Nivelle Offensive

Event date

16th April 1917 to 9th May 1917


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Source , 20th February 2014

Source Date

2014-02-20 00:00:00
Entity info.

The Nivelle Offensive 1917, was a Franco–British offensive on the Western Front in the First World War. The French part of the offensive was intended to be strategically decisive by breaking through the German defences on the Aisne within 48 hours, with casualties expected to be around 10,000 men.

Date 16 April – 9 May 1917
Location Northern France
Result German victory
German Empire German Empire France France
British Empire British Empire
Russian Empire Russian Expeditionary Force
Commanders and leaders
German Empire Erich Ludendorff
German Empire Crown Prince Wilhelm
German Empire Fritz von Below
German Empire Max von Boehn
France Robert Nivelle
British Empire Douglas Haig
France Joseph Alfred Micheler
British Empire Edmund Allenby
France Charles Mangin
c. 480,000 1.2 million soldiers, 7,000 guns, 128 tanks
Casualties and losses
163,000 including 15,000–20,780 prisoners 187,000 including 29,000 killed and 4,000 captured, 118 tank losses

The strategy had three stages. Firstly, a preliminary attack by the French Third Army at Saint Quentin, and the British First, Third and Fifth armies at Arras, to capture high ground and divert German reserves from the French fronts on the Aisne and in Champagne. Secondly, a main French offensive on the Chemin des Dames ridge (the Second Battle of the Aisne La bataille du Chemin des Dames or Seconde bataille de l'Aisne) and a subsidiary attack by the Fourth Army (the Third Battle of Champagne, the Battle of the Hills or the "Battle of the Hills of Champagne"). The third element was a junction of the British and French armies, having broken through the German lines leading to a pursuit of the German army towards the German frontier.

The Franco-British attacks were tactically successful; The French Third Army of Groupe d'armées du Nord captured German defences west of the Siegfriedstellung/Hindenburg Line near St. Quentin in attacks from 1–4 April, before further attacks were repulsed and the British Third and First armies achieved the deepest advance since trench warfare began along the Scarpe river, inflicting many losses and attracting German reserves and captured Vimy Ridge to the north. The main French offensive on the Aisne began on 16 April and also achieved considerable tactical success but the attempt to force a decisive battle on the Germans failed and by 25 April the main offensive was suspended. The failure of the Nivelle strategy and the high number of French casualties led to mutinies and the dismissal of Nivelle, his replacement by Pétain and the adoption of a defensive strategy while the French army recuperated. Fighting on the Chemin des Dames and along the Moronvilliers heights east of Rheims for local advantage continued all summer.

Event Place

Author: David

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