Today, 100 years ago, Germany began its last military gamble of the Great War.
Fifty divisions had been sent from the Eastern Front.
With the assistance of its best troops retrained as light and mobile Sturmtruppen (storm troops), Germany intended to use its temporary numerical superiority to roll up the Western Front.
Operation Michael began with a bombardment of 1.1million shells in five hours over nearly 400km2 — 3000 shells per minute.
Germany hoped that this Operation would end the War before sufficient American troops could be brought into service.
At first, Operation Michael was a success.
The Allied lines were pushed so far back that stormtroopers could not be resupplied with food and ammunition.
Heavily burdened German infantry needed to consolidate the gains of stormtroopers also struggled to keep up with the stormtroopers.
The German High Command did not have an overall coherent plan for its offensive.
Ludendorff said that ‘‘we chop a hole. The rest follows’’.
However, without a strategy, the Germans changed targets and goals repeatedly.
As they overran Allied lines, German infantry began looting food supplies.
Officers lost control of troops drunk on looted alcohol.
German morale also plummeted when their troops saw the abundance of Allied supplies.
Germans had been on short rations for several years.
By April 5, Operation Michael had ground to a halt before Amiens.
Australian troops held the line at Villers Bretonneux.
The Operation had achieved little.
The Allies lost nearly 255000 men, replaced by American soldiers by the end of March.
The Germans had lost 239000 men, most of them irreplaceable stormtroopers.
By the end of Operation Michael, the Germans were in a bag-shaped salient.
The neck of the bag was rapidly being closed by Allied counter-attacks.
Australian Divisions were counter-attacking against Germans in the bottom of the bag.
By July 1918, German numerical superiority would be gone along with any chance to win the war.
Germany had lost its gamble.
Meanwhile, Benalla held its annual St Patrick’s Day sports meeting.
The Sheffield Handicap over 120 yards was won by A.W. Duffy of Albury starting off 11 yards.
The Sprint Handicap over 75 yards was won by W.E. Thompson of Benalla starting off 11.25 yards.
Doubts arise about both races. In the first race, J. Payne protested against the second placegetter who gave false particulars relating to his handicapping.
In the Sprint Handicap, J. Payne was disqualified for two months for not leaving the blocks; A.W.Duffy stopped half way through the race. Duffy was fined $1 for not attempting to win.
Mr Blennerhassett, a chemist of Benalla, now has Nujol detox available for those who wish to rid their bodies of impurities.
Nujol is manufactured by an oil company as a lubricant.
— John Barry, ANZAC Commemorative Working Party, Coo-ee — Honouring our WWI Heroes