Saturday, October 4, 2014
Plan XVII and the Battle of the Frontiers
In my notes from my WWI tour I have “look up French strategy/offensive.” I wrote this as I watched a video on the bus from Brussles to the German cemetery; I wrote it because I was taking notes during a movie being played on a history tour that I went on during my vacation.
Clearly I am the coolest person ever.
When I typed this simple term into Google, Plan XVII came up. And with it came the Battle of the Frontiers. This was the offensive strategy of France and the Allies at the start of WWI.
After the defeat of the French armies during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, the French military adapted to the new balance of power in Europe. With the growing strength of Germany, and the loss of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany, France had to react with it’s own plan.
Plan XVII developed from strategies prior to it, and essentially it called for increased military presence at the Franco-German boarder, with additional troops on the Franco-Belgian boarder. Luckily, General Joseph Joffre who drafted the pan saw a risk of German attack through Germany.
When Germany declared war, France executed Plan XVII with five initiatives. Collectively, this is known as the Battle of the Frontiers.
Battle of Mulhouse – Aug 7-10 Battle of Lorraine – Aug 14-25 Battle of the Ardennes – Aug 21-23 Battle of Charleroi – Aug 21 Battle of Mons – Aug 23-24
Essentially, all five were implemented as an offensive into both Alsace-Lorraine and Belgium. Essentially, in a few weeks the French were pushed back to their starting positions. The only reason that the Germans were halted is because they outran their supply lines.
In this same movie I learned that the Germans realized they needed to go on the defensive. So, the Germans began to dig in and create trenches. All the lines that I saw had one thing in common: the Germans had the higher and better ground.