By late September 1914, at least three major stages on the Western front were entering crucial developments:
-The Germans and Entente were still counting their losses and examining the results of the recent Battle of the Marne, in which the German advance through France had finally been halted.
-The Entente still had to pull its forces together for organized resistance following a massive, general retreat from Northern France.
-A new phase was beginning in which battles began to shift farther and farther back into Northern France as the opponents sought to gain the other’s flank.
On September 26, a battle ended which punctuated the third of the above developments: Each side thought they had traveled far enough North to make a turn towards the enemy flank, but instead a vicious, desperate engagement followed instead between Albert (just north of the Somme) to Noyon on the Oise river.
Neither side managed to cut through the other, and Picardy eventually became merely a bloody northern extension of the battle lines of the Western Front, bracketed by the Battle of the Aise (Sept. 13-28) to the South, and the Battle of Albert (Sept. 25-29) to the North.
It’s a hallmark of the hurried, desperate nature of these battles that no certain figures of the casualties are available . . . each side was so anxious to gain the advantage of a flanking maneuver that neither took the time to count the costs.