The war on the Western Front had become one of attrition as 1917 drew to a close. The French Army was exhausted, having borne the brunt of the Allied effort and the trauma of Verdun. The British were beginning to suffer manpower shortages by early 1918, having increasingly taken over from the French in 1917.

Even the German Army was weakened, despite being able to concentrate entirely on the Western Front after the defeat of Russia. Its manpower was rapidly diminishing and its ally, Austria-Hungary, was crumbling. The cumulative effect of blockade was eroding morale at home. It was faced with a stark choice: make one major effort for victory or face the ever-increasing materiel power of the Allies and the arrival of US forces.

These conditions combined with the tactical and technological developments of three and a half years of war to initiate breakthrough. From March 1918, Germany concentrated her prime resources into a series of offensives, which gained unprecedented tactical successes but suffered from strategic failure. Over months of desperate fighting the Allies were pushed back, but not broken.


Battle traffic at Grevillers, France, 25 August 1918

The village was captured by the British 37th Division and the New Zealand Division at the start of the Hundred Days Offensive, a few days earlier.

The summer saw a reversal of fortunes. With the British prominent the Allied armies deployed immense infantry and artillery firepower, tanks, aircraft and flexible tactics in a combined arms method that worked.

The increasingly weakened German Army was forced back to Mons, where it had all begun for the British Expeditionary Force in 1914. A defeated German high command agreed an armistice in November 1918.

Related content

a landscape in the snow. On the left, a red earth trench lined with duckboards stretches away from the viewer. A group of soldiers clamber from the trench, going 'over the top'. Two lie dead in the trench and another has fallen lying face down in the snow. Those who have survived plod forward towards the right without looking back. They walk beneath a grey, stormy sky, with clouds from shell and gunfire in the distance.
© IWM Art.IWM ART (1656)
First World War

The Powerful Western Front Paintings Of The Nash Brothers

Brothers Paul and John Nash were both commissioned as official war artists during the First World War - Paul from 1917 and John from 1918. Prior to becoming official war artists, both of the brothers had seen active service on the Western Front.

First World War

From Amiens to Armistice: The Hundred Days Offensive

Explore the story of the crucial battles fought in the last months of the First World War. 

Captain A W L Paget MC and Second Lieutenant P R J Barry MC of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards reading news of the Armistice to their men at Maubeuge, 12 November 1918.
© IWM (Q 3365)
First World War

How Did The Armistice End The First World War?

In the autumn of 1918, Germany and its allies were exhausted. Their armies were defeated and their hungry citizens were beginning to rebel. As early as 29 September German General and Stategist Erich Ludendorff decided that a cessation of hostilities must be sought.