German 1918 spring offensives map

German 1918 spring offensives map

You can also download a hi-res copy as a pdf (2 mbs).

In early 1918 the German army achieved a substantial manpower advantage on the Western Front by transferring 50 divisions from the Eastern Front following Russia’s surrender in December 1917. On 21 March the Germans launched a massive offensive with the goal of ending the war before the American Expeditionary Force could be fully deployed, reversing the numerical imbalance on the Continent. Their aim was to first isolate the British Expeditionary Force and then compel the French to surrender. The map above shows the advances made by the Germans.

German armies (represented by green boxes) first attacked on the Somme, effectively destroying the British Fifth Army and driving a wedge between the British (red) and French (blue) forces. The New Zealand Division was one of the units rushed south in late March to establish a new defensive line. At Colincamps and Auchonvillers, the Division helped to stop the German advance on Amiens – the rail hub that linked the British armies in Flanders to the rest of France.

In a series of battles the Germans advanced up to 60 km into Allied-held territory, extending the front line from the solid purple line to the line of dashes in the centre of the map. In rushing forces south, the British had left the Flanders region around Ypres and the Channel ports vulnerable. On 9 April the Germans attacked in this area, but for logistical reasons stopped short of the strategic town of Hazebrouck (extending the front line to the purple dotted line at the top of the map). The final German advances were made in late May and early June in the Aisne sector, where the front line was pushed south to the Marne River (indicated by the purple dotted line at the bottom of the map).

The substantial territory captured during the spring offensive was of little strategic value to the Germans, whose depleted and over-extended units were unable to hold onto their gains during the Allied counter-attacks that began in July.

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