In just a week of fighting German troops commanded by Hutier have advanced some 40 miles from their starting points, now capturing the town of Montdidier. Elsewhere progress has been less impressive, but at 15 miles or so it is still far more than anyone has achieved since the front stabilised in 1914. The Germans have now overrun the old Somme battlefield, taking the town of Albert behind the British lines of 1916.
These gains have been achieved at considerable cost. The advancing Germans are beginning to outrun their supply lines, a problem exacerbated by their advancing over territory laid waste during the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line last year. This may perhaps explain why German troops stop to loot Albert. Mounting casualties are depleting the ranks of the stormtrooper units. While the Germans are making good these losses by reassigning men from ordinary units, doing so is reducing their ability to support the stormtroopers’ advance.
So the German offensive may be beginning to run out of steam. But there is life in it yet. If the Germans can take the vital rail hub of Amiens the British in this sector will collapse. Hutier’s advance may yet unnerve the enemy so much that the French and British pull away from each other, triggering a general collapse of the Allies. The Germans also have great hopes for an attack they are planning to launch tomorrow towards Arras, codenamed Operation Mars. Ludendorff and subordinate commanders like Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria see this push as likely to prepare the way for a triumphant push towards the Channel ports, in concert with another offensive Ludendorff is planning to launch soon in Flanders.
Stormtroopers (MetroPostcard: Campaigns of World War One, The Western Front 1917-1919)