Who's Who - Michel-Joseph Maunoury

General Michel Maunoury Recalled from retirement at the age of 67 in August 1914 to lead the so-called 'Army of Lorraine', General Michel-Joseph Maunoury's (1847-1923) place in history was assured in a quite different region of the front, one much closer to home near Paris, during the First Battle of the Marne.

An artillery officer, Maunoury was handed command of the seven reserve divisions that formed part of the Army of Lorraine, its task being to retake the lost territory of Lorraine, ceded to Germany in consequence of the lost Franco-Prussian War of 1871 (which heralded the fall of Napoleon III).

France's pre-war strategy for avenging their humiliating defeat at Germany's hands in 1871 focussed chiefly around the recapture of the coal-rich regions of Alsace and Lorraine, forming the main plank of Plan XVII, the French equivalent of the Schlieffen Plan.

Maunoury's seven reserve divisions began to assemble on 21 August (seven days after Foch and Dubail launched their invasion of Lorraine), and was briefly attached to the retreating First and Second Armies in Lorraine before being quickly redeployed by rail on 26 August further northwest to form the new Sixth Army north of the Western Front.

Once there his troops helped the newly-arrived British Expeditionary Force to escape encirclement at Le Cateau, before being again redeployed to a position near Paris on 1 September.

The decision to redeploy Maunoury's force was taken by General Gallieni, the military governor of Paris, in order that they could attack German General von Kluck's First Army in its flank, a plan of attack devised by Gallieni himself.  Gallieni further reinforced Maunoury's force by ferrying troops to the line in a fleet of Parisian taxi cabs.

With Maunoury's flank attack on 6 September (ordered by French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre) the First Battle of the Marne commenced, the battle which almost certainly saved Paris - and the war - from being lost to the Germans.

Maunoury himself was severely wounded and rendered partially blind while touring the front on 11 March 1915 (shot through the eye), thereby ending his active career.

Michel-Joseph Maunoury died in 1923.  He was posthumously appointed Field Marshal.

A cartwheel was a particular type of aerial manoeuvre.

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