<– Part 174 – November 18, 1917  | Part 175 – November 25, 1917 |  Part 176 – December 2, 1917 –>

Cambrai salient in the north, facing the Bourlon Ridge

Members of the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, on November 20 at Cambrai

On the Western Front, following careful planning, artillery calculations, and the massing of nearly 450 tanks, the British launched an offensive at dawn November 20 towards Cambrai. However, the Germans were aware of an imminent attack and the use of tanks. Although enjoying great success at first, with the Hindenburg line being penetrated at depths approaching 5 miles in places, the mechanical failure of tanks, together with improved artillery and infantry tactics, has led to the British forces bogging down. Near the center, British tanks under the command of George Montague Harper encounted a German unit trained in anti-tank tanks; this, combined with Harper’s unorthodox use of his own tank tactics, led to nearly 80 tanks being taken out by artillery. The west flank also lost 180 tanks (mainly mechanical failures), although reaching its objectives at the cost of 4,000 casualties, taking 4,200 Germans prisoners. This advance has accomplished more in 6 hours, and with far fewer casualties, than 3 months of fighting at Ypres. German reinforcements have begun to arrive and are contesting British gains in the center, which has formed a salient pointing towards the Bourlon Ridge (the primary objective). British forces are becoming exhausted, and are grinding through reinforcements, while the German reinforcements entrenched on the ridge are holding their positions. Rumors of a German offensive operation began November 23.

At Nebi Sawmil, in Palestine, fighting shifted to alternating offensives, exhaustion, counter-attacks, reinforcements, and repeat; for both sides. British assaults ended November 24, having made considerable gains towards Jerusalem.

Following his Pyrrhic victory at Mahiwa, the 1,800 German East African forces (mainly colonial troops) under Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck invaded Portuguese East Africa for food. Although warned November 25 at 7am that a German attack was imminent, Portuguese troops at Ngomano were caught unawares, due in large part to distracting artillery fire from the Germans that allowed them to slip behind the Portuguese lines and attack from the rear. Losing 200 soldiers, including most of their officers, the remaining 700 Portuguese surrendered. German losses were minimal, and they have raided much-needed supplies.

In Russia, a Constituent Assembly was elected, which included mandatory delegates from the major parties. Following this election, only one Bolshevik and 7 Soviet Revolutionary delegates were among the dozens elected. Fortunately for the Bolsheviks, however, the SR is only a shadow of its former power, and now is in league with the Bolsheviks.

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