Diary April 16, 1917

beginning of the Nivelle offensive

At the beginning of the Nivelle offensive, French soldiers advanced against the Chemin des Dames heights, which was fortified by the Germans.

World War One Diary for Monday, April 16, 1917:

Western Front

Aisne – NIVELLE OFFEN­SIVE (SECOND BATTLE OF THE AISNE) on 25-mile front (until April 20): Despite long preparatory bombardment and first French tank attack, from 0630 hours to nightfall 20 French divisions (6,731 infantry casualties in 3 divisions alone) have advanced c.600 yards against 15 German divisions instead of 6 miles anticipated.
Decimated by MG fire, Senegalese troops break and flee. Fifth Army’s 128 Schneider tanks bog down (32 knocked out), only few reach German third line. French losses up to c.100,000 instead of 15,000 planned for.
Nivelle belatedly confines effort to either flank of Chemin des Dames. Forewarned, Germans have inserted new First Army (F Below) from Somme between Third and Seventh Armies on the front of attack.
Artois: Haig and his army commanders meet to plan next assault.

Air War

Aisne: 131 French aircraft (200 on paper) support Nivelle Offensive, 153 by April 21, but German fighters drive off French artillery and contact patrols. Bad weather also hampers.

Home Fronts

Germany: Strikes (until April 23) in Berlin (217,000 workers) and Leipzig against bread ration cut (April 15).
Russia: Lenin arrives at Petrograd; makes ‘April Theses‘ on April 17 speech to Petrograd Soviet.
USA­: Shipping Board’s Emergency Fleet chartered, 280,000 shipyard workers enrolled by April 20.

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