Present-day view of the St Quentin Canal from Riqueval Bridge, crossed by British troops in the Allied breach of the Hindenburg Line, 29 September 1918 (Photo: Centenary News)

Central Powers start to break - September 1918

Posted on on 02 September 2018
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A glance at events 100 years ago this month, as Bulgaria was forced out of the First World War, and multiple offensives on the Western Front convinced Germany's supreme commanders of the need for a ceasefire.

September 1918 opened with the Allied armies completing their thrust across the Somme, pushing German forces back to the fortified Hindenburg line. The succession of attacks, reversing German gains in the spring and early summer, had opened with the Battle of Amiens on August 8.

September 12

The Americans lead an attack on the St Mihiel Salient near Verdun, which has been in German hands since 1914. Resistance to General Pershing's forces collapses on the first day. 

September 15

Allied troops on the  Salonika, or Macedonian Front, begin their final offensive against Bulgaria, under a new commander, the French general Louis Franchet d'Esperey. Two weeks later, Bulgaria is the first of the Central Powers to sue for peace, signing an armistice on September 29 just as hostilities on the Western Front are reaching a critical moment for Germany.

September 19-25

British-led forces in Palestine, under General Sir Edmund Allenby, achieve a decisive victory over the Ottomans at the Battle of Megiddo, clearing the way for the capture of Damascus and the end of the Palestine campaign.

September 26-October 4

The Allies deliver a series of blows across the Western Front on successive days, part of a strategy conceived by their commander-in-chief, Marshal Foch, to dislodge and outflank the German army. It starts with the American-led assault on the Argonne Forest on September 26. This clash, north of Verdun, will be the biggest and bloodiest US battle of the Great War, continuing until the Armistice in November.

September 27

Canadian troops spearhead a British drive towards Cambrai, crossing the Canal du Nord.

September 28

Belgian, British and French forces attack in Flanders, the start of a breakout from the Ypres salient after four years of deadlock.

September 29

The Hindenburg Line - Germany’s system of fortified defences stretching across Northern France - is breached at the St Quentin Canal with assaults by Australian, British and US troops.

Under the weight of the Allied onslaught, the German supreme commanders, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, call for a ceasefire. In a political shake-up, Kaiser Wilhelm appoints the liberal Prince Max of Baden as Chancellor on October 3.  He's instructed to approach the Allies through President Woodrow Wilson, delivering a request for an Armistice on the basis of the US leader's Fourteen Points on October 4. 

See also in Centenary News: 

The significance of the Battle of Amiens  - and what it meant for ending WW1.

Turn of the tide on the Marne, July 1918.

Field Marshal Haig warns of 'backs to the wall', April 1918.

German Spring Offensive threatens to overwhelm the Allies, March 1918.

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team