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
A division is a large military unit or formation consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. Infantry divisions during the World Wars ranged between 30,000 in nominal strength. In most armies, a division is composed of several brigades; the division has been the default combined arms unit capable of independent operations. Smaller combined arms units, such as the American regimental combat team during World War II, were used when conditions favored them. In recent times, modern Western militaries have begun adopting the smaller brigade combat team as the default combined arms unit, with the division they belong to being less important. While the focus of this article is on army divisions, in naval usage division has a different meaning, referring to either an administrative/functional sub-unit of a department aboard naval and coast guard ships, shore commands, in naval aviation units, to a sub-unit of several ships within a flotilla or squadron, or to two or three sections of aircraft operating under a designated division leader.
Some languages, like Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Polish, use a similar word divizion/dywizjon for a battalion-size artillery or cavalry unit. In administrative/functional sub-unit usage, unit size varies though divisions number far fewer than 100 people and are equivalent in function and organizational hierarchy/command relationship to a platoon or flight. In the West, the first general to think of organising an army into smaller combined-arms units was Maurice de Saxe, Marshal General of France, in his book Mes Rêveries, he died without having implemented his idea. Victor-François de Broglie put the ideas into practice, he conducted successful practical experiments of the divisional system in the Seven Years' War. The first war in which the divisional system was used systematically was the French Revolutionary War. Lazare Carnot of the Committee of Public Safety, in charge of military affairs, came to the same conclusion about it as the previous royal government, the army was organised into divisions.
It made the armies more flexible and easy to maneuver, it made the large army of the revolution manageable. Under Napoleon, the divisions were grouped together because of their increasing size. Napoleon's military success spread the corps system all over Europe; the divisional system reached its numerical height during the Second World War. The Soviet Union's Red Army consisted of more than a thousand divisional-size units at any one time, the total number of rifle divisions raised during the Great Patriotic War is estimated at 2,000. Nazi Germany had hundreds of numbered and/or named divisions, while the United States employed 91 divisions, two of which were disbanded during the war. A notable change to divisional structures during the war was completion of the shift from square divisions to triangular divisions that many European nations started using in World War I; this was done to pare down chain of command overhead. The triangular division allowed the tactic of "two forward, one back", where two of the division's regiments would be engaging the enemy with one regiment in reserve.
All divisions in World War II were expected to have their own artillery formations the size of a regiment depending upon the nation. Divisional artillery was seconded by corps level command to increase firepower in larger engagements. Regimental combat teams were used by the US during the war as well, whereby attached and/or organic divisional units were parceled out to infantry regiments, creating smaller combined-arms units with their own armor and artillery and support units; these combat teams would still be under divisional command but have some level of autonomy on the battlefield. Organic units within divisions were units which operated directly under Divisional command and were not controlled by the Regiments; these units were support units in nature, include signal companies, medical battalions, supply trains and administration. Attached units were smaller units that were placed under Divisional command temporarily for the purpose of completing a particular mission; these units were combat units such as tank battalions, tank destroyer battalions and cavalry reconnaissance squadrons.
In modern times, most military forces have standardized their divisional structures. This does not mean that divisions are equal in size or structure from country to country, but divisions have, in most cases, come to be units of 10,000 to 20,000 troops with enough organic support to be capable of independent operations; the direct organization of the division consists of one to four brigades or battle groups of its primary combat arm, along with a brigade or regiment of combat support and a number of direct-reporting battalions for necessary specialized support tasks, such as intelligence, logistics and combat engineers. Most militaries standardize ideal organization strength for each type of division, encapsulated in a Table of Organization and Equipment which specifies exact assignments of units and equipment for a division; the modern division became the primary identifiable combat unit in many militaries during the second half of the 20th century, supplanting the brigade.
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different combat arms of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects. According to strategist William S. Lind, combined arms can be distinguished from the concept of "supporting arms" as follows: Combined arms hits the enemy with two or more arms in such a manner that the actions he must take to defend himself from one make him more vulnerable to another. In contrast, supporting arms is hitting the enemy with two or more arms in sequence, or if then in such combination that the actions the enemy must take to defend himself from one defends himself from the other. Though the lower-echelon units of a combined arms team may be of similar types, a balanced mixture of such units are combined into an effective higher-echelon unit, whether formally in a table of organization or informally in an ad hoc solution to a battlefield problem. For example, an armored division—the modern paragon of combined arms doctrine—consists of a mixture of infantry, artillery and even helicopter units, all coordinated and directed by a unified command structure.
Most modern military units can, if the situation requires it, call on yet more branches of the military, such as infantry requesting bombing or shelling by fighter or bomber aircraft or naval forces to augment their ground offensive or protect their land forces. The mixing of arms is sometimes pushed down below the level where homogeneity ordinarily prevails, for example by temporarily attaching a tank company to an infantry battalion. Combined arms operations date back to antiquity, where armies would field a screen of skirmishers to protect their spearmen during the approach to contact. In the case of the Greek hoplites, the focus of military thinking lay exclusively on the heavy infantry. In more elaborate situations armies of various nationalities fielded different combinations of light, medium, or heavy infantry, chariotry, camelry and artillery. Combined arms in this context was how to best use the cooperating units, variously armed with side-arms, spears, or missile weapons in order to coordinate an attack to disrupt and destroy the enemy.
Philip II of Macedon improved upon the limited combined arms tactics of the Greek city-states and combined the newly created Macedonian phalanx with heavy cavalry and other forces. The phalanx would hold the opposing line in place, until the heavy cavalry could smash and break the enemy line by achieving local superiority; the pre-Marian Roman Legion was consisted of five classes of troops. Equipped velites acted as skirmishers armed with light javelins; the hastati and principes formed the main attacking strength of the legion with sword and pilum, whilst the triarii formed the defensive backbone of the legion fighting as a phalanx with long spears and large shields. The fifth class were pursuit and to guard the flanks. After the Marian reforms the Legion was notionally a unit of heavy infantrymen armed with just sword and pilum, fielded with a small attached auxiliary skirmishers and missile troops, incorporated a small cavalry unit; the legion was sometimes incorporated into a higher-echelon combined arms unit — e.g. in one period it was customary for a general to command two legions plus two sized units of auxiliaries, lighter units useful as screens or for combat in rough terrain.
The army of the Han Dynasty is an example, fielding mêlée infantry and cavalry. Civilizations such as the Carthaginians and Sassanids were known to have fielded a combination of infantry supported by powerful cavalry. At the Battle of Hastings English infantry fighting from behind a shield wall were defeated by a Norman army consisting of archers and mounted knights. One of the tactics used by the Normans was to tempt the English to leave the shield wall to attack retreating Norman infantry only to destroy them in the open with cavalry. Scottish sheltrons –, developed to counter the charges by English heavy cavalry, had been used against English cavalry at the Battle of Stirling Bridge – were destroyed at the Battle of Falkirk by English archers acting in concert with mounted knights. Both Hastings and Falkirk showed how combined arms could be used to defeat enemies relying on only one arm; the English victories of Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt were examples of a simple form of combined arms, with a combination of dismounted knights forming a foundation for formations of English longbowmen.
The protected longbowmen could down their French opponents at a distance, whilst the armoured men-at-arms could deal with any Frenchmen who made it to the English lines. This is the crux of combined arms: to allow a combination of forces to achieve what would be impossible for its constituent elements to do alone. During the Middle Ages military forces used combined arms as a method of winning battles and furthering a war leader or king's long term goals; some historians claim that during the Middle Ages there was no strategic or tactical art to military combat. Kelly DeVries uses the Merriam-Webster definition of combat "as a general military engagement". In the pursuit of a leader's goals and self-interest tactical and strategic thinking was used along with taking advantage of the terrain and weather in choosing when and where to give battle; the simplest example is the combination of different specialties such as archers, infantry
A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by branch of service. A battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry; the term was first used in Italian as battaglione no than the 16th century. It derived from the Italian word for battaglia; the first use of battalion in English was in the 1580s, the first use to mean "part of a regiment" is from 1708. A battalion is the smallest military unit capable of "limited independent operations", meaning it includes an executive, staff with a support and services unit; the battalion must have a source of re-supply to enable it to sustain operations for more than a few days. This is because a battalion's complement of ammunition, expendable weapons, rations, lubricants, replacement parts and medical supplies consists of only what the battalion's soldiers and the battalion's vehicles can carry.
In addition to sufficient personnel and equipment to conduct operations, as well as a limited administrative and logistics capability, the commander's staff coordinates and plans operations. A battalion's subordinate companies and their platoons are dependent upon the battalion headquarters for command, control and intelligence, the battalion's service and support structure; the battalion is part of a brigade, or group, depending on the branch of service. A battalion's companies are of one type, although there are exceptions such as combined arms battalions in the U. S. Army. A battalion includes a headquarters company and some sort of combat service support, combined in a combat support company; the term battalion is used in the British Army Infantry and some corps including the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, intelligence corps. It was used in the Royal Engineers, was used in the now defunct Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Pioneer Corps. Other corps use the term "regiment" instead.
An infantry battalion is numbered ordinarily within its regiment. It has a headquarters company, support company, three rifle companies; each company is commanded by a major, the officer commanding, with a captain or senior lieutenant as second-in-command. The HQ company contains signals, catering, administration, training and medical elements; the support company contains anti-tank, machine gun, mortar and reconnaissance platoons. Mechanised units have an attached light aid detachment of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to perform field repairs on vehicles and equipment. A British battalion in theatre during World War II had around 845 men, whereas, as of 2012, a British battalion had around 650 soldiers. With successive rounds of cutbacks after the war, many infantry regiments were reduced to a single battalion. Important figures in a battalion headquarters include: Commanding officer Second-in-command Adjutant Quartermaster Quartermaster Medical officer Administrative officer Padre Operations officer Regimental sergeant major Regimental quartermaster sergeant Regimental quartermaster sergeant Battalions of other corps are given separate cardinal numbers within their corps.
A battle group consists of an infantry battalion or armoured regiment with sub-units detached from other military units acting under the command of the battalion commander. In the Canadian Forces, most battalions are reserve units of between 100–200 soldiers that include an operationally ready, field-deployable component of a half-company apiece; the nine regular force infantry battalions each contain three or four rifle companies and one or two support companies. Canadian battalions are commanded by lieutenant-colonels, though smaller reserve battalions may be commanded by majors; those regiments consisting of more than one battalion are: The Royal Canadian Regiment Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Royal 22e Régiment The Royal Newfoundland Regiment Tactically, the Canadian battalion forms the core of the infantry battle group, which includes various supporting elements such as armour, combat engineers and combat service support. An infantry battle group will be commanded by the commander of the core infantry battalion around which it is formed and can range in size from 300 to 1,500 or more soldiers, depending on the nature of the mission assigned.
In the Royal Netherlands Army, a mechanised infantry battalion consists of one command- and medical company, three mechanised infantry companies, one support company
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.
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army, sometimes shortened to Revolutionary Army before 1928, as National Army after 1928, was the military arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947 in the Republic of China. It became the regular army of the ROC during the KMT's period of party rule beginning in 1928, it was renamed the Republic of China Armed Forces after the 1947 Constitution, which instituted civilian control of the military. Organized with Soviet aid as a means for the KMT to unify China during the Warlord Era, the National Revolutionary Army fought major engagements in the Northern Expedition against the Chinese Beiyang Army warlords, in the Second Sino-Japanese War against the Imperial Japanese Army and in the Chinese Civil War against the People's Liberation Army. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the armed forces of the Communist Party of China were nominally incorporated into the National Revolutionary Army, but broke away to form the People's Liberation Army shortly after the end of the war.
With the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947 and the formal end of the KMT party-state, the National Revolutionary Army was renamed the Republic of China Armed Forces, with the bulk of its forces forming the Republic of China Army, which retreated to the island of Taiwan in 1949. The NRA was founded by the KMT in 1925 as the military force destined to unite China in the Northern Expedition. Organized with the help of the Comintern and guided under the doctrine of the Three Principles of the People, the distinction among party and army was blurred. A large number of the Army's officers passed through the Whampoa Military Academy, the first commandant, Chiang Kai-shek, became commander-in-chief of the Army in 1925 before launching the successful Northern Expedition. Other prominent commanders included Chen Cheng; the end of the Northern Expedition in 1928 is taken as the date when China's Warlord era ended, though smaller-scale warlord activity continued for years afterwards.
In 1927, after the dissolution of the First United Front between the Nationalists and the Communists, the ruling KMT purged its leftist members and eliminated Soviet influence from its ranks. Chiang Kai-shek turned to Germany a great military power, for the reorganization and modernization of the National Revolutionary Army; the Weimar Republic sent advisors to China, but because of the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles they could not serve in military capacities. Chiang requested famous generals such as Ludendorff and von Mackensen as advisors; when Adolf Hitler became Germany's chancellor in 1933 and disavowed the Treaty, the anti-communist Nazi Party and the anti-communist KMT were soon engaged in close cooperation. With Germany training Chinese troops and expanding Chinese infrastructure, while China opened its markets and natural resources to Germany. Max Bauer was the first advisor to China. In 1934 Gen. Hans von Seeckt, acting as advisor to Chiang, proposed an "80 Division Plan" for reforming the entire Chinese army into 80 divisions of trained, well-equipped troops organised along German lines.
The plan was never realised, as the eternally bickering warlords could not agree upon which divisions were to be merged and disbanded. Furthermore, since embezzlement and fraud were commonplace in understrength divisions, reforming the military structure would threaten divisional commanders' "take". Therefore, by July 1937 only eight infantry divisions had completed training; these were the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 14th, 36th, 87th, 88th, the Training Division. For a time, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Communist forces fought as a nominal part of the National Revolutionary Army, forming the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army units, but this co-operation fell apart. Throughout the Chinese Civil War the National Revolutionary Army experienced major problems with desertion, with many soldiers switching sides to fight for the Communists. Troops in India and Burma during World War II included the Chinese Expeditionary Force, the Chinese Army in India and Y Force. After the drafting and implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947, the National Revolutionary Army was transformed into the ground service branch of the Republic of China Armed Forces – the Republic of China Army.
The NRA throughout its lifespan recruited 4,300,000 regulars, in 370 Standard Divisions, 46 New Divisions, 12 Cavalry Divisions, eight New Cavalry Divisions, 66 Temporary Divisions, 13 Reserve Divisions, for a grand total of 515 divisions. However, many divisions were formed from two or more other divisions, were not active at the same time. At the apex of the NRA was the National Military Council translated as Military Affairs Commission. Chaired by Chiang Kai-Shek, it commands, it included from 1937 the Chief of the General Staff, General He Yingqin, the General Staff, the War Ministry, the military regions and naval forces, air defence and garrison commanders, support services Around 14 Million were conscripted from 1937-1945 Also, New Divisions were created to replace Standard Divisions lost early in the war and were issued the old division's number. Therefore, the number of divisions in active service at any given time is much smaller than this
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