First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a World War I battle fought from 6–12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German armies in the west; the battle was the culmination of the German advance into France and pursuit of the Allied armies which followed the Battle of the Frontiers in August and had reached the eastern outskirts of Paris. A counter-attack by six French armies and the British Expeditionary Force along the Marne River forced the Imperial German Army to retreat northwest, leading to the First Battle of the Aisne and the Race to the Sea; the battle was a victory for the Allied Powers but led to four years of trench warfare stalemate on the Western Front. The battle of the Marne was a major turning point of World War I. By the end of August 1914, the whole Allied army on the Western Front had been forced into a general retreat back towards Paris. Meanwhile, the two main German armies continued through France, it seemed that Paris would be taken as both the French and the British fell back towards the Marne River.
The war became a stalemate. It was one of the most important events in the war; the German retreat left the Schlieffen Plan in ruins and Germany had no hope of a quick victory in France. Its army was left to fight a long war on two fronts. Field Marshal Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, began to plan for a full British retreat to port cities on the English Channel for an immediate evacuation; the military governor of Paris, Joseph Simon Gallieni, wanted to organise the French and British armies to counter the weight of the German army's advance. After consulting Lord Kitchener about the use of British forces, Gallieni secured the overall command of the BEF, thus stopping Sir John's planned withdrawal. Gallieni's plan was simple. All Allied units would counter-attack the Germans along the Marne River, thus halting the German advance; as this was going on, Allied reserves would be thrown in to restore the ranks and attack the German flanks. On 5 September, in the mid-afternoon, battle commenced when the French Sixth Army stumbled into the forward guard of the German First Army.
By 9 September, it looked as though the German First and Second Armies would be encircled and destroyed. General von Moltke suffered a nervous breakdown upon hearing of the danger to his two armies, his subordinates ordered a general retreat to the Aisne River in order to regroup. The retreating armies were pursued by the French and British, although the pace of the Allied advance was slow – a mere 19 km in one day; the German armies ceased their retreat after 65 km at a point north of the Aisne River, where they dug in, preparing trenches that were to last for several years. The German retreat between 9 September and 13 September marked the abandonment of the Schlieffen Plan. Moltke is said to have reported to the Kaiser: "Your Majesty, we have lost the war." In the aftermath of the battle, both sides dug in and four years of stalemate ensued. The Battle of the Frontiers is a general name for all the operations of the French armies from 7 August to 13 September. A series of encounter battles began between the German and Belgian armies on the German-French frontier and in southern Belgium on 4 August 1914.
Liège was occupied by the Germans on 7 August. The first units of the British Expeditionary Force landed in France and French troops crossed the German frontier; the Battle of Mulhouse was the first French offensive of World War I. The French captured Mulhouse, until forced out by a German counter-attack on 11 August, fell back toward Belfort. On 12 August, the Battle of Haelen was fought by German and Belgian cavalry and infantry, resulting in a Belgian defensive success; the BEF completed its move of four divisions and a cavalry division to France on 16 August, as the last Belgian fort of the Fortified Position of Liège surrendered. The Belgian government withdrew from Brussels on 18 August; the main French offensive, the Battle of Lorraine, began with the Battles of Morhange and Sarrebourg advances by the First Army on Sarrebourg and the Second Army towards Morhange. Château-Salins near Morhange was Sarrebourg the next day; the German 6th and 7th Armies counter-attacked on 20 August, the Second Army was forced back from Morhange and the First Army was repulsed at Sarrebourg.
The German armies crossed the border and advanced on Nancy, but were stopped to the east of the city. The Belgian 4th Division, the solitary part of the Belgian army not to retreat to the defensive lines around Antwerp, dug in to defend Namur, besieged on 20 August. Further west, the French Fifth Army had concentrated on the Sambre by 20 August, facing north on either side of Charleroi and east towards Namur and Dinant. Additional support was given to the Belgians at Namur by the French 45th Infantry Brigade. On the left, the Cavalry Corps of General Sordet linked up with the BEF at Mons. To the south, the French retook Mulhouse on 19 August and withdrew. By 20 August, a German counter-offensive in Lorraine had begun and the German 4th and 5th Armies advanced through the Ardennes on 19 August towards Neufchâteau. An offensive by the French Third and Fourth Armies through the Ardennes began on 20 August in support of the French invasion of Lorraine; the opposing armies met in thick fog. On 22 August, the Battle of the Ardennes began with French attacks, which were costly to both sides and forced the Fren
Battle of Dinant
The Battle of Dinant was an engagement fought by French and German forces in and around the Belgian town of Dinant in the First World War, during the German invasion of Belgium. The French Fifth Army and the British Expeditionary Force advanced into Belgium and fought the Battle of Charleroi and Battle of Mons, from the Meuse crossings in the east, to Mons in the west. On 15 August 1914, German troops captured the Citadel of Dinant. French troops spent the next few days fortifying the Meuse crossings and exchanging fire with German troops on the east bank. A German raiding-party drove into Dinant on the night of 21/22 August but the attack degenerated into a fiasco, in which Germans may have fired at each other. Rather than assume that the small-arms fire had come from the French on the west bank, the Germans blamed Belgian civilians, killing seven and burning down 15 to 20 houses in reprisal; the raiders ran away, with 117 wounded. On 23 August, the Germans attacked Dinant again, under the impression that the town was full of francs-tireurs and massacred 674 unarmed Belgian civilians, while fighting the French, who were dug in along the west bank and on the east end of the bridge.
The massacre was a systematic attack on assumed civilian resisters and was the largest German atrocity perpetrated during the invasion, which became known as The Rape of Belgium. In 1914, the town had a population of 7,000 people and was an important strategic crossing on the Meuse, where the river flows through a south–north gorge. Three roads and a path converged on the town from the east, over an escarpment and down into the town, along which an attack from the east would come; the wooded ridge on the east bank was topped by the Napoleonic era stone Citadel of Dinant overlooking the town and the Meuse bridge, 100 m below. In 1914 there was a ribbon of streets about 4 km long on a few hundred metres wide. Before the battle, the Mayor of Dinant urged the population to not take part in the fighting and forbade manifestations in support of the Allies; the initial operations in the German invasion of France began with the Occupation of Luxembourg and the invasion of Belgium on 4 August. Five German infantry brigades, three cavalry divisions with horse artillery and machine-gun detachments and ten Jäger battalions crossed the Belgian border.
The 5th Cavalry Division and the Guard Cavalry Division advanced through Luxembourg and entered Belgium on 10 August, with orders to advance 60 km north-west to Dinant and scout the Meuse as far as the French border near Givet. The town of Dinant was close to the French border, between Liège and Mons on the east bank of the Meuse. On 6 August, Belgian engineers dispersed a patrol of German hussars at Anseremme and on 12 August, French infantry at Dinant destroyed a cavalry patrol. By 14 August, the French Fifth Army had occupied Dinant and the west bank of the Meuse with two divisions and next day, the main force of the German 3rd Army arrived. On 15 August, troops of the German 3rd and 4th Cavalry divisions, five battalions of Jäger and three field artillery groups, attempted to take Dinant by coup de main; the French I Corps held the west bank of the Meuse and at Dinant, the 2nd Division had a battalion of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, two companies of the 148th Infantry Regiment and a section of machine-guns in the citadel and in the exits from Dinant, towards the St. Nicolas and Leffe suburbs.
At 6:00 a.m. German cavalry guarded the flanks as the 12th Freyberg Jäger Battalion and the 13th Garde-Jäger Battalion supported by horse artillery and machine-guns, attacked the town and citadel; the Germans got a machine-gun into the citadel around 11:45 a.m. and the French retreated through a small stairway along the cliff, having had 50 percent casualties. Jäger descended the stairway and advanced into the town by 1:30 p.m. The French, with no artillery, were forced out of the citadel and back over the bridge to the west bank. Parties of Jäger crossed the bridge in pursuit, as Germans on the high ground on the east bank and in the citadel, engaged the French at the end of the bridge with machine-gun fire; the French retired to the slopes on the west bank, where there was good cover and towards 2:00 p.m. French artillery were heard, as the 8th and 73rd Infantry regiments counter-attacked down the slope with great determination; the Jäger were forced back across the Meuse and by 5:00 p.m. the French had climbed the 408 stairs to the citadel and retaken it.
The Germans withdrew from the town and the heights with their prisoners, towards the main body of the 3rd Army. During the battle, the French Cavalry Corps, attempted to attack the German flank on the east bank but was held up by German infantry; the French retired to the west bank having lost 1,100 casualties and occupied the bridge and houses nearby. Two battalions of the 148th Infantry Regiment in Leffe and St. Nicolas retired to the west bank. In Dinant a civilian had been killed, one had been wounded and the hospital and houses on the east bank had been hit by shells. On 16 August the French fortified the west bank of the Meuse at Dinant; the bridge was blocked with barbed-wire entanglements and the streets near the river were barricaded. The railway station and the level crossing on the Dinant–Onhaye road were garrisoned and the Hotel de la Poste and houses along the Meuse were loopholed to command the riverbanks and the approach roads. On the east bank the French built barricades and put up barbed-wire in front of the bridge-pier
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
Affair of Néry
The Affair of Néry was a skirmish fought on 1 September 1914 between the British Army and the German Army, part of the Great Retreat from Mons during the early stages of the First World War. A British cavalry brigade preparing to leave their overnight bivouac were attacked by a German cavalry division of about twice their strength, shortly after dawn. Both sides fought dismounted. British reinforcements arrived at around 8:00 a.m. counter-attacked the Germans and forcing them to retreat. Three men of L Battery were awarded the Victoria Cross for their part in the battle' the battery was awarded the honour title of "Néry", the only British Army unit to have this as a battle honour. After the British and German armies first encountered each other at the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914, the outnumbered British Expeditionary Force had begun to fall back in front of a stronger German army; the two clashed again at the Battle of Le Cateau on 26 August, after which the British again retreated towards the River Marne.
The retreat was disciplined. As a result, the bulk of the Expeditionary Force was able to retreat for several days without engaging in any major fighting. On 31 August, the Expeditionary Force continued falling back to the south-west, crossing the River Aisne between Soissons and Compiègne, with a rear guard provided by the brigades of the Cavalry Division; the day's march was cut short by the warm weather, which exhausted the fatigued infantry, they halted for the night just south of the Aisne. The I Corps bivouacked north of the forest around Villers-Cotterêts, with the II Corps to their south-west at Crepy-en-Valois, the III Corps further to the west around Verberie; this left a gap of around five miles between the II and III Corps, filled by the 1st Cavalry Brigade, stationed at the village of Néry. The brigade had spent the day scouting for the German vanguard to the north-west of Compiegne, did not reach its rest area until dusk, around 8.30pm. The British plan for the following day was for a march of ten to fourteen miles southwards to a new defensive line, which called for an early departure from their rest areas.
However, most units had reached their overnight stations quite late on the 31st, so General Pulteney, the corps commander, ordered a departure. Behind the retreating British forces, the German 1st Army on the right wing had begun to swing south, aiming to cross the river Oise around Compiègne, with the goal of cutting off the retreat of the French Fifth Army and isolating Paris. On the afternoon of 31 August, the 5th Division was identified about eight miles north-west of Compiègne and heading southwards, whilst the leading cavalry divisions of the army crossed the Oise north of Compiègne around the same time; the German units were on a forced march, ordered to reconnoitre towards Paris with all possible speed, had begun moving at 4 am that morning. Many would continue through the following night, they pressed on regardless of fatigue. The first contact between the armies that evening was just after nightfall, when the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers of III Corps encountered a patrol of the 8. Husaren-Regiment, of the 9th Cavalry Division, outside Verberie, on the extreme west flank of the British force.
On the British side, the 1st Cavalry Brigade bivouacked at Néry consisted of three cavalry regiments under the command of Brigadier-General Sir Charles Briggs, the 2nd Dragoon Guards, 5th Dragoon Guards and 11th Hussars. Each had a nominal strength of 549 men in three squadrons, with two Vickers machine-guns. Both units were part of the British Expeditionary Force Cavalry Division, had seen action throughout the Retreat from Mons, including fighting at the Battle of Mons and the Battle of Le Cateau but neither had suffered many casualties and were still close to establishment size; the German forces were screened on their southern flank by five cavalry divisions. One of these, the 4th Cavalry Division, had crossed the Oise during 31 August and moved towards Néry unaware of the presence of British forces in the area. Commanded by General Otto von Garnier, the division consisted of six 722-man cavalry regiments in three brigades, along with a divisional artillery battalion of twelve guns, a battery of six machine-guns and two Jäger battalions, each with a further six machine-guns.
The divisional units were the 3. Kavallerie-Brigade commanded by Karl Leopold Graf von der Goltz, the 17. Kavallerie-Brigade commanded by Ernst Graf von Schimmelmann, the 18. Kavallerie-Brigade commanded by Walther von Printz. Garni
Siege of Namur (1914)
The Siege of Namur was a battle between Belgian and German forces around the fortified city of Namur during World War I. Namur was defended by a ring of modern fortresses, known as the Fortified Position of Namur and guarded by the Belgian 4th Division; when the siege began on 20 August, the German forces used experience gained at the Battle of Liège and bombarded the forts using German super-heavy siege artillery and four batteries on loan from Austria-Hungary, before attacking with infantry. The French army was defeated at the Battle of Charleroi and managed to pass only one regiment into Namur as a reinforcement; the forts were destroyed by the bombardment, some being demolished by conventional heavy artillery rather than the siege guns, due to flaws in the concrete protection encasing the forts. The last of the Belgian fortress troops were forced to surrender on 25 August, after the survivors of the Belgian 4th Division had withdrawn to the south through the French Fifth Army and joined the Belgian field army at Antwerp during the siege.
Belgian military planning was based on an assumption that other powers would eject an invader but the likelihood of a German invasion, did not lead to France and Britain being seen as allies or for the Belgian government intending to do more than protect its independence. The Anglo-French Entente had led the Belgians to perceive that the British attitude to Belgium had changed and that it was seen as a British protectorate. A General Staff was formed in 1910 but the Chef d'État-Major Général de l'Armée, Lieutenant-Général Harry Jungbluth was retired on 30 June 1912 and not replaced until May 1914 by Lieutenant-General Chevalier de Selliers de Moranville who began planning for the concentration of the army and met railway officials on 29 July. Belgian troops were to be massed in central Belgium, in front of the National redoubt of Belgium ready to face any border, while the Fortified Position of Liège and Fortified Position of Namur were left to secure the frontiers. On mobilization, the King chose where the army was to concentrate.
Amid the disruption of the new rearmament plan, the disorganised and poorly trained Belgian soldiers would benefit from a central position, to delay contact with an invader but it would need fortifications for defence, which were on the frontier. A school of thought wanted a return to a frontier deployment in line with French theories of the offensive. Belgian plans became a compromise in which the field army concentrated behind the Gete river with two divisions forward at Liège and Namur. German strategy had given priority to offensive operations against France and a defensive posture against Russia since 1891. German planning was determined by numerical inferiority, the speed of mobilisation and concentration and the effect of the vast increase of the power of modern weapons. Frontal attacks were expected to be costly and protracted, leading to limited success after the French and Russians modernised their fortifications on the frontiers with Germany. Alfred von Schlieffen, Chief of the Imperial German General Staff) from 1891–1906, devised a plan to evade the French frontier fortifications with an offensive on the northern flank, which would have a local numerical superiority and obtain a decisive victory.
By 1898–1899, such a manoeuvre was intended to pass swiftly through Belgium, between Antwerp and Namur and threaten Paris from the north. Helmuth von Moltke the Younger succeeded Schlieffen in 1906 and was less certain that the French would conform to German assumptions. Moltke adapted the deployment and concentration plan to accommodate an attack in the centre or an enveloping attack from both flanks as variants, by adding divisions to the left flank opposite the French frontier, from the c. 1,700,000 men which were expected to be mobilised in the Westheer. The main German force would still advance through Belgium to attack southwards into France, the French armies would be enveloped on their left and pressed back over the Meuse, Somme, Oise and Seine rivers, unable to withdraw into central France; the French would either be annihilated by the manoeuvre from the north or it would create conditions for victory in the centre or in Lorraine on the common border. The Meuse valley was a route by which France or Germany could be invaded and after the Franco-Prussian War, General Henri Alexis Brialmont fortified the valley at Liège and Namur, to deter France and Germany from violating Belgian sovereignty.
The Fortified Position of Namur was built from 1888–1892, about 7 kilometres from the centre of Namur, to a standard design of triangular and quadrilateral shapes, to minimize the number of defensive batteries in the fort ditches, with the point facing outwards. On the left bank of the Meuse lay the modernised forts of Fort de Malonne, Fort de Saint-Héribert and Fort de Suarlée, the unmodernised Fort d'Emines and Fort de Cognelée and the modernized Fort de Marchovelette. On the right bank were Fort de Maizeret, Fort d'Andoy and Fort de Dave, all modernized; the obsolete Citadel of Namur in the town became redundant. The forts were built of non-reinforced concrete but this could only be poured in daylight, which caused weak joints between each pour. A citadel was covered by 3 -- 4 metres of concrete; the entrance had a long access ramp at the rear facing Namur, protected by a tambour with gun embrasures perpendicular to the entry, a rolling drawbridge retracting laterally over a 3.5 metres pit equipped with grenade launchers, an entrance grille and a 57-millimetre gun firing along the axis of the ga
Third Battle of Artois
The Third Battle of Artois, was fought by the French Tenth Army against the German 6th Army on the Western Front of World War I. The battle is known as the Loos–Artois Offensive and included the big British offensive by the British First Army, known as the Battle of Loos; the offensive, meant to complement the Second Battle of Champagne, was the last attempt of 1915 by the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre to exploit an Allied numerical advantage over Germany. Joffre's plan was for simultaneous attacks in Champagne-Ardenne and Artois, to capture the railways at Attigny and Douai, to force a German withdrawal from the Noyon salient. Joffre's plan was a series of attacks along the Western Front, supported by Italian attacks across the Isonzo River and a British Expeditionary Force attack near Loos-en-Gohelle. At first, Field Marshal John French and General Sir Douglas Haig opposed the attack, because of the lay of the land, a lack of heavy artillery and reserves; the generals were over-ruled by the British minister of war, Lord Horatio Kitchener, who ordered French and Haig to conduct the offensive.
The Tenth Army massed seventeen infantry and two cavalry divisions for the offensive, backed by 630 field guns and 420 heavy artillery pieces. The German 6th Army had about thirteen divisions and from 19–13 September, the French fired 1.4 million field gun shells and 250,000 heavy rounds at the German defences. Obsolete 90 mm guns were used to fire another 63,500 shells. Following a four-day artillery bombardment which had begun on 21 September, infantry of the French Tenth Army attacked at 12:25 p.m. to be sure that the morning mist had dispersed. XXI Corps attacked the rest of Souchez village and La Folie farm, XXXIII Corps made some progress but the III and XII corps to the south was repulsed. On the XXI Corps front, the 13th Division, attacking near Souchez with 14,790 men had casualties of 41 percent in the first few days. During the afternoon it began to rain, impeding artillery observation and attack times were altered to later in the day, which made co-ordination with the British First Army on the northern flank much more difficult.
By 26 September, the XXXIII and XXI corps had taken Souchez but the III and XII corps had made little progress south-east of Neuville-St Vaast. The French failed to breach the German second line of defence and a breakthrough could not be achieved. Joffre sent the French IX Corps to assist the British attacks at Loos but this action yielded little of strategic value. Foch was ordered by Joffre to conserve infantry and ammunition to reinforce the simultaneous offensive in Champagne. In wet weather, the Tenth Army captured Vimy Ridge, except for the highest point, where German counter-attacks retook the ground from XXXIII Corps. Foch took over ground on the British right flank but it became impossible to co-ordinate attacks for the same day; the Battle continued until 13 October but ended amidst the autumn rains, mutual exhaustion and inter-Allied recriminations. The two French 1915 offensives in Artois had advanced the front line by 5–6 km on a 9 km front. Fayolle reported that the Third Battle of Artois had been a failure, because of uncut wire and the firepower of German machine-guns and artillery.
The success of infantry attacks was dependent on the ability of the artillery to cut the wire, destroy German field fortifications and prevent the German artillery bombarding French infantry by using counter-battery fire. The German official historians of the Reichsarchiv recorded German casualties to the end of October as 51,100 men. In 2008, Sheldon used figures taken from the French Official History to record 48,230 casualties, fewer than half of the casualties of the spring offensive from April to June. J. E. Edmonds, the British official historian, recorded 61,713 British and c. 26,000 German casualties at the Battle of Loos. Elizabeth Greenhalgh wrote that of the 48,230 casualties, 18,657 had been killed or listed as missing, against the capture of 2,000 prisoners, 35 machine-guns and many trench mortars and items of equipment. Chtimiste.com: Third Battle of Artois
Siege of Maubeuge
The Siege of Maubeuge took place from 24 August – 7 September 1914, at le camp retranché de Maubeuge the start of World War I on the Western Front. The Entrenched Camp blocked the railway from Thionville to Luxembourg, cut by the demolition of the rail bridge over the Meuse at Namur in Belgium to the north; until Maubeuge fell, the German armies in the north could use only the single-track line from Trier to Liège, Brussels and Cambrai, which could accommodate a maximum of forty trains a day. At the end of August the garrison made several sorties but the third was a costly failure, after which the French prepared to receive the German attack; the German bombardment had begun at 1:00 p.m. on 29 August, assisted by agents in the Entrenched Position who passed reports on the fall of shot increasing the accuracy of the German guns. The forts and ouvrages were wrecked by the German and Austrian super-heavy howitzers and German medium artillery proved unexpectedly effective. Parts of Maubeuge were set on fire, causing an exodus of civilians and deserters to the village of Hautmont to the south-west.
From 1 to 7 September, the French were forced out into the open and infantry attacks from the east overran the French defences on both sides of the Sambre, forcing the survivors back level with Maubeuge. Brigadier-General Joseph Fournier, the governor of Maubeuge, surrendered to General Hans von Zwehl on 7 September, effective at noon the next day; the French had suffered 5,000 casualties and up to 49,000 troops went into captivity, along with several hundred guns and machine-guns. The garrison had withstood bombardment by heavy and super-heavy artillery, air raids and infantry attacks for fifteen days, longer than any other besieged fortress in Belgium or France, leaving the German 2nd Army short of troops as it pursued the Franco-British Armies southwards towards the Marne. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 the French built more fortresses on the German border and extended the frontier fortifications northwards with new building at Hirson, Maubeuge and Dunkirk. Raymond Adolphe Séré de Rivières oversaw the creation of a ring fortress, le camp retranché de Maubeuge with the construction of six forts and seven intermediate fortifications.
The town walls, 500–600 m in diameter, had been built by Marshal Sébastien de Vauban in the seventeenth century. Forts de Boussois, des Sarts, de Leveau, d'Hautmont, du Bourdiau and Fort de Cerfontaine were built about 3–6 km beyond the city walls, on a circumference of about 32 km; the forts were pre-1885 masonry types except for du Bourdiau, which had a concrete shell, capable of resisting some modern heavy artillery. The masonry forts had a covering of earth 3 m thick, except for Le Sarts, which had a clay layer only.5 m thick. Ouvrages had been built in the wide gaps between the forts, except between Boussois and Le Sarts where two were built. Ouvrage de Rocq in the south-east had an infantry parapet and some masonry shelters, the other ouvrages were low concrete shelters with provision for seating; the forts had no ancillary services like kitchens or first aid posts and water was drawn from a well, which could be blocked by artillery fire. The forts contained 80–90 guns which had no overhead cover, making them vulnerable to counter-battery fire, except Boussois and Fort de Cerfontaine, which had two cast iron Menon 155 mm gun turrets and three 75 mm turrets.
French forces at the Fortified Camp of Maubeuge:Governor: Brigadier-General Joseph Fournier Deputy: Brigadier-General Gabriel VilleNorth Fort de Leveau Fort des Sarts Ouvrage d’Héronfontaine Ouvrage Bersillies Ouvrage La Salmagne Ouvrage du Faignies East Fort de Boussois Fort de Fort de Cerfontaine Ouvrage de Rocq South Fort du Bourdiau Fort d’Hautmont Ouvrage de Ferrière la Petite West Ouvrage de Grévaux Ouvrage de Feignies Brigadier-General Henri Fournier, an engineer, was appointed Governor on 17 March 1914. His inspection revealed that the defences were in a poor state and he galvanised the garrison to restore the defences, believing that war with Germany was inevitable; the main zone of resistance was given priority. Work went on round the clock and new positions were built to close the gap between Fort de Boussois and Le Salmagne. Gaps between ouvrages La Salmagne, Bersillies, Gréveaux and ouvrages Ferriére la Petite and de Rocq were blocked by strengthening the existing fortifications.
The depth of infantry breastworks was increased to 6 m and new positions were reinforced by tree trunks, 50 mm steel sheets and overhead cover of 1–5 m of earth. Fields of fire were improved by cutting down trees and demolishing houses, much of the village of Élesmes to the north-east of Maubeuge, being levelled. In three weeks, 1.5 million pickets were driven into the ground for thousands of kilometres of barbed wire, covering 100 ha around the fortifications and intervals. Behind the forts, workers levelled the ground for a narrow-gauge railway to connect the forts and the Maubeuge citadel; the fortress guns had ranges of only 5–9 km and were brought forward to the perimeter to counter Germa