Military Review

"Michael". The March offensive of the 1918 Kaiser army in France. Part of 1

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Operation Michael or the March offensive in Picardy is one of the stages of the Great Offensive of the German Army 1918 in France. This strategic offensive operation was carried out by 21. 03. - 04. 04. 1918 on the Croisil-La Fére front. The main blow was inflicted by the 2-I and 17-I armies of the army group of the Kronprinz of Bavaria. The strike was made on the British 3 and 5 armies — in order to separate the French and English forces, throwing the British back to the English Channel. The German 18 Army from the Kronprinz Army Group of Prussia provided a strike force from the south.


How was the situation on the French front at the beginning of the last campaign of the First World War?

The 1917 campaign of the year ended for the German bloc to no avail. And although the all-Union offensive, due to the weakening of military efforts on the part of the revolutionary Russian republic and military setbacks on the Italian front, did not take place, the campaign showed a serious offensive power of the Allies, which intensified with each new transfer of American troops to the continent. In the face of the USA, the Entente acquired the much needed reserve of manpower she needed, while Germany’s human resource was drawing to a close.

Within Germany, the attitude of the Reichstag towards the government became increasingly oppositional. The High Command represented by P. Hindenburg and E. Ludendorff, having risen to opposition to both the Reich Chancellor and the Reichstag, objected to the implementation of internal reforms before achieving a military victory.

"Michael". The March offensive of the 1918 Kaiser army in France. Part of 1

1. P. von Hindenburg.


2. E. von Ludendorff.

At the same time, the military position of Germany (for the first time since the beginning of the 1914 campaign of the year) was rated as very favorable. The reason for the optimism of the General Staff were the Romanian and Italian disasters, as well as the gradual withdrawal from the war of Russia. Separate peace with Russia and then with Romania became the most important strategic factor - Germany finally has only one main front. The Eastern Front ceased to exist, but the fact that over the 3,5 of the year he had already played his role (and time worked inevitably on the Entente), and also that after the official “demise” he continued to delay the large forces of the powers of the German bloc, while not perceived. There was only one thing - the fact that at last the main forces of the German army could be directed against the British and French, and in the course of a decisive battle on the Western Front, one could try to achieve a military victory.

The conclusion of a separate peace with Russia and the occupation of grain-bearing Ukraine broke the blockade ring and gave hungry Germany access to a rich source of resources.

These events for almost exhausted Germany's 4 years struggle overshadowed all other unfavorable strategic factors that foreshadowed the closeness of the terrible denouement.

The coming 1918 year was to be the year of a decisive clash in the west. And each week of delay in the start of the German offensive meant an increase in the combat strength of the Entente troops — at the expense of the American troops arriving from overseas. It was necessary to achieve victory earlier than the American troops fully concentrate in Europe.

Already at the end of 1917, the German General Headquarters is adopting a plan for a decisive offensive on the Western Front, with the aim of completely destroying the enemy.

The victorious outcome of the war for the strategists of the Entente was beyond doubt. The Allies, also planning to bring the fight to the bitter end during the 1918 campaign, understood this very well. The more favorable economic situation of the Entente powers, the performance on the side of the bloc of rich and strong America, gave strength even to skeptics.

But in military terms, it was not so smooth. If the Germans' offensive plan at the beginning of 1918, was predetermined by an objective situation, then the allies had a different situation. At the beginning of the campaign there was no unified military command and control of the bloc, even within the same theater of operations. In the future, only a critical moment of the campaign forced the Allies to create a single operational command - the absence of which was so hard affected during the war. But after the defeat of the Italians under Caporetto in November 1917, it was decided to create the Supreme Military Council - the highest political body that coordinated the policy of the Entente countries in military matters. In February, the Executive Committee of the Supreme Military Council was established at Versailles 1918 - but this body did not have any command functions. And there was no coordinated operational action by the Allied Command.

This situation was one of the main reasons why at the beginning of 1918, the Allied Command did not have a definite plan of action for the campaign — although the Germans were considered more than likely.

In the French General Staff, the question of the immediate operational plan was raised in two ways: either an immediate offensive in order to warn the enemy or a waiting position - in order to accumulate the maximum forces arriving from the USA.

Chief of the French General Staff F. Foch spoke in favor of an offensive course of action. He believed that the British could strengthen their army with new sets, and also counted on reserves from the French colonies. Finally, in his opinion, the American troops could have reached the height of the operation. F. Foch's opponent was the commander in chief of the French Army A. - F. Petain, who insisted on defensive tactics. A. - F. Petain believed that until the Entente attains numerical superiority over the enemy (after American troops arrive in France in sufficient quantities), it is necessary not to put their armies under threat of defeat in parts, to refrain from a major offensive plan.


3. F. Foch.

Indeed, the combat composition of the Allied armies to the beginning of the campaign did not give significant numerical superiority - although the latter was on the side of the Entente throughout the war. By March 1918, the Allies were on the French front 178 divisions - 108 French (including 11 in February, still in Italy; the power of the French Infantry Division during this period - 9-10 battalions and 16-20 batteries; 11000 fighters), 57 English, Belgian 10, American 1 and Portuguese 2.

The massive, influx of American troops into France began only in the spring of 1918. The USA committed themselves by the end of the summer of 1918 to transfer the 2 million-strong army to France. The concentration of this powerful force and decided to wait for the Allied command.

It was decided to conduct an offensive operation only against Turkey - and the French command objected, fearing the diversion of troops from the West European theater of operations. However, the British troops in Flanders were reduced by 200000 people transferred to Mesopotamia and Palestine.

The British government during this period made little effort to increase its army in the West European theater. The composition of the British divisions was brought from the 13-battalion to the 10-battalion. Large forces continued to remain in England and on other fronts. But in January 1918, the British south to the Oise River extended their front - which, of course, weakened themselves even more. To prevent further weakening of the English front in France, the commander of the British expeditionary forces in France, D. Haig, even threatened with his resignation.


4. D. Haig.

At the beginning of 1918, the Allies remained in fortified positions, stretching from the North Sea through Newport, Ypres, Lens, S. Kantin, La Fer, Reims, Verdun, S. Miel, Pont a Mousson and further along the Alsace-Lorraine border to Switzerland.

The positions were occupied (from north to south): by the Belgian army (from Newport to Isersky Canal), to the south - by four British armies (2-I, 1-I, 3-I and 5-I - from Isersky Canal to Oise), further to the Swiss border, the French 6, 5, 4, 2, 8, and 7 armies (the 3 army in the area of ​​Mondidier was in reserve, and the 1 army in the area near S.- Miel could be replaced and transferred to the reserve).


5. British infantrymen.

To be continued
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  1. XII Legion
    XII Legion 5 December 2017 06: 48
    21
    The German leadership placed such hopes on a large strategic offensive in the spring and summer of 1918 in France. In March, there were more chances than in April, and in April more than in May. Ludendorff really was a better cameraman and tactician than a strategist. And the overall strategic balance was no longer in Germany's favor.
    But the last spurt of the Kaiser army really scared the allies. Again less than 100 km did not reach Paris.
    Thank you!
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 5 December 2017 08: 02
    +6
    The conclusion of a separate peace with Russia and the occupation of grain Ukraine
    ... in February 1918, a peace was signed between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Central Powers in Brest-Litovsk. The sovereignty of the UPR was recognized by the central powers. In exchange for this, the UNR pledged not to join alliances against the Central Powers, and to supply the Central Powers with food and raw materials, as well as troops of the Central Powers were sent to the territory of Ukraine to stop the advance of the Red Guard. In March 1918, the Soviet peace was signed. Russia .. After the troops of the Central Powers occupied a large part of fertile Ukraine ... By the way, it was not noted that at that time clashes between the White Guard detachments that broke into Russia to the Don and the troops of the Central Powers. Partisan resistance detachments organized by "German spies" -Bolsheviks and anarchists ..
    1. Nikitin
      Nikitin 5 December 2017 10: 45
      +8
      Quote: parusnik
      in February 1918, peace was signed between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Central Powers in Brest-Litovsk. The sovereignty of the UPR was recognized by the central powers. In exchange for this, the UNR pledged not to enter into alliances against the Central Powers, and to supply the Central Powers with food and raw materials, as well as troops of the Central Powers were introduced into the territory of Ukraine to stop the advance of the Red Guard

      Representatives of the UCR for negotiations on a truce, and then on peace, dragged .... the Bolsheviks. Initially, the UCR wanted to maintain Russia's allied obligations to the Entente. Germany said to the observers that it recognized only representatives of the Council of People's Commissars as pedagogical representatives of all of Russia.
      And Ukraine recognizes the independence only if it is recognized by Russia. And Trotsky CONFIRMED that Russia recognizes.
      The Germans immediately recognized and entered into an agreement with the UPR.
      The UNR refused to comply with the requirements of the SNK to suppress the legitimate authorities of the Don (Kaledin), for which the Red Guard launched an attack on it and the Don, and the UNR, in the end, requested help from Germany.
      .
      Quote: parusnik
      "German spies"
      But how else to call those who gave forever a third of the country to the German invaders, fed them bread and gold?
      There wouldn’t be this - there wouldn’t be the German offensive in 1918 mentioned in the article and the hundreds of thousands of new WWII victims.
      1. Monarchist
        Monarchist 5 December 2017 11: 17
        +5
        Nikitin, whether or not the Bolsheviks and Lenin were "Kaiser spies" was written and spoken about by a great many, but if you adhere to the facts, the Brest-Litovsk peace significantly helped Germany
      2. parusnik
        parusnik 5 December 2017 12: 55
        +4
        Nikitin
        Yes, the UCR was dragged by the Bolsheviks ... this is a big mistake .. But the fact remains that the UCR agreed to the occupation of Ukraine. The national parts of Ukraine that existed at that time and created with the support of the Provisional Government did not show resistance, as did the parts of the White Guard they are good .. and parts of the Black Guard and the Red .. spies raised their weapons against their masters ..
        But how else to call those who gave forever a third of the country to the German invaders, fed them bread and gold?
        .
        .. UCR did not feed the invaders with bread and lard .. smile ... And forever .. what Ukrainian or Russian lands now belong to Germany .. You write forever gave ... It’s clear that the Bolsheviks are to blame for the UPR signed the Brest Peace .. the first .. and let the Germans and the Austrians into its territory. .. laughing
        UNR, in the end, requested help from Germany.
        ... It is clear where the wind is blowing from the side of the country 404 ... Right now, in this country the Germans justify the occupation of Ukraine by which the leaders of the UCR agreed ... like not traitors ... smile
        1. Nikitin
          Nikitin 6 December 2017 09: 18
          +1
          Quote: parusnik
          and the UCR was dragged by the Bolsheviks ... this is a big mistake .. But the fact remains that the UCR agreed to the occupation of Ukraine. The national parts of Ukraine that existed at that time and created with the support of the Provisional Government did not show resistance, as did the parts of the White Guard they are good .. and parts of the Black Guard and the Red .. spies raised their weapons against their masters ..

          Error? No, the crime against Russia, as well as the recognition of the so-called Ukraine. The Bolsheviks have recognized, but why not recognize the Germans? If there were no Bolsheviks in Brest, Ukraine would not be there, it is a fact.
          The touches of resistance did not have effect due to the concluded agreements, as for the white parts, you will take an interest in how many of them there are and WHERE they were then.
          Czechoslovakians fought with the Germans, the DKR fought.
          Quote: parusnik
          ..And forever .. what Ukrainian or Russian lands now belong to Germany.

          The contract in Brest was not concluded for a while, it was forever. On the western border of Russia, take a look: this is practically the Brest Treaty and the Russian lands to the west of it are legally today -NO,
          Quote: parusnik
          It is clear that the Bolsheviks are to blame for the fact that the UNR signed the Brest Peace ... the first ... and let the Germans and the Austrians into its territory.

          If there were no Bolsheviks in Brest, Ukraine would not have appeared there. There would be no civilian massacre unleashed by the Bolshevik attack on the Don and Little Russia, there would be no Germans in Ukraine.
          Quote: parusnik
          ..It is clear where the wind is blowing from the side of the country 404 ... It is now that the Germans justify the occupation of Ukraine in this country, which the UCR leaders agreed to ... like they are not traitors.

          On the rejection of a third of the country from Russia forever-agreed Bolsheviks-read the Treaty.
          1. parusnik
            parusnik 6 December 2017 10: 06
            +2
            In 1919, German General Hoffmann said in an interview with the Daily Mail: "In reality, Ukraine is the work of my hands, not the fruit of the conscious will of the Russian people. I created Ukraine in order to be able to make peace with at least part of Russia." .. For the rest it’s clear ... laughing The fact that you wrote pure demagogy., Which clogs their heads in the Ukraine and Russia ... Only in the Ukraine is more successful and faster .. By the way, the Brest peace was actually annulled in November 1918, and all the signatory powers recognized it as canceled. .Read the Rapallo Treaty ... This is about forever ..
            1. Gopnik
              Gopnik 6 December 2017 11: 46
              +1
              This is not demagogy, these are bare facts. Which are unpleasant to you and from which, for this reason, you brush it off.
              The Brest peace was canceled only because the Allies survived and won in 1918. Honor and praise be for them. But the lands lost in this world are now not part of Russia.
            2. Nikitin
              Nikitin 6 December 2017 12: 29
              +2
              Quote: parusnik
              In 1919, German General Hoffmann said in an interview with the Daily Mail: "In reality, Ukraine is the work of my hands, not the fruit of the conscious will of the Russian people. I created Ukraine in order to be able to make peace with at least part of Russia." .. For the rest it’s clear ..

              The Bolsheviks recognized Ukraine in 1917-1918 (Trotsky-Ioffe 21. 12.1917: “We recognized Ukraine.” The Germans only gratefully took advantage of the stupidity of the “workers and peasants”: millionaires Adolf Ioffe and Leiba Bronstein (leaders of the “Bolshevik delegation”. Never, by the way, who did not work.
              All your quotes are pathetic excuses for the crime.
              The Brest Treaty was canceled by ANTANTA in the Compiegne truce. What does the Bolsheviks have to do with it? belay
    2. Gopnik
      Gopnik 5 December 2017 14: 10
      +6
      yes, the Bolsheviks helped the Germans great and set up the allies. It is funny that the same people who consider such a quick drain the merit of the seer Lenin are offended by the French, that they quickly merged in 1940 and by the allies who were in no hurry to open a second front during WWII.
      1. parusnik
        parusnik 5 December 2017 15: 05
        +4
        And how was it framed? The Germans and Austrians brought into the territory of Ukraine to fight the Reds and only to support the Ukrainian nationalists about half a million of their soldiers .. But it was still necessary to maintain similar regimes in the occupied lands of the Baltic states, Belarus, Georgia .. N. Zhordania was a Menshevik who advocated war to the bitter end, then the head of the German Democratic Republic, even received the Iron Cross from the Kaiser .. By the way, the Germans didn’t come to the territory of the Georgian Democratic Republic in accordance with the articles of the Brest Peace, but at the request of the Menshevik government .. Fearing for power .. That’s what ended up these parts were decomposed by revolutionary propaganda and as a result the Central Powers were defeated, not military, but because revolutions broke out in these countries ..? .. By the way, General Shcherbachev, in December 1917, entered into a truce with the Germans with the consent of the Entente on the Romanian front .. Yes, and when, at the beginning, the Bolsheviks entered into a truce with the Germans, German divisions were not withdrawn from the front and sent to the West hellish front ..
  3. soldier
    soldier 5 December 2017 08: 19
    17
    The folding of our front gave the Germans a last chance
    We had to try to be able to use it ...
  4. Cartalon
    Cartalon 5 December 2017 10: 23
    +6
    The question is whether the Germans had a real alternative to the offensive on the Western Front, as I understand the possibility of the liquidation of the Italian and Balkan front was not specifically considered
    1. soldier
      soldier 5 December 2017 11: 16
      17
      You are right - you didn’t particularly consider it. Moreover, there were not so many German troops there.
      Especially when the 14th Army was transferred from February to March 18 from the Italian Front to France - just to participate in the offensive in Picardy.
  5. Monarchist
    Monarchist 5 December 2017 11: 44
    +3
    In essence, Petan’s position was sound: the "paddling pool" for three years was tired of war and wanted to sit out so that others would fight for them.
    On our site, statements repeatedly appeared that the Eastern or Russian front “did not do any special weather” and so on, but in reality, the Germans rejoiced: “A separate peace with Russia and then Romania became the most important strategic factors.” This shows that Russia's role in WWI was noticeable.
    1. soldier
      soldier 5 December 2017 12: 04
      18
      The Eastern Front not only “made the weather”, but was one of the key, if not the key. The Western Front without the Eastern could not exist for a long time. This is evidenced by the French marshals and German generals.
      The role of Russia was extremely noticeable if (strategically) not decisive
  6. Some kind of compote
    Some kind of compote 5 December 2017 18: 02
    15
    Germany finally had only one main front.

    Yes it was too late
    They didn’t listen to Bismarck in vain
    About two fronts
    Then, rushing between the fronts like a beast wounded in one place would not have been