Battle Honour MARNE 1914

Saturday, 12 September, 1914
Battle Honour MARNE 1914

The Battle Honour MARNE 1914 is emblazoned on the Queen's Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment. The Battle of the Marne was the counterattack by the French Army and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) along the line of the River Marne from 6-12 September 1914.

The German Armies of von Kluck and von Bulow had suffered significant casualties when breaking across the frontiers and advancing into Belgium and France. As a result, they could not break through the Allies. This led to the (First) Battle of the Marne, which would prove to be a major turning point of the war; it denied the Germans an early victory and forced them from pursuit to retreat.

Following the great retreat past the Marne, the BEF General Joffre's Allied Headquarters had issued orders on 4 September stating:

The dispositions to be realised by the evening of September 5 will be...
The British Army, established on the front Changis-Coulommiers, facing east, ready to attack in the general direction of Montmirail.

The BEF had orders to attack in a north-easterly direction on the morning of 6 September with I Corps right, II Corps in the centre and III Corps on the left. Battalions from our three former regiments were part of the BEF and those present at the Marne were:

  • 2nd Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 12 Brigade of the 4th Division in III Corps.
  • 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles in 7 Brigade of the 3rd Division in II Corps
  • 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers in 10 Brigade of the 4th Division in III Corps

On 9 September von Bülow's army was already in full retreat with the BEF pressing forward on a lightly defended front against von Kluck's rear-left flank. By the afternoon the whole German right wing was retreating back to the River Aisne. The following day and on 11 September, 2 RIR passed deserted German bivouacs, taking a few stragglers as POWs. At around 1100 hours on 12 September it began to rain very heavily and did not cease during the final day of the First Battle of the Marne.