The German Offensives 21 March–17 June 1918


Map Code: Ax00205

After almost four years of virtually static, attritional, warfare the first days of the German spring offensive appeared devastatingly successful. Pinpointing a weak point in the Allied defences near Cambrai, the Germans followed up heavy bombardment with lightning strikes spearheaded by elite Stormtroopers. The British 5th Army was forced to withdraw, ceding the Somme region to the Germans who were able to advance far enough to pound Paris with their heavy artillery. However, a linked offensive to capture the Channel ports was contained, and follow-up offensives in May and June produced diminishing returns. Ultimately, the Germans became victims of their own success: the speed of advance by lightly equipped troops outran their supply lines, and won possession of large tracts of barely defensible territory, highly vulnerable to counterattack. The Allies now had air supremacy, and massive American reinforcements; the tide of the war was about to turn decisively.

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