The Allies win a great victory at Amiens. The tide is turning, but the victors are under no illusions. The German Army remains a daunting fighting force and it has an ace up the sleeve: the Hindenburg Line – the most formidable defensive system in military history. If the Allies are to have any hope for victory, they need to find a way to punch through Germany’s wall of steel.
The generals formulate an ambitious plan incorporating newly minted ‘combined arms’ tactics on a massive scale. They commit artillery, tanks, aircraft and troops in careful concert, to attack the Hindenburg Line in the centre, the north and south. It becomes clear that only the combined might of the Allies on the Western Front can finally defeat Germany.
100 Days to Victory – The Fightback episode 2
The generals lead their forces in a series of battles to break the line. The Canadians get close, the French get close, then on 29th September 1918, a combined Australian, British and American force breaks through. The Germans have no answer to this onslaught and soon seek peace negotiations.
Today, we widely remember Gallipoli, the Somme and Passchendaele. All were failures. And yet, the extraordinary achievements by the Allied armies on the fields of France in the final months of World War I should also be remembered. At Amiens and the Hindenburg Line, the Allies – spearheaded by the Australians and the Canadians – forced a crushing defeat upon Germany to win the war in what some call the finest feat of arms of the 20th Century.
The Hindenburg Line or Siegfried Position was a German defensive position of World War I, built during the winter of 1916–1917 on the Western Front, from Arras to Laffaux, near Soissons on the Aisne. In 1916, the German offensive at the Battle of Verdun had been a costly failure. The Anglo-French offensive at the Battle of the Somme had forced a defensive battle on the Germans, leaving the western armies exhausted. On the Eastern Front, the Brusilov Offensive had inflicted huge losses on the Austro-Hungarian armies in Russia and forced the Germans to take over more of the front. The declaration of war by Romania had placed additional strain on the German army and war economy. Construction of the Hindenburg Line in France was begun by the Germans in September 1916 to make a retirement from the Somme front possible as a means to counter an anticipated increase in the power of Anglo-French attacks in 1917.