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2nd Battle of the Marne

2nd Battle of the Marne
By Euronews
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1918: July 15


The second Battle of the Marne was the last major German offensive of the First World War.

Convinced that the war could be won by an attack in Flanders, a region that stretches from the North of France into Belgium, German Chief-of-staff Erich Ludendorff lured Allied forces from Belgium to the Marne in a colossal diversionary attack. On the day of the offensive’s launch, 23 German divisions attacked the French Fourth army to the east of Reims, while 17 divisions attacked the French Sixth Army in the west. In attacking Reims this way Ludendorff aimed to divide and conquer the French army. The attack to the east proved to be a failure and was abandoned on the first day.

With the Germans having ultimately failed to break through, the Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch authorised a counter-attack on July 18. His aim was to eliminate the German presence among the French lines. In this he was entirely successful. By July 18 the German push had been halted and the German soldiers retreated. The Allies counter-attacked, pushing the Germans back to pre-Spring offensive positions by July 22.

The Germans (168,000) suffered almost twice as many casualties as the French (95,000), with the British losing 13,000 men and the US 12,000. Considering the disastrous result in the Marne, Ludendorff postponed, and then entirely cancelled the planned Flanders offensive.

Main picture: cc German Federal Archives under a CC licence

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