Operation Michael 21 March–4 April 1918

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Map Code: Ax00208

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918 concluded the war in the East, and enabled Germany to transfer 50 divisions to the western front. But with their civilian population close to starvation, and American reinforcement to the Allies set to reach a million by August, German High Command realized defeat was inevitable unless their fleeting numerical advantage could be converted into a rapid and decisive victory. This inspired the Kaisersclacht offensive, and its lynchpin, Operation Michael, which aimed at throttling the Allied transport and supply links through the capture of Amiens, Arras and thence, the Channel ports. To achieve this, tactics were transferred from the eastern front – the deployment of fast-moving Stormtroopers to bypass and isolate Allied defenses, protected by intensive artillery bombardment. The Operation’s yield was territorially rich, with 1,200 square miles (3,108 square km) captured by 4 April, but strategically poor; none of the key objectives were achieved.

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