The historical battles that inspired Battlefield 1's Operations mode

It's no surprise that Battlefield 1 has raked in buckets of cash and praise in equal measures since its release in October. The latest installment of Electronic Arts' first-person shooter series introduced The Great War/World War I to the series' legions of fans, as well as a number of new, historically accurate weapons, vehicles, and new multiplayer modes.

One of the new multiplayer modes is “Operations,” which aims to replicate some of the large-scale battles fought during the war. The four battles represented are spread across numerous sections on two maps (three for maps in the Ottoman Empire) and combine aspects of Rush and Conquest: attackers must seize control of one to three control points to advance while defenders can regain any lost territory until all points are lost.

The maps and battles are also based on real-life events, and do their best to replicate the atmosphere of what were then new modes of warfare: trench and aerial. In this article, we take a look at the historical conflicts that influenced some of the battles in the game.

KAISERSCHLACT

The first map is based on the Kaiserschlact, the Kaiser's Battle, also known as the Spring Offensive of 1918, or the Ludendorff Offensive (named after German General Erich Ludendorff). The offensive formally began with Operation Michael on March 21, days after the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between the Central Powers and the newly installed Russian Federation. The peace treaty included the release of half a million German POWs from the Russian Federation. Ludendorff, emboldened by the return of German infantrymen, made a last-ditch effort to push the line of the Western Front further into France to disrupt the Allied forces of Britain and France before the arrival of US troops.

Operation Michael is also referred to as the First Battle of the Somme by the British, but is not to be confused with the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The German offensive pushed from the north side of the Somme River, which stretches through Peronne, Amiens, and northwest out into the English Channel. The Germans quickly gained territory, but British and Allied troops managed to halt their advance entirely on April 5 when the Germans reached Amiens but failed to take control of it in the Battle of the Avre and Battle of the Ancre.

The Spring Offensive spread into the summer but the Germans failed to push the line at the Western Front. On August 8, the Allies launched the Battle of Amiens, a.k.a. the Third Battle of Picardy, in what would become the first day of the Hundred Days Offensive, a pushback by the Allies on the Germans that would end the war in November 11, 1918.

The Allies launched another attack on August 15, known today as the Second Battle of the Somme, with the Australian Corps breaking German lines at Mont Saint-Quentin and Peronne at the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin on August 31.

The beginning of the end of the Great War began on September 26, when the Allied Grand Offensive made its move to force a large-scale retreat by the Germans across the entire Hindenburg Line.

CONQUER HELL

This set of maps takes its name from "To Conquer Hell," a non-fiction book by Edward G. Lengel that chronicles the exploits of US General John J. Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces as they pushed against the German line from September 26 until the final day of the war on November 11. A total of 1.2 million US soldiers fought their way across the Hindenburg Line through a frontline that stretched out to nearly 20 miles from the Meuse River and Argonne Forest.

The opening stage is of a village near Varennes, which US forces liberated on the first day of the offensive, that ends with attack points on a railway line, which is most likely a hub on the Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres Railroad. The Germans used it to supply their entire line and it was thus a strategic attack point for the Allied forces.

The second map, south of Apremont, features the US forces pushing into the Argonne Forest. That push began in October, after they had secured a line across Bois de la Cote Lemont –Nantillois—Apremont on September 29. US forces then spent the rest of the offensive (October - November) fighting their way through the Argonne Forest.

IRON WALLS

From 1915 to 1918, Italian forces fought against Austro-Hungarian forces along their mutual border. The Italians lost territory in a humiliating defeat in the Battle of Caporetto on October 24, 1917 thanks to the combined efforts of the Austro-Hungarian and German forces. Exactly one year later, the Italians launched what we now know as the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, which is represented in the first of the two maps of the Iron Walls Operation. There was no major battle on the Adriatic Coast, from what I found, although there were a few naval battles in the Adriatic Sea in October.

The battle began on October 24. Czechoslovakia announced its independence from Austria-Hungary on October 28 and the (now former) State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs withdrew from that union on October 31, which forced a general retreat of Austro-Hungarian forces that led to the Armistice of Villa Giusti on November 3.

OIL OF EMPIRES

What sets this operation apart from the rest, besides the extra map, is that it takes place at the beginning of the war rather than at the end.

The Al-Faw Peninsula opening stage, a.k.a. Fao Fortress, recreates the battle of the Fao Landing on November 6, 1914 and the Battle of Fao Fortress two days later. British forces wanted to secure Persian Gulf oil facilities after the Ottoman Empire entered the war. The 16th Poona Brigade landed on Fao beach and attacked Fao Fortress two days later. British forces overtook the fortress that same day and marched into Port of Fao the next day.

Months later, German and Ottoman forces attacked the Suez Canal from southern Palestine. The attack, which began on January 26, 1915 and ended on February 4, 1915, is the focus of the second map, "Western Banks of the Canal." The British controlled the canal since its opening in 1869. Ottoman forces attacked the Canal, but British forces easily repelled the attack thanks to the Canal's strong defensive fortifications.

The final map, East of El-Jifar, is possibly influenced by the Raid on Bir el Mazar during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign that began with the Raid on the Suez Canal and ended with the Armistice of Murdos in 1918. A small Allied reconnaissance force reached el Mazar in mid-September but were unable to overpower an Ottoman garrison.