The 1918 Spring Offensive, or Kaiserschlacht known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and matériel resources of the United States could be deployed, they had the temporary advantage in numbers afforded by the nearly 50 divisions, freed by the Russian withdrawal from the war by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. There were four German offensives, codenamed Michael, Gneisenau, Blücher-Yorck. Michael was the main attack, intended to break through the Allied lines, outflank the British forces and defeat the British Army. Once, achieved, it was hoped that the French would seek armistice terms; the other offensives were subsidiary to Michael and were designed to divert Allied forces from the main offensive effort on the Somme.
No clear objective was established before the start of the offensives and once the operations were underway, the targets of the attacks were changed according to the battlefield situation. The Allies concentrated their main forces in the essential areas, leaving strategically worthless ground, devastated by years of conflict defended; the Germans were unable to move reinforcements fast enough to maintain their advance. The fast-moving stormtroopers leading the attack could not carry enough food and ammunition to sustain themselves for long, all the German offensives petered out for lack of supplies. By late April 1918, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed; the German Army had suffered heavy casualties and now occupied ground of dubious value, which would prove impossible to hold with such depleted units. In August 1918, the Allies began a counteroffensive with the support of 1–2 million fresh American troops and using improved artillery techniques and operational methods; this Hundred Days Offensive resulted in the Germans retreating or being driven from all of the ground that they had taken in the Spring Offensive, the collapse of the Hindenburg Line, the capitulation of the German Empire that November.
The German High Command—in particular General Erich Ludendorff, the Chief Quartermaster General at Oberste Heeresleitung, the supreme army headquarters—has been criticised by military historians for the failure to formulate sound and clear strategy. Ludendorff conceded that Germany could no longer win a war of attrition, yet he was not ready to give up the German gains in the West and East and was one of the main obstacles to the German government's attempts to reach a settlement with the Western Allies. Although Ludendorff was unsure whether the Americans would enter the war in strength, at a meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of the German armies on the Western Front on 11 November 1917, he decided to launch an offensive; the German government and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, nominally the Chief of the General Staff, were not party to the planning process. It was decided to launch Operation Michael near Saint-Quentin, at the hinge between the French and British armies, strike north to Arras.
The main reason for the choice was tactical expediency. The ground on this sector of the front would dry out much sooner after the winter and spring rains and would therefore be easier to advance across, it was a line of least resistance as the British and French armies were weak in the sector. The intention was not to reach the English Channel coast, but to break through the Allied lines and roll up the flank of the British army from the south, pushing it back against the Channel Ports or destroying it if the British chose to stand and fight. Further operations such as Operation Georgette and Operation Mars were designed to strike further north to seize the remaining Allied ports in Belgium and France while diverting Allied forces from Michael. However, these remained weaker operations, subordinate to Michael; the constant changing of operational targets once the offensive was underway gave the impression the German command had no coherent strategic goal. Any capture of an important strategic objective, such as the Channel ports, or the vital railway junction of Amiens would have occurred more by chance than by design.
The German army had concentrated many of its best troops into stormtrooper units, trained in infiltration tactics to infiltrate and bypass enemy front line units, leaving these strong points to be "mopped-up" by follow-up troops. The stormtrooper tactic was to attack and disrupt enemy headquarters, artillery units and supply depots in the rear areas, as well as to occupy territory rapidly; each major formation "creamed off" fittest soldiers into storm units. This process gave the German army an initial advantage in the attack, but meant that the best formations would suffer disproportionately heavy casualties, while the quality of the remaining formations declined as they were stripped of their best personnel to provide the storm troops; the Germans failed to arm their forces with a mobile exploitation force, such as cavalry, to exploit gains quickly. This tactical error meant. Notwithstanding the effectiveness of the stormtroopers, the following German infantry made attacks in large traditional waves and suffered heavy casualties.
To enable the initial breakthrough, Lieutenant Colonel Georg Bru
Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of World War I fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France; the battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history; the Battle of the Somme was fought in the traditional style of World War I battles on the Western Front: trench warfare. The trench warfare gave the Germans an advantage because they dug their trenches deeper than the allied forces which gave them a better line of sight for warfare; the Battle of the Somme has the distinction of being the first battle fought with tanks. However, the tanks were still in the early stages of development, as a result, many broke down after maxing out at their top speed of 4 miles per hour.
The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise, in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916, by the French, Russian and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. Initial plans called for the French army to undertake the main part of the Somme offensive, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force; when the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort. The first day on the Somme saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerre south of the Somme to Maricourt on the north bank, by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the Albert–Bapaume road.
The first day on the Somme was, in terms of casualties the worst day in the history of the British army, which suffered 57,470 casualties. These occurred on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line; the British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army. The battle is notable for the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle and French forces had penetrated 10 km into German-occupied territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since the Battle of the Marne in 1914; the Anglo-French armies failed to capture Péronne and halted 5 km from Bapaume, where the German armies maintained their positions over the winter. British attacks in the Ancre valley resumed in January 1917 and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines in February, before the scheduled retirement to the Siegfriedstellung began in March. Debate continues over the necessity and effect of the battle.
Allied war strategy for 1916 was decided at the Chantilly Conference from 6–8 December 1915. Simultaneous offensives on the Eastern Front by the Russian army, on the Italian Front by the Italian army, on the Western Front by the Franco-British armies, were to be carried out to deny time for the Central Powers to move troops between fronts during lulls. In December 1915, General Sir Douglas Haig replaced Field Marshal Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF. Haig favoured a British offensive in Flanders close to BEF supply routes, to drive the Germans from the Belgian coast and end the U-boat threat from Belgian waters. Haig was not formally subordinate to Marshal Joseph Joffre but the British played a lesser role on the Western Front and complied with French strategy. In January 1916, Joffre had agreed to the BEF making its main effort in Flanders, but in February 1916 it was decided to mount a combined offensive where the French and British armies met, astride the Somme River in Picardy before the British offensive in Flanders.
A week the Germans began an offensive against the French at Verdun. The costly defence of Verdun forced the French army to commit divisions intended for the Somme offensive reducing the French contribution to 13 divisions in the Sixth Army, against 20 British divisions. By 31 May, the ambitious Franco-British plan for a decisive victory, had been reduced to a limited offensive to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun with a battle of attrition on the Somme; the Chief of the German General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, intended to end the war by splitting the Anglo-French Entente in 1916, before its material superiority became unbeatable. Falkenhayn planned to defeat the large amount of reserves which the Entente could move into the path of a breakthrough, by threatening a sensitive point close to the existing front line and provoking the French into counter-attacking German positions. Falkenhayn chose to attack towards Verdun to make Verdun untenable; the French would have to conduct a counter-offensive on ground dominated by the German army and ringed with masses of heavy artillery, leading to huge losses and bring the French army close to collapse.
The British would have to begin a hasty relief offensive and would suffer huge losses. Falkenhayn expected the relief offensive to fall south of Arra
Second Battle of the Aisne
The Second Battle of the Aisne was the main part of the Nivelle Offensive, a Franco-British attempt to inflict a decisive defeat on the German armies in France. The strategy was to conduct sequenced offensives from north to south, by the British Expeditionary Force and several French army groups. General Robert Nivelle planned the offensive in December 1916, after he replaced Joseph Joffre as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army; the objective of the attack on the Aisne was to capture the prominent 80-kilometre-long, east–west ridge of the Chemin des Dames, 110 km north-east of Paris, attack northwards to capture the city of Laon. When the French armies met the British advancing from the Arras front, the Germans would be pursued towards Belgium and the German frontier; the offensive began on 9 April. On 16 April, the Groupe d'armées de Reserve attacked the Chemin des Dames and the next day, the Fourth Army of Groupe d'armées de Centre, near Reims to the south-east, began the Battle of the Hills.
The Chemin des Dames ridge had been quarried for stone for centuries, leaving a warren of caves and tunnels which were used as shelters by German troops to escape the French bombardment. The offensive met massed German machine-gun and artillery fire, which inflicted many casualties and repulsed the French infantry at many points; the French still achieved some substantial tactical successes and took c. 29,000 prisoners in their attacks on the Chemin des Dames and in Champagne but failed to achieve their strategic objective of a decisive defeat over the Germans. The failure had a traumatic effect on the morale of the French army and many divisions mutinied. Nivelle was superseded by General Philippe Pétain, who adopted a strategy of "healing and defence"; the new French strategy was not one of passive defence. In June and July the Fourth and Tenth Armies conducted several limited attacks and the First Army was sent to Flanders to participate in the Third Battle of Ypres; the British prolonged the Arras offensive into mid-May, despite uncertainty about French intentions, high losses and diminishing success as divisions were transferred northwards to Flanders.
The British captured Messines Ridge on 7 June and spent the rest of the year on the offensive in the Third Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Cambrai. The difficulties of the French armies became known in general to the Germans but the cost of the defensive success on the Aisne made it impossible to reinforce the Flanders front and conduct more than local operations on the Aisne and in Champagne; the French conducted limited attacks at Verdun in August, which recaptured much of the remaining ground lost in 1916 and the Battle of La Malmaison in October, which captured the west end of the Chemin des Dames and forced the Germans to withdraw to the north bank of the Ailette. While the Germans were diverted by the British offensive in Flanders, French morale recovered, after Pétain had 40–62 mutineers shot as scapegoats and provided better food, more pay and more leave to improve the welfare of French troops. Nivelle believed the Germans had been exhausted by the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and could not resist a breakthrough offensive, which could be completed in 24–48 hours.
The main attack on the Aisne would be preceded by a large diversionary attack by the British Third and First armies at Arras. The French War Minister, Hubert Lyautey and Chief of Staff General Henri-Philippe Pétain opposed the plan, believing it to be premature; the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir Douglas Haig, supported the concept of a decisive battle but insisted that if the first two phases of the Nivelle scheme were unsuccessful, the British effort would be moved north to Flanders. Nivelle threatened to resign if the offensive did not go ahead and having not lost a battle, had the enthusiastic support of the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George; the French Prime Minister Aristide Briand supported Nivelle but the war minister Lyautey resigned during a dispute with the Chamber of Deputies and the Briand government fell. The Second Battle of the Aisne involved c. 1.2 million troops and 7,000 guns on a front from Reims to Roye, with the main effort against the German positions along the Aisne river.
The original plan of December 1916 was plagued by delays and information leaks. By the time the offensive began in April 1917, the Germans had received intelligence of the Allied plan and strengthened their defences on the Aisne front; the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line Operation Alberich left a belt of devastated ground up to 25 mi deep in front of the French positions facing east from Soissons, northwards to St. Quentin. Alberich freed 13–14 German divisions which were moved to the Aisne, increasing the German garrison to 38 divisions against 53 French divisions; the German withdrawal forestalled the attacks of the British and Groupe d'armées du Nord but freed French divisions for the attack. By late March, GAN had been reduced by eleven infantry, two cavalry divisions and 50 heavy guns, which went into the French strategic reserve; when Hindenburg and Ludendorff took over from Falkenhayn on 28 August 1916, the pressure being placed on the German army in France was so great that new defensive arrangements, based on the principles of depth and immediate counter-action were formally adopted, as the only means by which the growing mater
German attack on Vimy Ridge, 21 May 1916
The German attack on Vimy Ridge, 21 May 1916 was a local attack on the Western Front during the First World War. The Germans intended to prevent mines being blown under German positions by capturing the British front line and mine gallery entrances. After the Third Battle of Artois The French Tenth Army had held positions on the western slope of Vimy Ridge and the German 6th Army occupied positions on the steeper eastern slope. After the beginning of the Battle of Verdun, the Tenth Army was withdrawn and the British First Army and Third Army on either flank, took over the French positions; the mine warfare waged by the French and Germans was continued by the British, exploiting the advantage of being on the dip slope and only having to dig horizontally into the ridge to undermine German positions. The Germans, on the steeper scarp slope, had to dig down before they could dig horizontally, a disadvantage made worse by a shortage of manpower and mining equipment. An attack was planned by the Germans to capture the British positions, from which mine galleries were being dug under the German defences.
Success would gain more defensive depth and forestall mine attacks on the German positions, before the British had been able to organise their defences on the ridge. The Germans attacked on 21 May and were able to consolidate their objectives, before the British could conduct counter-attacks powerful enough to recapture the ground. In the attack and its aftermath the Germans suffered 1,344 casualties against the 2,475 British losses. A British plan to recapture the front positions and take the German side of the ridge was cancelled, because of the demand for men and equipment of the forthcoming Battle of the Somme, the attack on the Gommecourt Salient taking priority. British planning continued and became the basis for the much larger attack by the Canadian Corps at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Vimy Ridge extends from the Scarpe river valley east of Arras for 9 mi north to the valley of the Souchez river. During the winter of 1915–1916, the German and French troops on the ridge spent much time trying to drain and repair trenches.
In the area of the German 17th Reserve Division, long trenches were dug to divert water from the front trenches. Conditions were so bad in the front line. Conditions became so bad that infantry units were set to work to maintain the troops in the front line; the rains and French mortar fire destroyed German field fortifications as fast as they were built. To gain more defensive depth and to mislead the French about German offensive preparations at Verdun, the I Bavarian Reserve Corps conducted Unternehmen Rupprecht, several prepared local attacks. A battalion of Reserve Infantry Regiment 229 built fake encampments and made several approach marches to simulate reinforcements to French reconnaissance aircraft. Unternehmen Rupprecht I began on 23 January, when the 2nd Bavarian Division blew mines and captured several French trenches near Thélus; the 50th Reserve Division conducted Unternehmen Rupprecht II on 24 January and Unternehmen Rupprecht III on 26 January. French mortar fire began at 3:00 a.m. at 5:40 a.m..
French infantry made grenade attacks against Reserve Infantry Regiment 230 of the 50th Reserve Division, which managed to repulse the attacks. At 11:00 a.m. the French bombardment reached the intensity of drumfire and at 1:10 p.m. the Germans were forced to retire. To the north, the 1st Bavarian Division undertook Unternehmen Rupprecht IV to improve the Bavarian positions on Hill 145 on 28 January, against the French 390th and 97th Infantry Regiments of the Chasseurs Alpins; the plan was to sap forward, until the front line was only 87–109 yd from the French lines, to attack after a bombardment and a mine explosion on each flank. The preparations were obvious and the French replied with small-arms fire and artillery bombardments; the relief of the French Tenth Army by the British First Army and Third Army was accomplished by early March 1916. The French had held about 20 mi of front line from Ransart in the south, to the east of Arras, west of Vimy, east of Souchez, west of Lens and east of Loos.
The southern portion of the line up to Arras had been quiet since the battles of manoeuvre in September 1914 and an informal truce had emerged. Further north, in the area of the three great battles of Artois in 1914 and 1915, hostilities had continued and on 8 February, the Germans captured 0.5 mi of trench south of Central Avenue. On 21 February, the first day of the Battle of Verdun, the Germans captured Hill 145, the only ridge-top position still held by the French from the offensives of 1915; the German positions on the ridge gave excellent observation over the positions inherited by the British and made finding sites for artillery appear most difficult. The maze of derelict and active trenches and artillery positions on and behind the ridge turned out to an advantage, because the German artillery lacked the ammunition to bombard every position and many empty ones were hit and repaired as a deception; the vacated French defences on the ridge were considered by the British to be poor, the French having relied on the firepower of the
Second Battle of Artois
The Second Battle of Artois from 9 May – 18 June 1915 was a battle on the Western Front during the First World War. A German-held salient from Reims to Amiens had been formed in 1914, which menaced communications between Paris and northern France. A reciprocal French advance eastwards in Artois could cut the rail lines supplying the German armies between Arras and Reims. French operations in Artois and Alsace from November–December 1914, led General Joseph Joffre and head of Grand Quartier Général, to continue the offensive in Champagne against the German southern rail supply route and to plan an offensive in Artois, against the lines supplying the German armies from the north. Field Marshal Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, co-operated with the French strategy to capture Vimy Ridge, by planning British attacks against Aubers Ridge; the attacks would confront the German 6th Army with a joint offensive on a 70 mi front eastwards into the Douai plain, where an advance of 10–15 mi would cut the railways supplying the German armies as far south as Reims.
The French attacked Vimy Ridge and the British attacked further north in the Battle of Aubers Ridge and the Battle of Festubert. The battle was fought during the German offensive of the Second Battle of Ypres, which the Germans ended to reinforce the Artois front; the initial French attack broke through and captured Vimy Ridge but reserve units were not able to reinforce the troops on the ridge, before German counter-attacks forced them back about half-way to their jumping-off points. The British attack at Aubers Ridge was a costly failure and two German divisions in reserve were diverted south against the Tenth Army; the British offensive was suspended until 15 May, when the Battle of Festubert began and French attacks from 15 May – 15 June was concentrated on the flanks, to create jumping-off points for a second general offensive, which began on 16 June. The British attacks at Festubert forced the Germans back 1.9 mi and diverted reserves from the French but the French gained little more ground, despite firing double the amount of artillery ammunition, at the cost of many casualties to both sides.
On 18 June, the main offensive was stopped and local attacks were ended on 25 June. The French offensive had advanced the front line about 1.9 mi towards Vimy Ridge, on an 5.0 mi front. The failure to break through, despite the expenditure of 2,155,862 shells and the loss of 102,500 casualties, led to recriminations against Joffre. A lull followed until the Second Battle of Champagne, the Third Battle of Artois and the Battle of Loos in September. After the Marne campaign in 1914, French offensives in Artois, at St. Mihiel had been costly failures, leading to criticism of the leadership of General Joseph Joffre, within the army and the French government; the President, Raymond Poincaré, arranged several meetings between Joffre and the Council of Ministers in March and April 1915, where reports of the failed operations were debated a condemnation of the April offensive against the St. Mihiel salient. Joffre retained undivided command and freedom to conduct operations as he saw fit, given at the beginning of the war but was instructed to consult with his subordinates.
The French government accepted that the task facing Joffre and the army was far more difficult than expected, after the winter fighting in Artois and Champagne. Despite costly mistakes, many lessons had been learned, methods had been changed and more weapons and equipment necessary for siege warfare had been delivered; the offensives had failed in their objectives but had become more powerful and better organised, except for the bungled effort at St. Mihiel; the greater amount of heavy artillery gave grounds for confidence, that further attacks could break the German front and liberate France. In late 1914, General Erich Von Falkenhayn, Chief of the General Staff of the German army Oberste Heeresleitung since 14 September, had reinforced the Fourth Army and attacked westwards, parallel to the North Sea coast, culminating in the Battle of the Yser and the First Battle of Ypres, when open warfare in the west ended. Eight new divisions were formed in February 1915 and another fourteen in April, which were formed into an 11th Army, intended for an offensive in France.
Despite the French battle in Champagne in February, Falkenhayn was forced to cancel his plans to attack in the west and send the 11th Army to the Eastern Front, to support the Austro-Hungarian army, which has lost more than 2,000,000 casualties by March 1915. Nine divisions were transferred to Russia in May, which reduced the Westheer to 97 divisions against 110–112 larger French and Belgian divisions; the western armies had c. 4,000 modern and 350 obsolete field guns, 825 modern and 510 obsolete heavy guns and ten super-heavy howitzers. A reserve of 276 heavy guns and mortars was being prepared; the OHL had 7 1⁄2 divisions in reserve, with the 115th divisions behind the 6th Army. Indications of an attack in Artois had been detected but not signs of a general offensive on the Western Front; the Westheer was forced to remain on the defensive, except for limited attacks in Flanders in the Second Battle of Ypres and in the Argonne west of Verdun until August, to cut the main rail line from Paris to Verdun.
In memoranda issued on 7 and 25 January 1915, Falkenhayn ordered that the existing positions of the German armi
The Great Retreat known as the Retreat from Mons, is the name given to the long withdrawal to the River Marne, in August and September 1914, by the British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Army, Allied forces on the Western Front in the First World War, after their defeat by the armies of the German Empire at the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons. A counter-offensive by the Fifth Army, with some assistance from the BEF at the First Battle of Guise, failed to end the German advance and the Franco-British retreat continued to and beyond the Marne. From 5 to 12 September, the First Battle of the Marne ended the Allied retreat and forced the German armies to retire towards the Aisne river and fight the First Battle of the Aisne. Reciprocal attempts to outflank the opposing armies to the north known as the Race to the Sea followed; the Battle of the Frontiers is a general name for all of the operations of the French armies until the Battle of the Marne. A series of encounter battles began between the German and Belgian armies, on the German-French frontier and in southern Belgium on 4 August 1914.
The Battle of Mulhouse was the first French offensive of World War I against Germany. The French captured Mulhouse until forced out by a German counter-attack on 11 August and fell back toward Belfort; the main French offensive, the Battle of Lorraine, began with the Battles of Morhange and Sarrebourg advances by the First Army on Sarrebourg and the Second Army towards Morhange. Château Salins near Morhange was Sarrebourg the next day; the German 6th and 7th armies counter-attacked on 20 August, the Second Army was forced back from Morhange and the First Army was repulsed at Sarrebourg. The German armies were stopped to the east of the city. To the south the French retook Mulhouse on 19 August and withdrew. On 24 August at the Battle of the Mortagne, a limited German offensive in the Vosges, the Germans managed a small advance, before a French counter-attack retook the ground. By 20 August a German counter-offensive in Lorraine had begun and the German 4th and 5th Armies advanced through the Ardennes on 19 August towards Neufchâteau.
An offensive by French Third and Fourth armies through the Ardennes began on 20 August, in support of the French invasion of Lorraine. The opposing armies met in the French mistook the German troops for screening forces. On 22 August the Battle of the Ardennes began with French attacks, which were costly to both sides and forced the French into a disorderly retreat late on 23 August; the Third Army recoiled towards Verdun, pursued by the 5th Army and the Fourth Army retreated to Sedan and Stenay. Mulhouse was recaptured again by German forces and the Battle of the Meuse 26–28 August), caused a temporary halt of the German advance. Liège was occupied by the Germans on 7 August, the first units of the BEF landed in France and French troops crossed the German frontier. On 12 August, the Battle of Haelen was fought by German and Belgian cavalry and infantry and was a Belgian defensive success; the BEF completed its move of four divisions and a cavalry division to France on 16 August, as the last Belgian fort of the Position fortifiée de Liège surrendered.
The Belgian government withdrew from Brussels on 18 August and the German army attacked the Belgian field army at the Battle of the Gete. Next day the Belgian army began to retire towards Antwerp. Further west, the Fifth Army had concentrated on the Sambre by 20 August, facing north either side of Charleroi and east towards the Belgian fortress of Namur. On the left, the Cavalry Corps linked with the BEF at Mons. By 20 August, the Fifth Army had begun to concentrate on a 40 km front along the Sambre, centred on Charleroi and extending east to the Belgian fortress of Namur. On the left flank, the Sordet Cavalry Corps linked the Fifth Army to the British Expeditionary Force at Mons. General Joseph Joffre ordered Lanrezac to attack across the Sambre but this attack was forestalled by the German 2nd Army on the morning of 21 August, which crossed the Sambre, establishing two bridgeheads which the French, lacking artillery, were unable to reduce. Bülow attacked again on 22 August with three corps against the entire Fifth Army front.
Fighting continued on 23 August. The German 3rd Army crossed the Meuse and launched an attack against the French right flank, held by I Corps; the French delivered a counter-attack. The Fifth Army was confronted by the German 2nd armies from the east and the north. Before the Fifth Army could attack over the Sambre the 2nd Army attacked at the Battle of Charleroi and at Namur on 21 August; the 3rd Army crossed the Meuse and attacked the French right flank and on 23 August, the Fifth Army began a retirement southwards to avoid encirclement. The Battle of Mons was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, the BEF attempted to hold the line of the Mons–Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st Army. During 23 August the Germans concentrated on the British at the salient formed by a loop in the canal. At 9:00 a.m. the Germans attempted to cross four bridges over the canal at the salient. By the afternoon the British position in the salient had become untenable. At 3:00 p.m. the 3rd Divisi
Marshal Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch was a French general and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. An aggressive reckless commander at the First Marne and Artois campaigns of 1914–1916, Foch became the Allied Commander-in-Chief in late March 1918 in the face of the all-out German spring offensive, which pushed the Allies back using fresh soldiers and new tactics that trenches could not contain, he coordinated the French and American efforts into a coherent whole, deftly handling his strategic reserves. He launched a war-winning counterattack. In November 1918, Marshal Foch accepted the German cessation of hostilities and was present at the armistice of 11 November. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, Foch's XX Corps participated in the brief invasion of Germany before retreating in the face of a German counter-attack and blocking the Germans short of Nancy. Ordered west to defend Paris, Foch's prestige soared as a result of the victory at the Marne, for which he was credited as a chief protagonist while commanding the French Ninth Army.
He was promoted again to Assistant Commander-in-Chief for the Northern Zone, a role which evolved into command of Army Group North, in which role he was required to cooperate with the British forces at Ypres and the Somme. At the end of 1916 owing to the disappointing results of the latter offensive and owing to wartime political rivalries, Foch was transferred to Italy. Foch was appointed "Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies" on 26 March 1918 following being the Commander-in-Chief of Western Front with title Généralissime in 1918, he played a decisive role in halting a renewed German advance on Paris in the Second Battle of the Marne, after which he was promoted to Marshal of France. Addington says, "to a large extent the final Allied strategy which won the war on land in Western Europe in 1918 was Foch's alone."On 11 November 1918, Foch accepted the German request for an armistice. Foch advocated peace terms that would make Germany unable to pose a threat to France again, he considered the Treaty of Versailles too lenient on Germany and as the Treaty was being signed on 28 June 1919, he declared: "This is not a peace.
It is an armistice for twenty years". His words proved prophetic: the Second World War started twenty years and 65 days later. Ferdinand Foch was born at Tarbes in the Hautes-Pyrénées region, his Germanic first name reflects the ancestry of his father, a civil servant from Comminges whose lineage traces to the Alsace region in the 18th century. He attended school at Tarbes and the Jesuit College at Saint-Étienne, his brother became a Jesuit priest, which may have hindered Foch's rise in the French Army since the Republican government of France was anti-clerical. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, the 19 year-old Foch enlisted in the French 4th Infantry Regiment, which did not take part in combat, he remained in the army after the war. In 1871, he entered the École Polytechnique. In 1873, he received his commission as an artillery officer and served as a lieutenant in the 24th Artillery Regiment in Tarbes, despite not having had time to complete his course due to the shortage of junior officers.
In 1876, he attended the cavalry school of Saumur to train as a mounted artillery officer. On 30 September 1878 he became a captain and arrived in Paris on 24 September 1879 as an assistant in the Central Personnel Service Depot of the artillery. In 1885 Foch undertook a course at the École Supérieure de Guerre where he was an instructor from 1895 to 1901, he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1898, colonel in 1903. As a colonel he became regimental commander of the 35th Artillery Regiment at Vannes. An short man, Foch was known for his physical strength and his sharp mind who always maintained a dignified bearing. Foch was a quiet man, known for saying little and when he did speak, it was a volley of words accompanied by much gesturing of his hands that required some knowledge of him to understand properly. One of Foch's favorite phrases was "Pas de protocole!" as he preferred to be approachable by all officers. Foch's only rigidity was always taking his meals at noon and at 7:30. In 1907 Foch was promoted to Général de Brigade, in the same year he assumed command of the French War College.
He held this position until 1911, the year. Foch influenced General Joseph Joffre when he drafted the French plan of campaign in 1913. In 1913 he took command of XX Corps at Nancy, he had held this appointment for one year when he led XX Corps into battle in August 1914. Foch was acclaimed as "the most original military thinker of his generation", he became known for his critical analyses of the Franco-Prussian and Napoleonic campaigns and of their relevance to military operations in the new twentieth Century. His re-examination of France's defeat in 1870 was among the first of its kind. At the College, Foch was a professor of military history and general tactics while becoming the French theorist on offensive strategies. During his time as an instructor Foch created renewed interest in French military history, inspired confidence in a new class of French officers, brought about "the intellectual and moral regeneration of the French Army", his thinking on military doctrine was shaped by the Clausewitzian philosophy uncommon in France, that "the will to conquer is the first condition of victory."