50 Miles To Paris – Third Battle Of The Aisne I THE GREAT WAR Week 201
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The German army has launched a series of offensives
this spring that have radically changed the battle lines of the Western Front, and they
launch yet another one this week. And it has an immediate result that puts a
real scare into the Allies, for the Germans are only 50 miles from Paris. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week there was yet another mutiny in
the Austrian Army, such events were by now almost commonplace. There was action in the skies over Western
Europe and on the road to Tiflis far to the southeast. The Germans were making plans to somehow take
the Baku oil reserves before the Ottomans could get them, and were also finalizing plans
for the next wave of their spring offensives to explode on the Western Front. That explosion came this week. German Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff’s
immediate plan was to threaten Philippe Petain’s troops, so that French and British reserves
would have to be brought south, so that Ludendorff could then deliver a deathblow up in Flanders. On the 27th, Ludendorff’s troops launched
the Third Battle of the Aisne. The artillery bombardment began at two AM,
and was pretty much artillery wizard Georg Bruchmuller’s masterpiece. Using the Pulkowski method of gun calibration,
which allowed the Germans to pre calibrate their guns behind the lines without active
firing on the lines, there was no need of observation and all the firing could be carried
out even in total in darkness. (Spring offensives) “The German gunners
missed hardly a single forward position, communications trench, command post, or battery… The super heavy groups damaged the tracks
behind the French railway guns. Unable to withdraw, 14 were captured…” The preliminary barrage lasted under three
hours, but during the first day of the attack, German artillery fired three million shells,
with 50% being gas shells, which was actually the highest percentage of gas rounds for any
attack of the whole war. At twenty minutes to five- and twenty minutes
to dawn – the German 7th Army infantry went over the top as Operation Blucher kicked off. An hour later, the 1st Army on the left began
Operation Goerz. By 0900, advance troops had reached the Aisne
River, moving so fast that the French could not evacuate their artillery; the Germans
captured 650 big guns. By 1100, German troops had crossed the Aisne
and the Aisne-Marne Canal, by late afternoon the 7th and 1st armies had linked up, and
by midnight they had crossed the Vesle at Courlandon. That day the German infantry advanced 22 kilometers,
which was the biggest single day advance of any attack by any army in the entire war (Spring
offensives). They were admittedly helped along in this
by French General Denis Duchêne, commanding the French 6th Army. He did not believe in “defense in depth
doctrine as advocated by Philippe Petain, and had concentrated his troops in the front
lines, where four whole divisions were basically annihilated. He also waited until too late to order the
bridges over the Aisne destroyed. In fact, his entire defensive position, including
the artillery, was at maximum eight kilometers deep, and he was positioned so he had the
Aisne River at his back. It was a total recipe for disaster. On the 26th, the day before the attack, when
the British – he had three British divisions in his command in addition to his French ones
– reported that things looked like they were about to get ugly, he said (World Undone),
“There is no indication that the enemy has made preparations which would enable him to
attack the Chemin des Dames tomorrow” and then went to Paris to meet his mistress. Lions led by donkeys was sometimes actually
the case. By the end of the second day (Gilbert), a
65km wedge had been plowed through the allied lines. But still, the Germans weren’t successful
everywhere, and some new Allied troops were making their mark. At Cantigny, the first real American offensive
of the war took the village and held it over three days of withering German counterattacks
and continuous shelling. Martin Gilbert writes of Cantigny, “The
impact of its capture was threefold; it deprived the Germans of an important observation point,
it gave (General) Pershing a further argument for an independent United States command,
and it provided, according to one American military historian, “the first cold foreboding
to the German that this was not, as he had hoped, a rabble of amateurs approaching.”” But the Germans still had the problem of lack
of cavalry and armored cars or tanks, and they could not overtake the fleeing enemy. Also, on the left, near Reims, the attacks
had failed. This left the advancing troops exposed on
their flanks. To support the advance southward, they really
needed to take Soissons and Reims, the railway hubs at the western and eastern ends of the
new salient Ludendorff’s armies were creating. On the 29th, the Germans entered Soissons. They had by then taken 50,000 French soldiers
prisoner. On the 30th, they reached the River Marne
and they were still on the move as the week ended, though Reims was out of reach for the
time being. Still, for the first time in three and a half
years, German soldiers stood on the banks of the River Marne, 50 miles from Paris. There was other action in the field this week
too, on a front that’s been quiet for months. The Battle of Skra di Legen was fought May
29th and 30th on the Macedonian Front. This was noteworthy for being the first major
action of the war fought by Greek troops. It was troops from three Greek Divisions under
Lieutenant-General Zymvrakakis, together with a French brigade, attacking strongly fortified
Bulgarian positions Northwest of Thessaloniki. After a Greek artillery barrage the 29th,
the Allies – who seriously outnumbered the Bulgarian defenders – captured Skra the morning
of the 30th. Bulgarian counterattacks were unable to retake
the position. The Allies took just over 2,800 casualties,
the Bulgarians slightly more, with the Allies capturing a dozen artillery pieces and over
30 machine guns. And further to the east in the Caucasus there
was both action in the field, and political scheming. The Battle of Karakilise took place the 26th-28th,
the heaviest fighting so far of the Ottoman offensive against the Transcaucasian Federation. The Ottoman forces were split between those
advancing on Yerevan and those on Karakilise. There are sources that call this battle an
Armenian victory, and even write of Tovmas Nazarbekian and the Armenian Rifles pushing
back the Ottoman 3rd Army, however, “Caucasian Battlefields” describes in pretty good detail
the Ottoman capture of Bezobdal from the Armenian right the 27th, the capbture of Vartanli from
the Armenian left the 28th, and the Armenians having retreated to cover Delijan by the 29th. By then, Nazarbekian’s force was down to
around 5,000 men. West of Yerevan, General Movses Silikian had
meanwhile defeated the Ottomans and stopped them in their tracks at the Battle of Sardarabad,
which raged all week. I’d like to point out that Sardarabad was
not only instrumental in stopping the Ottoman advance into Armenia, but British historian
Christopher Walker says that if the Armenians had lost the battle, “it is perfectly possible
that the word Armenia would have henceforth denoted only an antique geographic term.” But if the Ottoman plans for the Caucasus
had been delayed in the field, they were also being delayed politically by the leaders of
Georgia. Now, last week I mentioned that German General
Kress von Kressenstein was maneuvering to eventually secure the Baku oil fields for
Germany before the Ottomans could reach them. So while the Transcaucasian Diet had delayed
answering the Ottoman ultimatum to give them the Batum-Tiflis- Baku railway line, Kressenstein
had organized the following: on the 27th, the Georgians in the Tra nscaucasian Diet
declared Georgia a republic that was independent from the Transcaucasian Federation. The new republic was a German protectorate. And as the week ended, German and Georgian
flags were flying all along the railway line, two German battalions were en route from the
Crimea, and Vehip and Halil Pasha, the commanders of the Ottoman forces, were absolutely furious,
but at a total loss for what to do. Armenia also declared its own independence
as the Armenian National Council takes charge of affairs, and the Tatar National Council
proclaims “the Republic of Azerbaijan”. And one more note to wrap things up from even
further east: by the end of this week the Czechoslovak legion occupied Chelyabinsk,
Petropavlovsk, and Tomsk. They were now openly fighting the Bolsheviks
in Siberia. So the week ends, with heavy fighting in the
Caucasus as new nations emerge, renewed fighting in the Balkans but by a new belligerent, and
yet another huge offensive by the Germans in the west. That has brought them to within 50 miles of
Paris, after a few days of advancing as many as 15 miles in a day. And if Paris should fall, think of all the
food and material supplies and the infrastructure that will fall into the hands of the Germans
– who desperately need it all. And a seemingly unstoppable army will grow
even stronger… if Paris should fall. If you want to learn more about the Czechoslovak
legion and their exploits in World War 1 and the Russian Civil War, you can click right
here for part 1 of our two part special. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Jason
Whittle. Thank you for your support, Jason and of course
everyone else who is supporting us to make this show better and better. Don’t forget to subscribe and see you next
week.

100 thoughts on “50 Miles To Paris – Third Battle Of The Aisne I THE GREAT WAR Week 201

  1. My wife was watching one of your shows and asked me "who are these ottomans he keeps talking about?". But we know about Armenia today.

  2. I doubt they would be able to get much material from Paris. Either they would need to level everything to get in or they would lose just as much. But, it would have huge repercussions on morale.

  3. Hello Indy! I have a question for 'Out of the Trenches'. When various Soviet Councils were set up in cities and military units around Russia during the revolution, how were the council members chosen? Was there a voting system? Was it local leaders from before the revolution? Whomever happened to be at city hall at the right time?? Thanks! – Keith from Montana

  4. Hi to the great war team are you doing the 93 min battle Le Hamel. One of the most successful battle for the war.

  5. The sad thing is, there are only 23 weeks left in The Great War
    Indie, please do videos on the WW1 aftermath in the countries involved until 1919

  6. Really? The largest advance? I thought that title went to the Germans in Russia after the Russian army went home. I was taught they had the longest, fastest advance of perhaps all time…

  7. The war has raged so long. And yet schools dont teach this,all the sacrifices this generation had to go through. the next generation wont care

  8. French Failure aka A Glorious German Victory – Got kinda excited during the 1st part, as Indy was telling of the advance, it played out like a movie in my head – If only they had some horses, the last calvary charge to victory? #TeamGermany
    Fell like this was kind of the make-or-break point, as far as moral went with the German army, so close… yet so far (feel sad for the ones that were there, their hopes up, everybody happy for a brief moment)

  9. thought Cantigny would be a bigger event… yet again with the French getting beaten I can see how that other battle got over shadowed.

  10. I have been lied to about WWI; Germany won this war. They had to have won — My gosh, up to the present (31 May 1918), the Allies have had almost no success, and a deluge of failure and being slaughtered. On the other hand, Germany has been extremely successful, and more so every week. I'm impressed by how stupid Allied leaders are; they are rather like our US political leaders for 40 years. My morale has been crushed.

  11. Out of the Trenches!
    What exactly was the Pulkowski method of gun calibration, what did he do differently? I read somewhere trigonometry was used during some artillery attacks.

  12. considering the original goal of the war, to kick Russia in the nuts….. is it fair to think that Germany have kinda won and succeeded in their plans

  13. Hi Andy and friends. Could you please elaborate on the method of artillery calibration that the Germans used under Georg Bruchmüller?

  14. I have the bell button clicked on for this channel, and yet this video did not show up on my notifications even though it was recently posted… That's really weird. I even checked it again to see if I had missed it and a few older videos are showing, but not this one.

  15. I've been subscribed for a long time, I watch the videos religiously and have the bell turned on, but I didn't receive a notification for this. Curious.

  16. Great show indie. Thanks for your work. One request: please post main character names in description of video like Erich ludendorff , kreiseinstein etc.

  17. Any plans to cover the wacky years after WWI, with all the revolutions, Balkan skirmishes, Russian Civil War and so on? It's rather a wild aftermath.

  18. Indy i'm a huge fan! I love the show more than Ottoman generals love sending troops into Russia in summer uniforms, but this is my question. Will there be a second world war show. you could even start it in 2019, like 1939 and have the dates line up with the war like you do in your show now? Also were there any incendiary grenades in ww1 like there is in battlefield 1?

  19. crazy knowing the war by this point is 90% the way through but the germans had never looked like winning as much, but we know thats not the case, excited for the rest of these videos. i will finally watch the other episodes then, which i have been putting off in fear of 'spoilers'. also, on a side note, does anyone know whats the deal with the ottomans and the name Pasha? is that an actualy name, or a title, or a formal name or something? loads of the ottomans in command seem to all have this name

  20. At the Battle of Cantigny a company of the 1st battalion of the 26th infantry comanded by Major Theodore Roosevelt Jr was used to reinforce a weak spot in the line. He returned to active duty for WWII, fought in Africa, Sicily and led the first wave to Utah beach not mention all he was involved in between the wars. He was his father's son.

  21. The editing in these videos are amazing and as someone who considers themselves a WW2 historian I love learning something new about WW1 because i don't know enough about WW1 compared to WW2!

  22. Sounds like you're drumming up to the season finale "Fall of Paris". German troops marching through the Arc de Triomphe.

  23. ….and it happens yet again, liking the video before it has even started….one does wonder, has Indy & Co become an addiction, an addiction to which there's no cure?
    Onwards and upwards to one million subscribers guys! 👍👌🤘👊🙌👏

  24. Why does Indy call the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, the "Transcaucasian Federation"? I feel like the TDFR is a more official name, and TDFR is easier to say than saying Transcaucasian Federation every time.

  25. Come on they havent tasted the might of merica yet. Wait till the germans meet my brothers in the USMC. Uuuraaahhhh

  26. IN SKRA Bulgarian army got orders to stop fighting by the Government in Sofia because the war looked already lost and there is little point to continue fighting . Bulgarian troops were on low moral but still i am surprised with 2800 casualties for the Allies considering Bulgarian troops were probably 3000-3500

  27. Hi Indy
    I have to do presentation in school about the weapons and strategies used in World War 1! Maybe you can send me some links where I can find the main things or a summary, would be great!😇☺ Oh and please never stop making such great videos! I am watching them week by week since mid of 2015!😊👍👌

  28. Here's a question that may have been asked and answered already, but here goes anyway. Why does it seem like the majority of the action on the Western Front seems to take place in Flanders and Northern France when ground and weather conditions usually seem to be fairly appalling? Surely there must have been an easier place to plan and carry out offensives?

  29. SPOILER
    .
    .
    .
    In less than six months, Germany will lose the war. How? They seem to be doing pretty well right now.

  30. 50 Miles to Paris: Maybe it's time to remind that the Germans were closer to Paris in summer 1914, as I live in a village where a skirmish started the 1st Battle of the Marne, approximtively 30-35 miles east of Paris.

  31. I had no idea that Germany was still on the offensive this late in the war. For all my knowledge of the follow on war, this channel is showing me how much there is to learn about the first one!

  32. Caption correction: It should be better "Photo by Československá obec legionářská". Form "Československé obce legionářské" means either plural or an inflexed term, which is not the case for English.

  33. Wow. Ì only came across this channel a week or so ago. I've been bingeing on the weekly videos until I was up to date at last. I've learnt a lot that I had no idea about before. My grandfather joined up in 1914 with the Green Howards ( Yorkshire Regiment ) and was taken prisoner in the German spring offensive in 1918. He hid his machine gun under a bridge, ditched his ID papers and ripped the machine gun battalion badge off his uniform before he surrendered as he believed he would just be beaten and shot otherwise. His family got a telegram saying he was missing presumed dead. He got repatriated quite quickly and was back in Britain on the first of January 1919. His family were shocked to see him,of course and he was shocked to find that his wife had died of the Spanish flu while he had been a prisoner of war. Apparently flu killed more people than the war did.

  34. Sorry for criticizing but in french, reims is pronounced like “reince” even tho its spelled differently

  35. Sir when do the new episodes come out. I am currently reading a book about the Somme. As a retired soldier I can truly understand the failure to find new solutions but do not understand the lack of care for the enlisted soldiers.

  36. So sorry I am joining Great War channel so late! Just finished reading Margaret MacMillan book "The War That Ended Peace" – so this channel picks ups where book leaves off! Well done!
    Question on Season 3 Episode 4 – statue of Frederick the Great covered in American flag. ok, so Frederick was first to recognize the new nation. How does this square with 30,000+ German troops (from various german states) hired by Britain during the Revolution?? From my point of view: German states profit from a war, then American profits from a war.

  37. 50 miles sounds cool for a headline. but how many Km were they from Paris? because, you know its what almost everyone really use to measure distance

  38. When will Generals learn “Never underestimate the enemy.” Regardless of how easy you think something is caution towards new threats must be taken with care.

  39. Hey Great War! I just wanted to thank everyone there so much for this channel. I have always been interested in WWI, but didn't know of your channel until Aug 2018. I've been binge watching all the episodes ever since and it has been a great pleasure to watch your channel grow over the years. I think you're doing great work and I greatly appreciate what you've created.
    Thanks,
    David from Cincinnati

  40. Biggest advance of the entire war…and in large part because of the actions of one man. All those men who died taking that Chamin Des Dame from 14-17…died for nothing other than offsetting deaths of the Germans.

    Re-reading Ludendorff's plans I believe he really was never up to the task. To plan a breakout with its cavalry to exploit (those who disparate Haig for always having his ready for such a breakout might remember it is better to be prepared for a breakout than to waste the blood of men creating that opportunity for nothing) was a clear oversight. The cavalry had been key to Eastern advances (granted more forage for them there), and since he was planning to use much of the strategy there in France (Flanders was never going to be right for cavalry)…this failure could be seen as one of the key reasons for overall failure. Had another general been in charge? Thankfully it was Ludendorff.

  41. I must take issue with the quote "Lions led by Donkeys" that quote is mostly attributed to Alan Clark who later admitted he had made it up.

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