German Spring Offensive succeeds-how does President Wilson react?

Inspired by David T. Zabecki's The German Offensives of 1918: A Case Study in the Operational Level of War.

What would have been the consequences on a wider/more international scale had, as Zabecki suggests, Lundendorff aimed Operations Michael and George at the key Allied logistical rail hubs of Amiens and Hazebrouck, thereby forcing the entire BEF to retreat west of the Somme River in order to avoid destruction?

What would have been the reactions of the French to such a catastrophic defeat inflicted on the BEF that could potentially force them out of the continent altogether in the near future? What about the Americans?

Here is an interesting web article below written by the same author of the book mentioned above:

 
So the British are forced off the continent. (I imagine they would try to reinsert later on.)
The French face Operation Blucher mostly alone.
In this TL the Germans get closer to Paris and roll up the front and take Rheims and Verdun.
At some point the French front would stabilize, with Americans and repatriated British.
(Any offensives in Salonika, Palestine or Italy are postponed to 1919 as these areas are stripped to support the western front)

The tricky part for Wilson would be if the Germans offered reasonable terms at this point, not getting his 14 points, not close.

If the Germans offer unreasonable terms, its pretty easy, the war continues until the Allies win. (probably this happens the Germans are not good at diplomacy)

If the Germans offered:
1914 boundaries in France, Belgium, Italy, Allies recognize status the quo in the east and the Balkans. Allies keep the colonies they have taken, including Palestine, Hejaz, and Southern Iraq. (Maybe Ottomans compensated with Libya or Italian Aegean islands, the Italians having to give these up to get Venetia back). This would just happen and nothing Wilson could do about it.
 
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So the British are forced off the continent. (I imagine they would try to reinsert later on.)
The French face Operation Blucher mostly alone.
In this TL the Germans get closer to Paris and roll up the front and take Rheims and Verdun.
At some point the French front would stabilize, with Americans and repatriated British.
(Any offensives in Salonika, Palestine or Greece are postponed to 1919 as these areas are stripped to support the western front)

The tricky part for Wilson would be if the Germans offered reasonable terms at this point, not getting his 14 points, not close.

If the Germans offer unreasonable terms, its pretty easy, the war continues until the Allies win. (probably this happens the Germans are not good at diplomacy)

If the Germans offered:
1914 boundaries in France, Belgium, Italy, Allies recognize status the quo in the east and the Balkans. Allies keep the colonies they have taken, including Palestine, Hejaz, and Southern Iraq. (Maybe Ottomans compensated with Libya or Italian Aegean islands). This would just happen and nothing Wilson could do about it.
Ludendorff would probably have launched a final, all-out attack on Paris in this case.

After all, what's to lose when the German Army is on the cusp of total victory in his point of view.
 
Inspired by David T. Zabecki's The German Offensives of 1918: A Case Study in the Operational Level of War.

What would have been the consequences on a wider/more international scale had, as Zabecki suggests, Lundendorff aimed Operations Michael and George at the key Allied logistical rail hubs of Amiens and Hazebrouck, thereby forcing the entire BEF to retreat west of the Somme River in order to avoid destruction?

What would have been the reactions of the French to such a catastrophic defeat inflicted on the BEF that could potentially force them out of the continent altogether in the near future? What about the Americans?

Here is an interesting web article below written by the same author of the book mentioned above:

Maj-Gen Zabecki's credentials far exceed my own (non-existent) ones, so bear that in mind. That said, I feel he overstates the German case somewhat in the article. German victories in the Spring offensives generally happened where the Allied armies were weak. That is not a criticism of the German offensives, as it means they were well chosen locations, but it none-the-less speaks to a pattern.

Fifth Army was occupying a long portion of front, newly taken over from the French, on poor defensive terrain. The manpower shortage caused serious problems in creating the three layers of defense required by British military understanding of the time. Only the first layer was in place. This is a strong contributing factor to the German success in Michael as this meant that large numbers of troops were trapped and surrounded in isolatable pockets and there was no ability for counterattack. They were also assisted by the fog that morning, which is a hard thing to plan for. Once the front line was broken Fifth Army needed to retreat and block the Germans where possible without even the benefit of their compromised defenses. They were also not able to retreat along their lines of communication without risking losing contact with the French. In spite of this they maintained integrity and kept the retreat from turning to a rout, and in several instances inflicted local reversals and surprising delays on the Germans.

Georgette, meanwhile, took place in a sector covered by the Portuguese Expeditionary Force, a unit that had been abandoned by their government and was having serious problems with equipment, manpower and morale, and many of the surrounding units were those pulled from Fifth Army Sector to rest and recover. In spite of this Second Army was able to retreat along their lines of communication and German momentum was effectively stalled within a few days, though the battle continued for some time.

Blucher was launched against the area covered by the French Sixth Army, which at this point included British units recovering from Michael and American units still training. The commander in the area had refused, in spite of orders, to implement a defense in depth system, and maintained a single forward trench, that was again vulnerable to the extreme German artillery barrage and being cut off.

Often forgotten or lumped in with Michael was operation Mars, in between Michael and Georgette in timing. It was launched against the Northern end of the salient created by Michael, in Third Armies area near Arras. Here the British had a well built existing defensive system, as the front there had not moved in some time, clear lines of communication and supply and the advantage of terrain. The German attack utterly failed to take any of its initial objectives and was immediately abandoned.

The point I am getting at is that the Germans had great success in hitting the Allies where they were weaker and using that success to compel stronger fronts to pull back to avoid being flanked. Where the Allied defensive line was in place they had much less success. Therefore, simply shifting forces to more strategically valuable targets, though definitely a better strategy, is not likely to have the same level of success. In Second and First Army sectors, the troops would be well rested (without Michael forcing divisions to be cycled), and in strong defensive positions, able to retreat on their lines of supply if needed.
 
Maj-Gen Zabecki's credentials far exceed my own (non-existent) ones, so bear that in mind. That said, I feel he overstates the German case somewhat in the article. German victories in the Spring offensives generally happened where the Allied armies were weak. That is not a criticism of the German offensives, as it means they were well chosen locations, but it none-the-less speaks to a pattern.

Fifth Army was occupying a long portion of front, newly taken over from the French, on poor defensive terrain. The manpower shortage caused serious problems in creating the three layers of defense required by British military understanding of the time. Only the first layer was in place. This is a strong contributing factor to the German success in Michael as this meant that large numbers of troops were trapped and surrounded in isolatable pockets and there was no ability for counterattack. They were also assisted by the fog that morning, which is a hard thing to plan for. Once the front line was broken Fifth Army needed to retreat and block the Germans where possible without even the benefit of their compromised defenses. They were also not able to retreat along their lines of communication without risking losing contact with the French. In spite of this they maintained integrity and kept the retreat from turning to a rout, and in several instances inflicted local reversals and surprising delays on the Germans.

Georgette, meanwhile, took place in a sector covered by the Portuguese Expeditionary Force, a unit that had been abandoned by their government and was having serious problems with equipment, manpower and morale, and many of the surrounding units were those pulled from Fifth Army Sector to rest and recover. In spite of this Second Army was able to retreat along their lines of communication and German momentum was effectively stalled within a few days, though the battle continued for some time.

Blucher was launched against the area covered by the French Sixth Army, which at this point included British units recovering from Michael and American units still training. The commander in the area had refused, in spite of orders, to implement a defense in depth system, and maintained a single forward trench, that was again vulnerable to the extreme German artillery barrage and being cut off.

Often forgotten or lumped in with Michael was operation Mars, in between Michael and Georgette in timing. It was launched against the Northern end of the salient created by Michael, in Third Armies area near Arras. Here the British had a well built existing defensive system, as the front there had not moved in some time, clear lines of communication and supply and the advantage of terrain. The German attack utterly failed to take any of its initial objectives and was immediately abandoned.

The point I am getting at is that the Germans had great success in hitting the Allies where they were weaker and using that success to compel stronger fronts to pull back to avoid being flanked. Where the Allied defensive line was in place they had much less success. Therefore, simply shifting forces to more strategically valuable targets, though definitely a better strategy, is not likely to have the same level of success. In Second and First Army sectors, the troops would be well rested (without Michael forcing divisions to be cycled), and in strong defensive positions, able to retreat on their lines of supply if needed.
Zabecki's book in fact clearly states how both Amiens and Hazebrouck were woefully underdefended compared to their logistical value for the Allies. The capture of both of these railway hubs would have compelled the BEF's withdrawal west of the Somme River and quite possibly out of the continent altogether.
 
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I think there was a abandoned timeline of this, POD was Luddendorff dying early on, so the offensive focused on the railway hubs, i think.
 
I think there was a abandoned timeline of this, POD was Luddendorff dying early on, so the offensive focused on the railway hubs, i think.
Yeah, it's here right now in the link below:

 
Zabecki's book in fact clearly states how both Amiens and Hazebrouck were woefully underdefended compared to their logisticaly value for the Allies. The capture of both of these railway hubs would have compelled the BEF's withdrawal west of the Somme River and quite possibly out of the continent altogether.
I don't have the book, so I cannot comment on that. I do however have Zabecki's 2004 PhD Thesis to Cranfield University (https://dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk/bitstream/1826/3897/1/David T. Zabecki.pdf) which I believe is the basis for the latter book. It is on my "To read" list so I have not gone through it all, and may be missing things.

However, from what I can tell, Zabecki talks a lot about the fragility of the British Rail system, mostly relating to the fact that Amiens and Hazebrouck handled so much of the British logistics system. I have not seen a reference to the forces deployed there being insufficient. That does not mean they are not there, just that I have not seen them. His thesis revolves around the changed focus being a better use of resources than the OTL Michael and Georgette, in which I agree. The assumption that they would be taken seems to follow from the fact that the Germans got close to them IOTL with much less focused attacks. While that is a valid point, it does not take into account that much of the Allied retreat in this sector was due to advances in weaker sections of the line forcing other units to pull back in order to avoid being flanked. That need to retreat would be reduced in the attacks that he proposes.

As I said, I don't have the later book, which may have different or wider arguments. I also have not completed a thorough read of the paper. So I may be wrong on these points. But from what I have read I feel that, as convincing as Zabecki is (and as much as I am in agreement with him) on the desirability of a sequential thrust at Amiens and Hazebrouk compared to OTL's Michael and Georgette, I do not think that the success of such thrusts can be immediately assumed.
 
Zabecki's book in fact clearly states how both Amiens and Hazebrouck were woefully underdefended compared to their logistical value for the Allies. The capture of both of these railway hubs would have compelled the BEF's withdrawal west of the Somme River and quite possibly out of the continent altogether.
Is avoiding Mars and feeding the attack directly on Amiens the strategy at this point, the Germans need 1 good cavalry division left to exploit at this point.
 
I don't have the book, so I cannot comment on that. I do however have Zabecki's 2004 PhD Thesis to Cranfield University (https://dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk/bitstream/1826/3897/1/David T. Zabecki.pdf) which I believe is the basis for the latter book. It is on my "To read" list so I have not gone through it all, and may be missing things.

However, from what I can tell, Zabecki talks a lot about the fragility of the British Rail system, mostly relating to the fact that Amiens and Hazebrouck handled so much of the British logistics system. I have not seen a reference to the forces deployed there being insufficient. That does not mean they are not there, just that I have not seen them. His thesis revolves around the changed focus being a better use of resources than the OTL Michael and Georgette, in which I agree. The assumption that they would be taken seems to follow from the fact that the Germans got close to them IOTL with much less focused attacks. While that is a valid point, it does not take into account that much of the Allied retreat in this sector was due to advances in weaker sections of the line forcing other units to pull back in order to avoid being flanked. That need to retreat would be reduced in the attacks that he proposes.

As I said, I don't have the later book, which may have different or wider arguments. I also have not completed a thorough read of the paper. So I may be wrong on these points. But from what I have read I feel that, as convincing as Zabecki is (and as much as I am in agreement with him) on the desirability of a sequential thrust at Amiens and Hazebrouk compared to OTL's Michael and Georgette, I do not think that the success of such thrusts can be immediately assumed.
Zabecki writes in his book that the forces sufficient enough to capture both Amiens and Hazebrouck were possessed by the Germans during Operations Michael and George, although not during the other operations of the Spring Offensive.

As he emphasises the fact home throughout his thesis, Michael and George were really both last chances for Ludendorff to cripple the BEF beyond repair and capture the Channel ports in order to drive the Anglophone Allies out of the European peninsula altogether. There really were no more contingency plans for the Westheer anymore.
 
My question is what could Wilson do? In early 1918 the US was far from the power they were 6 months later, which was the whole point of the German offensive. Iiuc the US only had its first Army level battle in june or July and only got 3 armies into action by November. This is a long way from 5 British, 8(?) French and even more German field armies, and won't be a decider without allies.
 
Imo Wilsons reaction is somewhat removed from the direct happenings. He has all the delays in the chain to dampen the direct implications.

On the other hand, the French and British are much more concerned by the German advance. And depending on how it plays out I certainly could see a paniced French reaction after the high of American entry now this kick in the gut...

So as others have said, what Wilson would / could do depends very much on the situation on the ground and the position France and Britian take.

Another point to consider is that Wilson is not working in a vaccuum in inner American politics. As such the number and timeframe of losses for the AEF is Imo also a consideration as the American Public may react different to such a shock of sudden losses together with a reversal on the frontlines.
 
My question is what could Wilson do? In early 1918 the US was far from the power they were 6 months later, which was the whole point of the German offensive. Iiuc the US only had its first Army level battle in june or July and only got 3 armies into action by November. This is a long way from 5 British, 8(?) French and even more German field armies, and won't be a decider without allies.
Agreed.
 
German homefront seems to be crumbling, the economy is in bad shape and others if my sources are right so some counter attack or full blown counteroffensive might be ordered by the entente
 
German homefront seems to be crumbling, the economy is in bad shape and others if my sources are right so some counter attack or full blown counteroffensive might be ordered by the entente
The destruction of the BEF east of the Somme River would have precluded such a measure.
 
German homefront seems to be crumbling, the economy is in bad shape and others if my sources are right so some counter attack or full blown counteroffensive might be ordered by the entente
What shattered morale was the defeat of the spring offensives, if they are a smashing success, everyone's moral will hold up.
The question now is, do the Germans ask for peace?
Do the French collapse?
Do the germans try to push for Paris?
 
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