21 March 1918
- Francis Harrie Crouch is killed in action in France
- No 4 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps downs five aircraft of Manfred von Richthofen‘s (The Red Baron) “Flying Circus”
- The Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, and Lady Helen visit Orange
- Germany launches Operation Michael, the first of four attacks in the Spring Offensive (Kaiserschlacht – the Kaiser’s Battle) aiming to break the deadlock on the Western Front. Boosted by 500,000 troops transferred from Russia, German troops now number almost one million. 63 Divisions are engaged along a 110 kilometre front along the Somme Valley, seeking to split the Allied lines around the vital transport and communications centre of Amiens, and drive them west towards the English Channel.The initial German advance proves successful, with the capture of 75,000 British troops and thousands of square kilometres of territory. Operations Georgette, Blücher and Gneisenau follow. The Allies are forced back beyond Villers-Bretonneux, which Germany captures, threatening the Allied controlled railway line used to transport troops to the front. The German line advances to within 120 kilometres of Paris; 183 shells land in the capital causing many Parisians to flee the city.
Faced with the prospect of defeat, the Allies launch a determined resistance. Units of the Australian Imperial Force earn a reputation for stubborn defence, holding their ground, inflicting casualties and diminishing German reserves. The German advance slows, and turns into a retreat, marking the turning point of the war. Fighting continues to 18 July. Voices of the First World War: The German Spring Offensive
This entry was posted on March 21st, 2018.