chapter  13
13 Pages

Georgette loses steam

A map appearing in the Frankfurter Zeitung on 26 April was meant to mark the splendid progress of the Lys offensive over the preceding two weeks. A reader could readily make out the prominent salient driven into the Allied lines on 9 April. Equally impressive was the apparent consolidation of the German position on 10 April, matched by the creation of a similar salient to the north of Armentières and centred on Messines. On 26 April, the offensive was a work in progress, and the salient so far created another more than 25km deep, jutting unevenly into British-occupied Flanders and extending to the outskirts of Ypres and Hazebrouck. By Western Front standards of 1915-18, a salient of such area was almost unparalleled – only Ludendorff’s St Michael offensive of 21 March had achieved more, since it had left German forces a bare 16km from Amiens. The Germans could, and did, contrast these considerable feats with the puny results of the Allied siege campaigns on the Somme in 1916, at Arras and the Aisne in 1917 and the Passchendaele offensive that same year. The key to unfastening the Western Front deadlock, which had eluded French, Haig, Joffre and Nivelle for three years, now appeared to be in the hands of those masters of the battlefield, Hindenburg and Ludendorff. In their ‘invincible’ German army they had a instrument like no other. Victory must follow as night follows day. Or so Reich propagandists proclaimed.