Primary Documents - Jean Degoutte on the Second Battle of the Marne, 9 August 1918

General Jean Degoutte The Second Battle of the Marne - which ran from 15 July to 4 August 1918 - was intended as Germany's final major attempt at breakthrough on the Western Front prior to the arrival of ever-increasing U.S. troops on the battlefield.

In the event the battle proved a significant Allied victory.  Once it became clear that the Germans had not only failed in their aim to win the war in the offensive, but had in fact lost ground, a number of German commanders, including Crown Prince Wilhelm, believed the war was lost.

Reproduced below is the official address given by French Sixth Army General Jean Degoutte to French and U.S. troops towards the close of the battle, on 9 August 1918, in which he praised the conduct of American forces.

Click here to read General Gouraud's appeal to his forces at the onset of the battle.  Click here to read an extract from U.S. Commander-in-Chief John J Pershing's official report summarising U.S. participation in the battle.  Click here to read a German memoir focusing on the events of 15 July.  Click here to read Pershing's Special Order of the Day, dated 27 August, in which he praised the role played by his forces.  Click here and here to read semi-official German press statements published in July and August 1918 on the outcome of fighting at the Marne.  Click here and here to read contrasting statements regarding the effectiveness of the Allied counterattacks, issued by Ludendorff.  Click here to read the official address given by Mangin on 7 August 1915, directed to U.S. First and Second servicemen who, assisting Mangin's French Tenth Army, participated in the Allied counter-attacks launched on 18 August.  Click here to read the view later given by Mangin concerning the turning point of the Allied counterattack at the Marne.  Click here to read an account by Karl Rosner of how news of the battle was received by the Kaiser.

General Degoutte's Address to French and U.S. Troops, 9 August 1918

Before the great offensive of July 18th, the American troops, forming part of the Sixth French Army, distinguished themselves by clearing the "Brigade de Marine" Woods and the village of Vaux from the enemy and arresting his offensive on the Marne and at Fossoy.

Since then they have taken the most glorious part in the second battle of the Marne, rivalling the French troops in ardour and valour.

During twenty days of constant fighting they have freed numerous French villages and made, across a difficult country, an advance of forty kilometres, which has brought them to the Vesle.

Their glorious marches are marked by names which will shine in future in the military history of the United States: Torcy, Belleau, Plateau d'Etrepilly, Epieds, Le Charmel, l'Ourcq, Seringes-et-Nesles, Sergy, La Vesle, and Fismes.

These young divisions, who saw fire for the first time, have shown themselves worthy of the old war traditions of the regular army.  They have had the same burning desire to fight the Boche, the same discipline which sees that the order given by their commander is always executed, whatever the difficulties to be overcome and the sacrifices to be suffered.

The magnificent results obtained are due to the energy and the skill of the commanders; to the bravery of the soldiers.

I am proud to have commanded such troops.

The Commanding General of the Sixth Army

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

An Amiens Hut was a temporary structure of canvas on a frame used at British base camps.

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