<– Part 218 – September 22, 1918 | Part 219 – September 29, 1918 | Part 220 – October 6, 1918

Following the success of the Vardar offensive in Bulgaria, coupled with mass retreats, desertions, mutinies, and the rapid Allied advance has led to Bulgaria suing for an armistice, signed September 29 at Salonica. The Bulgarian army is ordered to demobilize, captured territories are returned, as is all captured equipment, and German & Austrian troops have to leave the country within 4 weeks. In return, the capital, Sofia, will remain unoccupied, though any strategic sites the Allies need to take will be held temporarily, and free passage for Allied troops is also required.

In Palestine, fighting at Megiddo ended September 25, with the British forces suffering around 5,500 casualties, while the entire Ottoman force, shy 6,000 escapees, has fallen – nearly 30,000 troops. All along the front, key positions have been captured by the Allies, including Nablus, Amman, Tiberias, the key port of Haifa, Samakh (which saw both mounted and dismounted charges), Damascus, and Deraa. The days following saw a failed cavalry charge at Irbi and the capture of Jisr Benat Yakub (Jacob’s Ford, across the Jordan River) on September 27. British forces now hold almost all territory west of the Jordan river.

An audacious Allied plan to launch four major attacks over four days kicked off September 26.

Canadian engineers building a bridge to cross Canal du Nord

An enormous offensive was launched September 26, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which has nearly 1.2 million American and French soldiers assaulting 450,000 Germans. The Americans spent 3 hours firing artillery beforehand, at a cost of $1 million per minute, firing more than the entire amount of ammunition spent during their 4 years of fighting from 1861-1865. The initial American assaults, begun at 5:30am, saw mixed results with colossal casualties. In General Pershing’s own words, “We were no longer engaged in a maneuver for the pinching out of a salient, but were necessarily committed, generally speaking, to a direct frontal attack against strong, hostile positions fully manned by a determined enemy.” Nonetheless, the Americans continue to attack.

On September 27, Canadian and New Zealand forces launched an attack across Canal du Nord, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, near Cambrai, in an effort to tie down Germans, preventing them from reinforcing elsewhere. Crossing on secretly-constructed bridges at 5:20am, capturing the surprised defenders within hours.

The next morning, September 28, Belgian and British forces attacked at Ypres (the fifth battle there), following a 3-hour artillery bombardment. They advanced 6 miles, pushing Germans back and retaking land lost earlier in the year. By the next day, all the high ground had been taken.

British Brigadier General J.V. Campbell speaking to soldiers of the 137th Brigade, on Riqueval Bridge

The bridge in 2003, with now-overgrown banks

The final attack of the plan saw a devastating artillery bombardment at the St. Quentin Canal, with 1,600 guns firing nearly a million shells, specifically targeted at headquarters and German artillery, aided by captured maps of German defenses. On September 29, two American divisions and two Australian divisions, and 150 tanks began the assault, which made minimal progress on the flanks, slowing down the center as well, though it pierced the Hindenburg line in several places. British forces elsewhere captured the key Riqueval Bridge, preventing German engineers from destroying it.

Around Entente lines, large numbers of people have suddenly begun dying of a virulent strain of influenza. It’s possible this strain was brought by American forces to France and is the same as that ravaging the United States.



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