Unending Seige

The Final Year

The German March Counter Offensive

On 21 March 1918, in a last-ditch effort, the Germans attacked right where the British and French armies met. The tactic was quite simple: infiltrate deeply and daringly, disturbing communications centres and deliberately ignoring pockets of resistance that abandoned their ground in the ensuing confusion. The British 5th Army actually withdrew, but managed to re-establish its front. These attacks were repeated in several places in Flanders and Champagne. In a matter of weeks most of the ground regained since 1915 at a cost of hundreds of thousands of casualties fell back into German hands. At this threat, the Allies finally agreed to rally behind a common commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch.

Fortunately the Canadians had been able to stay clear of these battles, which had reached their limit on 5 July 1918. The Allies were already striking back, their numerical superiority largely assured by massive American arrivals. The Germans suffered a million casualties, the equivalent of the manpower freed from the Russian front. Allied counterattacks had re-established the siege lines by 7 August.