A History of the Great War - Vol. 4

A History of the Great War - Vol. 4

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A History of the Great War - Vol. 4

A History of the Great War - Vol. 4

Read FREE!

Excerpt

June 3- November 2, 1917

Pétain's Policy -- The Summer Fighting on the Aisne -- The French Fourth Army at Moronvillers -- Guillaumat's Advance at Verdun -- The Aisne Heights cleared.

BEFORE the great sallies from the enemy fortress began in East and West, there was to be, besides the long struggle in Flanders, one last attack of the besiegers. We left the French armies when in the first days of June they had won the main position of the Chemin des Dames, and had driven the enemy from his observation posts on the Aisne heights, while they themselves were looking down into the vale of the Ailette, and east of Rheims held the whole summit-ridge of the Moronvillers massif . The story of the summer which followed is one of fierce and persistent German attacks to win back the lost ground. The enemy's motives were partly defensive, for even the modified success of the French on the Aisne endangered the left flank of the Siegfried Line; partly the desire to restore the waning credit of the Imperial Crown Prince by something which could be called a victory; and partly to keep up the moral of his troops by an offensive in a safe area, since elsewhere on the long front they were being remorselessly driven backward by Haig. The Second Battle of the Aisne finished, so far as the main operations were concerned, with the capture of the California Plateau on 5th May; but it was destined to drag out with much sharp and costly fighting for another hundred days.

The first task of Pétain was to hold what he had won, but a second project was occupying his thoughts. His urgent duty was to nurse back to assurance and cheerfulness the sorely tried . . .

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