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British and French plans for 1917 were agreed at an Allied conference at Chantilly from 15–16 November 1916. Existing operations were to continue over the winter, fresh troops arriving in front-line units were to be trained and in the spring the front of attack was to be broadened, from the Somme to Arras and the Oise. The front of attack was to be about 50 miles (80 km) long, with two French surprise attacks near Rheims and in Alsace, to begin some time after the main attacks, to exploit German disorganisation and lack of reserves. The Allies expected to have 168 divisions against 129 German divisions, for the co-ordinated offensives. A British operation in Flanders was also agreed, to begin several weeks after the main offensives further south.


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>British and French plans for 1917 were agreed at an Allied conference at Chantilly from 15–16 November 1916. Existing operations were to continue over the winter, fresh troops arriving in front-line units were to be trained and in the spring the front of attack was to be broadened, from the Somme to Arras and the Oise. ⇒英仏軍の1917年向けの計画が、1916年11月15–16日にシャンティイにおける連合国軍会議で同意された。既存の作戦行動は冬を通して続け、最前線の部門に来る新しい軍隊は(再)訓練して、春に攻撃の前線をソンムからアラスとオアーズまで広げることとした。 >The front of attack was to be about 50 miles (80 km) long, with two French surprise attacks near Rheims and in Alsace, to begin some time after the main attacks, to exploit German disorganisation and lack of reserves. The Allies expected to have 168 divisions against 129 German divisions, for the co-ordinated offensives. A British operation in Flanders was also agreed, to begin several weeks after the main offensives further south. ⇒攻撃前線は、長さおよそ50マイル(80km)内として、ライムス付近やアルザスでフランス軍が2つの急襲をしかけて、主要攻撃の後しばらくしたらドイツ軍の混乱と予備軍の不足につけ入ることとした。ドイツ軍の129個師団に対して、連合国軍は協調攻撃用として168個師団を保有すると想定していた。さらにまた、主要攻撃の数週間後に、英国軍がもっと南のフランドルで(攻撃を)開始するための同意もなされた。





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    By the time the offensive began in April 1917, the Germans had received intelligence of the Allied plan and strengthened their defences on the Aisne front. The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (Operation Alberich) left a belt of devastated ground up to 25 miles (40 km) deep in front of the French positions facing east from Soissons, northwards to St. Quentin. Operation Alberich freed 13–14 German divisions, which were moved to the Aisne, increasing the German garrison to 38 divisions against 53 French divisions. The German withdrawal forestalled the attacks of the British and Groupe d'armées du Nord (GAN) but also freed French divisions. By late March, GAN had been reduced by eleven infantry, two cavalry divisions and 50 heavy guns, which went into the French strategic reserve. When Hindenburg and Ludendorff took over from Falkenhayn on 28 August 1916, the pressure being placed on the German army in France was so great that new defensive arrangements, based on the principles of depth, invisibility and immediate counter-action were formally adopted, as the only means by which the growing material strength of the French and British armies could be countered. Instead of fighting the defensive battle in the front line or from shell-hole positions near it, the main fight was to take place behind the front line, out of view and out of range of enemy field artillery.

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    By mid-February 1918, while Germany was negotiating the Russian surrender and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Ludendorff had moved nearly 50 divisions from the east, so that on the Western Front, Germany's troops outnumbered those of the Allied armies. Germany had 192 divisions and three brigades on the Western Front by 21 March, out of 241 in the German Army. Of these divisions, 110 were in the front line, 50 of which faced the shorter British front. Another 67 divisions were in reserve, with 31 facing the BEF. By May 1918, 318,000 American soldiers were due in France, with another million planned to arrive before August. The Germans knew that the only chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the build-up of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was complete. The German strategy for the 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser's Battle), involved four offensives, Michael, Georgette, Gneisenau and Blücher–Yorck. Michael took place on the Somme and then Georgette was conducted on the Lys and at Ypres, which was planned to confuse the enemy. Blücher took place against the French in the Champagne region. Although British intelligence knew that a German offensive was being prepared, this far-reaching plan was much more ambitious than Allied commanders expected. Ludendorff aimed to advance across the Somme, then wheel north-west, to cut the British lines of communication behind the Artois front, trapping the BEF in Flanders. Allied forces would be drawn away from the Channel ports, which were essential for British supply; the Germans could then attack these ports and other lines of communication. The British would be surrounded and surrender. The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, had agreed that the BEF would take over more of the front line, at the Boulogne Conference, against military advice, after which the British line was extended. The "line", taken over from the French, barely existed, needing much work to make it easily defensible to the positions further north, which slowed progress in the area of the Fifth Army (General Hubert Gough). During the winter of 1917–1918, the new British line was established in an arc around St. Quentin, by many small unit actions among the ruined villages in the area. There were many isolated outposts, gaps in the line and large areas of disputed territory and waste land.

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    Much of the new digging on the rest of the Western Front was done on reverse slopes, invisible to ground observers and capable of being engaged only by howitzer-fire. The French methods of attack had been made obsolete by the time of the resumption of the offensive in September 1915, when many French troops were killed on such slopes, in front of uncut wire, before an undamaged second position. French sources put casualties from 3 May to 18 June at 102,500 of whom 35,000 men were killed; another 37,500 casualties were incurred in secondary operations. The German official historians of the Reichsarchiv recorded c. 102,500 French casualties from 9 May –to18 June, 32,000 British casualties and 73,072 German casualties. Sheldon recorded the same figures for French casualties, quoting the French Official History and c. 30,000 casualties for the German divisions most involved in the battle (1st and 5th Bavarian Reserve divisions, 3rd Bavarian, 5th, 11th, 15th, 16th and 115th divisions) noting that some figures are estimates believed to be too low but that the total was far fewer than French losses. In 2013 Krause recorded ranges of 100,000–121,000 French and 50,000–80,000 German casualties. The battle had great influence on the French army during the preparations for the autumn offensive of 1915 in Champagne and Artois, which were also based on an assumption that strategic victories were possible after one or two days of offensive action. Joffre ordered another 5,500 machine-guns, to double the number per brigade by 1 January 1916. Production of the 240 mm Trench Mortar (240 mm (9.4 in)) and 340 mm (13 in) trench mortar was increased and manufacture began of artillerie lourde à grande puissance (ALGP, long range heavy guns); production of 75 mm ammunition was reduced to increase quality and large orders were placed for aircraft and for gas shells. The growth of French war production by September 1915, enabled the French to attack in two places simultaneously. At the end of June, Joffre discussed strategy with the army group commanders and Pétain, who had been promoted to the command of the Second Army. Foch again advocated a series of limited attacks, particularly in Artois where strategically important railways were relatively close behind the German lines.[j] Castelnau believed that it was still possible to advance through the German defences in one attack and that Champagne was a likely region for such an attempt, if the mistakes made on 9 May could be avoided. Pétain agreed with Foch but doubted that another offensive could quickly be prepared in Artois and was sceptical that any part of the Western Front was free of villages like Souchez and Neuville, which could be fortified and against which, only attacks even more limited than those advocated by Foch were practical. On 8 July, Joffre decided to make the principal attack in Champagne, with a supporting attack in Artois a few days earlier to attract German reserves.

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    Casualties in the 33rd Division were so great that it was relieved on 27 September by the 23rd Division, which had only been withdrawn on the night of 24/25 September. Battle of Polygon Wood ポリゴンの森の戦い Australian infantry with small box respirator gas masks, Ypres, September 1917 The Second Army altered its Corps frontages soon after the attack of 20 September, for the next effort (26 September – 3 October) so that each attacking division could be concentrated on a 1,000 yards (910 m) front. Roads and light railways were extended to the new front line, to allow artillery and ammunition to be moved forward. The artillery of VIII Corps and IX Corps on the southern flank, simulated preparations for attacks on Zandvoorde and Warneton. At 5.50 a.m. on 26 September, five layers of barrage fired by British artillery and machine-guns began. Dust and smoke thickened the morning mist and the infantry advanced using compass bearings. Each of the three German ground-holding divisions attacked on 26 September, had an Eingreif division in support, twice the ratio of 20 September. No ground captured by the British was lost and German counter-attacks managed only to reach ground to which survivors of the front-line divisions had retired. Battle of Broodseinde ブルードサインデの戦い The Battle of Broodseinde (4 October), was the last assault launched by Plumer in good weather. The operation aimed to complete the capture of the Gheluvelt Plateau and occupy Broodseinde Ridge. The Germans sought to recapture their defences around Zonnebeke, with a methodical counter-attack also to begin on 4 October. The British attacked along a 14,000 yards (13,000 m) front and by coincidence, Australian troops from I Anzac Corps met attacking troops from the German 45th Reserve Division in no man's land when Operation Hohensturm commenced simultaneously. The Germans had reinforced their front line to delay the British capture of their forward positions, until Eingreif divisions could intervene, which put more German troops into the area most vulnerable to British artillery. The British inflicted devastating casualties on the 4th Army divisions opposite.

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    It was agreed in the London Convention of 16 January, that the French assault on the Aisne would begin in mid-April and that the British would make a diversionary attack in the Arras sector approximately one week prior. Three armies of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) were in the Arras sector, the Fifth Army (General Hubert Gough) in the south, the Third Army (General Edmund Allenby) in the centre and the First Army (General Henry Horne) in the north and the plan was devised by Allenby. In December 1916, the training manual SS 135 replaced SS 109 of 8 May 1916 and marked a significant step in the evolution of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) into a homogeneous force, well adapted to its role on the Western Front. The duties of army, corps and divisions in planning attacks were standardised. Armies were to devise the plan and the principles of the artillery component. Corps were to allot tasks to divisions, which would then select objectives and devise infantry plans subject to corps approval.

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    The Battle of Langemarck took place from 21–24 October, after an advance by the German 4th and 6th armies which began on 19 October, as the left flank of the BEF began advancing towards Menin and Roulers. On 20 October, Langemarck, north-east of Ypres, was held by a French territorial unit and the British IV corps to the south. I Corps (Lieutenant-General Douglas Haig) was due to arrive with orders to attack on 21 October. On 21 October, it had been cloudy and attempts to reconnoitre the German positions during the afternoon had not observed any German troops movements; the arrival of four new German reserve corps was discovered by prisoner statements, wireless interception and the increasing power of German attacks; ​5 1⁄2 infantry corps were now known to be north of the Lys, along with the four cavalry corps, against ​7 1⁄3 British divisions and five allied cavalry divisions. The British attack made early progress but the 4th army began a series of attacks, albeit badly organised and poorly supported. The German 6th and 4th armies attacked from Armentières to Messines and Langemarck. The British IV Corps was attacked around Langemarck, where the 7th Division was able to repulse German attacks and I Corps was able to make a short advance. Further north, French cavalry was pushed back to the Yser by the XXIII Reserve Corps and by nightfall was dug in from the junction with the British at Steenstraat to the vicinity of Dixmude, the boundary with the Belgian army. The British closed the gap with a small number of reinforcements and on 23 October, the French IX Corps took over the north end of the Ypres salient, relieving I Corps with the 17th Division. Kortekeer Cabaret was recaptured by the 1st Division and the 2nd Division was relieved. Next day, I Corps had been relieved and the 7th Division lost Polygon Wood temporarily. The left flank of the 7th Division was taken over by the 2nd Division, which joined in the counter-attack of the French IX Corps on the northern flank towards Roulers and Thourout, as the fighting further north on the Yser impeded German attacks around Ypres. German attacks were made on the right flank of the 7th Division at Gheluvelt. The British sent the remains of I Corps to reinforce IV Corps. German attacks from 25–26 October were made further south, against the 7th Division on the Menin Road and on 26 October part of the line crumbled until reserves were scraped up to block the gap and avoid a rout. Langemarck ランゲマルク

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    The Kaiser came to inspect the progress of the battle. He interviewed captured British Brigadier-General Hubert Rees (GOC 150th Brigade, part of 50th Division). The Kaiser was amused to learn that he was Welsh, the same nationality as Lloyd George. Taken completely by surprise and with their defences spread thin, the Allies were unable to stop the attack and the German army advanced through a 40 kilometres (25 mi) gap in the Allied lines. Reaching the Aisne in under six hours, the Germans smashed through eight Allied divisions on a line between Reims and Soissons, pushing the Allies back to the river Vesle and gaining an extra 15 km of territory by nightfall. Victory seemed near for the Germans, who had captured just over 50,000 Allied soldiers and over 800 guns by 30 May 1918. But advancing within 56 kilometres (35 mi) of Paris on 3 June, the German armies were beset by numerous problems, including supply shortages, fatigue, lack of reserves and many casualties. On 6 June 1918, following many successful Allied counter-attacks, the German advance halted on the Marne, much as the "Michael" and "Georgette" offensives had in March and April of that year.The French had suffered over 98,000 casualties and the British around 29,000. German losses were nearly as great, if not slightly heavier. Duchene was sacked by French Commander-in-Chief Philippe Petain for his poor handling of the British and French troops. The Americans had arrived and proven themselves in combat for the first time in the war. Ludendorff, encouraged by the gains of Blücher-Yorck, launched further offensives culminating in the Second Battle of the Marne. The Battle of Cantigny, fought May 28, 1918 was the first major American battle and offensive of World War I. The U.S. 1st Division, the most experienced of the five American divisions then in France and in reserve for the French Army near the village of Cantigny, was selected for the attack. The objective of the attack was both to reduce a small salient made by the German Army in the front lines but also to instill confidence among the French and British allies in the ability of the inexperienced American Expeditionary Force (AEF). Cantigny カンティニー

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    Even with the expansion of the German army over the winter and the transfer of divisions from Russia, 154 German divisions the Western Front were confronted by 190 French, British and Belgian divisions, many of which were bigger than the German equivalents. The Wotan–Siegfried–Riegel plan would reduce the front by 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) and need six fewer front-holding divisions, compared to a shortening of 45 kilometres (28 mi) and a saving of 13–14 divisions by withdrawing an average of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line). The German army was far from defeat but in 1916 had been forced back on the Somme and at Verdun, as had the Austro-Hungarian army in southern Russia. At the Chantilly Conference of November 1916 the Allies agreed to mount another general offensive. The Anglo-French contribution was to be a resumption of the Somme offensive with much larger forces, extending the attack north to Arras and south to the Oise, followed by a French attack between Soissons and Rheims.

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    On the left, the French XVI Corps failed to reach its objectives and the 3rd Division got to within 50 yd (46 m) of the German line and found uncut wire. One battalion captured 200 yd (180 m) of the German front trench and took 42 prisoners. The failure of the attack on Wytschaete, resulted in the attack further south being cancelled but German artillery retaliation was much heavier than the British bombardment. Desultory attacks were made from 15–16 December, which against intact German defences and deep mud, made no impression. On 17 December, XVI and II corps did not attack, the French IX Corps sapped forward a short distance down the Menin road and small gains were made at Klein Zillebeke and Bixschoote. Joffre ended attacks in the north, except for operations at Arras and requested support from French, who ordered attacks on 18 December along the British front, then restricted the attacks to the support of XVI Corps by II Corps and demonstrations by II Corps and the Indian Corps. Fog impeded the Arras attack and a German counter-attack against XVI Corps, led II Corps to cancel its supporting attack. Six small attacks were made by the 8th, 7th 4th and Indian divisions, which captured little ground, all of which was untenable due to mud and waterlogged ground. Franco-British attacks in Flanders were stopped. At dawn on 20 December, the front of the Indian Corps with the Lahore and Meerut divisions was bombarded by heavy artillery and mortars. At 9:00 a.m., ten mines of 50 kilograms (110 lb) each, were exploded under the British lines at Givenchy, which were followed up by infantry attacks on the village and northwards to La Quinque Rue. The trenches either side of Givenchy were captured and east of Festubert, German troops advanced for 300 yd (270 m). During the afternoon, a brigade of the 1st Division of I Corps was sent forward as reinforcement, followed by another brigade at 3:17 p.m. Next day, both brigades rested until noon and then attacked towards Givenchy and the break-in near Festubert. The third 1st Division brigade arrived during the afternoon and was sent forward to recapture "the Orchard" 1-mile (1.6 km) north-east of Festubert, which had been captured during the morning. Waterlogged ground and German machine-gun fire delayed the advance, which only reached Givenchy after dark, just after the garrison had retired. The 1st Guards Brigade and French Territorial troops retook the village but the disruption of the counter-attack, left a small amount of ground near Festubert on the northern flank in German hands. The 1st Division brigades were isolated in the dark and the Indian Corps commander, reported that the troops were exhausted and must be relieved. It was arranged through General Headquarters, that I Corps would relieve the Indian Corps on 21 December, which was completed on 22 December.

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    Falkenhayn had begun to remove divisions from the armies on the Western Front in June, to rebuild the strategic reserve but only twelve divisions could be spared. Four divisions were sent to the 2nd Army on the Somme, which had dug a layered defensive system based on the experience of the Herbstschlacht. The situation before the beginning of the battle on the Somme was considered by Falkenhayn to be better than before previous offensives and a relatively easy defeat of the British offensive was anticipated. No divisions were moved from the 6th Army, which had  17   1⁄2 divisions and a large amount of heavy artillery, ready for a counter-offensive when the British offensive had been defeated.