The first battle of Marne took place between the 5th and 12th of September 1914. It was between the Allied powers (the French army and the British Expeditionary Force) and the Central powers (the Germans).
The Precursors to the Battle of Marne
The Germans were executing the 1905 Schlieffen Plan to surprise the French and capture Paris. They had made their way through Belgium and were now advancing on Paris. In fact, the Germans were within 30 miles of Paris. And worse, were able to reach it by firing their massive railroad cannons:
Paris was in danger. So much so that the French government had fled its capital to Bordeaux for safety. The French needed to take action, and swiftly:
The French general, Joseph Gallieni, needed to mobilise the French troops to the front line. The most efficient way? To call all the taxis and their drivers to pick up and drop off the soldiers:
Who Started the Battle of Marne?
The French knew they needed to fight back and prevent the Germans further closing in on Paris. They called on the British Expeditionary Army to help.
Meanwhile, there was confusion in the ranks of the German armies. Bulow, the commander of the German 2nd army, moved his men towards the south to attack and defeat the French 5th army.
Unfortunately, General Avon Kluck, commander of the German 1st army, did not know this. Instead, he continued to move his army forward to engage the French and take out Paris. This broke the German line, leaving a gap. The Germans were now vulnerable to attack, but only if the allied forces knew about the gap:
The First Ever Use of Reconnaissance Planes
The Battle of Marne was the first time aeroplanes were used in war to spy behind enemy lines. These reconnaissance planes were utilised by the allied forces to discover the military positions of their enemy. In this case, the information gleaned about the gap in the German line played a key role in helping the French and British armies position their troops and win the battle:
The Battle of Marne is so called because it occurred near to the Marne river which ran parallel to the French/Belgium border:
Who Won the Battle of Marne?
The battle of Marne was an offensive by the French and British armies against the Germans to prevent further advancing of the central powers towards Paris. The allies took advantage of the gap in the German line, counterattacking and successfully forcing the Germans to retreat:
This battle was considered a major victory for the allied forces, and many breathed a sigh of relief not to have the Germans so close to their capital:
The map below shows where the Germans had advanced to (the blue diagonal shading) and where the allied forces had pushed them back to (the blue cross-hatched shading):
At this point the armies were at a stand still. Unable to move forwards, but unwilling to retreat further, the Germans ‘dug in’ with the allies ‘digging in’ shortly after. Thus, trench warfare had begun.
Making a Model of a Reconnaissance Plane
Last term, we did a large study into flight, it’s origins and the invention of the very first aeroplane by the Wright Brothers. We had made a model of their aeroplane at the time, but I wanted the girls to make another one from junk around the house. I didn’t get many photos of this, but we used a thin tube which held Becca’s maths poster, some Amazon packaging and match sticks. Oh, and a trusty glue gun. The tube was cut in half, and some wings and tail bits were cut out of the packaging. Everything was then stuck together, using copious amounts of glue:
As all sides of the war eventually used reconnaissance planes, each plane had the markings of the country from where it came. This prevented planes being shot down by their own country. Here are many photos of the two planes, to make up for the lack of the actual process of making them 😉
The girls did a great job, no? I particularly like Becca’s long nosed aeroplane ❤️
The next post will be about the battle of Ypres and the first usage of chemical weapons.