• Sorry, been away from technology for a few days.

    August 15th, 1914, a VERY busy day in the war.

    Western Front: Fierce fighting goes on in Lorraine. Contrary to common perceptions, the French often gave as good as they got in confused encounters in misty forests that left hundreds of thousands of casualties by the end of the month. On this day, the French were still making progress.

    The Belgian fortress at Liege is effectively reduced to rubble.

    Eastern Front: The Russian invasion of East Prussia begins, based on a promise that the Russians gave to the french, despite the fact that only half the men assigned to the armies had even been successfully mobilized up to that point.

    Balkans Front: The Battle of Cer begins, with the Hapsburg army invading Serbia. The Battle would last until the 25th and end in a humiliating defeat for the Hapsburg’s.

    Africa: The first meeting of dissatisfied Boers takes place. This would eventually lead to a boer revolt against South Africa.

  • Where does this misconception of France’s weakness in WWI come from? Does it come from what happened thirty years later?

  • 30 years latter, and the fact that for us Yanks and Brits, our perception of WW1 is OVERWHELMINGLY from British sources. As such, it tends to gloss over things the French did.

    Fact is, the French fought hard, and they fought well. And in my opinion, they ended up being the best army in the war overall.

  • @ABWorsham:

    Where does this misconception of France’s weakness in WWI come from? Does it come from what happened thirty years later?

    When I think of France in WWI (especially in its early months), what comes to mind isn’t weakness so much as recklessness.  The French army’s doctrine revolved around “l’offensive brutale et a outrance”, meaning head-on offensives that are brutal (for both sides) and which are carried out with complete disregard for their costs (to both sides).  This “cult of the offensive” (notably espoused by Foch) had a degree of validity, in that it recognized that you can’t win a war (or a soccer match) by playing a purely defensive game…but it failed to recognize that such tactics were both suicidal and ineffective when used across open ground against trenches defended by machine-gun positions set up at close intervals.

  • The French 75mm gun was a killing device of the ages. Around 15 RPM and a range up to 9,500 yards, I would hate finding myself a Imperial German troop caught in open ground in 1914 in the sights of a 75mm.

    Hearing my grandfather’s story of the 88mm left a lasting impression on me as a young lad on the effects of artillery.

  • August 16th: French and British warships blockade the Adriatic, bottling up the paper tiger that was the Hapsburg fleet.

    In France, the first of the BEF begins to land and assemble.

    As for the French being reckless, they certainly were, but it’s often overlooked that the Germans were no better when it came to launching massive frontal offensives against well dug in opponents. It wasn’t a cult like it was in the French Army, but the Germans were just as prone to throwing large columns of men (at least the French used lines!) into the teeth of waiting French 75mm’s all along the Franco-German border that fall. The Germans did overall have a far higher concentration of heavy artillery though, which did allow their offensives to at least cause more casualties than a French offensive did to the Germans, even if the Germans failed to gain ground.

  • 2024 2023 '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17

    I’m a day late for August 17, but it was an important date because it marked the beginning of the Russian invasion of East Prussia. Things didn’t go well for the Russians from the start. They advanced into Germany for a few miles, and one of their divisions was immediately defeated at the battle of Stalluponen (now known as Nesterov), in spite of great numerical superiority. The German commander Hermann von Francois only reluctantly obeyed the orders of his superiors to retreat after his success, and Wikipedia mentions that he initially replied: “Report to General Prittwitz that General von Francois will withdraw when he has defeated the Russians.”

  • 2024 2023 '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17

    Various events of August 19, 1914:

    The Belgian army retreated into Antwerp. Antwerp was protected by a line of fortresses and intended as a national redoubt where the Belgians would be able to resist an invader until relief came.

    On the easter front, the Battle of Gumbinnen started this day.

    US President Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress, proclaiming neutrality.

  • Thank you for your time in posting Herr KaLeun. Great work.

  • August 20th:

    Western Front: The Germans being a counterattack against the French in Lorraine. German heavy artillery outclasses anything the French can throw at it and the German army throws the French back to Nancy, erasing all gains the French had made, although the Germans fail to follow up quickly enough and the French are able to get entrenched in solid positions.

    Brussels is occupied by the Germans, who march through to display all their military might.

    Eastern Front: The Battle of Gumbinnen-After some skirmishing on the previous night, the German 8th Army (made up mostly of native East Prussians) under Maximilian von Prittwitz (dat name) moved into position to attack the Russian 1st Army under command of the mustachioed Paul von Rennenkampf.

    The Russians were well aware of the German intentions and were able to set up strong positions. The entire battle was effectively dictated by the Russian artillery formations, which had long been the most effective part of the Tsar’s armies.

    German general François’s corps was able to push back the Russian 28th division, after the latter’s artillery ran out of ammunition after whipping out the first waves of Germans (German infantry still tended to attack in column formation, leading to deadly results when faced with artillery). Their artillery out of action (the Russian armies effectively had no logistics, with the men surviving with what they had with them when they were ordered to advance), the 28th Divisions was mauled by the Germans until the 29th showed up later to stabilize the line.

    Else where on the front though, Russian artillery and well dug in infantry blunted the other German corps advance, and counter attacked. The Germans completely broke and ran away in a mob like panic more often associated with the Russian army. 6,00 prisoners were taken and the German 8th army thrown back.

    However, using up almost all of their ammunition, and taking a fair few casualties of their own, the Russians decided to consolidate their positions and wait for a logistics line to be established. This would have disastrous consequences, when Russian Theater Commander Yakov Zhilinskiy ordered the Russian 2nd Army under Samanov to advance without protection from the 1st Army, eventually allowing the Germans to concentrate their forces against it.

    East Africa: The German forces push the British out of a small town called  Taveta and cut the Ugandan railway.

  • @wittmann:

    Thank you for your time in posting Herr KaLeun. Great work.

    I second Wittmann’s thoughts, great work.

  • 2024 2023 '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17



    Thank you for your time in posting Herr KaLeun. Great work.

    I second Wittmann’s thoughts, great work.

    Thank you, gentlemen!
    I just look around a bit on the web, and post things that I find. It’s a nice way to learn more about the Great War.

    We should of course also acknowledge DarthShizNit for starting this thread and for his excellent contributions to it.

  • I realised this morning that I had not recognised and thanked his work.

    DarthShizNit: my apologies. Thank you very much for starting the thread and posting histories.

  • Save your applause gentlemen, just hoping to educate and honor the brave chaps who served in the Great War  :-)

  • August 22nd.

    Western Front:

    The Battle of Lorriane as the German 6th and 7th Armies under the Crown Prince of Bavaria, Ruppercht, continue to advance against the French along the border. The French 1st and 2nd armies under overall command of Noël de Castelnau continue to fall back. On this day, Castelnau recieved word that his son had been killed in the fierce fighting. As his staff rushed to consol him, he stood silent and firm, before uttering “Nous continuerons Messieurs (We will continue gentlemen).”

    Meanwhile, in the Ardennes forest, the French 3rd(Pierre Ruffey, the lone proposer of heavy artillery in the French army) and 4th(Fernand de Langle de Cary) armies moved forward to strike the German 4th(Albrecht of Württemberg) and 5th(Crown Prince Wilhelm) armies. Unknown to the French due to horrid weather conditions, the Germans heavily outnumbered the advancing French troops.

    The Germans moved to attack the French armies, and both sides stumbled upon each other in heavy fog and dark forests on the 21 of August. unorganized fighting broke out all along the front.  In some places, quickly entrenched German infantry threw back waves of Frenchmen who’s commanding officers though digging in to be beneath a Frenchman. In other, German units wandered blindy into carefully waiting French 75’s, slaughtering entire regiments before they knew what happened. Both sides moved up during the afternoon to prepare for action the next day.

    And of course, the Battle of Charleroi, the most important of all the battle fought that day (tied with Lorraine for the most important battle of the campaign) when the German 2nd(Karl von Bülow) and 3rd(Max von Hausen) attacked the French 5th Army under Charles Lanrezac. The Germans had to attack across a river to get at the French, but instead of digging in, most of the French corps (most…more will be discussed on the 23rd), simply waited by the river unprotected to throw the Germans back with their bayonets. German machine guns and artillery had a field day, and by the end of the night the Germans had 2 immovable bridgeheads, wrecking most of the French III Corps in the process.

    The Great Retreat had begun, even if most didn’t know it yet.

    Eastern Front: The Russian 2nd Army under Samanov beings to advance into East Prussia from Congressional Poland after the 1st Armies victory at Gumbinnen the day earlier. This was pushed from Russian higher command, Yakov Zhilinskiy, more than Samanov, who argued his troops weren’t ready. But Zhilinskiy insisted, despite knowing that the 1st army was yet in no position to support the 2nd Army. The 2nd Army began the advance with no logistics, little supplies, and many units not yet at full strength.

    The Germans, on their part, were preparing a total retreat to the Vistula, despite arguments from most of the divisional commanders at the time.

    Africa: German militia from German Southwest Africa invade South Africa.

  • @DarthShizNit:

    Save your applause gentlemen, just hoping to educate and honor the brave chaps who served in the Great War  :-)

    Your efforts deserve applause.

  • @ABWorsham:


    Save your applause gentlemen, just hoping to educate and honor the brave chaps who served in the Great War  :-)

    Your efforts deserve applause.

    Hear, hear!

  • August 22nd:

    Western Front:

    Battle of Lorraine-Possibly the most decisive day of the war in hindsight. The German armies were advancing against the French. Progress was costly, but successful enough that the Bavarian Crown Prince, envisioning a true double envelopment of the French armies instead of the single envelopment envisioned by the Schlieffen plan, asked for permission to launch an all out attack against the French frontier, rather than just regaining the ground lost in the previous days. The German high command (OHL) under Moltke the younger, who already had doubts about the single envelopment, agreed, and the Germans committed themselves to throwing vital reserves into an assault on the fortified French fortress line, rather than putting the maximum amount of men possible into the right wing.

    Battle of the Ardennes- The first days battles, though characteristically bloody (as every battle in the war was), was merely a series of meetings between disorganized masses of men. By the second day, organization and plans had been made, and all hell broke loose in the still misty and dark woods. Villages such as Vitron, Tintigny, Rossignol, and Neufchateau were the focus points of the battle, with both sides attacking each other rather than digging in.

    It was this day that the infamous “Slaughter of the Colonial Corps”, part of the 4th Army, took place. The bravest and best trained men in the French army hurled themselves into the woods, only to be slaughtered by Germans machine gun positions. The 3rd Colonial Division in particular found itself surrounded by an entire corps of the Crown Price’s army, and fought for 6 hours to the death, their divisional and brigade generals dying with the privates and corporals of the army.

    At Virton, the French Vi Corps hit the a defending German corps in the flank, it’s 75mm unleashing a storm of fire. A French officer that managed to survive the battle recalled the site; “The battlefield afterwards was an unbelievable spectacle. Thousands of dead were still standing, supported as if by a flying buttress made of bodies lying in rows on top of each other in an ascending arc from the horizontal to an angle of 60 degrees.”

    A French sergeant wrote in his diary of the battle that day; “Night is falling and (the artillery) look like old men sticking out their tongues and spitting fire. Heaps of corpses, French and German, are lying every which way, rifles in hand. Rain is falling, shells are screaming and bursting - shells all the time. Artillery fire is the worst. I lay all night listening to the wounded groaning-some were German. The cannonading goes on. Whenever it stops we hear the wounded crying from all over the woods. Two or three men go mad every day.”

    A German officer wrote of his units attack at Tintigny; “Nothing more terrible could be imagined. We advanced much to fast-a civilian fired at us-he was immediately shot-we were ordered to attack the enemy flank in a forest of beeches-we lost our direction-the men were done for-the enemy opened fire-shells came down on us like hail(!)”

    By night fall the reports reached the Crown Prince that the French were breaking. The reports were true. Early that day French Generalissimo Joffre had taken 3 divisions of reserve infantry from Russey’s 3rd Army to form a new army to protect the flank the embattled French 5th army. Though this decision was necessary and a brilliant show of adaptability by Joffre, he forgot to mention it to Russey, who found his whole army committed in intense fighting and his reserves shipping off on trains in the opposite direction! Russey latter claimed that if he had those 3 divisions, victory would have been his, and it may very well have been, so close was the fighting that day.

    Battle of Charleroi-The Germans swarmed forth from their bridgeheads. The French Commander Boe, of the X Corps, was driven past Lanrezac dying of a mortal wound, pleading for someone to tell the General that his corps had held on as long as it could. The III corps was pushed relentlessly back by the forces of two full German armies. On this crucial front, the French 75’ss only had enough ammo for 2 shots a minute, and so were useless.

    The Algerian “Turco’s,” all volunteers, fought viciously as their fathers had at the fateful battle of Sedan half a century earlier. One battalion of 1,030 men charged a German artillery battery with the bayonet. Their attack was successful and gained the French vital time, but only 2 men remained unwounded afterwards.

    It was clear by evening that the battle was being lost, with only one French Corps still holding it’s ground. It’s this day that Lanrezac asked the BEF, now only a few dozen miles on his flank, to attack and help him. The BEF Commadner John French replied that he would hold the Mons canal (where earlier that day the British had made first contact with the enemy, running through some scouting Hussars with their cavalry sabers in glorious fashion) for 24 hours.

    The Balkans Front-The Serbs launch a massive counterattack through eh Drina valley, driving the Hapsburg forces back to the river line in the battle of Cer.

  • 2024 2023 '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17

    Thank you for an excellent account of that dramatic day.

  • @Herr:

    Thank you for an excellent account of that dramatic day.

    You wrote as though you were a war correspondent at the front line! Great writing!

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