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By April, the French advance had only progressed beyond Neuville-sur-Margival and Leuilly.
On 1 April, a French attack along the line of the Ailette–Laon road reached the outskirts of Laffaux and Vauxaillon.
While the Germans were diverted by the British offensive in Flanders, French morale recovered, after Pétain had The main attack on the Aisne would be preceded by a large diversionary attack by the British Third and First armies at Arras.
The French War Minister, Hubert Lyautey and Chief of Staff General Henri-Philippe Pétain opposed the plan, believing it to be premature.
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line Operation Alberich (Unternehmen Alberich) left a belt of devastated ground up to 25 mi (40 km) deep in front of the French positions facing east from Soissons, northwards to St. When Hindenburg and Ludendorff took over from Falkenhayn on 28 August 1916, the pressure being placed on the German army in France was so great that new defensive arrangements, based on the principles of depth, invisibility and immediate counter-action were formally adopted, as the only means by which the growing material strength of the French and British armies could be countered.
Instead of fighting the defensive battle in the front line or from shell-hole positions near it, the main fight was to take place behind the front line, out of view and out of range of enemy field artillery.
The strategy was to conduct sequenced offensives from north to south, by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and several French army groups.The new French strategy was not one of passive defence.In June and July the Fourth, Sixth and Tenth Armies conducted several limited attacks and the First Army was sent to Flanders to participate in the Third Battle of Ypres.When the French armies met the British advancing from the Arras front, the Germans would be pursued towards Belgium and the German frontier.The offensive began on 9 April, when the British attacked at the Battle of Arras.