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The attack of the 18th Army (21st of March - 06th of April)

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

Von Hutier's army was to have an unexpectedly victorious run when they left their trench at 09:40 on the 21st of March, but when it ended they to had failed to achieve their final goal, the big breakthrough.  

The fog lay like milk over St Quentin and the plains on either side of the Oise River. It was a battle against an invisible opponent. Von Hutiers right wing had been held up by the allied troops in the Holnon woods while the middle fought for and took the strong points of Urvillers, Grugies and Essigny. The left wing attacked fort Vendeuil while General von Gayls division stormed out of La Fere, over the Oise and making it into the British second line of defence.

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 seperate window.

The second day saw advances beyond the Germans wildest expectations. Holnon wood fell and was marched through, the strongpoint of Fantaine was taken by the men of the Garde and in the South the Crozat canal was reached, in some places crossed.   The British Southern army had disintegrated, over the next few days French troops were rushed in piecemeal to try to stabilise the situation but the Crozat Canal position had crumbled and the Germans took Golancourt and Noureuil.  

It was not in the North where the 17th Army had failed to take Arras. It was not in the centre where the 2nd Army was struggling in the terrible wastelands of the Somme, it was in the South that success seemed to be at hand.   Unfortunately it was not in the direction that the German high command wanted it to be: Over Amiens and on to the coast.  

Von Hutiers right win had bogged down on the Somme along with the left wing of von der marwitz's Army.  

On the 24th Von Hutiers men managed to cross between Epenancourt and Ham while the Southern wing overran Guiscard and Chauny on Palm Sunday.

The allies were engulfed in panic and confusion, the French government prepared to evacuate Paris which was now within range of the German long range artillery.

To return to the beginning of the chapter please click HERE