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MH-12: Breaking Hold of the Trenches 1918. Breaking the Hold of the Trenches – 1918 Strategic Overview. Nov –Dec 1917: prospects looked bad for Allies: Russia soon collapsed after Battle of Riga Italian Army routed at Battle of Caporetto

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breaking the hold of the trenches 1918 strategic overview
Breaking the Hold of the Trenches – 1918Strategic Overview

Nov –Dec 1917: prospects looked bad for Allies:

Russia soon collapsed after Battle of Riga

Italian Army routed at Battle of Caporetto

Unrestricted SS warfare taking severe toll on Brits

Germans also developing improved infiltration tactics:

Confirmed effective at Caporetto & Eastern Front

Potential for application on Western Front

Impact on Battlefield if proved correct?

Mobility and possible breakthrough

But window of opportunity was closing rapidly:

Time to exploit this opportunity was running out – why?

unfulfilled expectations domestic discontent
Unfulfilled Expectations & Domestic Discontent
  • Impact of growing German domestic discontent & unrest:
    • Food shortages, Naval mutinies, & political strikes;
    • Motivation for German military leaders to end war:
      • Search for strategy & tactics to achieve victory
  • Impact of German success on Eastern Front:
    • What treaty resulted & what was its initial impact?*
  • Heightened expectations of ?________ ________Treaty:
    • Hopes for relief – increased foodstuffs & raw materials
    • Unfortunately for Germans – + fall significantly short
    • Result? Impact on German people?
      • ?___________________ => increased pressure to end war
ludendorff s strategic aim
Ludendorff’s Strategic Aim
  • Ludendorff’s growing power, agenda, & strategy:
    • By late 1917 – Ludendorffdominates German Gov.
      • (Doctrines of von Clausewitz are stood on their head):
        • Now Political officials are subordinated to Military
  • Mons Strategy meeting (Nov’17) –
    • Ludendorff presides:
    • Sets agenda - Goal: strategy for major military victory
  • Strategic aim: prove to allies US can’t help them:
    • Assumption: US arrival will be too late & won’t matter
    • Take action to convince allies military success unlikely
    • Persuade the allies to this conclusion & decide:
      • Stop the war & negotiate a peace settlement
1918 spring offensive objectives
1918 Spring Offensive Objectives
  • Tactical &operationalmotives? Overall strategic aim?
  • Ludendorff convinced major offensive needed:
    • Reverse German despair & restore fighting spirit
    • Drives decision for major offensive in spring 1918:
      • Packaged as series of assaultsat various times & points
  • Ludendorff’s tactical & operational motives:
    • 1. Restore battlefield ?_____________
    • 2. End static trench stalemate on Western Front
  • Germany’s Operational strategy & overall strategic aim:
    • 1. ?_____________ the French & British allies
    • 2. Drive ?_____________ from the war
    • 3. Force ?_____________ to give up & negotiate a settlement
initial operational objectives
Initial Operational Objectives
  • Initial Operational Objectives (focused in ?_____________):
    • Aim: Sever BEFfrom their LOC to Channel with Britain
  • Impact of tacticalconcerns force Operational changes:
    • Weather, terrain, & enemy force dispositions;
      • Flanders: rains soak terrain – must delay attack until May
      • Arras: too well defended to penetrate;
  • Above concerns drive search for more vulnerable pointfor assault:
    • Somme (to South) appears most vulnerable- why?
    • BEF (5th Army)looks ?___________ & unprepared with weak defense lines
adjusted operational strategy
Adjusted Operational Strategy
  • Operational Strategy modified:
    • Drive wedge between Brits & French
      • In and around St. Quenton & Cambrai
    • Divert attention away from prime AOobjective: Flanders
  • Operational and Strategic Objectives:
    • Push Brits to English Channel (Operational)
    • Force them out of War (Strategic)
  • Tactical considerations & logistic requirements:
    • Adequate assault forces & equipment a must in order to prevail:
      • Requires Force build up: from 150 to 192 divisionson Western front
      • Also requires necessary arms, equipment, & supplies for support
  • Observation - for Ludendorff:
    • Tactical considerations drive military strategy
    • Just as – Military Strategy drove Germany’s policies
      • The very reverse of von Clausewitz’s assertion=>
      • i.e. war is an extension of politics by other means…
new infiltration tactics
New Infiltration Tactics
  • To accomplish the desired breakthrough:
    • New innovative assault tactics were essential
  • Military’s extensive review:
    • Focus: innovative assault methods
    • Goal: breakthrough=> restore mobility to the battlefield
    • Result: “Attack in Position Warfare” – ground breaking tactical study
  • What was the new tactic used for infiltration?
  • New German tactical assault innovations:
    • Small ?___________ unitswith extensive C2 latitude (SOF)
      • By pass strong resistance points of enemy
      • Push forward as far as possible
    • Tactical objective?
    • Mission of follow-on units? –clean up strong points left behind by SOF
    • Mission of Reserve units– exploit ?____________- how?
    • Fire support: mobile mortars &followin-depth artillery fire w/rolling barrage
    • Pulkowski method: Predicted fires w/improved maps:
    • Major emphasis onSurprise
    • Hurricanes of fire?

Enemy’s ?__________

?______ ______ _________ bombardment

new infiltration tactics c2
New Infiltration Tactics - C2
  • Leading from the front:
    • New location of Division Commanders? ?_____________
    • Exacting training, exercise, live fire rehearsals:
      • 56 division specially trained
      • Doctrine as guide for aggressive initiative
      • Rehearse & exercise as you would fight:
      • No simulation – what you see you’ve got
      • Live fire exercise a must
    • Beginning of special ops tactics for May 1940
  • These new tactics to be employed in Spring 1918:
    • Beginning at the Somme when 3 German armies strike
1 st battle offensive 1918 the somme
1st Battle Offensive -1918: The Somme
  • 3 German Armies attack into Somme area
    • British 3rd & 5th -spread out:
    • German 17th on right, 2nd in Center, 18th on left;
  • 21 March 1918: 0440=> Arty Prep starts: Arty, gas, smoke, HE shells
    • 0940=> rolling barrage begins
    • 32 infantry divisions follow in wake
    • Additional 28 infantry divisions follow
  • Tactical Objective:
    • Brit artillery 5 miles to rear;
    • 18th reaches most objectives by dusk;
    • 17th meets stiff resistance from Brit 3rd Army
1 st battle offensive results
1st Battle Offensive: results
  • Ludendorff decides to reinforce which Army?
  • 18th advances fwd 35 miles/captures Montdidier by D+6
    • Then Ludendorff halts offensive - why?
    • 18th overextended, out of supplies, exhausted;
    • Transportation problems (trains & Arty)
    • Reserves & support can’t keep up
    • Lack of troop discipline (like at Shiloh - troops pillage supplies)
    • Allies rapidly reinforce defenders by rail LOCs
  • Result: Germans fail to breakthrough– significance?
    • Tactical success (35 miles), but Operational failure
  • NTL – allies severely shaken – impact on Allies?
    • Allies meet in late March to strengthen their ?______________
    • Especially at the operational level=> objective?*
allied unity of command
Allied Unity of Command
  • Improved C2 unity made after Russia’s collapse & Caporetto’s rout
  • Allies commit to formal C2 system:
    • Coordinate strategy
    • Form Supreme War Council:
      • Comprised of national & military leaders
      • Also form board of military reps:
      • Task: “watch” day to day ops – but its effectiveness was mixed
    • Furthermore Allies fail to form needed Allied general reserve
  • Following shock of Somme=> Foch given more authority:
    • Charged w/coordination of allied action on Western Front
    • 3 April: Foch authority even further extended:
      • Assigned strategic direction of military Ops:
      • But with a limiting caveat – what is this caveat?
      • Allied commanders can ?______ __ ______National leadership authority
spring offensive continues 9 29 april
Spring Offensive continues 9-29 April
  • April 9: Germans attackNorth of Somme:
  • Battle Offensive #2 => ?_____ river
    • German attack realizes significant gains by 12 Apr
  • Foch sends only token reinforcements to Haig:
    • Foch concerned about further attacks in French sector
  • Haig orders: backs to wall defense
    • Hard fighting & gallantry delivered by British troops
  • German’s 2nd offensive then stalls on 29 April– why?
    • 2nd offense stalls due to lack of ?_______________:
    • Brit supply dumps attract troops’ focus
    • What serious problem is indicated?
battle offensive 3 des dames
Battle Offensive #3 => ?________ des Dames
  • May 27: Germans attackvicinity of Champagne:
    • Enjoy significant penetration:
    • Operational Objective: Diversion:
      • Divert Allied reserves from Flanders
      • Then resume attack in North on British
  • French Cmdr Duchene unprepared for assault:
    • No defense in depth – Germans overrun on D-day
    • Relieved of command as a result
  • The AEF would play a key defensive role during this period
us actions german results
US Actions & German Results
  • US actions at Chateau Thierry & Belleau Wood key:
    • Help halt German advance by 4 June;
    • Germans establish salient near Marne & halt;
  • German progress to date: 3 large salients (see previous map):
    • Somme, Lys, & the Marneare tactical victories only
  • Operational & strategic impact?
    • No ?______ _______or ?____________ gain
    • But does deplete German troops & their logistics support
battle offensive 4 marne
Battle Offensive #4 => ?___________ & Marne
  • June 8 Germans attack between Somme & Marne
    • Another attempted diversion
  • Operational Aim?
    • Draw Allied Reserves away for where?
    • ?___________________
  • Tactical Objective:
    • Expand salient into 1 large one
  • Problem for Germans?
    • Allies ?________ German attack preparations
    • Establish defense in depth:
    • French preempt w/counter-arty & attack w/tanks & surprise Germans
  • Result:
    • German advance halted w/only limited gains
battle offensive 5 15 17 july
Battle Offensive #5 (15-17 July)
  • Final attack #5 made along Marne east of Chateau Thierry:
    • Problem: Alliesaware of German plans inadvance received from German deserters
    • Enables allies to prepare defense in depth;
    • Also preempts German arty prep w/counter battery;
  • US 3rd Division holds
    • US 38th regiment on Left Flank remains solid
    • Withstands assaults by 2 German divisions
    • Earns title of “Rock of the Marne” for 3rd Division
  • Results of Ludendorff’s Offensive:
    • Desperate gamble fails: Tactical gains only
    • Cost in German casualties very high:
      • Depleted army’s reserves, supplies, & morale;
      • No Strategic or operational gain to show for it
    • Resumption of attack in the North cancelled
  • Foch now prepares for a counter-offensive
allied offensives 1918
Allied Offensives - 1918
  • Foch’s initial Operational objectives:
    • Reduce the 3 German salients resulting from the gains made by German Spring Offensive
    • Marne, Somme, St. Mihiel (Map)
  • 2nd Battle of the Marne(18 July):
    • 1st Battle in a series of allied drives to push Germans back
    • French 10th main attack into west side of salient:
      • While 6th, 9th, & 5th attacked east side
  • US role in 2nd Battle of Marne:
    • 9 US divisions participate as part of 3 Fr. armies
    • 1st & 2nd US divisions play key role at 2nd Battle of the Marne:
    • Attack Soissons
    • Threaten German main supply line
    • Germans forced to withdraw
  • Operational impact:
    • Initiative now shifts to ?_______________
reduction of somme salient august 1918
Reduction of Somme Salient (August 1918)
  • Battle of Amiens (Map p. 359)=> turning point:
    • Open warfare & maneuver resumes since war’s start;
    • Ludendorff: Black Day for German army
  • Execution:
    • Brit 4th (Rawlinson)hits salient North side:
    • 1 Corps consisting of 4 Canadian & 5 Ausie Divisions
    • Supported by 12 tank battalions (414 combat)
    • OPSEC: no prep arty or pre-registration to alert Ger.
    • Canadians advance 10 miles & capture 16K POWs
  • French begin 45 minute prep at H-Hour:
    • 1st Fr Army attacks remaining part of salient:
    • Makes slow but steady progress
  • Haig continues to press & force Germans back as they conduct an orderly withdrawal:
    • By late Aug, Germans fall back to Hindenburg line
  • Significance of German Army’s forced withdrawal?
    • Apparent to both sides that ?___________________
reduction of st mihiel salient sept 1918
Reduction of St. Mihiel Salient (Sept 1918)
  • Events rapidly unfolding dictate an acceleration of the allied timeline to 1918:
    • Dramatic allied gains push major offenses ahead from 1919 to Fall of 1918- why?
      • German army’s rapid ?_____________
    • Potential impact of orderly withdrawal:
      • German army & logistics in tact;
      • Destruction of bridges, roads & rail
      • Establish defense line close to border
  • Foch’sOperational Plan (Map):
    • 2 major simultaneous ?_____________
    • (giant pinchers from North & South):
    • 1st: employs combined Fr-Brit force advance:
      • Tactical objectives:
      • Cambrai, Le Cateau, & Aulnoye Rail junction
    • 2nd: employs combined Fr-American force advance:
      • Tactical objectives:
        • Mezieres Rail junction
        • Between Meuse & Argonne
pershing s counter proposal
Pershing’s Counter Proposal
  • Pershing resisted Foch’s Plan – why?
    • US 1st Army only recently ?_____________ in July
    • Foch wants to split American forces to use in above
    • Pershing to keep unit cohesion –compromises - how?
  • Pershing agrees to conduct ?_____________ operations
    • i.e. Attack St. Mihiel, disengage & redeploy to NE:
      • To Meuse-Argonne for major offensive
    • Complex operational & logistic challenge during combat
    • Effectively planned & executed by who?
      • Col. George ?_____________
st mihiel execution
St. Mihiel Execution
  • Pershing executed “as planned” in 2 days (Map):
    • 0500 12 Sept: assault follows 4 hour arty preparation
    • 4 corps (4 Fr & 8 1/2 American divisions);
      • Fire support: 3010 Arty & 267 tanks;
      • 1481 A/C (Fr) effectively commanded by Billy Mitchell
  • Results: Americans capture 450 guns & 16K POWs
    • Tactical success – Pershing halts at base of salient
    • Continue logistics planning & prep to redeploy to NW
meuse argonne offensive
Meuse- Argonne Offensive
  • As promised, Pershing redeploys to relieve Fr 2nd:
  • Foch tasks American 1st & Fr 4th to attack NW (Map):
  • Tactical Objective:
    • Cut/interdict E-W rail thru Sedan & Mezieves
  • Operational Objective:
    • Prevent Ger lateral reinforce. & supply to front
    • Preclude orderly withdrawal of German supplies
  • Meanwhile- Marshall’s simultaneous logistics op is BZ
meuse argonne offensive execution
Meuse-Argonne Offensive- Execution
  • Germans expect assault & reorganize & reinforce:
    • Prepared defense line to receive attack
  • Allied assault follows 6 hour arty prep:
    • 26 Sept: troops move out at 0500=>
      • Overwhelm German forward defenses;
      • Some units advance 4 miles
  • Then American Cmdrs lose C2:
    • Units become confused & disorganized;
    • Inexperienced officers lose control of troops;
    • No infantry-arty coordination;
    • Troops bunch up & die altogether – arty;
    • Traffic control problem emerges;
    • March discipline declines/units mixed up
friction more of the same
Friction & more of the same
  • 27 Sept: offense continues but suffers heavy casualties
    • 4 & 8 Oct: attack again with little effect – more casualties
  • 12 Oct: Pershing splits American Army in two:
    • Appoints himself as army group commander
  • 1st Armycommanded by Hunter Leggett:
    • Focus: Meuse-Argonne
  • 2nd Army commanded by R.L. Bullard
    • Focus: St. Mihiel Salient
crisis in the aef
Crisis in the AEF?
  • 14-19Oct: 1st Army attacks & then halts
    • Suffers high casualties
    • 55K casualties & possible C2 problems
    • Clemenceau complains of AEF crisis
    • Foch defends Pershing –
      • Asserts problem at lower command levels
  • 1 Nov: 0530 1st Army attacks w/7 vet divisions:
    • 2 hour artillery prep & supported by 18 tanks
    • This time attacks goes smoothly
    • Most units reach tactical objectives
  • As Germans withdraw, Americans pick up pace:
    • 3-5 Nov: 5th Div fight across to Meuse east bank
    • Beat Germans to east bank & cut them off;
  • By 11 Nov Armistice:
    • 850K Americans participated in WWI
    • 1st Army captured 26K POWs
    • 875 arty, 3K MGs
    • Suffer 117K casualties & inflict 100K
final allied offensives
Final Allied Offensives
  • Meanwhile=> other allied offensives press Germans
  • North: Flanders
    • (Belgium, French, Brits) siege Ypres
  • Somme: (key operation) along West Front=> by early Oct=>
    • 1 Fr & 2 Brit Armies breakthrough Hindenburg line:
    • Force Germans to withdraw
    • Maintain pressure
  • South:French continue to press all along front
  • German Crisis: morale rapidly plummets
    • Hindenburg & Ludendorff tell Kaiser:
      • It’s all over => must seek armistice
      • Urge establish new democratic government
  • Ger/Austria-Hung request Wilson grant armistice
    • Based on what?
    • Wilson’s ?_____________ Points
    • Austria-Hung then seeks separate Peace
germany collapses
Germany Collapses
  • 26 Oct:Kaiser relieves Ludendorff
    • (Had proposed continuing the war)
  • 8 Nov: German Armistice commission meet with Foch:
    • Foch has authority to conclude conditional armistice:
      • Not based on President Wilson’s 14 Points – why?
      • Allies too heavily invested in ?____________ and ?___________ to forget
    • Germany complains – but Foch stays tough:
      • Hostilities will resume unless harsh terms offered are accepted
  • Meanwhile- German people revolt=>
    • Kaiser then advocated
    • Provisional Government granted permission to accept terms
      • Delegates sign under protest- significance?
      • German people feel ?________ & don’t think they ?_______ WWI (Hitler)
assessment
Assessment
  • WWI: 8.5 million soldiers killed & 20 million wounded
  • Total War: unlimited resources expended or dedicated:
    • New technology => advanced weapons =>
      • Endless cycle of violence & attrition ensues;
    • Draft provided millions of troops to fight;
    • Both men & women worked in factories, agro, etc.
    • Vast majority of $$$ resources dedicated to war
    • Massive logistical systems established
  • WWI was a “turning point” in history => why?
    • Central & Eastern European Empires ?_____________
    • Euro state system fundamentally ?_____________ forever
    • Former colonies & rest of world ?_____________ :
      • Close gap with former European industrial masters
    • Women worked in previously closed jobs:
      • Changed society’s view of women’s role in society
assessment major changes
Assessment- Major Changes
  • Although Central Governments remain dominate following War
    • And a major factor in peoples lives from then on- other things changed:
  • WWI changed the nature of land warfare:
    • Tactics & strategy, & Logistics & supply systems;
    • Reorganized Army & developed new methods:
      • organize, equip, supply, & deploy massive armies;
  • New tech. innovations & weapons systems developed:
    • Tank, flamethrower, light machine gun, plane;
    • Naval warfare: CV & naval air (initial), SS
  • Conceptual & Tactical changes introduced:
    • Close coordination of combined arms:
      • Infantry, arty, tank, aircraft (all integrated into Blitzkrieg of WWII)
    • Also Rolling barrage, predicted fire, hurricane fire
  • New Infiltration tactics
    • Limited offensives & tactical objectives
      • French would continue to maintain tight control of their advancing forces
    • Germans would draw opposite lesson (Local C2 as per their 1918 offensive)
    • Defense in depth & elastic defense became the main defense model by 1918
assessment tactical lessons learned
Assessment- Tactical Lessons Learned?
  • Big difference between 1914 soldier & that of ?_________ & the tactics he employed
  • Still questions remained unanswered:
    • i.e. How best to break through well prepared defense
  • Germany especially would learn war’s tactical lessons:
    • Effectively apply these lessons, concepts, weapons, & tactics to next the war
    • The French would not & fight the last war in the next
      • This time: the Defense over Offense & the Maginot Line
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