The First Battle of the Marne & the End of the Schlieffen Plan

Combatants at 1st Marne-2

The first Battle of the Marne was fought from 5-12 September, 1914.  It was the turning point of the opening campaign in what would be known as the Western Front during World War I.  First Marne represented the death of German hopes for a repeat of 1870 and ensured that Germany would have to face every German planner’s nightmare for over a century, a two front war. The Schlieffen Plan was supposed to allow Germany to defeat her two great enemies, France and Russia, one after the other in sequence.  The greatest flaw in the Schlieffen Plan was actually the plan itself.  It was an attempt to move huge masses … Read more…

Last of the True Welsh

Personal Arms of Llywelyn ap Gruffyd, the last native Prince of Wales.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Little known facts:

Personal Arms of Llywelyn ap Gruffyd, the last native Prince of Wales.
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Today in 1282, the English completed the extinction of the Welsh Royal dynasty when they captured and killed  Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last independent Prince of Wales.

Book Review: Kirov by John Schettler

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Kirov by John Schettler is the Philadelphia Experiment in reverse.  It is the tale of a Russian cruiser that through some anomaly that is never fully explains finds itself catapulted eighty years backwards in time from 2021 to 1941 to just weeks prior to the meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill at Argentia Bay in Newfoundland.   The cruiser in the novel is the resurrected, upograde, and fully modernized guided missile cruiser Kirov that currently exists in the Russian Navy today.  Of course the cruiser used in the book is a fictionalized version but … Read more…

Happy Veterans Day

Today is Veteran’s Day in the US and Armistice Day in Britain and France. It is a day to remember the end of the fighting in World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It is also the day set aside in the US to remember all veterans, not just those of World War I but also those that served in our nation’s other wars and those that served during peacetime. It takes something special to serve your country and a little bit more to do so voluntarily. There is always the possibility of going to war and giving your life … Read more…

The Fronts of World War I in 1917 & 1918

The tactical and strategic situation at the beginning of 1917 was little changed from that at the beginning of 1916.   All that the offensives on the Western Front had managed to accomplish the previous year were minor changes in the trace of the trenches and massive loss of life.   Both the British and French planned further offensives in the west during the years but events would intervene to ensure that only the British committed themselves to large-scale offensives on the Western Front in 1917. The spring and summer saw the French army undergo a crisis of confidence that has come to be known as the French mutinies, thought … Read more…

The Fronts of World War I in 1915 & 1916

After Turkey’s entry into the war towards the end of 1914, the Dardanelles was closed to allied shipping and thus the only warm water route to Russian ports was closed.   The allied solution to this dilemma was to use the powerful British Navy in concert with a French battle group to force the Dardanelles and reopen the route to the Black Sea.   This operation gained added impetus with the massive Russian losses suffered in the previous year and because of the Turkish opening of a new front against Russia along their common frontier in the Caucasus. The first naval attempt to force the Dardanelles in February 1915 ended … Read more…

The Opening Months of World War I in the East and Elsewhere

The opening months of World War I on the Eastern Front did not proceed at as the German General Staff thought they would.   When General Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1912) was drawing up the German war plan that would subsequently bear his name, he made several assumptions about the Russian army that would prove to be false. The most glaring incorrect assumption was the Germans estimate of the time it would take the Russian army to take the offensive.   The German General Staff assumed it would the take the Russians at least forty days to complete mobilization and begin their offensive.   This was the amount of time they … Read more…

Europe and the Crusading Impulse

Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries was a continent in transition.   The states of Europe were still in flux and the kings of Europe had limited authority outside their own personal demesne.   Although individual French kings did wield considerable power, they waged a constant struggle to have their authority recognized by the great magnates in France, especially after the fall of the Carolingian dynasty in the ninth century[1].   The rest of Europe was no exception, in England the king was engaged in a great struggle with his leading barons and the Pope that would not be settled until the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215[2]. … Read more…

The Opening Months of World War I in the West

This will be a series of posts laying out the general history of the major Fronts in World War I. The First World War was unnecessary in that if the diplomats of Europe had truly wanted to stop the war there was ample opportunity in the five weeks between the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the start of the fighting.[1] The outbreak of war in 1939 can be directly traced to the terms of the Peace dictated at Versailles in 1919, and World War II was incomparably more destructive than World War I both in terms of lives lost and property destroyed. It was fashionable in the aftermath … Read more…

Combatant Military Strategic Thought in 1914

All classical military theorists point out that military strategy and national policy are intermingled.   Clausewitz devotes a lengthy portion of his treatise to the ways in which military action should serve the needs of the state; indeed, his most famous quote concerns politics and war.   Most of the combatants in World War I seem to have forgotten that policy drives strategy. When the Elder Moltke was Chief of the German General Staff, German war-plans and policy neatly interlinked however, during Schleiffen’s tenure as Chief of the General Staff that link between policy and strategy was lost.   The Great Memorandum of 1905 ignored political reality in favor of … Read more…

Why the Western Front Stalemated in WWI

The conventional explanation for why the Western Front in World War I settled into a stalemate is that the power of defensive weapons was stronger than the offensive methods employed.   The theory is that the defensive potential of machine-guns, artillery, repeating rifles, and trenches was unbreakable with infantry and artillery alone.   This simplistic explanation does not suffice under close scrutiny though.   If this were so, why were the Germans not stopped in France until after they had removed troops to the Eastern front for the Battle of Tannenberg and why were the French stopped cold when they attempted to invade Germany in August 1914? The reasons for … Read more…

The Crimean War part one – The Narrative

This war has always interested me; mainly because of the use of technology and the admittedly fuzzy reasoning for the war in the first place.   The war was probably the last European Great Power War that was fought for limited dynastic and prestige reasons.   The ostensible cause of the war was a dispute in 1852 between the Orthodox and Catholic churches over control and access to some of the shrines in Jerusalem.   The Russians decided to get involved as the self-appointed guardians of Christian places in the Turkish Empire and the French got involved in their self-appointed role as the guardian of Catholics.   At that, war was not declared until October 1853 and the shooting did not really start until November when the Russian Black Sea Fleet decimated the Turkish navy.

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