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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dritan Nazeraj

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  1. Now let's leave jokes aside. Read from page 40/41 this book- you can find loads of info : https://archive.org/stream/marchonparisbatt00klucuoft#page/40/mode/1up You can see the difference between the original and modified plan. You can see the hiper cautious stance of Von Bulow and the missing opportunities. The efforts of Kluck to change his mind in vain and the idea to cover the gap with a sizeable force while most of it would advance southwest. Even with his narrow plan there still was a chance to force BEF on the 26-th retreat southeast and not south. On the evening of Aug 23 though fully aware of the clash with BEF von Bulow ordered the German Cavalry corps (3 full divisions) from Tournai (the only force allowed on the original course) to march on the 24-th northwest toward Courtrai/Koortrijk without consulting the First Army with whom the cavalry was fighting. Once Kluck understood the size of Brits and their staunch resistance he wished to advance his cavalry on the 24-th toward Denain (Denain not Douai) southwest of Valenciennes in conjunction with an infantry coros marching directly on Valenciennes where a territorial division was situated (the 84-th). A move which might have annihilated this division hit in front and flank and what is more important place the cavalry corps in a position west of the Brits even if they would retreat from Mons. So on the 25-th starting from Bouchain- Denain this corps (treble the size of British cavalry) could march south toward and beyond Cambrai - more then the British infantry could walk and so on the 26-th the British force would have been forced to retreat toward Origny on the Oise rather then south toward St Quentin to reach Noyon even if Smith Dorrien would not be so stupid but would start to retreat in the morning. His southern drive would have been cut forcing him first in the wake of the British First corps and then together southeast. This means at the rear of the retreating French Fifth Army - exactly as Germans wished. This definitely would have made the retreat of both armies a mess. While the right wing infantry corps would have seized Cambrai to protect the cavalry rear,the other three corps chasing Brits. In the afternoon of 26 after repeated pleas from from John French Joffre sent his instantly sent 61&62 reserve divisions from Arras toward Cambrai(where they would meet the II corps in this case followed on it's right rear by the IV-th German reserve corps ) No doubt they and the 84-th (and some three more in the following 2-3 days) to divert Kluck - without knowing his next direction was southwest anyway. He kept thinking this bait diverted him temporarily from Brits. Hence his assumption when Kluck would finish them he would be back directly on Brits. Hence his wish for the Guise counterattack to prolong the British rest and make them fit again by offering his Fifth Army as the next bait. Now tbh had this scenario (i.e. the German Cavalry not distracted toward Courtrai/Koortrijk ,but marching directly on the 24-th on Denain - Bouchain and then to Cambrai in the 25-th so finally able on the 26-th in the morning to interrupt the British southern course- French cavalry ordered west would be directly east of German force messed with British columns) been realized the astute Kluck might well have seized the new chance to march south directly toward LA Fere following the right bank of Oise with most of his force leaving those two corps at Cambrai to chase the french forces sent by Joffre - enough to secure his back. I dare not imagine what might have happened but we may try: The Brits from Origny on the 27-th would march south on the east bank of Oise while the cavalry of Sordet would try to stop Marwitz together with British Cavalry. But the three corps of infantry following Marwitz would ensure both the bottling beyond Oise as well as the needed punch for the cavalry. So by the 28-th Germans would seize the Noyon -Tergnier line and not Brits further East but parallel. It might well happen Joffre would have ordered his next couple of reserve divisions on that line to finally stop Kluck. Still,this would mean automatically the area west of Noyon would be free with just those 3-4 French divisions. And if Moltke had not weakened his Second and Third Armies clearly Kluck and Bulow were in a position to move laterally a couple of corps and in Aug 30 from Noyon- Roye area with four corps and his cavalry could march southwest having bottled the Franco Brits east and south of Oise. But his Fifth Army (of Joffre) having Brits further South could not retreat so easily and the mess would have been huge - first the British force had to move southwest toward Aisne and then the Fifth. While Bulow and the Third would punish him on the northern side. So many what ifs Philip.
  2. Now Philip let's clarify a few more things : First,The Battle of Mons. Entente (read Britain) tells everyone that the German force (the I army)was diverted from it's course under order by Kaiser "to walk over the little contemptible british army" and that the presumptuous German Army in the morning of August 23 walked shoulder to shoulder full of confidence only to be mown down by the British force,badly mauling it and stopping it. Credible sources testify that during the battle angels appeared who circled over the troops carrying longbows like those of Agincourt. Alas,the retreat of those bloody French on their right made it impossible to resist further there so the British force retreated slowly south,stopping after some hours but unfortunately the French defeat became known in full details so early in the morning the BEF had to retreat to Maubege - Bavai line ready to fight again with increased confidence. The badly mauled German force advanced slowly and did not hinder the British force. While there on the evening of 24 it was clear the French Fifth Army would retreat more and more and the force was also risked from the West by an outflanking move. So the retreat was resumed on the 25. The German Army took heart and pursued vigorously and while the I corps escaped south with intrepidity from the growing danger the 3 divisions of the west gave them a bloody nose at Le Cateau and at the last moment they bravely escaped while the German army given the huge losses was unable to pursue and was forced to stop and rest during the afternoon. Yes,sure,nice story to show to children Now to the real facts: As I explained in prior posts the revised Shlieffen Plan underlined a move toward Tournai and then head in a more southerly course to Douai. The Second Army was supposed to walk parallel with it north of the Sambre (it's left flank on the river) toward Binche and Mons while the Third was supposed to cross at Dinant and march south of Sambre and then all the three armies would start the outflanking wheel while the Fourth and Fifth would resist French attacks from Sedan - Stenay line. Now as Moltke the Old says no plan survives the first contact with the enemy. Lanrezac (the French commander of the Fifth Army - it's pre eminent general) finally convinced Joffre to take seriously the German build up north of Meuse at Liege and started on the 15-th the move Northwest to Sambre (Charleroi- Namur),being replaced by the reserve Fourth Army - initially with just 3 corps (6 divisions ) but strengthened with 6 more divisions from Lorraine. Germans of course noted this and acted accordingly. At the initial stage both sides acted on the blind and rumours were in plenty. The location of the British force was a cause for concern so Reece missions from Cavalry were always on the search for it. So,after learning the move of the french FIFTH army the plan was changed - the German Second Army would wheel north of Namur (attacking it as planed) and pivoting on it would fall directly on Sambre from the North while 1-2 days later the Third would hit it's flank south of Namur to get to the rear of the incoming French Fifth Army. So the planned move of the Second Army toward Mons was cancelled for a southerly course. But at the same time the German First Army was supposed to march toward Tournai - inevitably a gap would open between Mons and (west of) Charleroi. Thinking of this the German commander of the Second who at this stage was overall commander but not in the quality of an army group - simply as the senior of the two commanders entrusted with coordination. Of course he was worried for his own ARMY - he was not a level above both armies with a wider view with a reserve at hand. So,not knowing precise French strength and worried about the probable gap that would open (as explained in a prior post) he opted for safety - ordering the First Army to change direction on the 21-st toward Mons both as a guarantee for the flank of his own ARMY as well if the chance would arise outflank the French Fifth Army and force it to retreat south toward the west bank of Meuse which prospect of course was the actual goal of the Shlieffen plan - namely to force a sizeable force in the rear of French forces further East,envelop and destroy them so the way would be open after such a mega victory to march on Paris etc. He did not know the location of the British force at the time and assumed it would come on the left of the french FIFTH army - precisely as it happened. The United armies might hit his army on the flank and force it back toward North of Namur - thus isolating the German First Army further southwest and defeat it later. While he could not predict the scale of success of the Third Army on Dinant. Which of course would spell disaster for Germany. Open a map and check where is Tournai- Douai (the direction of the First Army ),Mons and then Charleroi,Namur and Dinant. No doubt a move from Maubege north at Mons and then Nivelle would materialize just this. Now once again think about the general reserve which Moltke rushed to Lorraine so fast (August 15). Had he kept cool nerves and send 2/3 of it (equal to two corps ) toward Liege- Huy and then to Nivelle as a general reserve at the hand of the two northernmost armies by August 20 when the new plan was created it would be at Meuse in the mentioned line (transport via railway up to the Meuse since Germans repaired fast the line to Liege ). So of course the original course of the First Army could be kept by directing those two corps in the presumed gap (covered until they could arrive around 23-24 at most) by one corps from Kluck who could keep marching the rest as planned with perfect safety for the link between the two armies. So,to get back on the theme - it was Bulow not the Kaiser who directed the First Army at Mons out of need. The Germans marched shoulder to shoulder. Lol. The move of Bulow (protested by Kluck btw) restricted the five German corps in an area of some 40 km - one corps for 7-8 km and one division for 3-4 km. 18,000+ men per 4 km - almost 5000 per km,or 4-5 per meter linear. Sure it would seem that way The actual fact is that Kluck on the evening of 22-d ordered his corps to attack weighing his right in order if possible to force the British left flank to march toward Maubege and lock it there. He left only one corps east of Mons (the IX-th) facing the British I corps of Douglas Haig (another butcher of South Africa ) with the duty to demonstrate but not push hard so as to pin down in place the British force until the outflanking wheel on the right would force the left toward Maubege. So a much different duty in a more wide area. Strange, those stories of shoulder to shoulder and angels over Brits did not come from this side but from the tightly packed left wing of BEF Is it because the area of maneuver was restricted from above or because Germans were dumb? Now the German First Army was not just beyond Mons but some 10-15 km more North - so of course the infantry marched first while naturally the artillery as usual lagged behind. So what is surprising that at the start the German force had to advance against a prepared and entrenched force without artillery cover? What happened next? After the initial rush the dumb german commanders waited for the artillery and by noon started the methodical assault How long lasted the resistance of the British Rambos thereafter? 4 hours Then they retreated beyond the range of German guns in late afternoon. And btw German sources say around 3000 casualties not 5000,not that bad for 1600 for the British after a water hindrance and entrenched Now the badly mauled German force advanced very cautiously after the British lesson. Sure,because the British carried their troops and guns by swimming and not by first building pontoon bridges Why would Kluck risk his infantry again without the cover of artillery? Now during the 24-th the brits retreated undisturbed while German Army proceeded slowly. Sure Now a 160,000 strong force passes such a narrow ground in a matter of minutes And while the British First corps could march through western oiuskirts of Maubege under the protection of it's guns the pursuing IX corps of Von Quast had to avoid it and march in echelon after the Third corps further west beyond the range of Maubege guns. Since the dividing line between the German armies passed exactly just west of Maubege. But hey,this corps which did not fight at all one day prior was so badly mauled it could not pursue But strange, this very corps on the morrow prospered so fast that by evening almost killed Haig with a heart attack at Landrecies So scared was the butcher of women and Boer children that he run overnight uncovering Smith Dorrien's right and the French left The later even more fool contrary to orders did not retreat as ordered but offered battle, a battle which shattered BEF for the next 10 days All hail propaganda
  3. You may rightfully ask :ok but the French may have made extra moves to counter this scenario. The hard fact is no,they could not for the next few days. Up to August 23 all was well for Joffre - he got sobber during the night - his Second Army at Lorraine had just noticed a renewed German advance (at Charmes Gap ),his central Armies were retreating at Meuse, his northern Fifth Army was retreating without even waiting a formal approval lol And Brits were starting to realize the true strength of the First Army. On August 24 he started the moves by ordering the fiest transfers. When Guise was ordered (Aug 27) Joffre acted on the assumption the German Second and Third Army were full and not weakened. Even if he might have guessed/sensed this (i.e. that Moltke would not have weakened his Second and Third Armies ) he had no other course open. The alternative was to march southwest rapidly toward Tergnier Laon to close immediately with the Brits at Noyon Tergnier line. A side effect would be the retreat of the left wing of the Foch detachment (5 divisions at Aug 29)- the front would not be shortened by a move southwest of course- might even create a gap. And since he would delay the clash due to the perceived stronger german force then the Fifth Army could handle ,wouldn't this mean he had to bring extra forces for the clash further South? From where would come the extra force? Could his Center help more? Nope,it was already reduced by 2 divisions given to the creating Foch detachment - leaving 18 divisions against 21 German ones. Offering only temporary checks once Meuse was crossed (Signy at 27,Rethel And Stenay at 29). If he would weaken his Center more it would crack. So the only solution was from Lorraine - Verdun - Alsace forces already on the march (since no doubt only Jesus could bring in two days(that is within evening of 29) more divisions from the East - like 150 km+ away,but it happened Joffre was an atheist )- since Foch detachment had already a planned 3 divisions force on the way, the only solution was to take one of the divisions earmarked for the Sixth of Manoury at Amiens lol So easing Kluck's duty rather then make it harder. So Philip let us assume the best probable move from Joffre - namely that he after sensing the non slackened german pressure at his Center would regardless of the risk involved retreat some 40 km more south and southwest to close up with the Brits WITHOUT ADDING EXTRA DIVISIONS FOR HIS FOCH DETACHMENT- after all it was not the all out counteroffensive so he would make do with what he had and once giving Germans a check he would retreat further South and in the meantime would add the extra divisions needed. And on the Line Noyon-Tergnier - Laon and east to Rethel accept full battle on the 30(distance between Guise positions and the new line less then 40 km- more then possible for the German force to close with in 27,28 ,29 August ) But didn't John French had made it clear he could not fight for several days? Could Joffre accept full battle with such an uncertain factor on his left? In the actual course of events in the Afternoon of 29 the Brits retreated while the closest German division was at Ham. Since of course Joffre on the 27-th did not know the course of Kluck he of course had to make the best assumption on next German moves - which is he (Kluck) after smashing for the next couple of days his Territorials(4 divisions) and the extra 1-2 he could bring to push them at the line Albert- Bray- Chaulnes (which actually hapenned - and Joffre knew it would happen of course) on the 29 August ,leaving say a couple of corps and two cavalry divisions would use his other 3 infantry corps and a cavalry division to march south toward Ham toward the British line so as to be able to hit together with Bulow on the 30-th. Read above - in the actual course without the slightest pressure from Germans (unless we call a threat some patrols ) in late afternoon of 29 August the Brits abandoned the Oise line at Noyon fearing this patrols were the prelude of a much stronger force hitting full strength on the morrow. Are we to assume John French would have had balls with 6 first rate German divisions coming directly at him? But let us assume this new Wellington would somehow remember the past deeds and hell bent in avenging the "poor little Belgium "(of course he was just there in South Africa, where together with his fellow criminal Kitchener slaughtered no less then 46,000 souls- boers and blacks alike - in concentration camps,but in order to repent this chivalrous guy would repay his debt to God by saving poor little Belgium ) would actually find the courage to fight. Which were the chances his mauled force would successfully resist this onslaught on the 30 August while on his right no help would come (since the full force of 10 divisions of the Second Army and 2 from the Third would crush on the weaker 13 French Fifth Army ) while on his left were the equally powerless 5-6 divisions of D'Amade/Manoury held at bay by two German corps ? Since Philip it happens the Oise line at Noyon -Tergnier is dominated by hills on the northern side of the river - that is the German side whose artillery would have had a field day against the much weaker British Artillery (38 guns lost only at Le Cateau while of course they did not have the same heavy artillery like Germans ). To advance on the hills and give battle from there would mean to prolong the line on the right - who was going to cover this extra line? The logical answer my friend is that in this scenario France may well have lost it's war. While the rest of his force would be busy German First Army would have smashed the Brits once again as at Le Cateau and disperse them south,capturing thousands this time,outflanking the Fifth Army and forcing it to retreat under pressure from the Second Army and since only 2 divisions showed up at 31August -1 Sept for Manoury and the little time available (4 days - 27-31 August ) to back up the fleeing Brits Kluck stood every chance to eat it like a snack around Crepyen Valois south of Aisne on Sept 1 and send it full speed inside Paris Camp together with the other 5-6 divisions further west chased by two German corps. Since Philip try as he might up to Sept 2 just 5 divisions could Joffre bring except his Territorials. And this in some 8 days from the start of his transfers since at the same time had to pump 3 divisions more for his Center (his Territorials also were scattered on Aug 23 so he had to bring them together too). By Sept 4 he succeded to bring two more for Manoury in Paris(making it 9 divisions and a brigade) and be able to start the Marne (yet even with two extra brought on evening of Sept 7 Manoury was almost beaten by Kluck). Brits were out of the game and Joffre knew it - it was one of his main reasons to fight more North with Kluck busy meanwhile with the sacrifice that Joffre ordered (his poor Territorials ) so he would not have had the time to reach Brits. One has to admire Joffre for his clear thinking. He, with perfect quiet, calculated and though his plan did not work as intended he did reach his goal of changing the course of German armies which ultimately led to Marne - no doubt helped by the foolishness of Moltke who weakened his Second and Third Armies. But everything points out Joffre acted without knowing this. I read somewhere only on August 30 the French learned the German Second Army they faced had only 7 infantry divisions (an eighth joined from Maubege shortly). Joffre made a masterpiece with Guise. His initial plan was to hit Kluck in flank in the morning of 29 when he assumed the First Army would have brushed aside the weak opposition he offered and would be marching south toward Brits via Ham. So Kluck would stop and be busy with the french FIFTH army - he might even transfer forces from his right wing (facing his Territorials ) during the 29 and hit full strength from St Quentin toward East and Southeast on the 30 -th (ideally) while his Fifth Army would retreat behind Oise and give them a bloody nose before retreating on the 31 at Laon with the Second Army of Bulow coming from the North (blocked on the 29 and 30 by a slow retreat). So Kluck would be busy until Sept 1 to hit the Brits - giving them two extra days to rest. It did not work like that,his western attack was blocked but he mauled the Second Army and happily Kluck was too far away west so could not profit from British defection in 29-30 August. And at this time he learns what Moltke had done. He had his chance gifted by Moltke and seized it. That's it. The only different move by the French was a probable faster move by 2-3 days of the two extra divisions which arrived on Sept 7. So they would be there by Sept 5- when Kluck would be already at Lower Seine linked solidly with the Second round Paris and defending behind Marne with a bigger force
  4. You should read the memories of von Kluck - he gives a good account of his moves based on documents of the time (daily orders and telegrams) - of course defending himself but facts are facts and can not be denied. And the hard facts are: 1. On Aug 26 the High Command made him independent from Von Bulow. 2. His standing instructions on August 28 were to march southwest toward Amiens - Compiegne line west of Oise. 3. His direction since late afternoon of Aug 26 on the aftermath of me Cateau was southwest while Brits retreat real fast south so contact was lost thereafter. 4. After being notified by Bulow on late evening of Aug 28 about the impending French offensive he lent one division (of course he knew about the removal of five divisions ) as back up toward St Quentin while the other of the IX corps moved on Ham on the 29 (some 20 km from the resting Brits at Noyon - Tergnier line). 5. His offer to move southeast to help him (Bulow) on the 29 was turned down by the later thinking he had enough. 6. On 29 First Army kept marching southwest reaching Roye -Amiens (almost) line and next morning he kept moving toward Avre river (Montdidier -Amiens ) and found out the French units had retreated. 7. Predicting the turn southeast he gave preliminary orders at 9:30 and after the request of Bulow(who also stated he would rest during the 31 too and March again only on Sept 1) arrived at noon he gave the order to switch southeast toward Noyon- Compiegne. 8. On the morrow the German High Command approved the change and stated it was in conjunction with it's wishes. His main units at the time were at Montdidier - Amiens line with the IX corps southeast of Roye (one division- the other was released from Bulow and was marching toward Noyon). So,it is clear the decision to turn southeast was taken forced by circumstances ( i.e. the French success at Guise). Of course the High Command approved and ordered it (slightly later) because it was the only alternative left or stop the invasion for a couple of days - enough to allow French to recover. The keeping of the course Southwest for the first army while the Second was resting (and the Third blocked too) was way too much a risk -even as it was on Aug 30 the connection was tenuous - the main masses some 50 km away in a straight line covered by only one corps and two cavalry divisions. Had Kluck kept his course Southwest on the evening of Aug 31 the distance would have grown to over 80 km - a massive gap inviting disaster. However disorganized might be the Franco Brits with the two armies one at Beauvais or so and the other well north of Laon and for the more well known the Fifth Army stronger then the Second it is clear Joffre would have seized the chance on 31 to offer a shoulder to the German Second Army at Laon while transferring say 3-4 divisions west toward Noyon and Compiegne together with what he was bringing from the East to strike west on the rear of the First Army marching south. Nope,it does not work like that my friend. Only if the Second Army and the Third (and by extension the rest more east) could keep on the heels of the retreating French it was possible to keep the same course for the few next days until Aisne was passed and when the French Fifth Army would be retreating (which of course it would to keep level with the advancing First Army and with the retreating Brits) toward Marne make a sudden move southwest with the rest in echelon taking Joffre by surprise long enough to assure Marne would be reached and the Second close enough to Paris to cooperate with say a couple of corps from the First while the other 4 would by proximately Sept 4 reach the lower Seine from Pontoise westward to Giverny and then start circling round Paris. The French until Sept 4 (evening ) had brought from East only 7 infantry divisions for the Sixth Army and except that had only the 4 Territorial divisions of D'Amade who were badly damaged - so damaged that in actual course of events on Sept 1 they were pulled out of the line (together with the cavalry of Sordet two days later) toward Giverny- Rouen and did not participate at all on the Marne.
  5. It's the usual fog of war. The weakening of the Second and Third (German) Armies on August 25 may well not have been a factor at all in the decision of Joffre to make the Battle Guise - actually they captured a document from a German officer on Aug 30 and found out they had faced just 6-7 infantry divisions of the Second Army. The best way to identify a unit is through prisoners - and if in say Aug 26 the French did not seize any from the German Guards Reserve corps sent one day prior to the Eastern Front what? Were the French assumed to think it was pulled out forever to go in Russian front? Of course not - they had to wait several days to ascertain for certain the fact. Neither side had breached the code of the other. After the initial discredited assumptions on German force the French were wary to conclude for certain precise German strength - since they had proven to have way more corps then they assumed at the start would they not be wary to claim at the end end of August that Germans after those two extra Landwehr divisions appearing in Lorraine they had no more? Of course not - they do thought about other surprises. Let me give you an example: On Sept 5 in the Verdun sector the 6-th German corps had one brigade close to Revigny while the rest of the corps was north of Verdun - some 40 km distance in a straight line. Could the French ascertain for certain on the morrow if they caught a prisoner from this detached brigade that the 6-th corps was at Revigny? Imagine yourself the fog of war. Why am I prolonging here? To make it clear some moves would have happened exactly as it happened regardless of changes from the other side. So,the all important Battle of Guise in my opinion would have happened exactly as it did with or without the recall of two corps from Moltke - too short a time (from 25 to 27 when Joffre decided) for the French to 'be sure they were removed for good and the other factors were such as to force him do that battle with or without those two corps. Since with or without them Brits had had enough and had to be relieved temporarily from pressure, with or without those two corps the far western flank was weak and the attention of Kluck had to be removed from his actual course. With or without them he had to assume Kluck would jump on the gap left open by Brits to march directly on Paris. With or without them his Center had escaped the worst scenario(i.e. The split at Givet - Fumay on 23-24 August and the inevitable outflanking of his Fourth Army ). So,had Moltke not commited the error of removing two infantry corps (4 divisions ) and a cavalry division the inevitable battle of Guise (from the french point of view ) would have offered a much more different scenario. It would have been a german victory and his Second Army together with the right wing of the German Third Army would have first repelled the French counter attack on 29 and on the morrow would have given immediate chase against the retreating French with very bad effects on the French. His stopping (of Bulow) allowed a quiet retreat- the German Second Army seized only 4 guns,16 machine guns and 1700 prisoners on the aftermath since no doubt cavalry alone and some patrols could not do more. And in a stern chase? No doubt several times more.
  6. To get back to the theme- of course we never know the outcome, we make assumptions. I have read several accounts and battles,have also read something about the German doctrine, do have in mind the cumulative effects of the battles that is why I think it was the bad application which screw it. When I analyze probable courses I always keep in mind the most sound and correct decision of each side not dumb moves. The war of maneuver is so interesting. When one judges the Shlieffen Plan campaign he has to keep on mind a few well known facts: 1. German units had a better training and quality. One to one in open field with few exceptions it was proved time and again they won against French or British units. 2. The Cumulative effect of the repeated clashes between the First Army and BEF between August 23-26 (ending with Le Cateu ) had such an effect on BEF that it's commander time and again refused to engage in serious battle before a good rest and reinforcements. Loads of authors have pointed this out- even for Marne it took direct appeals from Joffre in person and from Kitchener to convince him and his initial moves were slow and cautious. 3. When one speaks about French superiority in railways during the campaign he speaks in relative - it's not that the total transfers from East to west (20 infantry divisions and 3 cavalry divisions ) was done overnight. No,it took time and was done according to perceived needs and threats. It started on August 15 with the initial transfer of 3 divisions from Lorraine toward Mezieres,then a second batch of 3 divisions 2-3 days later from the same army in Lorraine - this 6 divisions used to strengthen the French Fourth Army which replaced the French Fifth Army which marched from Sedan- Mezieres northwest toward Sambre river on August 15. Then after the Battle of the Frontiers Joffre transfered the rest both from the 4,3,2,1 armies and from his limited central reserve or units coming from Italian sector. The last unit to be transfered was a full corps from the First Army of Dubail on Sept 10 - after Marne - which arrived in time at Aisne for the start of the Race to the Sea. 3. Several transfers were not exactly in the West - several divisions (some 5) for the Army of Foch in the center (the other 3-4 from the right wing of the Fifth and the left wing of the Fourth),4 divisions for the Fourth and Third from Lorraine and Alzace after Marne had started (evening of Sept 7 a corps for Serrail and evening of Sept 8 another corps of two divisions for the Fourth Army at Vitri) - this 4 divisions replacing 4 divisions from this armies sent on Sept 2 to both Foch and the Sixth of Manoury in Paris. Joffre engaged in some interesting juggling of units. So you have the total of 20 infantry divisions transfered. His transfers were affected by the mass of refugees marching south - hindering his armies. 4. Joffre too had his bias and misunderstandings - after the Battle of the Frontiers he thought it was bad luck and failing commanders the cause not his strategy. He kept doing mistakes too. 5. Info to respective headquarters did not come in record time - as usual it took time to verify a fact. So,a weakening of an army to transfer a unit elsewhere does not mean automatically the other side learned it - they often acted on assumptions and had to keep in mind the other aide might simply have pulled them out for a rest or to use them slightly different but in the same area. So,if say Moltke would transfer a corps from Lorraine (or the other side) it does not mean automatically the French knew it instantly together with precise info where it would go. A weakening in a sector for both sides did not mean automatically an interpretation that x corps was sent elsewhere - no,it very often (and correctly) was interpreted as a rest and refit or a transfer from a wing to the other of the same army. 6.The French had a low opinion for their own reserve divisions let alone territorial ones and both were weaker then a German counterpart.
  7. Phillip, I am sorry if it came a cross to you badly. I am not a native speaker so at times what I post might not sound correct to others. It is not my intention to belittle you- this is a learning site and I love to debate what ifs. I simply had in mind you mentioned not to know the specific tactical moves from both sides,of which I am aware somewhat,that is why I argue against the opinion it was a foregone conclusion. Once again I am sorry if I offended you personally.
  8. Philip,have a look at this map,it is more or less accurate and shows the progress from the end of the Battle of the Frontiers to the eve of the Battle of the Marne showing also the intermediate position at the Battle of the Guise: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_St._Quentin_(1914)#/media/File%3AGerman_and_Allied_positions%2C_23_August_-_5_September_1914.jpg It is clear as the ray of light the much different outcome had Moltke applied correctly the Plan and a proper deployment based on Army Groups (North,Center and South) with a proper distribution of the general reserve. Note: 1. The direction of the First German Army directly south toward Mons rather then southwest toward Tournai in order to turn then south toward Douai (western corps and the Cavalry ). The actual course ordered by Bulow changed the direction on August 21 when the First Army was roughly at Nivelle Aalst west of Brussels facing southwest. 2. The clever one,two attack toward the French Fifth Army, first at the Sambre then from the Third on the morning of August 23 (correcting myself - it was on 23 not 22) on Dinant - a natural strong position but the attack of the Second Army had attracted the French reserves so it succeeded and threatened the main mass of the Fifth Army northwest toward Charleroi. 3. Notice the seam of the french FIFTH and Fourth Army at Fumay,south of Givet. The main mass of respective French armies was northwest of Givet- Fumay and southeast of it toward Neufchateau. South of Dinant up to a point east of Fumay there were only 3-4 French divisions without any of this armies having a reserve - a ditance of some 40 km or so - one for 10+ km,a thin screen. 4. Notice the divergent directions of attack of the french FIFTH and Fourth armies - the first facing north between Charleroi and Namur and the other had the Center and right attacking toward Neufchateau -an 80+ km distance covered if we include the french I corps of D'Esperey North of Dinant (depicted with that short red south of Namur) by some 9 divisions in total together with the First corps as reserve. 5. Now imagine a Central Army Group for Germans with two corps in reserve at the Center of the line between Longwy, Neufchateau and Namur which had the Third (toward Dinant backing the Second ),Fourth and Fifth Army - it is roughly north of Neufchateau (around St - Hubert) ready to march where needed. This three armies had between themselves some 29 divisions in 14 corps plus some 2-3 cavalry divisions. Now also keep in mind that since Aug 15 the French Fifth Army moved north by west from Mezieres toward Charleroi - a move noticed by Germans I assume even for you (who do not appear to understand much the tactics) it is clear the probable scheme: In conformity with the Plan which stated that the Center and South had to retreat in front of a French attack so to entice them away from the main attack in the north around afternoon of Aug 21 when it was clear the French were undertaking a providential offensive toward East the Center and Left of the German Fourth Army and the Fifth should retreat while the reserve of two corps would move on the right in order to attack in conformity with the Third in Aug 23. Notice how thin was the connection between the two French masses. It was certain that this heavy attack on the 23 not simply at Dinant (which the French did hold back using their reserve - The First corps ) but further South at Givet- Fumay and then east at Gedinne (North of Mezieres some 25 km) on the reserveless left wing of the French Fourth Army would have produced a major breach. Check the lines of the Fourth and Fifth German armies in front of the french Fourth and Third - a head on attack - contrary to the usual german doctrine. The French armies with proper retreat would have been east of Neufchateau and at Arlon when the German attack would happen - notice the distance from the probable tip to the German attack. I assume you can understand now in what grave danger of outflanking would be the French Fourth Army split from the Fifth,the later under heavy assault and unable to retreat south to close ranks since the Germans would have interrupted the probable retreat route. So,for several days this armies would retreat in divergent directions forced to do so. While the German Third Army with 4 corps and a cavalry division would pour into the opening gap. Compare this simple obvious moves with the actual course and you can easily understand the difference. Go now to the Guise battle in the middle of the map- you can see the various positions with Brits in retreat. On the very time the French Fifth Army (13 divisions ) countered the weakened Second which only had 7 divisions the German Third weakened by Moltke was countered effectively by the new Foch detachment,unable to help the Second on it's right. The First in the far west at 29-30 smashed the gathering Sixth Army. But the Second and Third were not able to pursue and beat the opposition in front and were blocked by Aug 30 so the only way was to divert the First southeast to make them able to march again. If Moltke had not weakened them (let alone if he had conducted the Ardennes Battle as described above) both the Second and Third would be able to give immediate chase with the extra Five divisions leaving the First German Army free to pursue it's course while the Brits were at that moment out of the game. Do you realize now why the Plan failed? The distance between Kluck's First Army on Aug 30 and Lower Seine is just 120 km - a mere 5 days March against the weak opposition of some 6-7 weak French divisions already badly damaged. I assume you can understand by checking the map that once the Aisne was passed by the pursuing German armies they had it easy to close the gap with the First (who could do the same posting say 3 corps toward Paris ) by marching southwest while the French and Brits were retreating at the Marne and beyond. By Sept 4 the German First Army would be at Lower Seine and round Paris in direct contact with the Second and Third along Marne etc. So prior to the date Joffre would be able to counterattack. So no weak western flank as in the actual events. Now add to this the two corps from the General reserve sent so foolishly at Lorraine Nah,logistics would prevent them (actually the French had a lack of ammo at Aisne in mid September but Germans were in dire need for this author's )
  9. That is a southwest move to close the gap with the First Army while the rest of armies extended their right in echelon starting with the Third while the Bavarian Sixth Army at the start of September could have helped not by foolishly hitting Nancy but by strongly attacking from Metz toward St- Mihiel between Verdun and Toul at the weak link between the French Third and Second Army. Enough to paralyze both of them for several critical days and make the Third Army unable to seriously threaten the German Fifth Army while it extended his Right wing to cover the Fourth also extending it's right. And since Verdun would be a salient with Germans at Chalons not hard to guess Joffre might well shorten his lines to provide extra divisions for the west. Sure the French Fifth Army after realizing the German maneuver would stop at Marne probably but Reims and the Hills south of it would have already fallen when the order to stop would be given. But without Brits in the game until Sept 6 they stood no chance for success. And from Sept 2(when the maneuver would undoubtly start this means at least 3 days to close the gap North of Paris from both the First and Second ,entrench at Marne and rest. Not that hard to imagine the outcome with Kluck at Lower Seine in force and along Oise up to Chantilly circling Paris - that is defending after a wide river with the Second and the Third behind Marne - another wide river with only the 40 km between Oise and Marne northeast of Paris as a more favourable ground for attack for the French. Now one can never know the result but I doubt this scenario was worse for the bad guys as we are taught to call the losing side
  10. Damn it- lost a long post. Have to write it again but will cut it short : Basically,the Shlieffen Plan was unravelled by the Guise counterattack. This counterattack was almost unavoidable under the circumstances (in August 27 when the decision was taken)- with or without the recall of German corps from the Second and Third Armies - the Brits needed a rest after repeated clashes ,his (of Joffre) forces further west were not a match against Kluck so it was a must to try and hit the flank of Kluck to delay the German drive on the opening gap between his forming Sixth Army and his Fifth Army - left wide open by the British retreat while his Center was relatively safe even after the german Third Army tried to march on the opening gap between the Fifth and Fourth Army. He temporarily had a superiority of numbers against the directly pursuing German Second Army so he had to use it. Hard to think he would keep retreating fast toward Aisne and then Marne without a fight. Morale would be affected plus German Army would reach Aisne by this course by August 30 and Marne by Sept 1- two days before the actual date. This of course means his Center would retreat some 3 days before from Reims - Verdun line. He needed time to bring the extra divisions. And he still underestimated Germans at this time - at Guise in fact the French army lost 10,000 men vs 7000 German losses though he technically fought the Second Army at a standstill and even won ground. The hard fact is the weakening of the Second and Third German armies made them powerless to engage in hot pursuit at Guise - after repelling (without a doubt if they would have an extra five divisions ) the initial French attack. It was the inability to pursuit the Fifth Army which forced Bulow to ask the next army (the critical First Army ) to change direction toward southeast to hit the French in flank. Arguably had he been able to do so (and he would have equal forces) there simply would be no need to do that so the directive of August 28 (which asked the First Army to march southwest) would still be in place. And by August 30 Kluck had inflicted heavy defeats on group D'Amade and the gathering Sixth Army. Except the four territorial divisions of D'Amade up to that date Joffre had only three extra divisions for the Sixth Army in place and up to Sept 4 another 4 (7 in total at the eve of Marne except group D'Amade). So even withiut the corps of general reserve sent in Lorraine a smart move by Moltke with his Second Army and his Third would have allowed Kluck to reach Lower Seine by Sept 4 with say 3 corps And his cavalry while leaving two corps to face toward Paris at the line Pontoise - Creil while his Second Army after pursuing directly south the French Fifth Army up to Fere en Tardenois
  11. Of course there is no price for coming second Philip. Celtic fringe - I used a British term of the time my friend Once again,I am showing you with real facts it wasn't destined to fail - it failed because it was misinterpreted. It's because of this we had the French-British "peace " of Versailles ,communism ,ww2,and now Islamism on our back Great work guys
  12. So,with his Center relatively safe he correctly decided to use the temporary superiority of the french FIFTH army to both stop the pursuing Second Army at Guise- Vervins as well as retaking St Quentin in the direction of the left Wing of German First Army so the later would be busy with the french and not with Brits - allowing the later a rest. Now Von Kluck operated differently- starting late afternoon on Aug 26 and in the next 3 days he marched southwest against the gathering French leaving Brits on their own since the Second Army echeloned on his left was also marching southwest - their right wing toward St Quentin. So,instead of hitting the left Wing of von Kluck the projected attack of the french FIFTH army would hit the right wing of the German Second Army. After a direct chat with the British commander the later finally accepted to hold the Noyon La Fere line during Aug 29. The Germans by chance also captured important info on this
  13. There is so much to argue about the operational direction of the initial campaign Philip. Even as it was (i.e. the reinforcing of Lorraine and the failure for a proper deployment in Ardennes and the narrowing of the field of maneuver of the First Army which led to Mons - Le Cateu battles) there still was a chance for victory at Marne without recalling a single soldier from Lorraine to transfer them West PROVIDED MOLTKE DID NOT WEAKEN THE WESTERN ARMIES AS HE DID. Since Guise counterattack was almost an automatic move for the french with or without the weakening of the Second and Third German armies (which may have played a role in the decision of Joffre). The reasoning of Joffre (a correct one) was twofold : 1. To delay the Germans somewhat to give time for the movement west of reinforcements. 2. To relieve the pressure on the hard pressed Brits. Regardless of what may have bee taught in English schools the truth is the severe battles for over 3 days (Mons - Le Cateau) though costly for Germans did succeed in putting the BEF out of the game for 10+ days until Sept 5 when French (John French - the British commander) received reinforcements (15000+) as if often pointed out. He made it clear to Joffre he would not fight for some time - just retreat - and the events of the next few days proved the BEF was running faster then the French army in 1940 to escape ( yes,a brit never forget to taunt them yet hardly a brit is taught that his pride in original BEF is so mistaken since hard to parallel such cowardness shown in Noyon line ). Since Guise counterattack was so successful not per se but because the Second Army was unable to pursuit the retreating French Fifth Army. Have you ever read about it? I can show you the outlines: After Joffre sanctioned the retreat in Aug 24 the French Fifth Army retreated south by west with BEF on it's left flank bearing the pressure of von Kluck. By afternoon of Aug 26 the Brits could not resist anymore and said this to Joffre and started one of the most epic retreats - 70 km in two days uncovering the left of the Fifth Army. The French Fifth Army retreated at a slower pace - the ground was restricted,Maubege also prevented a German pursuit and for the more starting on Aug 24 the German Third Army started to move south on the west of Meuse river forcing the French Fourth Army to a bbandon the river line (Giver encircled on Aug 24,Meziers on Aug 26 ,Sedan and Stenay 2-3 days later). So,while on Aug 22-24 the French Fifth army faced two German armies of a total of 20 infantry divisions (and some 3 cavalry divisions ) starting on Aug 24-25 the divergent directions of the Third German Army and the French Fifth Army removed the pressure on the right flank of the later almost entirely - so the French army had basically only the weaker Second Army to face. Now precisely on Aug 24-25 Moltke removed one corps from both pursuing German armies (and the only cavalry division from the Third ) - so the directly pursuing German Second Army had only seven (7) divisions against 13 of the french FIFTH army! How come?Simple,once the Third diverged course the Second Army had to give one corps (2 divisions) for East Prussia ,3 divisions encircled Maubege at the start since they did not know the real numbers encircled (one division was sent to the main army on Aug 28 thereafter) so out of 12 only 7 infantry divisions remained and the cavalry of Richthoffen (2 divisions ). The French Fifth Army lost one division to Maubege and another to the Foch detachment in the making trying to cover the Saxons who were left with only 3 corps and no cavalry to push into the gap between the Fifth and Fourth Army. The French Fifth Army lost most of it's cavalry too (3 divisions under Sordet) who force marched to get in the far western flank on the rear of the Brits. Now Joffre counted on the German failure to pass the Meuse with their stupid head on attack against the French Fourth and Third Army (Aug 21-23 and the pursuit at the Meuse) - his Center with minimal reinforcements (2 divisions if I am not wrong ) was safe from a breach in August 26-27. To cut short at the end of Aug 26 with his Center safe he could turn his attention to the exhausted Brits who could hold no more. He of course could not know the next direction of Kluck so normally acted as if Kluck would capitalize on his success on Brits to directly pursuit them toward St Quentin and then La Fere to take the French Fifth Army in flank - not an unreasonable assumption having in mind Brits were out of the game for several days while also his Sixh army was still gathering around Amiens and could not help plugging the gap left by Brits.
  14. What is surprising is that the German High Command itself had not realized this - seized as everyone by the "over by Christmas" idea. To achieve this result was well worth the temporary loss not simply of East but the whole Prussia! And Moltke commited the grave error of removing precisely from the most important direction two full corps and one cavalry division instead of reinforcing the decisive wing of attack with his general reserve - sent so prematurely in Lorraine. Even if he wished to reinforce the East the solution was to take this force from Lorraine once the initial offensive was over (Aug 22-23). Instead he allowed the southern armies to procceed in their adventure toward Charmes Gap - where was the point? Did even a fully successful attack allow a direct cooperation with the main wing of attack? Was it possible to isolate ,surround and capture the First French Army? No f*****g way,however dumb might be the French - there was way too much land to be traversed to be a reasonable objective. Was it possible to achieve a vast encirclement by a pincer attack started between Toul and Epinal (Charmes Gap )northwest toward Troyes to meet a northern Pincer from Mons? Just check a map and one can see way too much distance to achieve it. And they had only 22 divisions (and some Landwehr brigades in Upper Alsace) at their disposal facing 22 French divisions without counting what the frenchies could bring to stop them So where was the point? Nowehere. Even if he allowed it,once the corps were back in their starting line at Luneville and Meurthe Valley by August 26 why not weaken this direction for East Prussia? After all it was proven no head away was possible. Would the French transfer more forces west? Not necessarily - since initial moves might be done by night and French aviation was poor secrecy would be preserved and of course at the start they would think Germans were regrouping and resting to try again. So perhaps by Sept 1 would they send say a couple more divisions - too little too late since Germans too might send one corps after the two Landwehr divisions arrived at the end of August.
  15. So,the real discussion is could the goal of crippling France be achieved and if yes how. I have touched earlier the subject of British participation and would not repeat myself - the assumption was (for Germany) that Brits would enter the war with or without a pretext (Belgian neutrality) - they simply after deciding to back the Dual Alliance could not afford to allow Central Powers to defeat them - things had gone too far between Britain and Germany to hope in a British neutrality regardless of the reason of the war (clearly guilty was Serbia and Russia - did it make a difference for Britain?No and could not - they had already abandoned their long established policy of backing Austria). I have given the initial numbers between Germany and France - impossible for Germany to deliver a knock out blow against equal numbers behind a narrow hilly/mountainous and for the more fortified barrier(Verdun - Belfort). The only solution lay in maneuver ,in a vast outflanking maneuver either south (via Switzerland ) or through Belgium. But again,even with full Swiss collaboration the southern maneuver can not deliver a quick result - way too hilly and far away from French industry to be worth the trouble. This left Belgium (and Luxembourg ) as the only alternative. The German doctrine and strategy since Frederick the Great always emphasised that given the numbers for them it always was quality over quantity. A lightning war the only solution. Which means to exert maximum pressure from every possible unit at the same time to overwhelm the adversary in the shortest possible time (later called Blitzkrieg). Given the million and a half for each side on the field the so called "heart of France" from Paris to Brussels was the proper terrain - except open it also contained most of French heavy industry and (together with Briey in Lorraine) most of it's coal and iron mines. So two birds killed with one stone - not simply the chance to defeat the French army but also at the same time to cripple it's war production. Worth the risk of facing "the old contemptibles" After all a successful advance would also yield the Channel Ports up to Le Havre - threatening Britain itself. In short,the battle of France (the army of France) had to be decided between Brussels and Paris (region of Paris) - this was the imposing condition. If France would avoid a defeat between Brussels and Paris and retreat further South between Toul and Paris then it would survive. What most fail to realize is that EVEN IF FRANCE WOULD SURVIVE THE SUCCESFUL AND RAPID CAPTURE OF THE LINE TOUL- AUBE - SEINE -PARIS -LOWER SEINE in the long run this was enough a crippling blow to allow Central Powers wage and survive a prolonged war.
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