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View series: The first World War, 1914-1918

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The Last Hundred Days on the Western Front

This map is part of a series of 20 animated maps showing the history of The first World War, 1914-1918.

Following the failure of Germany’s last offensive near Reims in mid‑July, the Allies now had the initiative on the French front.

On 18 July, Franco‑American troops launched the so-called "second Battle of the Marne" and forced the Germans to back up to the Aisne.

On 8 August, France and Great Britain lead the attack on the Somme. The original breach did not lead in forcing through the front but, for the first time, the fighting spirit of the Germans was showing signs of weakness.

Ludendorff spoke of a "day of mourning for the German army" and on 2 September, ordered his troops to withdraw back to the Siegfried Line to shorten the front.

On 13 September, an American offensive captured Saint‑Mihiel.

Thanks to American troops, Foch now had command of sufficient reserves to plan coordinated offensives along the entire front.

  • On 26 September, the French and American soldiers launched an attack between Rheims and Verdun.
  • On 27 September, the British attacked in the direction of Cambrai.
  • On 28 September, the French, British and Belgians launched the offensive in Flanders.
  • Finally, on 29 September France and Great Britain once again attacked the central part of the front.

Early in October, apprehensive about the collapse of the front, Germany sent a request for an armistice to the United States through its embassy in Switzerland. Nevertheless, for the German general staff, this did not constitute a surrender and the negotiations dragged on.

Meanwhile, the Allies’ offensive was organized along three axes: towards Mezieres in the east, Mons in the centre, and Flanders in the west.

The collapse of the front did not happen but the balance between the forces was significantly changing. By early November, the Allies had advanced along a line running from Ghent all the way to the Mosel.

With the signing of the armistice on 11 November, the fighting ended before the combat reached German soil.