The Battle of Amiens: 8 - 11 August 1918

The Battle of Amiens took place from 8 – 11 August 1918 and marked the beginning of what became known as the ‘Hundred Days offensive,’ a string of allied offensive successes on the Western Front that led to the collapse of the German Army and the end of the war. Below are a series of images from The Tank Museum’s archive.

8 August

Soldiers of the 5th Australian Brigade alongside a Mark V* of the 15th Tank Battalion.  Both units were part of the first wave at Amiens, crossing the start line at 4:20am. The tanks led the advance, as their armour could stand up to German machine gun fire and friendly artillery shrapnel.  The infantry followed close behind.  However the infantry were the main attacking force – the tanks were assigned to support and protect them as they captured German defences, not the other way round.

A Female Mark V tank powering forwards.  The tank is carrying a trench bridge and fascines.  They would both be used to help other vehicles cross trenches (the tank itself could cross them without too much trouble).

This photo was taken near the village of Bayonvillers, which was captured by the 15th Australian Infantry Brigade supported by tanks of the 2nd Battalion.

This is Number 5 Section of B Company, 10th Battalion who supported British III Corps as they attacked the high ground of the Chipilly Spur.  The 10th was the only battalion that fought with III Corps, as the ground was unsuitable for large numbers of tanks.  Number 5 Section supported the 7th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment around Morlancourt, at the very northern edge of the battlefield.

The Austin Armoured Cars of the 17th Battalion, Tank Corps achieved great success.

Their sudden appearance well behind German lines caused panic and confusion out of all proportion to their numbers.  There were just 16 of them, but their crews used their speed to advance up to 6km further than the main British objective.

This is B56 ‘Barrhead,’ tank 9003 of C Company, 2nd Battalion. On this pivotal day tank and crew supported the attack by the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion.  They helped secure the villages of Bayonvillers and Harbonnieres, then pushed on to the Blue Line, the day’s furthest objectives.  Once the infantry were secure in their newly captured positions, Barrhead, according to its commander still in ‘splendid condition’, returned to the rallying point.

German prisoners bring in a wounded soldier.

Up to 30,000 Germans surrendered over the four days of the Battle of Amiens, and there were many accounts of prisoners being taken after putting up minimal resistance, a sure sign that the German Army’s will to fight was fading.

10 August

Tanks and infantry advance on the 10th August.  This was the third day of the Battle of Amiens, and by now the strain of the fighting was having an effect.  The Germans had rushed up reserves, so the British, Canadians and Australians faced stronger resistance and counter attacks as they pushed forwards.  On top of this, tanks were in increasingly short supply.  Breakdowns, crew exhaustion and combat losses meant only 85 were available on the 10th, just one-fifth of the number used on the 8th.

Tanks and infantry worked together to break through the German lines. This photograph was taken near Lihons. The village of Lihons had been an objective on the 9th August for the 1st Australian Division.  They hadn’t been able to capture it, and resumed their attack the next day.

Despite hard fighting all day, they were unsuccessful.  It was finally captured the next morning.

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