Five Days From Defeat

How Britain Nearly Lost the First World War

Walter Reid

Date Published :
January 2018
Publisher :
Illustration :
8pp b/w plates & maps
No associated books available.


On 21 March 1918 Germany initiated one of the most ferocious and offensives of the First World War. During the so-called Kaiserschlacht, German troops advanced on allied positions in a series of ferocious attacks which caused massive casualties, separated British and French forces and drove the British back towards the Channel ports.

Five days later, as the German advance continued, one of the most dramatic summits of the war took place in Doullens. The outcome was to have extraordinary consequences. For the first time an allied supreme commander – the French General Foch – was appointed to command all the allied armies, while the statesmen realized that unity of purpose rather than national interest was ultimately the key to success. Within a few months a policy of defence became one of offence, and paved the way for British success at Amiens and the series of unbroken British victories that led Germany to plea for armistice.

Victory in November 1918 was a matter for celebration; what was excised from history was how close Britain was to ignominious defeat just eight months earlier.

About The Author

Walter Reid studied at the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh. He has written a number of acclaimed books of military and political history, including Churchill: Under Friendly Fire and Empire of Sand How Britain Made the Middle East.


"Shows with forensic precision both how close Britain came to defeat and how Haig subsequently attempted to rewrite history so that he came out of the affair in a positive light."

- Scotsman

" intriguing study both of the pressures of high command in warfare and of the machinations of powerful men."

- Journal of Military History

More from this publisher