The Elements of the Great War: The Second Phase: The Battle of the Marne

By Hilaire Belloc | Go to book overview

There was (1) the Covering Body, or "Operating Forward Mass" which took the first shock of the invasion; and (2) the "Mass of Maneuver." The covering body which was engaged in the first shocks against the Germans, and which suffered the great strategic retreat, consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th French Armies; all duly aligned from the Swiss frontier to the extreme left; all numbered exactly in order from south to north and continued by the British contingent, which is the last of the series.

Then, when the French Commander-in-chief formed his first new army out of the "Mass of Maneuver" it was logically enough called the 6th, and brought up, as we know, still farther to the left beyond the British contingent. At very nearly the same time another army is made up out of the "Mass of Maneuver" and put under the command of Foch; this therefore should, logically, be the 7th. With this organization the French line was complete. Its formations had reached (for the moment) their maximum.

Where, then, do we get the figure 9? If there was no 8th Army how can one get a 9th? Still more, how can one get a 9th if we can only get it at the expense of presupposing not only an 8th which does not exist, but also supposes a hypothetical 7th, which is in reality the 9th?

It is a puzzle I shall not pretend to solve. I may be making some elementary error of ignorance, and perhaps I shall receive information which will enable me to delete this note before my book goes to press. The denomination "9th Army" may have been settled with the deliberate object of deceiving the enemy, or it may be due to something more simple and more obvious which has escaped me. I only know at the moment of writing--after twenty months of puzzle--that the army is nearly always officially called the 9th, but is sometimes (even officially) called the 7th; that by every indication of common sense and arithmetic it ought to be the 7th, and there I must leave it.

-264-

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The Elements of the Great War: The Second Phase: The Battle of the Marne
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • I - The Battle Generally Considered 21
  • The Great War 103
  • II - The Details of the Battle 104
  • III - The Battle of the "Grand Couronné" 112
  • IV - The Battle of the Ourcq and of the Two Morins 147
  • V - The Battle of La Fère Champenoise 191
  • VI - The Rest of the Line 235
  • VII - The Stationary Right Wing 265
  • VIII - The Aisne 284
  • Index 385
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