Chapter Questions for Guns of August
Chapter14: Debacle – Lorraine, Ardennes, Charleroi, Mons
- Tuchman writes “…and if, amid the adulation, the ghost of Schlieffen grumbled at “ordinary frontal victories” without envelopment or annihilation or muttered scornful references to a “wild hunt for medals,” no one heard him.” (pg. 288) Explain her point in the context of the action in the Ardennes on August 23rd.
- Analyze British General Henry Wilson’s decision to discount intelligence reports about the numbers of German troops aligned opposite the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium. What did he believe to be true about the situation? (pp. 292-294)
Wilson thought the idea of envelopment was over exaggerated.
Wilson believed that German strength was one or two corps and one cavalry division, which was inferior or at most equal to the BEF’s two corps and cavalry division.
- What surprise did Von Kluck’s German forces discover on the road to Soignies? What disadvantage did the British face there? (pp. 293-94)
Von Kluck’s German forces discovered the British on the road to Soignies.
- Who was made the scapegoat for French failure at Charleroi and a call for retreat to preserve his forces? (pg. 300) Provide a brief narrative of the events at Charleroi.
Lanrezac made the Commander of the Fifth Army the scapegoat.
Since the Fourth Army would be delayed, Lanrezac ordered a retreat of the Fifth Army because as long as the Fifth Army lives, France is not lost. This made it hard for the French to defeat Germany. Joffre did not agree with Lanrezac but he ratified the order. As a result, the French retreated instead of counterattacked.
- What is Tuchman’s tone when summarizing the Battle of Mons? (pp 306-307) Explain.
Tuchman’s tone is depressing and pathetic. The Battle of Mons is when the French retreated and were defeated. They had four divisions instead of six and their confidence decreased. Afterwards, Belgium smelled terrible with the dead bodies lying around.
- Joffre cast blame for allied failures on the field generals. Assess the accuracy of his judgment. (pp. 308-309)
This statement is not accurate because the failures were due to several other factors (listed in question seven) not just the field generals. Furthermore, Joffre strongly believed in an offensive war which wasn’t suited for the French. Joffre blamed the field generals for the failures so he would not have to be responsible for the failures.
- Discuss the realistic causes for allied failures in the four major engagements discussed. What did Tuchman mean when she wrote “Élan had not been enough?”
Plan 17 is a failure.
Not prepared for offensive.
Misunderstanding of the plans.
Infantry attacks were launched at too great of a distance.
Lack of coordination between artillery and infantry.
Too much cran that caused French failure.
Field regulations were misunderstood and badly applied.
No artillery support.
They needed to copy the enemy in using airplanes to prepare attack.
They needed trenches.
“Elan had not been enough” indicates that Germany is still hungry for more power.