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Amiens | 1st day | Background | Comments | Donald Fraser | Later Phrase | Map | The Plan



It should be remembered that London and Paris were busy planning a 1919 campaign when Foch and Haig launched this first of a series of attacks with limited objectives. In later life General Sir Arthur Currie wrote of Amiens as follows: The success of the Australians and Canadians on August 8th was so startling...that in my opinion GHQ had no definite ideas what to do.   ....senior staff officers hurried up from GHQ to see me and to ask what I thought should be done. They indicated quite plainly that the success had gone far beyond expectation and that no one seemed to know just  what to do . I replied in the Canadian vernacular: "The going seems good: let's go on!"

It was not until just before midnight, however, that General Rawlinson told his three corps commanders to continue the advance next day. There seemed no reason then why the general line Roye-Chaulnes-Bray sur Somme-Dernancourt could not be reached, as the next organized enemy defence was the old Hindenburg position.

Before the first day's fighting had ended, however, the Germans had been able to bring up six fresh divisions, and every succeeding hour brought more support. The single Canadian objective (on the right) remaining from the previous day was captured on the 9th by a brigade of the 4th Canadian Division but, due to a series of frustrating delays, the main corps attack did not get under way until noon. In turn this held up the Australian advance on the left. Worst of all, only 145 British tanks were serviceable. According to the official British account:  The ground fighting during the day was of a very disjointed nature; the attacks of various divisions and brigades started at different times and under different conditions. Some of them were covered by artillery, some supported by tanks, whilst others were carried out by infantry unaided. The German defence was similarly very uneven and without any series attempt at counter-attack. In the result only a bare three-mile advance, half the way to Roye-Chaulnes was accomplished.

The R.F.C. continued its attempts to destroy the Somme bridges but without success.

Similar fighting took place on the two following days. By then the weary troops had reached the extensive German defences of the old Somme battlefield of two years previously. German reinforcements totalled 13 divisions, or a strength equal to the attackers, and they now had the advantage of fighting from behind well-organized defences while, as at Cambrai, the British Army had exhausted its local reserves. Very few tanks remained in action. With the approval of Sir Douglas Haig, the attack scheduled for August 12th was called off. It was intended to continue the general attack on the 14th or 15th of August and indeed General Foch still believed important success to be possible. It was obvious to the commanders on the spot, however, that further advance was impossible without incurring heavy causalities. General Currie now considered that there was no object in persevering. Haig insisted that the operation be wound up and Foch reluctantly agreed. Although less spectacular than those of the 8th, the advances of the three concluding days had increased the total penetration to as much as 12 miles. Furth Army casualties for the four days of battle were only 22,202 (killed, wounded and missing), of whom 9074 came from the Canadian Corps, while it is believed that the Germans lost more than 75,000. Later in the month Foch struck heavily at other points and thereafter the Germans were steadily rolled back. In the autumn their High Command sought an end to hostilities.


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