Skip to main content

Full text of "The First Phase Of The Great War"

See other formats

EXTRAS 1914 



SpHktk 4kp^'f«r ihp ‘'Cmpk 








WARVyiCK SQ„ LONDON, E.C. . 1914 

Printed m Great Britain by Hazell, Watson S' Viney, 
Pondon and Aylesbury, 




The Declaration of War; Dow the Nations 


Conflict ....... 17-2S 


On the Way to the Front .... 65-76 


Britain’s Sure Shield 93--104 


The Cockitt of ItuROPE 129-1.18 


The First Great Battles and the Retirement 

on Paris 181-204 




Louvain, a.d. 1914 Frontispiece 

On guard 




Praying for victory at the Alexander Column . 46 

Field-Marshal Sir John French, who commands 
our Army in France, arriving at the Ministry 
OF War, Paris 76 

Watch and ward at England’s danger-point . 98 

The fight in the Heligoland Bight: the light 





H.M. King George V. of England ... 29 

H.M. THE Emperor Nicholas IT of Russia . . 29 

M. Raymond PoincarI!: ..•••• 29 

The shadow of war . • • • ■ -31 

The Right Honourable Sir Edward Grey . . 32 

The SCENE in the precincts of the House of 
Commons ..••••* 



- I’AC.B 

Waiting for war 34 

How THE French Chamber receiver the news of 

England’s aid ....... 35 

The Czar of Russia bearing a sacred ikon and 


East Prussia ....... 36 

Servian soldier praying before a sacred ikon 37 

Prince Lichnowsky ...... 38 

Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener, K.C.B. . . 39 

Field-Marshal Sir John French, K.C.B. . . 39 

The 6th Dragoon Guards (the Carabiniers) joining; 
their regiment at Canterbury . . . 

Royal P'ield Artillery at Nine Elms preparing to 

Naval Reserves on the way to their ships . 40 

Commandeering iiorsf:s . . . . -41 

Marines leave Waterloo . . . . -41 

SWEARING-IN recruits ...... 42 

New recruits ....... 42 

Lord Kitchener lf:aving the War (Jffk; f, to a'itj-:nd 
HIS FIRST Cabinet meeting after he was ap- 
pointed Secretary for War . . . -43 

Mounted sentry challenging a motor cyclist on 

AN English country road .... 44 

Guarding the main roads round Paris . . 45 

Mobilising the Civil Guard at Antwerp . . 46 




Patrolling the Paris boulevards at night . 46 

Sharpening THE Fejinch sword of veng1':ance . 47 

Paris on the alert 48 

Boy scouts convoying a forage wagon at Nancy 49 
Collecting registered horses for the war . . 50 

Examining suspects in Paris . . . -51 

The Emperors of Austria and Germany . . 52 

Great war dExMONSTration held in liEKuiN on vXugust 

2. 191-! -53 

The Crown Prince of Germany in the fiei.d . 54 


WAR . . 55 

One of the armed who, in conjunction 
WITH the naval searchlights, ki:ep guard along 
THE coast 56 

Watching for hostile airships on the Trench 

frontier ........ 57 

The Rue de Rivoli at night . . . . 5S 

Paris in war time 58 

" DLpART RltGULIER ” ...... 59 

“ Depart populaire ”, . . . . -59 

Austrian reserves, with luggage, on their Wx\y to 

TRATING ON THE Russian frontier, leaving only 
A small FOllCE to DEAL WITH SeKVIA . . 6o 



German troops unloading baggage and ammunition 
NEAR THE French frontier, after, the seizure 
OF Luxemburg ...... 6o 

Every son of France is at his post . . . 6i 

To Berlin ........ 62 

No Thoroughfare ! ...... 63 

Field-Marshal Sir John French arriving at 

Boulogne ....... 77 

The Seaforth Highlanders marching through the 
thirteenth-century POR.TE DES DUNES AT 
Boulogne ....... 78 

British troops at Boulogne 79 Service wagons driving through T'/Oulogne 
amid the frantic acclamation of the French 
PE01T.E ........ 80 



(lARE DE l.YON, I'ARTS ..... 82 

A British infantryman in France enjoying an hour 

OFF DUTY ........ 83 

French troops on the way to thf front. “ Vive 

LE Genie ! Vive les Dragons ! ” . . .84 

Women at work in the fields in France, all able- 


The generous French giving of their best to 

British troops ...... 86 

The ROAD TO Alsace 87 




British soldiers on their way to the front, 


Normandy . . . . . .88 

To THE FIRING LINE ...... 89 


Prisoners of war at Versailles .... 91 

liNGLisii officf;rs enjoying a hasty meal with AN 

interpreter of the Frf;ncii military staff . 92 

I'liE ]'Aipiki;’s watcildogs ..... 105 

The British Fleet ready foii sea . . . kTi 

“J.IGHTS are P.EkNING FRIGHT. All’S WELL ! ” . I07 

Admii;al Sii< John Jellicoe, ]v,('.K. . . • 108 

T\EAR-.'\]>:\iiral \V. F,. Mai'den .... 
Vi(:e~Ad?<hkal Sir David Beatty .... i<->8 

KEAU-/\LtM{RAr. A. G. VOORE ..... I09 


Bilar-Allmirai. a. B. Ghkrstian .... 
(Tdimodore Iv. V. Tykwhitt ..... ig 9 
The nerve-centre of the Nava' . . . .no 


German Dreadnought at Wilhelmsiiaven . in 

li.Al.S. "Birmingham” ...... n^” 

Commander Goodenough ..... 112 

H.M.S. " Rennet ” chasing a German torpedo boat 

OFF Tsingtau 1 13 



Mine-sweeping at sea 114 

The heaviest loss in the Merciian'^ Service . 115 

British transport carrying troops across to 

France ........ 116 

Germany’s menace to neutrals .... 117 

Destroyed by a German submarine . . . 118 

On the look-out for contraband . . . .119 

For the defence of the British Empire . . 120 

Murderous snares for neutral shipping . . 122 

The action off FIf.ligoland ..... 123 

Saved by a submarine ...... 124 

Admiral Von Tirittz ...... 125 

Vice-Admiral Ingenohl ...... 125 

After the battle 126 

The British Navy 127 

The German Fleet sails from Heligoland . . 128 

H.M. Albert, King of Belgium .... 149 

The German advance guard invading Belgian 

territory at the beginning of August, 1914 . 151 

The battlefields of Belgium . . . .152 

The forts at Liitoii that kept the War Lord’s 

hosts at bay 153 

The disappearing turret introduced by General 

Brialmont . . . . . . -153 

The invading Germans in a Belgian village . 154 




Belgian Lancers charging Uhlans . . . 155 

Li^;ge (“Knight ofjthe Legion of Honour”) as 


The first battle in Belgium . . . *157 

Brussels during the fighting at Liege . . . 158 

The German Army making its triumphal entry into 

Brussels 159 

Fleeing before the Prussians .... 160 

The FiiiLD OF Waterloo. ..... 160 

The bridCiE oi' IIuy . ’ . . . , 161 


M. Max ......... 162 

General F. von Ivmmich 162 

General Leman . . . . . . .163 

Ministering angels ...... 163 

German officers holding a war council in the 

CiiAusliE DE Louvain 164 

Brussels in the hands of the enemy . . . 164 

Belgian Carabiniers defending the route . . 1(35 

Brussels Civic Guard with machine guns drawn 

by dog teams, during the retreat . . 165 

To check the invader, peasant men and women 

making trenches 166 

German soldiers driving the peasants out of a 

Belgian village 167 

The German bombardment of Namur . , . 168 




The citadel of Namur, which was captured by 

THE Germans on August 23 ... . 169 

Charleroi after its capture and destruction . 170 

The ruins of the church of Notre Dame at Dinant 171 

Th]<: triumphant eagle . . . . . .172 

The action at TTrlemont ..... 173 

GI'RMANY’S crime against POSTERnW . . . 175 

The defence oi' Antwerp and ihe ofii:n(-i; of thic 

Zeppelin . . . . . . . .176 

.A FORCE OF British MARiNiiS landing for iue dioD'Nce 

OF OSTEND ....... 177 

“ Create examplf.s which by Tiii-HJi i RiGinFULNi'SS 


The King of the Belgians in the field . . 179 

1'looding the Germans out ..... 180 

In contact with the enemy ..... 205 

Undaunted by shot and shell ; Driver of the 

K.F.A. SAVING ms gun 206 

Tournai ........ 207 

]\iONS BELFRY ........ 207 

The British stand at Mons ..... 208 

Bringing down the German Eagle . . . 209 

Battle of Cambrai — Le Gateau . . . .210 

The Turcos charging at Charleroi . . . 211 

The retirement from Charleroi .... 213 

Facing the foe to the last . * . . -213 




General Sir H. Smith-Dorrien .... 214 

General Sir Douglas Haig . . . . .214 

Brigadier-General II. de: B. de Lisle . . . 214 

Lieutenant-General Sir David Henderson . . 214 

General Sir Ian Hamilton ..... 215 

Major-General Sir Philip Chetwode . . . 215 

MajoigGeneral Edmund Allenly .... 215 

Major-Gene.kal Sir A. Murray .... 215 

General Jo i- ere . . . . . . .216 

Genjhcal Pau ........ 216 

General D’Amade 216 

The British siand ae Mons ..... 218 

Crown Pimnce of Germany ..... 221 

Prince: Kiu'ert of Bavaria ..... 221 

Count von .Moltke ...... 222 

General von Im.uck ...... 222 

Prince von Bulow ...... 222 

General von Hansen ...... 222 

On the front at Dinard ..... 223 

Like a flock of crows ..... 224 

The Germans at Orciiies ..... 225 

After the Battle ...... 226 


Watching the oncoming Germans from a coign of 
vantage at Orciiies 




The exodus from Paris ..... 228 

Refugees leaving Paris by the l/^st train from 

THE GaRE DU NoRD ...... 229 

The turn of the tide : P'rencii pursuing Germans 

AT Meaux ....... 230 

Battle of Meaux ....... 231 

On THE FRONTIER . . . . . . . 232 

Receiving the wounded in Paris .... 233 

A WOUNDED British officer in France . . . 234 

Trees as barricades . * . . . . . 235 

Battling in the blue ...... 236 

Bolts from the blue ...... 237 

On THE IMeuse ....... 238 

Mezieres, tut. chief town in the department of the 
Ardennes, and a great training centre for the 
French Army ....... 239 

Verdun, Port Chatel ...... 239 

The ruined railway and telegraph wires at Cr6py 240 

How THE French crossed a ruined bridge spanning 

the river Nonette AT Chantilly . . . 241 

The French 75-M. gun in action .... 242 


The price of victory 244 




T he famous Marshal von IMollkc, the uncle of the 
\h)n Moltkt' of to-day, not long before his death 
r'cnturcd upon a prediction that the next great 
Ifuropc an war would “ come with all the sudde n- 
ness of a sunnner storm.” Pismarck had expressed the same 
ojhnion in another way wlU'U he said that there was always 
a lot of gun])owder Ij ing about in Eure)pe and a spark might 
cause an ex[)losion. 

Ever since the war between France and Germany in 1870- 
71 thrre had been a steady gx'owth in the armaments of the 
Confinental Ihawers. 'Ihe armed peace of Europe at last 
entailed an exjxenditurc grc'atcr than the cost of war itself had 
Ixa.'U in e:u'li('r limes when campaigns were conducted by 
relatiw'ly small armies. Again and again it was said that 
the day would come when the very strain (d maintaining this 
constant la-adiness for war on a gigantic scale by ” nations in 
arms ” would Ic'ad to an outbreak of hostilities, one or other 
of the great militaiy Powers seeking a conflict in the hojxe 
of such a sweeping victory as would (riablc it to redxice its 
armaments after striking an eflectiv'c blow. 

But on the other hand, as year after year went b}', crisis 
after crisis was solved by diplomatic effoi ts and more than one 
war in Ifastern Europe was successfully localisc'd, public 
o])inion began to grow optimistic. It was felt that a war 
involving the greater part of Europe was something too 
horrible ever to become an accomplished fact. M. Bloch of 
Warsaw attx'mpted to prove that under modern conditions 
a war between great Powers had become practically im- 
possible. Mr. Norman Angell proved almost to demonstra- 
tion that under cjasting conditions of trade and finance war 




was becoming impossible because even the victor would lose 
more by it than he could possibly gain. The establishment 
of the Hague Tribunal, the conclusion of various arbitration 
treaties, and the settlement of more thap one dispute between 
nations by arbitration encouraged the hope that future 
quarrels would be settled by peaceful means. 

But at the same time, there were several permanent danger 
points. Morocco was one. Tlie Balkan peninsula was 
another. The Powers had grouped themselves for mutual 
support in the event of the clash of interests becoming acute 
in any direction. The first of these groupings, the Triple 
Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy, was represented as 
a league of peace to prevent any disturbance of the existing 
European situation. There were times when it seemed quite 
likely that England would join this league of the Central 
European Powers. During long years of rivalry in Africa 
and in the East, during widely France and Englanct were twice 
on the verge of war, France was regarded as our most likely 
enemy. The French alliance with Russia was formed during 
this state of things. It was the na\'al aml)ition of Germany 
and German adventures in Morocco that led to our Entente 
with France, an understanding behind which there was a 
f)ledge that in certain contingencies England would give 
armed support to France. 

Thus there was a grouping of the Pow<“rs in Hie 'Triple 
Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy, and the TriplcEntente 
of England, France, and Russia. But it was siqiposed by 
those who took an optimistic view of the situation that this 
very grouping of possible rivals would facilitate an under- 
standing on any point in dispute. When the Kaiser met the 
Czar at Port Baltic in 1912, he said that he regarded the 
division of Europe into tlu'se great confederations as the best 
safeguard against hostilities. W ithin a few weeks of the war, 
at the opening of the widened Kiel Canal, he spoke again 
of peace as assured, and on this occasion he was wearing the 
uniform of a British admiral, and his flag was flying on one 
of the great Dreadnoughts which is now cleared for action 
in the North Sea. 

But while these pacific speeches were being made, there 
was still, to use a Bismarckian phrase, “ a lot of gunpowder 
lying about.” For two years there had been a sin-ies of wars 
in the Baltic peninsula. 'ITianks largely to the diplomacy of 
England, these conflicts had been successfully localised, not- 
withstanding the acute rivalry of Austria- and Russia in the 



Near P 2 ast. But suddenly the spark came which set the 
gunpowder on fire. On Sunday, June 28th, the Archduke 
Ferdinand, the heir to the crowns of Austria and Hungary, 
and his wife, the Countess Chotek, were assassinated in the 
streets of Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Europe was horrified 
at the crime, for the Archduke was the hope of Austria, and 
world-wide sympathy had been attracted to him when he 
refused to have his marriage arranged by a choice made for 
him a.mong the princely houses of Europe, and had chosen 
for himself a lady of the Slav race — this very act being 
typical of both his independent spirit and his hope to bring 
about a lasting peace between the Austrian Government and 
its Slav subjects. In Austria and Hungary, rightly or wrongly, 
it was considered that he had been made a victim of a Servian 
conspiracy, and that he had been selected for assassination 
because the success of liis policy would bar the way to the 
Servian hope of extending tha kingdom over the Southern 
Slav lands ot Austria. In the Hungarian and Austrian press 
there was a furious outcry for vengeance upon Belgrade. 
“ We must clear out this nest of Ser\'ian plague rats ” were 
the words in which the leading papers of Buda-Pesth called 
for war. But even then no one expected that the tragedy of 
Serajevo would lead to a general European contlict or imagined 
that the jiistol shots lired on June 28th would, within a few 
weeks, find a terrible echo on battlefields wlicre millions would 
be set in array. 

On July 23rd Austria presented a stern ultimatum to 
Sepia cliarging the Court of Belgrade with organised con- 
spiracy, and insisting on measures of repression to be carried 
out under the supercision of Austrian officials. Refusal 
would mean war at the end of forty-eight hours. Even tlu'u 
it was hoped that this new Balkan conflict would be localised 
like those of the previous two years. There is no need to tell 
the story of the hurried negotiation, the threats and counter- 
threats, the deliberate or unwilful misunderstanding amidst 
which a cloud of war rapidly darkeneil over Europe. Austria 
declared Servia’s answer to be unsatisfactory, and had broken 
off relations with Belgrade, and on July 28th followed 
this step by a declaration of war. Sir Edward Grey had tried 
to arrange for the meeting of a conference of ambassadors in 
London. Vienna and Berlin had become wildly excited at 
the news of a Russian declaration that the Czar would stand 
by Servia and prevent Austria from destroying its inde- 
pendence under a*plea of exacting I'eparation for the Serajevo 


■tragedy. Crowds in tlic streets were ehcering for war with 
Riissia. Paris, fully conscious of the fact that in virtue of 
the Dual Alliance tlic war could not be confined to Eastern 
Europe, was slower in catching the general le\'er of excitement. 
London was strangely calm. I'hc fact was that mc'n refused 
to believe such a calamity as a general European war was 

But London too felt the first agitation of the coming storm 
when news from the Continent told of the partial molfilisation 
of the Russian army on July 30th, a decree of general mobili- 
sation on the following day, and a declaration of “ the state 
of war ” in Germany, a ]‘>r(. liminary measure of mobilisation 
which gives the military authorities control of all the railways 
and telegrajihs. 

There was utter disorganisation on the Stock Exchange. 
A serious banking crisis was only averted by exceptional 
measures taken by the Government in concert with the great 
banks. The fleet, which had just been dismissed for ta('tical 
and gtmnery exercises after a great review by the King at 
Portsmouth, had been ordered as a pia'cautionary measure to 
reassemble at certain stations. Guards had been ]>laced on 
arsenals and other important points, and the preliminary 
steps had been taken for the mobilisation of our fleet and 
army. But all tliis was done quietly, so as to avoid anything 
like provocation to German^'. Jfngland was waiting, still 
hopeful for peace, even after the declaration of war by Germany 
against Russia on August ist, but ready though reluctant to 
draw the sword if the terrible necessity arose. 

To the last moment Sir Edward Grey worked stiamuously 
for peace, lie even endeavoured to make an arrangenK-nt 
by which England, whilst standing aside from flu: cjuarrc'!, 
would guarantee France from attacks upon its coasts, its trade, 
and its colonies by the German navy. W'hat actually forced 
England to intervene was the German invasion of i.h'lgium 
in defiance of the treaty by which the European Powers had 
pledged themselves to defend and protect her neutrality. Gn 
Tuesday, August 4th, on the news that German troops were 
moving against Liege, an ultimatum was addressed to Berlin, 
demanding an assurance that the neutrality of Belgium would 
be respected ; as the reports from the Belgian frontier in- 
dicated that this neutrality was on the very point of being 
violated, the demand had to be peremptory. Germany was 
given until midnight (Berlin time, equivalent to ii p.m. in 
London) to send a satisfactory rex>ly. Tlie German troops 


had already entered Luxoinl^urg on the Sunday morning, and 
on the same day (lermany had sent an idlimatum to Belgium 
demanding free passage for her troops through Belgium 
territory, and offering a friendly understanding if this were 
conceded. Belgium had rejected the demand and begun 
to mobilise her army. The Germans were firing on Liege 
hours before the expiration allowed by the British ultimatum. 
At II p.m. on Tuesday, August 4th, Jfngland was at warwitli 
Germany, and orders were issiu-d for five mobilisation of the 
army and the Territorials, the rnual reserves being called 
up two days before. 

d'he peoples of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Empire 
entered upon the ivar with an absolute union of heart and 
s]>irit W'hich must luive come as a surprise to those Gc'rman 
politicians who counted on internal divisions weakening the 
power of Britain. In the historic sitting of the House of 
Commons at which Sir Edward Gre}" announced tlu' policy 
of the Government, i\ir. Bonai- l,aw' i^kdged the Opposition 
to give the utmost support to the jiinistry, and Hr. John 
Kedmond declared that Ireland was absolutelj^ with lingland, 
that e\’('ry soldii'i now in Ireland might be witlulrawm, ami 
the pc'ople wanild answer for the presere-ation of order and thc 
defence of the countr}e E\'en those who, up to the last 
moment, had argued that England might stand aside from 
the (juarrel, now protested that it was the duty of ever}’ one 
to make the utmost sacrifice and secure a \'ictory for our 
arms, f he fact that the wair had been declared to uphold the 
independent neutrality of Biigium and to fulfil a solemn treaty 
obligation to that effect made it clear to evi'iy one that our 
quarrel tvas a just oni'. It w’as remarkable that there was an 
almost complete absence of noisy demonstrations. Every 
one recognised how' serious the situation was, and set to w'ork 
in a serious spirit to prejiare for strenuous exiTtions and the 
endurance of difficult times. Erorn all tin' dominions of the 
Empire and from India there came promises of unfaltering 
support for the IMother ('ountr}'. It might bo said indeed 
that there w'cre more open demonstrations of enthusiasm in 
some far-off cities of the Empire t han in its centre. In Canada, 
when the new's of the declaration of the ^\'ar arrived, the 
streets of Quebec and Montreal w'ere thronged with cheering 
crowds far into the night. 

The declarations of war between the various Powers 
involved in the struggle came in quick succession during the 
following days. When all the combatants w'crc set in the lists 


there were on the one side Germany and Anstria-Hungary — 
for Italy had at the last moment declared her neutrality ; 
and on the other, England, France, Belgium, Russia, Servia, 
and a little later Japan. 

In Russia the conflict had been hailed as a holy war in 
defence of the freedom of a brother Slav state. The mobili- 
sation of over four millions of men was hailed with enthusiasm 
by the people, and the Czar’s proclamation promising 
autonomy to Poland and calling upon the Polish people to 
rally to their kindred Slavs was accepted by most of the 
Polish leaders as a pledge of the revival of their nationality, 
thus removing at the outset what many had supposed would 
be a serious difficulty to Russia. Nor was there less enthusi- 
asm in Austiia- Hungary and Germany. All the most 
reliable evidence goes to show that the Germans regarded 
the war as a national struggle against the Slav menace to 
the eastward and the danger from France in the west. Only 
in the Austrian Empire was there a divided people. There 
the Slav races reluctantly obeyed the call to arms in this 
great conflict between the Teuton and the Slav Powers. The 
result was a very serious difficulty for Austiia at the outset 
of the Galician campaign. 

In France there was the same unanimous rally of all 
parties to the national cause which was witnessed in Ihigland. 
There were no longer Royalists or Republicans, Conservatives 
or Liberals, all were simply Frenchmen, and of all the countries 
of the Continent involved in the war France had at the outset 
to make the most serious sacrifices. F'or in order to meet on 
anything like equal terms the more populous German Empire 
France had at the very beginning to place nearly all her 
manhood under arms. Old men, women, and children had to 
reap the abundant harvest. It was with difficulty that 
enough men were spared to work the railways and keep the 
necessary factories going. The French army corps are not so 
completely localised as those of Germany, and the mobilisation 
therefore entailed much heavier work for the railways, the 
difficulty being increased by the fact that as Germany had 
obtained a start with her mobilisation, considerable reinforce- 
ments had to be hurried at once to the eastern frontier. 
England had promised the early support of an expeditionary 
force of about 150,000 men ; with this help France might 
hope to meet the German attack with fairly equal numbers 
at the outset. But provision had to be made for the move- 
ment of these Allies from the northern ports of France over 



the railways to the points assigned to them in the battle 

The French Staff had to face the probability that at the 
outset of the war Germany would bring the greater part of 
her first-line forces into action on her western frontiers. For 
twenty years at least German military experts had been 
discussing the problem of the war on two fronts — the eastern 
front in the direction of the Vistula against Russia, and the 
western front in the direction of the Rhine against France ; 
and as the basis of all calculations it had been assumed that 
on account of the enormous extent of the Russian Empire 
and the backward state of the Russian railway system, the 
mobilisation and concentration of the Czar’s armies would lag 
considerably behind that of the other Powers. The Germans 
therefore coxinted upon being able to throw their main force 
against PTance on the western front and win a decisive victory 
before the Russian pressure on tl>e eastern front would become 
serious. This meant that at the outset P'rance would have 
to bear the brunt of the battle. 

ft was estimated that the general mobilisation of the 
Russian army would bring about four million trained men 
into the field, but these would only gradually become available. 
The peace strength of the army was about 1,200,000, and of 
these about twm-thirds were stxitioned in Europe, their 
peace stations being mostly westward of Moscow in order to 
facilitate concentration in the Polish frontier districts. But 
many of the army corps thus garrisoned in Russia had to 
draw their reservists from the borders of Asia and the Black 
Sea coast districts, partly by marching, partly over hundreds 
of miles of single-track railway lines. In all thirty-seven 
army corps and tw'enty-four cavalry divisions were mobilised 
on the declaration of w^ar and formed into field armies to 
operate against Eastern Prussia from the Niemen and from 
Northern Poland, against Posen and Silesia from the region of 
the Polish fortresses, and against Austria on the Galician 
frontier in tw'^o great masses — one facing southw'ard from 
Poland, the other moving against Eastern Galicia andEem- 
berg from Southern Russia. 

The defection of Italy and the war wdth Servia tended 
seriously to diminish the force that Austria-Hungary could 
place in the field against Russia. About 350,000 nien of the 
Austro-Hungarian army were already engaged in active 
hostihties on the Servian border or employed in maintaining 
order in Bosnia. ' ‘Another large force had to be kept on the 



Italian frontier in view of the agitation in Italy for a declara- 
tion of war on the side of the Ti'iple Entente. Nevertheless, 
Austria-Hungary could rapidly concentrate about a million 
men in Galicia. These were grouped in two armies, one of 
which was to act on the defensive in the east, while the other 
advanced along the Vistula into Russian Poland. 

Germany moved to her western frontier for the attack 
upon France through Alsace-Lorraine, Luxemburg, and Bel- 
gium a first-line force of nineteen army corps grouped in six 
armies. This left for the eastern frontier only five, army 
corps of the regular or first-line army. But these were largely 
supplemented l)y reserve corps formed of the reservists who 
were not required to bring up the regular regiments to war 
strength, and by corps of the Landwchr or second-line troops — 
men who, after completing their service with the colours and 
passing through the reserve, form a second army primarilj’’ 
destined for home defence,* but also available for service 
bc5'ond the frontiers. In tin? war of 1870 some of the liardest 
figliting was done by the Landwehr divisions. It is very 
likely that even the force on the French frontie r was strength- 
ened by some of these reserve and Landwehr units, and it is 
certain that a large force of Landwt'hr men was concentrated 
for the occupation of Luxemburg and Belgium in the rear of 
the fighting liiu'. A third line was also called out lor service, 
namely the Landstunn— men between thirty-nine and forty- 
five years of age who have completed their army and Landwehr 
service. The Landsturm (“ the rising of the country ”) is 
normally supposed to be a levy en masse for home defence 
in a great emergency. In this instance they were called out 
to perform duties usually assigned to the Landwehr, namely 
the guarding of lines of communication and the garrisoning 
of the fortresses. 

Of the young men liable to military service each year in 
Germany a considerable number arc not actually called into 
the ranks of the army. These untrained men, amounting in 
the aggregate to a very considerable number in the course of the 
year, represent a fourth line of available undrilled material. 
As soon as the mobilisation was complete, recruiting offices 
were opened to enlist volunteers from this class, and it is said 
that in the first month nearly a million joined. To these were 
added about 600,000 young men who, if there had been no 
war, would in the ordinary course of things have been liable 
to begin their military service in the month of September. 
These were called out in the middle of 'August, and thus 


shortly after the declaration of war the Kaiser had about a 
million and a half of new recruits under training in the depots 
and garrison towns. 

It is difficult to state with any exactness the numbers 
available for the field armies, btit it is probable that including 
first-line troops and Landwehr and the new reserve divisions, 
about three millions were immediately available, with 
another million rapidly coming into their places as communica- 
tion and garrison troops. 

These figures are given in order to show that at the outset 
of the war the Allies had no light task before thcan, even 
making an allowance for the difficulties that tended to crijiple 
the fighting power of Austria. Without the help of England 
and the intri'pid resistance of the Belgian army, Germany 
would have been able; to invade France with an ovcrwfficlming 
superiority of numbers and to place a much larger force on 
her eastern frontier. . 

The British Government had no illusions on this subject. 
They did not make the dangerous mistake of underrating the 
enemy’s power, and from the outset began to prepare seriously 
for a long war. The Expeditionary Force w'as regarded as 
only the vanguard of the armies that woidd gradually be put 
into the field. The secure command of the seas asserted from 
the first moment by our navy made it possible to gather all 
the forces of the Empire, and to make England itself a citadel 
in wfiiich new' armies could be formed and trained. The 
Territorial force supplied at once a fairly trained young army 
of over 300,000 men, not only for home defence, but also 
available to a great extent by volunteering for garrison duty 
abroad and service in the field. I'he mobilisation of all 
branches of the army was carried out in a few days with the 
smooth efficiency of a w'ell-planned and w'cll-adjusted machine. 
It was the first time that mobilisation on this scale had ever 
been attempted in England, and many not unfriendly critics 
of our military system thought that it w'ould be found a veiy 
difficult business. Within forty-eight hours of the mobilisa- 
tion order every man was at his post — equipment, arms, 
stores wore available in abundance at the points where they 
were wanted. The supply of horses completed by requisition 
proved to be ample. Additional transport was provided by 
taking over registered carts, vans, and motors— requisition 
being employed wffiere necessary. The Territorials w'ere at 
first assembled in improvised quarters or billets in cities and 
towns, and then moved into training camps or barracks and 


garrison quarters as the Regulars assigned to the Expeditionary 
Force streamed away across the Channel. The army authori- 
ties took control of all the railways, the existing officials 
carrying out the actual executive work under the direction 
of Staff officers. Rumours that the enemy’s agents might 
attempt to interrupt the mobilisation and the movement of 
the troops by damaging railways and bridges, or cutting 
telegraphs, led to large numbers of troops, police, and civilian 
helpers being employed in guarding the lines. The men thus 
engaged amounted in the aggregate to the numbers of a small 

On the day when war was declared, Sir John Jellicoe had 
just taken command of the fleets in the North Sea. Sir John 
French was appointed to the command of the Expeditionary 
Force of three army corps and a cavalry division — the largest 
army England has ever sent into the field at the outset of a 
war. Next day Lord Kitchener was appointed Secretary of 
State for War. The appointment was a tribute to his un- 
rivalled power for organisation. Within twenty-four hours 
he had outlined his plans, and Parliament was called upon 
to authorise the enlistment of half a million additional men 
for the land forces. It was explained that these were to be 
supplementary to the ordinary enlistments for the existing 
units of the army. They were to form a new army wliich was 
to be organised, equipped, armed, and trained in the first six 
months of the war, and to take the field at a later stage of 
the contest. There were already nearly 600,000 men under 
arms in our land armies at home, besides 150,000 men afloat 
in our fleets. Further forces were to be provided by a call 
upon the resources of the Empire beyond the seas — a call 
which met with an immediate and enthusiastic response. 
Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand had at 
once begun the organisation of contingents for service in 
Europe. India was preparing to send across the sea a force 
of 70,000 men — troops of the Indian army and the native 
states — the Princes vied with each other in offers of service, 
not only providing men and money, but also themselves 
volunteering for active service in the field. It was a wonder- 
ful revelation of the strength and unity of a great Empire. 

Every one had recognised that in case of a European war 
England could mobilise for immediate service a naval power 
far exceeding the strength of any possible rival. But it was 
a surprise to find that within a week of the beginning of 
hostilities her military power could be expanded to over a 



million men. It is true that many of these were untrained 
material out of which soldiers were to be made. But two- 
thirds of this number had some degree of training, and 
many have had the actual experience of war service. The 
Territorials mobilised and permanently embodied had sufh- 
cient training to become very rapidly equal to Regular units. 
Before the war it had been a frequent subject of complaint 
that but few of the corps were up to their full establishment. 
But the war was not a week old, when they were turning away 
recruits, and many of those who had been accepted to complete 
their mimbers were trained men eager to rejoin the ranks. 
There was such an abundance of these recruits that many of 
the Territorial units were able to form reserve battalions. In 
one instance such a second battalion was recruited over a 
thousand strong in four days. 

While carrying through the mobilisation of the fleet and 
army, sending the Expeditionary Force across the Channel, 
and providing for the rapid expansion of our land forces, the 
(jovermnent, with the loyal support of all parties, was per- 
forming the equally difiicult task of organising all manner of 
public services and interests during the trying transit from a 
state of peace to a state of war. It was a condition of things 
of which England had no experience since the wars against 
Napoleon a hundred years ago. In the century since Waterloo 
we have had only one war wilh a European Tower, and that 
was a distant expedition to the far-oft Crimea — a war during 
which there was no possible danger to our shores, and not the 
slightest interruption to our trade and our seaborne com- 
merce. All our other wars had been Indian and colonial 
expeditions, in none ot which the ordinary eveiyday life of 
the country was seriously affected. Now we had to deal 
with an opponent possessing considerable naval power, 
having frontiers close to our own shores, and able to put a 
highly trained and numerous army into the field. The 
declaration of war at once disorganised commercial and trade 
relations amounting to many millions each week ; the with- 
drawal of hundreds of thousands of men from their ordinary 
occupations tended to disorganise home industry. Finally, 
the banking crisis produced by tlie war had an immediate 
effect on business and mamrfactures of every kind. I'he 
Government had to safeguard the credit of the country, tide 
the business world over the dangers of a commercial crisis, 
secure the trade routes from interruption, prevent a panic 
rise in the price oi food, and arrange for the government of 



the country itself under war conditions. It had to do all 
this without possessing the exceptional means of action that 
continental governments have at their command through 
the declaration of the state of war, which means the govern- 
ment of the whole country by the military authorities. In our 
empire and in England, as its centre, the necessities of war 
have to be met while preserving the constitutional liberties 
of the times of peace. But tlic Government had the hearty 
co-operation of men of all parlies and of all classes. There 
was proof of this in the way in which, during the days when 
the Expeditionary Force was being transportc'd to France, by 
the voluntary action of the press and the people, the secrets 
of its movements were kept until the operation had been 

In Ifngland the time of mobilisation produced far less 
disorganisation of the ordinary life of the country than in any 
other State in Europe. It was completed within a fortnight 
after the declaration of war, and by tlrat time nearly all the 
Expeditionary Force was actually at the front in France. Tlic 
public at home waited impaticuitly for the news of its entry 
into action, all the more impatiently because each day brought 
news of the j^rogress of the German armies whicli were over- 
running Belgium. There were rumours diming this period 
that our army was actually joining hands wath the Belgian 
troops, but the Headquarters Staff and the Government in 
London had accepted the plan of General Joffre and the 
French General Staff, according to which the British Ex- 
peditionary Force was to be placed on the left of a great allied 
army concentrated in the northern department of France, to 
advance across the Belgian frontier, and drive the Germans 
back across the Meuse. Before telling of the first battles 
fought by the British and Frencli on the Belgian border, it 
will be well to describe the sending of the British hlxpedi- 
tionary Force to the front, show how our Navy held the 
command of the sea, and trace the course of events in Belgium 
itself from the violation of the frontier in the first days of 
August up to the opening of the great battle along the river 
Sambre and about Mons. 

“ Wc intvi to (Uy tlitiicr condil of j^iavity wlilcli ;itv almost impafnllclt'd in the experience 
of every one ot n-;. Piie i-;su(-; of jhmco and war arc hangiiiy in the hilamce.” -The rriiiie 
Milliner, tlic lUmee ot Commons, August 1-4, 1914 

3 ^ 

The Right HoNounABLE Sir Edward Grey 

Miiiisln lor I'ouii;!! Altaiis 
“ VIV itvikfd far peace up lo the lar.l momcn! and 
hevoiiM the lad vuuiieul. . . . HV are non' face in 
fate li'tlh a silitalmn and all tin: t oirn'quenees 
iclitih it may yet have, la untnld,." Sir li. Grry 
III the Housf ol Coinjiums, Auf^ust 3, kjit 

“Great crowds s^thered ,'in Whitehall on Tuesday night, Aiigufit 4, and waited eagerly lor 
news of how Germany liiid received our ultimatum. It l)ecamc known shortly l>efore midnight 
that Britain had declared war. The crowd waited for the Ministers to leave Downing Street, 
and gave them an enthusiastic reception. The German Ambassador, who looked haggard, was 
in no way molested as he motored home ” 


Drawn hy Arthur (iarratt 

“With all Ui^wavlikc uuaUties tlu- Servian sohlit-i has llu- simple laLly 
eh IhVtrui Vuiv. and iK-loro j^oi,m t<. battle he conlcsses lus sms. 
prays to his saints, aud leaves a caudle bunuuK l>eiore the sacred jkon 

, Prince Lichnowsky 

The Oerman Anilxissaflor, at llie l-oreigii 
Oflice the day war was declaixsi 

FiELD-MftRSHAL Earl Kitchener. K.C B. 

" Yon liJiVL- to perforin n lask uhkh ^\lli iieul nil 
your coiu.iyr, \<nir rmir;y, voiir imlmiu'. Ki 
in< ijiIk.'! Liinl tin lioiiourol lin- Jinli-ii Anuv Mi prri.l:-, 
upon youi nuiivi.iuni eondnet , ’ I.,, id K id linn.] A 

Mc'siyc to tile I'lxpcdilioiinr^' l•ou'l■ 

I’hulo I'ofUiiil 

Field-Marshal Sir John French, K.C.B. 

’* 111 spite of Jiard marching and llghtiiiK flic British 
fuicL* IS in the lust ot spirits.”-' >Sir John Freiirh’s 
telegram, August 25, 1014 

Vhoio Haines 


Photo " Illustrations Bureau ” 

The 6th Dragoon Guards 
(the CarabiniersI joining 



Royal Field Artillery at Nine 
Elms preparing to entrain 
with their lei pounder 


Photo " Illustrations Bureau ” 

Naval Rcscrvcs on the 



Lord Kitchener leaving the War Ofeice to 


Ou the steps is Air. T. !■. Smith, K.C.. then 
newly appointed ClueJ ol the Tress Bureau 


Drawn by Lionel Edwards 

Mounted sentry challenqino a 



Dran’H h\' Lionel luia'ilr.l\ 

Collecting registered horses for the war 

A sc-<'ii«' to Ik- iii dealers’ yards Uirouf^hoill 

tile eoiinlry dur illy Aiiyusl 

Thc Crown Prince of Germany in the field 

In the opinion of ninny, Ur- Crown Prince lins done 
more Uinii tlie <Rtninn limpeior in tlie inrllieninee 
of plans loi war, while In the lield tlie anny undei 
his eomnuuid has acbh ved less success than any 
other German force 


Drawn bv S!,’,u-ii Sl>mri€r The German exodus from London 


A stiaiiKi’ sight was witnessed at LiN>crp«)ol Street Station on Bank Holiday evening 
(August 3), wiieii the stream of returning excursionists cncojjulered crowds of (Tcnnan 
reservists Inirrying home to fight for the I-'aUietlund. There were simUar scenes at Victoria 
and Charing Cross, wlieuce also large numbers of Frenchmen went off to rejoin thetr regiments 


Ihuwn In' Alfred Leet’^ Watching for hostile airships on the 

French frontier 

A slroni; military j^iiard Mith s is niain- 
taiiu'il 111 all ixiiiits aloni; llu* l';nnip'‘an 
cveu in limes ol peace 


Paris in war time 

Ccniiimlwry early closing 



F or an island Power like Britain, tlie first condition 
that makes military action on the Continent 
possible is the secure command of the sea. In the 
same way it is tlu^ command of the sea that is our 
real defericii against invasion. A little, more than a century 
ago, for nearly twelve montlis the magnificent army which 
afterwards marched in triumpli from tlie Rhine to the western 
frontiers of Russia, the army of Austerlitz, | cria, and Fricdland, 
was cncam|)('d on the Erenclt shore of the British Channe 1, 
almost ill siglit of Ihigland. But these few miles of gre^y-gree n 
sea wer(‘ as iinjxissalile a barrier as if it liad been an occnii. 
The real eie.feiice of England lay in the fleets Hiat blockadt'd 
every Erciich port and fought victoriously at Trafalgar. And 
it was the command of the sea secured hy these same fleets 
that enabled luigland to send its armies into the Spanish 
peninsula, to maintain tlK'in there for yc'ars, and by Hie 
constant drain they estal)Iishc‘d on the resources of the French 
Empire gradually undermine its strcaigth until at last, while 
the allied armies of luirope marched across the Rhine, Welling- 
ton’s veterans fought tlu ir way to the Pyrenees and entered 
Southern France. British, military action in tin’s great crisis 
of the world’s history ultimately depended on British naval 
power. ^ 

So it is in tlie present war, we liave been able to send to 
the front for a Continental campaign the largest army that 
England has ever placed in the held at the beginning of a war, 
and this was done while the enemy’s fleet— the strongest in 
Europe after our own — was still intact. The first movements 
of our troops across the Channel were actually made before a 
single shot had been fired in battle on the sea. Tlianks to 
the overwhelming superiority of our navy, we had not to 
conquer the command of the sea — we possessed it from the 
first moment of the conflict. 




I^or many years the general plan under which our army 
was organised had made provision for the speedy sending 
of an cx])('ditionary force across the seas. The British 
army lias to fulhl a pi'imancnt task the extent of w'hich 
is not generally rcahs(xl. The great armies of the ContiiK'iit 
are destined to operate on thi' frontiers of the countries 
to whicli they lielong. 'this simplilies the whole organisa- 
tion. Bui oiir army has to maintain year after jx-ar a force 
of about 80,000 men on a war footing, or at least in immediate 
jireparafion for war, in the trying tro])ical climate of India. 
\V(; have to provide for a very large reinforcement of 
this army in the event of trouble on the Indian frontiers, 
and in the Far Fast, and to supjily large drafts each year 
to replace time-expiri'd men and casualties. W'e have 
furtlK'.r to maintain the garrisons at (iiliraltar and Malta, 
in Fgypt and at Aden, which secure' the road to India. In 
all, we hav(' to keep out of the country a iieiniauent force 
of over 100,000 men. 

'1 he regular army at homo, with the exception of the 
Guards' Brigades and tlu' liousehokl Gavalry, ]iracli<'ally 
represents the depot troops and the. rcsirves of this army 
in India and in the Mediterranean garrisons. It is sometimes 
said tliat a line battidion at home “ looks very young.” It 
is forgotten that this battalion is linked with another on 
service oversea, and has each year to send a draft of its older 
men to India or the Mediterranean. The home battalions 
are largely eomposed of young recruits in training and form 
the cadres destined to be biought up to full war strength 
by emtiodying in tlicir ranks some hundreds of older men 
when the; reservists are called up on mobilisation. 

But besides providing permanently for the Indian and 
Mediterranean garrisons, our army has a further task. We 
may at any moment be iinailved in a war on the fi'ontiers of 
the Empire overseas which would require thi' dis])atch of 
an (xpedition from Ifngland to supjihment the local forces. 
For this purpose troo]>s would be drawn from the divisions 
stationed at the training camps of Aldershot and Salisbury 
Plain. l h(sc arc kept in a state, of readiness for a move, 
and the ])ossession of these forces has at various times givim 
our army a markiM advantage over the Continental armies, 
which, as has been said, are primarily home defence forces. 
Thus, for instance, in 1900, when it was necessary to undertake 
operations in China at the briefest notice, Germany had no 
troops available for foi'oign service overseas, and had to raise 



new regiments by calling for volunteers from the regular 

It had long been recognised that it was ncc('ssary to have 
an expeditionary force ready at short notice for these minor 
camp)aigns, but it has bt'cn only in recent yeais that it has 
been accepted as a priiu'iple of oui' army organisation that 
we must ])repare in time* of ])('ace to send a considerable 
force at an early date afti.T the outbreak of war to intervene 
in a possible conflict in JOirope. (fur fleet is mat onl}' our 
first line oi defence, but our child weapon. But even the 
most ardent adc'oeates of tlu^ .su])re!iu; importanci- of sea 
poWtT recognise tliat the ojK-rations of the' fleet have to be 
sup|)lement('d by a military force. As Admiral .'daiian has 
well poinfed out, if was the constant pressure of British sea 
power fliat finally broke down tlie military despotism of 
Na])ole<m. But tins sea ])owe;r was supph'mented by military 
action, whicli it had n.-ndered possible for hingland. Welling- 
ton’s army in S})ain was flic “ expeditionary force ” of a 
century ago. 

In 1870, when Mr. (dadstone asked for a special vote of 
thi' of ('ommons I0 enat)ie military preparatie^ns to 
be made for tissisfing the Belgi.ins in defending their neu- 
trality, if sucli <a ste]) sliould b('Come necessary, it was under- 
stood that the force that would be em]doyed would be about 
30,000 men. At the beginning of the South African War, 
when we m(.)bilised an eX])editionary force to South Africa, 
it was made up of BulKr's Army Corps, willi a cavalry 
division, and a brigade of white troops fr(.>m India for Natal. 
In all, about 50,000 mm were enqrloyed at the outset, and 
this was supposed to be a great effort. In fact, at tlie time 
the mnvspapers used an expression now a]){>lied to the gigantic 
army of Russia, and spoke of Buller’s Army t orps as “ the 
steam-roller” that woidd crush out all resistance. After 
the “black week” of 1 tecember i8g(), division after division 
was mobilised and sent to Scnith Africa. All flie Colonies 
supplied large C(.)ntingents, aiul at last we had some 
men in the field. It was a revelation of tire possible dm elop- 
ment of our military jrower hrr an oversea exjredilion. 
Accordingly wlien Lord Haldane reorganised flu; army and 
it was recognised that the sending of an expeditionar}' force 
to the Continent must be one of the contingencies provided 
for, there was no longer talk of a mere 30,000 or 40,000 men, 
but the force to be sent was fixed at over 150,000 — three 
army corps and one or two cavalry divisions. 


In comparison with tlic enormous armies placed on their 
fronti('rs by the belligerent Towers of the Continent, 150.000 
men semns a small number, but in the jrresent war these 
tlnaa^ army cor]>s Were just what was wanted to enable Trance 
to open the campaign on a fooling of something like equality 
with tiermany. Since the beginning of the entente, the 
T'rench Staff had (ounled on Ifiis assistance. According to 
their calcufatioiis, in the e\'eii( cif war (ierrnany would {dace 
at the out;'.et {x rha{')s twenty of its tweiity-six aiuiy corps 
on the eastern frontier of Trance. The T'rench army would 
moldlise and ]da.ce on tlu' same frontier eigldeen army corjrs ; 
tile Tritish exjreditionaiy force was, t lieref(.)re, necessary 
to make the numbers at all eijual. Judging by the writings 
of (ioneral Jainglois and other Trench military critics in 
touch with flit' (leneral Stall iit Paris, the b'rench autliorities 
had the highest ogdriion of the elticiency and lighting value 
of our men, but were always haunted by an anxious doidtt 
as to whether tlieir help woidd arri\(' in time. It was said 
that the Tnglish mobilisation and the transjiort of the army 
across the Channel would necessaiily be slow, and that our 
throe army corps would not be in hue with the Ihench until 
after the first decisive liattle on whi( li tlie whole fortune 
cT the war might depend. Jt is ])rol>able tliat our T'rench 
friends based their oiunion (ui the somewhat leisurely fashion 
in which BulKr's army was mobilised and sent off in i8qi). 
But in th(.' liiteen years that liave ]>assed since then, our 
wlrole army system has been reorganised, with a definite 
view to the. tasks our military forces have to fiiltil. '1 his 
secured a cfinsiderable acc<'lera,tion in the {lassagi' from a 
{)eace to a war footing. 'J here was the further gain of the 
d<.-lay in the Cerman advance ca.use:d by tlu' gallant resistaiuc 
of Belgium, and our troops stood side by side with those of 
I-'rance in the first great Irattle on tlie frontier. 

(iencral arrangements had been made with the T'rench 
Staff, and as soon as war had been declared, a Trench officer 
of high rank came over to J.ondon in order to be in touch 
with our own I b adquarters Strdf, In order to avoid un- 
necessarily long journeys by railway in Trance, and to keep) 
tlie lines clear as far as {possible for the movement of the 
I'rench armiis, it was arranged that the post of the British 
should be on the extreme left of the. great bat tie- line of 
Trance. 1 liis would pilace our army in the northern depart- 
ments near the Belgian frontier, and it would be concentrated 
and su{)plied by an excellent system of short railway lines 

6 « 


running to t])e ports on the English Channel l)etwecn Ihc^ 
Seine and the Belgian frontier. 

T1ie ])reparations for the transport of the expedition 
began witli the first hour ol tlie inol)ihsalion. TTiougli the 
nuinber:> Were so mneh larger, it was really a. siin])ler task than 
the sending of a single army corps had l)e<'n fift(‘('n years ago. 
Not only was tlie whole inaeliinery of organisation iniidi 
more complete, but tlu^ work to be done was easier. In 
the case of an oV(‘rseas expedition whi('.h rerjiiires a \'oyag(S 
of some wi^('ks. huge trans])orts ]mve to be taken np for tlie 
service* and s])ecijdly prepar('d for th<‘ aeeonnnodalion of the 
men and horses, it is estimated that for a si si \’oyagr‘ of 
over a wi ek, one has to deduct from th(‘ tonnage of a trans- 
port al)ont go pia' ci'irt. to allow for (*ngine spaie, ('oals, and 
crew-- four tons of spac<‘ have to be allowed for each man; 
thus for tlie irans])oiT of a liattalioii a litth^ ovi^r strong 
(officers and men iiK'luded), one would reijuire a ygKjo-loii 
steamer. But in the case of a short \' le) France, no 
such idaborate arraugcmimls weri^ neci^ssary. 

Advance paihies of Staff officers and a fi-w non-commis- 
sioned oflii'ers a;nd inxm Werc' at oik'c sisni across the (diannel 
to the various j)orts where tlie troops Wrre t(.) land, 'these 
made adl the arrangenirnls lor their rceejytion raid their 




sul)scqu(?nt movement by rail to the fighting front. The 
French coast from Havre to Dunkirk became the base of tlie 
exp(;dition. Ik fore a single battalion had landed in France, 
enormous quantities of skaa's were being disembarked in 
all the ports on tliis coast-line, and depots formed for the 
supply of the army. 

T here was no need to effi cT any ^rreliiiiinary conct'ntration 
at the ports of embarkmeiit in Ifngland. .Abundance of 
transport was immediately available. Southampton was 
selected as the chief point of departure, and for a fortnight 
the military authorities were in exclusive possession of tlie 
port. The first troops sent away from tliis point were those 
of the Aldc'rshot division. But it was not the only port 
of embarkation. Troops were sent from the 'rhames— -where 
the well-equipped riverside stations at filbury and Qraani- 
borough proved iiarticularly useful — from Dover, Folke- 
stone, and Newhaven, from Plymouth in the west, and from 
Avonmouth, the new port of Bristol. I'he troops from the 
Curragh camp and other stations in Ireland embarked at 

To provide for the transport of the infantry passenger 
steamers usually employed in home or cross-Channed traffic 
were chartered in large numbers. For tlu; short voyage, 
the men could be crowded on board like excursionists on a 
Bank Holiday. T he war had already stopped some of the 
cross-Channel and North Sea services. Many of the home 
services were brought almost to a standstill by their steamers 
being requisitioned. For more than a week there was only 
one steamer left for the Holyhead and North Wall service to 
Dublin. Most of the steamers of the North-Western and 
Great Western Companies were taken rqi as well as tlie ryne 
fleet of floats usually engaged in the Antwerp and Hook of 
Flolland service, the Great Central Company's steamers 
usually employed in the North Sea, the steamers of the Scotch 
lines, and those of tlie cross-Channel sinviees to Ostend and 
F'rance. F'or Hie cavalry and artillery, numbers of large 
commi'icial steamers that hapqiened to be in liarbour were 
cleared and chartered as transports. Thus the Fixpedi- 
tionary fi-orcc was forwarded to F'rance, so to say, piecemeal, 
from many points, the streams of transports, large and 
small, crossing and re-crossing the Channel day and night for 
a fortnight.’ 

^ The Flying Corps transported most of its niadiines to France by a bold 
cross-Channel flip^ht . 


Many of those wlio made the voyage were at first suriiriseci 
to see tliat there was no naval escort. In imagination tJiey 
liad always pictured the passage of an English ixjxdition 
across the Channel as the progress of a great ci owdof shipping 
escorted by a licet of cruisers. But the ti‘ansj)oi'ts, starting 
one by one;, sometimes never sighted a fighting ship from the 
beginning to the end of their voyage, though at times there 
was a glimpse of a torpedo -lioat destroym- |)al rolling the 
Chanmi, or lying off the port of disembarkation, i lie fact 
was that measures had been taken whicli made any close 
escort of the transports unnocessarje '] 1k> nary liad taken 
possession of the North Sea and “ bottled up” the (ierman 
fli;et behind its shore dehmees. As a sah'guard against any 
venturous raiders slipping through the blockade a furtluT 
precaution had been taken. A cruiser squadron patrolled 
the narrow waters between the North Foreland and tiie 
opposite coast, thus closing the North Sea entrance to the 
Channel, and a naval airship and a group of aeroplanes mo\’ed 
to and fro over the same .stridch of sea, keeping a careful 
look out for any suspicious craft. 1 he crowded transports 
could thus make their raiyages in absolute security. 

But even witli all these precautions, all possible secr(.:cy 
was maintained as to the progress of the mo\'ement. Not 
a word was said in the press, though ever}? one knew that 
the expedition was on its warq and our forces were accumu- 
lating somewhere on the ojifiosite, side of the Channel. '1 here 
was, if anything, an exaggeration about this secrecy, for it 
was impossifile to jri'event it being known over half the world 
that the British army was on its way to the continental 
theatre, of war. 'I'he arrival of the IrGOjis in France was 
known to tens of thousands immediately, and the American 
and Italian ]>apers publislu'd full accounts of the landing 
at Boulogne more than a week befoi'e any iKwspaper in 
Great Britain or Ireland had }»rinted a word on the subject. 
As usual when a secret is being kept, wild rumours circukiled. 
It was said that tens of thousands of British trot){)S were in 
Antwerp or jiassijig tluxnigh Ostend, and ill-judged eulogists 
of the foresigFt of our Govenunent were telling their friends, 
‘‘on the highest authority, ” that several thousands had em- 
barked even before war was declared. No troo])s w'cre sent 
to Belgium, bt'.cause the Fhcaich plan of campaign, tv'hicli 
our Staff accepted, was based upon the idc;i of assisting 
Belgium by an attack upon the German invaders acioss the 
northern fronti(..-r of France. 



Tlie troops proceeding to the front had themselves no 
precise information as to their destinations. A battalion 
mobilised for the expedition would receive orders to entrain 
at such and sucli an hour and at such a station. Even at 
the moment of de])arture they did not know, except by a 
shrewd guess, to which jiort on tlie coast they were bein;.;' 
conveyed, 'i'herc were no entlmsiastic demonstrations, such 
as had accompanied the departure of the troops for South 
Africa, for amid the continual movrinent of troops during 
the first days of mobilisation, tlie sight of khaki- clad men 
marching through the .streets liad liccome familiar, and no 
one could say whcTlicr those he saw on tlie move were going 
to tlie front or bound for some training station. At South- 
ampton, where the greatest number were embarked, a 
rest camp had been formed on the outskirts of the city ; the 
troops generally arrived in the evening or during tlie night. 
Some of the trains were run to the cpia^'side, in other cases 
the menmarclu'd through the streets. For more than a week, 
night after night, peo])le woke to hear the tramp of men 
and the rolling of wheels, wliich went on for liours. 

On the other side of the (ihauni'l the disembarkations 
wene made at Havre, Diepjie, Boulogne, ('alais, and Dunkirk, 
and stores and small detachments were landc>d at many 
little places between these ports. The largest numbe’’ of 
troops disembarked at Boulogne, wlunc for several days 
there was a large concentration of our men. 'they had 
sli])ped silently and secretly away from F.nglaud, but on 
the French coast their arri\’al was like an anticipated triumi>h. 
Crowds watched the khaki-clad regiments disembarking. 
Tlu^y were cheered as they moved through tlie streets, flowers, 
cigarettes, all manner of little gifts were heaped upon them, 
and general admiration was expressed at tlie atliletic ap- 
pearance and military bc'aring of the men. At Boulogne they 
marched through the town and up to the heights, where a 
great rest camp had been prepared around the tall column 
erected by Naiioleon to commemoi'ate the concentration on 
this very ground of the “ armee d’AngletcuTc ” — the “army 
of England” — intended for the invasion of our country. By 
a strange turn in the course of events, the army of England, 
in another sense, was now encamped around Napoleon’s 
monument. The old enemies had become allies. 

From the coast ports, where the various brigades and 
divisions had formed and the men of tlie different regiments 
first realised their place in the general scheme, the troops 



were forwarded by railway to the line of (iambrai and Le 
Catcall, where they were close to the points at which they 
were to cross the Bc'lgian fronticT. When the actual opera- 
tions began, two corps, the b'irst and Second, and the cavalry 
division had arrived, and the I'hird Corps was lacing moved 
up from the coast. 

A British army corjis is made up of two divisions of in- 
fantry. In each division there are three infantry larigadcs, 
each of four battalions ; tin; total brigade strength being 
about 4,000 mem. 'J'o each division there arc attached twelve 
batteries of artillery, these being made up of nine batteries 
of held guns, two batt<a'i('s of howitzers, and oiu.* battery 
of iK'av}^ gnns, 4’7 t)0-])ounders on travelling carriag('S. 't he 
division has also a small mounted force, a contingent of Koyal 
Ifngineers, and transjiort and siqiply column and ambu- 
lancfS. The total stren.gtli of a division is about 10,5110 men, 
with over 7,000 horses, these b(‘ing mostly for draft ]M.irposes, 
with the arliilcTy and trans])ort. '1 wo of these divisions 
are grouiied in the a.rmy corps, and the Cicneral commanding 
it has further at his disposal a body of mounted troops with 
a hors(’ artillery battery, a l>atta,iion of infantry, engineer 
companies foi- tel(.'gra[)h woi'k and bridging, an aviation 
detarlimeiit, a res<Tve of ambulances, and a transport and 
supply column. '1 lie army corps is thus a little army fully 
jirovidrd with all arms of the si'rvice. It is comparatively 
weak in mounted troops, a.s it is mainly an artillery and 
intantry force. But attaehe.d to each group of army corps 
there is at least one ('avalry division, made up of twelve' regi- 
ments grouped in four brigades, and four batteries of liorse 
artillery, besides engineers, ambulances, transport, and supjily. 
The strength of a l avalry division is about (),6oo men. 

I he Expeditionary Eorci' sent to I'rance was made up of 
three comjilete army cor[)s and one cavalry dii'ision. Ihc 
total strength would be about men and nearly 70,000 

Tilt* Comrnander-in-Chief of the ExjK'ditionary Force-, Field- 
Marshal Sir John b'rench, is one of those soldiers whose name 
has come to inspire unbounded confidence, both in the army 
and with the general public. His appointmimt to the com- 
mand was most ixipular. Until a few months before the 
war he liad been Chief of the (leneral Staff, a post the pos- 
session of which is understood to imply the officer holding 
it will have the chief command in any important war during 
his term of oHice. On his resignation in the spring, as the 



result of a misunderstanding in a matter of military dis- 
cipline, it was still rightly sui^poscd that in the event of war 
he would be called to the chief command. lie has had a 
remarkable career. Born in 1852, lu; first entered the navy. 
He was a cadcd on board the old Britannia, and served for a 
while as a midshipman. Jn 1874 he transferred his services 
to the army and rcaadved a commission in the 8th Hussars. 
He was a kc'cn cavalry olficer, and saw his first active Sf'rvice 
under trying conditions in the Soudan t'ampaign of 1884-5 
- the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Khartoum and save 
(iordon. He was one of the officcas of the mtTc liandful of 
mounted men that acted as the “ eyes and ears ” of the desert 
column, and he took part in flic desperate fighting at Abu 
Klca, Gubat, and Metemneh. He was in Katal at the be- 
ginning of the South African War in 1899. He commanded 
the troops at the battle of Elandslaagte and led the* cavalry 
at Reitfontein. He got out of Ladysmith by the last train 
that left the place, having been called away to take command 
of the cavalry division attached to Buller’s Army Corps. He 
led the ride across the veldt to the relief of Kimberley, helpt;d 
to stop the retreat of Cronje at Paardeberg. He tlien com- 
manded the cavalry in tlu' advance on Ihetoria, and took 
part in various operations up to t he close of tlu^ war. Since 
then he has commanded the Aldershot division and acted 
as Chief of the General Staff of the army. 

Nowhere was the appointment oi Sir |olm Fri'nch to the 
command mrjre popular than in France itsi'lf. He liad more 
than once been present with the French Staff at the annual 
manccuvres, and was personally known to the chiefs of the 
army. His reputation as a soldier was known to the French 
people generalfy through their press. His veiy name was 
thought to have a happy apjjropriateness. People said 
that he must be a Frenchman by descent, and translating 
his name they spoke of him as “ Le general Fran(;ais.” Those 
who had looked up his record and knew that he was an Irish- 
man found in this an additional reason for welcomiiig him, 
and spoke of the many Irish soldiers who had fouglit for 
France under the old monarchy and the Empire, and the 
soldiers of Irish descent, like Neil and MacMahon, who had 
distinguished themselves in the French army in later days. 
Before proceeding to the front, he made a flying visit to 
Paris : crowds wtiited for hours outside the Crarc du Nord 
to welcome him, and he drove through the streets to the 
Elys^e between cheering lines of enthusiastic Parisians. 



Amongst those wlio were associated with him in tlic 
direction of the ffxpi'ditionary Force' were some of the niost 
distinguished soldiers of the Ifmpire. (ieiu'rai Sir James 
Grierson, who was to have commanded the Second Army 
Corps, died suddenly soon after his arrival in France. 1 lis death 
was a serious loss to the expedition, for no man in Ifngland 
knew the (iC'iman army hettcT. lie had acted as military 
attache in ilerlin for inany j-aairs, and liad been the Brilisli 
representativ(; on the staff of the German (uiieral. Count 
\\ aldersee, in (diina. General ]lorac<i Sniith-1 torrien suc- 
cc'cded him as the commander of the Second Corps. Sir 
llorac<'. has a long lecord of distinguished serviog beginning 
w'ith th(! Zulu \\’ar of 1879. Me was with W'olsehy in Jigyi'd 
and the Soudan, taking j^art in the action of il el-el-Kebir 
and the desert lighting on the Cpper File in the Gordem 
lveli('f expedition. Me remained some time on the frontier 
with the new ]’'.gy]dia,n army and shared in the victory of 
'I'oski. Then came staff sereice in India, including the 
C hitral campaign. Me commanded a brigade in the South 
African War, and later a di\ision, and it was during this war 
that he won his promotion to the rank of Major-General by 
gof)d service in th<' held. After the war he retunual to India, 
where he commanded the frontier di.strict of Ouetta. In 
191C lie was jironioted to full GeiuTal's rank and took o\'er 
the southern command in Fngland. '1 lirongh all this long 
military career Sir Horac'e Smith-l.)orrien has l,)een able to 
win tlu' absolute conlideiice and di^voted .seiA'ice of all under 
his command in jii ace or war. 

General Sir Douglas Haig, who commanded the First 
Corjis, was, like (ieneral h'rench, a cavalry oflicer. Me had 
seen service in the Soudan and South Africa, liad Ix'cu Chief 
of the Staff in India, and had lately held the Aldershot com- 
mand. (ieneral Sir William rulteney, who commanded 
the 1 hird Corjis, saw his first war .si'ivice in the 'febel-Kebir 
campaign as an officer of the Guards Brigade, lie was after- 
wards mnployed for some years in the Dganda Protectorate, 
where he did some uscdul empire-making work, took part 
in several minor wars, and found his recreation in big game 
shooting. After this he served in the South African War. 
General Alleiiby, who commanded the cawilry division, 
had si'on much colonial war si'rvice in the Bechuanaland 
Fxpedition, the Zulu War, and under Sir John Fnirch in 
South Africa. 

The troerps available in the first lighting were the First 



Army Corps made up of the first and second divisions and 
including two brigades of Guards, the Second Army Corps, 
made up of the third and liftli divisions, and General Allenby’s 
division of cavalry. This would be a force of about 70,000 
or 80,000 men, after allowing for line of communication 
troops left lieliind. The Third Corps was arriving : one of its 
divisions, the fourth, under General Snow, was available on 
the tliird day of the campaign. 

The fust days in h'rance had been a pleasant experience 
for our troops. Tlu^y found themselves everywhere wel- 
comed and feted by the people, and hailed as if they were 
the saviours of the country. A number of interpret(‘rs had 
been provided, luit the newcomers found a way of making 
themselves understood, using the language of signs and 
gestures, eked out by daring attempts to talk Frcarch witli 
the ludp of a short vocabulary of useful words thoughtfully 
provided by the War Office. It is said their first inquiry 
in a PT'cnch town was generally for an “ Anglais prqiier,” 
They were paid in hdeuch money, but at first found veiy 
little use for it for most of the things they wanted were 
forced upon them as presents, and tlay were polite enough 
to pretend that they really liked Trencfi lol:>ac(:o. 'llui 
weather was gloriously fnu\ bright sum'hiue without a drop 
of rain, and the beautiful country of northern France was 

looking its best. ‘'This isn’t like war it’s just a l)it of a 

holiday with nothing to pay,” was the \a:Tdiet of one of the 
expediti(^naries quartered in a Fjaaich village and fraternising 
with a liost of new-made friends. 


The Seaforth Highlanders marching 
Porte oes Dunes at Boulogne 

Army Service wagons driving through 
Boulogne amid the frantic acclamation 
OF THE French people 

The English Camp outside Boulogne 

On tbr ‘-(Kit ornipicd Tiy Naj)oIiotrtj t;reat 
Aituy ol luv.'Lsiun in i8o.| 


French troops on the way to the front. 
"VivE LE Genie 1 Vive les Dragons i " 

W'hu ^li.illbtay H-.ip Uu- liarvc-.l wlu n tin- aiitimiu iLi'/r have roiiic 
Hut Uic drnin aiisuricd, i <niu-, 

IH'.dli a lir.ivcr harvest wlu'ii the autumn diiys have come, 

iUd llarl 

English orricERs enjoying a hasty meal with 

9 ‘ 



T he rapid and systematic expansion of the German 
navy had begun in 1898 when Admiral von 
Tirpitz became Minister of State and Naval 
Secretary at Berlin — a post he has held ever since, 
through many Cabinet changes. He was given this post 
in order to carry out the Kaisers plans for securing to 
Germany “ a future upon the waters.” Much had already 
been done to develop tlie naval power of the German Empire. 
Far-reaching plan^ were now taken in hand, the naval pro- 
gramme being fixed not by annual estimates, but by a pro- 
gramme extending over several years in advance, so as to 
secure a continuous policy. At first this new factor in the 
situation attracted very little attention in England outside 
the somewhat narrow circle of naval experts. This was 
partly because for some, years before France had been re- 
garded as our most likely opponent in war, tlianks to rivalries 
in Africa and in the Far East. Three times in a few years 
we had been in a position of dangerously strained relations 
with our present ally, French activity in Siam, on the Nile, 
and on the Niger bringing us to the verge of hostilities. Our 
naval plans and the distribution of our licet were based on 
the possibility of war with France and Russia. 

In 1900 Sir John (now Lord) Fisher became one of the 
Sea Lords of the Admiralty, and a reorganisation of the navy 
began. The settlement of our disputes with France, the 
coming of the Entente, and the alarm caused by the growth 
of the German navy, led to a complete change in our naval 
plans. The Channel and the Mediterranean were no longer 
the supposed danger-areas of a possible war. The North 
Sea was the more likely scene of a future conflict. The 
east coast became the new front, and it was gradually pro- 
vided with naval bases, torpedo-boat and submarine stations, 
and later on aviation stations, from Dover northwards to 




Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. The annual shipbuilding 
programme was arranged so as to give the British a wide 
margin of superiority over the German fleet, this being 
further secured by a continual progress in the development 
of the various types of fighting ships and in the armament of 
the battle line. Finally, the grouping of the sliips and squad- 
rons was so rearranged that while leaving a certain force 
in far-off waters, the main fighting strength of the fleet was 
always in the home seas, ready for rapid concentration on 
the dangerous North Sea area. 

When the naval estimates were introduced in the spring 
of 1914, Mr. Winston Churchill announced that there would 
be no great naval manoeuvres in the summer, but that instead 
there would be a general mobilisation of the fleet. The 
abandonment of the manoeuvres was supposed at the time 
by hostile critics to be a mistaken step inspired chiefly by 
the desire to make a relatively small saving in the naval 
vote. But the experiment of mobilisation would in any case 
have been a most valuable one, and in this instance it was 
most fortunate for the country that the ‘change had been 
made. The experimental mobilisation did not include the 
whole of our ships. To have manned them completely 
would have meant that all the I'eserves were called up, and 
this would have caused considerable dislocation of the neces- 
sary peace traffic of the country. But it was the largest 
mobilisation that had ever been attempted. All our chief 
fighting squadrons were fully manned, and the great Armada 
that anchored inside the Isle of Wight in the second week 
of July was the most powerful combined fleet the world had 
ever seen. There were forty miles of ships moored in five 
lines. On July 15th the King reviewed the assembled fleet. 
In the royal yacht he led the armada out to sea by the Solent, 
and then ancliored while squadron after squadron swept past, 
saluting with its guns as each ship came abieast of the royal 
yacht. F'or the first time at such a review, great airships 
sailed seawards liigh over the masts of the leading line. 
Aeroplanes wheeled high in air like flights of gigantic birds. 
War on the sea was henceforth to be the combined action of 
squadrons steaming on the surface, submarines diving be- 
neath it, and airships and seaplanes in the air above. In 
the fleet which was thus reviewed there were twenty-one 
Dreadnoughts and super-Dreadnoughts, thirty-seven battle- 
ships of the pre-Dreadnought type, eighteen armoured cruisers 
(nearly all of them so powerful in armament and armour that 



a few years ago they would have ranked as battleships), over 
a hundred protected cruisers, and a huge flotilla of torpedo- 
boat destroyers. 

After the review only a small part of the reservists were 
dismissed, the remainder being retained for training with 
the fleet. Thus, by a happy chance, when the war crisis 
suddenly developed, the greater part of the navy was practi- 
cally on a war footing in the home seas. A few wireless 
messages directed the squadrons to their war stations. As the 
danger became more serious, the remaining reservists were 
called up, and the mobilisation of the fleet was complete in 
every detail twelve hours before war was declared. 

The German navy, under the Tirpitz regime, had developed 
into a very formidable force. It was permanently organised 
in two fleets, the “ High Sea Fleet,” which was kept perma- 
nently in commission in the North Sea, and the ” Reserve 
Fleet,” one-fourth of which was kept in commission. In 
the race of naval construction, the Germans had up to the 
date of the declaration of war completed thirteen Dread- 
noughts and four of the new battle-cruisers. The battle- 
cruisers were attached to the High Sea Fleet, but one of them, 
the Goeben, had been sent to the Mediterranean. All the 
Dreadnoughts were in the High Sea Fleet. One of them, 
the Friedrich der Grossc, was the flagship. Eight others 
formed the first squadron, and four the third squadron. 
The second squadron was formed of eight pre-Dreadnoughts. 
The main battle line of the High Sea Fleet would thus be 
formed of twenty-one ships, including all the thirteen Dread- 
noughts. To these were attached three battle-cruisers, 
eight light cruisers, seventy-seven torpedo-boat destroyers, 
organised in seven squadrons, and twenty-one submarines. 

The Reserve Fleet w'as made up of twelve of the older 
battleships, grouped in two squadrons, six armoured cruisers, 
and a number of lighter cruisers, forty-eight torpedo-boat 
destroyers, and forty-eight small torpedo boats. When the 
crisis began, the High Sea Fleet was engaged in the annual 
manoeuvres off the coast of Norway. It was at once re- 
called to German home waters. 

The great inferiority in numbers of the German fleet 
compared to our own made it impossible for it to risk a general 
engagement at the outset of the war. Long before German 
naval writers had clearly outlined the policy that woxild be 
adopted. For many years Germany had been preparing|a 
fortified base for the operations of its fleet. This base ex- 



tended from the mouth of the Ems, which forms the boundary 
between Germany and Holland, eastward to the ports of the 
Baltic. The two chief naval ports are Kiel on the Baltic, 
and Wilhelmshavcn on the North Sea. The German coast 
between liolland and Denmark is a tract of low and in many 
places marshy land, sinking gradually below sea-level, and 
fringed with a line of islands, between which and the main- 
land tliere is a sandy tract, much of which is diy at low water. 
The channels between the islands are mostly too shallow 
for any but light-draught ships, but the scour of the river 
streams and the backwash of the tide, assisted by a certain 
amount of dredging, keep deep channels open into the Ems, 
the Jahde, the Weser, and the Elbe. The coast-line has been 
prepared for defence by batteries on the islands, forts at 
the river mouths, extensive mine-fields, and the presence of 
torpedo boats and submarine flotillas. 

The island of Heligoland, off the mouths of the Elbe and 
Weser, forms the advance outpost of this fortified line. 
The island is a high plateau girt round with clijfs of soft red 
rock, with a small stretch of low'cr land and sandy beach at 
its base on one side. It was ceded by Denmark to England 
at tlie end of tlie eighteenth century. For the hundred years 
during which it w'as a British possession it was considered 
to be of little value. It was used as a pilot station, and in 
the summer thousands of Germans came from Hamburg and 
Bremen for the sea-bathing. The people were good sailors, 
and liad a large fishing- fleet. In 1890 Lord Salisbury ceded 
it to Germany in exchange for certain rights at Zanzibar. 
In the House of l.ords, Lord Salisbury explained that it was 
a good bargain, for Heligoland wus really of no value to us ; 
he added that the sea was gradually undermining the cliffs, 
and in process of time the whole place would be washed away. 

The Germans liad a better appreciation of its possibilities. 
Four months after the cession, the Kaiser paid a visit to 
the island, escorted by a naval squadron, and in a speech 
which he made on landing he said, “ Tliis island is destined 
to be for us a bulw'ark on the sea, a protection for our 
German fishermen, a base for our warships, and a stronghold 
and defence for German waters against any enemy who may 
venture to show himself upon them." 

Even in Germany tliis was thought at the time to be 
only a characteristic piece of liigh-flown rhetoric, but plans 
were already being prepared to convert the little island into 
a first-class naval base. The gain of possessing such an 



advanced base would be that a German squadron could find 
shelter under the guns of its batteries and behind its mine- 
fields at a point well out to sea, and without having to traverse 
the narrow channels that give access through the shoals of 
the German coasts to the fortified bases of the mainland. 
It would further be a torpedo station, and later on — though 
this use was quite unforeseen twenty-four years ago — it be- 
came a useful station for wareless telegraphy and an 
aviation base. Six millions sterling were spent on a new 
harbour and powerful fortifications. A large proportion of 
this sum was expended on granite and concrete groining, to 
defend the sandstone cliffs against the ravages of the sea. 
Above these stone bulwarks, the cliffs have in places been 
armoured to prevent the battering fire of hostile guns under- 
mining the fortifications on their summits. The high plateau 
has been converted into a fortress armed with the most 
powerful artillery. From the lower ground breakwaters 
stretching out into the sea enclose a great harbour. Heligo- 
land has become in twenty years one of the most completely 
equipped naval bases in the world. 

Another important engineering work, which added greatly 
to the resources of the German navy, was completed a few 
years after the cession of Heligoland. This was the canal 
connecting Brunsbiittel on the estuary of the Elbe with the 
naval port of Kiel on the Baltic. This would enable the 
fleet to operate at will either in the North Sea or the Baltic, 
the transfer being made in perfect safety through German 
territory. When the larger types of deep-draught battle- 
ships were introduced by our building of the Dreadnought, 
four millions were expended on widening and deepening the 
Kiel Canal, and at four points on its course huge basins were 
constructed in which a Dreadnought or a battle-cruiser could 
be turned. Germany thus possessed, at the outbreak of the 
war, a secure protection for its fleet b(‘hind the batteries of its 
North Sea base, a fortified adv^ance post for its submarine and 
torpedo-boat flotillas, and tlie means of securely sending a naval 
force into the Baltic, and of withdrawing it again to the North 
Sea, if a general concentration of the fleet were required. 

It is a recognised rule of naval warfare that one must avoid 
pitting battleships and cruisers against powerful land batteries, 
or risking them in mine-fields. The German fleet, while it lay 
in its harbours, was fairly safe against a very superior force. 

The policy advocated by German naval writers and 
adopted by the Berlin Admiralty was, therefore, to keep 



the battle fleet at its fortified bases during the first period of 
the war, and to send out into the North Sea submarines, 
destroyers, and mine-layers in the hope of gradually destroying 
so many of the British ships that at length the inequality 
between the opponents would be so far reduced that the battle 
fleet might come out and risk a general engagement. 

This was, of course, a confession of weakness, and the 
Germans could not hope, even if their policy were successful, 
to make any very great change in the odds against them for 
many months. Thus at the very outset of the war, our fleet 
held the unchallenged command of the sea. Its business 
was not to secure, but to maintain it. 

The commander to whom the direction of the great fleet 
in the North Sea was confided was Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. 
Born in 1859, he had entered the navy in 1872. By 
“bottling up’' the German fleet behind its batteries and 
mine-fields, the fleet, without firing a shot, has gained several 
important advantages. First of all, as has been already 
noted, it kept the Channel free for the secure transport of the 
Expeditionary Force from our shores to France. 

Secondly, it secured the safety of our commerce all over the 
seas of the world, excepting so far as a few captures might be 
made here and there by the handful of German cruisers which 
were outside the North Sea before the war began. 

Compared to the great mass of British trading ships, the 
worst damage these could do would be inconsiderable, and 
several of them were hunted down in the first days of the 
war. German commerce was simply swept from the sea. The 
result was that the main routes were at once safe for our own 
ships, food supplies came in freely, and there was not the rapid 
rise of prices which pessimists had predicted as a first result 
of the war. Finally, thanks to the navy, there was not even 
a remote danger of a German raid on our shores. The fleet was 
proving, from the first hour of the war, our “ sure shield.” 

Nevertheless our ships in the North Sea had an arduous 
task. It was their business to watch the German forts, to 
form a cordon through which no commerce-raiding cruiser 
could slip out to sea, to hunt down the German mine-layers, 
and to watch day and night against attacks of torpedo craft 
and submarines. The work fell most heavily upon our own 
torpedo flotillas and light cruisers, which formed the advance 
watching line, off the Frisian Islands and Heligoland, with a 
second screen guarding the Baltic entrance by the Cattegat. 

Behind, and in support of these lines, lay the heavier 



cruisers ready to afford the lighter craft immediate support ; 
and then behind all, “ at some place or places unknown,” were 
the great battle-squadrons. By day, our air-craft were 
scouting high aloft, and early in the war a naval air-base 
was established at Ostend, from which aeroplanes went to 
and fro along the North Sea coast. 

Wireless telegraphy kept all the ships in constant touch 
with their squadron commanders and with Admiral Jellicoe’s 
flagship. The same wonderful invention kept the Admiralty 
in London in constant communication not only with the 
North Sea fleet, but with every cruiser even in the most 
distant seas. It was no longer necessary for the battle-fleet 
to lie in perilous neighbourhood to the enemy’s ports. If 
the German fleet had come out, its movement would have at 
once been signalled by wireless from the inshore ships to the 
Admiral, and a few minutes later every ship in the North 
Sea would have the news and would be moving to its allotted 
station to intercept the enemy. 

The chief danger against which our ships had to guard 
at the outset afose from the action of the German mine- 
layers. The laying of explosive mines in the open sea was a 
new practice in naval warfare. For sixty years mine-fields 
had been used in the defence of harbours, and the methods 
of employing them had been gradually brought to great 
mechanical perfection. But the use of mines anchored or 
set adrift in the open sea did not begin till the war between 
Japan and Russia nine years ago. Both Russians and 
Japanese employed the new weapon very freely. The destruc- 
tion of the Petropavlovsk, while leading the fleet out of Port 
Arthur, was the work of a Japanese mine. A little later, 
in one day, two out of the six Japanese battle-ships were sunk 
by Russian mines in the open sea, and there were a number 
of minor losses. Even the anchored mine used in this way 
is a danger to the peaceful trader. 

Every one knew that the Germans, having the weaker 
fleet, would be certain to use mines in the North Sea. The 
war had not lasted twenty-four hours when the first of the 
German mine-layers was sunk by one of our torpedo flotillas. 
In the early morning of August 5th, a trawler off Aldeburgh, 
on the Suffolk coast, informed the Amphion, the liglit cruiser 
which was acting as the flagship of the destroyer patrol in 
this part of the North Sea, that she had seen a big steamer 
" throwing things overboard ” a few miles away. It was at 
once surmised that this was a German mine-layer at work. 



The Amphion and her pack of destroyers immediately gave 
chase, and soon came up with the German liner Konigin 
Luke, which had been converted into a mine-layer. She 
refused to obey the signal to lay-to, and tried to get away. 
But she was sunk by the torpedo-boat destroyer Lance, a 
new ship taken into the navy only a few days before. Most 
of the enemy’s crew were rescued. Next day we had our 
first naval loss. The Amphion was engaged in sweeping up 
and destroying the mines laid by the Konigin Luke, when 
she collided with one of them. A great burst of fire rose 
round the ship, and. she sank in a few minutes. The crew 
behaved with the traditional steadiness of the service, falling 
in at their stations and obeying orders as if they were carrying 
out ordinary manoeuvres. A hundred and thirty-one lives 
were lost. 

A few days later the cruiser Birmingham sank the German 
submarine U9 in the North Sea. According to the generally 
received accounts of the affair, a submarine was seen ap- 
proaching with only her periscope visible. A single shot 
from one of the Birminghajyi' s quickfirers smashed the peri- 
scope, blinding the submarine, and as the U9 rose to the 
surface in order to see her way, a second shot smashed her 
dome and sank her. According to another version, after 
the submarine had missed the cruiser with the torpedo, the 
Birmingham, making a rapid turn, ran her down. 

Though the sinking of the Konigin Ltiise showed the 
Germans that it was a dangerous business to send large mine- 
layers out into the North Sea, they found other means of 
laying these deadly appliances at various points off the coasts. 
Many fishing-boats and a number of small trading craft were 
destroj^'^d by this means. The Admiralty met the danger 
by employing a flotilla of east-coast steam trawlers in search- 
ing for and fisliing up German mines. This service had been 
provided for more than two years ago, when a number of 
trawlers were retained for the work in case of war, and given 
some practical training under naval officers. Sweeping for 
mines had long been practised in the training of all navies. 
Originally it was regarded as the means for clearing away a 
mine-field in attacking a harbour defended in this way. 
Light craft, such as torpedo boats or steam launches, were 
set to woik in couples, with a steel hawser trailing between 
them along the bottom, so as to drag the mines from their 
anchors. By a happy thought it was decided in 1912 to 
employ in this service some of the North Sea trawlers, hardy 


and daring sailors, who from boyhood have been engaged 
in working long nets and sweeping the sea-bottom. The 
trawlers engaged for the service fly the white ensign of the 
navy, and the names of their skippers now aj)pear in the 
Navy List. They have carried out their work in the North 
Sea with equal intrepidity and success. Some of them have 
lost their lives in this dangerous fishing, but only for their 
help it would have been impossible for our fleets to carry on 
their patrol work or our trading craft to venture out into 
the North Sea. It is thought that the mine-laying on the 
German side was done by trawlers and coasters disguised by 
flying neutral flags, and escaping the vigilance of our cruisers, 
because unless they were caught with their cargo of mines 
actually on board there would be nothing to show the business 
in which they were engaged. 

For our lighter craft, the smaller cruisers and the destroyer 
flotillas lying close in to the German coast, there was the strain 
of ceaseless vigilance by day and night, and the chance at any 
moment of a brush with one of the enemy’s smaller ships. 
But for the great battlc-sipiadrons lying far out behind this 
advanced line the first weeks of the war were a time of some- 
what monotonous waiting for the hoped-for day of action. 
Wireless challenges are said to have been sent to the German 
fleet suggesting they should come out and fight. But Admiral 
von Ingenohl knew better than to dcjiart from the waiting 
plan decided upon before the war. After the first fortnight, 
a seaman on board one of the battleships wrote home to his 
friends, “If you want a really quiet time, you should be out 
here with us ; no excitement, no worry about the war, and 
nothing to do.” More than once there had been rumours of 
a naval battle in the North Sea. In tlie first days of tlie war 
especially, from more than one point on the cast coast, there 
came news of heavy firing out at sea. But nothing more 
serious than gun practice was in progress. The first heavy 
fighting took place on August 28th off Heligoland, .so near 
in fact to the island that only for the hazy weather the long- 
ranging guns of its cliff batteries would probably have been 
brought into action. It had been found that ova ry night a 
flotilla of destroyers and light cruisers came out from Heligo- 
land, or one of the points behind it, into the North Sea. Their 
movements were watched by our submarines, and on 
August 27th it was decided to attack them in the grey of the 
morning as they were returning. The officer who was en- 
trusted with the execution of this clashing enterprise was one 



of our younger admirals, Rear-Admiral Beatty, who first 
won distinction by his brilliant handling of the gunboat 
flotilla on the Upper Nile during the advance on Khartoum. 
He was in command of the first cruiser squadron, flying his 
flag on the battle-cruiser Lion. Associated with him in the 
work were Rear-Admiral Moore, Commodore Goodenough 
of the first light cruiser squadron, Commodore Keyes the 
commander of the submarine flotilla, and Commodore Tyr- 
whitt, who was in charge of the destroyer flotilla, flying liis 
pennant on the Arethusa. 

It was a dark night on the North Sea, and as the dawn 
came there were fog and haze drifting over the water. Through 
the twilight and the mist and over the dangerous mine-sown 
sea our ships steamed in between the Germans and the land, 
the light craft leading, the heavy battle-cruisers in support. 
At the head of the first line of destroyers was the Arethusa, 
a name famous for daring exploits in earlier naval wars. As 
the haze cleared, it was seen that the flotilla was abeam of 
the Germans, who were steaming full speed for home less than 
two miles away. There were some light cruisers and a swarm 
of torpedo boats on the enemy’s side. The Arethusa opened 
fire with her 6-inch quick-firing guns on the leading cruiser, 
and the firing was taken up by ship after ship on both sides. 
The first stage of the running fight lasted a little over half 
an hour. By this time it was evident that the Germans were 
having the worst of it. The splendidly accurate gunnery 
of our seamen was telling upon them. Our destroyers were 
not only rackling the enemy's ships of the same class, but 
were daringly engaging the enemy’s cruisers. 

The heavy fire of the Germans had made its mark on 
some of our ships. There was serious loss on board the 
Arethusa. Lieutenant Westmacott, the second in command, 
was killed beside the Commodore, and the second lieu- 
tenant was wounded. Nigel Barttelot, the lieutenant com- 
manding the Liberty, was killed on her bridge, and there were 
many casualties among the men at the guns ; but not one 
ship in the English line had even a single gun put out of 

Matters were going hardly with the enemy. Two of the 
German destroyers were sunk. Several of the cruisers with 
masts and funnels shot away, guns out of action, and a list 
that showed they were leaking badly, told of the good gunnery 
of the English flotilla. Then the great battle-cruisers came 
into action and the huge shells from their barbette guns 


told with deadly effect. The cruiser Mainz, with one of her 
three funnels shot away and the smoke rolling low over her 
decks, seemed to be on fire, but she kept her guns in action 
till, riddled by the i3'5-inch shells of the Lion, she suddenly 
went down by the bows.' Another cruiser of the same class 
struggled out of the line in a sinking condition, and presently 
disappeared in the waves. A third steamed towards Heligo- 
land, with her upper works on fire. Our men made gallant 
attempts to rescue the Germans who were struggling in the 
water after their ships went down. In at least one instance 
they were driven off by the fire of one of the enemy’s destroyers. 
But it is possible that, as our Admiralty explained shortly 
after, the German commander thought our boats meant to 
board his ship. The German fleet was saved from utter 
destruction by running under the shelter of the Heligoland 
batteries. Some hundreds of prisoners were sent into Leith, 
and amongst them was Lieutenant von Tirpitz, the son of 
the chief of the German navy. 

In all five German vessels were sunk. Of their crews, 
numbering about* 1,200 officers and men, only about 300 
were rescued, wounded and unwounded. Some of the 
wounded died wliile on their way to England. The total 
British casualties amounted to 69 killed and wounded. 

Compared to our great naval actions, the battle off Heligo- 
land was a small affair, and once the big battle-cruisers came 
into action, the German fighting power was so outweighted 
that it was hopeless for the enemy to continue the engagement. 
But even before this decisive crisis of the fight, the perfect 
discipline and accurate gunnery of our men had given them 
the upper hand. Thus the affair might be taken as a pre- 
cedent of what was likelj' to happen if the German and British 
battle fleets met even with equal numbers of the enemy’s 
side. It must have impressed upon Von Tirpitz and Von 
Ingenohl the utter hopelessness of challenging Admiral 
Jeliicoe to battle in the open sea. 

After the battle off Heligoland the German flotillas became 
more cautious, and for a long time gave us no further chance 
of closing with them. But tlie enemy showed great enterprise 
in his efforts to make the North Sea dangerous with mines 
and submarines. On September 5th a light cruiser, the 
Pathfinder, was blown up in sight of the Northumberland 

^ An onlooker on board the cruiser Southamplon, writing of the destruction 
of the Mainz, said, Her port side was like a sieve. Every gun was sinashed- 
Her whole upper deck was chaos. The forebridge wgis a tangled moss of iron, 
work* while the wire stays from the foremast were swinging in the air.*' 


coast. It was at first reported that she had collided with 
a mine. But soon after it was stated that the circumstances 
pointed to her having been the victim of a submarine attack. 
The ship was literally blown to pieces and sank immediately. 
A trawler which witnessed the incident told how she was 
suddenly enveloped in a great cloud of smoke, and as it 
cleared there was no trace of her, except some small wreckage 
adrift on the surface and a number of men striiggling in the 
sea. The trawlers and the men of the lifeboat who put off for 
the rescue from the neighbouring coast reported that all the 
lloating wreckage, boats, deck gratings, spars, and the like, 
had been shattered into small pieces by the explosion. There 
was very heavy loss of life, (ierman reports asserted that 
the Pathfinder was sunk by a submarine, and that submarines 
had made more than one successful scouting voyage as far 
north as the Scottish coast. By the beginning of September 
the Admiralty had to take new steps to meet this danger of 
submarine attack. At first all the coast lights had been kept 
burning, but now notice was given that some of them would 
be extinguished to prevent their being useful to the enemy. 
Steps were also taken to block some of the channels of the 
Thames, and after a new exploit of the enemy’s submarines, 
a mine-field was laid in the North Sea in order to reduce the 
area which had to be watched by our ships. Against this 
activity of the enemy’s submarines, there was a set-off in the 
efficiency of our own ships of the same class. They made 
daring scouting excursions close in to the German coasts. 
ITeutenant Horton blew up the German cruiser Hela close 
to the Frisian shore, and another of our submarines ran 
into Harwich bringing as prisoners a couple of German 
aviators, who were taken off a disabled seaplane on which 
they had been afloat for twenty hours in the North Sea. 
This capture of flying men by a submarine was an incident 
that might have come out of oire of Jules Verne’s novels. 

But all the activity of the Germans, with mine and torpedo, 
had so far resulted only in the destruction of a number of 
peaceful traders and fishing-boats, and the loss of two British 
light cruisers. They had done nothing to carry out the 
programme of diminishing the odds against their battle fleets 
by damaging or destroying any of our battleships or large 
cruisers. Admiral Jellicoe’s fleet, despite the endless strain 
of the ceaseless watching for the enemy, held undisputed 
command of the North Sea, and as on the first day of the 
war the navy was still “ Britain’s Sure Shield.” 


Photo I’ . J. Mortimer, J\R.P.i>. 

Thc Empire s watch-dogs 

The Navy ready 




r(1y aitcr w.iv .l.-i larc.l. iIg' A.ltnir.illy aiiuouii.v.I dial all aids 1,. naviyaliiai nti tin* 
I oa^T (|| iaiyl iml .ill'l s^'otlaml, !r,)lli hv tla\' aUil aiyht, !>«’ l i,'in( a'cd at an\' tiilb’ 

liMut any faHlirr wai iiiuy. Iml iiu siu !i alcp !llll^a't l>,-ra lakon, wli- rra- i.ii tha ('.c tnian 
a all Ill-Ill;. uai.'t'\luiyaisJi.-(| and snaanaik-. ii-ni.,vcd as m.dii ;k- wai Tin silent 

Phuto Kirk Sr Sons, Cou>c'.\ 

Rear-Admiral A. H. Christian 

I'iuilo tifiith 

Commodore R. Y Tvrwhitt 

Di awn hv (hear l\trktr^ Hurrying on the completion of the " Konig," 

A German Dreadnought at Wkhelmshaven 

Unssi.i .il-’.n (our nvt:((;lils iKiw lu-arint.’, toni ' 

T 1 T 


I'ln' ( nu''<.T wlmli vi.iii'k ‘'iilmiin inn' (' i ■■ 

III Mm. l:n inni^iuin!, ,iii'l iici i-i^mnLiinlci, (.'nui 
[ I'l.nulv r < 

'J'Ju.' r,i‘jiuan ni thr >'.’k>rtJi St.i .issiiiiad l!w oflriisiM' ( ii Sumlkiy. nh'U one i>l (nit • mii.ri 
SHU. I'll < 111“' .itt.uivfd hv .V r.t'uu.ui bul >1)1.11 nu.- HntilLi Nnm- k.ur .-.iiipb was <lai!iai.’tMl , 
l)ut' one ol llir (MKMJiy's .sulimamu-s. /■' j way butik by Jl M S. U'.t ntiHi’Jium, aUai.' to lln' 
I'iisl Ja^lit binisrr .Squadron, (.)ii 1 y two shots wen- tiuil. The fusl slua sliulb.'u d thr 
]):'ris!,oj)r, bhudiiiL; thr sulwu.iriiu- and ton.iuy lin to i-onir to tlir suilaor No soonrr ^as tlir 
i.uunuu,' to\vrr vi-iblr than aiiolhcr wrll-dncctcrl .shot took llir vvIkiIc uppri stiiutma- k lean 
out, of thr siibiuariar, and slir sank lilu: a stum: 

i'hvlo Tof>iiiil. 

rhuto M. & F. 

Commander Goodcnouq 

Drawn by .1. O. S /iuiiiu'ii k 


A German 

The heaviest loss in the Merchant Service 

I’ln- •‘iiikiii}' (>i Uk- Ku.[una h'/ the l\ur>i‘) Wilhelm 
ih) i.ifoy.i- 

i if) 

Dratm by H . 


Drawn hy Donald Maxwell 

A uavvlcr l>lo 

'WU lip liy ,1 


Drawn by F. 



N O land in northern Europe has been more frequently 
the scene of war than Belgium. Leaving earlier 
conflicts out of account, and taking note only of 
the great wars of the last three hundred years, 
we find that in each succeeding century battles, on wliich the 
fate of other nations depended, have again and again been 
fought out upon this Belgian ground. By a strange irony 
of fate it has generally been some quarrel amongst other 
states that has brought the scourge of war upon the quiet, 
peace-loving burghers and farmers of this homely land of 
well-tilled fields and quaint old-world towns and cities. 

In the days of Spanish and Austrian rule a dispute 
between France and the houses of Burgundy and Hapsburg 
inevitably led to war in Flanders. Belgium was the “ cock- 
pit of Europe/’ where the foreign armies were matched 
against each other. It was the theatre of prolonged war 
when Louis XIV was striving to make himself the overlord 
of Europe. The struggle began with PTench victories under 
Conde, and ended with French defeats at the hands of Marl- 

Belgium saw hard fighting again in the later wars of the 
eighteenth century. The first victories of the French Re- 
public were won on its battlefields. It was the scene of the 
last disastrous campaign of Napoleon and the crowning 
victory of Wellington at Waterloo, where Briton and German, 
now ranged in opposite camps, fought as good comrades 
against France. When we think of Wateiioo, the name 
brings up the picture of the famous fight of June i8th, 1815, 
with the French horsemen raging round the “ rocky squares,” 
Hougomont holding out desperately in a storm of fire, the 
Prussians coming up on the French flank and the Old Guard 
marching bravely to defeat as the sun went down. But it 
is characteristic of this Belgian “ cockpit of Europe ” that 
this was the third engagement fought on this very ground. 

E ' 129 


In Marlborough’s wars there was a cavalry encounter ne^ 
Waterloo, and during the French Invasion in Belgium in 
1794 on July 9th a Republican army under Lefebvre drove an 
Austrian army from the same ridge of Mont St. Jean that 
Wellington’s redcoats held so stubbornly twenty-one years 

Many another Belgian village has given its name to an 
historic battle. To reckon up only a few of these, Neer- 
winden, Landen, Steenkirk, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Fontenoy, 
Jemappes, Fleurus, Ligny, and Quatre Bras are all on Belgian 
ground. Malplaquet and Rocroi are just beyond the frontier. 
There is hardly a town or city but has its record of siege and 
bombardment. Namur, Liege, Dinant and Huy, Mons and 
Tournai, Ghent and Bruges, and Antwerp have all been 
besieged again and again. 

Belgium became an independent State some sixty years 
ago, with its independence and neutrality guaranteed by the 
great Powers of Europe. But the Belgians realised that they 
must not depend entirely upon the guarantees of other nations. 

By a curious coincidence Marshal Soiilt, who acted as Napoleon's chief 
of the staff at Waterloo in 1815, held the same position under Lefebvre in 1794. 


but must be prepared to defend their independence and 
neutrality, and at the very least to keep their flag flying until 
their friends could come to their help. A Belgian soldier, 
General Brialmont, the greatest military engineer of the 
nineteenth century, after some years of controversy and 
debate, fortified Antwerp as the citadel of the kingdom. With 
something like prophetic insight he said it would be the en- 
trenched camp where the Belgians could, in the last resort, 


rally in defence of their national existence, and then with 
the aid of their friends — and first among these he counted 
England —begin the reconquest of their territory. 

The old Spanish ramparts and Alva’s citadel were de- 
molished. The ramparts were replaced by wide boulevards. 
A new line of works was erected at a distance that it was 


The shade shows the extent of the defensive inundations 

thought would give ample room for the growth of the city, 
and still further out a girdle of strong forts was constructed 
to protect it from distant bombardments. Wide inundations 
on the north and east would further guard the fortress, and 
advanced forts were erected near Lierre and on the Rupel to 
delay the approach of an invader. 



Brialmont’s fortifications were remodelled a few years 
ago. The work begun in 1905 is not yet quite complete. 
The growth of the city made even his far-flung rampart line 


The fthade markn extent of defence iuundationsA 
Batteries between the outer forts arc marked but not named 

an embarrassment. His citadel on the north side of the 
fortress stood just on ground which was needed for a great 
scheme for a new port. So the work was begun of making 
Antwerp into a great “ fortified region." The course of the 




Scheldt below the city was to be straightened out. New 
docks were to be constructed along the channel thus opened. 
The ramparts were at once to be levelled, and a new line of 
defences constructed, to include several of Brialmont’s forts 
among its bastions. And a new line of forts was begun 
extending northward to near the Dutch border, southward 
close up to Malines, with a covering line of inundations along 
the rivers Rupel and Nethe. Two years ago the ironworks 
of Belgium received contracts for no less tlian two hundred 
armoured turrets for the gun positions of the new forts of 

But before this reconstructon had begun it had been 
recognised that to protect the neutrality of Belgium there 
must be other fortresses on the Meuse. The danger was no 
longer from France. It was indeed a danger created by the 
disaster that befell France in the war of 1870-71. 

Germany had annexed Alsace-Lorraine. Strasburg and 
Metz, the old frontier fortresses of France, had passed into her 
hands. So France with her eastern borders left open to attack 
created the new fortress barrier of the east, Verdun and Toul, 



Epinal and Belfort, with their intervening lines of forts. And 
students of war at once pointed out that in a future conflict 
between France and Germany it was all but inevitable that 
the German armies would try to work round this strong 
barrier of fortress and fort by a march down the Meuse 
valley through Belgian territory. 

So Brialmont, the creator of the Antwerp fortifications, 
was called upon to erect such a barrier in the Meuse valley as 
would at least delay a hostile advance on this side. Round 
Li^ge and Namur he erected his forts, with their guns mounted 
and in armoured turrets, surrounded by a mass of concrete, 
under which were the quarters of the garrison, the magazines, 
the engines for raising and revolving the turrets, the ammuni- 
tion hoists, the electric d 5 mamos for providing light and 
working the ventilating fans. They were supposed to be the 
strongest forts in Europe. Five years ago a German general, 
writing on the armaments of his country, noted that its siege 
train possessed no guii that could seriously damage a Brial- 
raont fort, but a4ded that this was a deficiency that must be 

But Brialmont never imagined that forts alone could stop 
an invader. It is men not machines that win battles. The 
forts were to be at most the prepared artillery positions of a 
fighting line of men. So Belgium reorganised and increased her 
army. The heir to the crown, now King Albert of Belgium, 
was one of the most zealous promoters of this reorganisation 
and did much to improve the efficiency of the army wliich he 
has led so gallantly in battle. King Albert is a many-sided 
man, and thorough in everything he touches. Belgium was 
happy in having such a leader in her hour of trial. He and 
the men who governed Belgium with him might have averted 
the scourge of war by opening a free path for the invaders of 
France. In doing so they would have sacrificed the inde- 
pendence of their country. Regardless of all danger and 
suffering they gave without hesitation the answer that Belgium 
would defend herself. 

The Belgian mobilisation had already begun before the 
German ultimatum was received. Belgium being a small 
Power could mobilise without any fear of its action accentuat- 
ing the crisis, but the concentration of the army had only 
begun when the Germans crossed the frontier. 

For some twenty years German and French military 
writers had recognised that it was extremely probable that 
Germany would begin a war with France by marching through 



Luxemburg and Belgian territory in order to turn the line 
of the eastern French fortresses and secure a broad front 
for the advance of the enormous masses concentrated for the 
campaign. Had the advance been made only from the 
frontier of Lorraine from Metz and Thionville into the narrow 
gap between Verdun and the neutral frontiers, five or six 
army corps would have been strung out behind each other on 

single lines of road, and the columns would have been hundreds 
of miles long. It would be easy to quote from the military 
literature of recent years passages that would read, in the light 
of recent events, like predictions of the opening moves of the 
war. But strange to say, though these forecasts were the 
common knowledge of all who had studied the problem of the 
military situation on the Franco-German frontier, the viola- 



tion of the territory of Luxemburg and Belgium came like 
something of a surprise to the public. 

The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg has been since 1867 a 
neutralised State without any means of defence. '1 he treaties 
which regulate its position provided that the old fortifications 
of the city should be demolished, and the only force kept 
under arms by the Grand Duchy should be a few hundred 
gendarmes and Custom House guards. Its position was, 
therefore, that of disarmed neutrality protected only by the 
good faith of the neighbouring States. The city of Luxemburg 
is an important strategical point, as it is the place where a 
whole network of railways communicating with Germany, 
France, and Belgium form a junction. Several of these lines 
were constructed and owned by German capitalists. Although 
the fortifications of the place were partly demolished after 
1867, the natural strength of the position and the remains of 
the old works make it easy to convert the city in a few weeks 
into a great foi'tress. 

Early on Sun^lay morning, August 2nd, the news arrived 
that a German force from Thionville had crossed the frontier 
of the Grand Duchy. Defence was impossible, only a protest 
could be made. The Grand Duchess, Marie Adelaide, who 
succeeded to the sovereignty of the little State two years ago 



at the age of eighteen, drove out in a motor car to the bridge 
leading to the city, accompanied by one of the Ministers of 
State, to await the arrival of the invaders. They soon ap- 
peared, a detachment of officers and men of the 29th German 
Infantry, conveyed in a long column of motor cars. 1 he 
Princess had placed her car across the road so as to bar the 
narrow way, and to her inquiry as to what was meant by this 
invasion of her State, a German Staff officer replied that the 
troops had come only to secure a peaceful passage of the army 
through Luxemburg territory, that no harm would be done 
to person or property, and that everything required would be 
paid for. The Princess made a formal protest, and refused 
to leave the bridge until her chauffeur was forced by threats 
to turn the car and clear the way. “You had better go 
quietly home,’’ said the German colonel to the lady, as he 
started his car, and the detachment dashed on into the city. 
By evening a German brigade was in possession, and the 
military authorities had taken possession of the Luxemburg 
railway and telegraph lines. By this stroke they had ob- 
tained the use of the excellent system of roads and railways 
leading from North Germany through the Grand Duchy to 
French territory. 

The invasion of Belgium began two days later, on the 
morning of Tuesday, August 4th, the same day on which the 
English ultimatum was sent to Berlin. The troops employed 
in the operation came partly from Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), 
partly from the camp at Malmedy on the Belgian frontier, 
north-east of Liege. The camp at Malmedy was a training 
station for several army corps, a permanent camp of 
manoeuvres — a kind of Aldershot lor north-western Germany. 
There was always a considerable force stationed there, and 
its existence was a cause of considerable anxiety to Belgium. 
Nevertheless, about three years ago the Belgian Government 
was persuaded, on the plea of improving commercial facihties, 
to consent to a tunnelled and branched railway line being 
made to connect the German railway at Malmedy with the 
Belgian railway system at the frontier village of Stavelot. 

A column from Malmedy seized Stavelot and advanced 
upon Liege from the south-eastward. A second column from 
Aachen passed the frontier near Limburg and occupied Verviers, 
continuing its march from the eastwards towards Li^ge next 
day. At the outset, the invaders tried to make friends with 
the Belgian population. The commander of the vanguard 
which entered Verviers issued a proclamation to the inhabi- 



tants reminding them that Belgians and Germans were old 
friends who had fought side by side at Waterloo, and assuring 
them that life and property would be safe, and that anything 
the soldiers might require would be paid for in hard cash. 
The Belgian Government had withdrawn all its frontier guards, 
and issued proclamations warning the people that mere 
civilians should not engage in any acts of hostility against 
the Germans, as these would be useless and would only 
provoke reprisals. Two days before, on the Sunday morning 
in all the village churches, the priests had addressed the 
same warning to their flocks. The occupation of the frontier 
districts was therefore quite peaceful, but there was so much 
alarm amongst the population, which for sixty years had 
believed that war in Belgium was impossible, that when the 
news came of the invasion a flight began from towns and 
villages — a movement by road and rail into Holland or west- 
ward towards Brussels. 

The German army was still in process of mobilisation. 
The force sent across the frontier was made up of regiments 
still on the peace footing which received their reservists by 
rail some days later. The troops were six brigades of infantry, 
drawn from the 7th (Westphalian) Army Corps, the 9th 
(Schleswig-Holstein) Corps, and the loth (Hanoverian) Corps, 
with strong contingents of cavalry and artillery. The total 
force would be about 36,000 men, commanded by General 
von Emmich, a veteran of the war of 1870. It was the 
vanguard of the invasion. 

The Belgian army under the command of King Albert was 
concentrating along the line of the river Dyle, east of Brussels, 
with the royal headquarters at the university town of Louvain. 
Parties of engineers were set to woi'k that same day to destroy 
the railways through the Belgian Ardennes. Tunnels, bridges, 
and viaducts were blown up to make the lines useless to 
invaders. Hurried preparations were being made to place 
the forts of Li^ge and Namur in a state of defence. The 
wooden barracks in which the small garrisons lived near the 
forts were burned, trees were cut down to clear a field of fire 
for the guns, though the time was so short that very little was 
done in this way. Lines of sheltered trenches for infantry 
were dug between the forts. These preparations caused 
something like a panic among the civilian population, and 
every train that left Li^ge for Brussels was crowded. 

The alarm increased when on the Wednesday morning 
(August 5th) the sound of firing was heard north of Li^ge. 



There was hard fighting with a detachment of Belgian troops 
guarding the crossing of the Meuse at the little town of Vis6. 
The German shells set fire to the place, and the cloud of black 
smoke drifting along the river told those who watched from 
the high ground near Liege that war was bringing destruction 
to Belgian homes. After a sharp fight in the houses and along 
the river banks, the Belgians retired, and the Germans began 
to cross the Meuse. 


It was not until after dark next day that Li^ge itself was 
attacked. The move across the river at Vis6 suggested that 
the attack would be made from the northward, but it began 
on the other side along the wooded heights through which the 
little river Ourthe runs down from the wooded Ardennes to 
the Meuse. The forts and trenches had been manned and 
cavalry scouts had reported the presence of the enemy on the 
hills, but no fighting was expected until daylight. At half- 
past eleven in the evening heavy firing began to the south- 



ward, and shells came screaming through the night over the 
woods, and bursting on and around the southern forts of 
F 16 ron, Embourg, and Boncelles. The shooting of the 
German gunners was remarkably accurate. They were 
firing in the dark at a range of nearly three miles at targets 
screened by the woods and hidden in the night. The firing 
must have been done entirely by the map, the position of 
the batteries being carefully marked off on a large-scale plan, 
the direction and distance of the forts ascertained from it, 
and the laying and elevation of the guns thus ascertained. 
The shells were fired from heavy field guns and howitzers. 
They were loaded with some high explosive and burst on strik- 
ing with a bright greenish flash and with very damaging effect. 

The bombardment of the forts went on for nearly three 
hours. Towards 3 a.m., while it was still dark, there was a 
rattle of infantry fire in the woods on both sides of the Ourthe. 
The Germans were advancing to attack the line of defence 
between the forts of Boncelles and Embourg. Parties of 
Belgians thrown forward into the bush delayed them for a 
while, but gradually cleared their front, falling back on the 
forts and leaving the defence to the Belgian infantry (the 9th 
and 14th of the line) who held the trenches on this side. 

The first light of the dawn was coming as the German 
firing lines pushed up to the trenches. The attack was 
probably an experiment. The German Staff had not a high 
opinion of the Belgian troops, and probably this advance in 
the grey of the dawn was made in the hope that the defence 
would collapse at the first pressure and Liege would be rushed. 
All the while bombardment of the forts continued, the shells 
bursting to right and left of the Belgian infantry line. But 
the men in the trenches stood fast and shot well. Again 
and again the Hanoverian infantry were driven back, and 
once at least the 9th Belgian i-egirncnt charged out of the 
trenches and drove the Germans into the woods. 

For more than two hours the fight continued, the German 
attack gradually spreading out to right and left between 
the Ourthe and the Meuse in one direction, and towards the 
valley of the Vesdre in the other. But everywhere the 
Belgians held their own. The Germans were discovering that 
they had to deal with a resolute enemy. About five o'clock 
the attack scored its success. The heavy guns at Fort 
Fleron became suddenly silent : a shell bursting on the turret 
on which they were mounted put the gear that moved it out 
of order, and the guns could no longer be worked. It was a 


first warning that against high explosive shells the forts were 

About an hour later the Germans gave up their attempt to 
rush the position. The artillery ceased firing. The Belgians 
felt that they had won a first victory. But though they had 
every reason to be satisfied with their success and in this, 
their first battle, had proved they were steady and reliable 
soldiers, there is no doubt that, as has been already said, the 
German attack was largely an experiment to see if the defence 
would collapse on the first challenge, and finding that the 
Belgians could not be thus easily brushed aside, Von Emmich 
proceeded to a methodical attack on the forts. More guns 
were brought up, and later in the morning the bombardment 
from the southern hills began again. Perhaps by accident, 
perhaps on purpose, a few shells flew over the southern forts 
and burst in the city. Not much damage was done. .In all, 
not more than twenty houses were struck, and there was no 
loss of life. The bombardment continued into the night. 
Now and then a shell burst in the streets, and most of the 
people slept in their cellars. 

During the day there had been a momentary scare in the 
city. A party of German horsemen suddenly appeared in one 
of the streets and made a dash for the headquarters of General 
Leman, the military Commandant of Liege. They had 
slipped through some unguarded point on the long line of 
defence. There was no guard on duty at the headquarters. 
The General narrowly escaped capture, and the daring riders 
galloped out of the place unmolested. This singular incident 
shows that Liege had a garrison far too weak to hold the long 
line of outlying defences marked by its circle of forts. An 
adequate ganison would have numbered about 30,000 men. 
There was not one-fifth of this force in Liege. 

The whole available army of Belgium at this time amounted 
to about 120,000 men. To have locked one-fourth of it up 
behind the Liege forts and provide another garrison for Namur 
would be to fritter away nearly half the field army. During 
the night between the 6th and 7th, King Albert and the 
Belgian Staff decided to withdraw the infantry brigade from 
Liege, leaving it to General Leman to hold the forts as long as 
possible. These required only small garrisons, about a couple 
of thousand men in all, and as long as they were intact the 
enemy would not be able to use the railways of the Meuse 
valley. It was hoped before they were reduced the Belgians 
and their allies would advance to the relief of the place. 



After an anxious night disturbed by the thunder of the 
bombardment and the occasional bursting of a long-ranging 
shell in the streets, the citizens of Liege awoke to hear the news 
that the greater part of the garrison was moving out by road 
and rail to join the Belgian field army, and that negotiations 
had been begun for the peaceful occupation of the city by the 
enemy. Before they withdrew, the Belgian engineers blew 
up the Pont des Arches, the principal bridge of the city across 
the Meuse. The Archbishop, the Burgomaster, and some of 
the leading citizens met Von Emmich’s Staff officers under a 
flag of truce, and at noon the Germans marched in. There 
was no disturbance of order. A battery of artillery was 
placed in front of the Town Hall and parties of infantry with 
machine guns in some of the chief streets. As the regiments 
broke off the men crowded into the shops to buy tobacco, 
chocolate, and the like, paying for everything with German 
money. While the place was being occupied, the firing on the 
forts had ceased. General Leman and his Staff had taken 
up their headquarters in one of the northern works. 

The occupation of Liege was announced the same day in 
Berlin as a great German victory. For some time the event 
was unknown in England, and it was supposed that the 
“ capture of Liege ” was a piece of false news invented by 
the Berlin War Office. This view seemed to be confirmed by 
the fact that for a week after there came from Maestricht the 
news that thunder of a heavy cannonade could be heard in 
the direction of Liege. 

The forts were being bombarded and reduced one by one. 
The Germans had brought up a new weapon, huge siege 
howitzers dragged along the roads by traction engines and 
mounted on concrete beds. The calibre of the new weapon 
was i 6 | inches, and it threw a shell weighing nearly a ton, a 
flying mine loaded with a charge of a high explosive, said to 
be picric powder. The explosion shattered the 12-foot 
beds of concrete around the turrets of the forts, crushed the 
turrets themselves or flung them bodily from their founda- 
tions, and the fumes of each explosion penetrating into the 
forts had a suffocating effect on the garrison. Fort after 
fort was reduced to a mere heap of wreckage. Two of them 
were blown up by the shells penetrating their magazines. 
As General Leman was approaching one of the forts thus de- 
stroyed, he was stunned by the explosion, and when he 
became conscious again found himself a prisoner in the hands 
of the Germans. When several of the forts had been thus 



destroyed, the few that were left surrendered. The rapid, 
methodical demolition of the Liege forts, supposed to be the 
strongest in Europe, was one of the surprises of the war. 

While the Germans were engaged in the reduction of the 
Liege forts, their armies were concentrating in great masses 
in Lorraine and Luxemburg, moving up to the crossings of 
the Meuse, between Liege and the Dutch frontier, and 
pushing along the south bank of the river below Liege to 
seize the crossing at Huy. The multitudes of armed men 
were assembling that were soon to flood the greater part of 

The first wave of this human tide was the advance of the 
cavalry across the Meuse supported by motor cars conveying 
infantry and machine guns ; the German liorsemen moved 
westward on a broad front across the undulating uplands of 
the Hesbayc district between the Meuse and the Dyle. On 
Sunday, August 9th, Tongres was occupied. Strange to say, 
though the townsfolk were within hearing of the guns of Liege, 
tlie occupation came as a surprise. Tlie peo]>le were coming 
out of their churches after Mass when ther^ was a sudden cry 
that the (.Vermans were coming, and a squadron of Lancers 
trotted into the main street, d hey were the 35th Uhlans, 
and tliey told the people they had come all the way from 
Dantzic, at the other end of Germany. A cavalry division, 
nearly 4,000 men, made its headquarters in the town. The 
people soon recovered from their panic, for the Germans 
behaved well, and contented themselves with seizing the 
money and letters at the post ofiFice and requisitioning some 
food. The invasion was still in its first stage, and the German 
commanders were anxious to spare the people as much as 

A screen of cavafiy patrols flung westward from Tongres 
and Liege swept the country, and soon came in contact with 
parties of Belgian Lancers and detachments of infantry. 
There was skirmishing on a wide front, and the prompt with- 
drawal of small parties of Germans when they came in contact 
with Belgian riflemen, and the occasional capture of a scout 
who had lost his way and emptied his haversack, led to ex- 
aggerated reports that the enemy were everywhere being 
defeated and their men were in a starving condition. “ One 
doesn’t want a rifle to catch those Germans,” said a jocular 
Belgian scout ; “ they surrender if one holds out a piece of 
bread and butter.” 

The Belgian army was reported on this day to be in line 



along the river Dyle, extending its right southward in the 
hope of the early arrival of the French across the Sambrc. 
There were also rumours that the English were coming. 
Even the appearance of an English tourist in a motor car, 
with a little Union Jack flying from it, was taken to herald 
the arrival of the hoped-for assistance. French Staff officers 
at Brussels received an enthusiastic welcome from the 
crowd, and their appearance was taken to be a proof that 
the French army was crossing the Sambre. But in the first 
stage of the campaign the Belgians had to fight all unaided. 
With a grand spirit of trust in the ultimate help of their 
allies, they nevertheless presented a bold front to the invasion, 
and sacrificed their country in order to delay its progress 
and gain time for the concentration of the allied armies. 

On Wednesday, the 12th, the German cavalry screen 
extended from Ilasselt through St. TTond to Huy on the 
Meuse, where the bridge had been seized. The old citadel 
at this place, dating from the seventeenth century, was not 
even armed, and no opposition was made to the seizure of the 
place. Infantry ‘and artillery were now moving up behind the 
cavalry screen and more serious fighting began. On this same 
day the Belgian army scored a decided victory, the result 
of the Germans once more underrating their fighting spirit. 
A German column of all arms tried to rush the bridges over 
the rivers Velpe and Gethe near Haelen, a village a few miles 
east of the town of Diest. The fight that followed was the 
first battle of the war in the open. It began at eleven, and 
lasted until nearly six in the evening. After a brief cannonade, 
the German infantry pushed forward a firing line and then 
tried to rush the barricaded bridges with heavy columns of 
infantry. The Belgian rifles and machine guns inflicted 
severe loss upon them, but they attacked again and again. 
On the flank of the fight, the Belgian Lancers forded the 
Gethe and charged the German Uhlans. At last the enemy 
abandoned the attack, and drew off towards Hasselt. It 
was a day of which the Belgians had a right to be. proud. 

On the Thursday there was skirmishing about Tirlemont, 
and at the village of Eghezee, a few miles north of Namur, a 
German cavalry detachment was surprised by a column that 
had marched before dawn from Namur. A machine gun was 
captured and the affair was dignified by the newspaper 
correspondents by the name of the battle of Eghezee. At this 
time the newspaper reports conveyed a very misleading 
impression of the position in Belgium. The only really 




important fight was the action at Haelen. But every skirmish 
with the advanced troops was reported as a great victory, 
and the impression was given that the German advance had 
been checked. \Vliat really was happening was that six 
army corps, or more than a quarter of a million of men, covered 
by a screen of some 20,000 cavalry, horse artillery, and motor 
detachments, was massing west of the Meuse and preparing to 
advance across the open country towards Brussels. The Belgian 
Staff and King Albert had no illusions. They knew that to 
make an obstinate stand along the Dyle with little more than 
100,000 men would mean the destruction of the Belgian army. 
Their whole plan was merely to gain a few days by making a 
show of defence. As soon as the great mass of the German 
army began its advance it was decided to retire upon Antwerp. 
It was hard to abandon the capital and all the central provinces 
of Belgium, but it was sound policy to keep the Belgian army 
intact sheltered by the forts of Antwerp, where it would be a 
continual menace to the flank of the Germans when they 
wheeled round to face the advance of the Allies on the French 
frontier. It would at the very least have the effect of forcing 
the Germans to keep some hundreds of thousands of men in 
Belgium to hold the country and guard their communications. 

On the 14th there were signs that the German advance in 
force had begun. The wave of cavalry swept westward to- 
wards the Dyle and southwards towards the Sambre. Aero- 
planes bearing the distinguishing mark of the German Flying 
Corps were droning and snarling over Louvain and Nivelles. 
One of them flying over Namur dropped bombs into the 
streets. The Belgians drew in their advanced posts, and there 
was a sharp rearguard fight about Aerschot, and some fighting 
in front of Louvain. But still there came no attack in force 
on the Belgian front. The main mass of the German armies 
was really moving round the Belgian right through the 
country west of the Meuse, the heads of the columns directed 
on Mons and Charleroi. To have remained longer in position 
along the Dyle would have exposed the Belgian army to being 
outflanked and cut off from Antwerp. On the 19th a general 
retirement had begun, the Belgian army marching towards 
Malines and Antwerp without passing through Brussels. 

Though preparations had been made to defend the capital, 
and the civic guard was busy digging entrenchments across the 
roads to the south and east of the city, the authorities de- 
cided that to make a fight for Brussels would only expose 
the great city to useless destruction. Early on the 19th the 



Burgomaster, M. Max, was negotiating with the German Staff 
for a peaceful occupation of the city. That evening the 
German vanguard following up the Belgian retirement 
bivouacked just outside the eastern suburbs. They made 
their entry into Brussels next morning. 

General von Amim, who commanded the occupying force, 
had agreed that only a few thousand men should be quartered 
in the city itself. He behaved courteously enough to the 
conquered city. The flags of Belgium, France, and England 
were flying from the tower of the Town Hall. The Germans 
hauled down the French and English flags, but left tlie Belgian 
tricolour flying, and hoisted beside it the German flag and 
the banner of the city. He also gave notice that the people 
might keep their national flag flying from the houses and 
public buildings. 

But though only four or five thousand men were quartered 
in Brussels, an army of one hundred thousand marched through 
the chief streets of the city. They moved out to the south- 
westward, for their destination was the French frontier. It 
was remarked that the men were all in new uniforms, that 
they looked fit and well, and showed no signs of the stress of 
a campaign. The fact was, none of them had yet been seriously 
engaged. They were two army corps just mobilised and 
proceeding to the fighting front. 

The real hard work of the war was about to begin for the 
Germans. The allied armies were moving towards the southern 
frontier of Belgium. French cavalry were across the Sambre, 
and there had been fighting in the Ardennes. The first 
contact between the German armies and the Allies was be- 
ginning. The main mass of the Kaiser’s hosts had been 
moved to meet the French and British advance. Meanwhile 
a separate army followed up the Belgians towards Antwerp, 
and the cavalry that had covered the advance pushed west- 
ward towards Ghent and Bruges. 

This rapidly moving force overran in a few days the 
greater part of western Belgium. It was at this stage of the 
war that in reprisals for the alleged resistance of the civil 
population the flying columns of German cavalry and motor- 
troops began the burning of villages and shooting of hostages. 
The idea that the Belgians could be conciliated by the in- 
vaders was being abandoned, and the war was passing into 
another phase in which teiTorism and vengeance played an 
awful part. 

In tliis second stage of the war the civilised world was 


horrified by the destruction of Louvain — a city which had 
been for hundreds of years the intellectual centre of Belgium. 
The unfortunate population suffered endless miseries at the 
hands of the invaders, and not only the houses of the citizens, 
but historic churches, colleges, and libraries were given to 
the flames, the outrage being represented as reprisals for 
an alleged attack on the German troops by a mere handful 
of individuals. There were other horrors in the destruction 
of quiet country towns and villages, but the names of those 
little places were unknown to most men, and so their fate 
did not excite the same indignation as the deliberate destruc- 
tion of the treasures of art and literature in a world-famous 
university city. It was as if an invader had swept our 
own Oxford away in a storm of fire and blood. 

While their country was being thus desolated the Belgians 
stubbornly continued their resistance. The army sheltered 
behind the forts of Antwerp, and the inundations created 
by opening the dykes along the Rupel and Nethe rivers was 
a continual menace to the Germans at Brussels. But this 
resistance of the army about Antwerp belongs to a later 
stage of the campaign. Wc must return to the events of 
August 1914, and before following any further the fortunes 
of the Belgian people we must tell the story of the great 
events wtiich were now beginning on the Franco-Belgian 


Diaicn by 1\. Coop> 

The German advance guard invading Belgian 


" * J 


rr. T.5*^r.. ^ --Aisi^v'v 

' '^*^Hocaon'''^- *' 

®..jSfr3a® 33e“'t'^;'j?'^ 

|Nof(», T/>f A//r^s of /ntfu'ftant 

I thp /7iinentury ^^hcmi (Ji, 4* t70*3 

The battlefields of Belgium 
'I'hiri HIM]) shows dll' lullh-lirlds of HdKinm :iU'l Us 
vii'inUy lot Uk* pasl ;!:>o ycar;^, those i>U\ci-s where 
the British lout;hL beinj,; inuierliiied 

Lord's hosts 

Drawn by « German artist and 
published in a German paper 

The invading Germans in a Belgian village 

Incidt'iiiR lil;e tlip ojit' picltind lit-re are only too 
well uutbeuticatcd by oinrial reix)rls 


Belgian Lancers charging Uhlans 
.Tlu- \uulonii of Uk' lidKiaii f,amrr'i SMiii-wIuil I'o 
Nrinhltsfhatofthc fllilins. They did work in 

tlic li^litiiiK EtMiud and alter 


hy DoiiaJd Maxwell 

The bridge of Huy 

The DOly road over the Meuse Ijclween IJt'Ke o 
Nainur, inula fiercely contested point up to llu' It 
that Namur tell lu’thc German sieee suns 




B elgium had waited anxioxasly for the news of 
help from the Allies. In England there was 
scarcely less of anxious impatience during the 
early August days when each morning brought 
news of the German advance towards Brussels, and there 
was no message telling of British or French soldiers joining 
in the hard-pressed Belgian battle-line. The absolute secrecy 
maintained as to the movement of our Expeditionary Force 
to the front added to the strain. Rumour told of the arrival 
of British troops at Antwerp and Ostend, and of French 
columns moving across the border-line of the little kingdom. 
But rumour was telling wild tales. It was not easy for the 
average man to realise that even the swiftest and smoothest 
working of the French mobilisation would require more than 
a fortnight before the vast numbers of the French fighting 
line could be placed upon the frontiers of France, or the 
preparation and transport of the British contingent com- 

The French dash at Mulhouse in Alsace in the very first 
week of the war seemed to suggest that our allies were ready 
for action. But this was a premature advance of a frontier 
detachment. On August 15th it seemed that serious opera- 
tions were beginning. That day the first battle between 
French and Germans took place on the Belgian ground, and 
it was a French success which seemed to be of good augury 
for the opening campaign. 

Though comparatively small forces were engaged, prob- 
ably about 15,000 men on each side, there was hard fighting 
for nearly six hours. A French detachment had crossed 
the Meuse and occupied the town of Dinant. Here they 
were attacked by a German column, part of the army of 




the Duke of Wurtemberg which had occupied the Belgian 
Ardennes. The French were driven out by superior numbers, 
but reinforcements came up in the nick of time and Dinant 
was retaken, and the Germans retired under the fire of the 
P'rench artillery. Spectators of the fight spoke admiringly of 
the vigour and dash of the French infantry and the telling 
effect of the ^'*cw PTcnch quick-firing field guns. 

The light at Dinant was regarded as the first encounter 
in the great opening battle of the war. But this did not 
begin for a week. The concentration was not sufficiently 
advanced as yet for th(^ decisive operations to open. 

The French Staff had decided to attack simultaneously at 
several points the German armies that were massing in 
Belgium and along the frontiers of France. The great battle 
line would extend for hundreds of miles from Belfort near 
the Swiss frontier, along the Vosges, and the borders of 
Lorraine, to the wooded hills of Luxemburg and the Ardennes, 
and the undulating plains west of the Belgian Mense, along 
the Sambre and by Mons towards Tournai. It was not, of 
course, a continuous line of guns and men, everjwvLere of 
equal strength. Along the eastern frontier the line of en- 
trenched camps and forts from Belfort to Verdun enabled 
comparatively small forces to oppose thc' (German im^asion. 
Here there was to be an advance from the northern V^osges 
into the lower lands of Alsace, and a second move of a strong 
force into Lorraine south of Metz by (Tiateau Salins and 
Morhange. These movements wctc inspxn^d by the desire 
to show the tricolour again in the annexed provinces. 

North of Verdun there was to be another advance towards 
Longwy, an attempt to hold out a hand to the little gaiTison 
that was gallantly keeping the flag flying over the old bas- 
tioned fortress which seemed hardly capable of defence 
against modern heavy artillery, but for all that was making 
a stubborn resistance. On the Allied left the main advance 
was to be made into Belgium. East of the JMeuse a Frcmch 
army was to march across the Semois into the forests of the 
Ardennes, where the Duke of Wtirtx'mberg's armj^ bad its 
headquarters at Neufehateau. On the other side of the 
Meuse another army was to cross the Sambre, and march by 
the battlefield of Ligny against the German army that was 
advancing between Brussels and Namur and had already 
begun the siege of the Namur forts. This movement would 
be covered on the left by the advance of the British Expedi- 
tionary Force by Mons, 



On Thursday, August 20lh, while the Allies were still 
concentrating and closing up to the Belgian frontier, the 
Germans marched into Brussels and the Belgian army was 
retiring behind the forts of Antwerp. Having secured tliis 
success, the German armies poured southwards like a great 
tide of men, horses, and guns — ^Von Billow’s army on the 
left towards the vSambre, Von Kluck’s on the right towards 
Mons, masses of cavalry covering the flank of the advance 
and scouting in front of it, while others rode westwards 
through Belgium and then wheeled southwards to threaten 
the communications of the British with the Channel ports. 
Meanwhile the huge howitzers that had shattered the forts 
of Liege were brought down to attack the defences of Namur. 

The French cavalry were across the Sambre, riding by 
Gembloux and Ligny — names that recalled Napoleon’s dash 
into Belgium in 1815. They had some successful skirmishes 
with German Uhlans and dragoons, but they fell back to 
the river-line as they found the force in their front gathering 
strength from hour to hour. Von Billow was pushing forward 
in advance of his colleague. For him too the names of quiet 
country towns and villages in the Hesbaye upland brought 
reminders of 1815, when Prussia was tlie good ally of England 
and his grandfather, another Billow, commanded one of 
Bliicher’s four army corps. 

On Friday the 21st the French occupied the line of the 
Sambre in force with their headquarters at Charleroi, the 
town of iron- works and mines where Napoleon crossed the river 
on his way to Waterloo. Next day the British were in line 
to the left of the French army. They were not yet in full 
force. Of his three army corps. Sir John French had only 
the 1st (Haig) and the 2nd (Smith-Uorrien) . Of the cavalry 
he had only the 5th Brigade under the command of Sir Philip 
Chetwodc. In all he had some 70,000 men and 280 guns in 
line. He had his headquarters at Mons, the old capital of 
Hainault. The place and the country round must have re- 
minded many of our soldiers from northern England of what 
they had seen at home. i\lons is a busy town of factories 
surrounded by a coal-field. On all sides one sees the chimneys 
and the tall headgear of the pits. Huge shale-heaps, some- 
times planted with dwarf fii's, tower beside the miners’ villages. 
There is a network of railways, with sidings full of coal-trucks, 
embankments crossing the hollows of the ground, cuttings 
through the low hills that give the town its name, overhead 
bridges on the roads. There is abundance of cover, and a 



fair choice of artillery positions. It is good ground for a 
hard fight on the defensive. 

From Mons a canal, made before the days of railways for 
the coal and iron traffic of the district, runs westward by 
Conde to the Scheldt. Along this canal from Mons to Cond6 
Smith-Don ien’s corps was posted, forming the left of the 
British line. The right was formed by Haig’s corps from 
Mons eastward to the little town of Binche, which was held 
by the Guards’ Brigade. Near Binche, Chetwode’s cavalry 
were posted, or to put it more correctly, here was their head- 
quarters, for all day they were coming and going along the 
front, pushing their patrols into every village — intoSoignies 
and north-westwards towards Ath, while the airmen made 
bold flights overhead. Here and there at a turn of a road or 
in a village street our men came upon Von Kluck’s advanced 
patrols, and in these skirmishes our troops had the upper hand 
and brought in a number of prisoners. In one of these fights 
in a village a party of our Hussars rode down a strong detach- 
ment of German cuirassiers, the two bodies of horsemen 
meeting front to front. “ T liey were heavier, but our fellows 
were handier.” was the explanation of our success given by a 
Hussar who was wounded in the skirmish. 

All day the infantry and the gunners had duller work. 
They were digging lines of trenches and gunpits, and clearing 
the front of cover for an attacking force. It was known that 
the enemy was coming in dangerous strength, and it had been 
decided that both for the French and British the first of the 
fighting must be on the defensive. From the right as the day 
wore on there came the dull tlumder of a far-off cannonade. 
Some said it was the sound of the big guns hammering at Namur, 
but it was really the roar of liattle along the Sambre. Von 
Billow was in action with tlie French. 

The French Staff has been very reticent about what hap- 
pened in the battle of this Saturday along the Sambre. We 
know, however, that there was a fierce figlfi; for Charleroi hour 
after hour. Five times in the course of the day the place 
changed hands. Now it was held by the French, now by 
the Germans. It was alternately bombarded by the Krupp 
guns and the Creusot quickfirers. There were desperate 
hand-to-hand fights in the streets among the ruined houses. 
Bayonet met bayonet, twice the Zouaves and Turcos cleared 
the town with cold steel. But as each wave of the enemy's 
onset was hurled back, another came on. By nightfall the 
invaders held Charleroi. 




But tliis stubborn fight was only one episode of the battle. 
On the French right the enemy .scored even a more important 
success. They forced their way across the Sambre and drove 
a great wedge between the Allies and Nararrr. That evening 
Von Billow lield Charleroi town and his left was in possession 
of all the ground in the sharp angle between the Sambre below 
the town and the Meuse above Namur. All day through the 
din of the light came, the thunder of the (lorman cannonade 
around the besieged city. Some of the forts of Namur were 
already crumbling, and the garrison was losing heart and 
hope as the cannon thunder from the battle-field, rolling 
farther and farther, told them that the hope of relief was 
vanishing. Next day saw the surrender of Namur. 

That day — ^Sunday, August 23rd — ^was a day of stern battle 
for our men about Mons. All the morning they had been 
busy completing and improving their entrenchments. They 
knew the French had been in action the day before, though 
they did not know the result. For the most interesting news 
was that the cavalry and air scouts told of masses of Germans 
steadily closing in on their front. In the morning all they 
saw of the enem}' was a sight now and then of some venturous 
Taube aeroplane buzzing like a giant wasp high in air. 

Early that morning Sir John French had met liis Generals 
and explained to them the general situation of the Allied 
armies, and what he understood to be General Joffre’s plan, 
and discussed with them the immediate situation on the British 
front. In his despatch describing the day’s operations, he 
very carefully sets forth the. view then tak('n of the enemy’s 
strength, according to inform.ation received from the French, 
and apparently confirmed by the British reconnaissances : 

“ From information I received from French Head- 
quarters I understood that little more than one, or at 
most two, of the enemy’s army corps, with perhaps one 
cavalry division, were in front of my positions, and I was 
aware of no attempted outllanking movement by the 
enemy. I was confirmed in this opinion by the fact that 
my patrols encountered no undue opposition in their 
reconnoitring operations. The observation of my 
aeroplanes seemed also to bear out this estimate.” 

Sir John writes with tactful discretion, but the later events 
of the day show that the French Staff had strangely neglected 
to keep him well informed. They had told him nothing of 


the retirement already in progress from the Sambre, and the 
consequent danger of his being attacked, not by a force equal 
or even inferior to his own, but by an enormous mass of hostile 
troops set free by the success they had won the day before, 
with the result that later in the day the Germans were able to 
concentrate against the British a force outnumbering them at 
least two to one. 

It was not till about three in the afternoon of that eventful 
Sunday that the German attack on the British lines began. 
It developed with remarkable rapidity. The cavalry scouts 
came galloping in with the news that great masses of the 
enemy were pushing forward on a wide front. Then the 
German artillery opened and almost at the same time dense 
firing lines of infantry began to push forward. Fire was 
opened from the British trenches and artillery positions. 
Cannon and rifle were hard at work along a front of twenty- 
five miles. For the first time our men met an attack delivered 
under the most novel conditions. Above and in front of the 
hostile firing linSs, German aeroplanes swept backwards and 
forw'ards like great birds of prey. Sometimes they flew high 
over the British trenches regardless of the storm of bullets 
aimed at them, and dropped here and there what were at 
first thought to be bombs, but there was no explosion. The 
supposed bomb was a smoke-ball, whieli, fired by a percussion 
arrangement as it struck the ground, sent up a dense cloud 
of black smoke. This revealed the position of the enemy’s 
gunners, and immediately a storm of shells burst over the 
indicated point. It was thought, too, that they signalled 
to their batteries by the way in which they varied their 
movements. The rapid circling to right or left in a spiral 
by the aeroplane evidently had some meaning. Both officers 
and men told of the wonderful accuracy and intensity of the 
German artillery fire. Of the infantry attack they did not 
form such a high opinion. It would be easy to quote many 
descriptions of the German infantry coming on in dense 
crow'ds in the closest of close order, shooting wildly and in- 
accurately, doing little damage, then coming to a standstill, 
and suddenly giving way under the well-aimed fire of our 
rifles or the menace of a counter -attack, and it was said that 
in these successive advances and retirements they suffered 
heavy loss. 

There is no doubt that at many points the Germans made 
premature attempts to rush the trenches under the impression 
that the tremendous fire of their artillery had shaken the 



defence. But the impression that they attacked in masses 
all along the line probably arose from the fact that the Germans 
put more men into a given front of firing line than we do. 
They believe in getting as many rifles to the front as possible 
at an early stage of tlie attack, arguing that this secures a 
greater development of fire, which is well worth some extra 
loss, and that supports behind tlie firing line are themselves 
exposed to loss without being able to use their rifles, and 
suffer severely while reinforcing their lines. Another feature 
of the German infantry attack is the bringing up of a large 
number of light machine guns into the actual firing line. On 
the march these are carried in waggons, and they are placed 
on a low mounting, so that they can be worked by men lying 
down. At some points in the fight, these machine guns were 
brought up in dozens. In fact one of those who watched 
the fighting said that in places it seemed as if the Germans 
were relying entirely on the effect of their cannon and machine 
guns and using their infantry chiefly as a support to these. 

There is no doubt that in this Mons baTtlc the Germans 
exposed their infantry to considerable loss in reckless attempts 
to rush the position. Von Biilow's rapid success the day 
before against the French made them hope for an equally 
quick result, but our men, well entrenched and shooting 
coolly and effectively, made a much more dogged resistance 
than they were prepared for. Von Kluck, who was in com- 
mand, was able to throw against the British at least three 
army corps, and he had the further support of the right of 
Von Billow’s army, which after pushing back the I^'rench 
from the Sambre, could now turn against the right of the 
British position about Binche. Against our first line of some 
70,000 or at most 80,000 men, the Germans must have brought 
at least 150,000 into action, without counting the masses of 
cavalry that were moving towards the ground between our 
left at Conde and the town of Tournai. Von Kluck con- 
centrated his chief efforts against the British rigid held by 
the First Corps under Haig. With such advantage of numbers 
the Germans were able to develop conver^ng attack on and 
around Binche. Chetwode’s cavalry brigade, which was 
stationed here, had to be withdrawn, and Haig drew back 
his right to some rising ground south of the village of Bray. 
The Germans occupied Binche. 

The gradual retirement of the British right made the 
angle at which- the line of the First and Second Corps met at 
Mons more and more acute. The town and the ground about 



it was becoming a salient, with all the dangers of such a point, 
which gives the attack the opportunity of pressing the defence 
from two sides at once. The place was held by General 
Hamilton, with part of the third division belonging to Smith- 
Dorrien’s Corps. 

French sent orders to Hamilton “ to be careful not to keep 
the troops in this salient too long, but if threatened seriously, 
to draw back the centre behind Mons.” Towards sunset, 
the attack was becoming so serious that Hamilton, acting 
on these orders, drew back out of the town, our men at every 
point repulsing the enemy’s attempts to rush them. 

Sir John had just sent his orders to Hamilton when he 
received by telegraph from General Joffre what he describes 
as “a most unexpected message,” which was to the effect 
that to the right of the British the French army was every- 
where retiring. ” the Germans having on the previous day 
gained possession of the passages of the Sambre between 
Charleroi and Namur.” This was news that certainly ought 
to have been sen^ to the British Commander-in-Clhef on the 
Saturday evening. Though Sir John does not say so in his 
despatcli, it is evident that he was thus led to fight a desperate 
battle against odds under a complete misconception of the 
general situation. General Joffre further informed him that 
at least three German corps were engaged in the attack on 
his front, and another was moving towards his left in the 
direction of Tournai. Joffre must liave had this last in- 
formation from a French territorial division posted at Tournai, 
which on this Sunday afternoon found masses of German 
cavalry in its front, and a great column moving between it 
and the British left. 

To hold on much longer in the advanced position he had 
occupied would have been for Sir John French to risk being 
completely cut off. Like a prudent commander, he had 
already selected and reconnoitered a second position a few 
miles to the rear to be occupied in case of a retirement be- 
coming necessary. He thus desci'ibes it in his despatch : 

” This position rested on the fortress of Maubeuge 
on the right, and extended west to Jenlain, south-west 
of Valenciennes, on the left. The position was reported 
difficult to hold, because standing crops and buildings 
made the siting of trenches very difficult, and limited 
the field of fire in many impoidant localities. It never- 
theless afforded a few good artillery positions.” 


On receiving General Joffre’s telegram. Sir John “en- 
deavoured to confirm if' by sending out his aeroplane scouts, 
and as a result of the reports they brought he decided there 
must be a ret irement to the Maubeuge-Jenlain position at day- 
break on Monday the 24th. 

At the end of the long summer evening, the general posi- 
tion was this after more than six hours of hard fighting against 
greatly superior numbers ; The left under Smith-Uorrien still 
held its ground along tlie Conde canal. The right, which had 
been exposed to the main German attack, had fallen back a 
little, but all along the line from left to right the men felt a 


sense of victor}^ They had beaten back rush after rush of 
the German infantry. They had endured without being 
shaken a tremendous artillery fire, to which our batteries had 
steadily replied. They had sulfered comparatively slight 
losses, thanks to their entrenchments and their admirable 
training for taking cover, and they believed they had in- 
flicted very heavy losses on the enemy. The men in the ranks 
and the company-officer in a great battle like this on a front 
of many miles only know what is happening in his immediate 
neighbourhood, and rarely can realise the general situation. 
As darkness came on, and the firing died away, only bursting 
out here and there in sudden flashes for a while, the men 
settled down to rest in their positions in full expectation that 
they would hold them again next day. As we have seen, how- 
ever, orders were being already prepared for a retirement at 
daybreak — the first stage, though no one had ima^ned it, 
of a fighting retreat to the neighbourhood of Paris. From the 



letters of officers and soldiers, it appears that on the right of 
the line, and perhaps also on the extreme left, the movement 
began about midnight. The general orders were anticipated 
by sending messages to various parts of the line to move out 
of the trenches in the darkness. This retirement was on the 
whole well carried out, but here and there little marching 
columns of tired men lost their way, and some of them wan- 
dered into the German line which was quietly pushing forward 
in the night. In this way some prisoners were taken by the 

In the early twilight of Monday morning the whole line 
was retiring. In order to hold at bay the superior numbers of 
the enemy, Sir John French showed a bold front. Haig, on 
the right, was likely to be the hardest pressed. He began the 
day by making a show of attacking the enemy in force, while 
his second division steadily retired ; the first division, whicli 
included a Guards’ Brigade, advanced from the neighbour- 
hood of Harmignies against the enemy in the direction of 
Binche, this dejnonstration being supported by the whole 
of the artillery of the first and second divisions — over a hundred 
guns. Having checked the German advance, the force thus 
employed fell back fighting, acting as the rearguard of the 
whole of the British right. Meanwhile on the left, Smith- 
Domcn, with the Second Corps, had fallen back to a position 
about five miles south of the Mons-Conde canal. His right 
was at the mining c'illage of Framcrics amid a network of 
colliery lines, with the embankments and buildings that gave 
a good deal of cover. His line ran westward by iJour to the 
village of Quarouble. Here he held on all through the morn- 
ing hours, forming a solid barrier protected by which the First 
Corps was retiring on the Maubeuge position. But it was no 
easy task. The day before Von Kluck had thrown his main 
strength against the right. The columns that on the Sunday 
had been reported between Conde and Tournai now came into 
action, while another attack came across the canal, and yet a 
third pressed forward from Mons. According to Sir John 
French’s report, Smith-J forrien was attacked by two German 
corps in front, and another on his flank. This would mean 
that there were over men against between 30,000 
and 40,000. 

Sir John French had ordered General Allenby with the 
cavalry division to act as a general reserve for a whole force. 
At half-past seven on the Monday morning Allenby received 
a message from Sir Charles Fergusson, commanding the fifth 


division about Frameries, facing Mons, and forming the right 
of Smith-Dorrien’s lino, saying that he was “ very hard 
pressed and in urgent need of support.” Allenby brought up 
his cavalry on Fergusson’s right. In front was the second 
cavalry brigade under General De Lisle, the hero of many 
dashing exploits in the South African War. De Lisle thought 
he saw a good chance of checking the enemy’s advance by 
charging the flank of their infantry. But for once he had bad 
luck. As the brigade rode at the enemy their progress was 
checked about five hundred yards from the German flank by 
lines of wire fences, and after an attempt to struggle through 
they had to fall back under a deadly fire, the 9th Lancers and 
the 18th Hussars suffering severely as the brigade retired. 

On the other flank French was able to give Smith-Dorrien 
the support of the 19th Infantry Brigade. It had so far been 
guarding the line of communications, but the day before it 
had been brought up by railway to Valenciennes. In the 
early morning it marched oxit to reinforce the British line at 
Quarouble. By midday the retirement of the First Corps had 
proceeded so far that Smith-Dorrien could in his turn begin 
his retreat. Protected on the right by Allenby's horsemen, 
and supported on the left by the new reinforcements, he fell 
back slowly and steadily, beating off every attack of the enor- 
mous force of Germans that was pressing on his front and 
trying to work round his flanks. It was a wonderful piece 
of fighting. All day long the safety of the whole force de- 
pended on his resolution and judgment and the disciplined 
steadiness of his men. To hold on too long, or to retire too 
soon, at each point of the long line woxild have been destruc- 
tion to the whole. But the delicate operation was accom- 
plished with complete success. More than once during the 
subsequent days of the fighting retreat Smitli-Dorrien had 
to do the same work. The lo.sscs were heavy, and as the force 
was continually retiring, only a few of the wounded could be 
taken away by the ambulances. Most of those who fell were 
left on the ground. Hence the large proportion of '' missing ” 
in the casualty returns. It is only right to say that the 
German ambulance corps collected and cared for our wounded 
with their own. 

By nightfall the whole of the Expeditionary Force had 
reached the Maubeuge position. The First Corps was on the 
right, its right flank protected by the forts of Maubeuge, its 
line extended to the village of Bavey. Thence the Second 
Corps held a line extending to Jenlain, with the 19th Brigade 



forming its left. Allenby’s cavalry division protected the 
exposed left flank. 

At this time both in France and England there was a 
general impression that though the advance into Belgium 
had failed, the Allied armies would be able to make a pro- 
longed stand in the north, “ on the line of the frontier fort- 
resses,” and there was frequent mention of Maubeuge and 
Lille as great strongholds that would assist the defence. 
Maubeuge could still be counted as a fortress, and it appears 
something had been done to strengthen the forts — ^planned 
in 1875 — ^with concrete and armour to resist the improved 
artillery of to-day. Nothing of the kind had been done at 
Lille, which till recent years ranked as the great fortress of the 
north. Its forts had been actually condemned and disarmed 
before the war. Maubeuge gave temporary support to the 
Expeditionary Corps, but as Sir John French notes in his 
despatch, if he had remained in its neighbourhood, with the 
French continually retiring on his right and Von Kluck 
accumulating enormous forces to turn his left, he would run 
the risk of being forced into the fortress. And the experience 
of all modern war shows that an army which once takes 
shelter behind the outlying forts of a fortress, and allows 
itself to be invested there, is doomed. 

For our army a prolonged resistance at Maubeuge would 
have been even more difficult than for a French force. The 
magazines of Maubeuge could not have supplied a single 
round of ammunition for our cannon or rifles. Sir John 
BT'ench had, therefore, to continue the retreat, and during 
the days that followed the British force had to perform the 
arduous task of protecting the left of the whole Allied 
line during the great movement southward. 

Our attention has very naturally been fixed chiefly on the 
part of the long line at which our troops were engaged. But 
to understand what was happening, one must take into 
account the events on the whole front from Belfort to Mons. 
Even before the great battles on the Belgian frontier about 
Charleroi and Mons, the French attacks elsewhere had ended 
in temporary failure, and the Germans were advancing in 
great force at several points. In the same week that ended 
with the fighting on the Sambre, the army that had crossed the 
frontier of Lorraine had been defeated by the Crown Prince 
of Bavaria commanding the three corps of the Bavarian 
army, and a German army corps — a force of about 150,000 
men. This great battle, which took place near Ch&teau 



Salins, passed at the time almost unnoticed, for the news was 
arriving from Mons. The Bavarians claimed to have cap- 
tured thousands of prisoners and a hundred and fifty guns. 
French official reports admitted the defeat, but denied that 
quite so many guns had been taken. The victors entered 
France, and occupied Luneville. The French fell back on 
Nancy and the line of the Vosges, abandoning all the ground 
they had occupied in Alsace. At the same time, in the centre, 


the army of the Crown Prince of Germany, advancing from 
Luxemburg, defeated a French army near Longwy, and on 
the same day the Duke of Wurtemberg’s army won a victory 
in the southern Ardennes. The French, advancing from title 
middle Meuse, had crossed the little river Semois and were 
advancing through the wooded hills towards Neufehateau. 
This movement was intended to clear the east bank of the 
Meuse of the enemy, and co-operate with the army on the 
Sambre in reheving Namur. A few miles north of the Semois, 



the French, according to their own account, were “ attacked 
by superior numbers issuing from the shelter of the forest, 
and forced to retreat.” They fell back across the Semois, 
and for a short time with the army that had been defeated 
near Longwy thej^ tried to hold the line of the IMcusc. But 
besides the fighting along the Semois there had been a battle 
along the Meuse above and below Dinant, where the Saxon 
army under Von Hausen fought its way across the ri\ cr line. 
It then marched by the west bank of the Meuse and thus 
attacked the left of the French, who were holding the river 
about Mezieres and the old battle-ground of Sedan. Under 
the combined front and flank attack the defence of the Meuse 
collapsed, Mezieres surrendered, and the French army was 
gradually forced back towards Rethei and Rheims. 

The advance of the Bavarian army was chcckeel by the 
French resistance on the line of the eastern fortresses. The 
Crown Prince’s army, forming the German left centre, made 
slow progress in the difficult country of the Argonne. But 
on the enemy's right centre the Duke of Wurtemberg’s army, 
supported by two Sjixon corps under General Hansen, pushed 
forward steadily, driving the French back towards Rheims, 
and this movement continually threatened to outflank the 
right of the French army which was retiring from the Sambre. 
He had, therefore, to continue his retreat day after day, and 
the British force had to conform to this movement, forming 
from first to last a solid protection against the German attempt 
to outflank the extreme left and roll up the whole line. Unless 
one takes this wide view of the situation, one cannot realise 
the full extent of the service which Sir John French and his 
gallant army rendered to the Allied cause. 

We now resume tlie story of the fighting retreat of our 
Expeditionary Corps, On the evening of iilonday, August 24th, 
orders were hssued for a retirement to begin at 5 a.m. next 
morning to a position east of Cambrai with the centre near 
the town of Le Cateau. Sir John French believed that by 
this time the enemy’s forces would be becoming exhausted, 
and expected the forces would not be very vigorous. The 
cavalry covered the rear of the retiring column and the ex- 
posed western flank. The 4th division of the Tliird Corps 
had reached Le Cateau by train, and on the morning of the 
25th General Snow, who was in command, had with him eleven 
battalions and eighteen guns. This force was ordered to move 
out from Le Cateau and take up a position with its right south 
of Solesmes, and its left towards the Cambrai road. This 



would provide a protection for the left of Sir John French's 
force as it moved back from Le Cateau. During the day the 
Germans did not press the retreating British closely, and 
the position was occupied by evening, the Second Corps to the 
west of Le Cateau and the First to the east of it by Landrecies 
and Maioilles. • The First Corps had been late in coming in. 
They had marched by the roads to the east of the forest of 
Mormal. It was after nine o’clock when the last of the troops 
were in. Some work had been done in the evening to entrench 
the ground along the front, and after a relatively easy day 
the tired men were hoping for a little rest, but about half-past 

nine heavy firing broke out in the darkness on the right of the 
line. The German gth Corps, marching through the woods 
of Mormal, had driven in the outposts, and was attacking 
Landrecies in the dark. Sir John F'rench in his despatch 
says he had intended to bring the left of the First Corps farther 
west, so as to fill up a gap wliich was left between Landrecies 
and Le Cateau, “ but the men were exhausted and could not 
get farther in without rest.” 

The 4th Guards’ Brigade held Landrecies. Exhausted as 
they were, they sprang to arms and gave the Germans a warm 
reception. There was a desperate fight in and around the 
little town. An officer of the Irish Guards wrote that from 
ten o'clock till after midnight the brigade had to meet a series 



of attacks at close quarters. German guns sometimes opened 
in the darkness only 200 yards away. The enemy suffered 
severely from machine gun and rifle fire as they poured in 
masses out of the forest and into the northern side of the 

town. There was close fighting with the bayonet in the 

narrow streets amid bursting shells and burning houses. 
The Germans came sweeping round the western side trying 
to break through the gap in the line, and troops had to be 
hurried up to protect them. Farther away to the right there 
was another roar of fire around Maroilles, and Sir Douglas 
Haig sent word that his first division was heavily engaged 
there. There were two French reserve divisions a few miles 
away to the right, and Sir John sent off gallopers to ask 

them to come up to his assistance. After what seemed an 

endless time, under the strain of this confused fight in the 
darkness, the French came into action, checking the German 
turning movement east of Maroilles. But Haig’s men were 
still in serious danger, hard pressed in front, and with the 
enemy gradually enveloping Landrecics. After midnight the 
Guards gradually drew back, fighting every inch of the way 
out of the town, and I iaig got his corps together a little to the 
south of the ground on which it had first haltt'd. 

During the fighting of the last two days the British cavalry 
had become scattered over a very wide front, and had also 
had hard work covering the exposed flank. Sir John French 
had already asked General SordcH, commanding a French 
cavalry corps of three divisions, which was retiring on his 
right, to come to his help. He wished to have this large 
mounted force to cover his left and enable him to collect his 
own cavalr}.'. To use Sir John’s own words : 

“ During the fighting of the 23rd and 24th, I visited 
General Sordet and earnestly requested his co-operation 
and support. He promised to obtain sanction from his 
Anny Commander to act on my left Hank, but said that 
his men and horses wei’e too tired to move before the 
next day. Although he rendered me valuable assistance 
later on in the course of the retirement, he was unable 
for the reasons given to afford me any support on the 
most critical day of all — the 26th.” 

Wednesday, August 26th, was indeed a critical day for 
the Expeditionary Force. Sir John French had intended to 
continue the general retirement at daybreak, and by this 
time the F'irst Corps, weary with the night engagement, and 
after only a very brief rest, was already on its way southward. 


marching by Wassigny towards Guise. Smith-Dorrien was to 
follow immediately with the Second Corps and the 4th division, 
but at sunrise he was attacked all along the front and on the 
left. Some six hundred cannon, the guns of four Gennan 
army cor[)S, had been brought up against him during the night, 
and opened fire as soon as there was light to see. Smith- 
Dorrien reported to Sir John French that he judged it im- 
possible to conlinue the retirement in face of such an attack. 
The situation therefore was this ; three English divisions, two of 
them seriously reduced by several days of fighting and march- 
ing, were op])osed to at least twelve German divisions; 
a hundred and fifty guns in action against more than six 
hundred. There had been no time to entrench the position 
properly, and there was no support available, except that 
of Allenby’s cavalry, which had been very heavily over- 
worked. Sir John French notes that the First Corps was at 
the moment “incapable of moveiiK'nt.’’ Sordet’s French 
cavalry corps was, it is true, moving up to the left rear of the 
British line. But it could give no immediate help. Sir John 
says he sent Sordet an urgent message askibg him to support 
the retirement on the left, but the General replied that “ owing 
to the fatigue of his horses ’’ he found himself unable to intervene 
in any way. Sir John therefore sent orders to Smith-Dorrien 
“ to use his utmost endeavours to brc'ak off the action and 
retire at the earliest possible moment.’’ 

But for s(jme hours this was impossible. To have retired 
at once would have been to be rushed by the German attack. 
The little British force had to hold its ground until it had met 
and thrown back the main onset of the enemy. Heavily 
outmatched as they were, the artillery made a splendid fight. 
Batteries were kept in action when there were only two or 
three men left to each gun. In one of the batteries a single 
gun kept firing with only an officer and a gunner to fire it, all 
the others having been smashed and silenced by the heavy 
shell fire of the enemy. The infantry fought with equal 
steadiness, and again and again drove back the German 
attacks. But against such numbers there could be only one 
result. In the afternoon Von Kluck was pushing forward huge 
masses of men and guns to turn the British left, “ It became 
apparent,” says Sir John French, “ that if complete annihila- 
tion was to be avoided, a retirement must be attempted, and 
the order was given to commence it about 3.30 p.m.” 

The movement was covered by the cavalry, which more 
than once checked the enemy by a daring charge, and by 



several of our batteries, which, though they had lost heavily, 
devoted themselves to securing the safety of the retiring 
infantry. Guns were kept in action till close pressed by the 
enemy and then galloped back to open fire again from a new 
position. In this rearguard fighting some guns were dis- 
abled by the loss of their teams and had to be abandoned. 
But they were honourably lost. The regulations of every 
army in Europe lay it down that artillery must be prepared 
thus to sacrifice itself, and that there is no dishonour in thus 
losing its guns. The Germans had been so roughly handled 
and had lost so heavily that presently the pursuit slackened. 
In summing up his record of this wonderful fight against odds 
at Le Cateau, Sir John French pays this well-deserved tribute 
to Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, the hero of the day : 

“ I cannot close the brief account of this glorious 
stand of the British troops without putting on record my 
deep appreciation of the valuable services rendered by 
General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien. I say without hesita- 
tion that the. saving of the left wing of the Army under 
my command on the morning of the 26lh August could 
never have been accomplished unless a commander of 
rare and unusual coolness, intrepidity, and determination 
had been present to personally conduct the operation.'' 

Far into the night the British retreat continued. Next 
day, though the Germans were still in pursuit and endeavour- 
ing to work round Smith-Dorrien's left, the French gave some 
useful assistance, and the situation had greatly improved. 
Sordet’s cavalry came into action at last and drove the 
enemy's cavalry back towards Cambrai. General D'Amade 
with two French reserve divisions had moved, down from 
Arras, and forced Von Kluck to detach a strong column to 
guard his own right. Tins took some of the pressure off 
the retirement of the Expeditionary Force. For days the 
men had been fighting and marching with only the briefest 
opportunities for rest, and they had suffered heavy loss, but 
all were in good heart, and the way in which they had held 
their own, whenever they came into actual contact witli the 
enemy, gave the impression of victory, even though they 
were retiring. 

During the 27th and 28th the retirement continued, the 
German pursuit gradually slackening, and on the evening of 
Friday, the 28th, Sir John French's force halted along the 
river Oise, its left at Noyon, its centre at Chaulny, and its 


right near the forts of La Fdre. In six days the force had 


of numbers or to outflank and cut it off. It was a feat of 
which Sir John French and his gallant comrades had good 
right to be proud, and at the same time our men had acted 
as the flank guard of the whole French army and saved it 
from a terrible disaster. General Joffre, in a despatch ad- 


dressed to Sir John French, frankly and fully recognised this 
great service. 

On the south bank of the Oise from Chaulny to La Fere the 
ground rises chiefly from the river, and from La Fere east- 
wards and south-eastwards by Laon and Rheims, the sloping 
plateau which extends towards these places from the valley 
of the Aisne drops in bold slopes towards the northern plains 
of France. This line of heights, known in France as the 
Falaises de Champagne (the cliffs or downs of Champagne), 
was always considered to be the last position to be held ny a 
defending army against an invader coming from the north 
and east. It was for this reason that in 1875 La Fere, Laon, 
and Rheims were fortified. But their outlying forts had 
since been made obsolete by the improvement of heavy 
artillery. It was expected that a stand would be made by 
the Allies on this natural line of defence. The French Staff, 
however, decided that it would be sounder policy to continue 
the retreat and reorganise the general line of the various 
armies south of the M ame with the left protected by the forts 
of Paris, and the'right resting on Verdun, an eastern barrier 
fortress. During the last days of August, therefore, and the 
opening days of September, the Expeditionary Force, con- 
forming to the general movement of the French, marched 
south-eastwards to the crossings of the Marne above Meaux. 

General Gough with the 3rd Cavalry Brigade and General 
Chetwode with the 5th covered the retreat. The enemy were 
pursuing with two columns of cavalry well to the front. These 
were attacked by our horsemen. On the left Gough routed the 
Lancers of the Prussian Guard, and Chetwode’s attack on 
the right scattered the enemy, who suffered severe loss. The 
British retreat was now protected on both flanks by French 
armies, and the enemy’s pursuit was partly checked by a 
third French army menacing its flank. 

The British line of march now la}^ through the wooded 
country that covers so much of the ground between the Oise 
and the Marne. In the forest lands round Chantilly and 
Compidgne our rearguards more than once turned suddenly 
upon the German pursuit and inflicted heavy losses on the 

On September ist, while retiring through this wooded 
country, the ist Cavalry Brigade, under General Biiggs, was 
overtaken by a strong force of German cavalry and artillery, 
south of Compidgne. At first the fight went badly for our 
men. L Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery was caught 



in a storm of fire from twelve German guns at close range. 
All the officers but one and many of the men were killed and 
wounded. Guns were dismounted, and at last only a single 
one of them was in action, served by three men. It was 
reported at the time that the battery was taken, but this gun 
was still in action when a reinforcement of the Third Corps 
came up through the woods, marching to the sound of the 
cannon. The remnant of tlie battery was saved, and the 
cavalry, charging through tlie trees, captured both the enemy’s 
batteries. On the same day the 4th Guards’ Brigade fought 
a severe rearguard action with the enemy at Villers-Cotterets. 
They drove the Germans off, but themselves lost lieavily. The 
Irish Guards had a long casualty list. 

As each stream and river was passed, the Royal Engineers 
destroyed the bridges to delay the pursuit. On September 3rd 
the last of the rearguard crossed tlie bridge over the Marne at 
Meaux, and blew it up in the face of the pursuing cavalry. 
The retirement continued beyond the Marne as far as its 
tributary the Grand Morin. 

During the whole of the retreat our aviators, under the 
command of Sir David Henderson, had done splendid work 
in watching the enemy's advance, and keeping the German 
flying men in check. On three occasions at least a British 
aeroplane fought a duel high in air with one of the enemy’s 
flying machines, and sent it crashing to the ground. “ The 
British Flying Corps,” wrote Sir John French, ” has suc- 
ceeded in establishing an individual ascendancy, which is as 
serviceable to us as it is damaging to the enemy.” 

As a precautionary measure, the French Government had 
been removed from Paris to Bordeaux. General Gallieni, a 
veteran officer with a record of service beginning with the war 
of 1870 and ending with the reorganisation of Madagascar 
after the FTcnch conquest, had been given the command of 
Paris, and was putting the place into a state of defence. At 
the same time, he massed behind the northern forts a mobile 
army, which was presently to play an effective part in the 

In these first days of September many were inclined to 
take a depressing view of the situation in France. In a 
fortnight the French offensive along the frontiers had failed, 
and the left and centre of the Allied armies had been drawn 
back beyond the Marne under constant pressure from a huge 
tide of invasion. Paris seemed to be threatened with im- 
mediate attack, and the rapid fall of so many fortresses made 



men doubtful about the resistance its defenders could make. 
But just when all seemed darkest, there came a sudden change 
in the whole position. The Allies had reorganised behind 
the Marne and were no longer to act on the defensive. On 
September 6th a forward movement began all along tlie line, 
and in the following days British and French fought side by 
side victoriously on the very ground over which they had 
retired a few days before. The tide of invasion was not only 
stemmed, but seemed to be ebbing fast. But these glorious 
pages belong to the second phase of the campaign. The first 
closed with the successful conclusion of the tigiiting retreat.'' 


Un5AUNTCD 8V shot 
SHELL Driver or 
R.r.A saving his Gl 


General D'Amade 

(wurnil Juflrf’.s " riKlit-hand man ’’ diiriiij^ 
(lu- retreat to tin- r«isition ot the Marne 


Prince von Buuow 
Diplomat and soldier 

General von Hansen 

To whom was entrusted the command of one of the 

Oernuin Jinnies in P'ranoc 


Idlers chatti 

t'tom a sketch on the spot hy Rich At d Cooptf 

The Germans at Ohchies 

A narrow c^'apo tor 'loii-cointxrlautb. 
many ot wlioiii woro stiul on Ihc mere 
siispieion ol' Ix'iuk '.'lues 



Prom a shelfh o»i the st>ot bv Richard Cooper 

Watching the oncoming Germans from 



A ^ketih by Henn Lcmoi< 

ThK CX0DU8 fromIPari* 

S<L'.cui at Lhc gait's ol out' ul Uic gvait railway aialioiis 
jast Ix'lurc lire n-aioval ol the scat (>t govia uiiiciU to 

Dr. iwn by Gilbert. Hohdxy 


A WOUNDED British orricen in Franci; 

Brawn by Gilhtrl Holiday 

The ruined railway and telegraph 



Dramn by Gilbert Holiday 

How THE Trench crossed a ruined bridge 



haitn by liCQr^e's biott 

A Lcttcr rfiOM thc FiRtr 

All U tters me n ad li>' llu 
U<*hin desiKitchvd, and ati 

DraiDn by Iihwil>icd 

The; price; op victc