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Nine Divisions in Champagne: The Second Battle of the Marne, by Patrick Takle, Pen and Sword Books, Barnsley, United Kingdom, 2015, $39.95

While much has been written about the American Expeditionary Forces’ participation in the Second Battle of the Marne, comparatively little is known about the role played by nine British divisions in helping the French army stop General Erich Ludendorff’s last offensive. Takle, a former British intelligence officer and author of The British Army in France After Dunkirk, focuses on the action involving the British IX Corps (with five divisions) between May 27 and June 6, 1918, during Operation Blücher-Yorck, as well as the XXII Corps’ help in the defense of Reims before being thrown into the line along the Marne, where its four divisions paid a high price. Between them the nine British divisions suffered 43,000 casualties during that pivotal two months, of whom 6,000 were killed. British heroism certainly did not go unnoticed by the French, whose monument to them in the center of Soissons records the names of 3,987 officers and men from the two British corps, along with those whose names remain unconfirmed.

The Second Battle of the Marne, in mid-July 1918, underlined the fact that the German army, despite concentrating superior numbers and backed by tremendous firepower and new tactics, could not overwhelm the Allies. The author’s comprehensive treatment reminds the reader that one vital factor in the Allied victory was the arrival of newly formed American divisions. The book includes General Charles Mangin’s Aug. 7, 1918, address to the Americans, as well as a listing of French, British, American and Italian cemeteries in the Champagne region.

While the Second Battle of the Marne was primarily a Franco-American victory, the British army’s help in assuring it was vitally important. Nine Divisions succeeds in bringing that oft-overshadowed contribution to light.

Thomas Zacharis