As Germany’s spring offensive continues to hit the British, Hindenburg and the Kaiser visit the rear area of the battle zone. Nominally these two men are the leaders of Germany’s war effort, the Kaiser the supreme warlord and Hindenburg the army’s chief of staff, but both have been shut out of the offensive’s planning by Ludendorff, Germany’s Quartermaster-General. Nevertheless both are happy to bask in the success of the offensive’s gains, which promise to end the war on German terms. The Kaiser even finds time to address a column of British prisoners: “Well gentlemen, you have fought very bravely, but… Gott mit uns!”
Success has emboldened Ludendorff, who now sets Hutier, leading the attack in the southernmost sector, the task of pressing on to the south-west to separate the British and French armies. But he also orders his other commanders to advance to the west and north-west, dispersing German strength on divergent assaults.
The Allies meanwhile are shaken. But although the British have been thrown back all along the battle line, they have not yet suffered a total collapse. Meanwhile Pétain, the French commander, has promised to send 14 divisions to their aid. Help is on its way, if only the British can hold on.
Kaiser Wilhelm II and Paul von Hindenburg (Wikipedia Commons)