One hundred years, ago one of the most important battles of the 20th century was fought North East of Paris by the Marne River. Throughout the month of August and first days of September 1914, the Imperial German Army marched from victory to victory, crushing Belgium, smashing through Northern France and forcing the French and British Armies into a near month long retreat. The German Schlieffen Plan for the conquest of France seemed to be on the verge of victorious conclusion, while the French war Plan XVII proved to be such a
disaster that by September 3, the French Government had fled Paris and the World waited for a swift German victory, just as they had done in 1870.
But the British and French regrouped and used a new addition to war, air recon, to reform on favorable terrain and attack the Germans in their weakest positions. The German advance was halted, Paris was saved and the war continued...the soldiers would not "be home before the leaves fall" (Kaiser Wilhelm II, August 1914). The victory so change the momentum of the war that the battle was soon called the Miracle on the Marne. What none of the combatants could for see was that this was but the opening volley of a long, bloody war that would leave ten million soldiers dead, tens of millions more wounded, empires destroyed (Russian, Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian) and be the cause of an even greater conflict-the Second World War.