During the morning of the 15th September 1914 Field Marshal Sir John French instructed his various Corps to entrench the positions they then held, so as to hold out against the attacks it was expected the Germans would now launch. Medals and Decorations for the Battle of the Aisne: General Joffre, the French Commander-in-Chief, reviewing French troops: Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. However there was uncertainty on the British and French side as to whether the Germans intended to stand and fortify the line of the Aisne, or whether this was a strong rearguard action before a further retreat. The commanding officer of 1st Coldstream Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Ponsonby, lead a party of his men over the highway and penetrated beyond the village of Cerny, where they were well into the German positions. German officers in a position on the Aisne: Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. At around 3am on the 14th September, in heavy rain and mist, the battalions of 2nd Brigade attacked the German positions on the high ground to the north of Troyon, but without the support of the guns, which did not arrive in time. The French 5th Army on the right of the BEF and the French 6th Army on its left during the day faced similar difficulties to the British, heavy German artillery placed well back and able to bombard the attacking infantry and guns, with limited prospect of counter-battery fire, particularly during the heavy rain and mist. The Chemin des Dames ridge remained the immediate goal for the Allied attack along the Aisne. Nothing very bad at present and she is able to go on carrying my stuff. 6th Brigade with XXXIV Brigade RFA and 5th Field Company Royal Engineers was to cross the Aisne River at 5am, by the newly constructed pontoon bridge at Pont Arcy, pass through the positions of the 5th Brigade on the heights north of Pont Arcy, and advance to the Chemin des Dames, where it was to halt and await further instructions. 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades: on the south bank of the Aisne River between Chassemy and Augy. When they reached the north bank of the Aisne the "Old Contemptibles" would be … The German 1 st and 2 nd armies were retreating, pursued by the British Expeditionary Force and the French 5 th and 6 th armies.. He joined the regiment after graduating from Sandhurst in September 1913. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. The division’s 10th Brigade deployed along the railway embankment to the west of Venizel, to provide cover in case the division was forced back across the Aisne. upplies had to be brought up during the night and could not be stored on the north bank. The indications were that, after its long retreat to the Marne River and then to the Aisne River, The German army intended to defend the line of the Aisne. Gough’s Command: 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades German casualties are unknown but are likely to have been in excess of 10,000 killed wounded and captured. To the left of the BEF, in Soissons, a brigade of the French 6th Army crossed the river. German dead after the retreat across the Aisne, September 1914. The attack was to be supported by the division’s artillery. We get several men down with small wounds, and then as C Company goes to attack, Lieutenant M T Johnson of A shot through the body. The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918 Volume 1 by Ponsonby 22nd-28th September 1914. As D Company was leading the wood a melanite shell burst at head of 1 Platoon. Orders to move at 5am.”. These troops were finding the fighting extremely difficult. 3rd Division (II Corps): from the mill to a point on the Aisne to the west of Vailly. “As there is only one road by which the whole 1st Division can push on, it takes some time and we get orders not to move to 9am. At around 10.30am, while 3rd Brigade deployed in support of 1st (Guards) Brigade, a German counter-attack comprising three battalions of the German 25th Reserve Brigade developed towards Vendresse. 15th September 1914: The brigade moved to the damaged railway bridge to find that it was being crossed from north to south by troops from 9th Brigade, forced to retire by the heavy German attack. At this time the German High Command was assembling a Seventh Army to take position on the western end of the German line and outflank the French. On the brigade’s left flank, 1st KRRC was supported by 2nd Worcestershire and 2nd HLI, with gunfire from 46th and 113th Batteries RFA, and drove the Germans back after desperate fighting, inflicting heavy losses on the German infantry. There is no doubt that the Battle of the Marne and the Aisne, although not having as decisive a result as General Joffre and Sir John French hoped for, were nevertheless a serious reverse for the Germans. 8th Brigade, heading the 3rd Division advance, encountered considerable German resistance in advancing on Vailly, the divisional artillery being subjected to heavy counter-battery fire, which in the case of 49th Battery forced the gunners to abandon their guns for a time, British RFA 18 pounder field gun and crew during the Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. Not much success, and Germans are too numerous to really push back properly. We were told we were to hang on at all costs, and at all costs it had to be. • Lieutenant-Colonel Ponsonby, the commanding officer of 1st Coldstream Guards, with his party of some forty Coldstreamers and Black Watch lay behind German lines to the north of Cerny on the night of 14th September. On the western flank of the BEF the 4th Division (III Corps) was ordered to attack north onto the plateau between Vregny and Crouy and push back the German artillery that was bombarding the French 6th Army troops operating in Soissons and relieve the pressure on the 5th Division to its east. On 13 September 1914 the lead elements of the British Expeditionary Force made an opposed crossing of  the River Aisne (and the Aisne canal which joins it at an angle), and reached the lower slopes below the German forces now digging in along the Chemin des Dames ridge. Battle of the Aisne 1914. A German battalion occupied Cerny and sentries were posted near the Coldstreamers. Battle of the Aisne 1914. The arrangement was made that the British Expeditionary Force would pull out of the Aisne Front and transfer to Flanders. Additionally the KRRC was subject to enfilade machine gun fire. As we go we get some six shrapnels at us but mercifully are not touched. The Aisne battlefield near Braisne: Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. The German guns were in positions prepared before the battle and put down barrages indiscriminately on British and German units mixed up in the confused fighting, inflicting heavy casualties on both sides. Vernon mercifully and miraculously not killed. 4th (Guards) Brigade passing French cuirassiers (photo by Captain Harry Baird, ADC to General Haig): Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. The BEF’s I Corps was to cross the Aisne at Bourg, Pont Arcy and Chavonne; II Corps and the 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades at Vailly, Condé and Missy; III Corps at Venizel and Soissons. The 4th (Guards) Brigade came up and launched several attacks, with 1st KRRC on their right flank. Between 8am and 9am the battle intensified, with 2nd Brigade taking the sugar factory to the north-west of Troyon and entrenching on the high ground beyond. He has no known grave and is also commemorated at La Ferté. 14th and 15th Brigades and 4th Division between Sainte Marguerite and Crouy. • During this period most of the regiments exhausted their supplies of reservists and began to incorporate soldiers from the Special Reserve, the old Militia, into their ranks. This was considered to be the most successful part of the battle for the BEF and was attributed to General Hunter-Weston’s enterprise. The other two battalions of the brigade remained south of the Aisne. The force facing the 1st Division comprised some twelve battalions of the German 13th Reserve Division. 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division with two batteries was ordered to take these positions, to enable the rest of the division to pass through the area and capture Chamouille, some three miles to the north in the next river valley, of the Ailette. It was still far from clear whether the German army intended to continue its retreat or to stand firm on the Aisne defensive line. The XV Corps started arriving in the area of Craonne on the Chemin des Dames plateau around 2pm on the 14th September, just in time to support the flagging VII Reserve Corps. During the night the Royal Engineers worked to establish two new crossings at Vailly and begin work on the badly damaged bridge at Missy. This was frustrated by the additional entrenchments dug by the Germans and the heavy artillery bombardment put down by the Germans on the assaulting troops. On the left of the 1st Division, the 2nd Division of the BEF’s I Corps was ordered to continue its attack on the German positions. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Date of the Battle of the Aisne: 13th to 15th September 1914, Place of the Battle of the Aisne: On the Aisne River to the east of Soissons in Eastern France. General Joffre, the French Commander-in-Chief, ordered the French 5th Army with General Conneau’s cavalry corps, positioned to the east of the BEF, to continue the advance beyond the Marne, and the French 6th Army, positioned to the north-west of the BEF, to continue its advance to the north-east. The wooded slopes make the Aisne today a pretty, gentle area that belies the horrors it witnesses in the Great War. Most annoying. 15th September 1914: This area of the German line was further reinforced by the arrival of IX Reserve Corps and 7th Cavalry Division. By the end of 12th September 1914 the retreat by the German 1st and 2nd Armies was complete, and these formations were preparing to defend the line of the Aisne against any further advance by the BEF or the French Fifth Army. A sad, sad business, but everyone played up, and as the French say, “Qui perd, gagne”. battle: Part of: Great Retreat: Location: Aisne : Point in time: 28 September 1914 (in Julian calendar) Start time: 13 September 1914: End time: 28 September 1914: 49° 25′ 48″ N, 3° 40′ 12″ E The Germans were armed with heavy artillery pieces and machine guns. Killed Welby, Simonds, Coker, Sills and 86 men; wounded – Pritchard, James and Gwynn slightly, and 95 men; and missing 12. He als has no known grave. Paterson’s diary is, rather unusually, included with the battalion’s war diary and covers the period in September 1914 as the battalion advanced from the Marne to the slopes above the Aisne. The II Corps artillery positioned around Chassemy did the best they could to support the formations on the north side of the Aisne, firing on the German gun positions and the assembling infantry attacks. Jerry MURLAND / Battle on the Aisne 1914 The BEF and the Birth 1st ed 2012 WWI. Soissons under German bombardment during the Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. Imperial War Museum image Q51148, Battles of the Western Front in France and Flanders, Copyright 2020 | Chris Baker | Leamington Spa UK. Several Royal Dublin Fusiliers rejoined their battalion after escaping through German lines after the Battle of Le Cateau to Boulogne. First Battle of the Aisne The First Battle of the Aisne (French: 1re Bataille de l'Aisne) was the Allied follow-up offensive against the right wing of the German First Army (led by Alexander von Kluck) and the Second Army (led by Karl von Bülow) as they retreated after the First Battle of … No infantry reserves were available. 1st (Guards) Brigade came up on the left flank of 2nd Brigade, with 3rd Brigade in reserve at Moulins. On the left of the BEF the remaining two infantry divisions, the 5th (of II Corps) and 4th (of III Corps) fought a separate battle, due to the barrier imposed by the Chivres promontory, immediately north of Missy. Generaloberst von Bülow commanded the German Second Army. The German VII Reserve Corps (13th and 14th Reserve Divisions) arrived from Mauberge on the Chemin des Dames on 13th September 1914, in time to meet the attack by the BEF’s I Corps and the neighbouring French XVIII Corps (5th Army). Imperial War Museum image Q51496. We lost severely and it was a very bad business.”. Its valley varies from 1 to 2 miles in width, edged by sharp steep wooded inclines with spurs and re-entrants; good country for defence, difficult to attack. There was then a 5 mile gap to the 8th and 9th Brigades at Vauxelles. References for the Battle of the Aisne: However the German positions on the Chivres spur and Fort de Condé made these orders impracticable. Divisional cavalry reported that the bridge at Chavonne was destroyed and covered by sniper fire. The British 3rd Division suffered assaults all along its line, beating them off with heavy German casualties. At 3pm 2nd Royal Scots and 2nd Royal Irish Regiment of 8th Brigade began to cross the plank in single file under artillery fire and by 4pm were in position 1 ½ miles to the north-east of Vailly, at the chateau at the head of the Vailly re-entrant. French aircraft chasing a German Taube: Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. A German patrol that came to investigate was annihilated. During the night of 12th September Brigadier-General Hunter-Weston took his 11th Brigade (4th Division of II Corps), after an approach march of around 30 miles largely in pouring rain, across the damaged bridge at Venizel, the men crossing in single file. No personal details are collected. Meanwhile our guns are having a huge duel. The 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division assisted the cavalry in crossing the Aisne at Bourg and then occupied positions on the north back of the river, while the cavalry brigades fanned out on various missions; 1st Cavalry Brigade heading east to make contact with the French and 2nd Cavalry Brigade advancing north towards the Chemin des Dames ridge in pursuit of a retreating German column. 4th (Guards) and 6th Brigades in the group of villages to the south of Pont Arcy; Vieil Arcy, Dhuizel and St. Maard. “I have never spent and imagine that I can never spend a more ghastly and heart-tearing 48 hours than the last. Aged 33. In the early afternoon the 3rd Division renewed its attempt to cross the Aisne at Vailly. During the morning of 14th September the 10th Brigade crossed the Aisne River and joined the 11th Brigade, while the 12th Brigade came up on the right with its right flank angled back into the Chivres valley. Added to this the French soldiers were dressed in dark blue jackets and red … The bridge at Condé half way between them was intact but difficult to approach, the valley being wide and empty of cover. Several parties of German troops tried to surrender but were fired on by their own side and consequently by British troops as well. The attack was to start from the 11th Brigade positions secured along the ridge north of the Aisne by Hunter-Weston on the 13th September. This was in spite of considerable progress being made by 1st Bedfordshire and 1st DCLI, which fought into the German positions before being forced to withdraw when the attack was abandoned. Moltke’s removal was kept secret and he remained formally in post until, suffering from ill health, he returned to Germany in November 1914, dying in 1916. German transport: Battle of the Aisne, 10th to 13th September 1914 in the First World War. The Battle of the Aisne was essentially over, giving way to the trench warfare in the area that would continue for several years. The allied force consisted of the French 5th and 6th Armies. The 4th (Guards) Brigade was due to come up on the left of the division, but was delayed. British artillery support was inevitably haphazard. The Long, Long Trail website uses cookies only to make sure the site works and to improve your experience as a user. A view of Vendresse British Cemetery, looking down the slope towards the River Aisne. Military art prints of the First battle of Aisne. III Corps: (Pulteney): 4th Division and 19th Infantry Brigade, This battle includes the tactical incidents I Corps: (Haig): 1st and 2nd Divisions plus 18th Brigade attached from 6th Division From 21 August the French encountered the numerically superior German forces of the Fourth and Fifth Armies in the forests of the Ardennes region. 13th Brigade with VII Brigade RFA was to advance on Cessières via Celles, while the remaining brigades, 14th and 15th, marched to Suzy via Missy. General Franchet D’Espèrey commanded the French 5th Army. The railway bridge was unusable, but a single plank remained in place across the road bridge. During the night at Missy, the 1st Royal West Kents of 13th Brigade crossed the river in small groups, using a boat taken from the north bank by a sapper who swam across, and on five rafts constructed by the Royal Engineers. Thanks to the Great War channel on youtube, I discovered that I missed a battle in my attempt to chronologically cover WWI. These 12 were of D Company, and apparently surrendered. Geiger of 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers described in ‘The War the Infantry Knew’ seeing Major-General Hunter-Weston, the officer who took his 11th Brigade across the Aisne on 13th September, during the Battle of the Marne: ‘I have a vivid recollection of this distinguished officer early in the day’s proceedings careering past me on the flapper’s perch of a motor bicycle, and of thinking how such a means of transport was possible only for a British General; it would, even in the last days of the War, have been inconceivable for a Frenchman, or for a German- even in defeat, to get about in such an unseemly manner’. First Battle of the Aisne (Première Bataille de l'Aisne) 13-Sep-1914 —27-Sep-1914. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. In the belief that the Germans were at last retreating, Major General Munro, commanding the 2nd Division, ordered his division to resume its stalled attack towards Courtecon. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. German infantry in positions along the canal held the cavalry in check, until infantry support from the 1st Division of the BEF’s I Corps came up. The Battle of the Aisne fought during September 1914 was a savage engagement and a complete shock for the soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force who were trained to fight mobile wars. On the right of the BEF, where the 1st Division had achieved an advance up to and beyond the Chemin des Dames, the division was forced to fall back to positions lower down the ridge. 1914 Aisne - reserve. During the course of the battle the Germans moved fresh troops from the eastern end of their line to the west, to bolster the formations retiring behind the Aisne River in the Soissons area, whose morale was sapped by the long tiring advance followed by their precipitous retreat to the Aisne. This attack was met by an artillery barrage from 46th and 113th Batteries RFA, able to fire by the fog lifting, from positions around Moussy to the south-west of Vendresse. At the beginning of the Battle of the Aisne there was a gap of several miles between the German First and Second Armies, at the point where the BEF and the French 5th Army were advancing. We reached the shelter of the high ground which rises quickly and steeply from the plain and then we advance over the crest and take up our position in a wood, ready to move out when required. The Coldstream Guards 1914-1918 Volume 1 by Ross of Bladensburg A telegram from General Joffre to his army commanders in the early afternoon stated that the Germans were in fixed positions that they intended fight for, directing that it was no longer a matter of pursuit by the French (and the British) army, but now one of set piece attacks. Second Lieutenant Charles Caldwell Sills, 20, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre. 2nd Division’s attack began with the advance of the 6th Brigade. On 14th September 9th Brigade lost 650 men and 7th and 8th Brigades lost 150 men each. I refused to spend another night sitting up and say so plainly. Anecdotes and traditions from the Battle of the Aisne: When a German attack seemed to be developing a single company of 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers went forward and dispersed the attack with heavy accurate rifle fire. The Battle of the Aisne took place from 12 - 15 September, 1914, shortly after the German withdrawal from the Battle of the Marne. We have lost men and officers, but have again won a name for doing what it is our duty to do and in this case we held a very important line without giving a yard.”. Presently the news comes that the Germans are in a quarry in the middle of our line, i.e that our line was pierced. A month later it was the scene of further desperate action when the British Expeditionary Force re-crossed it in their unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the German Army entrenched along the … The Aisne River on this stretch is around 100 metres wide, slow and unfordable. In the light of these battles and the failing Austro-Hungarian Army in the East, Falkenhayn said privately that the War was as good as lost. Première Bataille de l'Aisne ) 13-Sep-1914 —27-Sep-1914 Western Army halted by heavy German shelling from beyond Braye horrors. 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