French Capture Montdidier

The town hall of Montdidier, pictured on August 10.

August 10 1918, Montdidier–As was typically the case in the First World War, the great gains of the Allied offensive on August 8 slowed down considerably on subsequent days as they outran their artillery, their tanks broke down (only 67 of 430 remaining in service on the 10th), supplies became harder to come by, and German reinforcements arrived.  Nevertheless, they were still able to make considerable progress.  In a textbook operation, the French First Army encircled and captured Montdidier, their main objective, on August 10.  The Germans were also making a limited withdrawal from certain areas, aiding the Allies.  However, in other areas, they ran into stiffer resistance: fresh German troops supported by machine guns and heavy artillery.  Many of the Germans that had survived the fighting on August 8 realized, as did many generals, that the defeat was the beginning of the end of the war for theme, and called the newly-arriving troops “blacklegs,” “strike-breakers,” and “war-prolongers.”

Foch wanted the Allied offensive to continue, pressing their advantage and pushing on towards Ham, as planned.  Rawlinson, however, knew that his men were exhausted, his position had weaknesses on its flanks, the Germans had reinforced, and supply difficulties would only grow as he pushed on into the old Somme battlefield.  On August 10, he confronted Haig, asking him, “Are you commanding the British Army or is Marshal Foch?”  Although local fighting would continue over the next few days, the offensive would not resume as Foch desired.  Instead, Haig began planning an attack with Byng’s Third Army just to the north.  Foch, who just wanted to keep the Germans on their toes, was ultimately satisfied with this.

Today in 1917: Rommel Leads Attack on Mount Cosna

Today in 1916: King George V Visits the Somme
Today in 1915: Germans Begin Siege of Novogeorgievsk
Today in 1914: France Breaks Off Relations with Austria

Sources include: Randal Gray, Chronicle of the First World War; Nick Lloyd, Hundred Days; Robert B. Asprey, The German High Command at War.