Primary Documents - Charles Mangin on the Second Battle of the Marne, 7 August 1918

Charles Mangin 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 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 General 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 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 semi-official German press statements published in July and August 1918 on the outcome of fighting at the Marne.  Click here and here to read contrasting statements regarding the effectiveness of the Allied counterattacks, issued by Ludendorff.  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.

Official Address by General Charles Mangin, 7 August 1918

Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Soldiers of the American Army:

Shoulder to shoulder with your French comrades, you threw yourselves into the counter-offensive begun on July 18th.  You ran to it as if going to a feast.  Your magnificent dash upset and surprised the enemy, and your indomitable tenacity stopped counter-attacks by his fresh divisions.  You have shown yourselves to be worthy sons of your great country and have gained the admiration of your brothers in arms.

Ninety-one cannon, 7,200 prisoners, immense booty, and ten kilometres of reconquered territory are your share of the trophies of this victory.  Besides this, you have acquired a feeling of your superiority over the barbarian enemy against whom the children of liberty are fighting.  To attack him is to vanquish him.

American comrades, I am grateful to you for the blood you generously spilled on the soil of my country.  I am proud of having commanded you during such splendid days and to have fought with you for the deliverance of the world.

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

Around one million Indian troops served in WW1, of which some 100,000 were either killed or wounded.

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