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The Battle of the Lys (also known as the Lys Offensive, the Fourth Battle of Ypres, the Third Battle of Flanders ( ) and as the Batalha de La Lys in Portugalmarker) was part of the 1918 Germanmarker offensive in Flanders during the World War I (also known as the Spring Offensive), originally planned by General Ludendorff as Operation George but scaled back to become Operation Georgette, with the objective of capturing Ypresmarker, and forcing the British forces back to the Channel ports (and thereby forcing Britain out of the war). Starting on 9 April 1918, the battle lasted until April 29. The attack was similar in planning, execution and effects, although with smaller dimensions, to the earlier Michael operation, also from the Spring Offensive.

Background

Portuguese forces in trenches at the Lys, 1918.
The front line was defended by two Portuguesemarker divisions, with lack of men and without near half of its officers, had very low morale and were set to be replaced the day of the German attack.

The German attack was able to smash through those Portuguesemarker divisions and emergency Britishmarker troops, the 1st battalion, King Edward's Horse and the 11th Cyclist Battalion. Although they captured some land, German forces were ultimately brought to a halt by Australian, Frenchmarker and Britishmarker divisions. By April 29 Ludendorff ceased Georgette operations.

Battle of Estaires

9 - 11 April

This was the first phase of the battle, and involved the German forces attacking the defending Portuguese and British Divisions.

In one of the greatest defeats in the military history of Portugal, the 2nd Portuguese Division, approximately 20,000 men commanded by General Gomes da Costa (later President of Portugal), lost about 300 officers and 7,000 men, killed, wounded and prisoners, resisting the attack of four German divisions, with 50,000 men of 6th German Army, commanded by General Ferdinand von Quast, in the first day of the German offensive. Emergency Britishmarker troops deployed to help the Portuguesemarker defenses were also captured or forced to retreat.

On the flanks of the Portuguese, the British 55th Division (south of the Portuguese) were able to refuse their northern brigade, and despite numerous further attacks formed a firm defensive line which limited the effectiveness of the German attack. However, on the Portuguese northern flank, the British 40th Division were outflanked and attacked from the rear, and as a result allowed the attacking German units to extend the breakthrough of the front line further north.

Battle of Messines

10 - 11 April

The attack was widened, with the resulting capture of Messines on the first day of the attack.

Battle of Hazebrouck

12 - 15 April

Further German attacks towards the critical logistics centre of Hazebrouckmarker were slowed by the defending British troops, before being stopped by the Australian 1st Division occupying a defensive position 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the town on 13 April.

Battle of Bailleul

13 - 15 April

British forces attempt to defend the town of Bailleul, which despite heavy fighting, is captured on the 15th of April.

First Battle of Mount Kemmel

17 - 19 April

Defending the critical position of Mount Kemmelmarker, the British forces managed to defeat the German attack.

Battle of Bethune

18 April

German attacks on the defending British forces around the town of Bethune were repulsed.

Actions at Villers-Bretonneux

One the Somme Front (to the south), German attacks on the village of Villers-Bretonneux were defeated at the First and Second Battles of Villers-Bretonneux.
British and Portuguese captured by German forces in the Flanders region (1918)


Second Battle of Mount Kemmel

25 - 26 April

Having relieved the defending British forces, the French forces were the next to face the brunt of the German attack, when a single French Division faced an attack by over 3 German Divisions.

Battle of the Scherpenberg

29 April

The final attack of the offensive, German forces were able to capture the hill to the northwest of Mount Kemmel - the Scherpenberg.

Further reinforcing French units and the failure of the attacks in front of Hazebrouck meant that the chance of any further attacks were unlikely to succeed meant that the German High Command called off the offensive soon after.

References

  • La Lys, 1918, Mendo Castro Henriques and António Rosas Leitão, Lisboa, Prefácio («Batalhas de Portugal»), 2001, ISBN 972-8563-49-3


See also



External links




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