Ludendorff did not set his men clear final objectives before the beginning of the spring offensive. His intention rather was to respond to events and opportunistically take advantage of successes achieved. However the offensive’s early successes have not led to Ludendorff clarifying his men’s goals. As a result, German efforts lacks focus, with assaults now taking place on divergent axes. The greatest progress has been achieved in the south of the German battle line, where Hutier has made gains of 40 miles. Unfortunately for the Germans, Hutier’s advance does not lead to anywhere of any great strategic significance. Meanwhile Ludendorff has ordered his men to press on towards Amiens, a vital rail hub for the British, but he has not concentrated efforts on this target and is continuing to disperse his men on other lines of attack.
Now Ludendorff launches another thrust against the British, his men attempting to push northwards towards Arras, paving the way for an advance on the Channel in conjunction with another offensive he is preparing to launch in Flanders. The Germans have high hopes for this assault, codenamed Operation Mars, but things do not go their way. Expecting an attack, the British have prepared their positions well, while the German assault lacks the panache seen at the start of the Kaiser’s Battle. Some British soldiers report that the Germans attack in human wave formations reminiscent of the First Battle of Ypres in 1914. The result is a similar kind of carnage, with the Germans making very limited gains at great cost.
Since the start of the spring offensive, barely a week ago, the Germans have taken some 250,000 casualties. British and French casualties are slightly higher, but with the Americans on the way the Allies have a deeper well of manpower to draw on. Problematically for the Germans, their losses are concentrated among the highly trained stormtroopers who spearhead the assaults. This rate of casualties is unsustainable and if unchecked will decimate the best units of the German army.
image source (History Key: Stormtroopers: German WW1 Elite Troops)