Michel-Joseph Maunoury

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Michel-Joseph Maunoury
Michel-Joseph Maunoury.jpg
General Maunoury
Born (1847-12-17)17 December 1847
Maintenon
Died 28 March 1923(1923-03-28) (aged 75)
Allegiance  France
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1876–1920
Rank Marshal of France
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Marshal of France (posthumous)

Michel-Joseph Maunoury (17 December 1847 – 28 March 1923) was a commander of French forces in the early days of World War I.

Biography[edit]

He was born on 17 December 1847.

He was recalled from retirement at the age of 67 in August 1914 to lead the so-called 'Army of Lorraine'. But his place in history would be made in a quite different sector of the front, much closer to home near Paris, during the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914.

An artillery officer by training, Maunoury was handed command of the seven reserve divisions that formed part of the Army of Lorraine. This army's mission was to reclaim the Lorraine territory, lost to the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War.

The main plank of Plan XVII (the French pre-war strategy for avenging this humiliating defeat and equivalent of the Schlieffen Plan) focused chiefly around the recapture of the coal-rich regions of Alsace-Lorraine.

Maunoury's seven reserve divisions began to assemble on 21 August (seven days after Ferdinand Foch and Auguste Dubail launched their invasion of Lorraine in accordance with Plan XVII). His divisions were briefly attached to the retreating First and Second Armies in Lorraine before being quickly redeployed by rail on 26 August further northwest to form the new Sixth Army north of the Western Front. Once there his troops helped the newly arrived British Expeditionary Force to escape encirclement at the Battle of Le Cateau, before being again redeployed to a position near Paris on 1 September.

The decision to redeploy Maunoury's army was made by General Joseph Gallieni, Military Governor of Paris, so they could attack German General Alexander von Kluck's First Army in its exposed flank (a plan devised by Gallieni himself). Gallieni further reinforced Maunoury by ferrying troops to the front in a fleet of Parisian taxi cabs. With Maunoury's attack on 6 September (as ordered by French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre ) the First Battle of the Marne commenced, which almost certainly saved Paris from being lost to the Germans.

Maunoury himself was severely wounded by being shot through the eye and rendered partially blind while touring the front on 11 March 1915, thereby ending his active career.

He died in 1923, and was posthumously promoted to Marshal of France.

References[edit]

  • Evans, M. M. (2004). Battles of World War I. Select Editions. ISBN 1-84193-226-4.
  • Klein, C. A. (1989). Maréchal Maunoury Le Soldat exemplaire, Hugues de Froberville, Blois. ISBN 978-2-907659-02-4.
  • Général Brécard. (1937). Le Maréchal Maunoury, Editions Berger-Levrault, Paris.