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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2017 4:58:05 AM
I have read about this event and wondered what induced von Kluck(or was it someone else ?) to turn his flank- to favour a French attack?? Was this a blunder or a miscalculation??? I ask because I have not found an answer to this issue.

Regards

Jim
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2017 8:29:20 AM
Because of this miracle, we here in West Michigan named a town, Marne!

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all kinda things go on there!?
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

BWilson

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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2017 8:40:36 AM
 Ah yes, the former (very west) Berlin.

Cheers

BW
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2017 9:30:11 AM
I got the impression that the entire city of Paris- put it's best foot forward to aid the French riposte and extra troops were rushed to the battle line via Gallieni taxi cabs.

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2017 1:28:55 PM
It was Pritwitz' fault, screaming that all was lost after a small setback in East Prussia made Moltke move 5 divisions from the right wing to East Prussia. These 5 divisions would have gone a long way to filling the gap between 1st and 2nd Armies, or shielded 1st Army's flank from the forces in Paris.

Not that would have allowed the Germans to take Paris, but it most likely would have won them the so called 'Race to the Sea' which would have won them the war in the long run.
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Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2017 4:55:12 PM

Quote:
I have read about this event and wondered what induced von Kluck(or was it someone else ?) to turn his flank- to favour a French attack?? Was this a blunder or a miscalculation??? I ask because I have not found an answer to this issue.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


He was responding to a call for support from Von Bullet. This did expose his flank to the French Sixth Army, but poor communication limited Moltke's ability to control events, and he had little choice but to approve.
As it turned out, Kluck initially handled the French attack on his flank quite well along the Ourcq, pushing the French back, but also opening a gap between his army and Von Bulow. For his part, Von Bulow also did well enough at first, but ordered a retreat once the BEF crossed the Marne.
All in all, I'm not sure that I would call it blunder or miscalculation, so much as a function of the sweep east of Paris having failed, for a number of reasons, including logistics, exhaustion, and not least, increasingly effective French resistance once Joffre finally figured out what the Germans were up to.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2017 4:12:35 AM
Thank you for your reply Riain-I confess that I had overlooked Moltke's movement of the five Divisions away from France to the Eastern Front0which in turn had completely upset von Pritwitz; and it was he who had von Kluck's ear.German writers have poured much venom on Moltke for his seemingly precipitous move of taking the 5 divisions from the west to the east and if there was a mistake made-this was it.

And to you Jim- who has evolved the issue into what it turned out to be-an injudicious move-it was born of fatigue- which gave the French an advantage -not that they had it all there own way -there much action at each the end of the line; but is thought that kluck ought to have been bolder and thrashed Manoury; but he did not-so what was the reason for the Germans moving to the Aisne.???Was it the fear of encirclement.???Or had the Germans already dedided to take to the high ground; and "stand on the defence"-which is how it turned out anyway.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2017 1:00:04 PM
How far was the outcome determined by the loss of nerve that afflicted the German Commander, Moltke ?

He's supposed to have suffered from some kind of breakdown.

Papa Joffre ate his lunch and won ; Moltke chewed his nails and lost.

Regards , Phil
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"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2017 1:31:03 PM

Quote:
Following the German retreat from the Marne, Moltke allegedly reported to the Kaiser, "Your Majesty, we have lost the war."

Whether General von Moltke actually said to the Emperor, "Majesty, we have lost the war," we do not know. We know anyhow that with a prescience greater in political than in military affairs, he wrote to his wife on the night of the 9th, "Things have not gone well. The fighting east of Paris has not gone in our favour, and we shall have to pay for the damage we have done".


Attributed to Winston Churchill

NB. Moltke died in 1916

Regards

Jim
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scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2017 3:06:43 PM

Quote:
How far was the outcome determined by the loss of nerve that afflicted the German Commander, Moltke ?

He's supposed to have suffered from some kind of breakdown.

Papa Joffre ate his lunch and won ; Moltke chewed his nails and lost.

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade


One of the most controversial subjects post war, up there with the Christmas Memorrandum. And extremely complicated. The recent discovery of the memoirs of General Von Plessen, the personal letters of General Von Lyncker ( both members of the Military Cabinet ), and the memoirs of General Gerhard von Heymann , Head of Operations Section 5th Army plus the recent work of german historians like Eberlin, Hürter and Jessen put a better different picture on it.

Will try and add more when I can.

Trevor
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Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 4:56:45 AM
Thank you Trevor-do hope to hear more from you.However I am of the opinion that the Germans had missed the opportunity of striking the first blow and this meant that their defeat here on the Marne was morale,not in the rank and file; but in the leadership of Moltke,Bulow and Kluck-they just did not have the mettle of Joffre,Foch and Franchet D'Esperey.


Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 7:52:55 AM
Truth to tell, I'm so confused by the sheeer size and complexity of this campaign, with its multiplicity of armies and commanders, and its different sectors, that I find myself seeking refuge in mythology and folklore : especially when it gives caricatured views that allow me to attribute outcomes to distinctive personalities.
The very word miracle speaks of that syndrome, and makes for an appealing and dramatic depiction. That goes for far too much in my historical lexicon, but it can be so much more fun !

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 8:44:28 AM
I am of the opinion that the so called miracle had it's origins in the disarray of the German Army Commanders at this critical time- which in turn led to misjudgements by them; and the timely reaction of the French High Command to benefit from the German turmoil and aided by Gallieni's reinforcements via Paris taxi cabs.By the French gaining a victory on the Marne-the Germans were forced into a confused retreat north to R Aisne.

Regards

Jim


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Jim Cameron
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 12:29:11 PM
After it was over, didn't Joffre ask, "Was there a battle on the Marne?"
Seriously, I think that "so-and-so lost his nerve" explanations are too simplistic. What I think the "miracle" reflected was good generalship (also, good transportation) on the part of the French, at least, once Joffre finally figured out what was happening up north; and on the German side, an offensive finally running out of steam due to inadequate logistics. And once capturing Paris and destroying the French army was off the table, what real option did they have but to pull back to tenable defensive positions and shorten their lines? Was the "miracle" more a case of events playing themselves out to a logical conclusion?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 12:34:36 PM

Quote:
Was the "miracle" more a case of events playing themselves out to a logical conclusion?


I think we are in total agreement here Jim-obviously worded differently-but arriving at the same conclusion.Thank you for your interest and contribution.

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 2:13:37 PM

Quote:
Thank you Trevor-do hope to hear more from you.However I am of the opinion that the Germans had missed the opportunity of striking the first blow and this meant that their defeat here on the Marne was morale,not in the rank and file; but in the leadership of Moltke,Bulow and Kluck-they just did not have the mettle of Joffre,Foch and Franchet D'Esperey.


Regards

Jim
--anemone



What incidents make you think the Germans lacked 'mettle' compared to the French? I wouldn't say that was a reason, but the incident with Prittwitz and maybe the lack of close control of the right wing and it commander's different styles and temperaments might be seen as a lack of mettle.

However I could also characterise it as a failure of German systems of command as they stood in 1914 and wonder about the results if Germany used the Heeresgruppe, Armee Ableitung and Armee Gruppe structures (developed within months of the beginning of the war) from the outset to control the advance of the right wing.
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 2:37:48 PM
Hi Riain
There was a fair amount of disharmony between the Army Commanders.von Kluck and von Bulow-both Prussians-disliked and distrusted each other;von Hausen -a Saxon did not trust either- because of their aristocratic hauteur-this made for a lack of morale at the top of the German forces IMO; and this in turn led to a bad judgement call by von Kluck;when he cut across von von Bulow's line of march- which also opened von kluck's flank to the French- who struck first.I thought the Germans did not cope well in this action.The French on the other hand did cope somewhat batter

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 2:41:06 PM

Quote:
Casualties
Over two million men fought in the First Battle of the Marne and although there are no exact official casualty counts for the battle, estimates for the actions of September along the Marne front for all armies are often given as c. 500,000 killed or wounded.

French casualties totalled 250,000 men, of whom 80,000 were killed. Some notable people died in the battle, such as Charles Péguy, who was killed while leading his platoon during an attack at the beginning of the battle. Tuchman gave French casualties for August as 206,515 from Armées Françaises and Herwig gave French casualties for September as 213,445, also from Armées Françaises for a total of just under 420,000 in the first two months of the war.

According to Roger Chickering, German casualties for the 1914 campaigns on the Western Front were 500,000. British casualties were 13,000 men, with 1,700 killed.

The Germans suffered c. 250,000 casualties. No future battle on the Western Front would average so many casualties per day.


Source-Wikipedia

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2017 4:45:20 PM

Quote:
Hi Riain
There was a fair amount of disharmony between the Army Commanders.von Kluck and von Bulow-both Prussians-disliked and distrusted each other;von Hausen -a Saxon did not trust either- because of their aristocratic hauteur-this made for a lack of morale at the top of the German forces IMO; and this in turn led to a bad judgement call by von Kluck;when he cut across von von Bulow's line of march- which also opened von kluck's flank to the French- who struck first.I thought the Germans did not cope well in this action.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


I agree that each commander of the 3 right wing armies were different personalities, and that didn't help with the harmony of the campaign. But the military is generally good at imposing order and common purpose on large groups of people who will invariably have different opinions etc. That seems to have failed in this example, the doctrine developed from the Franco Prussian war where army commanders went off and did their own thing wasn't appropriate for a campaign where the armies had to maintain a continuous front.

What I don't know is if the earliest versions of the new command arrangements developed during the war with 2 armies under one officer with his own army having corps combined into larger gruppe would be enough to handle the problems that arose on the way to the Marne.
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2017 2:38:04 AM

Quote:
What I don't know is if the earliest versions of the new command arrangements developed during the war with 2 armies under one officer with his own army having corps combined into larger gruppe would be enough to handle the problems that arose on the way to the Marne.


It certainly would not appear be so in September in 1914; but as you say an Army Group Commander may well have made a better fist of the OOB for the Marne battles-he would have provided the required coordination of effort.

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2017 4:12:26 AM
In practice the first Army Groups gave one Army commander the command of another Army as well as their own. Sometimes the commanders own army would concentrate a couple of Corps into an ArmeeGruppe which would reduce the number of subordinate units this man would be in control of.

Given that the right wing of the German advance had 3 armies I don't know if the early Heersgruppe would go far enough by only having 2 of these armies. What's more if command was given to the wrong General then it could backfire, I think Bulow would stop Kluck from going for the outermost flank but Kluck would outpace Bulow.
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2017 5:09:35 AM
So Riain-too many "ifs and buts" to provide a satisfactory solution to the Battles of the Marne. Nevertheless it was an interesting point of view; but in those particular circumstances-it looks very much like a non runner-wouldn't you agree???

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2017 6:29:47 AM
I don't know if there are too many ifs and buts, they do exist and have to be addressed to see if the idea has merit rather than seeing it as a panacea. Maybe the best thing would be having 2nd and 3rd Armies in the Heeresgruppe and for Kluck to have free reign to go for the flank but have an ArmeeGruppe dedicated to keeping contact with the Heeresgruppe.

However another thing cannot be overlooked with all this zig-zag talk is the logistics being inadequate; even if a few changes in command structures were made successfully the armies would still outrun their supply, they'd just be more tactically coherent when they did so.
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2017 6:52:09 AM
Your first para makes a fair appraisal of what might have been; but your second para has a nasty sting- sitting in the wings- lousing up the tactical coherence obtained. Outrunning one's supplies is a deadly sin that consigns all the tactical coherence to the waste tip.Good game though Riain

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2017 4:54:01 PM

Quote:
Your first para makes a fair appraisal of what might have been; but your second para has a nasty sting- sitting in the wings- lousing up the tactical coherence obtained. Outrunning one's supplies is a deadly sin that consigns all the tactical coherence to the waste tip.Good game though Riain

Regards

Jim
--anemone


The limits to logistics are not set in stone but have some flexibility in details that better command arrangements can exploit. For example a HG might be able to coordinate the encircling of a large part of the BEF or 5th French army which could ease the logistic problem by giving the supply chain a day to catch up, capturing enemy supplies and reducing the demands for stuff for the next few days. It's a very complex subject, which I suppose is what makes it so interesting.
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anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/9/2017 2:59:03 AM
GM Riain

I do see what you mean about "booty supplies" but that really lies in the land of "What If". Although the administration of logistics may not be set in stone- they would surely have some basic rules governing supplying an army at war-which does not leave "anything to chance" I accept that I am no expert in this field-so I will quit at that.

Regards

Jim
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Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/11/2017 3:56:42 PM
The WW1 rule is about 100 miles from the railhead, but in detail this might be 20 miles either way and in that slack might be the war winning position or battle. During the invasion of France the German right wing railheads were moved forward several times but still almost at the end of the 100 mile limit, but a halt for a battle would give the railheads a bit of time to catch up and allow further advances once they get going again.
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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/11/2017 5:13:12 PM
I was just reading a book on the Canadian involvement at Hill 70. That isn't relevant to this thread but one of the chapters did describe changes to the supply chain system over the course of the war.

There was an increase in the degree of sophistication of the supply chain by 1917. This supply chain brought ammunition and goods from the rail head to the front.

There were two major changes from 1914 to the delivery of ammunition and other necessaries to the front.

The first was the elimination of a dual supply chain, one for ammunition and one for everything else. By 1917, there was one supply chain charged with moving everything that had to be moved.

The second was the introduction of narrow gauge rail employing petrol/electric engines to move ammunition and goods from the railhead established at the end of the broad rail line.

From there, motor transport and then animal transport would move the goods to the front. From there, goods and ammunition were moved on tramways using men to push the carts.

The British were well behind the Germans and French in the employ of narrow gauge rail. That seems reasonable. The British arrived on the continent without any chance to build narrow gauge rail at all.

Is it any wonder that the supply chain was stressed in the early days?

I will add that the tramway and narrow gauge rail systems also facilitated the movement of the wounded to the rear for advanced treatment or a trip to England and the hospitals there.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/12/2017 3:24:14 AM
Many thanks George for your studied critique of the supply arrangements in 1914; and how they were improved as the war went on-particularly by the British- who had to adapt to the continental rail system.


Regards

Jim
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Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/12/2017 10:16:27 AM

Quote:
The WW1 rule is about 100 miles from the railhead, but in detail this might be 20 miles either way and in that slack might be the war winning position or battle. During the invasion of France the German right wing railheads were moved forward several times but still almost at the end of the 100 mile limit, but a halt for a battle would give the railheads a bit of time to catch up and allow further advances once they get going again.
--Riaindevoy


In the case of the German right wing in particular, logistics were a wasting asset. Horses were very much effected by fatigue and lack of fodder, and motor vehicles (such as there were) unreliable and maintenance intensive, all of which reduced both the mobility and carrying capacity of the supply columns as the campaign progressed.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Posts: 1116

Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/12/2017 4:56:58 PM
That's right, it's one of the factors that that leads to the ~100 mile limit during advances, alongside the resistance against the advance and any pauses at the front that allow the ongoing railway work to bring the railhead closer when the advance begins again.
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Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/12/2017 5:40:31 PM
Actually, I think it was more like 100km than 100 miles, and ideally only 85km, per "The Great War Dawning".
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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Posts: 1116

Re: The Miracle of the Marne--Sept 1914
Posted on: 3/12/2017 6:44:19 PM

Quote:
Actually, I think it was more like 100km than 100 miles, and ideally only 85km, per "The Great War Dawning".
--Jim Cameron


That's probably right, maybe with a bit extra coming from railway rehabilitation as the advance goes on.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

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