On August 8, 1918, in Amiens, France, a British-led Allied force of 75,000 soldiers began the Battle of Amiens. It was the first battle of the “Hundred Days Offensive,” a string of German defeats that would eventually lead to the end of WWI.
Under the direction of British Fourth Army commander, Sir Henry Rawlinson, the offensive was planned in part by French General Ferdinand Foch to protect the Paris-Amiens railway that served to supply the front lines. Troops from Britain, France, Australia, Canada, and the US joined forces to defeat Germany.
At 4:20 A.M., the battlefield was cloaked by a smoke screen laid by the Royal Air Force. Guns blazing, the Allies charged towards German trenches. The intense artillery attack lasted 5 hours and caught the Germans completely by surprise. Many surrendered immediately.
German General Erich Ludendorff referred to the first day of battle as “the black day of the German Army,” because so many Germans surrendered. German spirits were low and according to Ludendorff, “depressed down to Hell.”
The Battle of Amiens effectively ended trench warfare on the Western front because of the speed of the Allied advance. The Germans trenches were overrun pushing the enemy back. Allies captured large numbers of artillery and gathered them in a “captured gun park,” near Amiens.
The advantage Allied forces gained at Amiens continued for the next 100 days until the Armistice of November 11, 1918 was signed that ended WWI.
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