A report on First Battle of the Aisne

Map of the Western Front and the Race to the Sea, 1914
Map of the Western Front and the Race to the Sea, 1914

The Allied follow-up offensive against the right wing of the German First Army (led by Alexander von Kluck) and the Second Army (led by Karl von Bülow) as they retreated after the First Battle of the Marne earlier in September 1914.

- First Battle of the Aisne
Map of the Western Front and the Race to the Sea, 1914

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German soldiers (wearing distinctive pickelhaube helmets with cloth covers) on the front line at the First Battle of the Marne.

First Battle of the Marne

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Battle of the First World War fought from 5 to 12 September 1914.

Battle of the First World War fought from 5 to 12 September 1914.

German soldiers (wearing distinctive pickelhaube helmets with cloth covers) on the front line at the First Battle of the Marne.
German soldiers (wearing distinctive pickelhaube helmets with cloth covers) on the front line at the First Battle of the Marne.
The battle of Meaux September 1914
French soldiers rest in a forest during the battle of the Marne. Autochrome colour photograph.

The German armies ceased their retreat after 65 km on a line north of the Aisne River, where they dug in on the heights and fought the First Battle of the Aisne.

Franco-German flanking moves, 15 September – 8 October 1914

Race to the Sea

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The Race to the Sea (Course à la mer; Wettlauf zum Meer, Race naar de Zee) took place from about 1914 during the First World War, after the Battle of the Frontiers and the German advance into France.

The Race to the Sea (Course à la mer; Wettlauf zum Meer, Race naar de Zee) took place from about 1914 during the First World War, after the Battle of the Frontiers and the German advance into France.

Franco-German flanking moves, 15 September – 8 October 1914
Franco-German flanking moves, 15 September – 8 October 1914

The invasion had been stopped at the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September) and was followed by the First Battle of the Aisne (13–28 September), a Franco-British counter-offensive.

British troops from the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) resting in the square at Mons 22 August 1914, the day before the Battle of Mons

British Expeditionary Force (World War I)

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The six-divisions the British Army sent to the Western Front during the First World War.

The six-divisions the British Army sent to the Western Front during the First World War.

British troops from the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) resting in the square at Mons 22 August 1914, the day before the Battle of Mons
left to right, generals French, Joffre and Haig behind the front. Lt-General Henry Wilson is second from right.
A British trench near the Albert-Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. The men are from A Company, 11th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment
The Race to the Sea, Allied front line and movements are shown in red, German front line and movements are shown in blue
The front line in 1916, British gains during the battle of the Somme are shaded blue.
The French, British, Belgian and American lines of attack, during the Hundred Days Offensive
Men from an Indian Cavalry regiment on the Western front 1914
Canadian soldiers consolidating their positions on Vimy Ridge
Australian 2nd Division marching to the rear after the Battle of Pozières, August 1916. They are being watched by soldiers of the Australian 1st Division
Portuguese troops training with gas masks in the Western Front.
British Vickers gun crew
From Left 1914–1915 Star, Victory Medal, British War Medal

By the end of 1914—after the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Aisne and Ypres—the existent BEF had been almost exhausted, although it helped stop the German advance.

Photograph of John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, Commander-in-Chief

John French, 1st Earl of Ypres

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Senior British Army officer.

Senior British Army officer.

Photograph of John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, Commander-in-Chief
Colonel French in full dress uniform, 1892. This is one of the few photographs of French taken before his appearance aged dramatically, and hinting at his success as a womaniser.
French caricatured by GDG for Vanity Fair, July 1900
French in full ceremonial uniform as Aide-de-Camp to King George V in September 1911.
Field Marshal French (left) in Paris
Official notice of "mentioned in dispatches" by French for a soldier in the Motor Machine Gun Service for gallantry at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. Signed by Churchill who was Secretary of State for War in 1919 when the citation was issued.
Sir John French, and the British prime minister, H. H. Asquith, at BEF Headquarters in June 1915.
French, photographed in August 1915
French, Joffre and Haig (left to right) visit the front line during 1915. Henry Wilson, responsible at the time for liaison between French and Joffre, is second from the right.
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres c. 1919 by John Singer Sargent
A sergeant pointing out the bullet hole resulting from the IRA ambush, December 1919
Deal Castle at the end of the 19th century; at the rear are the Captain's Quarters, where French died in 1925 and which were destroyed in 1943

Sir John initially thought (14 September) that the enemy was only "making a determined stand" on the Aisne.

Depiction of the "admirable resistance" of Belgian forces

Battle of the Yser

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Battle of the First World War that took place in October 1914 between the towns of Nieuwpoort and Diksmuide, along a 35 km stretch of the Yser River and the Yperlee Canal, in Belgium.

Battle of the First World War that took place in October 1914 between the towns of Nieuwpoort and Diksmuide, along a 35 km stretch of the Yser River and the Yperlee Canal, in Belgium.

Depiction of the "admirable resistance" of Belgian forces
Depiction of the "admirable resistance" of Belgian forces

During the siege of Antwerp, the German and French armies fought the Battle of the Frontiers (7 August – 13 September) and then the German armies in the north pursued the French and the BEF southwards into France in the Great Retreat, which culminated in the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September), followed by the First Battle of the Aisne (13–28 September).

Sign on the Chemin des Dames

Chemin des Dames

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Part of the route départementale (local road) D18 and runs east and west in the Aisne department, between in the west, the Route Nationale 2 (Laon to Soissons), and in the east, the D1044 at Corbeny.

Part of the route départementale (local road) D18 and runs east and west in the Aisne department, between in the west, the Route Nationale 2 (Laon to Soissons), and in the east, the D1044 at Corbeny.

Sign on the Chemin des Dames
Location of the Chemin des Dames in Aisne department
Plateau of the Chemin des Dames
Devastated village of Soupir, May 1917
Camouflaged section of the Chemin des Dames
French assault on the Chemin des Dames during the Second Battle of the Aisne
German (foreground) and French (background) cemeteries at Cerny

First Battle of the Aisne (1914) – Anglo-French counter-offensive following the First Battle of the Marne.

German soldiers of the 11th Reserve Hussar Regiment fighting from a trench, on the Western Front, 1916

Trench warfare

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Type of land warfare using occupied lines largely comprising military trenches, in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery.

Type of land warfare using occupied lines largely comprising military trenches, in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery.

German soldiers of the 11th Reserve Hussar Regiment fighting from a trench, on the Western Front, 1916
Lines of Torres Vedras
Trenches at the Siege of Vicksburg 1863
German forward detachments guarding the entrance to a trench line in front of Arras in 1915
Trenches of the 11th Cheshire Regiment at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, on the Somme, July 1916. One sentry keeps watch while the others sleep. Photo by Ernest Brooks
1st Lancashire Fusiliers, in communication trench near Beaumont Hamel, Somme, 1916. Photo by Ernest Brooks
French trench in northeastern France
Trench construction diagram from a 1914 British infantry manual
Indian infantry digging trenches, Fauquissart, France, 9 August 1915.
Soldiers training in trench warfare, with well-defined fire bays connected by offset traverse trenches, with zigzag communication trenches leading to the rear area
Breastwork "trench", Armentières, 1916
Australian light horseman using a periscope rifle, Gallipoli 1915
Aerial view of opposing trench lines between Loos and Hulluch, July 1917. German trenches at the right and bottom, British at the top-left.
American soldiers struggle to pass multiple lines of barbed wire
Soldiers in a trench on the Ortler, at an elevation of 3850 m (1917).
British Mills bomb N°23 Mk II, with rod for launch by rifle
Various trench weapons used by British and Canadian soldiers in WWI on display at the Canadian War Museum
French soldiers with a Sauterelle bomb-throwing crossbow, c. 1915
Vickers machine gun
German soldier with MP 18, 1918
Loading a 15 in howitzer
French soldiers operating a compressed-air trench mortar of 86-millimetre calibre
German trenches in Vimy
French troopers using a periscope, 1915
Distribution of pinard (ration wine) in a French trench in winter, considered important for morale
"Studying French in the Trenches", The Literary Digest, October 20, 1917
Hot shower-bath establishment installed by a French engineer, November 1914
Front Line Anzac
A barber in a French trench
A German machine gun position just after its capture by New Zealand soldiers, with a dead German among the debris, Grevillers, 24 August 1918, Hundred Days Offensive
Stretcher bearers, Passchendaele, August 1917
Dead German soldiers lie in the rubble of a trench destroyed by mine explosion, Messines Ridge, 1917
German Stoßtruppen (stormtroopers) rising from trenches to attack
Explosion of a mine seen from a French position. 1916
Australian infantry wearing WWI gas masks, Ypres, September 1917
This British Mark IV tank displays a "tadpole tail" extension for crossing especially wide trenches, an experiment that was not successful
Failure of a tank to cross an anti-tank trench
Side view diagram of a gun in a retractable turret, in block 3 in Ouvrage Schoenenbourg of the Maginot Line
Soldiers of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in a trench in Montese during the Italian Campaign of World War II, 1944
A British trench mortar post in North Africa, 1940
Soviet soldiers running through the ruins of Stalingrad, 1942
Iranian Troops in forward trenches during the Iran–Iraq War
Ukrainian soldier in the trenches during the War in Donbass
Afghan and U.S. soldiers provide security while standing behind a blast wall made from HESCO bastions at Zhari district, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2012
British (upper) and German (lower) front line trenches, 1916

After the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914, an extended series of attempted flanking moves, and matching extensions to the fortified defensive lines, developed into the "race to the sea", by the end of which German and Allied armies had produced a matched pair of trench lines from the Swiss border in the south to the North Sea coast of Belgium.

The 12th century Church of St. Martin, Bourg-et-Comin

Bourg-et-Comin

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Commune in the department of Aisne in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

Commune in the department of Aisne in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

The 12th century Church of St. Martin, Bourg-et-Comin
Map of the Bourg et Comin area.
Town Hall, Mairie
Church of St. Martin, interior
The Oise and Aisne canal at Bourg-et-Comin
Bourg-et-Comin, Canal de l'Oise à l'Aisne
Bourg-et-Comin railway station c 1900.

The German army held the high ground to the north known as the Chemin des Dames and resisted two attacks by the French army to dislodge them in 1914 and 1917; and then used the high ground to launch a surprise offensive in 1918.

The Western Front, July 1918

Third Battle of the Aisne

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Battle of the German spring offensive during World War I that focused on capturing the Chemin des Dames Ridge before the American Expeditionary Forces arrived completely in France.

Battle of the German spring offensive during World War I that focused on capturing the Chemin des Dames Ridge before the American Expeditionary Forces arrived completely in France.

The Western Front, July 1918
The Western Front, July 1918
Men of the Worcestershire Regiment holding the southern bank of the River Aisne at Maizy, 27 May 1918.

The Germans held the Chemin des Dames Ridge from the First Battle of the Aisne in September 1914 to 1917, when General Mangin captured it during the Second Battle of the Aisne (in the Nivelle Offensive).

Cemetery Entrance

Vailly British Cemetery

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War cemetery at Vailly-sur-Aisne, France, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

War cemetery at Vailly-sur-Aisne, France, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Cemetery Entrance

Most of the men interred at Vailly were killed in the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914.