Spring Offensive 21 March to 18 July 1918

After the Third Battle of Ypres in late 1917, the Australians held the Messines-Wytschaete sector and prepared defences against an expected German offensive in spring.

Between 21 March and 5 April 1918, the German Imperial Army mounted the Spring Offensive. This drove British forces west towards Amiens. By comparison with the last 3 years of trench warfare, the action was now fast-moving. The Germans swept across the old Somme battlefield of 1916 and the broad uplands to the south of the Somme.

The heaviest fighting for Australians was around Villers-Bretonneux. The Germans nearly captured the town on 4 April. A combination of weariness and aggressive attack by Australian and British troops prevented German success. On 24 April, 3 weeks later, the Germans finally broke into Villers-Bretonneux and seized the town. Then they began to advance west into the area to the north and south of Adelaide Cemetery. An Australian and British counterattack recaptured Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April.

In May 1918, General Monash took command of the Australian Corps from General Birdwood. On 4 July, the successful Battle of Hamel was fought by Australians and Americans under Australian command.

Soldiers resting under forest trees
Bois de l'Abbe, the limit of the German offensive near Villers-Bretonneux, 29 April 1918. AWM E04792

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Spring Offensive 21 March to 18 July 1918, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 21 October 2020, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/ww1/where-australians-served/western-front/spring-offensive
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