World War One Diary for Saturday, March 9, 1918:
Western Front: DH9 operational debut; controversial DH4 replacement aircraft of No 6 (Naval) Squadron attack St Pierre Capelle. 53 Royal Flying Corps aircraft attack 3 German airfields west of Le Gateau, hits on all three (repeated on Busigny on March 17 and 18). Ludendorffs Michael offensive, air units fly in (until March 12).
Germany: British raid to Mainz.
Italy: Germany Navy airship L59 (Bockholt) attacks Naples naval base and steel plant (50 casualties); raid attributed to Austrians (their seaplanes do raid on March 11). Royal Flying Corps claim 64 kills since November 10, 1917 for only 12 losses.
German gas bombardment for Somme offensive (Ypres-St Quentin): 500,000 rounds mustard gas and phosgene, of which 1,000t directed at British, esp. Flesquieres salient opposite Cambrai, and French positions. 7,223 soldiers gassed (87 deaths) until March 19.
Russo-Rumanian Peace Treaty. Berthelot’s French Military Mission leaves Rumania (3 trains to Murmansk).
Finland: 15,000 Red Guards attack and fail against 7,350 Whites in central region (until March 14). Red C-in-C sacked on March 15.
Mesopotamia – Euphrates: Brooking’s 15th Indian Division occupies Hit (valuable bitumen fields), Turks retreat 22 miles to Khan Baghdadi.
Palestine – Actions of Tell ‘Asur or Battle of Termus Aya: Chetwode’s XX Corps (21,500 soldiers with 325 guns) crosses Wadi Auja, captures Tell ‘Asur (2,958ft) despite five Turk counterattacks (8,800 soldiers with c.150 guns), advancing 2-5 miles on 13-mile front until March 12 for 1,313 casualties, only 169 Turk PoWs.
Last peace feelers till September: Smuts meets Austrian diplomat Skrzynski in Switzerland (until March 14) and Lloyd George’s Private Secretary Kerr also has meeting on March 15. Czernin cables Vienna on March 19 that Franco-Italian annexation demands destroy any continued talks.