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Remembered Today:

France`s Worst Day


PhilB

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In tonight`s documentary, I thought I heard it said that the French lost over 20,000 men killed on a day in August 1914. I`ve tried to check but can find nothing. Which was the French equivalent to 1/7/16?

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Hello,

yes, the 22nd August 1914 is the worst day of the French army: 27000 men were killed this day in "la bataille des frontières".

Sly

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Oct 23 2008, 10:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In tonight`s documentary, I thought I heard it said that the French lost over 20,000 men killed on a day in August 1914. I`ve tried to check but can find nothing. Which was the French equivalent to 1/7/16?

The day in question is August 22nd, 1914, which is supposed to have cost France 27,000 dead : there were said to have been 40,000 fatalities for the four day period between 20th and 23rd August, of whom two thirds fell on the 22nd. I have no authoratitive source to cite for this figure, but it strikes me as feasible. The differenece between these losses and 1/7/16 is that the British 21,000 deaths were confined to a few miles of front in Picardy, whereas the French 27,000 were extended over a vastly greater lenght of front in the battles of the Frontiers. The conensus is that about 300,000 French were killed or died in 1914 alone, and a very substantial portion of these must have died in the six weeks between August 20th and the end of September 1914.In addition, the Germans captured somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 French POWs in 1914 : if we allow for wounded, who must have numbered at least 450,000, we have a French casualty list for 1914 in the order of 900,000+.

Phil.

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1914-1918 by David Stevenson states, on p. 54, the figures quoted above of 40,000 dead between 20-4 August with 27,000 dead on 22 August. He gives as his sources p. 230 of First World War: To Arms by Hew Strachan and p. 80 of The Myth of the First World War by John Mosier. Strachan includes the information at the start of a paragraph that concludes with references to 2 works by Henri Contamine: pp. 234, 246-7 and 276 of La Revanche 1871-1914 and pp. 120 and 285-7 of La Victoire de la Marne, 9 septembre 1914. I don't have Mosier's book to check his sources.
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Right wing rag.

Plays to the prejudices and fears of Middle England.

What, the foreigners suffered more casualties that we did? They actually took part in the war? Harrumph! Can't be right. Especially not the French.

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Any idea whether German casualties were similar? As they were the attackers, one might expect theirs to be higher? Unless these were French attacks?

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Right wing rag.

Plays to the prejudices and fears of Middle England.

What, the foreigners suffered more casualties that we did? They actually took part in the war? Harrumph! Can't be right. Especially not the French

ho yes, we did...

<_<

Sly

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Oct 24 2008, 07:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Any idea whether German casualties were similar? As they were the attackers, one might expect theirs to be higher? Unless these were French attacks?

German casualties were heavy, but nothing like as catastrophic as those of the French. According to one source, their casualties for August 1914 on the Western Front were 136,000. The French probably lost that many in those four days between August 20th and 23rd.

Phil.

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Oct 24 2008, 08:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you, gents. Do the French recognize 22/8/14 as we do 1/7/16?

No, most definitely not. For France, August 1914 was just one welter of disaster - a horrible reminder of French inferiority, almost a repeat of 1870, except with vastly heavier casualties. Indeed, there are features of August 1914 that, for Frenchmen, are redolent of May 1940. Whereas British people regard July 1st 1916 with a sombre pride, tempered with horror, the French view of August 1914 is more complex - resentment against the British, wholesale sackings of generals, secrecy and a feeling of betrayal. I get the impression that French people still do not countenance the enormity of their debacle in those days...they dwell on the Marne and the epic of Verdun - with good reason - but there is little public acknowledgement of how badly things went for them in the last ten days of August 1914. I think I've had too much wine tonight, and might regret this post later!

Phil.

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Hi Phil,

your comments are interesting, I am French and I have to say that I agree with you about 80%. At this time the facts were very different than the 1916 trenchwarfare, I wouldn't say that we have forget the terrible days of August 1914 but there was (is) such a big focus about Verdun after the war, with an evident reason, that other battles were a bit forgotten. Another example: what about the French losses on the Somme (b...y hell, did the French fight in the Somme ?). But may be I've had too much beers tonight... ;)

Sly

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Hi Phil,

your comments are interesting, I am French and I have to say that I agree with you about 80%. At this time the facts were very different than the 1916 trenchwarfare, I wouldn't say that we have forget the terrible days of August 1914 but there was (is) such a big focus about Verdun after the war, with an evident reason, that other battles were a bit forgotten. Another example: what about the French losses on the Somme (b...y hell, did the French fight in the Somme ?). But may be I've had too much beers tonight... ;)

Sly

You will forgive me, I hope, Sly.

I think Papa Joffre kept a lot of the horrors of August 1914 secret : even now there is a distinct lack of general reading matter about those early battles...the recent book by Zuber (?) marks a debut.

Not enough is said about the French contribution on the Somme - two hundred thousand casualties, a higher casualty rate than Verdun, and much more success than the British ( I think the French captured 40,000 Germans, compared with 36,000 taken by the British, at less than half the cost).

Incidentally, the wine I drank this evening was a Fench Merlot.

Phil.

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Right wing rag.

Plays to the prejudices and fears of Middle England.

What, the foreigners suffered more casualties that we did? They actually took part in the war? Harrumph! Can't be right. Especially not the French.

Agree 100%

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Another example: what about the French losses on the Somme (b...y hell, did the French fight in the Somme ?). ;)

Sly

Indeed. That is something that I've reminded some people of a few times in the past.

200,000 casualties sustained in helping the British at the Somme.

Another example .. 100,000 casualties sustained by the French army coming to aide the

British during March 1918.

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I think I've had too much wine tonight, and might regret this post later!

Phil.

But may be I've had too much beers tonight... ;)

Sly

Gentlemen, your spelling is immaculate. You obviously didn't have enough. :P

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Another example .. 100,000 casualties sustained by the French army coming to aide the

British during March 1918.

Better than Ulsterlad`s maybe? (aide?) ;)

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As an example of how little is said about this enormous French loss on August 22nd 1914, let me say that last night, after sinking all this Merlot, I browsed through Robert A. Doughty's Pyrrhic Victory, a rather good book, published recently, and all about the French war effort 1914-1918. The debacle of that day is mentioned, but hardly elicits more than a comment or two. It really isn't sufficiently acknowledged, is it?

Phil.

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Right wing rag.

Plays to the prejudices and fears of Middle England.

What, the foreigners suffered more casualties that we did? They actually took part in the war? Harrumph! Can't be right. Especially not the French.

Well said Chris!

regards

Tom

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