World War I Podcast

The Champagne Defensive, July 1918



In July 1918, Germany embarked on its final offensive of the war. This offensive called for a massive push across the old battlefields of the Champagne to the east and west of Reims in order to seize the rail center of Chalons sur Marne and cut off the French armies defending Paris and Verdun. French General Henri Gouraud's IV Army was responsible for the Allied defense of Reims. During this critical period, the 42nd "Rainbow" Division was under his command. As Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division, Douglas MacArthur took part in this battle and was cited for bravery by General Gouraud and Major General Charles Menoher, commander of the 42nd Division. The Champagne Defensive would prove to be a critical moment in World War I – as well as a turning point in the life of Douglas MacArthur.