Military Review

"Michael". The March offensive of the 1918 Kaiser army in France. Part of 4

21
The reinforced transport of American troops to France forced E. Ludendorff to choose the month of March as the optimal time to go on the offensive.


The German assault force consisted of: 62 divisions, 950 light batteries, 701 heavy batteries and 55 heavy batteries for special purposes (around 6 thousand guns, including 2,5 thousand heavy, 1 thousand mortars, 1 thousand aircraft).

March 10 was followed by the Main Apartment directive on the “Michael” offensive. She read:
“1) Attack“ Michael ”will be held on March 21. The attack on the first enemy position - in 9 hours 40 minutes of the morning.
2) The first strategic task of the crown prince of Ruprecht is to reach the British in the Cambrai sector and to occupy the area north of the Omignon river, which flows into the Sommu, to the Croisil line - Bapom - the mouth of the Omignon. In case of a successful attack on the right wing (17 Army), it should be continued beyond the Croisil.
A further task of the group is an attack in the direction of Arras - Albert, while relying on the Somme at Perron with the left wing. Having a center of gravity on the right wing, the English front must also be shaken in front of the 6 army, freeing German forces for maneuver warfare located here. In this case, all divisions behind the 4 and 6 armies should be pulled up immediately.
3) The group of the German Crown Prince initially moves to the Somme and the Crozat Canal south of the Somme. With the rapid advancement of the 18 Army, it is necessary to capture the ferries through the Somme and the canal. At the same time, the 18 Army must be ready to extend its right wing to Perron. The group takes care of the reinforcement of the left wing of the 18 army by the divisions of the 7, 1 and 3 armies.
4) The 2 th Guards, 26 th and 12 Infantry Divisions are controlled by the High Command.
5) Final decisions on the attacks of "Mars" and "Ergengel" High Command reserves for themselves depending on the course of the operation. "

Thus, the group of the Bronarian Kronprinz (17-I and 2-I armies) received the task of rejecting the English front in the north-west direction, and the 18-I army, extending the right flank to Perron, had to assume the left flank of the operation on the line of the river Somme.

March 10 began combat supply of shock divisions (division strength - 9 battalions and 11 - 14 batteries, up to 12000 fighters). From 3's to 7's divisions were merged into army corps.

At this time, the allies are no less intensively preparing for defense.

Imposed, as we have noted, the imprint of the lack of a unified command.

According to A.-F. Petena, the first line of defense should have only temporarily held off the enemy’s advance, and the main resistance should have been on the second line. But many commanders considered it unacceptable to surrender positions captured at such a high price in the 1915 year.

"Michael". The March offensive of the 1918 Kaiser army in France. Part of 4
13. A.-F. Petain

In the absence of accurate information about the direction of the enemy strike, it was difficult to choose the necessary points to concentrate strong reserves on the likely directions of the German offensive. The French command was expecting a German offensive either against the British front at Cambre, or against the French armies at Reims. 39 divisions, according to F. Foch, should have made a general reserve. F. Foch proposed to place this reserve in three groups: in the Dauphin, in the area of ​​Paris and in the region of Amiens (behind the weakest section of the British 5 Army).

The British refused to allocate the 7 divisions required of them to the general reserve - and the idea remained only an idea. The national armies prepared themselves to repel the German offensive.

The French command expected the Germans to advance only partially against the British right flank, and mainly against their armies in the r. Marna.

In February, the cover of the unknown began to gradually subside - intelligence data spoke about the concentration of significant German forces in the bend of the front at Laon. At the end of February, air reconnaissance reported large rail traffic, heavy road and bridge construction and an increase in the number of military warehouses on the entire German front from Lille to Oise - particularly noticeable in the area from Arras to La Fer, that is, against the British 3 front and 5 armies.

The British command decided that the Germans would follow 19 in March on the front south of Arras. From two German defectors it became known that the attack would begin at the front of Arras - S.-Quentin.

Thus, the March offensive of the Germans was not unexpected for the British.

In January 1918, the British occupied the 220-kilometer front from Ypres to Oise with the forces of the 57 divisions - the 40 divisions were in the first line, the 10 divisions - in the army reserves and the 7 divisions - in reserve field marshal D. Haig.

The British command attached the most serious importance to the northern sector of its front. Directions to the ports of Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne were recognized as the most important - and to be secured. The 2 and 1 armies, respectively, from Ypres to Arras, occupied the most concise fronts, having sufficient reserves in the rear.

Otherwise, the southern section was rated south of Arras. Here it was considered possible to retreat to the line r. Sommes - and without any serious strategic consequences. It is obvious that the British were much less interested in providing the interface with the French and the shortest direction to Paris that runs from it than in providing their coastal bases and communications.

As a result, the front from Arras to r. Oise was occupied by the English troops most weakly. 39-km plot from the river. Scarpa to Guzokur occupied the 3 Army, which had 10 divisions in the first line and in reserve (the strength of the English division was 7 battalions and 12 - 12 batteries; about 18 fighters). The 13000-km front from Guzokur to Barisi (south of La Fera) was occupied by the 62 Army, which had cavalry divisions in the first line of 5 divisions and in the 11 reserve.


14. The commander of the British 5 Army, General D. Bing.

Thus, the 31st English infantry division had to withstand the forces of the Germans, which exceeded them exactly 2 times. The British had 3 thousand guns, 216 tanks, about 500 aircraft.


15. The concentration of the forces of the opponents to the beginning of the operation "Michael".

The question remains why D. Haig, aware of the direction of the German offensive, did not take measures to strengthen the southern (threatened) flank. And he himself admitted that the 5-I army was too weak. Justifying himself, the English commander-in-chief wrote that with a large length of the front it was not possible to be strong enough in all threatened points. “It was therefore necessary, first, to firmly secure the most important direction” - and the northern one was recognized as such as the shortest to the sea.

In the southern section, D. Haig was counting on the possibility of quick support from the French. But the latter expressed their dissatisfaction with the activities of Field Marshal. It was noted that "Haig was hypnotized by an imaginary threat to his left flank and therefore did not have any strategic reserves in the area between Skarpa and Oise." But at the same time, the French forgot that their reserves (except for the 3 Army in the Mondidier area) were dispersed to the east.

Having their reserves, the Allies hoped that the artillery preparation would reveal the direction of the German strike and give them time to pull up their forces and equipment. Short artillery preparation for only a few hours came as a complete surprise to the Anglo-French.

And at dawn of 21, the roar of thousands of German guns announced the world about the start of the last act of the First World War - the beginning of the campaign of the 1918 of the year.

To be continued
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  1. Serge72
    Serge72 8 December 2017 06: 23
    17
    The British were much less interested in securing a junction with the French and the shortest route to Paris with him than in securing their coastal bases and communications.

    Not surprised
    They've been pulling a blanket all their lives
    1. Cartalon
      Cartalon 8 December 2017 08: 13
      0
      And who were they supposed to pull this blanket on?
      1. Serge72
        Serge72 8 December 2017 09: 06
        17
        As I understand it, they should think more about all-Union interests.
        Especially on the common front
        Especially in relation to the French
        Weaving so-called general clothed - not without reason England is one of the system-forming players of the Entente.
        There was no example of Dunkirk in 1940 - but the thoughts on how to successfully escape to England (especially by the moment being considered after almost 3,5 years of a relatively successful war) were already
        1. Cartalon
          Cartalon 8 December 2017 12: 11
          0
          Union interests would have suffered much more from the Germans' exit to the canal than from the fact that they went to Paris.
          1. soldier
            soldier 8 December 2017 12: 25
            17
            So one can not allow one, but the other - acting in a monolithic, single system.
            And the British at the first forfeit squint in the direction of the canal - as if astronauts on the moon, with whom it is necessary to flee because people do not live
            1. Cartalon
              Cartalon 8 December 2017 12: 56
              0
              It is only natural that they mow them there, to allocate reserves so that they could catch it everywhere and everywhere, well, no matter how they would fail.
              1. soldier
                soldier 8 December 2017 14: 28
                16
                Well, it can act together and not act like a real Expeditionary Force.
                All 5 armies on the continent already, not BEC
    2. antivirus
      antivirus 8 December 2017 08: 35
      +1
      The question remains why D. Haig, aware of the direction of the German offensive, did not take measures to strengthen the southern (threatened) flank. And he himself admitted that the 5-I army was too weak. Justifying himself, the English commander-in-chief wrote that with a large length of the front it was not possible to be strong enough in all threatened points. “It was therefore necessary, first, to firmly secure the most important direction” - and the northern one was recognized as such as the shortest to the sea.

      - normal egoism, everyone received (after the war, the purpose of the war) a piece of himself from the redivision of the world. The psychology of the "consumer society" was still steering.

      -And MAIN THING - A GAME FOR SUPPORT - DESTROYING YOUR FAVORITES (FORCED VICTIM) FOR THE FASTEST PERFORMANCE OF AMER IN THE WAR So in 40 g, this was the usual arithmetic calculation of human and industrial potential.
      there is no "madness of the brave" in the Britons, there is a dodgy mind
      counted: victory will require xxxxx million soldiers, it is better to sacrifice xxx and speed up access to the first line of amers, keeping x of your soldiers
      + "international capital" asked for a piece from Victory in WWI for amers, and the contribution to it had to be depicted very important, to earn sponsorship contracts in professional sports as of now.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 8 December 2017 07: 59
    +9
    A short artillery preparation for only a few hours was a complete surprise to the Anglo-French.
    ... As for the Austrians, during the Brusilovsky breakthrough ..
  3. soldier
    soldier 8 December 2017 09: 12
    18
    The lack of a single command is the main shortcoming of the Entente.
    It could significantly accelerate the victory by synchronizing efforts and limiting maneuverability and troop transfers of the German bloc
    And no one's state sovereignty would suffer from this
  4. Some kind of compote
    Some kind of compote 8 December 2017 12: 10
    15
    Military density God forbid
    Almost a battalion battery
    Such would be used by our army 2 years earlier - as if the Baltic states had been recaptured and the Austrians turned their neck by the end of the 16th
    soldier
    1. antivirus
      antivirus 8 December 2017 17: 07
      +1
      this is the other number of cast iron - steel and km of railway tracks-- "COMPARISON С1913Г ..."
      AND ALL THIS IS DR. NUMBER AND QUALITY OF EDUCATION AND LIFE STANDARD.
      could not in RI achieve such densities
      1. Some kind of compote
        Some kind of compote 8 December 2017 17: 44
        15
        Gradually during the wars, the density of the warring armies is increasing
        And without improving the quality of life
        Even usually with a decrease
        1. antivirus
          antivirus 8 December 2017 23: 04
          +1
          in 2-3 years it is possible to cast and stamp 10 or 30 million tons of pigs and ingots
          BUT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PREPARE METALLURGES 2 TIMES MORE THAN IN 12-13 YEARS (ABOUT THE LIQUIDUS LINE, HAVE YOU HEARED THE SOLIDUS?) AND TELEGRAPHERS (2x INCREASED) AT THE W / D STATIONS
          THIS IS A LEVEL OF LITERACY AND EDUCATION FROM TSSH IN VILLAGES AND AMBASSADORS TO QUIET UNIVERSITY AUDIENCE DRAWS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          !!!! FOR 10 15 YEARS BEFORE THE WAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!
          !!!!!!!!!!!
          Now Schaub is to drop the airborne balloons (out of the plane) how many milling machines do you need for the aircraft factory to prepare ?????? and when on time ??????? and dr cranks? in Kovrov and Tula? and only there?
          and quality in life could fall (butter, bread-fish) to infinity
          and the number of metallurgists could not grow at all (how much did the teacher have to study then? Before coming to the 1st grade to peasant children ??????????????
          according to your logic, the GDP clapped its hands (according to the pike, at my request ...) and rearm the army to the second clap (after 3 minutes), but only the program lasts 10 years ....

          and the number of aircraft - "concentrated up to 1000 pieces"
          RI had so much on the whole huge front ???
          1. Some kind of compote
            Some kind of compote 9 December 2017 08: 26
            15
            After all, not all at once. And although RI was a more agricultural country, in many respects - at least where. For example, in smelting pig iron and steel, Russia was not inferior to France (even though Germany was a pan-European favorite). And finally - in 1940 for some reason they were equal to 1913.
            I won’t argue about literacy, but the mass of photos where soldiers constantly read newspapers is still impressive. Shaposhnikov wrote that he led a soldier’s school in RIA.
            About VP, it’s better not to be better - when organized crime (the mafia) comes to power, it’s beyond good and evil (no matter how much technique such power does not rivet). And by the way, such “vl” likes to dress up patriotic robes (remember how Sicilian mafia was “patriotic”) - but it lives not according to the laws, but according to concepts. In law - vertebral law, goddamned roaring (or ringing) issues, and corruption becomes systemic - that is, it turns from episodes into a condition for the existence of the state apparatus.
            1. antivirus
              antivirus 9 December 2017 09: 44
              +2
              read the report (excerpts) of the appeal of the Arkhangelsk lips .. ---- ???? up to 45% or more, literacy increased, the younger the more grammatical.
              but not 100% of the 1897 half, and the older, the less %%.
              what then understood by "literate"?
              how many words per minute could I read, speed, for a while?
              Pythagorean theorem and E = ms2 was in that concept?
              or just sign on the sheet?
              1. Some kind of compote
                Some kind of compote 9 December 2017 10: 02
                15
                Literacy involves the ability to read and fall.
                How many people now know Pefagoras theorem or about a square trinomial?
                1. antivirus
                  antivirus 9 December 2017 10: 19
                  +1
                  passed in school, in life it is not necessary and forgot.
                  and the solar system then how many people could list?
                  Is the earth round or flat? - soon for which answer option?
                  IS IT LITERACY OR TOP OF THIS CONCEPT ????
                  1. Some kind of compote
                    Some kind of compote 9 December 2017 12: 10
                    15
                    And now many will list all the planets of the solar system?
                    I’d better tell you a joke.
                    Petka and Vasily Ivanovich are taking an exam at the Academy.
                    Petka got a question about extracting a square root. He is a poor fellow, looking for a root, dug up all the trees in the district - there is no square among them and that’s it. He returned in sorrow.
                    This is what the examiner tells him. You should have seen how Vasily Ivanovich is looking for a trinomial
                    1. antivirus
                      antivirus 9 December 2017 13: 32
                      +1
                      six-legged five ... and - short

                      more than 30 years ago it was with me --- the guy raised his voice when reading formulas
                      why are you screaming? - so an exclamation mark

                      But was it just a factorial (or is it not in nature? (
                      1. Some kind of compote
                        Some kind of compote 9 December 2017 13: 52
                        16
                        And from the same opera.
                        At the entrance exam on the history of Vasily Ivanovich they ask: Who is Caesar? He replies: This is the name of the horse in the third squadron.
                        Naturally - not good.
                        Vasily Ivanovich returned to the division and goes mournfully.
                        Towards Petka: Why are you so dark?
                        When Vasily Ivanovich spoke about the failure of the entrance exam to the Academy, Petka frowned and said: It is my fault that you failed the exam.
                        How so?
                        Yes, just no more Caesar in the third squadron. I transferred it to the fifth laughing