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1. First Battle

First Battle of Amiens - 1918

With the withdrawal of Russia from the first world war in 1917, the German High Command reinforced for a massive assault on the western front. The German commander, Ludendorff, considered a breakthrough unlikely but felt enough progress could be made to place Germany in a dominant position during peace negotiations. The great offensive, code named 'Michael', began on 21 March 1918 at St Quentin, and within three days the British 5th army was in semi-chaotic retreat. The principal aim of the German attacks was to drive a wedge between the British and French armies by capturing the channel ports. all territory gained by the allies during the bloody confrontations of 1916 and 1917 on the Somme were surrendered within weeks. The 3rd and 4th Australian divisions were resting when ordered to proceed to Amiens with all haste. The 4th brigade from 4th division was the first unit to arrive and checked the German advance at Hebuterne, some 18 miles north-east of Amiens. catching the weary but victorious German troops in open country, the 4th brigade quickly proved that the best form of defence was swift but limited counter-attacks. for almost two weeks this brigade successfully held a section of the line normally held by two divisions. Ten miles east of Amiens, the 3rd division dug in on Morlancourt ridge, just behind the old 1916 Somme battlefield. before the Germans could close on them, the Australians counter-attacked, checked the German advance and recaptured some territory. With the arrival of the 5th division in support of the Morlancourt position, the 9th brigade from 3rd division crossed the Somme river to the south to assist in the defence of Villers Bretonneux. over the next three months a series of limited attacks, combined with the tactic of peaceful penetration gradually succeeded in regaining allied initiative in the area.