Allies grow in confidence as war enters fifth year
Marne, 5 August 1918 - Church sermons have been delivered, memorials have been held and statements from heads of states have been made to mark the ending of the fourth year of the current war.
For the allies, the anniversary has been occasioned by much solemnity and growing optimism that the year ahead might bring ultimate victory and peace.
Sir Douglas Haig, speaking to a reporter from the Press Association, paid tribute to the fighting qualities of the British troops and acknowledged that ‘the steady stream of U.S. troops’ had ‘restored the balance’ on the western front. Haig, who currently commands the Anglo-French troops on the western front, added that the allies ‘could now look forward with added confidence to the future’. Such confidence would have been unthinkable just a few short weeks ago as the allies struggled to contain the German offensive on the western front.
Since March of this year, a war of movement – of rapid developments and quick changes – has replaced the trench warfare that had charactarised the fighting since the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914.
The Germans led this war of movement with their Spring offensive, but according to The Irish Times, after the ‘despair’ of recent months, ‘a light is breaking upon the darkness’.
Although recent reports indicate that French troops and allied units were making considerable headway to the north of the Marne, German sources are striking a defiant note, claiming to have repulsed many of the allied attacks and to have enjoyed success of their own in Champagne.
Meanwhile, the Kaiser delivered a proclamation from Berlin to members of the German forces, commending them on their efforts and achievements over the course of the last four years.
In the first year, the Kaiser stated, they had carried the war into the enemy’s country and preserved their own homeland from the ‘horrors and devastations of war’; in the second and third years they had broken the strength of the enemy in the east; in the fourth year, the fruits of their efforts had delivered peace in the east and, in recent months, their offence in the west had ‘heavily hit’ their enemy in what, the Kaiser claimed, was among the ‘highest deeds of fame of German history’.
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]