Second Battle of the Marne: Wikis

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Second Battle of the Marne
Part of the Western Front of World War I
=German gains in early 1918
The German Spring Offensive
Date 15 July - 6 August 1918
Location Marne River near Paris, France
Result Decisive Allied victory
Belligerents
France France
United Kingdom United Kingdom
 United States
Italy Italy
German Empire Germany
Commanders
France Ferdinand Foch
France Paul André Maistre
France Antoine de Mitry
France Marie Émile Fayolle
France Charles Mangin
United Kingdom Alexander Godley
Italy Alberico Albricci
German Empire Erich Ludendorff
German Empire Karl von Einem
German Empire Bruno von Mudra
German Empire Max von Boehn
Strength
44 French divisions
8 American divisions
4 British divisions
2 Italian divisions
408 heavy guns
360 field batteries
346 tanks
52 divisions
609 heavy guns
1,047 field batteries
Casualties and losses
France: 95,165 dead or wounded
United Kingdom: 16,552 dead or wounded
United States: 12,000 dead or wounded
139,000 dead or wounded
29,367 captured
793 guns lost

The Second Battle of the Marne (French: 2e Bataille de la Marne), or Battle of Reims (15 July to 6 August 1918) was the last major German Spring Offensive on the Western Front during World War I. It failed when an Allied counterattack led by French forces overwhelmed the Germans, inflicting severe casualties.

Contents

Background

Following the failures of the Spring Offensive to end the war, Erich Ludendorff, Chief Quartermaster-General and virtual military ruler of Germany, believed that an attack through Flanders would give Germany a decisive victory over the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the most potent Allied force on the Western Front at that time. To shield his intentions and draw Allied troops away from Belgium, Ludendorff planned for a large diversionary attack along the Marne.

German attack

Captured British Mark IV tanks used by German troops.

The battle began on 15 July when 23 German divisions of the First and Third armies, led by Bruno von Mudra and Karl von Einem, assaulted the French Fourth Army under Henri Gouraud east of Reims (the Fourth Battle of Champagne (French: 4e Bataille de Champagne)). Meanwhile, 17 divisions of the German Seventh Army, under Max von Boehn, aided by the Ninth Army under Eben, attacked the French Sixth Army led by Jean Degoutte to the west of Reims (the Battle of the Mountain of Reims (French: Bataille de la Montagne de Reims)). Ludendorff hoped to split the French in two.

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-00178, Frankreich, Eroberte französische Stellung.jpg

The German attack on the east of Reims was stopped on the first day, but west of Reims the offensive fared better. The defenders of the south bank of the Marne could not escape the three hour fury of the German guns. Under cover of this terrible drumfire, stormtroopers swarmed across the river in every sort of transport—30-man canvas boats or rafts. With great gallantry and admirable ingenuity they began to erect skeleton bridges at a dozen points under fire from those Allied survivors who had not been gassed or shell-shocked. Some Allied units, particularly the 3rd US Infantry Division "Rock of the Marne", held fast or even counter-attacked but, by the evening, the Germans had captured a bridgehead either side of Dormans four miles deep and nine miles wide despite the intervention of 225 French bombers which dropped 44 tons of bombs on the makeshift bridges. The British XXII Corps and 85,000 American troops joined the French for the battle, and stalled the advance on 17 July.

Allied counter-offensive

The Allied counter-offensive.
French troopers under General Gouraud, with their machine guns amongst the ruins of a cathedral near the Marne, driving back the Germans. 1918

The German failure to break through allowed Ferdinand Foch, the Allied Supreme Commander, to proceed with the planned major counter-offensive on 18 July; 24 French divisions, including the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division (United States) and 93rd Infantry Division (United States) under French command, joined by other Allied troops including 8 large US divisions under US command, and 350 tanks attacked the recently formed German salient.

The Allied Preparation was very important in countering the German offensive. It was believed that the Allies had the complete picture of the German offensive in terms of intentions and capabilities. The Allies knew the key points of the German plan down to the minute[1].It is also legended that an ingenuitive Cpt. Hunter Grant, along with the help of engagment coordinator Lt. Page, devised a plan that involved the body of a male which died of pneumonia. Handcuffed to the dead male was a briefcase with plans of an American counterattack. Both the dead man along with the fake counterattack plans were placed in a jeep which appeared to have run off of a German controlled bridge. The Germans in finding these plans then lauched a counterattack to what they thought would be the American's counterattack. As a result the French and American forces lead by Foch were able to unleash havoc on the German forces leave no choice but to retreat. This engagment marked the beginning of a German withdrawal that was never effectively reversed. In September 1918 nine American divisions (about 243,000 men) joined four French divisions to push the Germans from St. Mihiel salient, a German dagger in France's flank.[2]

On 04.35 the Allied artillery opened fire, the 1,800-gun barrage immediately crept forward. The French were entirely successful, with Mangin's Tenth Army and Degoutte's Sixth Army advancing five miles on the first day alone. In their midst rolled the tall-turretted French Renault FT-17 light tanks. Berthelot's Fifth Army and De Mitry's Ninth Army, launched additional attacks in the west.

By May, Foch of the French army spotted flaws in the German offensives.[3] The army which defeated the army was combined of Americans, French, British and Italians soldiers. The major problem was that Foch had to work with “four national commanders, but without any real authority to issue order under his own name[...]they would have to fight as a combined force and to overcome the major problems of different languages, cultures, doctrines and fighting styles.[4]” The American troops were very important for the resistance against the German offensives. Floyd Gibbons wrote about the American troops that “I never saw men charge to their death with finer spirit."[5] The Americans who just entered the war was important to the battle because they were fresh new troops entering to help the Allies defeat the Germans. In other words they gave a new meaning to reinforcement. The Americans played an important role at the Second Battle of the Marne. The arrival of the Americans forced the German commanders to apply pressure too far and too fast.

On 19 July, the Italian Corps, lost 9,334 officers and men out of a total fighting strength of about 24,000. Nevertheless Berthelot rushed two newly-arrived British infantry divisions, the 51st (Highland) and 62nd (West Riding)[6], through the Italians straight into attack down the Ardre Valley (the Battle of Tardenois (French: Bataille du Tardenois) - named after the surrounding Tardenois plain).

The Germans ordered a retreat on 20 July and were forced all the way back to the positions where they had started their Spring Offensives earlier in the year. They strengthened their flank positions opposite the Allied pincers, on the 22nd, Ludendorff ordered to take up a line from the upper Ourcq to Marfaux.

The Allied commanders continually sent their troops forward towards the 'mincing machine' to fight costly battles for odd 500-yard gains. By the 27th the Germans had been able to withdraw their center behind Fère-en-Tardenois and complete an alternative rail link while still holding Soissons in the west.

On 1 August French and British divisions of Mangin's Tenth Army broke through to a depth of nearly five miles. The Allied counter-attack petered out on 6 August when well-entrenched German troops brought it to a halt.

The Second Battle of the Marne was an overwhelming victory, Ferdinand Foch received the baton of a Marshal of France. The Allies had taken 29,367 prisoners, 793 guns and 3,000 MGs but the Germans were by no means crushed. They had suffered total casualties of 168,000 since 15 July. The Western Front had been shortened by 28 miles, the moral importance of the decision gained on the Marne was that it marked the end of a string of German victories and the beginning of a series of Allied successes that were, in a mere three months, to bring the German Army to its knees.

In essence the disastrous German defeat led to the stop of Ludendorff's planned assault in Flanders and was the first win in a series of Allied victories that ended the war.

The Turning Tide

The war was made by early key decision which is thought decided the outcome of the battle early. Michael S. Neiberg states “The Germans decided to fight a battle with unclear strategic purposes and resources insufficient to achieve meaningful operational success. ” Without knowing German high commanders put their soldiers in a tough spot the Allies exploited these weaknesses. The battle led to the eventual ending of World War One.

See also

Further reading

  • Greenwood, Paul (1998). The Second Battle of the Marne. Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781840370089. 
  • Neiberg, Michael (2008). The Second Battle of the Marne. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253351463. 
  • Skirrow, Fraser (2007). Massacre on the Marne. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781844154968. 
  • Read, I.L. (1994). Of Those We Loved. Preston: Carnegie Publishing. ISBN 9781858212258. 
  • Farwell, Byron (1999). Over There: The United States in the Great War, 1917-1918. New York: Norton Paperback. ISBN 0393320286. 

Footnotes

  1. ^ `Micahel S. Neiberg. The Second Battle of the Marne,2008.Page 91
  2. ^ The American Pageant. America Helps Hammer the "Hun",2006.Page 708
  3. ^ Michael S. Neiberg,Page 7
  4. ^ Ibid, Pg7
  5. ^ Byron Farwell, Over There: The United States in the Great War, Page 169.
  6. ^ Everard Wyrall, The History of the 62nd (West Riding) Division 1914-1919 (undated but about 1920-25. See 62 Div external link below.

External links

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Second Battle of the Marne
Part of the Western Front of World War I
=
The German Spring Offensive
Date 15 July - 6 August 1918
Location Marne River near Paris, France
Result Decisive Allied victory
Belligerents
France
United Kingdom
 United States
File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Italy
German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Ferdinand Foch
Paul André Maistre
Antoine de Mitry
Marie Émile Fayolle
Charles Mangin
Alexander Godley
File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Alberico Albricci
Erich Ludendorff
Karl von Einem
Bruno von Mudra
Max von Boehn
Strength
44 French divisions
8 American divisions
4 British divisions
2 Italian divisions
408 heavy guns
360 field batteries
346 tanks
52 divisions
609 heavy guns
1,047 field batteries
Casualties and losses
France: 95,165 dead or wounded
United Kingdom: 16,552 dead or wounded
United States: 12,000 dead or wounded
Italy: 9,000 dead or wounded
139,000 dead or wounded
29,367 captured
793 guns lost

The Second Battle of the Marne (French: 2e Bataille de la Marne), or Battle of Reims (15 July to 6 August 1918) was the last major German Spring Offensive on the Western Front during World War I. The German attack failed when an Allied counterattack led by French and American forces overwhelmed the Germans, inflicting severe casualties.

Contents

Background

Following the failures of the Spring Offensive to end the conflict, Erich Ludendorff, Chief Quartermaster-General and virtual military ruler of Germany, believed that an attack through Flanders would give Germany a decisive victory over the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the most experienced Allied force on the Western Front at that time. To shield his intentions and draw Allied troops away from Belgium, Ludendorff planned for a large diversionary attack along the Marne.

German attack

tanks used by German troops.]]

The battle began on 15 July when 23 German divisions of the First and Third armies, led by Bruno von Mudra and Karl von Einem, assaulted the French Fourth Army under Henri Gouraud east of Reims (the Fourth Battle of Champagne (French: 4e Bataille de Champagne)). The U.S. 42nd Division was attached to the French Fourth Army and commanded by Gouraud at the time. Meanwhile, 17 divisions of the German Seventh Army, under Max von Boehn, aided by the Ninth Army under Eben, attacked the French Sixth Army led by Jean Degoutte to the west of Reims (the Battle of the Mountain of Reims (French: Bataille de la Montagne de Reims)). Ludendorff hoped to split the French in two.

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 102-00178, Frankreich, Eroberte französische
"German soldiers advancing past a captured French position, between Loivre and Brimont, Marne department, 1918"

The German attack on the east of Reims was stopped on the first day, but west of Reims the offensive fared better. The defenders of the south bank of the Marne could not escape the three hour fury of the German guns. Under cover of this terrible gunfire, stormtroopers swarmed across the river in every sort of transport—30-man canvas boats or rafts. With great gallantry and admirable ingenuity they began to erect skeleton bridges at a dozen points under fire from those Allied survivors who had not been gassed or shell-shocked. Some Allied units, particularly the 3rd US Infantry Division "Rock of the Marne", held fast or even counter-attacked but, by the evening, the Germans had captured a bridgehead either side of Dormans four miles deep and nine miles wide despite the intervention of 225 French bombers which dropped 44 tons of bombs on the makeshift bridges. The British XXII Corps and 85,000 American troops joined the French for the battle, and stalled the advance on 17 July.

Allied counter-offensive

File:General gouraud french army world war i machinegun marne
French troopers under General Gouraud, with their machine guns amongst the ruins of a cathedral near the Marne, driving back the Germans. 1918

The German failure to break through allowed Ferdinand Foch, the Allied Supreme Commander, to proceed with the planned major counter-offensive on 18 July; 24 French divisions, including the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division (United States) and 93rd Infantry Division (United States) under French command, joined by other Allied troops including 8 large US divisions under US command, and 350 tanks attacked the recently formed German salient.

The Allied Preparation was very important in countering the German offensive. It was believed that the Allies had the complete picture of the German offensive in terms of intentions and capabilities. The Allies knew the key points of the German plan down to the minute[1].

By May, Foch of the French army spotted flaws in the German offensives.[2] The counter-attack force which defeated the German offensive was combined of Americans, French, British and Italians soldiers. The major problem was that Foch had to work with “four national commanders, but without any real authority to issue order under his own name[...]they would have to fight as a combined force and to overcome the major problems of different languages, cultures, doctrines and fighting styles.[3]” The American troops were very important for the resistance against the German offensives. Floyd Gibbons wrote about the American troops that “I never saw men charge to their death with finer spirit."[4] The Americans who just entered the war was important to the battle because they were fresh new troops entering to help the Allies defeat the Germans. In other words they gave a new meaning to reinforcement. The Americans played an important role at the Second Battle of the Marne. The arrival of the Americans forced the German commanders to apply pressure too far and too fast.

On 19 July, the Italian Corps, lost 9,334 officers and men out of a total fighting strength of about 24,000. Nevertheless Berthelot rushed two newly-arrived British infantry divisions, the 51st (Highland) and 62nd (West Riding)[5], through the Italians straight into attack down the Ardre Valley (the Battle of Tardenois (French: Bataille du Tardenois) - named after the surrounding Tardenois plain).

The Germans ordered a retreat on 20 July and were forced all the way back to the positions where they had started their Spring Offensives earlier in the year. They strengthened their flank positions opposite the Allied pincers, on the 22nd, Ludendorff ordered to take up a line from the upper Ourcq to Marfaux.

The Allied commanders continually sent their troops forward towards the 'mincing machine' to fight costly battles for odd 500-yard gains. By the 27th the Germans had been able to withdraw their center behind Fère-en-Tardenois and complete an alternative rail link while still holding Soissons in the west.

On 1 August French and British divisions of Mangin's Tenth Army broke through to a depth of nearly five miles. The Allied counter-attack petered out on 6 August when well-entrenched German troops brought it to a halt.

The Second Battle of the Marne was an overwhelming victory, Ferdinand Foch received the baton of a Marshal of France. The Allies had taken 29,367 prisoners, 793 guns and 3,000 MGs but the Germans were by no means crushed. They had suffered total casualties of 168,000 since 15 July. The Western Front had been shortened by 28 miles, the moral importance of the decision gained on the Marne was that it marked the end of a string of German victories and the beginning of a series of Allied successes that were, in a mere three months, to bring the German Army to its knees.

In essence the disastrous German defeat led to the stop of Ludendorff's planned assault in Flanders and was the first win in a series of Allied victories that ended the war.

The Turning Tide

The war was made by early key decision which is thought decided the outcome of the battle early. Michael S. Neiberg states “The Germans decided to fight a battle with unclear strategic purposes and resources insufficient to achieve meaningful operational success. ” Without knowing German high commanders put their soldiers in a tough spot the Allies exploited these weaknesses. The battle led to the eventual ending of World War One.

See also

Further reading

  • Greenwood, Paul (1998). The Second Battle of the Marne. Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781840370089. 
  • Neiberg, Michael (2008). The Second Battle of the Marne. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253351463. 
  • Skirrow, Fraser (2007). Massacre on the Marne. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781844154968. 
  • Read, I.L. (1994). Of Those We Loved. Preston: Carnegie Publishing. ISBN 9781858212258. 
  • Farwell, Byron (1999). Over There: The United States in the Great War, 1917-1918. New York: Norton Paperback. ISBN 0393320286. 

Footnotes

  1. ^ `Micahel S. Neiberg. The Second Battle of the Marne,2008.Page 91
  2. ^ Michael S. Neiberg,Page 7
  3. ^ Ibid, Pg7
  4. ^ Byron Farwell, Over There: The United States in the Great War, Page 169.
  5. ^ Everard Wyrall, The History of the 62nd (West Riding) Division 1914-1919 (undated but about 1920-25. See 62 Div external link below.

External links


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