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George Clarke Musgrave website - Under Four Flags for France War in France ...
The Belgian Prelude ...
General von Kluck  - thumbnailGeneral von Kluck
The last days of July, 1914, found the industrious population of Belgium untroubled by rumour of war. The country people were concerned chiefly with plans for their summer holidays when, suddenly, a commotion arose in every town and village. From Brussels came the curt order for the immediate mobilisation of the army. The surprised mayors pasted up the telegrams. Officers hurried into the busy factories demanding that all men: "Report yourselves." The newspapers had told the public that Austria had declared war on far-off Serbia, and they now heard that Germany had sent an ultimatum ordering Russia to demobilise: but what had this to do with prosperous and contented Belgium? Only a few policemen, on the next Sunday night, saw an automobile dash across country, breaking every speed limit, regardless of challenges. A Belgian employed on the railroad had overheard specific train orders in Cologne and historic legend had repeated itself in modern fashion. First by train, then by electric car, and finally by automobile, he had dashed through the night to get the tidings to the capital. That was why on the morning of 3rd August 1914 a party of army engineers came to the banks of the river Meuse at Vise, and drove away the children who had gathered to watch them. German forces of some 750,000 men with General von Kluck in command of the 1st Army were assembling to cross the bridge into Belgium at sunrise, in preparation for an attack on France ...

German Super-Strategy ...
German Strategy - thumbnailGerman Strategy
The super-strategy of Germany was based on a plan to extend her frontier straight across France to the mouth of the Seine. Hinged on Metz, her armies were to carry her frontier posts outward across Luxemburg and Belgium and, in an impressive sweep, swing the line south to embrace all of northern France. The French Army was to be overwhelmed in the process, and the capture of Paris would have been the logical result. The operations on the Western front might best be considered as a prolonged battle with every unit consolidated in the general plan. Everyone has read of definite actions in certain sectors, while brilliant phases, on which the developments of the campaign were based, have frequently been unrecorded. Ypres, Verdun and the Somme are household words, but Nancy, Lassigny, the Ancre Valley, and the Scarpe are among the vital French battles that have escaped general attention. Having had a fortunate opportunity to follow the recession of the German flood from the Aisne northward in successive efforts to flow around the French flank, on the Oise, above the Somme, across south and north Artois, and finally from Lille and Belgium, to reach the coveted coast, I have perhaps been able to find an understanding of the greatest of French efforts when General Joffre met Germany's super-strategy with a battle-plan of simple strategy and super-tactics which modified the invasion and wrecked all chances of a German victory and the bid for world dominance ...

The Race to the Sea ...
German guns in Belgium - thumbnailGerman guns in Belgium
The German advances through Belgium and into France were so rapid that attempts to map the progress of the war proved impossible. The term, "The Race to the Sea," was coined to describe the reciprocal attempts by the Franco-British and German armies, to envelop the northern flank of the opposing army through Picardy, Artois and Flanders, rather than an attempt to advance northwards to the sea; it ended on the North Sea coast of Belgium on 19th October, when the last open area from Dixmude to the North Sea was occupied by Belgian troops. On the British right two regiments had just arrived, tired out after forced marches with extra ammunition, and were preparing to bivouac. Other troops were coming to cement the line with the French, when patrols came in to report that heavy columns were moving to strike between the British and the French forces. A rain of shells along the right wing announced an advance from the northeast and spotter aircraft reported that the armies of von Kluck and von Buelow were advancing in force. General von Kluck's right had moved down the Lille roads and turned southeast, with the single battalion of the Black Watch, their two machine guns and one battery, to face this entire wing and keep it from enveloping the British left. Thus the two British army corps were to face the entire First German Army, while the right of the Second Army was aiming at their flank and had moved between them and the French. Under a terrific shelling the newly arrived battalions on the British right, the Royal Irish and the Suffolks, extended, scratched a light trench under fire, and poured volleys into the massed columns of Germans, which advanced as steadily as on parade and came within a few yards of the British lines before they were broken, and retired. This was the time that the ultimate outcome of the war was set ...

The United States Steps in ...
US and France flags - thumbnailUS and France flags
During the last week of October, 1917, a shot was heard which echoed around the world. American troops had moved up the night before to share the first-line trenches with the French. It was wet and cold, but officers had to order their men to stop singing as they marched through the blackness which develops a sixth sense. When they moved cheerily to the first line, every soldier received a warm greeting from the French soldiers, and then settled himself in the mud for a tiresome vigil, with sentries peering for the first time across the desolation of "No Man's Land" to the enemy's position. There is now little pessimism among any troops at the front. The British army is at the zenith of its power and asks only for fine weather. From Belgian soil, their new guns of enormous range are giving the Germans no winter respite. The French army, with 3,000,000 seasoned fighting men, is resigned, but never despondent. The American Army is eagerly waiting the word to attack, straining at the leash ...

Writing of War ...
WW1 Writers - thumbnailWW1 Writers
In a nascent history of war, well-known episodes must take their place to complete the story; so must the personal observations of those who were there in the field, the bivouacs, the hospitals, and the prisoner convoys, and so must the pictures painted with an eye to the diplomatic reasons behind the plans of war, the great sweep of armies as they manoeuvre for advantage, and the effect of the life and death decisions of Generals on the fighting man and on the civilian population. No one who has seen the horrors of this or any war can pen words to glorify it. Neither can they minimise its great spiritual values. No man can face death or see his comrades go to the Great Unknown, and remain unchanged. Splendid lessons of self-sacrifice are learned daily. Everything material in life has an altered value, and new spiritual influences create an idealism over the stern veneer that hardship and lack of comfort create. Acheron has to be crossed, but in the passing there is the call of something higher than self, and a reward that cannot be judged by material standards ...

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