The Great Retreat

The Great Retreat of World War 1

The Great Retreat, (French: La Grande Retraite) also known as the Retreat from Mons, is the name given to the long withdrawal to the River Marne, in August and September 1914, by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the French Fifth Army, and Allied forces on the Western Front, after their defeat by the armies of the German Empire at the Battle of Charleroi (21 August) and the Battle of Mons (23 August).

A counter-offensive by the Fifth Army, with some assistance from the BEF at the First Battle of Guise (Battle of St. Quentin 29–30 August), failed to end the German advance and the Franco-British retreat continued to and beyond the Marne.

From 5 to 12 September, the First Battle of the Marne ended the Allied retreat and forced the German armies to retire towards the Aisne river and fight the First Battle of the Aisne (13–28 September).

Reciprocal attempts to outflank the opposing armies to the north known as the Race to the Sea followed.

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