<– Part 211 – August 4, 1918 | Part 212 – August 11, 1918 | Part 213 – August 18, 1918

Front line gains at Amiens on August 8, 1918

With fighting at the Marne ending in a decisive Allied victory August 6 (140,000 Allied casualties to 170,000 German), August 8 saw the start of a new Allied offensive, under French General Haig. If successful the offensive could end the war within 100 days.

The plan is innovative in several ways. Following lessons learned by Australian forces at Hamel in July, the plan will rely on speed and secrecy, and so will have no pre-battle artillery bombardment. Instead, the artillery would open fire just before the infantry left the trench, and use new British-developed sound ranging to hit enemy guns (504 of 530 German guns were hit at “zero hour”). Additionally, 580 tanks would assist, perhaps ending trench warfare on the Western front. Four Canadian divisions were also snuck in without the Germans knowing, helped by the placement of a few decoy battalions elsewhere at Ypres. All orders included the notice “Keep Your Mouth Shut” and called the attack a “raid,” not an “offensive.” Allied forces conducted minor raids in the sectors the Germans thought the most-likely attack sources, further throwing them off the scent.

The attack began at Amiens in fog at 4:20am, and by 11am, all three phases had been achieved without the anticipated need for tank support. Many German staff and officers were captured still eating breakfast, so quick was the advance, and five German divisions were “engulfed.” German losses are estimated at 30,000 on the first day alone, with over half of them being prisoners. The morale of the German army has suffered so greatly that Erich Ludendorff calls it “the black day of the German Army”. Retreating, deserting, and surrendering German troops are shouting, “You’re prolonging the war!” to their officers and calling reserves moving up “Blacklegs” (aka, “scabs” in American strike lingo).

Overall, the Canadians advanced 8 miles, the Australians 6, the French 5, and the British 2. On August 9, the front widened to include Montdidier, but the offensive gains were not as great as those on the first day. German forces have been seen evacuating the salient left from Operation Michael earlier in the summer. Probing continues, but a continuance of the offensive will be later, allowing the troops to recover. Of the 580 Allied tanks at the beginning of the battle, only 6 were operational by day 4. Tens of thousands of Germans have been taken prisoner, exceeding the total number of all Allied casualties.

August 9 in Africa saw the French in Morocco launch a retaliatory strike against the Zaian Confederation, engaging 1,500 tribesmen at Gaouz and, despite claiming victory, losing 238 killed and 68 wounded, “the worst losses since the El Herri disaster,” together with most equipment, and leading to French commander Doury being directly subordinated to his ranking officer for all future plans. The rebelling tribes have been emboldened.

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