General Charles Mangin, ally of General Robert Nivelle, joined the French Army chief in losing his command after the failure of the 'Nivelle Offensive' on the Aisne. This memorial is in Verdun, where the two men led the successful French counter-attacks in late 1916 (Photo Centenary News)

Battle of Chemin des Dames Centenary 2017 - Aisne call for projects

Posted on on 01 August 2016
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Centenary News looks ahead to a significant French anniversary, as the Aisne region prepares for commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Chemin des Dames.  

Community organisations planning Centenary events in 2017 have been invited to apply for grants and endorsement by the Aisne Departmental Council.

The disastrous assault on the ridge of the Chemin des Dames in spring 1917, with the loss of thousands of lives, resulted in the removal of the recently-appointed French Commander-in-Chief, General Robert Nivelle, and widespread unrest in the army.

Themes identified for the Centenary include the first use of French tanks, the mutinies, the role of colonial troops and the impact of the war on the civilian population.  

The Battle of the Chemin des Dames, also known as the Nivelle Offensive and the Second Battle of the Aisne, was conceived as part of a two-pronged Allied assault in April 1917.

British and Commonwealth forces attacked further north at Arras, where the Canadians had a striking success at Vimy Ridge.

Robert Nivelle, the French commander whose reputation was enhanced by the fightback at Verdun, launched his main offensive on the Aisne.

General Nivelle had replaced the formidable figure of Joseph Joffre as French Army chief in December 1916.

But the failure of his promised breakthrough on the Chemin des Dames dashed French hopes, costing him his job after only a few months and triggering refusals by many soldiers to obey orders to attack until General Philippe Pétain took charge.  

The Aisne, northeast of Paris, was among the areas of France most affected by the First World War.

Trench warfare began here in 1914 when all sides started to dig in during the German retreat from the Marne. It was also the scene of fighting in 1918, as the German Army fought its last big offensive.

British, American and Russian soldiers all fought on the Aisne in support of France at various stages. 

Also in Centenary News:

Paul Kendall, author of 'Aisne 1914: The Dawn of Trench Warfare', reports on 2014 events remembering the First Battle of the Aisne.

For more information about the Centenary, visit the Aisne 14-18 website.

Sources: Aisne Departmental Council/Wikipedia/various

Images: Centenary News 

Posted by: CN Editorial Team