Significant World War One Battles of 1917

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/australia-soldier-war-memorial-day-2187092/
Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/australia-soldier-war-memorial-day-2187092/

The year 1917 was a pivotal year for the Allies in World War One. After years of bloody stalemate on the Western Front, they finally began to make some significant advances against the Germans. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most important battles that took place during 1917.

The Hindenburg Line

In early 1917, the German forces had retreated to a better defensive position, known as the Hindenburg Line. The new line was strengthened by a series of fortifications, and it was thought to be almost impenetrable. 

 

Douglas Haig was the commander of the British forces in France, and he decided that it was time to take on the Hindenburg Line. In March 1917, the British and French began planning offensives against the Hindenburg Line. Over the course of the rest of the year, the Allies were able to break through the line with the help of new artillery tactics and tanks. The Germans were eventually forced to retreat, and the Allies captured a large amount of territory.

Battles for Bullecourt

In May of 1917, the British and Australian forces launched an attack against the Germans at Bullecourt. The First Battle of Bullecourt took place on the 11th April pf 1917. Australian infantry advanced, protected by the tanks. However, German artillery quickly disabled the tanks and, while the Australians were able to seize part of the German trenches, they were cut off from reinforcements. 

 

This meant that, by the time the Germans counterattacked, the Australians were forced to withdraw and give up all of their gains. This was a disastrous defeat for the Allies, and it resulted in over 11,000 casualties.

 

The Second Battle of Bullecourt began on the 3rd of May, 1917. Once more, the Australians advanced and captured part of the German trenches. However, British reinforcements helped them fight off the subsequence German counterattacks and were able to hold their gains. By the 15th of May, the Germans finally withdrew from the town.


The Battle of Arras

The Battle of Arras began on April the ninth and lasted until May the third. It was a British and French offensive that aimed to push the Germans back from their positions in Arras, France. The battle was largely successful, with the Allies recapturing most of the territory that had been lost to the Germans.

The Battle of Messines Ridge

The Battle of Messines Ridge took place from 7 to 14th of June, 1917. It was a joint British and Belgian offensive which aimed to capture the German-held ridge near Messines, Belgium. This battle was a precursor to the much larger Battle of Passchendaele, and it was successful in capturing the ridge.

 

The battle was a resounding success, with the Allies capturing all of the objectives they had set out to achieve.

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, began in July 1917 and lasted until November. It was a British and French offensive which aimed to break through the German lines on the Western Front. 

 

For ten days before the battle began, artillery pounded the German positions, killing or wounding over a million soldiers. Weather played an important part in the battle because it rained heavily, turning the battlefield into a muddy quagmire. 

 

The Canadians were the first to make an advance on October the eleventh, but they were quickly pushed back by the Germans. The battle continued until November, when British and French forces finally captured the Passchendaele Ridge. 

 

By the end of the battle, British forces had suffered 300,000 casualties, while the Germans suffered around 260,000. It was a technical victory for the Allied forces, as they had taken the high ground around Ypres and advanced five miles.


The Battle of Cambrai

The Battle of Cambrai began in November 1917 and lasted until December. It was a British offensive which aimed to break through the German lines on the Western Front. This battle is significant because it was the first time that tanks were used in large numbers on the battlefield. 

 

The battle was successful, with the British capturing some significant territory from the Germans. However, they were eventually pushed back out of this territory by German counterattacks.

Russian Revolution

In March of 1917, the Russian Revolution began. The revolution led to the overthrow of the Russian monarchy and the rise of a new Soviet government. The revolution caused a significant split within the Allied forces, as many countries were hesitant to support a communist regime. However, the Allies decided to continue supporting Russia in order to prevent them from being forced into an alliance with Germany.

 

The new revolutionary government signed a peace treaty with Germany in December of 1917, which effectively ended Russia’s participation in the war. This meant that German soldiers which had been fighting the Russians on the eastern front were now free to be transferred to the western front.

Summary

These are just a few of the most important World War One battles that took place during 1917. As you can see, it was a year of significant progress for the Allies, culminating in their final victory in November 1918.