Day 6:    "Hey Marne, you want some Compeigne at Harry's!?!

 

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Morning on the Marne!!

 

While the Museum was for all of World War I, it had an emphasis on the first Battle of the Marne (being it was ON the Battlefield!) The Museum had the Paris Taxis that fought in the Battle that fought in the battle.

The First Battle of the Marne happened between 6-12 September 1914, with the outcome bringing to an end the German’s advance that started in August when the War begun at Fort Loncin. Having invaded Belgium and north-eastern France, the German army had reached within 30 miles of Paris.  Their progress had been rapid, having successfully beaten back Belgian, French and British forces in advancing deep into north-eastern France.  Their advance was in pursuance of the aims of the Schlieffen Plan, whose primary focus was the swift defeat of France in the west before turning attention the Russian forces in the east.   As the German armies neared Paris, the French capital prepared itself for a siege.  The defending French forces (Fifth and Sixth Armies) - and the British - were at the point of exhaustion, having retreated continuously for 10-12 days under repeated German attack until, directed by Joseph Joffre, the French Commander-in-Chief, they reached the south of the River Marne. With victory seemingly near, Alexander von Kluck's German First Army was instructed to encircle Paris from the east.  The French government, similarly expecting the fall of the capital, left Paris for Bordeaux. Joseph Joffre, imperturbable in the face of crisis, resolved on 4 September to launch a counter-offensive strike, under the recommendation of the military governor of Paris, Gallieni, and aided by the British under Sir John French (the latter only after prompting by the British war minister, Lord Kitchener).     

Gazing on Gallieni in the Official World War I Museum!

On 5 September Gallieni informed Maunoury that there was to be no retreat and issued secret orders for the destruction of important parts of Paris, including the Pont Neuf and the Pont Alexandre III.   On 7 September Gallieni, concerned that with Maunoury’s Sixth Army fighting out in the open, Paris was now vulnerable, telegraphed the government in Bordeaux to discuss the possible evacuation of the civilian population from the Paris suburbs, and ordered prefects and the police to find “emergency locations” for them. That day Gallieni was ordered not to communicate directly with the government. This left Joffre “all-powerful” (in Gallieni’s description), as he had sacked so many generals and Gallieni was his only serious rival. The same day, frustrated at the slowness at which the British were advancing into the gap between the German First and Second Armies, Gallieni sent Lartigue’s 8th Infantry Division to the BEF’s right flank to keep contact between the BEF and Franchet d’Esperey’s Fifth Army (the French and British generals of 1914 were extremely concerned at the prospect of armies being encircled and besieged, after what had happened to the French Armies at Sedan and Metz in 1870). Joffre, concerned that Gallieni might arouse Sir John’s “touchiness,” sent a telegram to Lord Kitchener (British War Secretary) thanking him for Sir John’s efforts.  

 

It was Gallieni’s decision to send 103rd and 104th Infantry Regiments (5 battalions, part of Trentinian’s 7th Infantry Division, itself part of IV Corps; most of 7th Infantry Division, including artillery, had been sent to the front by rail and truck the previous night) to the front on the night of 7/8 September, in taxicabs commandeered the previous evening. The division’s attack failed completely so the taxicab troops had even less impact than sometimes supposed. Although “great publicity for Gallieni; militarily it was insignificant” in Herwig’s view. Upon seeing the "taxicab army" ferrying troops to the front, Gallieni made one of the most oft-quoted remarks of the First World War: "Eh bien, voilà au moins qui n'est pas banal!" ("Well, here at least is something out of the ordinary!"). Learning of Gallieni’s contingency plans to evacuate Paris the previous day, Joffre telegraphed Millerand (8 September) demanding that he cancel Gallieni’s “dangerous” message, and insisting that Gallieni was under his orders and had no business communicating directly with the government. On 8 September Gallieni ordered Maunoury, under heavy pressure from von Kluck, to hold his ground. Joffre gave permission for Maunoury to pull back his left if necessary. The Germans, concerned at the gap between their First and Second Armies, began to pull back on 9 September, giving the Allies a strategic victory in the Battle of the Marne. Joffre authorized General Maunoury's Sixth Army - comprising 150,000 men - to attack the right flank of the German First Army in an action beginning on the morning of 6 September. 

 In turning to meet the French attack a 30-mile wide gap appeared in the German lines between the First and Second Army, the latter commanded by the cautious General Karl von Bulow.   The Allies were prompt in exploiting the break in the German lines, dispatching troops from the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to join the French Fifth Army in pouring through the gap between the two German armies, the right wing of Fifth Army simultaneously attacking the German Second Army.   Nevertheless, the German forces were close to achieving a breakthrough against Maunoury's beleaguered forces between 6-8 September, and were only saved on 7 September by the aid of 6,000 French reserve infantry troops  ferried from Paris in streams of taxi cabs, 600 in all.   The following night, on 8 September, the aggressive French commander General Franchet d'Esperey's Fifth Army launched a surprise attack against the German Second Army, serving to further widen the gap between the German First and Second Armies.  D'Espery was a recent appointment,

Le Miracle de la Marne or Von Kluck's F-Up!

Joffre having given him command of Fifth Army in place of the dismissed General Lanrezac, who was deemed too cautious and wanting in 'offensive spirit'. On 9 September the German armies began a retreat ordered by the German Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke.  Moltke feared an Allied breakthrough, plagued by poor communication from his lines at the Marne.   The retreating armies were pursued by the French and British, although the pace of the Allied advance was slow - a mere 12 miles in one day.  The German armies ceased their withdrawal after 40 miles at a point north of the River Aisne, where the First and Second Armies dug in, preparing trenches that were to last for several years.   In a strategic triumph at the First Battle of the Marne, which ended on 10 September, the French forces - assisted by the British - had succeeded in throwing back the German offensive, recapturing lost ground in the process.  More importantly, the battle ended any hopes the Germans had of effectively bringing the war on the Western Front to an early close.  

Casualties at the battle were heavy.  The French incurred 250,000 losses, and it is believed that the Germans suffered similar casualties (no official figures are available).  The British recorded 12,733 casualties among the BEF.

Le Boys Training Day!

What the Foch?!

Joan of Arc's last Pad!

 

Wolverines at Notre Dame!?!

If they fall in the River, they would be in Seine !

Mike, Bone, and Ron's Arc de' Triumph's Completion of the Over Dere Tour!

Best., Damned., Bar., in the World !!! Harry's New York!

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