The recent Blücher-Yorck offensive has been the most successful phase of the German spring offensive yet. Ludendorff, Germany’s Quartermaster-General and effective dictator, had intended it to divert Allied attention away from his forthcoming final offensive in Flanders but had then reinforced it in the hope of provoking a general collapse of the enemy. That failed to materialise and now the Germans are left with another salient sticking out into enemy lines.
Ludendorff has decided to delay the Flanders offensive again. His men now launch Operation Gneisnau, intended to join up the two salients created by the earlier offensive in the Somme sector and Blücher-Yorck. Although intended as another diversion, with the additional goal of shortening the German lines, the Germans hope that this will be the blow that breaks the Allies and leads to a triumphant march on Paris.
The French have been forewarned of this attack by deserters, but the local commander has deployed his men poorly and the German assault overwhelms the Allied frontline. German troops push forward some six miles and capture more than 8,000 prisoners. Is the day of victory at hand?
map; the French 3rd army bore the brunt of the Gneisnau attack (Mental Floss WWI Centennial: America’s Fighting Debut)