Primary Documents - Charles Mangin on the Second Battle of the Marne, July-August 1918
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 view later given by French General Charles Mangin - commander of the French Tenth Army - concerning the turning point of the Allied counterattack at the Marne and which led to victory.
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 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 an account by Karl Rosner of how news of the battle was received by the Kaiser.
General Charles Mangin on the Allied Counterattack at the Second Battle of the Marne
This constituted a regular classic battle of manoeuvre. The battle opened with the driving back of the enemy line ten kilometres in the first two days under the shock of a sudden attack. Then he brought up reserves and rallied.
After that the objective was clear and definite. It was the eastern end of the long ledge that runs unbroken save by the Saviere Valley from west of Villers-Cotterets Forest to the region of Grand Rozoy and Arcy.
That was the key position of the struggle, as it dominated the northwestern plateau toward Soissons, which was the bastion of the enemy's resistance. Once we were masters of that on August 2nd, the enemy's retreat was inevitable.
He knew it, too, and the battle was won.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
Around one million Indian troops served in WW1, of which some 100,000 were either killed or wounded.
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