THE BATTLE OF MOREUIL WOOD Presented by Hee Soo Lee
The Battle at Moreuil Wood
of March 30, 1918
was for a commanding position
on the riverbank
of the Avre River in France.
The Military Commander of the Allies: General J.E.B. Seely
The Military Commander for the Germans: General Erich Ludendorff
Background of the battle
By January 1918, the First World War had disintegrated from a mobile conflict into one of trench warfare. On the Western Front, three British offensives, attempting to break the stalemate, had failed and resulted in 860,000 British and 590,000 French casualties, with 850,000 German losses.
The allies were in trouble. At one point, only the British were available to oppose any German offensives.
With new divisions freed up
by the closure of the Eastern Front
and victories in Italy,
the German high command
saw their chances of success
with an offensive
The Stakes of the Battle
In April 1918, both the Allies and the Central Powers had entered a crucial period of reckoning. A major German victory on the Western Front would mean the end of the war, in their favor. As British Prime Minister David Lloyd George told the leaders of the British Dominions in a speech on March 31: “ The last man may count. ” The Allies, at least, could count on fresh infusions from the United States, which increased its troops in France to more than 300,000 by the end of that month. For their part, the Germans were prepared to wager everything they had on this spring offensive — the last they would undertake in World War I.
At 08:30 on the 30th, General Seely and his aides travelled towards the Moreuil woods from where his forces were stationed on the other side of the River Avre, with orders to cross the river and delay the enemy advance as much as possible. At 09:30, upon reaching the wood, having received fire from German forces that were occupying it, Seely ordered The Royal Canadian Dragoons to send sections to protect the village of Moreuil, while other sections were to seize the northeast corner of the wood itself. While this was being undertaken, Lord Strathcona's Horse was ordered to occupy the southeast face of the wood and disperse any German units found there.
The Results of the Battle
The German offence had come to an end after the resistance of the Allies. In the poor economic state of Germany by this time in the war, they could never make up such losses; they lost 250, 000 men. The Allies, in comparison, lost 240,000.
The strength of Allied forces
in defence and
in slowing down
the German advance in engagements
such as those at Moreuil Wood
contributed to the ultimate defeat
of the German offensive.
After the end of the German offensive, Lloyd George sent the reinforcements to Haig. American presence also increased from 162,000 to 318,000. The allies launched their own counter-offensives starting at Amiens just north of Moreuil Wood, which proved to be a decisive victory for the Allies.
Ludendorff commented after the first day of battle that it was a black day for the German army.