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11-08-2015, 16:20

The Allied Counterattack on the Western Front

In July and August, the tide turned with a series of French, then British, counterattacks. In September, the huge American forces recently arrived went into action. By now, the Allies, especially the British, were as sophisticated as the Germans in using their heavy guns. They approached the Germans' skill in effective infantry attacks. The most visible example of the new tools available to the Allies for successful attacks was the tank. Nonetheless, neither side achieved a clear breakthrough in 1918. Even the spectacular feats of tank warfare on one day led to painstaking infantry advances the day following. Nothing like Erwin Rommel's thrust to the English Channel in 1940 or George Patton's breakout from Normandy in 1944 took place. The Allied victory was based primarily on the fruits of attrition and the weight of numbers. An exhausted Germany had thrown its last resources into the contest in the spring and early summer of 1918 and suffered final and intolerable losses. German reinforcements entering the front hues found discipline in some units crumbling. As Ludendorff recorded in his memoirs: 'T was told of deeds of glorious valour, but also of behavior which ... I should not have thought possible in the German Army; whole bodies of our men had surrendered to single troopers The officers in many places had lost their influence and allowed themselves to be swept along with the rest." 25 Even so, German armies retired in good order, and the Allied advance was delayed, sometimes virtually stopped, by such effective defenses as the ones the Americans faced on the Meuse-Argonne sector in the last two months of the war. In the words of Bemadotte Schmitt and Harold Vedeler, the Germans were "a beaten army, though not a routed army, and knew it at the time."