World War One Diary for Monday, March 25, 1918:
Somme: A gap opens between BEF and French Armies. Germans capture Bapaume, Nesle and Noyon. Gough’s Fifth Army pushed back c.4 miles on 23-mile front. Haig fears Allied armies’ separation only a question of time, asks for 20 French divisions to fight astride Somme and cover Amiens (under heavy bombardment). General Fayolle takes command south of Somme; 7 French infantry divisions and 1 cavalry division now engaged. OHL now claims 45,000 PoWs. Germans oust Third Army from Bapaume. Noyon falls to night assault despite British 18th Division counter-attack. Gaps opening between BEF and French armies and between British XIX Corps (Watts) and XVIII Corps (Maxse). Crisis of the battle: Gough summons his chief engineer Major-General Grant and directs him to form scratch force (Carey’s Force until April 2) of 3,000 men with 92 MGs including 500 US rail engineers and hold line east of Amiens. Pershing offers Petain 4 US divisions at 2200 hours; 2 relieve French divisions in quiet sectors. Haig, Wilson and Weygand meet at Abbeville.
Western Front: Over 100 Royal Flying Corps aircraft ground attack to support BEF Third Army.
Mesopotamia: RFC Commander Colonel Tennant shot down and captured in DH4 at Khan Baghdadi by Euphrates (8 armoured cars rescue him on March 28). RFC air liaison essential in British Khan Baghdadi victory, also make 32 ground attacks dropping 6,344lb of bombs (March 26-27).
Sino-Japanese Agreement to resist hostile influences.
Britain: War Cabinet discuss possibility of BEF retreat to Channel ports.
Finland: Mannerheim attacks Tampere (until March 28) against bitter resistance. Karelian Finn ski troops raid into Russia and cut railway to Petrograd (until March 26). Last Red attack on Ahvola (Karelia) just fails on March 26.