First Battle of the Marne

The First Battle of the Marne was fought between September 5th to 10th in 1914. It was a pivotal battle on the Western Front. The combined Franco-British forces, under the command of General Joffre, turned back the seemingly unstoppable German advance. Never again would the Germans get so far into France, although they came close in the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918.

The battleground was vast, covering a frontage of at least 60 km. In an effort to convey the scale of the battle, and to commemorate the men who fought on both sides, a project was conceived to replay the battle in 6mm scale. What follows is an illustrated description of the project, from conception through to the exhibition that took place on the 100th anniversary of the battle.

The idea first came about more than 6 years ago. The Great War Spearhead (GWSH) rules are a derivative of Arty Conliffe’s Spearhead ruleset (see the official websitehere). A series of Spearhead megagames have been played annually, starting with the Battle of Kursk in 2000. A description of the Kursk and D-Day battles can be found here. The megagames showed that Spearhead could scale. This provided the inspiration for The Guns of August. A group of GWSH enthusiasts got together in Christchurch, New Zealand, in Easter 2008 and replayed part of the Battle of the Marne. Robin Sutton provided a detailed report of the event on his Great Adventure website. The first day is covered on here and the follow-up two day battle report is here.

Apart from being a very enjoyable three days, the event in Christchurch demonstrated that GWSH also scaled. The megagame looked spectacular, extending across 6’ x 27’ of tables. It brought home the scale of the original battle, illustrating the massive numbers of cavalry involved for example. Even so, the game only represented part of the battlefield. The idea was conceived to redo the entire Marne battlefield, coinciding with the 100th anniversary in 2014.

The following sections provide an illustrated walk-through of the project:

Robert Dunlop 2014