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1. German Withdrawal

The German Army, in February 1917, commenced a withdrawal from the Somme battlefields to prepared fortified position known as the Hindenburg line. The Germans implemented a scorched earth policy, and all trees or poles over six feet tall were cut down and villages razed. The 5th Australian Division entered the burning town of Bapaume on 17 March and in the following days, troops from the 2nd and 5th Divisions were involved in sharp clashes with German rearguards. Heavy fighting took place through the several fortified villages left by the Germans to delay the advance.