Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, September 5, 2014

Western Front Virtual Tour — Stop 34: Villeroy: 100 Years Ago Today, the Battle of the Marne Begins

Interestingly, both commanders ordered an all-out offensive for 6 September 1914. Fate, however, was not so patient. The battle would break out a day earlier at a little village northwest of Meaux named Villeroy. The Kaiser’s forces had spent the first month in the west, apparently successfully executing the Schlieffen Plan to perfection, but Joffre had spotted the weaknesses of the overly ambitious strategy and prepared a perfect counterstroke. The swinging right flank of the German advance was exposed as it passed Paris.  A new French army was created to attack the German First Army to the northeast of Paris. However,  a reserve  corps  of  the First Army was lingering behind the lines just where the new French Six Army started to deploy near Villeroy. The  shelling started, the battle was joined, and heavy casualties were taken by the advancing French. However, the German First Army was now aware that a hitherto unknown French force had appeared on its flank. In turning to face them they had begun a domino effect through all five German armies about to attack between Paris and Verdun.


  1. The units involved were not only the French 55 Infantry (a Reserve unit) Division but the 56 RID and the 1st Moroccan Brigade.
    The German artillery unit that opened up was the 7th Reserve Field Artillery Regiment.

  2. German right flank not left

    1. Good catch. Thank you, correction made.

      MH (Who will be in Villeroy tomorrow morning.)

  3. Is it myth or fact that the Germans lost the war at the this battle?????

  4. Disposition of forces on 5 Sept

  5. Ref comment: Did the Germans lose the war at this battle: No. The tragedy of the Marne is that it wasn't 'strategically' successful. Tactical victories abounded during the weeks of battle but in the end the only real losers were the 60 million or so that had their lives forever changed over the next four years.