Introduction - The First Battle of the MarneIn August of 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War One, the German army invaded Belgium and started marching towards Paris; the capital of France. Their goal was to quickly capture Paris and force France into surrendering. This was called the Schlieffen Plan and it was crucial to Germany's strategy. A quick defeat of the French would mean Germany would not have to fight a two front war; an eastern front against Russia and a western front against France. Germany started a swift advance towards Paris which seemed unstoppable; they got within 30 miles (48.28 Kilometers) of the French capital. The French army would make their stand near Paris, just south of the River Marne, at the First Battle of the Marne. Read on for a summary of this battle. Below is a list of interesting facts about this major battle, which also serves as a sort of timeline, written for both kids and adults to enjoy and understand.
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The First Battle of the Marne Basic Facts
- The Marne River near Paris was the site of two WW1 battles; the first fought at the beginning of the war in September of 1914 and the other near the end of the war in the summer of 1918.
- The First Battle of the Marne took place between September 5th and the 12th of 1914.
- The battle involved approximately 1,400,000 German soldiers against a combined British and French force of around 1,000,000.
- This was the first major WWI battle on the Western Front.
- The commander of the French army was General Joseph Joffre (nickname Papa Joffre).
- The commander of the British army was General John French.
- The German Chief of Staff was General Helmuth Von Moltke. In command of the German 1st Army was General Alexander von Kluck, and in charge of the German 2nd Army was Karl von Bulow.
- The First Battle of the Marne casualties were approximately:
French - 250,000
British - 13,000
Germans - 250,000
First Battle of the Marne Interesting Facts
- The German advance into Western Europe was so swift and overwhelming that the people of Paris fully expected their city to be attacked. The citizens of Paris prepared themselves for a siege and the French government moved to Bordeaux.
- The French, who had been retreating from the swift German advance, made a surprise move and turned and attacked the Germans as they approached Paris. On September 6th approximately 150,000 French soldiers made their move attacking the German army's right flank. This resulted in creating a gap between Germany's First and Second Armies.
- When the German forces got split by the French it caused a lot of confusion and miscommunications among the Germans. There was fear among the German commanders that the French had not only stopped their advance but could actually win the battle.
- On September 9th, on the orders of German Chief of Staff General Helmuth Von Moltkevon Moltke, the Germans retreated to the River Aisne.
- When the French stopped the German advance at the First Battle of the Marne it set the stage for years of trench warfare. Both sides dug in and found themselves unable to gain any momentum. Another significance of the French victory was now the Germans had to conduct a two front war (eastern front (Russia) and western front (France).