Battle of the Avre
|Battle of the Avre|
|Part of the World War I|
|Commanders and leaders|
The Battle of the Avre (4–5 April 1918), part of the First Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, constituted the final German attack towards Amiens in World War I. It was the point at which the Germans got the closest to Amiens. It was fought between attacking German troops and defending Australian and British troops. The attack was an attempt to take Amiens, where other aspects of Operation Michael had failed. The Avre marked the beginning of the end for Ludendorf's March Offensive.
Preliminary moves (29–30 March) across the southern battlefields by German 2nd Army proved so slow and difficult that offensive operations were suspended between 1–3 April to allow German forces to recover.
The final German attack was eventually launched towards Amiens. It came on 4 April, when fifteen divisions attacked seven Allied divisions on a line east of Amiens and north of Albert (towards the Avre River). Ludendorff decided to attack the outermost eastern defenses of Amiens centred on the town of Villers-Bretonneux. His aim was to secure that town and the surrounding high ground from which artillery bombardments could systematically destroy Amiens and render it useless to the Allies. The subsequent fighting was remarkable on two counts: the first use of tanks simultaneously by both sides in the war; and the night-time counterattack hastily organized by the Australian and British units (including the exhausted 54th Brigade) which dramatically re-captured Villers -Bretonneux and halted the German onslaught.
From north to south, the line was held by British and Australian troops, specifically the British 14th and 18th Divisions, and the 35th Australian Battalion. However, by 4 April the 14th Division fell back under attack from the German 228th Division. The Australians held off the 9th Bavarian Reserve Division and the British 18th Division held off the German Guards Ersatz Division and 19th Divisions First Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.
An attempt by the Germans to renew the offensive on 5 April failed and by early morning British Empire troops had forced the enemy out of all but the south-eastern corner of the town. German progress towards Amiens, having reached its furthest point westward, had finally been held. Ludendorff called a halt to the offensive.