The Battle Of Amiens

With the Germans checked at the Marne the Supreme Allied Commander, Marshal Foch, sought to put the Allies on an offensive footing and not give the Germans breathing space. He agreed to a proposal by the BEF commander, Douglas Haig, to launch an assault at the Somme river, between Arras and Amiens. The German defences here were weak, with the enemy having been constantly harried by the BEF, and the open countryside, without many trees or woods, were good tank country. The attack was scheduled for the 8th of August, 1918.

The British, for once, managed to do everything right - great efforts were made deceiving the enemy as to the Allied intentions. The Canadian Corps was moved from Vimy Ridge to the flatlands where the attack was to be made, but a small contingent of Canadian soldiers demonstrated on the ridge, thus deceiving the enemy as to the true location of the Allies' best formation. There was no preliminary bombardment. Massed artillery would open fire at zero hour, as the tanks went over - and thanks to advances in gunnery technology there would be no delays as the artillery fired a few ranging shots to warn the foe, the first volley was on target. The noise of massed tanks lining up was drowned out by low flying aircraft. The RAF managed to dominate the skies over the battlefield, denying the enemy aerial reconnaissance, and so what was going on remained unclear to the German command, until it was too late.

The battle began at dawn, at 4.20am, in heavy fog. Within three hours the Allies had advanced 4000 yards, achieving their initial objectives. Orders to the continue the attack were issued, and the Allied force steamrollered on. By now the fog was dissipating, treating Fritz to a view of line after line of oncoming tanks and advancing infantry - German morale sunk to new lows, and some units surrendered en masse, the first time such a thing had happened in the war.

By the end of the day a hole had been torn in the front, 15 miles long. Armoured cars and cavalry rushed through the gap, exploiting the position of advantage, and harried the Germans, preventing them from rallying.

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