In any case, strong pressure applied without delay must shake the crumbling German Army to its foundations. The season, moreover, was now advanced. Some weeks still remained available before winter weather and shortened daylight would impede operations, but already at midnight, 5th/6th October, the approach of winter was heralded by the putting back of the clock an hour in the change from summer to normal time. For these reasons speed was more than ever essential. The combined attack was therefore fixed for 8th October. As it turned out, the Allies' full purpose was not to be immediately realised. The difficulties facing the southern horn of the pincers proved sufficient to retard its advance, and the German forces were saved for the moment from annihilating disaster. But the result was to make the enemy's position desperate. To the British attack carried out as part of these operations by the Fourth and Third Armies on a front of 17 miles, Haig has given the name of the Second Battle of Le Cateau.
By that time the towns of Le Cateau and Cambrai had been captured, and the Second Battle of Le Cateau (8th-12th October) had closed. It was no fault of this brilliantly executed British thrust, for which as a classic example of the military art the French Staff expressed wholehearted admiration, that the enemy was not forced to immediate surrender. Too hard a task, however, had been set the Americans and French southwards, and Ludendorff's day of final reckoning was postponed. None the less the sky was luridly dark for Germany. While her Armies managed to hold Gouraud and the Americans, the British drive on the German centre and at the German communications was striking into the enemy's vitals.