Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire; the county town was Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge. Wiltshire is characterised by its high wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, as a training area for the British Army; the city of Salisbury is notable for its medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere; the county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton. Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology; the Mesolithic and Bronze Age people that occupied southern Britain built settlements on the hills and downland that cover Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn was fought in 675 between Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga, King Wulfhere of Mercia. In 878 the Danes invaded the county. Following the Norman Conquest, large areas of the country came into the possession of the crown and the church. At the time of the Domesday Survey the industry of Wiltshire was agricultural. In the succeeding centuries sheep-farming was vigorously pursued, the Cistercian monastery of Stanley exported wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire was Parliamentarian; the Battle of Roundway Down, a Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes. In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War, World War I and World War II.
The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry lives on as Y Squadron, based in Swindon, B Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire, providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol to London until the development of the Great Western Railway. Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire is available on Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History website which has maps, demographic data and modern pictures and short histories; the local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond; when confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.
Many villages claim the tale for their own village pond, but the story is most linked with The Crammer in Devizes. Two-thirds of Wiltshire, a rural county, lies on chalk, a kind of soft, porous limestone, resistant to erosion, giving it a high chalk downland landscape; this chalk is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire is Salisbury Plain, used for arable agriculture and by the British Army as training ranges; the highest point in the county is the Tan Hill–Milk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale, just to the north of Salisbury Plain, at 295 m above sea level. The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology; the Marlborough Downs are part of a 1,730 km2 conservation area.
In the northwest of the county, on the border with South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset, the underlying rock is the resistant oolite limestone of the Cotswolds. Part of the Cotswolds AONB is in Wiltshire, in the county's northwestern corner. Between the areas of chalk and limestone downland are clay vales; the largest of these vales is the Avon Vale. The Avon cuts diagonally through the north of the county, flowing through Bradford-on-Avon and into Bath and Bristol; the Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford Clay in the centre of the county. In the south west of the county is the Vale of Wardour; the southeast of the county lies on the sandy soils of the northernmost area of the New Forest. Chalk is a porous rock, so the chalk hills have little surface water; the main settlements in the county are therefore situated at wet points. Notably, Salisbury is situated between the chalk of marshy flood plains; the county has green belt along its western fringes as a part of the extensive Avon green belt, reaching as far as the outskirts of Rudloe/Corsham and Trowbridge, preventing urban spr
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the British government department responsible for implementing the defence policy set by Her Majesty's Government and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces. The MOD states that its principal objectives are to defend the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and its interests and to strengthen international peace and stability. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the MOD does not foresee any short-term conventional military threat; the MOD manages day-to-day running of the armed forces, contingency planning and defence procurement. During the 1920s and 1930s, British civil servants and politicians, looking back at the performance of the state during the First World War, concluded that there was a need for greater co-ordination between the three services that made up the armed forces of the United Kingdom—the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force; the formation of a united ministry of defence was rejected by David Lloyd George's coalition government in 1921.
As rearmament became a concern during the 1930s, Stanley Baldwin created the position of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence. Lord Chatfield held the post until the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government in 1940. Winston Churchill, on forming his government in 1940, created the office of Minister of Defence to exercise ministerial control over the Chiefs of Staff Committee and to co-ordinate defence matters; the post was held by the Prime Minister of the day until Clement Attlee's government introduced the Ministry of Defence Act of 1946. The new ministry was headed by a Minister of Defence; the three existing service Ministers—the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air—remained in direct operational control of their respective services, but ceased to attend Cabinet. From 1946 to 1964 five Departments of State did the work of the modern Ministry of Defence: the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Aviation, an earlier form of the Ministry of Defence.
These departments merged in 1964. The Ministers in the Ministry of Defence are as follows: The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the British Armed Forces and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister; the CDS is supported by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff who deputises and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the armed services aspect of the MOD through the Central Staff, working alongside the Permanent Secretary. They are joined by the professional heads of the three British armed services and the Commander of Joint Forces Command. All personnel sit at OF-9 rank in the NATO rank system. Together the Chiefs of Staff form the Chiefs of Staff Committee with responsibility for providing advice on operational military matters and the preparation and conduct of military operations; the current Chiefs of Staff are as follows. Chief of the Defence Staff – General Sir Nick Carter Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff – General Sir Gordon Messenger First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff – Admiral Sir Philip Jones Chief of the General Staff – General Mark Carleton-Smith Chief of the Air Staff – Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier Commander of Joint Forces Command – General Sir Christopher Deverell The Chief of Staff is supported by several other senior military personnel at OF-8 rank.
Chief of Defence People – Lieutenant General Richard Nugee Deputy Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant-General Douglas Chalmers Deputy Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant-General Mark Poffley Chief of Joint Operations - Vice-Admiral Timothy Fraser Defence Senior Adviser Middle East - Lieutenant-General John LorimerAdditionally, there are a number of Assistant Chiefs of Defence Staff, including the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff and the Defence Services Secretary in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff. Permanent Secretary and other senior officials The Ministers and Chiefs of the Defence Staff are supported by several civilian and professional military advisors; the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence is the senior civil servant at the MOD. Their role is to ensure that it operates as a government department and has responsibility for the strategy, reform and the finances of the MOD; the role works with the Chief of the Defence Staff in leading the organisation and supporting Ministers in the conduct of business in the Department across the full range of responsibilities.
Permanent Under-Secretary of State – Stephen Lovegrove Director General Finance – Cat Little Director General Head Office and Commissioning Services – Julie Taylor Director General Nuclear – Julian Kelly Director General Security Policy – Peter Watkins MOD Chief Scientific Adviser – Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte MOD Chief Scientific Adviser – Professor Robin Grimes Lead Non-Executive Board Member – Sir Gerry Gri
The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve personnel; the modern British Army traces back to 1707, with an antecedent in the English Army, created during the Restoration in 1660. The term British Army was adopted in 1707 after the Acts of Union between Scotland. Although all members of the British Army are expected to swear allegiance to Elizabeth II as their commander-in-chief, the Bill of Rights of 1689 requires parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a peacetime standing army. Therefore, Parliament approves the army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years; the army is commanded by the Chief of the General Staff. The British Army has seen action in major wars between the world's great powers, including the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First and Second World Wars.
Britain's victories in these decisive wars allowed it to influence world events and establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers. Since the end of the Cold War, the British Army has been deployed to a number of conflict zones as part of an expeditionary force, a coalition force or part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation; until the English Civil War, England never had a standing army with professional officers and careerist corporals and sergeants. It relied on militia organized by local officials, or private forces mobilized by the nobility, or on hired mercenaries from Europe. From the Middle Ages until the English Civil War, when a foreign expeditionary force was needed, such as the one that Henry V of England took to France and that fought at the Battle of Agincourt, the army, a professional one, was raised for the duration of the expedition. During the English Civil War, the members of the Long Parliament realised that the use of county militia organised into regional associations commanded by local members of parliament, while more than able to hold their own in the regions which Parliamentarians controlled, were unlikely to win the war.
So Parliament initiated two actions. The Self-denying Ordinance, with the notable exception of Oliver Cromwell, forbade members of parliament from serving as officers in the Parliamentary armies; this created a distinction between the civilians in Parliament, who tended to be Presbyterian and conciliatory to the Royalists in nature, a corps of professional officers, who tended to Independent politics, to whom they reported. The second action was legislation for the creation of a Parliamentary-funded army, commanded by Lord General Thomas Fairfax, which became known as the New Model Army. While this proved to be a war winning formula, the New Model Army, being organized and politically active, went on to dominate the politics of the Interregnum and by 1660 was disliked; the New Model Army was paid off and disbanded at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. For many decades the excesses of the New Model Army under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell was a horror story and the Whig element recoiled from allowing a standing army.
The militia acts of 1661 and 1662 prevented local authorities from calling up militia and oppressing their own local opponents. Calling up the militia was possible only if the king and local elites agreed to do so. Charles II and his Cavalier supporters favoured a new army under royal control; the first English Army regiments, including elements of the disbanded New Model Army, were formed between November 1660 and January 1661 and became a standing military force for Britain. The Royal Scots and Irish Armies were financed by the parliaments of Ireland. Parliamentary control was established by the Bill of Rights 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689, although the monarch continued to influence aspects of army administration until at least the end of the nineteenth century. After the Restoration Charles II pulled together four regiments of infantry and cavalry, calling them his guards, at a cost of £122,000 from his general budget; this became the foundation of the permanent English Army. By 1685 it had grown to 7,500 soldiers in marching regiments, 1,400 men permanently stationed in garrisons.
A rebellion in 1685 allowed James II to raise the forces to 20,000 men. There were 37,000 in 1678. After William and Mary's accession to the throne England involved itself in the War of the Grand Alliance to prevent a French invasion restoring James II. In 1689, William III expanded the army to 74,000, to 94,000 in 1694. Parliament was nervous, reduced the cadre to 7000 in 1697. Scotland and Ireland had theoretically separate military establishments, but they were unofficially merged with the English force. By the time of the 1707 Acts of Union, many regiments of the English and Scottish armies were combined under one operational command and stationed in the Netherlands for the War of the Spanish Succession. Although all the regiments were now part of the new British military establishment, they remained under the old operational-command structure and retained much of the institutional ethos and traditions of the standing armies created shortly after the restoration of the monarchy 47 years earlier.
The order of seniority of the most-senior British Army line regiments is based on that of the English army
4th Royal Tank Regiment
The 4th Royal Tank Regiment was an armoured regiment of the British Army from its creation in 1917, during World War I, until 1993. It was part of the Royal Tank Regiment, itself part of the Royal Armoured Corps; the regiment saw action as D Battalion, Tank Corps in 1917. In 1940, it was amalgamated with the 7th Royal Tank Regiment, as the 4th/7th Royal Tank Regiment, returning to its previous title four months later.4 RTR was captured at Tobruk on 21 June 1942. On 1 March 1945, 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps was redesignated 4th Royal Tank Regiment to replace the original; the newly retitled regiment equipped with Buffalo LVTs took part in Operation Plunder, ferrying troops of 51st Highland Division across the Rhine on the night of 23/24 March 1945. The Commanding Officer carried the same standard, carried across by 17th Armoured Car Battalion of the Royal Tank Corps in the First World War. Once again the RTR was first across the Rhine. In 1948 it assisted in the ending of the British Mandate over Palestine.
In 1959, it was again amalgamated with 7th Royal Tank Regiment, this time without a change of title, in 1993 due to Options for Change, amalgamated with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment. Philip John Gardner – Victoria Cross Tobruk 1941 "4th Royal Tank Regiment". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007; the History of the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiment. Revised 2011 The website of 4th RTR on the internet The History of the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiment Merseyside RTR
A regiment is a military unit. Their role and size varies markedly, depending on the arm of service. In Medieval Europe, the term "regiment" denoted any large body of front-line soldiers, recruited or conscripted in one geographical area, by a leader, also the feudal lord of the soldiers. By the end of the 17th century, regiments in most European armies were permanent units, numbering about 1,000 men and under the command of a colonel. During the modern era, the word "regiment" – much like "corps" – may have two somewhat divergent meanings, which refer to two distinct roles: a front-line military formation. In many armies, the first role has been assumed by independent battalions, task forces and other, similarly-sized operational units. However, these non-regimental units tend to be short-lived. A regiment may be a variety of sizes: smaller than a standard battalion, e.g. Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. S. Infantry Regiment and Royal Regiment of Scotland; the French term régiment is considered to have entered military usage in Europe at the end of the 16th century, when armies evolved from collections of retinues who followed knights, to formally organised, permanent military forces.
At that time, regiments were named after their commanding colonels, disbanded at the end of the campaign or war. It was customary to name the regiment by its precedence in the line of battle, to recruit from specific places, called cantons; the oldest regiments which still exist, their dates of establishment, include the Spanish 9th Infantry Regiment “Soria”, Swedish Life Guards, the British Honourable Artillery Company and the King's Own Immemorial Regiment of Spain, first established in 1248 during the conquest of Seville by King Ferdinand the Saint. In the 17th century, brigades were formed as units combining infantry and artillery that were more effective than the older, single-arms regiments. By the beginning of the 18th century, regiments in most European continental armies had evolved into permanent units with distinctive titles and uniforms, each under the command of a colonel; when at full strength, an infantry regiment comprised two field battalions of about 800 men each or 8–10 companies.
In some armies, an independent regiment with fewer companies was labelled a demi-regiment. A cavalry regiment numbered 600 to 900 troopers. On campaign, these numbers were soon reduced by casualties and detachments and it was sometimes necessary to amalgamate regiments or to withdraw them to a depot while recruits were obtained and trained. With the widespread adoption of conscription in European armies during the nineteenth century, the regimental system underwent modification. Prior to World War I, an infantry regiment in the French, German and other smaller armies would comprise four battalions, each with a full strength on mobilization of about 1,000 men; as far as possible, the separate battalions would be garrisoned in the same military district, so that the regiment could be mobilized and campaign as a 4,000 strong linked group of sub-units. A cavalry regiment by contrast made up a single entity of up to 1,000 troopers. A notable exception to this practice was the British line infantry system where the two regular battalions constituting a regiment alternated between "home" and "foreign" service and came together as a single unit.
In the regimental system, each regiment is responsible for recruiting and administration. The regiment is responsible for recruiting and administering all of a soldier's military career. Depending upon the country, regiments can be administrative units or both; this is contrasted to the "continental system" adopted by many armies. In the continental system, the division is the functional army unit, its commander is the administrator of every aspect of the formation: his staff train and administer the soldiers and commanders of the division's subordinate units. Divisions are garrisoned together and share the same installations: thus, in divisional administration, a battalion commanding officer is just another officer in a chain of command. Soldiers and officers are transferred out of divisions as required; some regiments recruited from specific geographical areas, incorporated the place name into the regimental name. In other cases, regiments would recruit from a given age group within a nation, an ethnic group, or foreigners.
In other cases, new regiments were raised for new functions within an army.
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1.38 million. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton and the city of Liverpool. Merseyside, created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, takes its name from the River Mersey. Merseyside spans 249 square miles of land which border Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the Irish Sea to the west. North Wales is across the Dee Estuary. There is a mix of high density urban areas, semi-rural and rural locations in Merseyside, but overwhelmingly the land use is urban, it has a focused central business district, formed by Liverpool City Centre, but Merseyside is a polycentric county with five metropolitan districts, each of which has at least one major town centre and outlying suburbs. The Liverpool Urban Area is the fifth most populous conurbation in England, dominates the geographic centre of the county, while the smaller Birkenhead Urban Area dominates the Wirral Peninsula in the south.
For the 12 years following 1974 the county had a two-tier system of local government. The county council was abolished in 1986, so its districts are now unitary authority areas. However, the metropolitan county continues to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference, several county-wide services are co-ordinated by authorities and joint-boards, such as Merseytravel, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the Merseyside Police; the boroughs of Merseyside are joined by the neighbouring borough of Halton in Cheshire to form the Liverpool City Region, a local enterprise partnership and combined authority area. Merseyside is an amalgamation of 22 former local government districts from the former administrative counties of Lancashire and six autonomous county boroughs centred on Birkenhead, Liverpool, Southport, St Helens, Wallasey. Merseyside was designated as a "Special Review" area in the Local Government Act 1958, the Local Government Commission for England started a review of this area in 1962, based around the core county boroughs of Liverpool/Bootle/Birkenhead/Wallasey.
Further areas, including Widnes and Runcorn, were added to the Special Review Area by Order in 1965. Draft proposals were published in 1965, but the commission never completed its final proposals as it was abolished in 1966. Instead, a Royal Commission was set up to review English local government and its report proposed a much wider Merseyside metropolitan area covering southwest Lancashire and northwest Cheshire, extending as far south as Chester and as far north as the River Ribble; this would have included four districts: Southport/Crosby, Liverpool/Bootle, St Helens/Widnes and Wirral/Chester. In 1970 the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive was set up, covering Liverpool, Sefton and Knowsley, but excluding Southport and St Helens; the Redcliffe-Maud Report was rejected by the incoming Conservative Party government, but the concept of a two-tier metropolitan area based on the Mersey area was retained. A White Paper was published in 1971; the Local Government Bill presented to Parliament involved a substantial trimming from the White Paper, excluding the northern and southern fringes of the area, excluding Chester, Ellesmere Port.
Further alterations took place in Parliament, with Skelmersdale being removed from the area, a proposed district including St Helens and Huyton being subdivided into what are now the metropolitan boroughs of St Helens and Knowsley. Merseyside was created on 1 April 1974 from areas parts of the administrative counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, along with the county boroughs of Birkenhead, Liverpool, St Helens. Following the creation of Merseyside, Merseytravel expanded to take in St Southport. Between 1974 and 1986 the county had a two-tier system of local government with the five boroughs sharing power with the Merseyside County Council. However, in 1986 the government of Margaret Thatcher abolished the county council along with all other metropolitan county councils, so its boroughs are now unitary authorities. Merseyside is divided into two parts by the Mersey Estuary, the Wirral is located on the west side of the estuary, upon the Wirral Peninsula and the rest of the county is located on the east side of the estuary.
The eastern part of Merseyside borders onto Lancashire to the north, Greater Manchester to the east, with both parts of the county bordering Cheshire to the south. The territory comprising the county of Merseyside formed part of the administrative counties of Lancashire and Cheshire; the two parts are linked by the two Mersey Tunnels, the Wirral Line of Merseyrail, the Mersey Ferry. Merseyside contains green belt interspersed throughout the county, surrounding the Liverpool urban area, as well as across the Mersey in the Wirral area, with further pockets extending towards and surrounding Southport, as part of the western edge of the North West Green Belt, it was first drawn up from the 1950s. All the county's districts contain some portion of belt. Raby on the Wirral is Merseyside's green belt. Ipsos MORI polls in the boroughs of Sefton
Western Front (World War I)
The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium gaining military control of important industrial regions in France; the tide of the advance was turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918. Between 1915 and 1917 there were several offensives along this front; the attacks employed massive artillery massed infantry advances. Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery inflicted severe casualties during attacks and counter-attacks and no significant advances were made. Among the most costly of these offensives were the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, with a combined 700,000 casualties, the Battle of the Somme in 1916, with more than a million casualties, the Battle of Passchendaele, in 1917, with 487,000 casualties.
To break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front, both sides tried new military technology, including poison gas and tanks. The adoption of better tactics and the cumulative weakening of the armies in the west led to the return of mobility in 1918; the German Spring Offensive of 1918 was made possible by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war of the Central Powers against Russia and Romania on the Eastern Front. Using short, intense "hurricane" bombardments and infiltration tactics, the German armies moved nearly 100 kilometres to the west, the deepest advance by either side since 1914, but the result was indecisive; the inexorable advance of the Allied armies during the second half of 1918 caused a sudden collapse of the German armies and persuaded the German commanders that defeat was inevitable. The German government surrendered in the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the terms of peace were settled by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. At the outbreak of the First World War, the German Army, with seven field armies in the west and one in the east, executed a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan, moving through neutral Belgium to attack France, turning southwards to encircle the French Army and trap it on the German border.
The Western Front was the place where the most powerful military forces in Europe, the German and French armies and where the war was decided. Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain under the Treaty of London, 1839. Armies under German generals Alexander von Kluck and Karl von Bülow attacked Belgium on 4 August 1914. Luxembourg had been occupied without opposition on 2 August; the first battle in Belgium was the Siege of Liège. Liège was well surprised the German Army under Bülow with its level of resistance. German heavy artillery was able to demolish the main forts within a few days. Following the fall of Liège, most of the Belgian field army retreated to Antwerp, leaving the garrison of Namur isolated, with the Belgian capital, falling to the Germans on 20 August. Although the German army bypassed Antwerp, it remained a threat to their flank. Another siege followed at Namur; the French deployed five armies on the frontier. The French Plan XVII was intended to bring about the capture of Alsace-Lorraine.
On 7 August, the VII Corps attacked Alsace to capture Colmar. The main offensive was launched on 14 August with the First and Second Armies attacking toward Sarrebourg-Morhange in Lorraine. In keeping with the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans withdrew while inflicting severe losses upon the French; the French Third and Fourth Armies advanced toward the Saar River and attempted to capture Saarburg, attacking Briey and Neufchateau but were repulsed. The French VII Corps captured Mulhouse after a brief engagement on 7 August but German reserve forces engaged them in the Battle of Mulhouse and forced a French retreat; the German Army swept through Belgium, razing villages. The application of "collective responsibility" against a civilian population further galvanised the allies. Newspapers condemned the German invasion, violence against civilians and destruction of property, which became known as the "Rape of Belgium". After marching through Belgium and the Ardennes, the Germans advanced into northern France in late August, where they met the French Army, under Joseph Joffre, the divisions of the British Expeditionary Force under Field Marshal Sir John French.
A series of engagements known as the Battle of the Frontiers ensued, which included the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons. In the former battle the French Fifth Army was destroyed by the German 2nd and 3rd Armies and the latter delayed the German advance by a day. A general Allied retreat followed, resulting in more clashes at the Battle of Le Cateau, the Siege of Maubeuge and the Battle of St. Quentin; the German Army came within 70 km of Paris but at the First Battle of the Marne and British troops were able to force a German retreat by exploiting a gap which appeared between the 1st and 2nd Armies, ending the German advance into France. The German Army retreated north of the Aisne River and dug in there, establishing the beginnings of a static western front, to last for the next three years. Following this German retirement, the opposing forces made reciprocal outflanking manoeuvres, known as the Race for the S