aviator, Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron,” was shot down April 21 over Vaux-sur-Somme and killed. He is the “ace of aces,” with 80 confirmed combat wins.

At Van, in Turkey, the Armenians were finally forced to withdraw, as control of the city switches yet again

<– Part 194 – April 7, 1918 | Part 195 – April 14, 1918 | Part 196 – April 21, 1918

“Backs to the Wall” order

Fighting at Lys began April 9 as the German Sixth Army began an advance towards Estaires. The advance progressed over 9 miles before finally being halted by floods of British reinforcements. On the 10th, the Sixth Army took Armentières.

At Messiness, the German Fourth Army took Messines, advancing 2 miles on a 4 mile front. The following day, the British situation “desperate,” General Haig issued his famous “backs to the wall” order (pictured to right).

On April 12, the German Sixth Army attacked south towards Hazebrouck, a key depot 6 miles south. They were stopped the next day at Melville, still 3 miles from their destination. Forces at Passchendaele were withdrawn, although the Germans did not discover this for several days.

April 13 saw a German thrust towards the middle, Bailleul, though British reinforcements arriving are slowing the German advance. However, fighting continues all across the front.

Ottokar Czernin

April 14, Austria-Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Ottokar Czernin, resigned following the “Sixtus Affair,” named after the Austrian Emperor’s brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma. On March 24 of last year, Sixtus was authorized by the Emperor to begin negotiations with the Allies for a separate peace, seeing the war entering its 4th year of massive casualties. The peace fell through, due to German refusal to participate in handing over Alsace-Lorraine, liberate Serbia, and give Constantinople to Russia (difficult, following the civil war). As Clemenceau was introduced as the new French Prime Minister, Czernin blamed him for the war ongoing; Clemenceau, in return, published the secret “Sixtus Letter,” forcing the Austro-Hungarian emperor to reassure his allies that the letter was a fake, and Czernin unauthorized to negotiate. Czernin, betrayed and on the edge of a nervous breakdown, resigned.

<– Part 193 – March 31, 1918 | Part 194 – April 7, 1918 | Part 195 – April 14, 1918

The month began with British combining the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service into the new Royal Air Force.

At Amman, British forces were ordered to withdraw on April 2, having destroyed miles of railway, but failing to deal a more serious blow.

The first stage of Germany’s massive offensive at the Somme, Operation Michael, ended April 7. Although advancing 40 miles, they failed to reach their objectives, despite a near-victory towards Amiens at the Avre. Altogether, the offensive saw a loss of 240,000 Germans and 260,000 Allied troops. Operation Georgette was launched that same day, with an attack towards the Lys River. An artillery bombardment began earlier this evening.

Isolated cases on influenza continue popping up around the United States.