Australians on the Western Front: Assault on the German morale

WATCHFUL: Australian correspondent Charles Bean. Picture: AWM E00246
WATCHFUL: Australian correspondent Charles Bean. Picture: AWM E00246

Australian 1st Division intelligence summaries in July 1918 reported that stealth raids and daylight aggression near Merris in northern France were shaking German morale.

A captured document revealed the German commander in Flanders, the Crown Prince of Bavaria, “is considerably perturbed at the impunity” with which the raids were “nibbling” at German defences.

Down on the Somme, German General Georg von der Marwitz also recognised the success of Australian stealth raids.

He wrote: “Troops ... must not give way at every opportunity and seek to avoid fighting; otherwise they will get the feeling that the enemy is superior to them.”  

Australian war historian Charles Bean said the Villers-Bretonneux plateau was chosen for the Allied offensive on August 8 partly because it suited tanks “but mainly because the ceaseless peaceful penetration by the Australian infantry had greatly strained the Germans there.”