World War One Diary for Tuesday, April 17, 1917:
Champagne – Battle of the Hills (Moronvillers) begins (until May 20) in worsening weather: French Fourth Army (7 divisions) fails to break through on east flank taking first line only in up to 1 1/2-mile push.
Aisne: Germans evacuate and burn 4 villages south of Chemin des Dames.
Foch visited by General H Wilson at Senlis. Foch clear, notes Wilson ‘that Nivelle was done, owing chiefly to the failure of the Sixth Army … Foch said he knew … positions which this army were … to attack were impossible … He thinks … Nivelle will be degomme (dismissed) and Petain, put in his place, who will play a waiting game until the USA come … say a year hence. I asked about a central organization of the Allies to really take hold and he was all in favour … would love to be the French representative.’
FRENCH ARMY MUTINIES BEGIN with 17 men of 108th Infantry Regiment abandoning posts before an attack. By end of August 1917 46 divisions seriously affected with c.35,000 mutineers who call themselves strikers. 2,873 court-martial and sentenced, many suspended. 629 receive death sentences (of which 43 certainly suffer ultimate penalty).
Palestine – Second Battle of Gaza (until April 19): 40,000 British soldiers, 170 guns, 8 tanks against 19,500 Turks, 101 guns and 86 MGs. British storm Samson’s Ridge but tanks and gas shells too few to retain gains. Dobell loses 6,444 casualties (272 PoWs) and 3 tanks to 2,013 Turks (200 PoWs).
Britain: Thorneycroft depth charge thrower designed in 10 days (by Sir J Thorneycroft, marine engineer); 2,760 made and 28 U-boats sunk by it (6 in 1917).
Jellicoe urges Salonika withdrawal to save shipping for 1918.