100 years ago Nurse Kate Luard was Sister-in-Charge at No.32 Casualty Clearing Station in France during the early hours of Operation Michael, the major German Offensive of spring 1918. The Germans started at the Hindenburg Line with the aim to break through territory fought over in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and seize channel ports from the British Expeditionary Force.
Kate Luard wrote in her diary: “A ghastly uproar began yesterday. The guns bellowed and the earth shook. Fritz brought off his Zero like clockwork at 4:20am and in one second plunged our front line in a deluge of High Explosive, gas and smoke, assisted by a thick fog of white mist. Our gunners were temporarily knocked out by gas but soon recovered and gave them hell, which caught their first infantry rush, but they came on and advanced a mile. We suddenly became a front line C.C. S. and the arrival of the wreckage began, continued and has not ended.”
“And then, exactly as a pianist runs his hands across the keyboard from treble to bass, there rose in less than one minute the most tremendous cannonade I shall ever hear...The weight and intensity of the bombardment surpassed anything which anyone had ever known before.”Minister of Munitions, Winston Churchill on the morning of Operation Michael