German Spring Offensive

March 1918 - May 1918

This term relates to the three major German attacks on the Western Front in late March, April and May 1918, known collectively as the "Kaiserschlacht" (Kaiser's Battle) offensive. Using troops released from the Eastern Front, following the revolution and collapse of the Russian Armies in late 1917, the German General Staff attempted to win the war before the Americans arrived in sufficient force to tip the strategic balance firmly in favour of the Allies. The first German attack in March was launched against the British Fifth Army in Arras (Somme area); the second attack in April centred on Lys in Flanders, and the third offensive in May focused on the Aisne, where British Divisions recuperating from the March attacks were again subjected to severe losses. Despite sweeping early gains in each of their attacks, German forces (which incurred huge casualties in their all-out attacks) outdistanced their supply lines and became themselves exhausted by the constant fighting. The final German advances were repulsed at the Marne in mid-June 1918, and the scene was set for the Allied counter-offensives of the summer.