British 18-pounder field guns come into action at Signy-Signets during the Battle of the Marne, 8 September 1914. On the left of the photograph are men of the 1st Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Image courtesy Imperial War Museum
First Battle of the Marne
The River Marne, some 30 miles east of Paris, was the site of the First Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. This is generally believed to have been a key turning point in the war, as it prevented the Germans from entering Paris, and from putting the ‘Schlieffen Plan’ into practice. The Schlieffen Plan had been conceived in 1905 as a strategy for Germany to approach an impending was with neighbours to the East (Russia) and the West (France). It assumed that while Russia was still mobilising troops (a process that would inevitably take some weeks), the German Army would take the French by surprise, approaching Paris through Belgium. This is what happened in August 1914, and the Germans came close to their objective. Although the Allies were successful at Marne in halting the German advance, the cost was high – almost 250,000 Allied casualties, with a similar number of German soldiers killed or injured.
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