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The attack of the 2nd Army (21st of March - 06th of April).

Please scroll to the bottom of the page for more detailed eyewitness accounts of the fighting.

The moment the 5 hour long bombardment lifted and began to move forward, von der Marwitz´s two armies flooded into no mans land.
Passing South of the Cambrai salient part of its task was to encircle the salient meeting up with the 17th army on the other side. Crossing the wastelands of the Somme battlefields its distant goal was Amiens. On the Northern wing Gauche wood fell in spite of a furious defense by the South Africans but Epehy to its left fought off wave after wave of German attackers. Further to the South the advance made better progress. The daunting Quarry of Hargicourt fell to the Hessens and the Schloss and Priel forests fell to the Hessen and Garde divisions.

For a better understanding of the offensive please click on the links to the maps (21st to 26th of March) (25th of March to 4th of April) they will open in a separate window.

On the 22nd Epehy fell, Garde and Baden units took le Verguier while Hesbecourt fell to the east Prussians. Fins was taken by the Wuertembergers. Once again the Southern wing was advancing faster than the Northern wing who had their hands full with the Cambrai salient.  

On the third day the salient fell but the British had succeeded in evacuating the bulk of their troops. Behind the salient the 2nd and 17th army joined hands. During the day the 2nd army crossed the Tortille river and by evening stood before the ruins of Peronne. Like her neighbor to the South it did not manage to cross the Somme river.  

On the following day, Palm Sunday, the river whose name was a synonym for the bloody slaughter of 14-18 was still not crossed.  

The divisions to the North were still struggling to cross the wasteland of the infamous Somme battlefield with the ghosts of 1916.

On Monday von der Marwitz´s 208. Infanterie Division managed to cross the Somme and take La Maisonette. To their right the Divisions continued their struggle across the Somme Battlefields along with the troops from the neighbouring divisions of the left wing of the 17. Armee. Together they fought their way to the source of the Ancre river.

While the air battles raged above the ground troops at the Ancre took Albert. On the far side of the river the green fields on the way to Amiens beckoned. Victory was in sight... or so it seemed. The opponent had recognised the danger and gathering their last reserves they set up a defensive line blocking the path to Amiens.

Effort after effort failed as the Germans threw themselves at the line. Despite their efforts they did not manage to break through. The fighting on the Luce and Avre rivers caused heavy losses and the hopes of a German breakthrough sank under the waters of the Aisne. On Easter Monday the push was stopped to allow the German divisions time to reorganise. The enemy used the time to strengthen their defences. When the Germans resumed their offensive on the 4th and 5th of April they ran into a brick wall like defence along the Avre. The advance of the 2. Armee had come to a definitive end.

To follow the path of the Southern Wing (18. Armee) click HERE

Friedrich Freise of the 74. Infanterie Regiment was wounded by a handgrenade splinter while engaged in mopping up British position in the wake of the 208. I.D. advance during the Michael Offensive/Kaiserschlacht. The division was on the left with of the 2.  Armee. For awards and documents click HERE

 
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