IN 1917 came the crisis, if not the climax, of the war. It was, for French President Raymond Poincare, the worst year of the war - l'annee trouble. 1 It was the year, for one thing, in which Germany came closest to victory in the attritional struggle - and this by the only means available to it as the centre of the weaker coalition: the total elimination of members of the opposing alliance. In the spring the disintegration of Russia as an effective military power began, finishing before the end of the year with the Bolshevik revolution. In the summer France was nearly knocked out of the game. In the autumn Italy was eliminated as an effective member of the Alliance - hanging on thereafter in the desperate hope that some victory by its allies would recoup all. In July, the BEF commenced its great assault in Flanders which very nearly ended in the prostration of the British army - by the end of the year, this was the only land force possessed by the Entente coalition still able to take the offensive. On the home fronts of all combatants, including Britain, strains and stresses were producing cracks.