Slide 1. The Battles of 1914

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1 Slide 1 The Battles of 1914

2 Slide 2 Home for Xmas 4 minutes- Home for Xmas Ballad

3 Slide 3 War Plans Helmuth von Moltke No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the enemy s main force No human has the acumen to be able to see the consequences beyond the first serious battle with an enemy. Strategic Plans, Military Doctrines & Battlefield Tactics on the Western Front For a nation to win a war it is essential for it to have a close alignment of a viable big picture strategy supported by the employment of appropriate military tactics on the battlefield. Strategy refers to the big picture national goals and objectives determined by the politicians based on the options and advice of their senior military commanders. Tactics on the other hand refers to the implementation of a defined strategy on the field of battle where short-term decisions are made as to how groups of troops will move and employ their weapons. The tactical outcome of each engagement forms the base for revised strategic decisions.

4 Slide 4 The French Plan XVII

5 Slide 5 French Strategic Planning Summary for 1914 In the period between 1870 (when France lost a war against Prussia) and August 1914, the French General Staff had devised some seventeen different plans as to how they would fight the next war against their expected German adversary. Their then current Plan XVII, which was in operation when the War began in 1914, assumed that their battles with the German army would largely be fought on the Eastern French border, just as those of 1870 had been. The French strategic plan involved transporting (by rail) their substantial armies from all parts of the country to their borders with Germany, where they were intended to make frequent and intensive offensive attacks into Germany. Whereas their previous Plan XVI predicted a possible German army movement through neutral Belgium, Plan XVII actually discounted that possibility, and consequently deployed the bulk of French troops to France s Eastern borders near the places where the earlier battles of 1870 had been fought.

6 Slide 6

7 Slide 7 The German Schlieffen Plan

8 Slide 8 German Strategic Planning Summary for 1914 Prior to the outbreak of war in 1914 Germany had the most complex military strategy of all of the Nations involved, because she knew her armies would have to fight on two fronts against France in the West and Russia in the East. In response, the German High Command envisaged fighting a war in two stages the first involved an expected quick victory against France in the West, while a token force held its Eastern front against the Russians, who they believed would be slower to mobilize her armies. The Von Schlieffen plan adopted by the German High Command required three German armies to sweep through neutral Belgium, and rapidly make their way into France and down to Paris to complete a pincer movement in which they would encircle and defeat the defending French armies in a matter of weeks (M=42 = Mobilization day +42 days < September12th 1914>. Then, a second phase would involve a rapid re-deployment of troops from the West to the East (by rail) where they would then conduct a second successful campaign against a numerically superior Russian army.

9 Slide 9 German Invasion of Belgium Implementation of the von Schlieffen Plan Schedule: M+42 > September 12 th. Under the Schlieffen Plan soldiers in the German 1 st Army were expected to march some 960 kilometres in 40 days across fields. This rate of progress was expected despite facing significant but unexpected resistance, firstly by the Belgian army, and subsequently by the French and British armies.

10 Slide 10 Comparison of the Plans OVERLAY OF THE FRENCH & GERMAN WAR PLANS

11 Slide 11 Compare the Pair PLAN XVII SCHLIEFFEN

12 Slide 12

13 Slide 13 What Happened

14 Slide 14 Video The Schlieffen Plan Indie Nidell presentation

15 Slide 15 The Frontier Battles ALSACE - LORRAINE

16 Slide 16 Battles of the Northern Frontiers

17 Slide 17 Battles of the Northern Frontiers On 21 st August 1914 German armies defeated the French at the Battle of Charleroi, and then the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Mons on 21 st August. Then began the Great Retreat, also known as the Retreat from Mons - the name given to the long withdrawal to the River Marne, from 23 rd August to the 5 th of September 1914, by the (BEF) and the French Fifth Army From 5 12 September.

18 Slide 18 Battles of the Southern Frontiers

19 Slide 19 Battle of Mons 23rd August 1914 In early mid August a 100,000-strong British Expeditionary Force landed in France, and by 21 st August it had moved to Mons, just inside the Belgium border on the left flank of the French 5 th Army, a location where, according to Plan XVII, there would be no Germans! Painting of the German attack on the Nimy Bridge over the Mons Canal. Three days later, 280,000 Germans launched themselves against the two Allied armies. Overwhelmed, the British and French defenders were forced to retreat in a nightmare march back towards Paris. In this early, mobile phase of the war, the Germans appeared to be making reasonable progress and by the beginning of September 1914 were just 45 kilometres from Paris. The French Government abandoned its capital and moved to Bordeaux, while a million Parisians fled westward. However, the German High Command recognized that their rate of progress was much slower than that required by the Von Schlieffen plan (M+42). They also realised that the army s advance was outstripping its supply lines, and this was particularly difficult to remedy when its main form of transport consisted of horse-drawn vehicles.

20 Slide 20 Mons A Mad Minute at Mons DVD The Retreat From Mons (48 minutes). The four highly trained professional divisions of the British Expeditionary Force were quickly pushed back by the 14 divisions of von Kluck s German 1 st Army. The defeat at Mons was followed by nearly two weeks of continuous fighting withdrawals by the BEF.

21 Slide 21 The Great Retreat On 21 st August 1914 German armies defeated the French at the Battle of Charleroi, and then the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Mons on 21 st August. Then began the Great Retreat, also known as the Retreat from Mons - the name given to the long withdrawal to the River Marne, from 23 rd August to the 5 th of September 1914, by the (BEF) and the French Fifth Army. As a result of their stretched supply lines, the Germans broke of their advances against Paris and retraced their steps back through the French villages they had earlier conquered to set up defensive positions on carefully selected high ground.

22 Slide 22 The Retreat from Mons DVD

23 Slide 23 Shortfall of Schleiffen Plan

24 Slide 24

25 Slide 25

26 Slide 26 Battle of the Marne Note the Gap that had developed between the German 1 st & 2 nd Armies As a result of their stretched supply lines, the Germans broke of their advances against Paris and retraced their steps back through the French villages they had earlier conquered to set up defensive positions on carefully selected high ground. From 5 12 September, the First Battle of the Marne ended the Allied retreat and forced the German armies to retire towards the Aisne river and towards the interior supply lines of their own border.

27 Slide 27 1 st Battle of the Marne The First Battle of the Marne was fought to the north and east of Paris in early September The opportunity opened for Anglo-French forces to reverse the hitherto victorious German advance through Belgium and France when First Army commander Heinrich von Kluck, who anchored the right wing of the German advance, swung north, rather than west, of Paris, across the front of Michel-Joseph Maunoury s French Sixth Army. Alerted by French air reconnaissance and radio intercepts, the first time either had been used in a major conflict, French commander in chief Joseph Joffre ordered an attack. On September 6, Maunoury, reinforced by troops, rushed to the front in requisitioned Paris taxis and buses the first extensive use of motorized transport in wartime and forever celebrated as the taxis of the Marne slammed into von Kluck s overextended army. Surprised, von Kluck recalled his advanced guard and swung his forces to the southwest to meet Maunoury s attack. But in doing so, von Kluck lost contact with Karl von Bulow s Second Army on his left flank. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) rallied together with elements of the French Fifth Army to surge into the breach von Kluck had opened in the German front. The tenacious defense of Ferdinand Foch s Ninth Army in the St.-Gond marshes against repeated attacks of the German Second and Third Armies frustrated German attempts to dislocate the French thrust by collapsing Joffre s right wing. On September 10, German chief of staff Helmuth von Moltke the younger ordered his forces to regroup on a front between Soissons and Verdun. Joffre pursued into September 13, when French attacks failed to dislodge German positions north of the Aisne. Each army then began a series of flanking manoeuvers known as the race to the sea, which left in its wake a system of linked trenches protected by barbed wire. The Anglo-French victory had been due in part to the fact that the Germans had outrun their logistics and their heavy artillery, used to crushing advantage in earlier

28 battles. Moltke, whose command style has been compared to that of an orchestral conductor whose players disregarded his baton, lost control of his army commanders. But the real victory went to Joffre and the French General Staff, who took advantage of German overextension to snatch the strategic initiative from the attackers.

29 Slide 28 French Depiction of the Marne Battle An example of fake news in 1914??? We will explore this concept in more detail when we study the Zone of the Armies. The fabled taxis became part of the myth.

30 Slide 29 Video Failure of the Schleiffen Plan

31 Slide 30 The Race for the Sea For the remainder of the 1914 year the armies of each side attempted to outflank the other in a series of battles that became known as the Race for the Sea.

32 Slide 31 The Race for the Sea

33 Slide Battles Although the conflict in 1914 had a duration of just five months, it involved a flurry of activity by both sides. Some sense can be made of events by dividing the events into six discrete and sequential stages: The French army Frontier offensives North & South The German swing through Belgium into Northern France The battles of Mons and Charleroi and the subsequent retreats by the French and British armies The German turn East and the Battle of the Marne The battles associated with the Race to the Sea Entrenchment

34 Slide 33 The Western Front Dec 1914 Stalemate & Trench Warfare 760 kilometres in length, with more than 70% of the line held by the French army.

35 Slide 34

36 Slide 35 Review of 1914 By December 1914 none of the combatant countries was fighting the war that had been wanted or expected. France Germany Austria Britain By December 1914 the prospect of a successful offensive in Western Europe, either by the Allies or the Germans, looked remote as winter fell. This was because the two foes had created a continuous line of facing trenches 475 miles (760 kilometres) long, which ran from the North Sea in Belgium to the mountain frontier of neutral Switzerland. As a result the room for manoeuvre each side had sought in order to deliver a decisive attack at the enemy's vulnerable flank had disappeared. While France had the war she wanted against Germany on its north-eastern borders as planned, timetables, strategy, casualties and costs had gone disastrously wrong. Germany had planned for a one front war in two stages first a quick victory against France in the west (while a token force held its eastern front) followed by a second victorious campaign against Russia in the east. Instead, in 1915 it was heavily involved on both fronts simultaneously, and in the east it was also required to deploy substantial troops to prop up its weak Austrian ally. Austria had originally believed that its war could be limited to a punitive expedition against Serbia, but had now reaped the whirlwind of its folly and was locked in mortal combat with both Russia and Italy Britain, which had originally committed itself to just providing a small expeditionary force to support the left line of the French army in Flanders, now found itself assuming increased responsibility for ever longer stretches of the Western Front.

37 Slide 36 Casualty Scorecard for 1914 Western Front Deaths by Year & Nation Country 1914 Aggregate Totals Belgium 8,199 8,199 France 304, ,124 Great Britain 17,174 17,174 United States 0 0 Total 329, ,497 Germany 85,021 85,021

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