Primary Documents - General Gouraud on the Second Battle of the Marne, 16 July 1918

Henri Gouraud The Second Battle of the Marne - which ran from 15 July to 4 August 1918 - was intended as Germany's final major attempt at breakthrough on the Western Front prior to the arrival of ever-increasing U.S. troops on the battlefield.

In the event the battle proved a significant Allied victory.  Once it became clear that the Germans had not only failed in their aim to win the war in the offensive, but had in fact lost ground, a number of German commanders, including Crown Prince Wilhelm, believed the war was lost.

Reproduced below is French General Henri Gouraud's appeal to his forces at the onset of the battle.

Click here to read an extract from U.S. Commander-in-Chief John J Pershing's official report summarising U.S. participation in the battle.  Click here and here to read semi-official German press statements published in July and August 1918 on the outcome of fighting at the Marne.  Click here to read a German memoir focusing on the events of 15 July.  Click here to read Pershing's Special Order of the Day, dated 27 August, in which he praised the role played by his forces.  Click here and here to read contrasting statements regarding the effectiveness of the Allied counterattacks, issued by chief German strategist Erich Ludendorff Click here to read the official address given by French General Charles Mangin on 7 August 1915, directed to U.S. First and Second servicemen who, assisting Mangin's French Tenth Army, participated in the Allied counter-attacks launched on 18 August.  Click here to read the view later given by Mangin concerning the turning point of the Allied counterattack at the Marne.  Click here to read the official address given by French Sixth Army General Jean Degoutte to French and U.S. troops towards the close of the battle, on 9 August 1918, in which he praised the conduct of American forces.  Click here to read an account by Karl Rosner of how news of the battle was received by the Kaiser.

General Gouraud's Appeal to his Forces, 16 July 1918

To the French and American Soldiers of the Army:

We may be attacked from one moment to another.  You all feel that a defensive battle was never engaged in under more favourable conditions.

We are warned, and we are on our guard.  We have received strong reinforcements of infantry and artillery.  You will fight on ground which by your assiduous labour you have transformed into a formidable fortress, into a fortress which is invincible if the passages are well guarded.

The bombardment will be terrible.  You will endure it without weakness.  The attack in a cloud of dust and gas will be fierce, but your positions and your armament are formidable.

The strong and brave hearts of free men beat in your breasts.  None will look behind, none will give way.  Every man will have but one thought - "Kill them, kill them in abundance, until they have had enough."

And therefore your General tells you it will be a glorious day.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

An Amiens Hut was a temporary structure of canvas on a frame used at British base camps.

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