World War I
The Importance of the Marne River

The Importance of the Marne River
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.99

     challenging words:    out-manned, focal, toll, resistance, cabs, military, gain, decisive, beginning, victory, retreat, lines, advance, battle, goal, however
     content words:    Marne River, World War, Schlieffen Plan, United States, Allied Forces

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The Importance of the Marne River
By Jane Runyon

1     The Marne River became a focal point of World War I at the beginning of the war and also near the end of the war. The Germans were following a plan, the Schlieffen Plan. This plan set a goal of defeating the French and taking control of their country very early. They felt that a bold move such as this would bring a quick close to the war. In order for the Germans to reach their final target of Paris, they planned to march through Belgium and then cross the Marne River. They expected very little resistance from the Belgians or the French. It was easy to see that the French weren't going to put up much of a fight. Many citizens of Paris left their homes when the first news arrived that the Germans were advancing. The Germans were surprised, however.
2     When the Germans entered Belgium, they were met by a small, but energetic Belgian force. They weren't able to stop the German army, but they were able to slow the advance into France. When the Germans entered France in September of 1914, two of their divisions planned to meet at a certain point south of the Marne River. There was a gap of about twenty miles between these two divisions. The French army took advantage of this gap and put themselves between the two divisions. They put up a battle that is said to have even surprised the French commanders. They were able to hold off the German advance. French reinforcements were sent to the site of the battle in taxi cabs from Paris. What a sight that must have been! The Germans were unable to break through the French line and retreated back toward the border. The out-manned French army had saved Paris. The German plan for swift victory was not going to work.
3     Almost four years later, in June of 1918, the Marne River was again the site of a battle. The German army was planning a last ditch effort to take Paris. The French army needed more help this time. Four years of war had taken its toll on their troops. The French commanders were able to persuade the British to send four divisions of soldiers to help protect the Marne River. As it happened, the United States had just entered the war. Two divisions of American soldiers had just arrived in France. They were sent to join the French and British troops. The Allied Forces held firm and even attacked the Germans, sending them in full retreat.

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