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‘Fate of the world’ in balance as major German offensive begins
Support troops moving towards the front line during early days of the German Offensive Photo: Illustrated War News, 3 April 1918

‘Fate of the world’ in balance as major German offensive begins

Paris, 26 March 1918 - A ferocious German offensive has begun on the western front and is succeeding in driving the Allies back to the position they held before the beginning of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. They also claim to have taken 45,000 prisoners, over 600 guns and thousands of machine-guns.

The German attack began on 21 March and targeted the southern part of the British line. The Germans appear to have Amiens in their sights, the fall of which would endanger the British defences to the north and allow for a German strike at the channel ports.

Sensationally, the Germans have even managed to shell Paris using a long-range gun located 70 miles from the city, a feat that until now, scarcely seemed possible and one which will be particularly disquieting to British military strategists. It is believed that this new weapon and its explosives were manufactured at the Skoda works in Austria and that the guns run to almost 50 or 60 yards in length.

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The scale of what is now taking place in France is unprecedented in this war and it has raised the stakes to the point where, as the Irish Independent has pointed out, the fate ‘not only of Europe, but of the whole world, is in the balance’.

This recent German successes represents a turnaround in their military fortunes, made possible by the recent armistice with Russia; peace on the eastern front has enabled them to concentrate more artillery and men in the west. Until that point, the Germans had been ceding ground to the Allies: they did so at the Battle of the Marne and at the Somme.

And this reversal is not limited to territorial gains. The Germans also claim to have taken 45,000 prisoners, over 600 guns and thousands of machine-guns.

The losses have not been one-sided, however. British air raids from Dunkirk on 21 and 22 March are reported to have destroyed 10 of their enemy’s machines and shot down seven out of control. Bombing raids were also carried out on the Bruges docks.

Furthermore, it is speculated that attacking in massed formation, as the Germans have done, may have, in itself, caused them to sustain large-scale casualties.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

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Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.