Second Battle of the Marne

What was going on in 1918?

In 1914, the World War I had begun. This war was mostly fought between two groups of European nations. On one side was German and Austria-Hungary. On the other side were France, Britain, Russia, and later the United States of America.

USA had initially decided to stay neutral through the war. But then the Germans started sinking American ships which forced USA to enter the war against Germany. USA entered the World War in 1917 and played an important role in bringing about the end of the war in 1918.

Background of the Second Battle of the Marne

In July 1918, the German forces planned a major offensive against the allied forces along the northern part of the western front. German forces aimed to attack the area of Flanders and counter the British forces. Germans hoped that once the British forces were defeated, this would be a serious blow to the allied powers and may help Germany in winning the war.

German commander Erich Ludendorff also planned an attack along the Marne as a false ruse so that the allied forces would be engaged elsewhere then the Germans attacked Flanders. It was during this ruse attack that the Second Battle of Marne took place.

When and where did the battle take place?

The Second Battle of Marne took place along the Marne River near Paris, France. It was fought from July 15, 1918 to August 6, 1918.

Commanders on both sides

The most notable and senior commander on the side of the allied forces was the French General Ferdinand Foch. The overall allied army comprised of 44 French divisions, 8 American divisions, 2 British divisions, 2 Italian divisions and nearly 350 tanks.

The senior commander on the German side was Erich Ludendorff. The German army comprised of 52 divisions of soldiers.

The Fighting

On July 15, 1918, the German forces launched the offensive near Reims. For the first two days, the German forces had considerable success and were able to take over many important French positions. But on July 17, 1918, a huge number of American and British troops arrived to support the French. This immediately halted the German advance.

On July 18, 1918, the allied forces launched a major counter-attack which had been planned by Ferdinand Foch. This attack effectively pushed back the German forces.

French and American troops played a decisive role in the counter-attack. Not only did the counter-attack stop German advance, it pushed the Germans back from their original positions and helped the allied forces to advance.

Result and Aftermath

The Second Battle of the Marne was a very important victory for the allied forces. During the previous months, the German army had steadily advanced toward the allied territories and had scored many victories.

The allied victory at the Second Battle of the Marne marked a turn in the tide. After this victory, the allied forces continued to push back the German front-lines. Three months later, the German defenses had collapsed and the world war ended.

French troops suffered around 95,000 casualties during the war. Britain suffered 16,500 casualties. USA suffered around 12,000 casualties while the Italian army on the allied side suffered around 9,000 casualties. The Germans suffered around 139,000 casualties. Another 30,000 Germans were taken captive in the battle.

The Second Battle of the Marne (Twentieth-Century Battles) Hardcover – April 9, 2008

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