A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 245

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VON KLUCK'S ACCOUNT


loss, which is known to have been considerable. Lanrezac’s management of the battle has been severely criticised in France, and he was superseded soon after it by Franchet d'Esperey. But he had to contend with superior numbers and a deplorably bad strategic pOvSition, due to the German movement through Belgium and the sudden appearance of Hausen's army. If the line of the Sarnbrc had been defended with more energy, Lanrezac could not have escaped, and could not, by saving the 5tharmy,havesavedFrance. TheGermansregardthebattle as a tactical success for themselves, but a strategic failure, and such it was. Many of the advantages gained by the advance through Belgium were lost when Lanrezac and French escaped the toils. Hausen was removed, ostensibly on the grounds of ill health, after the Marne, but really it would seem because the German staff blamed him for failing to cut off the French. AstheGermanhistorianBaumgarteft-Crusius,inhisbook The Movements of German Armies in the battle of the Marne," points out, the real fault rested with the German high command, which failed to profit by an extraordinarily favourable situation. In his bt)ok " The March on Paris," General von Kluck states that the Germans only learnt on August 22 of the presence of British troops in front of the 2nd army (Biilow). The more im- portant was it, observes Kluck, that his own army, the ist, should keep well to the westward, and so outflank the British, but an army order directed Kluck's army to wheel to the left in support of Biilow, and this order was upheld in spite of Kluck's appeal to the supreme command. He says that had he been free he could have outflanked the British army from the west, forced it back on the French 5th army (Lanrezac), and taken both in the rear. The battle of Charleroi was a definite German success, but it would be absurd to exaggerate it into the importance of a decisive victory. In so far that the subsequent retreat did in fact extricate the Allied armies from incalculable disaster it may be said that the first great German stroke had failed, and the opportunities pre- sented to them by their advance through Belgium were lost. But it would be equally wrong not to admit that the battles of Charleroi and Mons might easily have been converted into deci- sive victories. That they were not must be attributed, amongst other causes, to defective intelligence on the side of the Germans and faulty leadership, which led to sudden changes of plan.

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