The Grand Offensive

At the end of September the Allied supreme commander Ferdinand Foch planned a general offensive across the entire Western Front. Up till now the attacks had been delivered in sequence and not simultaneously which had allowed the Germans to resist them by use of mobile reserves. The hope was that with multiple attacks at least one of them would achieve a decisive breakthrough.

The AEF attacked in the south at the Argonne Forest with 10 divisions and pressed forward deep into German territory initially. On the 29th six German divisions were committed from their reserves and the US advance slowed but did not halt. Casualties were such that Pershing requested 90,000 reinforcements. He did not receive them, but Foch urged that the attacks continue. By mid October the Americans had reached and crossed the Hindenburg Line in the Argonne Forest, where the US 77th Division clung on at the front despite fierce German counterattacks - most famously, the 'Lost Battalion' held out for five days until they were rescued, despite being cut off and subjected to constant bombardment and assaults.

Meanwhile the French army attacked at Champagne, and the BEF and Belgian armies started a general assault on the German positions, achieving widespread success all across the front. General Ludendorff, after a month of second thoughts, joined with Hindenburg in pessimism and advised the Kaiser that a German defeat was now inevitable.

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