Capture of Schwaben Redoubt
The Capture of Schwaben Redoubt was a tactical incident in the Battle of the Somme, 1916. The redoubt was a German strong point 500–600 yd long and 200 yd wide, built in stages since 1915, near the village of Thiepval, overlooking the River Ancre, it formed part of the German defensive system in the Somme sector of the Western Front during the First World War and consisting of a mass of machine-gun emplacements and dug-outs. The redoubt was defended by the 26th Reserve Division, from Swabia in south-west Germany, which had arrived in the area during the First Battle of Albert in 1914. Troops of the 36th Division captured the redoubt on 1 July 1916, until forced out by German bombardments and counter-attacks after night had fallen; the British kept the area of the redoubt under bombardment until 3 September, when the 49th Division attacked the area from the west, in a morning fog. The 36th Division infantry got across no man's land but were defeated, when German artillery and machine gun fire swept the Irish troops and German infantry counter-attacked from the flanks, using hand grenades.
In late September, the British gained a footing during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge. Attack and counter-attack followed until 14 October, when troops of the 39th Division, captured the last German foothold in the redoubt and repulsed German counter-attacks from 15–21 October; the site of the redoubt lies between the Ulster Tower. The 26th Reserve Division of the XIV Reserve Corps, arrived on the Somme in late September 1914, attempting to advance westwards towards Amiens. By 7 October, the advance had ended and temporary scrapes had been occupied. Fighting in the area from the Somme north to the Ancre, subsided into minor line-straightening attacks by both sides; the primacy of artillery had been established during the fighting of 1914 and the exploitation of artillery fire power in defensive fighting, required means of communication between the front line and artillery positions in the rear. Artillery organisation needed to be centralised to make sure. In late December 1915, Major Bornemann, commander of the 26th Division field artillery, wrote a report in which he described failures of communication, which led to an advantage created by the blowing of a mine being squandered by the artillery.
Bornemann wrote that artillery battery observation posts had been left unmanned, on the assumption that they had been superseded by artillery liaison officers in the front line. Reporting had been inadequate due to complacency and reports should have been circulated to all headquarters rather than individual officers assuming that the information had been communicated; the artillery should avoid settling into routine firing, since prisoners had reported that its predictability made it easy to evade and limiting firing to the area in front of batteries should cease and oblique firing into adjacent sectors begin, to ensure that British artillery could not fire with impunity from the flanks. Concentrations of fire consumed too much ammunition on local targets and should be limited to provide ammunition for firing on other targets, to disrupt British operations and to reassure German infantry that they would not be abandoned by the artillery. Retaliatory fire should be prompt and authority to order fire should be shared by all artillery officers, rather than relying on unreliable communications to request authority to fire on targets as they were observed.
As an example, Bornemann recommended that if a British artillery battery was detected, it should be engaged with 200 rounds immediately. Co-operation with artillery observers in aircraft and balloons should be improved, with at least one target selected for bombardment in every aircraft sortie, for which the artillery commanders should draw up gridded drawings of targets within range; when British aircraft were overhead, battery positions should cease fire to remain hidden and German aircraft units should be contacted to drive the British away. Bornemann suggested that artillery group commanders should have control of all artillery ammunition allotted to the group and that artillery regimental headquarters should be responsible for replacing stocks and passing on demands for more ammunition to higher headquarters. On the Western Front, General Erich Falkenhayn Chief of the General Staff at the Oberste Heeresleitung instituted a construction plan in January 1915, by which the western armies would be provided with field fortifications built to a common system, to economise on infantry, while offensive operations were conducted on the Eastern Front.
Barbed-wire obstacles had been enlarged from one belt 5–10 yd wide to two belts 30 yd wide and about 15 yd apart. The front line had been increased from one trench to three, 150–200 yd apart, the first trench to be occupied by sentry groups, the second to accommodate the front-trench garrison and the third trench for local reserves; the trenches were to have sentry-posts in concrete recesses built into the parapet. Dugouts were to be large enough for 25 men. An intermediate line of strong points about 1,000 yd behind the front line was be built. Communication trenches were to be dug back to the reserve line, renamed the second line, as well built and wired as the first line; the second line was built beyond the range of Allied field artillery, to force an attacker to stop and move field artillery forward before assaulting the line. Behind the G
Capture of La Boisselle
The Capture of La Boisselle was a British local operation during the Battle of Albert, the name given by the British to the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme. The village of La Boisselle forms part of the small commune of Ovillers-la-Boisselle, located some 22 mi north-east of Amiens in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France. To the north-east of La Boisselle lies Ovillers. On 1 July 1916, the first day on the Somme, La Boisselle was attacked by the 34th Division as part of the III Corps but the bombardment had not damaged the German deep-mined dug-outs and a German listening post overheard a British telephone conversation the day before, which gave away the attack; the III Corps divisions lost more than 11,000 casualties and failed to capture La Boisselle or Ovillers, gaining only small footholds near the boundary with XV Corps to the south and at Schwabenhöhe, after the Lochnagar mine explosion had destroyed some of the defences of Reserve Infantry Regiment 110. The advance of the 103rd Brigade was over ground with a fold, which meant that the disastrous attack by the preceding brigades could not be seen as the brigade advanced to be engaged by artillery and machine-gun fire, which inflicted 70 percent casualties, before the troops had reached the British front line.
The 19th Division was rushed forward in case of a German counter-attack on Albert. The 19th Division continued the attack and captured most of the village by 4 July, completing the operation by 6 July. In 1914, La Boisselle was a village of 35 houses on the right of the D 929 Albert–Bapaume road, at the junction of the D 104 to Contalmaison. On 26 September, the French 11th Division attacked eastwards, north of the River Somme, but after French Territorial divisions were forced back from Bapaume, the division was ordered back to defend bridgeheads from Maricourt to Mametz; the II Bavarian Corps attacked on 27 September between the Somme and the Roman road from Bapaume to Albert and Amiens, intending to reach the River Ancre and continue westwards along the Somme valley. The 3rd Bavarian Division advanced close to Montauban and Maricourt, against scattered resistance from French infantry and cavalry. On 28 September, the French were able to stop the German advance on a line from Maricourt to Fricourt and Thiepval.
The XIV Reserve Corps began operations west of Bapaume on the same day, by advancing down the Bapaume–Albert road to the Ancre river before advancing down the Somme valley to Amiens but by 29 September the advance was stopped by the French around Fricourt and La Boisselle. A night attack on Bécourt, about 0.93 miles south of La Boisselle, was planned for the evening of 7 October to capture Albert but the infantry found that keeping direction in the dark was impossible. Small-arms fire from well dug-in French troops added to the confusion and the attack collapsed, 400 German troops being captured in the fiasco. In early November French artillery reinforcements arrived and bombardments beyond the front line began. On 19 November, two divisions of XI Corps attacked to pin down German troops but were repulsed and on 28 November, an attack by the XIV Corps managed to advance the French line by 300–400 metres. In early December, IV Corps gained 300 -- 1,000 metres; the French attacks pushed forward the front line only a small amount.
Attacks by the French 53rd Reserve Division of XI Corps took place from 17 December at La Boisselle, Mametz and Maricourt. Although wire-cutting had not been completed, the operation was ordered to begin at 6:00 a.m. without artillery support, to gain a measure of surprise. The attack got beyond the German front line near Mametz and north of Maricourt and repulsed German counter-attacks from Bernafay Wood and east of Mametz; the advance was contained by flanking machine-gun fire. The 118th Battalion reached the cemetery of La Boisselle and the 19th Infantry Regiment closed on the western fringe of Ovillers. A German counter-bombardment swept the ground west of Ovillers and Ravine 92, which prevented the approach of French reserves. During the night the French survivors of the attack fell back to the French front line, except at La Boisselle. Next day, XI Corps broke through the German defences at La Boisselle cemetery but was stopped a short distance forward in front of trenches protected by barbed wire.
A German counter-attack using incendiary grenades recaptured a trench north of Maricourt and a French counter-attack at 10:30 a.m. by two battalions of the 45th Infantry Regiment and a battalion of the 236th Infantry Regiment, managed to regain a small amount of ground. A German counter-attack on 21 December, near Carnoy was repulsed. On 24 December, XI Corps attacked again at La Boisselle, with the 118th Infantry Regiment and two battalions of the 64th Infantry Regiment at 9:00 a.m. after a bombardment. The 118th Regiment captured a small number of houses in the south-east of La Boisselle and consolidated the area during the night; the 64th Regiment overran the German first line but was held up short of a second trench, which had not been discovered before the attack and dug in, having lost many casualties. On 27 December, a German bombardment on the captured positions in La Boisselle was followed by an abortive counter-attack on the 118th Regiment and the 64th Regiment. German heavy artillery reinforcements had been made the area untenable.
Many of the German units that fought on the Somme in 1914 remained in the area and made great efforts to fortify
German invasion of Belgium
The German invasion of Belgium was a military campaign which began on 4 August 1914. Earlier, on 24 July, the Belgian government had announced that if war came it would uphold its historic neutrality; the Belgian government mobilised its armed forces on 31 July and a state of heightened alert was proclaimed in Germany. On 2 August, the German government sent an ultimatum to Belgium, demanding passage through the country and German forces invaded Luxembourg. Two days the Belgian Government refused the demands and the British Government guaranteed military support to Belgium; the German government declared war on Belgium on 4 August, troops crossed the border and began the Battle of Liège. German military operations in Belgium were intended to bring the 1st, 2nd and 3rd armies into positions in Belgium from which they could invade France, which after the fall of Liège on 7 August, led to sieges of Belgian fortresses along the Meuse river at Namur and the surrender of the last forts; the government abandoned the capital, Brussels, on 17 August and after fighting on the Gete river, the Belgian field army withdrew westwards to the National Redoubt at Antwerp on 19 August.
Brussels was occupied the following day and the Siege of Namur began on 21 August. After the Battle of Mons and the Battle of Charleroi, the bulk of the German armies marched south into France, leaving small forces to garrison Brussels and the Belgian railways; the III Reserve Corps advanced to the fortified zone around Antwerp and a division of the IV Reserve Corps took over in Brussels. The Belgian field army made several sorties from Antwerp in late August and September to harass German communications and to assist the French and the British Expeditionary Force, by keeping German troops in Belgium. German troop withdrawals to reinforce the main armies in France were postponed to repulse a Belgian sortie from 9 to 13 September and a German corps in transit was retained in Belgium for several days. Belgian resistance and German fear of francs-tireurs, led the Germans to implement a policy of terror against Belgian civilians soon after the invasion, in which massacres, hostage taking and the burning of towns and villages took place and became known as the Rape of Belgium.
While the French armies and the BEF began the Great Retreat into France, the Belgian army and small detachments of French and British troops fought in Belgium against German cavalry and Jäger. On 27 August, a squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service flew to Ostend, to conduct air reconnaissance between Bruges and Ypres. British marines landed in France on 19/20 September and began scouting unoccupied Belgium in motor cars. On 2 October, the Marine Brigade of the Royal Naval Division was moved to Antwerp, followed by the rest of the division on 6 October. From 6 to 7 October, the 7th Division and the 3rd Cavalry Division landed at Zeebrugge and naval forces collected at Dover were formed into the Dover Patrol, to operate in the Channel and off the French–Belgian coast. Despite minor British reinforcement, the Siege of Antwerp ended when its defensive ring of forts was destroyed by German super-heavy artillery; the city was abandoned on 9 October and Allied forces withdrew to West Flanders. At the end of the Great Retreat, the Race to the Sea began, a period of reciprocal attempts by the Germans and Franco-British to outflank their opponents, extending the front line northwards from the Aisne, into Picardy and Flanders.
Military operations in Belgium moved westwards as the Belgian army withdrew from Antwerp to the area close to the border with France. The Belgian army fought the defensive Battle of the Yser from Nieuwpoort south to Diksmuide, as the German 4th Army attacked westwards and French and some Belgian troops fought the First Battle of Ypres against the 4th and 6th armies. By November 1914, most of Belgium was under Allied naval blockade. A German military administration was established on 26 August 1914, to rule through the pre-war Belgian administrative system, overseen by a small group of German officers and officials. Belgium was divided into administrative zones, the General Government of Brussels and its hinterland; the German occupation lasted until late 1918. The 1839 Treaty of London recognised Belgium as an neutral state; until 1911, Belgian strategic analysis anticipated that if war came, the Germans would attack France across the Franco-German border and trap the French armies against the Belgian frontier, as they had done in 1870.
British and French guarantees of Belgian independence were made before 1914 but the possibility of landings in Antwerp was floated by the British military attaché in 1906 and 1911, which led the Belgians to suspect that the British had come to see Belgian neutrality as a matter of British diplomatic and military advantage, rather than as an end in itself. The Agadir Crisis left the Belgian government in little doubt as to the risk of a European war and an invasion of Belgium by Germany. In September 1911, a government meeting concluded that Belgium must be prepared to resist a German invasion, to avoid accusations of collusion by the British and French governments. Britain and the Netherlands were to continue to be treated as potential enemies. In 1913 and 1914, the Germans made inquires to the Belgian military attaché in Berlin, about the passage of German military forces through Belgium. If invaded, Belgium would need foreign
Attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt
The Butte de Warlencourt is an ancient burial mound off the Albert–Bapaume road, north-east of Le Sars in the Somme département of northern France. It is located on the territory of the commune of Warlencourt-Eaucourt and north of a minor road to Gueudecourt and Eaucourt l'Abbaye. During the First World War, the Germans constructed deep dugouts throughout the butte and surrounded it by several belts of barbed wire, making it a formidable defensive position in advance of Gallwitz Riegel. After the Battle of Flers–Courcelette, the view from the butte dominated the new British front line and was used by the Germans for artillery observation. During the Battle of Le Transloy, part of the Battle of the Somme, the Butte de Warlencourt was the subject of several attacks by the British Fourth Army, which were costly failures; the 2nd Australian Division occupied the butte on 24 February 1917, during the German retirements made on the Somme front, preparatory to Unternehmen Alberich, the retreat to the Hindenburg Line.
The Butte de Warlencourt was recaptured by the German 2nd Army on 24 March 1918, during the retreat of the 2nd Division in Operation Michael, the German spring offensive. The Butte was recaptured for the last time on 26 August, by the 21st Division, during the Second Battle of Bapaume. In 1990, the site was purchased for preservation by the Western Front Association with the help of donations from members; the Association announced in October 2018 its sale to Bob Paterson. Following concerns raised, Paterson offered to sell the site back to the Western Front Association. On 25 September 1914, during the Race to the Sea a French attack north of the Somme against the II Bavarian Corps, forced a hurried withdrawal; as more Bavarian units arrived in the north, the 3rd Bavarian Division advanced along the north bank of the Somme, through Bouchavesnes and Hardecourt until held up at Maricourt. The 4th Bavarian Division further to the north, defeated the French Territorials and attacked westwards in the vicinity of Gueudecourt, towards Albert, through Sailly, Combles and Montauban.
The II Bavarian Corps and XIV Reserve Corps pushed back a French Territorial division from the area around Bapaume and advanced towards Bray-sur-Somme and Albert, as part of an offensive down the Somme valley to reach the sea. The German offensive was confronted north of the Somme by the northern corps of the French Second Army east of Albert; the XIV Reserve Corps attacked on 28 September, along the Roman road from Bapaume to Albert and Amiens, intending to reach the Ancre and continue westwards along the Somme valley. The 28th Reserve Division advanced close to Fricourt, against scattered resistance from French infantry and cavalry. On 21 July 1916, 3 Squadron Royal Flying Corps discovered new German defences from Le Transloy to Warlencourt and more trenches between Eaucourt l'Abbaye and Flers, west of the butte. On 22 August a dogfight between 11 Squadron and about twenty German fighters took place above the butte and three Roland D. I aircraft were shot down. On 4 October, the 47th Division occupied Flers Support unopposed and after nightfall on 5 October, advanced to occupy a ruined mill north-west of Eaucourt.
The capture of Eaucourt enabled the British to move field artillery over the High Wood ridge, into range in a valley beyond the Starfish, where they could support attacks on the butte. Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 remained in the line near Eaucourt and suffered many casualties; the many casualties, the inability to bury the dead, strewn around the trenches, sapped morale further. The cold, rainy weather poor food and lack of hygiene caused a big increase in non-battle casualties, with up to 1⁄3 of the troops contracting diarrhoea; the butte was a mound about 50–60 ft high, on a slope near the Gird trenches. In the Franco-Prussian War the mound had been tunnelled and during the Battle of the Somme the Germans fortified the butte with machine-gun posts and encircled by many belts of barbed wire. From the mound, Pozières to the south-west, La Barque and Bapaume to the north-east were visible. Many German artillery positions had been established on the ground east of the butte. German artillery positions commanded the area around Martinpuich, where the British had to move much of their artillery, which increased the accuracy of German counter-batter fire.
The 47th Division captured the nearby farmstead of Eaucourt L'Abbaye from. On 4 October, the 140th Brigade took over the line from the 141st Brigade in preparation for another general attack. Next day the 1/6th London Regiment occupied an old mill 500 yd west of Eaucourt l'Abbaye; the attack by III Corps was to begin at 1:45 p.m. on 7 October, against the Gird trenches, which ran north-west to south-east from Gueudecourt to Warlencourt and past the butte. The 47th Division was to attack in the centre, with the 41st Division on the right and the 23rd Division on the left flank; the Germans had dug a new trench across the 47th Division front, over the high ground north of Eaucourt I'Abbaye, westwards into the valley. Diagonal Trench was the first objective and was to be taken by the 1/8th London the final objective at Gird Trench and the butte was to be captured by the 1/15th and 1/7th London, with the 1/6th Lo
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
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
Battle of Guillemont
The Battle of Guillemont was an attack by the Fourth Army on the village of Guillemont. The village is on the D 20 running east to the D 64 south-west to Montauban. Longueval and Delville Wood lie to Ginchy to the north-east; the village was on the right flank of the British sector, near the boundary with the French Sixth Army. The Fourth Army had advanced close to Guillemont during the Battle of Bazentin Ridge and the capture of the village was the culmination of British attacks which began on the night of 22/23 July; the attacks were intended to advance the right flank of the Fourth Army and eliminate a salient further north at Delville Wood. German defences ringed the wood and had observation over the French Sixth Army area to the south, towards the Somme river. Preparatory to a general attack intended for mid-September, from the Somme north to Courcelette, the French Sixth Army, the Fourth Army and the Reserve Army conducted numerous attacks to capture the rest of the German second line and to gain observation over the German third line.
The German defences around Guillemont were based on the remaining parts of the second line and fortified villages and farms northwards from Hem and Combles, to Falfemont Farm, Ginchy, Delville Wood and High Wood, which commanded the ground in between. Numerous attempts were made by Joseph Joffre, Sir Douglas Haig, Ferdinand Foch and the army commanders Henry Rawlinson and Émile Fayolle to co-ordinate joint attacks, which failed due to the recovery of the German 2nd Army from the disorganisation caused by the defeats in early July, disagreements over tactics by Haig and Joffre in July and August and organisational constraints caused by congestion behind the front and tracks obliterated by Anglo-French artillery-fire becoming swamps when it rained and increasing German artillery-fire on targets behind the front line. Inexperience, unreliable machinery, ammunition and an unpredictable flow of supplies from Britain, reduced the effectiveness of the British armies. Difficulty in co-ordinating attacks by the Entente armies and the large number of piecemeal attacks resorted to by the British, have been criticised as costly failures and evidence of muddle and incompetence by the generals.
The French Sixth and Tenth Army armies had similar difficulties and severe strain had been put on the German 2nd and 1st Army, forcing them into a similar piecemeal defence. The official historian, Wilfrid Miles, wrote in the History of the Great War, that the defence of Guillemont was judged by some observers to be the best performance of the war by the German army on the Western Front. A pause at the end of August in Anglo-French attacks, to organise bigger combined attacks and postponements for bad weather, coincided with the largest German counter-attack yet. Joffre and Haig abandoned attempts to organise large combined attacks, in favour of sequenced army attacks; the capture of the German defences from Cléry north of the Somme to Guillemont from 3 to 6 September, brought the Sixth and Fourth armies onto ground which overlooked the German third position. Rain and relief of tired divisions forced a pause in French attacks until 12 September. In the Battle of Ginchy the Fourth Army captured the village, ready to begin the Battle of Flers–Courcelette.
On 1 July, the Anglo-French offensive had captured the first German defensive line from Foucaucourt south of the Somme to the vicinity of the Albert–Bapaume road, north of the river. The German 2nd Army abandoned the second line on the south bank in the XVII Corps area, to occupy the shorter third position behind it close to Péronne, despite the policy of an unyielding defence; the Chief of Staff, Generalmajor Paul Grünert, was sacked by Falkenhayn that night and replaced by Colonel von Loßberg. Next day General von Below issued a secret order that ground must be held at all costs, defensive positions were to be recovered by counter-attacks and that all commanders must make it clear that "The enemy must be made to pick his way forward over corpses". Over the next ten days, fifteen fresh divisions were sent to the Somme front, being split up as they arrived and used piecemeal to fill gaps at the most vulnerable points, which led to many losses in the reinforcing units; the 2nd Army suffered 40,187 casualties in the first ten days, compared to 25,989 men in the first ten days at Verdun.
On 17 July, Falkenhayn reorganised the twenty German divisions engaged on the Somme, by re-establishing the 1st Army under the command of Below, north of the Somme and appointing Lieutenant-General Max von Gallwitz to the command of the 2nd Army south of the river, combining both armies in armeegruppe Gallwitz-Somme. On 17 July, Below issued another secret order, noting that unauthorised withdrawals were still being made and threatened to Court-martial commanders who did not fight to the last man. By the end of July, despite the discipline and sacrifice of the German troops, more ground had been lost and Gallwitz issued an order on 30 July, stating that the decisive battle of the war was being fought on the Somme and that no more ground should be given up, regardless of losses. In August, the Germans retained far more ground at a cost of c. 80,000 casualties. On 6 July, Joffre had visited Fayolle and discussed bringing the cavalry close to the front to exploit success and on 8 July, commander of Groupe d'armées du Nord, ordered Fayolle to reinforce the success of the corps south of the Somme for an attack on 20 July, while defending north of the river.
After the British victory of the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, Joffre directed Foch to co-ordinate broad-front attacks with the