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The First Battle of Artois

A panorama of Loretto Heights including part of Vimy Ridge. Notre Dame de Lorette, a pilgrimage site in 1914, stood on the Heights, and was, with Vimy Ridge, part of the high ground seized by German troops in the Race to the Sea after the Battle of the Marne. French commander Joffre hoped to capture Loretto Heights and Carency, a village the Germans had fortified, in the First Battle of Artois in December, 1914.
Text:
Panorama der Lorettohöhe
Panorama of Loretto Heights
Reverse:
Message dated June 25, 1916, and field postmarked the next day by the Fourteenth Reserve Corps.

A panorama of Loretto Heights including part of Vimy Ridge. Notre Dame de Lorette, a pilgrimage site in 1914, stood on the Heights, and was, with Vimy Ridge, part of the high ground seized by German troops in the Race to the Sea after the Battle of the Marne. French commander Joffre hoped to capture Loretto Heights and Carency, a village the Germans had fortified, in the First Battle of Artois in December, 1914.

Image text

Panorama der Lorettohöhe



Panorama of Loretto Heights



Reverse:

Message dated June 25, 1916, and field postmarked the next day by the Fourteenth Reserve Corps.

Other views: Larger, Back

In their retreat from the Marne, German forces retreated to the high ground behind the Aisne River. The French suffered heavy losses in trying to drive them from the heights until General Joseph Joffre began the mutual outflanking maneuvers that was the Race to the Sea. German troops were very effective at seizing and holding high ground in the battles that shaped the Western Front.

From October 4, 1914, German forces held a band of high ground in Artois including Vimy Ridge and the plateau of Notre Dame de Lorette, a pilgrimage site. From here, they could dominate the French forces from Lens to Arras. By positioning their artillery out of site on the reverse slope, they could shell the French from relative safety.

In an attempt to seize the Loretto Heights and the fortified town of Carency, Joffre and Ferdinand Foch launched an attack, the First Battle of Artois, on December 17, 1914. Over three days of fighting, the French lost 7,751 men, 522 of them officers. The French did not take their objectives.

1914-12-17

1914-12-19