Since the start of their spring offensive, the Germans have taken some 50,000 British prisoners and many artillery pieces. They are now on the brink of overrunning the old Somme battlefield. The rapid advance in particular of Hutier, which threatens to separate the British and French armies, is a worrying sign of what the Germans are capable of. And the shelling of Paris by the new German supergun has unnerved France’s leaders.
French reinforcements are now bolstering the British line, but when the commanders of the two armies meet late tonight, Haig is shocked by his counterpart’s attitude. Pétain is concerned that the current offensive is but a prelude to an assault on his men in the Champagne region, one that together with Hutier’s advance would threaten Paris itself. Pétain indicates that if this threat were to materialise then the French would have to retreat southwards to guard their capital, abandoning the British.
image source (Project Gutenberg: The Somme, Volume 2. The Second Battle of the Somme (1918))