Major WillieS Sarsfield 12/08/146 troops had begun to move westwards on 2 September using the undamaged railways behind the French front which were able to move a corps to the left flank in 5–6 days. On 17 September the French Sixth Army attacked from Soissons to Noyon at the westernmost point of the French flank with the XIII and IV corps supported by the 61st and 62nd divisions of the 6th Group of Reserve Divisions after which the fighting moved north to Lassigny and the French dug in around Nampcel. The French Second Army completed a move from the eastern flank of the French line and overtook command of the left-hand corps of the Sixth Army as indications appeared that German troops were also being moved from the eastern flank. The German IX Reserve Corps had arrived from Belgium by 15 September and next day joined the 1st Army for an attack to the Southwest with the IV Corps and the 4th and 7th Cavalry divisions against the attempted French envelopment. The attack was cancelled and the corps was ordered to withdraw behind the right flank of the 1st Army. The 2nd and 9th Cavalry divisions were dispatched as reinforcements next day but before the retirement began the French attack reached Carlepont and Noyon before being contained on 18 September. The German armies attacked from Verdun westwards to Reims and the Aisne on 20 September cut the main railway from Verdun to Paris and created the St Mihiel salient south of the Verdun fortress zone. The main German effort remained on the western flank which was revealed to the French by intercepted wireless messages. By 28 September the Aisne front had stabilised and the BEF began to withdraw on the night of 1/2 October with the first troops arriving in the Abbeville area on 8/9 October.
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