Was World War I
an avoidable debacle ?
July 4, 1918
Le Hamel, France– Western Front
Allied Powers – British Empire - Australian Imperial Force
Associated Powers - USA
Central Powers – German Empire
The battle and capture of Le Hamel was planned by Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, who had taken over as commander of the Australian Imperial Force in 1918. Following the German offensive near Amiens, the Australian forces had adopted the policy of “peaceful penetration.” They planned and executed small-scale offensives and frustrated the German troops with modest victories. While the Allied forces planned a major offensive near Villers-Bretonneux, Sir Monash planned an attack on the salient near the French village of Le Hamel. The American forces training with the Australians were chosen to participate in the action.
The Battle of Le Hamel came to be known for the intricate and thorough planning of Sir Monash. He employed artillery, lighter and swifter tanks, and machine guns to support his troops. The attack was thoroughly planned and launched on July 4, 1918. In about an hour and a half. 2,000 German soldiers were killed in action and a further 1,600 captured by the Australian and American forces.
The Battle of Le Hamel highlighted the success of the newer tanks that were designed to move swiftly. Tanks carrying supplies were also employed in the offensive.
The Battle of Le Hamel cost the Australian troops 1,400 of their men and the Americans 176 soldiers. The offensive was a resounding success and set the stage for future battles on the front.