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First World War : 29th of August 1914

On the 29th of August,  the allied powers are unable to stop the German advance on the western front. Some parts of France are already under complete German occupation. Paris, a German target,  felt threatened by this advance and the French government made the decision to leave Paris and settle in the city of Bordeaux, in the South.

In Northern France, the French and British armies are forced to retreat since several days. In the Picardie region,  a furious battle happened near Saint-Quentin. Known as the battle of Guise in France, the Germans know it under the name of battle of Saint-Quentin.  Since the 28th, British and French forces are occupied to consolidate their defenses in order to later retake Saint-Quentin. General Joffre, still inclined to an offensive doctrine of war is persuaded that his armies will be victorious. British General Haigh announced that the major part of his men are not able to fight for the moment, however those who are are sent under General Lanzenac’s command.

But the 29th, the German army launched its own offensive on the allied positions. Both are already resisting bravely must Joffre must abort the offensive on Saint-Quentin, a part of at least. Only one corps of the French army, the 18th,  was sent to take Saint-Quentin.

The German troops proved to be much more numerous and the French divisions slowly started to fall back. However, General Louis Franchet d’Espèrey arrived with an entire corps. Positioned on a hill offering a complete sight of the valleys and plateaus in which the battle was taking place, he ordered his artillery to fire at the enemy.

The artillery brilliantly shelled a 20 kilometers long front-line, destabilizing the German soldiers. At some points, Franchet d’Espèrey launched his full force to relieve the French and British soldiers in the valleys near Saint-Quentin. The Germans, under von Bülow finally started their retreat. Germany suffered almost 6,000 casualties while France lost men mainly due to them being taken prisoners.  However, the battle of Guise ( or Saint-Quentin ) is mostly a strategic victory for France. This was a part of the Schlieffen plan  and with the defeat, the German command must find another way to cross Picardie.

By Alister

Studying at the University of Besaçon, Burgundy Franche-Comté, France