The Aneurin Great War Project: Timeline

Part 10 - 1914 (5th August to 31st December)


Copyright Notice: This material was written and published in Wales by Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). It forms part of a multifile e-learning resource, and subject only to acknowledging Derek J. Smith's rights under international copyright law to be identified as author may be freely downloaded and printed off in single complete copies solely for the purposes of private study and/or review. Commercial exploitation rights are reserved. The remote hyperlinks have been selected for the academic appropriacy of their contents; they were free of offensive and litigious content when selected, and will be periodically checked to have remained so. Copyright © 2018, Derek J. Smith.



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First published 08:00 GMT 14th February 2015. This version [2.0 Copyright] dated 09:00 BST 5th April 2018 [BUT UNDER CONSTANT EXTENSION AND CORRECTION, SO CHECK AGAIN SOON].




This timeline supports the Aneurin series of interdisciplinary scientific reflections on why the Great War failed so singularly in its bid to be The War to End all Wars. It presents actual or best-guess historical event and introduces theoretical issues of cognitive science as they become relevant.



Author's Home Page

Project Aneurin, Scope and Aims



Part 1 - (Ape)men at War, Prehistory to 730

Part 2 - Royal Wars (Without Gunpowder), 731 to 1272

Part 3 - Royal Wars (With Gunpowder), 1273-1602

Part 4 - The Religious Civil Wars, 1603-1661

Part 5 - Imperial Wars, 1662-1763

Part 6 - The Georgian Wars, 1764-1815

Part 7 - Economic Wars, 1816-1869

Part 8 - The War Machines, 1870-1894

Part 9 - Insults at the Weigh-In, 1895-1914



Part 10 - The War Itself, 1915

Part 10 - The War Itself, 1916

Part 10 - The War Itself, 1917

Part 10 - The War Itself, 1918

Part 11 - The Poetry and the Science, 1919 to date



The Timeline Items


1914 [Wednesday 5th August: 0300hr] The British Admiralty broadcasts the following signal from the Poldhu Wireless Station [<=1903 (8th October)]: "WAR HAS BROKEN OUT BETWEEN ENGLAND AND GERMANY YOU MUST NOT GO TO GERMAN PORTS" (Barlow, 2014 online). [NO PARTICULAR THREAD]


1914 [Wednesday 5th-6th August] Action in the Pacific [I - Initial Dispositions]: [New sub-thread] Upon the outbreak of war the Admiral commanding the Royal Navy's China Station, Sir Martyn Jerram [Wikipedia biography], has available to him at (or working out of) Hong Kong the battleship HMS Triumph [Wikipedia shipography], the armoured cruisers HMS Minotaur [1905 (2nd January)<=>12th August] and HMS Hampshire [Wikipedia shipography], and the light cruisers HMS Newcastle [Wikipedia shipography=>12th August] and HMS Yarmouth [Wikipedia shipography]. On the East Indies Station Sir Richard Peirse [Wikipedia biography] has the battleship HMS Swiftsure [Wikipedia shipography] and the light cruiser HMS Dartmouth [Wikipedia shipography].  In Australian and New Zealand waters Sir George E. Patey [Wikipedia biography] has the battlecruiser HMAS Australia [Wikipedia shipography=>1915 (28th January)] and the light cruisers HMAS Melbourne [Wikipedia shipography] and HMAS Sydney [Wikipedia shipography=>9th November]. The German Asia Squadron is based at Tsingtao [map, etc.] under Maximilian von Spee [Wikipedia biography=>11th August] and includes the modern armoured cruisers SMS Scharnhorst [Wikipedia shipography=>5th October] and SMS Gneisenau [Wikipedia shipography=>ditto], and the light cruisers SMS Dresden [Wikipedia shipography=>10th September], SMS Leipzig [Wikipedia shipography=>12th October], and SMS Emden [Wikipedia shipography=>9th November], all supported by an assortment of coaling and supply ships. Germany also has a further three light cruisers - SMS Königsberg [Wikipedia shipography=>20th September], and (presently in the Caribbean) SMS Karlsruhe [Wikipedia shipography=>6th August] and SMS Nürnberg [Wikipedia shipography=>1st November] - on independent patrols as commerce raiders and intelligence gathering. All eight German ships - the Asia Squadron itself and the three commerce raiders - are priority targets for the Royal Navy, but their war orders are not known and the Pacific is a very big place to hide in. Only the Emden is presently at port at Tsingtao, the other four ships of the squadron being presently at Pohnpei/Ponapé [map, etc.] in the Caroline Islands. These two elements set sail to join forces the following day [there is now a choice of two sub-threads to follow: operations against the Asia Squadron continue at 11th August as Coronel and the Falklands, whilst other operations in the Pacific (not least the reduction of Tsingtao itself) continue at 6th August as Action in the Pacific ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Wednesday 5th-16th August: 0430hr, then continuous] The Belgian Campaign [I - The Siege of Liège]: [Continued from 4th August] This 10-day siege is fought out for control of the Meuse Valley between carefully selected elements of von Bülow's [4th August<=>20th August] Second Army commanded by Otto von Emmich [<=4th August] and the Belgian garrison in and around Liège under Gérard Leman [Wikipedia biography]. The Belgian defences include the ring of 12 Brialmont forts constructed in the 1880s [<=1888 (28th July)], and of course the German siege artillery has brought with it a number of its 420mm Big Berthas [<=1904], 305mm Skodas [<=1906], and 250mm sMW [<=1910], under the experienced artillery officer Max Bauer [Wikipedia biography=>14th September]. The first 48 hours of the battle see the freshly arrived German infantry committed against the forts themselves, against a complex of trenches, barricades, and occupied buildings in front of and between the forts, and - whenever they can penetrate that far - against the city at the centre of that ring. This phase of the battle begins at 0430hr with a German artillery barrage (not at this point by their heaviest guns, remember), followed at 1000hr by an unsuccessful set-piece infantry attack against the fort of Barchon in the north-eastern sector of the defensive ring. Fighting in that sector then continues into the night until at 0130 the staff officer Erich Ludendorf [Wikipedia biography=>26th August] chances to be at the command post of 14e Brigade when that unit's commanding general is killed. He assumes command and takes them through a gap between the Belgian forts all the way down to the centre of the city, where the Citadel itself surrenders early on 7th August. Liège thereby ceases to be a viable strongpoint, and by this time the Belgian field defences have also all been swept away, with the surviving defenders taking shelter in the forts. The forts, therefore, still stand fast, but isolated now, as beads without a string; moreover the German assault units have lost much of their original strength. As a result it will be a further nine days before Bauer's super-heavies can bombard the forts into submission one by one. The effect of Bauer's bombardment is magnified by the fact that the individual forts are not interlinked by underground passageways, nor are the telephone cables sufficiently deeply buried to protect them from being quickly cut during an artillery bombardment [sub-thread continues at 12th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Wednesday 5th August] Sir John French [1st Earl of Ypres]1922 [29th July<=>24th August] and Sir Horatio H. Kitchener [1st Earl Kitchener]1914 [4th August<=>6th August] attend the Imperial War Cabinet1 at 10 Downing Street and set out the War Office's plans to get the B.E.F. across the Channel. It is agreed to start the process on 9th August. For his part Helmuth von Moltke [the Younger] [1906<=>20th August] is at his OHL [= Oberste Heeresleitung = Supreme Army Headquarters] in Luxembourg, whilst Joffre [7th February<=>8th August] is at his GQG [= Grand Quartier Générale = General Headquarters] at Vitry-le-François2 [map, etc.], Marne. [THREAD = WW1 MILITARY HIGH COMMANDS]


1ASIDE: The National Archives website explains that meetings of the War Cabinet were largely unminuted until 1915, and are then incomplete until 1916.


2ASIDE: When the Germans subsequently advance toward the Marne, Joffre moves his GQG back to Bar-sur-Aube, 40 miles to the south; then, as the threat to the French capital subsides, it moves to Chantilly, Paris. Likewise Von Moltke moves OHL forward to Spa [map, etc.], Belgium. The first British GHQ [= General Headquarters] will be established at St. Omer [map, etc.] as soon as the B.E.F. start arriving in France.


1914 [Wednesday 5th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [II - The Call Goes Out]: [Continued from 1st August] On behalf of the War Office Alfred Harmsworth, Baron Northcliffe of Thanet [henceforth Lord Northcliffe] [Wikipedia biography=>25th August (Leuven Atrocity)] has his newspapers1 feature a full-page advertisement entitled "Your King and Country Needs You". Designed by the advertising executive Eric Field [no convenient biography] the piece brings a tidal wave of enthusiastic volunteers to the recruiting stations over the coming days and spawns a tidal wave of look-alike posters and handbills over the coming months [sub-thread continues at 6th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 RECRUITMENT]


1ASIDE: The Northcliffe stable included The Times, the Daily Mail, the Evening News, and the Daily Mirror.


RESEARCH ISSUE - THE COMMUNICATION OF ARTISTIC INTENT: Neuroscientists have traditionally found it surprisingly difficult to identify the key stages in the mental processing involved when admiring graphic, sculpted, or installational artworks. This is because the basic visual system - about which much of value is known - is not the only neural system involved. Specifically the visual system simply delivers a preliminary set of identifications to other mental systems, not least (a) the brain's more primitive emotional system, and (b) its affective, semantic, and propositional systems. About these associated systems (and our brains possess perhaps as much brain tissue for the emotions qua emotions as for vision qua vision, as much again for affect qua affect, and four or five times as much again for semantics and propositionality combined) far less is known. It follows that artistic intent (on the part of the artist) only effectively creates the desired artistic appreciation (on the part of the onlooker) when the communicative act in the mind of the one is skilfully tailored to the individual prior knowledge and experience of the other. Further Reading: This is all covered in the Companion Resource, Sections 2, 3, and 6, and associated figures.


 1914 [Wednesday 5th August 1700hr and overnight] Atrocity [II - Saint Hadelin et al.]: [Continued from 4th August] These events take place in the countryside around Liège during the period of infiltration and counter-infiltration as German units tried to find safe routes between the ring of Brialmont forts around that city [<=1888 (28th July), noting especially the attached ASIDE]. Saint Hadelin [too small for a factsheet] is a rural hamlet around three miles south-east of Fort Fléron1, one of those forts, and therefore ideally situated to be used by 11th Brigade under Georg von Wachter [no convenient biography] as a forward headquarters. The unit in question is the 11th Brigade's 35th FR2, and during the next 24 hours 104 civilians are reportedly executed in and around Saint Hadelin3, a few after a hastily arranged court martial but most by kerbside justice. Similar provocations and similar summary reprisals occur in other sectors around the battle line, with Horne and Kramer (2001) mentioning incidents on the west bank of the Meuse at Herstal (27 civilians killed) and Hermée (11) at the hands of 34th Brigade, now across the Meuse in strength and closing in on the northern suburbs of Liège. Also (same unit) on the east bank at Warsage (12 hostages executed); also at Herve (38), Battice (33), Berneau/Soumagne (118), Micheroux (11), Retinne (40), and Melen (108) at the hands of 14th Brigade; Also at Blégny (52) at the hands of 27th Brigade; also at Riessonart (40), Louveigné (17), Poulseur (6), and Francorchamps (14) at the hands of 38th Brigade and 43rd Brigade [sub-thread continues at 20th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


1ASIDE: In the event Fort Fléron was the last of the Liège forts to fall, and the only one to have been more or less totally over-built in the intervening years. The main Liège fort heritage museum facilities are given in the Visit Belgium website at


2ASIDE: FR = Fusiler Regiment.


3ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: As with the atrocity at Visé two days previously, these events are still [2014] actively being remembered, with the monument at Saint Hadelin listing 57 victims by name [see local website for details and photographs]. Moreover as the details filtered out from the battlefields they were pounced upon by the nascent Allied propaganda machines as evidence of German brutality. We shall be developing this narrative in detail in future entries, however readers eager for a preview may wish to divert to a 1917 work by the British academic-turned-paid-propagandist (and later well-respected historian) Arnold J. Toynbee [Wikipedia biography] entitled "The German Terror in Belgium" [full text online]. (Note, however, that this volume was written in 1917 to help convince the U.S. to join the war, and accordingly frequently combines a sales pitch with the facts as they were then known.)  [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


Horne, J.N. and Kramer, A. (2001). German Atrocities, 1914: A History of Denial. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


1914 [Wednesday 5th August] The naval attaché at the German Embassy in New York City, one Karl Boy-Ed [Wikipedia biography], receives a USD300,000 payment from the American headquarters of Friedrich Bayer and Company [1900<=>1st October] to fund a clandestine network of German spies and agitators in the U.S. His primary objectives include (1) reducing Canadian support for Britain, (2) capitalising on Mexico's hostility to the U.S., and (3) interfering with the flow of American munitions to the Allied armies. In this latter endeavour he will be aided (a) by the large numbers of ethnic Germans in the steel industries of Pennsylvania, and (b) by the large numbers of ethnic Irish in New York City and elsewhere. Bayer will be refunded the money back in Germany by a case controller in the Reichsmarineamt named Franz von Rintelen [Wikipedia biography=>7th December (ASIDE)]. [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1914 [Thursday 6th August] Action in the Pacific [II - New Guinea and Micronesia]: [Continued from 5th August] At the London War Cabinet's request the Australian government authorises the assembling of a military taskforce for the capture and occupation of German territories in Kaiser-Wilhelmsland and Micronesia [continues (with maplink) at 12th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Thursday 6th August] Kitchener [5th August<=>next entry] gets the Imperial War Cabinet to agree to withhold two of the B.E.F.'s six infantry divisions in case of German invasion. The B.E.F. as initially committed therefore consist of the other four infantry divisions and a single cavalry division [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MILITARY HIGH COMMAND]


1914 [Thursday 6th August] His patent in artillery sound-ranging [<=1913 (??th October)] earns a recently mobilised Leo Löwenstein [<=1913 (??th October)] a commission in a Nachrichten [= "Signals" in this context] Battalion. [THREAD = WW1 ARTILLERY]


1914 [Thursday 6th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [III - The Press Bureau Proposed]: [Continued from 5th August] The Imperial War Cabinet also decides to devolve the day-to-day burden of military censorship onto a new "Press Bureau" [no convenient factsheet=>25th August], to be established under the authority of the Solicitor General Stanley O. Buckmaster [1st Viscount Buckmaster]1933 [Wikipedia biography=>28th September]. Around the same time Kitchener [preceding entry<=>12th August] appoints an officer of Royal Engineers, [Sir]1923 Ernest D. Swinton [Wikipedia biography=>19th October] as the nation's only official war correspondent.  Arrangements are also put in hand to establish a top secret War Propaganda Bureau [Wikipedia factsheet=>2nd September] at Wellington House, London, to be headed by the writer-politician Charles Masterman [Wikipedia biography=>2nd September] [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Thursday 6th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [IV - The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee]: [Continued from preceding entry] The Imperial War Cabinet also establishes a committee chaired by Prime Minister Asquith [30th July<=>27th August] to oversee the nation's response to the government's call for volunteers for military service [sub-thread continues at 8th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 RECRUITMENT]


1914 [Thursday 6th August] The German armed merchant cruiser Kronprinz Wilhelm [1901 (30th March)<=>4th September] makes rendezvous off San Salvador, Bahamas, with the light cruiser SMS Karlsruhe [5th August<=>10th September], to take on guns, crew, and ammunition [continues 4th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Friday 7th August] Coronel and the Falklands [I - Out of Retirement]:  [New sub-thread, but see Action in the Pacific at 5th August] The ageing pre-Dreadnought HMS Canopus [1900 (17th March)<=>10th September] is rapidly taken out of reserve and re-commissioned. On 21st August she will make her way to join the Canary Islands patrol, before moving on on 1st September to the Abrolhos Archipelago, off the coast of Brazil, there to join Christopher Cradock's [Wikipedia biography<=>10th September] South Atlantic Cruiser Squadron [sub-thread continues at 11th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Friday 7th-19th August] The Frontiers Campaign [I - The Battle of Mulhouse]: [Readers unfamiliar with the psychological importance of Alsace to the French people should pre-read the story of its loss to the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War [<=1871 (10th May)] and then the case for its reconquest subsequently set out in Joffre (1918 [full text online]).] This two-week battle for control of southern Alsace is fought between the advancing France First Army - the "Army of Alsace" - under Auguste Dubail [Wikipedia biography=>14th August] and the German Seventh Army under Josias von Heeringen [Wikipedia biography=>14th August]. Mulhouse is captured on the 8th, then recaptured in a German counter-attack on the 10th, and then captured again following heavy house-to-house fighting on 19th. The immediate outcome is a much-trumpeted1 French reoccupation of Alsace's second city [after Strasbourg], and there will be even further territorial gains2 later in the month as both sides frantically transfer troops to the other end of the evolving Western Front [sub-thread continues at 8th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: See, for example, Joffre's proclamation to the inhabitants of Mulhouse, 7th August, reproduced in English at source/joffre_alsace.htm.


2ASIDE: The French are now able to choose the best line of defence and in the event they decide to fall back onto the easily defendable heights to the west of the Rhine. Alsace reverts to French territory at the end of the war, and remains so to the present day.


1914 [Friday 7th August] The British-registered FV1 Tubal Cain [no convenient shipography] is intercepted and sunk by the German armed merchant cruiser Kaiser Wilhelm der Grösse [1897 (4th May)<=>26th August]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]

1 = fishing vessel


1914 [Saturday 8th-9th August] The East African Campaign [I - Action at Dar es Salaam]: In an early attempt to close down German naval base facilities in their East African possessions HMS Astraea [Wikipedia shipography] and HMS Pegasus [Wikipedia shipography=>20th September] shell the port of Dar es Salaam [map, etc.], German East Africa, sinking the small survey ship SMS Möwe [Wikipedia shipography] and damaging the merchant ships Feldmarschall and König [sub-thread continues at 15th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Saturday 8th August] The Frontiers Campaign [II - Instruction Générale No. 1]: [Continued from 5th August] Joffre [5th August<=>9th August] has now had a chance to study the accumulated intelligence reports to date and concludes that the Germans are indeed suspiciously strong on the right - or, to put it in plain language, he has "rumbled" the Schlieffen Plan [<=1894] while there is still time to do something about it. He therefore issues Instruction Générale No. 1 to the effect that he intends mounting two major counter-offensives, one into Lorraine using the First and Second Armies and the other northward into Eastern Flanders  using the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Armies [sub-thread continues at 14th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  THE VOLUNTEERING BEGINS  **********

1914 [Saturday 8th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [V - The Queues Begin to Form]: [Continued from 6th August] The recruiting service at Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, opens a new ledger headed "VOLUNTEERS", and over the coming month starts entering up the paperwork passed to it from its sub-offices around the county, both rural (e.g., Richmond, Sutton, and Epsom) and urban (e.g., Putney, Wandsworth, Streatham, Tooting, and Peckham [all now, but not then, postal districts in Greater London]) [sub-thread continues at 12th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 RECRUITMENT]


RESEARCH DATA: The Surrey recruiting papers are the most complete surviving corpus of such data, and are administered nowadays by the Surrey History Trust [website]. Records and associated documentation for Reading and rural Berkshire are maintained at the Berkshire Record Office, Reading [website]. Both sites offer fascinating insights into the impact of the war on daily life.


1914 [Saturday 8th August] RMS Oceanic [1899 (14th January)<=>25th August] is re-commissioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. The conversion process involves hoisting eight [needs confirmation - Ed.] 4.7" [=120mm] guns onto the ship's pre-existing1 mountings, and taking on the necessary military stores, officers, and crew [sub-thread continues at 25th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1ASIDE: Many pre-war British passenger liners received an Admiralty subsidy to be constructed for rapid conversion to military use.


1914 [Saturday 8th August] The Defence of the Realm [No. 1] Act, 1914: This Act of the British Parliament receives the Royal Assent and becomes law immediately. It contains only two brief provisions, namely (a) "[To issue regulations1] to prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose or any purpose calculated to jeopardise the success of the operations of any of His Majesty's forces or to assist the enemy", and (b) "to secure the safety of any means of communication, or of railways, docks, or harbours; in like manner as if such persons were subject to military law and had on active service committed an offence under section 5 of the Army Act". The Act will be strengthened in the light of experience a month later [sub-thread continues at 28th August ...]. [THREAD = LEGALITIES AND THE WAR]


1ASIDE: The regulations were issued as and when necessary under the authority of the Act by publishing them in the London Gazette - see, for example, the Second Supplement to the edition of 11th August. Specifically Scottish and Irish business is covered by Edinburgh and Belfast sister editions.


1914 [Sunday 9th August] The light cruiser HMS Birmingham [Wikipedia shipography] rams and sinks U-15 [Wikipedia shipography] off Fair Isle, Scotland, the first U-boat sinking of the war. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Sunday 9th August] Having resolved to retain two divisions to defend Britain against any attempt at an invasion [<=6th August] the B.E.F. starts to ship its first four divisions (roughly 80,000 men) across the English Channel. One of Dunn's sources [=>1938] describes the event on behalf of 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers ...


"[August 10th-11th:] The senior NCO's were given a long narrow cabin on the upper deck. 'I was one of the first in, and had a berth at the forward end; there was only one door, and it was at the end farthest from where I was. When I awoke we were out at sea - the vessel had sailed at 2am. I studied the porthole that was opposite me, wondering if I could get through it were we attacked by a submarine. However, our trip across the Channel was quite uneventful'. [...] We must have begun to disembark about 5.30. It is of historic interest that we were the first of many thousand troops to disembark at Rouen, and, with The Cameronians and 1st Middlesex who landed at Le Havre, and the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who landed at Boulogne, all on August 11th, the first combatant British troops to land in France for the Great War" (pp8-10).


The order of battle will be as follows ...


I Corps (Sir Douglas Haig) [1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions]

II Corps (Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien) [3rd and 5th Infantry Divisions]


Here are some of the units involved (note the standard two battalion arrangement introduced by the Childers Reforms [<=1881 (1st July)]) ...


1st Bn South Wales Borderers [=>13th September; the 2nd Bn is in the Far East]

2nd Bn Welch Regiment [the 1st Bn is in India]

1st Bn Bedfordshire Regiment [the 2nd Bn is in South Africa and will return hurriedly]

1st Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [returning hurriedly from Malta] [=>7th October]

2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [see above]


Around the same time the RWF's pre-existing 3rd (Reserve) Bn is assembled in and around Wrexham, and preparations are put in hand for the establishment of the first four Service Battalions from the first wave of volunteer recruits. In that these are administratively attached to the 1st Bn (and expected moreover to adopt that battalion's traditions, songs, jokes, camp tales, etc., etc.), these are numbered 1st/4th Bn, 1st/5th Bn, 1st/6th Bn, and 1st/7th Bn, and encamped in and around Conwy, Flint, Caernarvon, and Newtown. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: In his 1916 war history "The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1914" [Amazon-Kindle] the official propagandist [=>2nd September] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [Wikipedia biography=>16th August (ASIDE)] puts it this way ...


"It is doubtful if so large a host has ever been moved by water in so short a time in all the annals of military history. There was drama in the secrecy and celerity of the affair. Two canvas walls converging into a funnel screened the approaches to Southampton Dock. All beyond was darkness and mystery. Down this fatal funnel passed the flower of the youth of Britain, and their folk saw them no more. They had embarked upon the great adventure of the German War. The crowds in the streets saw the last serried files vanish into the darkness of the docks, heard the measured tramp upon the stone quays dying farther away in the silence of the night, until at last all was still and the great steamers were pushing out into the darkness. No finer force for technical efficiency, and no body of men more hot-hearted in their keen desire to serve their country, have ever left the shores of Britain" (p62). [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Sunday 9th August] Walther Rathenau [1899<=>14th September] is appointed Director of the German Kriegsrohstoffabteilung [= "War-Raw-Material-Department"] (KRA) [Wikipedia factsheet], a newly created department within the War Ministry responsible for ensuring the adequate supply of strategic raw materials. Their initial survey of German industry reveals an alarming lack of preparedness for a long war, especially where commodities such as nitrates, oil, and rubber are concerned. [THREAD = WW1 FINANCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL WARFARE]


1914 [Sunday 9th August] The British socialist and peace activist John Maclean [Wikipedia biography] helps to organise an anti-war demonstration in Glasgow. When his turn comes to speak he calls for "class patriotism" above conventional patriotism, because the latter is nothing more than a murderous Capitalist confidence trick [there is a large archive of Maclean's writings at]. [THREAD = WW1 PACIFIST MOVEMENT]


1914 [Sunday 9th-10th August] French intelligence identifies German troop movements on the Belgian frontier thereby suggesting to Joffre [8th August<=>16th August] that a timely French offensive in Lorraine might impair whatever the Germans are up to by diverting reserves. The following day he issues Instruction Particulière No. 10 to the effect that the main German effort is now recognised as being through Belgium. [THREAD = WW1 GRAND STRATEGIES]


1914 [Monday 10th August] The Canadian War Office approves the establishment of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry [Wikipedia factsheet=>1915 (6th January)] at Edmonton, Alberta. The recruiting stations draw heavily on members of the Legion of Frontiersmen [Wikipedia factsheet=>4th October]. The regiment will sail for Britain on 27th September, and will arrive on 18th October.  [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


**********  GERMAN HVB CODEBOOK CAPTURED  **********

**********  GERMAN HVB CODEBOOK CAPTURED  **********

**********  GERMAN HVB CODEBOOK CAPTURED  **********

1914 [Tuesday 11th August] The SS Hobart Affair [I - German Codebook Captured]: The Royal Australian Navy's torpedo boat HMAS Countess of Hopetoun [Wikipedia shipography] commanded by one J. T. Richardson [no convenient biography] impounds the German liner SS Hobart [no convenient shipography] as it attempts anchorage off Melbourne, Victoria. The boarding party then succeed in capturing intact the Hobart's Handelsverkehrsbuch [= "Mercantile Signals Book"], which, over the coming days, is telegraphed to the Admiralty in London [sub-thread continues at 3rd November ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS] [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1914 [Tuesday 11th-13th August] Coronel and the Falklands [II - Council of War]: [Continued from 7th August] Von Spee's [5th August<=>7th September] Asia Squadron re-coals at Pagan Island [map, etc.] in the Marianas and is joined by SMS Emden [5th August<=>9th November]. Emden is then formally detached and sent westward to disrupt Allied shipping in the Bay of Bengal, whilst the remaining ships of the squadron head off eastward on what will turn out to be a six-week voyage across the South Pacific toward Chilean waters [sub-thread continues at 7th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Wednesday 12th August] Approaching his 51st birthday and a veteran of cavalry operations in the Second Boer War, the author-historian Arthur O. Vaughan ["Owen Roscomyl"] [Wikipedia biography=>1st September] meets with Kitchener [6th August<=>31st August] and is given permission to raise a new yeomanry regiment from Wales' south-eastern counties (Owen, 1990). On 15th August the volunteers duly assemble in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. More than 2000 men are present but in the event only 501 recruits will be authorised (i.e., paid for) by the War Office. Much to Vaughan's irritation the War Office also insists that the new regiment be administered as a territorial force unit and not as a New Army unit [for the difference see 1st September (ASIDE)]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS] Owen, B. (1990). Owen Roscomyl and the Welsh Horse. Caernarfon: Palace Books.


1914 [Wednesday 12th August] The Belgian Campaign [II - The Battle of Haelen]: [Continued from 6th August] This battle is fought for a German breakthrough across the Gette River crossings around Haelen, north-eastern Belgium [map, etc.] between the advancing German II Cavalry Corps under Georg von der Marwitz [Wikipedia biography=>21st August] and the Belgian Cavalry Division at and around Haelen under Léon de Witte [Wikipedia biography]. The outcome is a Belgian victory on the day, followed by a pre-planned withdrawal toward the fortress complex at Antwerp/Anvers [map, etc.] [sub-thread continues at 16th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Wednesday 12th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [Vb - "No Thoroughfare"]: [Continued from 8th August] Today's offering by the Punch Magazine editorial cartoonist Frederick H. Townsend [Spartacus Educational biography] is entitled "No Thoroughfare" [image in the biographic] and shows a determined Belgium barring the way to a sausage-wielding German [sub-thread continues at 14th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 PROPAGANDA]


1914 [Wednesday 12th August] The Tenerife Primate Station [III - Köhler Stranded]: [Continued from 1913 (26th December)] Wolfgang Köhler [<=1913 (26th December)] is instructed by Berlin not to risk running the British naval blockade and to remain on the island for the duration of the war. [THREAD = THE MAKING OF MODERN COGNITIVE SCIENCE]


1914 [Wednesday 12th August] Action in the Pacific [III - Yap Wireless Station Destroyed: [Continued from 6th August] The armoured cruiser HMS Minotaur [<=1905 (2nd January)] and the light cruiser HMS Newcastle [<=5th August] shell the German Wireless Station on Yap Island [map, etc.] in German Micronesia, thus helping to isolate the German Far East Squadron at Tsingtao, China [sub-thread continues at 18th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Friday 14th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [VI - H. G. Wells]: [Continued from 12th August] The Daily News publishes an article by the famous British novelist H. G. Wells [Wikipedia biography=>2nd September] under the title "The War That Will End War" [full text online]. Its basic case is as follows ...


"We are fighting Germany. But we are fighting without any hatred of the German people. We do not intend to destroy either their freedom or their unity. But we have to destroy an evil system of government and the mental and material corruption that has got hold of the German imagination and taken possession of German life. We have to smash the Prussian Imperialism […] for forty years an intolerable nuisance in the earth" (e4).


Shortly to be retained as an official propagandist [=>2nd September] Wells will continue in like vein throughout the war [sub-thread continues at 24th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Friday 14th-19th August] The Frontiers Campaign [III - The Battle of Lorraine (The French Advance)]: [Continued from preceding] Having already taken steps to stabilise the southern extreme of their border with Germany at the Battle of Mulhouse [<=7th August] the French now try for a breakthrough in Lorraine using their First and Second Armies under Dubail [7th August<=>18th August] and Noel de Castelnau [Wikipedia biography=>18th August], respectively, against the German Sixth (Bavarian) and Seventh Armies under Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria [Wikipedia biography=>18th August] and Heeringen [7th August<=>24th August], respectively. The French are advancing on a 50-mile front from (on the right) the remote Donon massif [map, etc.] in the Vosges Mountains, Bas-Rhin, via (in the centre) Sarrebourg [map, etc.], to (on the left) Morhange [map, etc.]. The front thus traces a diagonal about 30 miles to the east of Nancy [map, etc.]. On the left the offensive opens on 14th August with an attack at Manhoué [map, etc.] on the 1871 French-German border. The German defences on the Donon passes fall on 21st August, but reverses in the north of the sector result in the heights being abandoned that same night. The overall outcome therefore has to be rated as a French defeat [sub-thread continues at 18th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 14th August] The Union of South Africa [<=1910 (31st May)] declares war on Germany, thereby earning representation on the Imperial War Cabinet. [THREAD = WW1 FINANCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL WAR]


1914 [Friday 14th August] Thanks to his command of the French language and his understanding of French military traditions, Edward L. Spears [1903<=>28th August (ASIDE)] is appointed Liaison Officer between the British High Command and the Headquarters of Charles Lanrezac's [henceforth simply Lanrezac] [Wikipedia biography=>16th August] French Fifth Army. He excels at this task during the First Battle of the Marne [=>6th September], and is then transferred to Louis de Maud'huy's [Wikipedia biography=>13th September] newly created French Tenth Army near Arras, where he will remain until wounded in January 1915. [THREAD = WW1 INDIVIDUAL HISTORIES] [THREAD = WW1 MILITARY HIGH COMMANDS]


1914 [Saturday 15th August] The East African Campaign [II - Action at Taveta]: [Continued from 8th August] Responding to the attack on Dar es Salaam [<=8th August], the commander of the German forces in East Africa von Lettow-Vorbeck [1891 (27th February)<=>2nd November] mounts a successful raid on Taveta [map, etc.], British East Africa [sub-thread continues at 20th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]



**********  THE "PIG FARMERS"1 GET OFF TO A GOOD START  **********

**********  FIRST AERIAL DOGFIGHT  **********

1914 [Saturday 15th-24th August] The Serbian Campaign [I - The Battle of Cer]: This battle is fought as part of the initial Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia between an advancing 250,000-man Austro-Hungarian army under Oskar Potiorek [Wikipedia biography=>6th September] and a 180,000-man Serbian army under Regent Alexander [of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia]1921 [I of Jugoslavia]1929 [<=23rd July]. The outcome is a decisive against-the-odds Serbian victory with disproportionate Austro-Hungarian casualties. The battle is noteworthy in the present context (a) for halting the Austro-Hungarian advance in its tracks, and for allowing one of the nations allied against the Central Powers to claim the honour of first blood, and (b) for the first aerial dogfight in history (between two reconnaissance aircraft armed only with their pilots' side-arms) [sub-thread continues at 6th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Potiorek reputedly referred to the Serbs before the battle as just a bunch of "pig farmers". He had forgotten that in war, as well as in sport, there is this important thing called "home advantage".


1914 [??th August] WW1 Codebreaking [I - Ewing Appointed]: Concerned at the difficulties decoding the increasing number of wireless intercepts, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division (DID) [Sir]1928 Henry F. Oliver [Wikipedia biography=>13th October] obtains around this time the services of a friend of his, the 59-year-old Scottish physicist of renown, Sir James A. Ewing [Wikipedia biography=>??th September] (Beesley, 1984). Ewing is duly installed in Room 40 at the Admiralty (although he will spend much of his time at British Museum Library learning all about cryptanalysis) [sub-thread continues at ??th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE] Beesly, P. (1984). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence, 1914-1918. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


1914 [Sunday 16th August] The Belgian Campaign [III - The Fall of Liège]: [Continued from 6th August] After 10 days under intense bombardment the last of the Liège forts surrenders. Having achieved the first strategic objective of the Schlieffen Plan the Germans are now free to continue their advance south-westward along the Meuse toward the next Belgian strongpoint at Namur. The Belgian high command has already resolved to abandon Brussels without a fight and now falls back into the "National Redoubt"[<=1874] in and around the port of Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August]. They are followed by elements of the German First Army under Alexander von Kluck [Wikipedia biography=>19th August], now that it is able to take the northern route around Liège without having to worry about its lines of communications. To help support Namur Joffre [9th August<=>21st August] orders Lanrezac's [14th August<=>20th August] Fifth Army into Belgium, with orders to advance northward into the Sambre-Meuse "peninsula" to threaten the southern flank of the German siege army [sub-thread continues at 20th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME: As the German armies move forward and leave only lines of communications troops in the vicinity of Liège, Louis Raemaekers [1st August<=>20th August] reportedly (Allison, 1918 online) (and, if true1, at no little personal risk) managed to visit the battlefields and interview atrocity survivors. What he learned so horrified him that his anti-war stance [<=1st August] now becomes openly anti-German, as can readily be seen in works such as [using their later Anglicised titles] "The Hostages", "Kultur", and "'Toinette, the Franc-Tireur" [see these images at]. Allison, J. Murray (1918) Raemaekers' Cartoon History of the War, Volume 1 - The First Twelve Months of the War. New York: Century.


1ASIDE: Allison was one of the most professional of Britain's official propagandists [=>2nd September]. It follows that everything he says should be regarded as at best a selective truth.


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED SUBSEQUENTLY: In his 1916 war history "The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1914" [<=9th August (ASIDE)] the official propagandist [=>2nd September] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [9th August (ASIDE)<=>16th August (ASIDE)] will offer the following [technically excellent, by the way - see RESEARCH ISSUE below] piece of propaganda ...


"Liege was at last in the hands of the invaders. But already the second week of August was at an end — the British were crowding into France, the French line was thickening along the frontier — all was well with the Allies. Little David [i.e., Belgium - Ed.] had left a grievous mark upon Goliath. The German mobilisation was now complete, and the whole vast host, over a million strong, poured over the frontier. Never was seen such an army, so accurate and scientific in its general conception, so perfect in its detail. Nothing had been omitted from its equipment which the most thorough of nations, after years of careful preparation, could devise. In motor transport, artillery, machine guns, and all the technique of war they were unrivalled. The men themselves were of high heart and grand physique. By some twisted process of reasoning founded upon false information they had been persuaded that this most aggressive and unnecessary of wars was in some way a war of self-defence, for it was put to them that unless they attacked their neighbours now, their neighbours would certainly some day or other attack them" (p47). [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]
RESEARCH ISSUE - PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUES: The Wikipedia factsheet on "Propaganda Techniques" [see it now] lists a number of specific rhetorical devices by which people can be persuaded to a particular line of argument. Check out the paragraphs for "Big Lie" and "Selective Truth", both of which are well exemplified above. Communication science has no detailed theoretical framework to explain the mental processing involved in any of the listed techniques.


1914 [Sunday 16th August] The Goeben and the Breslau [I - The Escape]: Having been trapped at the eastern end of the Mediterranean by the declaration of war the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben1 [Wikipedia shipography=>29th October] and light cruiser SMS Breslau [Wikipedia shipography] are gifted to the Ottoman Navy under the names TCG [= Ship of the Turkish Navy] Yavuz and TCG Midilli, respectively [sub-thread continues at 27th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]

1Sometimes, but we think incorrectly, seen as Göben.


1914 [Sunday 16th August] Irish Home Rule [XXV - Redmond Courts the Republicans]: [Continued from 3rd August] The Leader of the (moderate) Irish Parliamentary Party, John Redmond [3rd August<=>21st August] addresses a meeting at Port Laoise, County Laois, of the (more avowedly republican) Irish Volunteers [26th July<=>25th October], encouraging them to volunteer to fight for Britain even though they wish to be independent from her [sub-thread continues at 21st August ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD]


1914 [Monday 17th August] Recruiting begins at Perth, Western Australia, for the 11th (Australian) Battalion [Wikipedia factsheet=>1st December], to be commanded by James Lyon-Johnston [no convenient biography]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Tuesday 18th August] Action in the Pacific [IV - The Taskforce Sets Sail]: [Continued from 12th August] In Sydney harbour troops of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force [<=6th August] start embarking on the armed liner HMAS Berrima [Wikipedia shipography]. She and her escorts sail for Port Moresby [map, etc.], New Guinea [modern Papua New Guinea] the following day [sub-thread continues at 23rd August …]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Tuesday 18th-21st August] The Frontiers Campaign [IV - The Battle of the Ardennes (The French Advance)]: [Continued from 14th August] This battle is fought for positional advantage in the Ardennes between the French Third and Fourth Armies under Pierre Ruffey [Wikipedia biography=>22nd August] and Fernand de Langle de Cary [Wikipedia biography=>22nd August], respectively, and the German Fourth and Fifth Armies under Albrecht, Duke of Württemberg [Wikipedia biography=>5th September] and Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia [Wikipedia biography=>5th September], respectively. The battle begins with French gains from Neufchâteau [map, etc.=>22nd August] in the north of the sector to Longwy1 [map, etc.=>22nd August] in the south. However strong German counterattacks [=>22nd August] will shortly force the French back to where they had started, and Longwy, then with no hope of a relief column getting through, will surrender on 26th August. On the French right, meanwhile … [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Longwy had been holding out ever since encircled during the German occupation of Luxembourg [<=2nd August].


1914 [Tuesday 18th-20th August] The Frontiers Campaign [V - The Battle of Lorraine (The German Counterattack)]: [A.k.a. The Battle of Morhange] [Continued from preceding entry] This battle is fought for positional advantage south-east of the Ardennes between Crown Prince Rupprecht's [14th August<=>24th August] Sixth (Bavarian) Army, counter-attacking following the French gains of the preceding four days [<=14th August], and Noel de Castelnau's [14th August<=>24th August] battle-reduced Second Army. The outcome is a Bavarian victory, forcing the French to withdraw in the direction of Nancy [maplink at 14th August], to the hilly region east of the Rivers Moselle and Meurthe known as the Grand Couronné [=>24th August], where they dig in, and this in turn requires Dubail's [14th August<=>24th August] First Army to fall back toward Épinal [map, etc.] in order to maintain continuity of front. Ferdinand Foch's [Wikipedia biography=>29th August] XX Corps performs so well in these operations that it will shortly earn him an important promotion [sub-thread continues at 21st August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Wednesday 19th August] With von Kluck's [16th August<=>20th August] First Army preparing to enter Brussels Belgian army engineers blow up the antennae and equipment at the Laeken Wireless Station [<=28th March]. [THREAD = WW1 SIGNALLING AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS]


**********  "CALL THAT AN ARMY!?"  **********

1914 [Wednesday 19th August] Kaiser Wilhelm II [30th July<=>28th August] is reported by the British press - perhaps falsely (i.e., as a deliberate propaganda ploy) - as ordering his forces to "walk over" the much smaller British Army, describing it as a "verächtlich kleine Armee" [= "contemptible little army"]. As a result the epithet "contemptible" will be adopted by the British soldier but only with a fond "we'll see about that, chum" to it. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Thursday 20th-25th August] The Belgian Campaign [IV -  The Fall of Brussels and the Battle of Namur]: [Continued from 16th August] Following the Belgian collapse at Liège [<=16th August] von Kluck's [19th August<=>21st August] First Army enters Brussels without a fight. At the same time a three-day siege begins at Namur at the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre Valleys between carefully selected elements of von Bülow's [5th August<=>21st August] Second Army under Max von Gallwitz [Wikipedia biography] and the Belgian garrison in and around Namur under Augustin E. Michel [Wikipedia biography]. The Belgian defences include the ring1 of nine Brialmont forts constructed in the 1880s [<=1888 (28th July)], against which the German siege artillery now has one/four [reports differ, possibly because one artillery battery traditionally contains four pieces - Ed.] 420mm Big Bertha [<=1904], four 305mm Skodas [<=1906], and a number of 250mm sMW [<=1910]. There are no preliminary infantry operations as at Liège, the task being left in its entirety to the siege artillery. The bombardment begins on 20th August and within 48 hours the forts at d'Andoy, Maizeret, Marchovelette, and Cognolée have been reduced to rubble. At 0600hr on 22nd August a small force of French infantry arrive from the south and is immediately deployed (Closset, 2013 online). At 1000hr on the 23rd August, after three days under intense bombardment, von Gallwitz mounts his main infantry attack, successfully overrunning the forts one by one and penetrating into the city itself. However the forts at d'Andoy, Malonne, and St. Héribert manage to hold out until the 24th, and those at Dave and Suarlée until the 25th (ibid.). Having now fulfilled the Schlieffen-Moltke Plan's second strategic objective, all three northern German armies are free to move forward. First Army now divides its forces for (a) a drive against the Belgian National Redoubt at Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] to the north-east and (b) a simultaneous right-hook aimed at Maubeuge [map, etc.] to the south, von Bülow moves directly south against Lanrezac's [14th August<=>21st August] Fifth Army, and Max von Hausen's [henceforth simply von Hausen] [Wikipedia biography=>21st August] Third (Saxon) Army moves westward across the Ardennes Forest toward Dinant [maplink at 21st August]. These different axes of advance are noteworthy in the present context because they are setting the scene for the first involvement of the B.E.F. Note that First Army's southern thrust has to be due south rather than (as originally conceived) south-west in order to keep in contact with Second Army; thus it is that by 21st August von Kluck's forces are facing the B.E.F. at Mons rather than further west2 (at Rijsel/Lille, say)  [sub-thread continues at 21st August (Frontiers Campaign) or jump to 24th August (Belgian Campaign) ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: The forts were in a ring because historically speaking the city had to be guarded against attack from east, west, and south [see, for example, the sieges of 1667 (24th May), 1692 (25th May), and 1695 (2nd July)]. However they had never been designed to cope with 10", 12", and 16" howitzer fire.


2ASIDE: It is at this point that historians point to the breakdown of the Schlieffen masterstroke, and note critically that it was the changes introduced by von Moltke [5th August<=>26th August] which - basically - left the Germans short of an entire army on the right. These were the troops syphoned off to the Eastern Campaign. Our own reading of the situation on 21st August is that this missing army would - without excessively stretching its supply lines - have been able to push south along the Escaut valley on von Kluck's right, attack the B.E.F. on its left flank, forcing it to retreat eastward in disorder rather than southward in good order). Lanrezac and any surviving B.E.F. would then have been on the receiving end of a 4:1 German encirclement and there would have been nobody left for any Battle of the Marne. So in this respect we find it hard to disagree with the judgement that the Germans failed to "keep the right strong" [<=1913 (4th January)].


1914 [Thursday 20th August] Atrocity [III - Phase Three Belgian Atrocities (Andenne)]: [Continued from 5th August] A German massacre of 218 civilians at Andenne [map, etc.] (the youngest an infant of eight months and the oldest a man of 86 years) ushers in a new phase in the so-called Rape of Belgium. Now whole towns and cities are sacked with clear premeditation and for strategic psychological effect by whole regiments, rather than villages being punished more or less on the spur of the moment for local misdemeanours [sub-thread continues at 22nd August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: This new wave of German atrocities offered Louis Raemaekers [<=16th August] yet more propaganda material. Amongst the works which follow are "Order Reigns at Dinant", "The Shields of Rosselaere", "The Harvest is Ripe", and "Spoils for the Victors" [see these images at]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


**********  "KITCHENER'S ARMY" - THE FIRST 100,000  **********

1914 [Friday 21st August] The British War Office approves the establishment of six K1 divisions to bring to the field the first tranche of the service battalions presently being assembled. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]



1914 [Friday 21st August] The government of Newfoundland resolves to create a national regiment of volunteers for service in Europe [continues on 4th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Friday 21st August] Irish Home Rule [XXVI - The 10th (Irish) Division]: [Continued from 16th August] Following the appeal by John Redmond [<=16th August] recruiting begins in nationalist Ireland for a new infantry division to be commanded by [Sir]1918? Bryan T. Mahon [Wikipedia biography=>1915 (6th August)]. Amongst the service battalions thereby created are the 5th and 6th Bn Royal Irish Regiment, the 5th Bn Connaught Rangers, and the 6th and 7th Bn Royal Munster Fusiliers. Some time early in 1915 as it nears the end of its training the division will be earmarked for first footing in the Gallipoli Campaign [=>1915 (25th April)] [sub-thread continues at 3rd September ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD] [THREAD = WW1 DIVISIONAL HISTORIES]


**********  THE FIRST BRITISH CASUALTY  **********

1914 [Friday 21st August] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [I - Concentrating at Mons]: Now well into their drive southward the forward units of von Kluck's [20th August<=>22nd August] First Army are advancing on a 25-mile wide front from Leuze [map, etc.] to Soignies [map, etc.], and are particularly mobile on their right where von Kluck has deployed selected elements of Georg von der Marwitz's [12th August<=>6th October] II Cavalry Corps in order to threaten the B.E.F.'s escape route to the Channel ports should they choose to make a break for it. The B.E.F., meanwhile, having assembled in the countryside between Maubeuge [maplink at 20th August] and Le Cateau and now numbering five infantry divisions, is now moving northward. Smith-Dorrien's II [1879 (22nd January)<=>22nd August] Corps1 and the independent 19th Brigade are pivoting on the town of Landrecies [map, etc.] and Sir Douglas Haig's I [Wikipedia biography=>22nd August] I Corps is pivoting on Wassigny [map, etc.]. In what little fighting occurred the B.E.F. takes its first casualty, namely a bicycled scout named John H. Parr2 [Wikipedia biography and fuller story] [sub-thread continues at 22nd August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Smith-Dorrien has only been in post a matter of hours following the death on 17th August of II Corps original commander Sir James Grierson [Wikipedia biography].


2ASIDE: Private Parr's death seems to have been overlooked in the heat of the administrative moment and will only be officially confirmed nine months later (Barnet Today, 11th August 2014). He was buried (by the Germans) at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery [map, etc.].


1914 [Friday 21st-22nd August] The Frontiers Campaign [VI - The Battle of Charleroi (Lanrezac Holds the River Line)]: [Continued from 18th August] This three-day battle for control of Charleroi [map, etc.] and the Sambre Valley west of Namur is fought between the French Fifth Army under Lanrezac [20th August<=>22nd August] and the German Second and Third Armies under von Bülow [20th August<=>22nd August] and von Hausen [20th August<=>5th September], respectively, from the north and the east, respectively. Lanrezac manages to hold von Bülow for 48 hours on the Sambre, but is then forced to fall back when von Hausen attacks across the Meuse at Dinant [map, etc.], 20 miles south of Namur, thereby threatening his right flank [=>23rd August]. The battle is noteworthy in the present context because the B.E.F. has been coming up to support the French left and has been instructed to coordinate itself closely with Lanrezac [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 21st August] The Frontiers Campaign [VII - Enter the Sixth Army]: [Continued from preceding entry] Concerned at the success of the German counterattack toward Nancy [<=18th August] Joffre [16th August<=>28th August]  issues Instruction Particulière #18 establishing a new Sixth Army - colloquially the "Army of Lorraine" - out of a collection of handy reservist units in and around Verdun [map, etc.]. He appoints Michel-Joseph Maunoury [Wikipedia biography=>29th August] as its commanding general [sub-thread continues at 22nd August (Mons Campaign) and (Frontiers Campaign) ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  BATTLE OF MONS BEGINS  **********

**********  FIRST BRITISH WARPLANE DOWNED  **********

1914 [Saturday 22nd August] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [II - Digging in at Mons]: [Continued from 21st August] Needing to make its small size count, and having been asked to cover the French left following the Battle of Charleroi, the B.E.F. digs in along a 30-mile-long front from Condé-sur-l'Escaut [map, etc.] in the west, via Mons [map, etc.] in the centre, to the hamlet of Peissant [map, etc.] in the south-east. Moving west to east, 19th Brigade and three of Smith-Dorrien's [21st August<=>23rd August] II Corps brigades, one after the other, hold the southern bank of the (east-west running) Mons Canal to Nimy1 [map, etc.]. After Nimy II the last of II Corps' four brigades aligns itself diagonally away from the canal, heading south-east in the direction of St. Symphorien to join up with Haig's [21st August<=>23rd August] I Corps, whose four brigades complete the line to Peissant. Beyond Peissant there is then a distinct gap before reaching the left-most elements of Lanrezac's [21st August<=>23rd August] Fifth Army centred south of Charleroi. Probing north of this line a B.E.F. cavalry patrol of 4th Dragoon Guards engages the advanced cavalry screen of von Kluck's [21st August<=>23rd August] First Army at Soignies2 [map<=21st August]. Around the same time a British reconnaissance flight north of Soignies is brought down by anti-aircraft fire, killing the pilot Vincent Waterfall [no convenient biography] and his observer Charles G. G. Bayly [no convenient biography], making them the first Royal Flying Corps casualties of the war [sub-thread continues at 23rd August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1,2ASIDE: Nimy is now the northernmost suburb of Mons, but was then an outlying village. A heritage marker [see image] by the side of the modern N6 marks the location of the Soignies engagement.


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: The official propagandist [=>2nd September] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [16th August (ASIDE)<=>2nd September (ASIDE)] put it this way ...


"All France broke into a smile at the sight of them, and it was at a moment when a smile meant much to France" (p67) [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Saturday 22nd-23rd August] The Frontiers Campaign [VIII - The Battle of the Ardennes (The German Counterattack)]: [Continued from 21st August] Following the recent French gains between Neufchâteau [<=18th August] and Longwy [<=18th August] German counter-attacks force Ruffey's [<=18th August] Third Army back across the River Semois in the direction of (Fourth Army) Sedan and (Third Army) Verdun. Third Army suffer especially high casualties1 [sub-thread continues at 23rd August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: French casualties on 22nd August alone are 27,000 killed (Hastings, 2013) (considerably more than the 21,000 British deaths on the first day of the Battle of the Somme); for the month of August as a whole 75,000 French will have died out of an estimated 300,000 "casualties" [remember that casualty figures are usually quoted including wounded and missing].


1914 [Saturday 22rd August] Atrocity [IV - Phase Three Belgian Atrocities (Tamines)]: [Continued from 20th August] Elements of von Bülow's [21st August<=>24th August] Second Army engage in a day-long orgy of reprisals against Belgian civilians in the Tamines [map, etc.] area, half way between Namur and Charleroi, killing 384 civilians in all. Roughly three quarters of these are executed en masse in the town's main square [details at] [sub-thread continues at 23rd August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


1914 [Sunday 23rd August] Action in the Pacific [V - The Japanese Join the War]: [Continued from 18th August] Under the terms of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance [<=1902 (30th January)] Japan declares war on Germany and sets about occupying German possessions at Tsingtao and the Caroline, Northern Mariana, and Marshall Islands [sub-thread continues at 11th September ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD]


1914 [Sunday 23rd August] The Frontiers Campaign [IX - The Battle of Charleroi (The German Counterattack)]: [Continued from 22nd August] Having held the line of the Sambre and the Meuse for 48 hours [<=21st August] Lanrezac's [20th August<=>1700hr] Fifth Army is forced to fall back when von Hausen's [20th August<=>next entry but one] Third (Saxon) Army finally forces a bridgehead across the Meuse at Dinant [map 21st August<=>see separate entry on the atrocity at Dinant below], 20 miles south of Namur, thereby threatening his right flank. There follows a 13-day French withdrawal not just back across the border into France but all the way to St. Quentin [map, etc.], 60 miles to the south-west. The battle is noteworthy in the present context because the B.E.F. has been coming up to support the French left and has been instructed to coordinate itself closely with Lanrezac [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Sunday 23rd August; dawn to 1700hr] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [III - The Battle of Mons]: [Continued from 22nd August] With his assault units now in position von Kluck's [22nd August<=>24th August] First Army begins an all-out attack on the Mons sector. There is a fierce artillery bombardment, followed at 0900hr by a sustained infantry assault in which the Germans, advancing in the open, take heavy casualties. The small natural salient at Nimy, where the canal curves around the north of the village, takes fire from three sides and its defence is weakened by the fact that none of the four bridges there has been dynamited in advance. For the Germans one Oskar Niemeyer1 [no convenient biography] (posthumously) wins the first Iron Cross of the War for crossing the canal at Nimy in a small boat and then closing a swing bridge there so that his comrades in 84th IR could get across. He is shot dead shortly afterward. For the British two Victoria Crosses (one posthumously) go to the machine gunners covering the bridges. By 1700hr the constant German pressure forces Smith-Dorrien [22nd August<=>1700hr] to abandon the canal line for a short tactical withdrawal. Haig's [22nd August<=>24th August] I Corps, angled away to the south-east at the right of the line, is scarcely called into action this day2[sub-thread continues at 1700hr ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Niemeyer is buried [plot G1, R, 6] with many comrades (and the aforementioned Private Parr [<=21st August]) in St. Symphorien Military Cemetery.


2ASIDE: To get at I Corps the Germans would have had to have mounted an assault through the town of Binche [map, etc.], but the axis of advance of the German First and Second Armies was such that this particular town fell into the psychological gap between the two - Von Kluck's First Army was ten miles or so too far to the west and von Bülow's Second Army was fully occupied pushing Lanrezac's Fifth Army back down the Sambre-Meuse "peninsula".


1914 [Sunday 23rd August] Atrocity [V - Phase Three Belgian Atrocities (Dinant)]: [Continued from 22nd August] Elements of von Hausen's [preceding entry but one<=>5th September] Third (Saxon) Army engage in a day-long orgy of reprisals against Belgian civilians in the town of Dinant [map 21st August] area, killing 674 civilians in all [sub-thread continues at 25th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: On 26th August, as part of Britain's increasingly coordinated and cleverly targeted propaganda campaign, the Punch political cartoonist [Sir]1925 J. Bernard Partridge [Wikipedia biography] summarised the events at Dinant in a cartoon ironically entitled "The Triumph of 'Culture'" [reproduced at]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Sunday 23rd August; 1700hr to 24th August early hours] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [IV - The Battle of Mons]: [Continued from dawn] Having held the line of the Mons canal for eight hours Smith-Dorrien's [dawn<=>24th August] II Corps now fall back to an east-west line running from Elouges [no convenient factsheet] in the west to Frameries [map, etc.] in the east. Heavy fighting takes place on the British left at Elouges as the Germans attempt to get in around this end of the line. Edmund Allenby [1st Viscount Allenby]1919's [Wikipedia biography=>26th August] Cavalry Corps and its associated Royal Horse Artillery do their best at fire-fighting wherever the need is greatest. Then in the early hours orders are received from GHQ instructing a more general withdrawal toward Bavay [map, etc.], six miles west of the French strongpoint at Maubeuge [maplink at 20th August], the better to align with Lanrezac's [dawn<=>24th August] retreating Fifth Army which is falling back within the Sambre-Meuse "peninsula" to a line from Thuin [map, etc.] to Florennes [map, etc.] [sub-thread continues at 24th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


ASIDE - THE "ANGELS OF MONS": We shall shortly [=>5th September] be discussing reports of angelic intervention1 in support of the British withdrawal from Mons. This is the moment referred back to in those reports. Clarke (2004) offers us a foretaste …


"… Private J. East of the Lincolnshire Regiment [… claimed in October 1915] to have been part of a rearguard left behind to allow the Third Division to retreat. As the Germans advanced on their position he saw: 'not two hundred yards in front of us … a long line of white forms, stretching from house to house. They were making mysterious motions with their arms. "Good lor'!" said one man, "what is it?" But no man answered. Yet every man felt in his own heart that the white barricade had been sent by some unseen power to protect that small body of English. We retired. No one spoke until we were well clear of Mons. I said they were angels, and not a man contradicted me" (p46). [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES] Clarke, D. (2004). The Angel of Mons: Phantom Soldiers and Ghostly Guardians. Chichester: Wiley.


1RESEARCH ISSUE - ANGELIC INTERVENTION: There is little or no science of angelic intervention per se. You can either accept it as a genuine metaphysical problem (in which case there can be no science by definition) or else you can distrust it (in which case you instantly have problems with access to, and objectivity of, your data). Compare, for example, the prophetic "visions" of Marie Robine [<=1387 and 1398] and Joan of Arc [<=1424]; see also the political prophecies of Cassandra [<=1906 (1st March [ASIDE])]. Then see the broader issue of political propaganda as a study area in its own right [=>2nd September (ASIDE)].


**********  "PALS' BATTALIONS" ARE BORN  **********

1914 [Monday 24th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [VII - The Pals Battalions]: [Continued from 14th August] The British politician Edward G. V. Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby [1912 (27th June)<=>1915 (11th October)] suggests to the Parliamentary Recruitment Committee [<=6th August] that it would be a good idea to promote regional esprit-de-corps amongst recruits by raising battalions of "pals", that is to say, recruits from particular well-populated conurbations with their own sense of local identity [sub-thread continues at 25th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


**********  "A VERY TRYING DAY"  **********

1914 [Monday 24th August; 0300hr] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [V - First Day of Withdrawal from Mons]: [Continued from 23rd August] The 0200hr orders to withdraw from Mons only reach Smith-Dorrien's [23rd August<=>25th August] II Corps headquarters at 0300hr because there is no telecommunications link in place, and, even then, the necessary arrangements take until late morning to put in place. The Germans, meanwhile, mount strong infantry assaults as early as 0515hr. The requirement is therefore both to fight and to run away at the same time, and that calls for considerable skill. Murland (2011) describes the painful practicalities involved …


"The foremost task was to clear the roads of the heavy unit and divisional supply transport which had been brought forward in expectation of an advance from Mons. This in itself was a major undertaking made all the more difficult by the swelling numbers of civilians taking to the roads and fleeing ahead of the advancing German army. Once the divisional transport was underway, Smith-Dorrien turned his attention to the logistics of moving his two divisions. In 1914 an infantry brigade on the march probably took up the equivalent of three miles of road and took in the region of two hours to pass a given point. In each brigade of field artillery - notwithstanding the ammunition and supply wagons - a team of six horses was required to pull each gun and with six guns per battery and three batteries per brigade the numbers soon begin to stack up! Along with the other transport, it was not uncommon for a field artillery brigade to have somewhere in the region of 750 horses. Whilst their comrades in the Royal Horse Artillery rode, the gunners in the Royal Field Artillery usually marched. Add to this the companies of engineers, field ambulances, and other support units, and the size of the task confronting Smith-Dorrien's staff begins to become apparent" (p33; emphasis added).


At 1300hr the Germans finally overrun Frameries [maplink at 23rd August] on II Corps' right, followed at 1830hr by Audregnies [map, etc.] on its left. Nevertheless the rearguard actions buy time for the main columns to make progress southward. For a second day Haig's [23rd August<=>25th August] I Corps escapes the heaviest fighting as it takes up positions in the villages to the east of Bavay [maplink at 23rd August]. The Germans, being exhausted themselves, mount no substantive pursuit after late afternoon but it will be long past midnight before the last of II Corps straggles into town. At GHQ, meanwhile, Sir John French [5th August<=>4th September] has been closely monitoring the situation east of the Sambre where the retreat of Lanrezac's [23rd August<=>25th August] Fifth Army is beginning to free up elements on the right of von Bülow's [22nd August<=>25th August] Second Army, allowing them to swing westward in the B.E.F.'s direction. Concerned that his right flank is accordingly seriously threatened he orders a further withdrawal the following day to a line from (II Corps) Le Cateau1 [map, etc.] to (I  Corps) Landrecies [maplink at 21st August]. On the British left, thinly strung out across country toward Dunkirk [map, etc.] on the Channel coast, is a "Groupe de Divisions Territoriales" comprising some French reserve (61st and 62nd) and territorial (84th) divisions under Albert d'Amade [Wikipedia biography=>26th August], while additional mobile support is being provided by the French 1st Cavalry Corps under André Sordet [Wikipedia biography=>5th September]. The city of Rijsel/Lille [map, etc.] is deemed too far north of d'Amade's screen to be effectively defended and so it is abandoned to the approaching Germans without a fight [sub-thread continues at 25th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS] Murland, J. (2011). Retreat and Rearguard 1914: The B.E.F.'s Actions from Mons to the Marne. Barnsley: Pen and Sword.


1ASIDE: The main reason for selecting Le Cateau as a rallying point is that the B.E.F.'s newly detrained 4th Division is there.


1914 [Monday 24th-27th August] The Belgian Campaign [V - The Battle of Antwerp (The Battle of Mechelen/Malines)]: [Continued from 20th August (Belgian Campaign) or preceding entry] In an attempt to divert some of von Kluck's [23rd August<=>25th August] strength away from the ongoing Battle of Mons [<=23rd August] King Albert I of Belgium [1910 (12th January)<=>28th September] instructs the Belgian Field Army under (2nd Division) Émile Dossin [Baron de Saint-Georges]1934 [Wikipedia biography], (4th Division) Augustin Michel [Baron du Faing d'Aigremont]1921 [Wikipedia biography], and (12th Regiment) Alphonse Jacques [Baron de Dixmude]1919 [Wikipedia biography=>16th October] to attack toward Mechelen/Malines [map, etc.], on the Brussels road just south of the National Redoubt. After three days of intense fighting the Belgians will have done as much as they sensibly can and duly fall back within their perimeter [sub-thread continues at 9th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Monday 24th August-11th September] The Frontiers Campaign [X - The Battle of the Haute Meurthe and Mortagne]: [Continued from 23rd August] This battle is fought between left flank elements of Crown Prince Rupprecht's [18th August<=>4th September] Sixth (Bavarian) Army in conjunction with right flank elements of Heeringen's [14th August<=>10th September] Seventh Army and right flank elements of de Castelnau's [18th August<=>4th September] Second Army in conjunction with left flank elements of Dubail's [18th August<=>17th December] First Army for possession of the stronghold at Nancy [maplink at 14th August]. Rather than mount a frontal attack on the city the Crown Prince mounts right and left hook attacks toward Toul [map, etc.] (on the Moselle 10 miles west of Nancy) and Épinal [maplink at 18th August] (on the Moselle 40 miles south of Nancy), respectively, while at the same time maintaining pressure on the Grand Couronné in the centre [18th August<=>4th September]. The German left hook attack takes them through the passes of the Senones Vosges [map, etc.], where the nature of the topography greatly favours any defender. The French have therefore chosen to defend Épinal by defending the heights in front of it, that is to say, they have aligned their army parallel to the River Meurthe (which flows from the south-east into Nancy) rather than parallel to the Moselle (which flows into it from the south). A third river, the Mortagne, having arisen in the hills above Rambervillers [map, etc.], flows into the Meurthe at Lunéville [map, etc.], 15miles upstream from Nancy, bisecting the angle made by the other two rivers. Upstream [= south-east] of Lunéville, therefore, you have to cross three rivers in quick succession - the Meurthe, the Mortagne, and the Moselle - in order to make progress westward. There is a thinly defended stretch of front near Charmes [Wikipedia biography], at the point where Second and First Armies meet, and it is here - colloquially the "Trouée de Charmes" (the "Charmes Gap") - that the Crown Prince directs the Schwerpunkt of his and Heeringen's advance. The Germans succeed in crossing the Meurthe on a front between Raon l'Étape [map, etc.], 20 miles south-east of Lunéville, and Fraize [map, etc.], 18 miles further upsteam. At the southern end of this front they are then held by some dogged French defending on the Col de la Chipotte [map, etc.] (where the modern D159B Raon-Rambervillers highway is at its highest), and so do not reach the Mortagne. In the north they cross the Mortagne at Gerbéviller1 [map, etc.], only to be held on the crêtes [= crests/heights] east of Charmes. Ultimately the Battle of the Marne [=>5th September] will force the Germans to call off their offensive altogether, and they withdraw to a line through the Col de la Chapelotte [map, etc.], of which more in due course [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE - THE GERBÉVILLER WAR CRIME: During the September retreat 60 civilian inhabitants of Gerbéviller are executed by the Germans.


FURTHER READING: We strongly recommend the pierreswesternfront blog for these battlefields at


1914 [Tuesday 25th-28th August] Atrocity [VI - Phase Three Belgian Atrocities (Leuven/Louvain)]: [Continued from 23rd August] Elements of von Kluck's [24th August<=>later this day] First Army engage in a four-day-long orgy of reprisals against Belgian civilians and property in the Leuven/Louvain [map, etc.] area, killing 248 civilians in all, torching the mediaeval university library, and generally ravaging the town [see contemporary newsreel]. Conveniently ignoring the fact that the guilty ones were not the ones executed, the Belgians, the Germans will later claim, by employing hit-and-run attacks by irregulars, are simply not playing by the rules and only have themselves to blame [sub-thread continues at 4th December ...]. [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: The story was broken in Britain by Lord Northcliffe's [5th August<=>27th August] Daily Mail on 31st August under the headline "Sack of Louvain - Awful Holocaust", and then inspired a wave of anti-German exposés, posters, editorials, a commemorative march entitled "Remember Louvain" by the established music-hall favourite John Neat [no convenient biography], and the by-now-inevitable Raemaekers cartoons. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES] [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


1914 [Tuesday 25th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [VIII - The Press Bureau Announced]: [Continued from 24th August] The Under-Secretary of State for War Harold J. Tennant [<=1912 (27th June)] announces in the House of Commons that the new "Press Bureau" [6th August<=>27th August] is up and running and beginning to bring some continuity of (inevitably heavily censored) narrative to reporting events in France and at sea [sub-thread continues at 27th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Tuesday 25th August] RMS Oceanic [8th August<=>8th September] departs Southampton en route for patrol duty in the Faroes. She is under the command of William Slayter [no convenient biography], assisted by reservist navigator David Blair [Wikipedia biography=>8th September] and (late of RMS Titanic) Charles Lightoller [<=1912 (14th April)]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


**********  I CORPS SHOWS ITS METTLE  **********

1914 [Tuesday 25th August and overnight] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [VI - Second Day of Withdrawal from Mons/Battle of Landrecies-Maroilles]: [Continued from 24th August] [See firstly the prequel battle at 1637 (21st June)] The British withdrawal from Bavay [maplink at 23rd August] is complicated by the fact that the main southbound highways pass either side of the Forest of Mormal immediately south of the town. Haig's [24th August<=>26th August] I Corps takes the roads east of the forest, via Aulnoye [map, etc.] and the Sambre river roads, to Landrecies [maplink at 21st August], whilst Smith-Dorrien's [24th August<=>26th August] II Corps takes the roads west of the forest, via either Englefontaine or Solesmes, to Le Cateau [maplink at 21st August]. Now it so happens that von Kluck [earlier this day<=>26th August] has expected the B.E.F. to fall back further than it has, and has identified Landrecies as a good way of by-passing the well-defended French strongpoint at Maubeuge1. He has therefore made Landrecies - strategically well-positioned astride the north-south Valenciennes-Laon highway where it crosses the Sambre River - the overnight objective for his 7th Infantry Division and Maroilles [map, etc.], three miles to the east, the overnight objective for his 5th Division. Reportedly neither German unit is expecting any significant opposition, the story being that they have positioned their field kitchens in the van to get the dinner on. Fortunately for the British the timing is such that both towns are occupied by the British a few hours ahead of the Germans, Landrecies by the rearguard battalions (2nd Bn Grenadier Guards and 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards) of Robert Scott-Kerr's [Wikipedia biography=>1st September] 4th (Guards) Brigade, and Maroilles by the rearguard battalions (1st Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment and 1st Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps) of Richard H. Davies's [Wikipedia biography] 6th Brigade. There follows a brisk late evening firefight followed by a British withdrawal in the early hours of the 26th August. Lanrezac's [24th August<=>26th August (ASIDE)] Fifth Army, meanwhile, has been continuing its withdrawal from the Sambre-Meuse "peninsula", and is presently aligned on a 25-mile fighting front between Avesnes-sur-Helpe [map, etc.], only 10 miles to the east of Landrecies, and Regniowez [map, etc.] to the east-south-east of there. Unfortunately for the B.E.F. the axis of this withdrawal is aligned from north-east to south-west, so as the French withdraw von Bülow's [24th August<=>26th August] pursuing Second Army is automatically drawing ever closer to I Corps on the British right flank [sub-thread continues at next entry...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Remember that one of the operational principles of both the original Schlieffen Plan [<=1894] and the watered down Schlieffen-Moltke Plan [<=1906] was that after Liège and Namur any lesser strongpoints such as Maubeuge were to be lightly invested, by-passed, and dealt with later.


ASIDE - HOW REPORTED AT THE TIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY: Some time after the battle [=>22nd October] reports - very possibly spurious - will emerge of a German atrocity against prisoners-of-war taken during the British withdrawal from Landrecies. This is the moment referred back to in those reports. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES] [THREAD = WW1 REPRISALS AND ATROCITIES]


**********  II CORPS PLAY REARGUARD AGAIN  **********

1914 [Wednesday 26th August; early hours and throughout the day] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [VII - The Battles of Le Cateau and Le Grand Fayt]: [Continued from preceding entry] [See firstly the prequel battle at 1637 (21st June)] This battle is fought for control of the left and centre of the B.E.F. line as it stands after the withdrawal of Haig's [25th August<=>27th August] I Corps from the line Landrecies-Maroilles [<=preceding entry] has left Smith-Dorrien's [25th August<=>27th August] II Corps with an open right flank. Smith-Dorrien has von Kluck's [25th August<=>next entry] First Army pressing him from the north and von Bülow's [25th August<=>26th August below] Second Army massing to the north-east. His judgement, however, is that his original two divisions, given a meal and a couple of hours sleep, are still capable of putting up a decent fight come morning. He also has available - albeit not yet at full strength - the newly arrived 4th Infantry Division, plus important elements of Allenby's [23rd August<=>28th August] Cavalry Corps. He therefore decides to ignore orders from GHQ to fall back and resolves to make a fight of it. His troops are set out along a 10-mile-long front, with d'Amade's [24th August<=>29th August] French territorials to his left and - following Haig's withdrawal - not a lot to his right. The Germans attack at first light and there is a major last-ditch defensive effort by 2nd Bn Suffolk Regiment on some high ground ["Suffolk Hill"] south of Le Cateau itself. The defence line holds and is actively supported until around 1300hr, whereupon Smith-Dorrien gives the orders for a staged withdrawal toward St. Quentin [maplink at 23rd August]. The Suffolks hold out until around 1430hr, but by then only manage to extricate one officer and 111 men out of their initial strength of over 800 (Murland, 2011). Fortunately for the B.E.F. as a whole, von Kluck mounts no serious pursuit, because (it is subsequently reported) he has anticipated a retreat westward rather than southward [in the fullness of time this will prove an expensive misjudgement - Ed.]. Ahead and to the east of II Corps, meanwhile, I Corps are  already south of the triangle of villages at Maroilles [maplink at 25th August], Le Grand Fayt [map, etc.], and Marbaix [map, etc.], and have deployed the 2nd Connaught Rangers under Alexander W. Abercrombie [no convenient biography=>d. in captivity 5th November 1915] into this triangle as rearguard. By the end of the day, however, the area is running alive with troops from the German X Reserve Corps under Günther von Kirchbach [Wikipedia biography=>27th August] and in the absence of timely orders to withdraw1 the Connaughts suffer heavy losses [sub-thread continues at 27th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1FURTHER READING: In his 1915 memoirs "Adventures of a Despatch Rider" (Watson, 1915 full text online) William H. L. Watson [some biography at forums/index.php?showtopic=75431], a B.E.F. motorcycle despatch rider, vividly describes how difficult it was getting orders from A to B across the confusion of a major retreat.


1914 [Wednesday 26th August-6th September] The Frontiers Campaign [XI - The Siege of Maubeuge]: [Continued from 24th August] This battle is fought between elements of von Kluck's [26th August above<=>29th August] First Army and von Bülow's [26th August above<=>29th August] Second Army and the French defenders in and around Maubeuge [maplink at 20th August] under Georges Desaleux [no convenient biography]. As at Liège and Namur, Maubeuge is protected by a ring of forts1. The French are determined to make them work long and hard for any victory (the town sits astride von Kluck's lines of communication). The local German commanders are Karl von Einem [Wikipedia biography=>17th December] and Johann von Zwehl [Wikipedia biography] who have to await the arrival of the super-heavy siege artillery no longer needed at Namur. The bombardment begins on 29th August, progressively reducing the defences and bringing about a final surrender on 6th September. The French suffer some 5000 casualties, with a further (estimated) 33,000 troops taken as prisoners of war [sub-thread continues at 28th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: The highway from Aachen, Germany, to Paris is more or less a straight line through the cities of Liège, Namur, and Charleroi in Belgium and then Maubeuge, St. Quentin, and Compiègne in France. Following discussions in 1874 [<=1874] the first two of these cities were ring-fortified by the Belgians, and Maubeuge by the French. Mons screens Maubeuge from the north.


1914 [Wednesday 26th August] While taking on coal at Rio de Oro [map, etc.], Spanish Sahara [= modern Western Sahara], the German armed merchant cruiser Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse [7th August<=>sinks this day] is interrupted by the sighting of the British heavy cruiser HMS Highflyer [Wikipedia biography]. There is a brief firefight until the German ship runs out of ammunition, whereupon she is scuttled. Around the same time the German light cruiser SMS Magdeburg [Wikipedia shipography=>13th October] accidentally runs aground in the Gulf of Finland. When stormed by a Russian Navy boarding party shortly afterward she is found not to have destroyed her copies of the SKM [= Signalbuch der Kaiserlichen Marine = the German Navy's wireless telegraphy codebooks], and one of these will subsequently be passed to the British Naval Intelligence Division [=>5th October], where it greatly facilitates the Admiralty's ongoing cryptanalytical effort. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]



1914 [Wednesday 26th-30th August] The Eastern Campaign [I - The Battle of Tannenberg]: This battle is fought between the 230,000-man Russian Second Army under Alexander Samsonov [Wikipedia biography=>suicide 30th August] and the 150,000-man German Eighth Army1 under Paul von Hindenburg [Wikipedia biography=>7th September] and Ludendorff [<=5th August]. The outcome is a catastrophic Russian defeat, with massively disproportionate casualties (their Second Army is as good as annihilated). The battle is noteworthy in the present context for demonstrating the need to keep one's wireless transmissions properly encoded, the Germans2 having listened in to Russian orders transmitted en clair throughout the battle. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS] [THREAD = WW1 SIGNALLING AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS] [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1,2ASIDE: This is the army which - had von Moltke [20th August<=>29th August] not watered down the original Schlieffen Plan [<=1894] - could have reinforced von Kluck's First Army on its drive into Belgium and conceivably brought about the annihilation of both the B.E.F. and Lanrezac's [25th August<=>29th August] Fifth Army, thereby winning the war for the Germans - see 20th August (Battle of Namur [ASIDES]). It was the German listening stations at Thorn and Königsberg - established before the war by Walter Nicolai's Abteilung IIIb [<=1913] - which did the damage.


1914 [Thursday 27th August] Action in the Pacific [VI - Tsingtao Blockaded]: [Continued from 23rd August] A Japanese fleet under Sadakichi Kato [Wikipedia biography] sets up a screening blockade across the German fortress port of Tsingtao [map, etc.]. The defence is led by Alfred Meyer-Waldeck [Wikipedia biography=>31st October] [sub-thread continues at 2nd September …]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Thursday 27th August] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [VIII - The Retreat to St Quentin and Guise]: [Continued from 26th August] Following the withdrawals from Le Cateau and Landrecies the previous day Smith-Dorrien's [26th August<=>28th August] II Corps and some newly arrived units destined for III Corps [=>31st August] spend 27th August slowly reassembling at St. Quentin [maplink at 23rd August] and along the road to Ham [map, etc.] 13 miles to the south thereof (where they can cross the Somme River), while 20 miles to the east Haig's [26th August<=>28th August] I Corps to the south of Guise [map, etc.]. Again the main fighting involves the rearguard units, and there is a particularly significant action on I Corps' front when three companies of 2nd Bn Royal Munster Fusiliers make a valuable 14-hour stand1 against von Kirchbach's [<=26th August] X Reserve Corps at Étreux [maplink at 2th August] [sub-thread continues at 28th August…]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: A detailed account of this action, from the perspective of one John J. Cleary [biography at] is available at the-etreux-rearguard-action-august-27-1914/.


1914 [Thursday 27th August] Recently arrived in Edinburgh from Denmark a German agent named Carl Hans Lody [Wikipedia biography] starts sending intelligence reports to a known German agent in (neutral) Sweden. Unfortunately for him all such material is opened and inspected by MI5, who promptly place him under surveillance [sub-thread continues at 2nd October …]. [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1914 [Thursday 27th-28th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [IX - Nanny Knows Best]: [Continued from 25th August] The British Prime Minister Asquith [6th August<=>1915 (15th April)] is asked in Parliament as to the rules of disclosure enforced by the Press Bureau [25th August<=>28th August]. He replies ...


"The Official Press Bureau is the mouthpiece through which communications relative to the progress of naval and military operations are made public by the Admiralty, the War Office, and other public Departments concerned. The principle upon which information is given to the public is that all information which can be given without prejudice to the public interest shall be given fully and given at once. [...] The Director of the Bureau [1] has access for consultative purposes to the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War, and, in matters of special doubt, to myself. [...] It was unanimously agreed that it was not desirable to add [trained journalists] to the staff of the Bureau, but that it was desirable that they should be associated with the work carried on by the cable censors. Steps are being taken to carry this out, and also to coordinate and harmonise, as far as possible, the principles upon which the censorship of Press cables and of other Press information, respectively, is carried out" (Hansard, 66:150-152).


One Member of Parliament, Sir Arthur B. Markham2, 1st Baronet [Wikipedia biography=>31st August] is particularly persistent with his questioning, being seriously concerned "that military operations have been published in French, German3, and Belgian papers a week before they have been published in this country" (ibid.) [sub-thread continues at 29th August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1ASIDE: The "Director of the Bureau" referred to here is the aforementioned Frederick E. Smith [1st Earl of Birkenhead]1922 [1910 (??th June)<=>30th August].


2ASIDE - SIR ARTHUR MARKHAM AND WALES: Markham was a highly respected industrialist-politician, with "Markham Collieries" in Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, and the South Wales Valleys. The Markham Colliery in South Wales was sunk in 1913 by the Tredegar Iron and Steel Company [<=1907], and a new village - "Markham" - was built to house its workers [more on Markham nowadays]. After his death in 1916 his trustees funded the annual Arthur Markham Memorial Essay Prize, administered by the University of Sheffield until discontinued in 1993, and open only to mineworkers.


3ASIDE: We suspect that this is a recording error and should read "American", as per Markham's re-statement of his argument in Parliament on 31st August (Hansard, 66:454-511; 2100hr).


1914 [Friday 28th August] The Defence of the Realm [No. 2] Act, 1914: [Continued from 8th August] This Act of the British Parliament extends the provisions of the [No. 1] Act [<=8th August] [sub-thread continues at 27th November ...]. [THREAD = LEGALITIES AND THE WAR]


1914 [Friday 28th August] The North Sea Campaign [I - Battle of Helgoland Bight]: This battle is fought in the Helgoland Bight [map, etc.] as (initially) a surprise Royal Navy attack on the daily German torpedo boat1 patrol in that area. The attack is mounted (initially) by a mixed submarine and destroyer force out of Harwich, Essex. It is commanded by (the 8th Submarine Flotilla) Roger Keyes [1st Baron Keyes]1943 [Wikipedia biography=>1915 (8th March)] and (the destroyers) [Sir]1919 Reginald Y. Tyrwhitt [Wikipedia biography]. Keyes' flagship is the destroyer HMS Lurcher [Wikipedia shipography] whilst Tyrwhitt's is the light cruiser HMS Arethusa [Wikipedia shipography]. This is what the British have in mind ...


ASIDE - KEYES' PLAN: Keyes' submarines had been patrolling the Helgoland Bight since the beginning of August as part of the Royal Navy's blockade of German North Sea ports, and had noted that the routine German torpedo boat patrol had grown rather too predictable. Keyes had therefore suggested to the Admiralty that the patrol be jumped one day by his submarines and the 1st and 3rd Destroyer Flotillas out of Harwich working together, but with three levels of heavier units from further afield on hand to entrap such heavier units as the Germans might then send out to assist. Arthur H. Christian [Wikipedia biography] is put in overall command of the destroyers and the submarines, and has as back-up the six slow and largely obsolete heavy cruisers2 of the 7th Cruiser Squadron under Henry H. Campbell [some biography at tfs/index.php/ Henry_Hervey_Campbell]. The second level of back-up is would be the six cruisers3 of the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron under William Goodenough [Wikipedia biography], the Humber-based 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron HMSs New Zealand [<=1911 (1st July)] and Invincible [<=1906 (2nd April)] under Sir Gordon Moore [Wikipedia biography=>1915 (23rd January)], and the Scotland-based 1st Battlecruiser Squadron HMS Lion [1912 (4th June)<=>1915 (23rd January)], HMS Queen Mary [Wikipedia shipography], and HMS Princess Royal [Wikipedia shipography<=>1915 (23rd January)] under Beatty [1913 (1st March)<=>15th December]. Once these two feeder forces join forces the five battlecruisers will then manoeuvre together. The third level of back-up would be the Dreadnoughts of the Grand Fleet itself, drawn down from their anchorage at Scapa Flow. Precise timing of arrival of the three forces was essential, and was calculated according to the tides and the estimated steaming-up times for the equivalent German cruisers and capital ships.


ASIDE - THE GEOGRAPHY: The battle takes place in the area of the North Sea known as the German Bight [map, etc.], 30 to 50 miles west of the Helgoland Islands. The Jade [pronounce as "yarder"] Bight naval base and anchorage at Wilhelmshaven and the adjacent Weser Estuary at Bremerhaven are both due south, the Elbe Estuary at Cuxhaven is south-east, and the Ems Estuary at Emden is south-south-west. The Jade Bight has a massive sandbar across its mouth preventing heavy vessels from passing over it at low tide. British literature will log events in Greenwich Mean Time; German in Central European Time, which is one hour ahead (GMT+1).


This is how the battle unfolds (standardised to GMT where possible) ...


0653hr  Arethusa (Tyrwhitt) at the head of the 16 ships of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla and HMS Fearless [Wikipedia shipography] under William F. Blunt [some biography at] at the head of the 15 ships of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla arrive on station and between 0720hr and 0757hr engage the closest German torpedo-boats, which immediately fall back toward their own escorts, the light cruisers SMSs Stettin [Wikipedia shipography (three funnels, 24 knots)] (commanded by Karl A. Nerger [Wikipedia biography]) and Frauenlob [Wikipedia shipography (two funnels, 21 knots)] (commanded by Konrad Mommsen [Wikipedia biography]). The torpedo boat supply tender SMS Hela [Wikipedia shipography] is also with the support group but, not being a front-line warship, is instructed to hang back. As Frauenlob draws closer Arethusa exchanges fire with her and although both ships suffer several hits one of those on Frauenlob kills her captain and command team and she is forced to break off the action and return to port. Stettin, meanwhile, is engaged by Fearless and her destroyers and is hit once before they turn away. Not yet fully steamed up she is unable to give chase.


ASIDE: Alerted by wireless telegraphy the senior German commander on this part of the coast, Franz von Hipper [Wikipedia biography=>3rd November], immediately scrambles a number of reinforcing units including the eight light cruisers individually introduced below and his own 1st German Battlecruiser Squadron, comprising SMSs Moltke [1911 (28th March)<=>15th December], SMS Von der Tann [<=1911 (4th February)], and SMS Seydlitz [1913 (22nd May)<=>15th December]. However not only will it take several hours to get these reinforcements ready for sea but the British have also - either by good fortune or careful planning (reports differ) - carefully timed their attack to take place at low tide, the Jade sandbar thus delaying their departure even longer.


0815hr  Beatty releases Goodenough's cruisers to assist Tyrwhitt but, since the latter has not received the signal advising of their approach, they are very nearly fired upon by Tyrwhitt's destroyer flotillas and actually (but unsuccessfully) fired upon by Keyes' submarines. Beatty holds off his battlecruisers awaiting intelligence.


0910hr  The German torpedo boat V-187 [no convenient shipography] is surrounded and sunk with the loss of 24 lives. Around the same time Stettin - now capable of full speed - rejoins the battle and exchanges fire with the British destroyers for a few minutes before they withdraw.


0930hr  SMS Cöln [Wikipedia shipography=>sinks this day] (ship commanded by Hans Meidinger [no convenient biography]; fleet by Leberecht Maass [Wikipedia biography=>dies this day]), leads SMS Strassburg [Wikipedia shipography] (commanded by Heinrich Retzmann [Wikipedia biography]), SMS Ariadne [Wikipedia shipography (two funnels; 21 knots)=>sinks this day] (commanded by Hans Seebohm [no convenient biography]), Stralsund [Wikipedia shipography] (commanded by Viktor Harder [no convenient biography]), and Kolberg [Wikipedia shipography] (commanded by Wilhelm Widenmann [Wikipedia biography]) out of Wilhelmshaven. Since visibility is poor they fan out as they head north. Around the same time SMS Mainz [Wikipedia shipography=>sinks this day] (commanded by Wilhelm Paschen [no convenient biography=>dies this day]) departs the Ems Estuary.


1020hr  Arethusa stops to make repairs, with Fearless and her attendant 1st Destroyer Flotilla standing by. Strassburg chances upon Arethusa at 1100hr but is driven off by Fearless and the destroyers.


**********  BEATTY TIMES HIS RUN  **********




1130hr Conscious that time is slipping away Beatty judges that the moment is right to commit his battlecruisers, ordering them up to full speed [26-27 knots] and turning so as to close with the action from the northwest. They steam in line astern, Lion in the lead, then Queen Mary, Princess Royal, Invincible, and New Zealand.


**********  MAINZ GOES IT ALONE  **********

1130hr  Mainz engages Arethusa and the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla but the sound of firing soon attracts three of Goodenough's light cruisers. Mainz lays a smokescreen which screens her from the cruisers but then runs straight into Fearless and the 1st Destroyer Flotilla. In the resulting melée Mainz inflicts severe damage on three of the destroyers until a lucky British hit jams her rudder. Unable to make evasive manoeuvres she is now hit repeatedly and at 1220hr Paschen gives the order to abandon ship only to be killed a few moments later. Lurcher comes alongside and takes off 348 survivors, amongst whom Tirpitz's [4th August<=>1916 (31st May)] son Wolfgang.


**********  THE TRAP IS SPRUNG  **********

1230hr  Strassburg and Ariadne now take station on Cöln to finish off Arethusa, but no sooner have they done so than Beatty's battlecruisers emerge out of the mist ...


**********  "HOW UTTERLY EARTHQUAKING" (eyewitness)  **********

1237hr  Strassburg turns away but Cöln receives two salvoes from Lion which leave her "burning furiously and in a sinking condition". Beatty then makes off after Strassburg.


ASIDE: In his report of the battle a few days later Beatty stresses that for two fast ships at full speed on non-parallel courses this was "very creditable" shooting (Beatty, 1914, full text online at Readers who have followed the story of fire control computing in Part 9 [begin at 1901 and follow the forward pointers] will not be surprised to learn that the Lion-class was equipped with the latest fully approved Dreyer Fire Control Table, namely the Mark III [<=1914 (4th August)]. We presume, therefore, that both Lion and Cöln were on straight courses in the seconds before firing, otherwise Lion would probably have missed. HMS Iron Duke had just been fitted with the even newer Mark IV Dreyer Table [factsheet at Dreyer_Table_Mark_IV*] for evaluation, but was not present at this battle.


1225hr The last of the reinforcements, SMSs Danzig [Wikipedia shipography] and München [Wikipedia shipography] depart the Elbe Estuary.


1325hr  Unable to catch Strassburg Beatty's battlecruisers make another, closer, pass by the damaged Cöln, accumulating enough new hits to sink her. Maass goes down with his ship. Many of her crew abandon ship successfully but no rescue is possible because of submarine activity in the area. As a result all but one of those who have survived thus far will now die of exposure. Only one man - a stoker named Adolf Neumann [no convenient biography] - will survive the delay before being picked up three days later.


ASIDE: We have been unable to track down what happened to Stoker Neumann. Suffice it to say that for obvious reasons he will have been a prime candidate for the sort of "survivor syndrome" we have talked about on and off [e.g., <=573; 1798].


The battlecruisers now turn on Ariadne and Stettin, scoring several heavy calibre hits on the former but losing the latter in the mist. Further hits then reduce Ariadne to a wreck and Beatty leaves her to sink. Danzig and Stralsund attend to pick up survivors and Ariadne finally sinks at 1525hr.


1410hr  The tide has now risen enough to permit Moltke and Von der Tann to leave the Jade anchorage to add their weight to the proceedings, Seydlitz following after a short delay. However visibility is now very poor and fearing a bear in a cage4 event neither side seeks further action.


The overall outcome is a clear enough British victory on the day, although the battle is more noteworthy as a learning experience for both sides. For the British it demonstrates the sheer technical difficulty coordinating the tactical decision making of so many individual ships' captains (Tyrwhitt, remember, had not received the message informing him that he would have reinforcements coming up behind him, and, indeed, had nearly attacked them when first they were detected). For the Germans it was a serious psychological set-back, for only the timely arrival of poor visibility had prevented a defeat being an out-and-out disaster; and on their own doorstep as well. This fact was not lost on Kaiser Wilhelm II [19th August<=>27th October], who now instructs the Commander-in-Chief of the High Seas Fleet, Friedrich von Ingenohl [Wikipedia biography=>15th December], to inform him personally every time it is going to be sent into action [sub-thread continues at 3rd November ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1ASIDE: The German torpedo boats in question were "ocean-going" vessels comparable in range, size, and armament to the Royal Navy's destroyers.


2ASIDE: Namely HMS Amethyst [Wikipedia biography (three funnels; 22 knots)=>1915 (13th March)] and the sister-ships (all four funnels; 15 knots practical) HMSs Cressy [Wikipedia shipography=>22nd September], Aboukir [Wikipedia shipography=>22nd September], Bacchante [Wikipedia shipography], Hogue [Wikipedia shipography=>22nd September], and (Christian's flagship) Euryalus [Wikipedia shipography].


3ASIDE: Namely the sister-ships (all four funnels; 25 knots) HMSs Southampton [Wikipedia shipography], Falmouth [Wikipedia shipography], Liverpool [Wikipedia shipography], Birmingham [Wikipedia shipography], Lowestoft  [Wikipedia shipography], and Nottingham [Wikipedia shipography].


4ASIDE: A "bear in a cage" is modern American slang for getting lost in a thunderstorm with poor visibility and suddenly finding yourself only yards from a touched down tornado. For tornado simply read enemy ship looming out of the mist.


1914 [Friday 28th August] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [IX - Smith-Dorrien Crosses the Somme]: [Continued from 27th August] Covered by the available elements of Allenby's [26th August<=>1st September] Cavalry Corps Smith-Dorrien's [27th August<=>29th August] II Corps retires south of the River Somme at Ham [maplink at 27th August] [sub-thread continues at 1st September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 28th August] The Frontiers Campaign [XII - Two Important Meetings]: [Continued from 24th August] Joffre [21st August<=>29th August] pays a visit to Lanrezac [26th August<=>29th August] at the latter's Fifth Army headquarters at Marle [map, etc.], half way between Guise [maplink at 27th August] and Laon [map, etc.] and with a display of "Olympean anger" (Spears [14th August<=>1917 (22nd May)], 1929) demands that Fifth Army mount a spoiling counter-attack in the Guise area. Lanrezac immediately sends a liaison officer to Haig's [27th August<=>29th August] temporary I Corps headquarters at Mont d'Origny [map, etc.], half-way between St. Quentin and Guise, in order to coordinate I Corps' potential contribution to the forthcoming attack [sub-thread continues at 29th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Saturday 29th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [X - Allison and Belloc Start Selling the War]: [Continued from 27th August] Today's issue of the weekly news magazine Land and Water, recently acquired by the Australian-born press and advertising entrepreneur J. Murray Allison [no convenient biography=>2nd September], front-pages an article on and by its equally recently appointed editor Hilaire Belloc [Wikipedia biography=>2nd September]. On naval issues the magazine will draw heavily on the knowledge of John F. T. Jane [Wikipedia biography] (of Jane's Fighting Ships fame) and [our old friend - Ed.] the naval gunfire expert Arthur Pollen [<=1912 (??th March)]. In today's Times, meanwhile, one "Henry Arthur Jones" [perhaps the dramatist of this Wikipedia biography] has the following letter published ...


"Yesterday morning came the news of a serious set-back to our armies. Yesterday afternoon [...] every lawn tennis court in the space near me was crowded by strapping young Englishmen and girls. Is there no way of shaming these laggards?"


We shall shortly be seeing how the Establishment systematically goes about doing precisely this [sub-thread continues at 30th August …]. [THREAD = WW1 PROPAGANDA]







1914 [Saturday 29th August] The Frontiers Campaign [XIII - The Battle of Proyart]: [Continued from 28th August] This battle is fought at and around Proyart [map, etc.], on the southern bank of the River Somme 20 miles east of Amiens [map, etc.], between the right wing of von Kluck's [26th August<=>next entry] First Army feeling its way westward along the Somme Valley and (north of the river) elements of d'Amade's [26th August<=>18th September] territorial screen and (south of the river) the gathering strength of Maunoury's [21st August<=>3rd September] Sixth Army. Although Proyart has to be temporarily abandoned the firmness of the French defence goes some way toward convincing von Kluck that there is no easy "right hook" route to Paris [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Saturday 29th August] Foch [18th August<=>5th September] is replaced as commander of XX Corps on the Nancy front by Maurice Balfourier [Wikipedia biography] and put in command of a newly constituted Ninth Army based on a line from Sézanne [map, etc.] via Fère-Champenoise [map, etc.] to Sommesous [map, etc.]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Saturday 29th-30th August] The Frontiers Campaign [XIV - The Battle of St. Quentin and Guise]: [Continued from preceding entry] This battle is fought between Lanrezac's [28th August<=>1st September] Fifth Army supported by Haig's [28th August<=>3rd September] I Corps1 and elements of von Bülow's [26th August<=>5th September] Second Army threatening the line Ham [maplink at 27th August] to Guise [ditto]. The main French thrust is by its XVIII Corps under Jacques de Mas-Latrie [Wikipedia biography=>replaced 4th September] toward St. Quentin [map at 23rd August], but suffers heavy casualties because von Bülow's reconnaissance assets successfully detect their approach. The hero of the hour is Louis Franchet d'Espèrey [Wikipedia biography=>3rd September], commander of I Corps, whose right flank attack at Guise makes far better progress. The French and British resume their withdrawal on 30th August but will have inflicted sufficient losses on von Bülow's spearhead units not to be too closely pursued. Despite the high losses within XVIII Corps the overall outcome is therefore generally assessed as an Allied victory. Moreover since the attack results in von Kluck's [preceding entry<=>1st September] First Army being ordered to realign its axis of attack more closely to von Bülow's it does away with any residual pretence on von Moltke's [26th August<=>4th September] part to be following the Schlieffen Plan [<=1894] [sub-thread continues at 4th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Smith-Dorrien's [28th August<=>3rd September] II Corps plays no substantive part in this battle, being well on its way southward out of Ham. This will take it through Noyon [map, etc.] and then across the River Oise at Pontoise-lès-Noyon [two miles south-east of Noyon along the modern D934] to a temporary headquarters in and around the Château at Cuts [three miles further].


1914 [Sunday 30th August] Concerned at the latter's poor performance during the Battle of the Ardennes [<=18th and 22nd August] Joffre [29th August<=>3rd September] replaces Ruffey [<=22nd August] as commanding general of his Third Army with Maurice Sarrail [Wikipedia biography=>5th September]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Sunday 30th August] Islam in WW1 [I - A Problem Noted]: The German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Hans von Wangenheim [Wikipedia biography] telegraphs Berlin counselling that the religious devotions of Muslim prisoners-of-war should be positively supported in German prisoner-of-war camps (Höpp, 1997 online) [sub-thread continues at 25th October ...]. [THREAD = THE BATTLE FOR HEARTS AND MINDS] [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD]


**********  THE TRUTH HURTS  **********

1914 [Sunday 30th August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XI - Caught Red-Handed1]: [Continued from 29th August] Following a month of "cheerful nonsense" in the British newspapers The Times publishes a tolerably accurate summary of the Great Retreat prepared by its correspondent in France Arthur Moore [no convenient biography], in which the B.E.F. is described as "a retreating and broken army". The article has not just been approved by the Director of the Press Bureau, Frederick E. Smith [27th August<=>31st August] but has been in part actually written by him. Here is an indication of the tone of the original feature ...


"Amongst all the straggling units that I have seen, flotsam and jetsam in the fiercest fight in history, I saw fear in no man's face. It was a retreating and broken army, but it was not an army of hunted men. [...] Our losses are very great. I have seen the broken bits of many regiments" (


... and here is the closing paragraph provided by Smith ...



"To sum up, the first great German effort has succeeded. We have to face the fact that the British Expeditionary Force, which bore the great weight of the blow, has suffered terrible losses and requires immediate and immense reinforcement. The British Expeditionary Force has won indeed imperishable glory, but it needs men, men, and yet more men" (ibid.).



Apart from failing to mention any French contribution to the proceedings Smith's paragraph is factual enough, but is it, philosophically, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Parliament, with censorship already on the agenda [<=27th August], now calls upon Smith (himself a Member of Parliament, of course) to justify his intervention before the House of Commons the following afternoon [sub-thread continues at 31st August ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Monday 31st August] The B.E.F. now has enough recently arrived units in France to create a new corps-level entity consisting of 4th Division and the soon-to-arrive [=>10th September] 6th Division [Wikipedia factsheet=>10th September] under Thomas D'Oyly Snow [Wikipedia biography=>12th October] and [Sir]1915 John L. Kier [Wikipedia biography], respectively, and numbered III Corps, promoting Sir William Pulteney [Wikipedia biography=>1st September] from divisional commander (6th Division) to corps commander. Once 6th Division arrive the entire pre-war home service British Army will be in France, and a wave of foreign service units is already being assembled as 7th Division [=>3rd September]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


**********  ON TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR  **********

**********  ON TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR  **********

**********  ON TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR  **********

**********  ON TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR  **********

**********  ON TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR  **********

1914 [Monday 31st August] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XII - Reporting Rules Debated]: [Continued from 29th August] Following a number of allegations of inconsistency, overwork, and/or plain sloppiness (for details of which see Hansard, 66:454-511), and greatly concerned at the previous day's article in The Times [<=above], the House of Commons debates the structure and purpose of the Press Bureau [28th August<=>7th September].


ASIDE: The respected British cognitive scientist [Sir]1948 Frederic C. Bartlett [Wikipedia biography=>later this entry] was asked in 1940 to explain "propaganda for democracy" to a general readership. He began by summarising the propaganda effort in WW1, as follows ...


"During the War of 1914-1918 it took two or three years of acrimonious dispute and hard experiment before the departments which planned policy, those which carried it out, and those whose job it was to justify the policy and its execution in the eyes of the world, and to prepare for further developments, arrived at even a rather uneasy co-ordination. [...] The basis of all effective propaganda in a democracy is a reliable news service [... however i]n war not even the most democratic State can, or ever will be able to, get on without a form of censorship" (Bartlett, 1940, pp133-135). Bartlett, F.C. (1940). Political Propaganda. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


The debate begins with a speech by Markham [<=27th August] and Markham's speech begins by quoting a letter from the editor of The Times explaining not just that his newspaper had followed the censorship rules to the letter but that the revisions had been made personally by the Director of the Press Bureau, Frederick E. Smith [30th August<=>28th September]. Markham then pursues the more general complaint that reporting is failing to create within the country "a human interest" in the war, singling out Smith's deputy in the organisation (his brother Harold Smith [Wikipedia biography]) for specific criticism ...


"I first take exception to the constitution of the Bureau. [Frederick E. Smith] has been appointed manager of this Bureau, and his brother the Member for Warrington (Mr. Harold Smith) has been appointed the secretary. [...] I have letters from newspaper editors who complain that the hon. Member for Warrington acts more like one of the Kaiser's staff officers in his dealings with the Press. [...] The Prime Minister has said that it is his intention to go into the country to speak to the people and to let them know the danger this country is in, and that it is the duty of every man who is able to take up arms for his country at this time. I can assure [Frederick E. Smith] that he could do no more great service towards accomplishing that end than if he at once took steps to put this Bureau in a position which would enable the country to take a human interest in what goes on. All human interest is entirely vanished from the statements which have appeared in the Press. The human element does not appear. The Government, I think, ought to have appointed a Minister in charge of this Bureau. If it is necessary for the Prime Minister to go about the country speaking of the necessity of obtaining recruits, why should there be this action of the Government in silencing information? It is killing recruiting in the country. I do not think [Frederick E. Smith] has been in the country, and I do not think he knows the feeling in many districts where the people have no idea of the seriousness of the position which has arisen. [Detailed instances omitted] A trained journalist knows what the public wants. Members of this House who have had no experience in journalism cannot say what the public require [...] I would also suggest that there should be on this Committee Lord Roberts [1912 (22nd October)<=>d. 14th November], representing the military side, and the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford [Wikipedia biography]), representing the Admiralty. Both of these Noble Lords have held the highest commands in the country, and, acting in conjunction with a Minister of the Crown, and with trained journalists, they would constitute a Bureau in which the public could have confidence. [Further detailed instances omitted] [T]he people of this country want the truth, the whole truth, and are not afraid to be told the whole truth" (Hansard; ca. 1930hr).


The lawyer, newspaper baron, and Unionist-minded Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Mile End, London, Harry Levy-Lawson [1st Viscount Burnham]1919 [Wikipedia biography] then speaks in (Frederick E.) Smith's defence, but concedes the need for journalistic input ...


"Personally, I have expressed the opinion privately, and I now must express it publicly, that it was great misfortune that expert writers were not allowed under proper supervision to accompany the Army in the field. [Otherwise] rumour would take the place of narrative of fact, and that every petty incident as told by a private soldier or a non-commissioned officer who is, no doubt, speaking the truth as he saw it - but he could only see a very limited part over a narrow area - would be taken as an accurate account of what was happening in this terrible and long-drawn battle. That has happened, but it is not the fault of [Frederick E. Smith] that those correspondents were not there" (Op. cit; ca. 1958hr).


The Conservative and Unionist Member of Parliament for Devizes Sir Basil E. Peto [1st Baronet]1927 [Wikipedia biography] even reminds the House what had been promised when, on 6th August, the Press Bureau had firstly been announced ...


"At the time the Press Bureau was established we were promised, by the First Lord of the Admiralty [Winston Churchill [30th July<=>28th September]] - I think his words were 'a steady stream of reliable information'. It was felt throughout the country that it was a somewhat novel experiment for a country such as ours to be engaged in war and have no direct information from competent and experienced Press correspondents at the front, but we were told we were to have a steady stream of reliable information" (Hansard; ca. 2015hr).


Smith then replies at great length, vigorously defending both his brother and the rules preventing the publication of information of operational significance. The Press Bureau, he explains, is constantly in touch with "the room of high authority" at the War Office checking on whether this or that snippet of information might potentially assist the enemy. His first major point is that much of the reporting silence so far has been to protect the B.E.F. from attack during its crossing of the Channel, thus ...


"Whenever I have to deal with questions of high military policy [...] in the first place I obtain advice from the soldiers who are in my office. They are in telephonic communication with a room of high authority at the War Office, where very distinguished officers of high position conduct cognate work. Therefore, in the first place, inquiry is conveniently made from the soldiers' room to the room of high authority, as I have said, at the War Office. [...] The first complaint of the hon. Baronet [Markham] - and it is a complaint which has been generally made in the country - was that we had suppressed for an unreasonable period the fact that the Expeditionary Force was intending to embark, had embarked, and had disembarked. [...] We were most expressly told [...] that Lord Kitchener [12th August<=>28th September] would contemplate with great anxiety the sending of so large a force [...] unless every step that could be taken in this country was taken to secure secrecy in the matter" (Hansard; ca. 2057hr).


He then gives further details of his working relationship with the War Office,


"Every day, and sometimes twice a day, I have gone to the War Office [...] and asked persons of the highest consequence and position whether any news had been received which we could publish. I have done that every day. And it is not true to say that no news has been given. News has been given, I agree, vague and often sketchy, until the information we issued on Sunday, but here again I have only one defence, and it seems to me to be a completely adequate one. The information which was drawn up as to the position of the Army was drawn up in every case by soldiers of highest experience and authority. They drew it up with the knowledge, which they certainly had very clearly, that the public were deeply concerned to have all the information that could safely be given at the earliest possible moment. And when I am told [that in the War Office's] judgement - and one may put it perfectly plainly, in the judgement of Lord Kitchener himself - that what was being published was all that could be published without risk or injury to the public service, I say, as long as I discharge my present office, that is sufficient answer for me" (Hansard; ca. 2125hr).


Finally Smith turns to the specific issue of the 30th August article in The Times ...


"I had been asked by Lord Kitchener, in the course of various discussions I had had with him, to, as far as possible, assist his object, which was, of course, to obtain recruits for his Army, and under these circumstances, having read this article and excised all parts of it which dealt with the movement of troops, I suggested that reference might be made at the end of the article to the effect that what was wanted was, 'Reinforcements, reinforcements, and still more reinforcements' (Hansard, ca. 2148hr).


By now it is late in the day and the debate starts to wind up, conceding that censorship is "at the best a thankless task", thanking Frederick E. Smith for his "public spirit" in taking the job on, and trusting "that in future fuller and more complete accounts will be able to be given". Only the Liberal Party's Arthur J. Sherwell [Wikipedia biography] and the Irish Parliamentary Party's John Dillon [Wikipedia biography] still have energy to pursue the fundamental issues. Sherwell probes what exactly Smith knew and when he knew it ...


"I think what [Frederick E. Smith] has shown very convincingly to the House is that while he himself, personally, is not to blame for what has or what has not taken place recently, he has said enough to show that he has been placed in a perfectly false and altogether impossible position. [... He] has really missed the vital point in connection with the publication of those articles. He said, 'If they were true, had we any right to suppress them?' Are we to understand that the statement published yesterday afternoon on the authority of Lord Kitchener was a statement drawn up for the Press Bureau [by the newspapers themselves]? I assume that [the information contained] was in the knowledge of the Government prior to [its publication]" (Hansard; ca. 2208hr).


And Dillon follows up with a line of argument which historians1 will still be developing a century later ...


"... the Press Censor, when he had those articles before him, must have known that they were false, and were calculated, as any person of ordinary intelligence must have known, to create alarm and panic in this country. To my amazement the Press Censor stood up and admitted to the House that he sanctioned the publication of those articles, and made additions to them, and he admitted that they were to be taken by the country as an incitement to recruiting. In other words, we have it stated, by the Press Censor himself, that he considers the publication of false news a reliable method of recruiting in this country. Can any hon. Member pretend, after what has taken place in this Debate, that the Censor, unless disgracefully treated by the War Office, did not know yesterday that the news was grossly misrepresenting all the facts? Either the article was untrue or Lord Kitchener's reply, published the same afternoon, [...] is untrue. They cannot both be true; they are absolutely contradictory. We have heard the Press Censor state today that [... he made his] addition in order that it might provide a ground for recruiting in this country and sending out reinforcements. That is to me the most amazing admission that I have ever heard made in this House. [...] One thing I should say to the Government and it is this. If they want to secure the cooperation of the Press and the public in carrying out the really necessary censorship they ought to be very careful to treat [both] with fair play, common sense, and indulgence [... because] as the War goes on it will be impossible to maintain such secrecy" (Hansard; ca. 2212hr).


**********  A BRITISH SECRET ELITE?  **********

1ASIDE - THE CONSPIRACY THEORY: Docherty and Macgregor (2013) have recently suggested that Lord Northcliffe [25th August<=>5th September] used his newspapers to promote the theories and interests of a "secret elite" within the British Establishment, and that the Smiths were part of that elite (readers should note, however, that conspiracy theorists are often as one-sided and selective in their use of individual truths as are those they are purporting to expose). Wilkinson (2009) adds valuable less sensationalist background for readers wishing to take this subject further. Docherty, G. and Macgregor, J. (2013). Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War. Edinburgh: Mainstream. Wilkinson, N.J. (2009). Secrecy and the Media: The Official History of the United Kingdom's D-Notice System. London: Routledge.


The debate now ends, but outside in the real world, meanwhile, the latest edition of The Times (presumably agreed by Frederick E. Smith prior to his leaving to attend the debate) has been busily "turning truth on its head" (Docherty and Macgregor, 2014 online [at]) by now playing down the bad news and playing up the British Army's overall performance to date ...



"The British Army has surpassed all the glories of its long history, and has won fresh and imperishable renown. It has inflicted terrible losses on the German army and has repeatedly held its own against tremendous odds. Though forced to retire by the overwhelming strength and persistence of the foe, it preserves an unbroken if battered line…" (The Times, 31st August 1914; cited in Docherty and Macgregor (2014 online).



We shall be following the activities of the Press Bureau closely over the coming months, during which time it will gradually emerge that today's debate has actually done little to resolve the reporting problem. If anything, the spotlight of public scrutiny will have simply driven the conspiring parties even further into their crevices. Two days later, for example, despite the calls for experienced writers of fact to be involved, a panel of writers of fiction will be convened instead [sub-thread continues at 2nd September ...]! [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


RESEARCH ISSUE - TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR: There are three fundamental problems in assessing "the truth" of any description of historical events. The first problem is that our brains in general, and words and ideas in particular, are simply not equal to the historian's task. Our brains have evolved to deal with a few simple truths at a time and when the overall truth is an amalgam of many such lesser truths we create and rely instead on a memory for gist. Explanatory histories, in other words, will always and inevitably be over-simplifications of what actually took place.


ASIDE: The textbook demonstration of the fore-shortening of narrative memory in circumstances such as those described above is a 1920 paper by [Sir]1948 Frederic C. Bartlett [<=earlier this entry] entitled "Some Experiments on the Reproduction of Folk-Stories", in which he attempts to piece together the deep "schematic" representation of a narrative from the inevitably foreshortened attempts to reproduce an original telling. As material for his experiments Bartlett uses a number of obscure page-length folk tales. In the method of "repeated reproduction", a given individual will re-tell an original story as accurately as they can, firstly after 15 minutes, again after a week, and again after longer periods. Incidental detail is rapidly lost, reducing the story to a short paragraph of gist. Errors and imaginations, once included, tend to persist. Emotive content [injuries, deaths, etc.] is relatively well preserved, perhaps reflecting "a deep-rooted and widespread tendency to dramatisation".


The second problem is that of individual position-taking. This problem is further complicated by the fact that it is decidedly two-edged, thus: (a) As far as the author of an historical narrative is concerned s/he can only ever present his/her current understanding as fact, and that current understanding risks being far from objectively accurate, shaped as it inevitably will be by personality and actual knowledge of the topic at hand, and (b) as far as that author's eventual readers are concerned they can only ever incorporate a gist of the narrative [see first problem above] into their own current understanding, which, too, risks being far from objectively accurate. The third problem is that of ethnic/political/religious position-taking. Again this is a two-edged problem, thus: (a) As far as the author of an own-sided historical narrative is concerned s/he will typically present a politically correct interpretation of the event(s) in question. However as far as that author's readers are concerned it depends whose side they are on: the home readership will share the author's perception of correctness, but a foreign readership is likely to reject as unreliable everything, including  items of objective truth, sometimes with historically tragic outcomes. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


STUDENT EXERCISE - TRUTH IN TIME OF WAR: We have taken the two target paragraphs mentioned above and opened them up as sequences of separate propositions. Here is PARAGRAPH #1, Frederick E. Smith's final paragraph of 30th August. Check each constituent proposition against the objective facts set out in the entries for the Great Retreat [24th August<=>4th September] and the Battle of the Marne [=>3rd/4th/5th September], and decide for yourself whether we have an acceptable attempt at an historical narrative or not [our own comments are parenthesised] ....


the first great German effort has succeeded [dubious, because the German offensives had achieved a lot less than the Germans had been anticipating]


we have to face the fact that the British Expeditionary Force, which bore the great weight of the blow [ignores role of the French]


has suffered terrible losses [true, but there is no absolute definition of "terrible" as opposed to "significant", say, or "dreadful", "catastrophic", etc., etc.]


and requires immediate [reinforcement] [true]


and immense reinforcement [true, but there is no absolute definition of "immense" as opposed to "significant", say, or "commensurate", "truly immense", etc., etc.]


the British Expeditionary Force has won indeed imperishable glory [too vague to score]


but it needs men, men, and yet more men [true, but there is no absolute definition of "more"]


And here is PARAGRAPH #2 above for comparison ...


the British Army has surpassed all the glories of its long history [too vague to score]


and has won fresh and imperishable renown [too vague to score]


it has inflicted terrible losses on the German army [true, but there is no absolute definition of "terrible" as opposed to "significant", say, or "dreadful", "catastrophic", etc., etc.]


and has repeatedly held its own against tremendous odds [true]


though forced to retire by the overwhelming strength and persistence of the foe [true]


it preserves an unbroken if battered line [true]


Now read the Companion Resource on the use of "argument by adjective" and "argument by adverb" as common techniques of deliberate deception. We count 14 "gratuitous" (and therefore designed to persuade non-objectively) adjectives in these pieces. Find them (and any we have missed). [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


*******************  MONTHLY UPDATE, AUGUST 1914  *******************

*******************  MONTHLY UPDATE, AUGUST 1914  *******************

*******************  MONTHLY UPDATE, AUGUST 1914  *******************


Note: Those battalions earmarked for 53rd [Territorial] (Welsh) Division are identified thus [53rd (from 5th August)]; those battalions subsequently brought together to serve in 38th (Welsh) Division are identified thus [38th (from 29th November 1915)].


1914 [Tuesday 1st September] Present Location of Welsh Units: Here is the status of the British Army's essentially Welsh units at the end of the first month of the war ...


ROYAL WELCH FUSILIERS (the ancestral 23rd Regiment of Foot [<=1881 (1st July)])

1st Bn is about to arrive back in Britain from Malta [=>3rd September]. 2nd Bn[38th (from 29th November 1915)] is in France attached to the B.E.F.'s independent 19th Infantry Brigade. 3rd (Reserve) Bn is active at Wrexham and Pembroke Dock. The 1st Bn has started to mobilise its four affiliated territorial battalions, namely 1/4th [(Territorial)]1 (Denbighshire) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Wrexham, 1/5th [(Territorial)] (Flintshire) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Flint, 1/6th [(Territorial)] (Caernarvonshire and Anglesey) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Caernarfon, and 1/7th [(Territorial)] (Merioneth and Montgomery) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Newtown. The first of the regiment's "New Army" "service battalions"2, the 8th [(Service)]3 Bn, is also forming at Wrexham.


1,3ASIDE: The "(Territorial)" and "(Service)" designators were more often than not omitted, being common knowledge at the time.


2ASIDE - RESERVES, TERRITORIALS, AND NEW ARMY: There is an important but to civilians often subtle distinction between reserve battalions, territorial battalions, and service battalions. The structures were created by the Army reorganisations of (the Cardwell Reforms) 1870-1871 [<=1870 (3rd March)], (the Childers Reforms) 1880-1881 [<=1880 (28th April) and 1881 (1st July)], and (the Haldane Reforms) 1905-1907 [<=1905 (10th December)], and are as now summarised ...


Firstly each regiment fielded two substantive battalions - 1st and 2nd - of regular soldiers, all young, fit, full-time, experienced, well-equipped, well-trained, and properly paid under (such as it was in those days) a contract of employment. These two battalions traditionally rotated between home and imperial service every couple of years. Secondly there was one (sometimes two) garrison town reserve battalions - 3rd (and 4th) - of full-time older and less fit regulars with the names and addresses of regular army reservists on contractual retainers, who could turn out at short notice to replace losses in the first two battalions due to retirements, sickness, accidents, or (in time of war) battle casualties. Thirdly there were a number of regional "territorial" and "yeomanry" ...


ASIDE - YEOMANRY: The yeomanry regiments of 1914 were territorial in structure but identified as "yeomanry" to reflect regimental traditions dating to historically earlier local volunteer cavalry units.


... battalions of part-time would-be-or-once-were regulars on contractual retainers who trained in their free time, often alongside regulars, but who generally lacked both the most modern equipment and battlefield or foreign service experience. And finally there were in time of war an effectively unlimited number of "service" battalions containing whoever put their hand up and met the ordained age and fitness criteria.


It follows therefore (a) that a "Reserve" battalion would never actually go to war (because it was no more than a garrison-town administrative-ceremonial unit responsible for delivering properly prepared reinforcements to the front-line units), (b) that the number of territorial battalions available was generally predetermined, (c) that territorial battalions factually would stand little chance in battle against an elite enemy unit (and service battalions - mainly civilians in khaki - even less chance, at least until they had learned their trade), (d) that the speed at which service battalions could be put into the field depended on the availability of barracks, equipment, drill sergeants, officers, etc., etc., and (e) that the identities and service records of those who would be mobilised into the territorial and yeomanry regiments had been known for some time, whereas those volunteering for the New Army were almost always previously civilians.


SOUTH WALES BORDERERS (the ancestral 24th Regiment of Foot [<=1881 (1st July)])

1st Bn is in France with the B.E.F.'s I Corps as part of the 1st Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade. 2nd Bn is on foreign service, and will shortly be supporting the Japanese siege at Tsingtao [=>31st October]. 3rd (Reserve) Bn has relocated from Brecon to Pembroke Dock. The 1st Bn has started to mobilise the first of its three affiliated territorial battalions, namely 1/1st [(Territorial)] (Brecknockshire) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Brecon. The first of the regiment's "New Army" "service battalions", the 4th [(Service)] Bn, is also forming at Brecon.


THE WELCH REGIMENT (the ancestral 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot [<=1881 (1st July)])

1st Bn is on foreign service in India. 2nd Bn is in France with I Corps as part of the 1st Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade. 3rd (Reserve) Bn is active in Cardiff and Barry. The 1st Bn has started mobilise its four affiliated territorial battalions, namely 1/4th [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Carmarthen1, 1/5th [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Pontypridd, 1/6th [(Territorial)] (Glamorgan) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Swansea, and 1/7th [(Territorial)] (Cyclist) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Cardiff and Barry. The first of the regiment's "New Army" "service battalions", the 8th [(Service)] (Pioneer) Bn, is also forming in Cardiff.


1ASIDE: 1/4th Bn included companies raised within a 30-miles radius, e.g., B-Company at Pembroke, C-Company at Cardigan, and F- and G- Companies at Llanelli. For the West Wales War Memorial Project coverage of the particular history of this unit click here.




We have already listed nine territorial battalions affiliated to the three regular Welsh regiments. Alongside these we now need to mention the Welsh catchment territorial battalions of the two nearest English regiments, namely ...



The 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment has mobilised all four of its affiliated territorial battalions, namely 1/4th [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)]1 at Birkenhead, its 1/5th [(Territorial)] (Earl of Chester's) Bn[53rd (from 5th August to 15th February 1915)] at Chester, its 1/6th [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August to 10th November] at Stockport, and its 1/7th [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Macclesfield.



The (all-territorial) Herefordshire Regiment has mobilised its 1/1st [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)]1 at Hereford.


... and last but not least we need to mention the fourth major Welsh infantry regiment, the all-territorial ...



The (all-territorial) Monmouthshire Regiment has mobilised its 1st  [(Territorial)] (Rifle) Bn[53rd (from 5th August)]1 at Stow Hill, Newport, its 2nd [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Osborne Road, Pontypool, and its 3rd [(Territorial)] Bn[53rd (from 5th August)] at Abergavenny. All three battalions are presently encamped near Northampton.


RESEARCH ISSUE - CHILDREN OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IN WW1: Readers will now start to note that the recruiting stations reflect the areas of urbanisation which had grown up during the heyday of Welsh heavy industry. This is less true of the historically more ancient regular regiments which have more rural garrison towns such as Caernarfon, Brecon, and Newtown. The coal ports of Cardiff and Barry recruit into the Welch Regiment (see above), as do the mining towns of the Rhondda; Newport recruits into the Monmouthshire Regiment.


To give an overriding sense of identity to the Welsh and border counties territorial battalions these units have been administered since 1908 under the banner of the 53rd (Welsh) Division of the Territorial Force [Wikipedia factsheet]. This division has spent August mobilising into a three-brigade administrative structure reflecting catchment geography, namely the 168th (North Wales) Brigade, the 159th (Cheshire) Brigade, and the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade. It was the speed of mobilisation of these, and other, initially homeland defence units which allowed the last two pre-war regular divisions to be released in late August to join the B.E.F. in France.


1ASIDE - NUMBERING OF TERRITORIAL BATTALIONS: To put it frankly the numbering/naming system for territorial battalions is complicated, so we shall defer explaining the logic thereof until the second Monthly Update at the beginning of October, when fewer other things need to be said.



There were also four Welsh territorial mounted units, the 1/1st Bn Montgomeryshire Yeomanry [Wikipedia factsheet] now mobilising at Welshpool, the 1/1st Bn Pembroke Yeomanry [Wikipedia factsheet] now mobilising at Tenby, the 1/1st Bn Denbighshire Hussars [Wikipedia factsheet] now mobilising at Wrexham, and the 1/1st Bn Glamorgan Yeomanry [Wikipedia factsheet] now mobilising at Bridgend. All four battalions are presently encamped at Thetford, Norfolk, earmarked for service in [Sir]1916 Edwin A. H. Alderson's [Wikipedia biography=>1915 (22nd April)] 1st Mounted Division [Wikipedia factsheet]. A supernumerary Welsh territorial mounted unit, Arthur O. Vaughan's [12th August<=>23rd September] Welsh Horse Yeomanry, is presently being assembled at Cardiff.



Lloyd George's vision of a regular "Welsh Army" has not yet been formally announced [=>19th September] and the Welsh Guards have not yet been created [=>1915 (26th February)]. There are, however, four regular army cavalry units with a Welsh pedigree by name (but not by catchment area as such). These are the 3rd Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 10th Hussars, and the 12th Royal Lancers. All had a history of royal patronage by either the Prince or the Princess of Wales, but had garrison towns in England.


*****************  END OF MONTHLY UPDATE, AUGUST 1914  ******************

*****************  END OF MONTHLY UPDATE, AUGUST 1914  ******************

*****************  END OF MONTHLY UPDATE, AUGUST 1914  ******************


1914 [Tuesday 1st September] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [X - The Last of the Rearguard Actions]: [Continued from 28th August] Having been given a 48-hour breather by the French victory at the Battles of St. Quentin and Guise [<=29th August], the B.E.F. suddenly finds itself across the path of a surprise advance by cavalry elements of von Kluck's [29th August<=>3rd September] First Army intent upon crossing the Oise River south of Compiègne [map, etc.] and then sweeping south-eastward to get in behind Lanrezac's [29th August<=>3rd September] Fifth Army. As day breaks the B.E.F. is strung out across the northern side of the Compiègne-Soissons-Meaux triangle, with the Aisne to the north and the Oise to the west. On the left Pulteney's [31st August<=>5th September] still incomplete III Corps (presently only 4th Division and the stand-alone 19th Infantry Brigade, which latter includes the 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [9th August<=>3rd September]), are loosely holding the Oise river line at and around Verberie [maplink at 31st August]. In the centre Smith-Dorrien's [29th August<=>5th September] II Corps is deployed on a line between Crépy-en-Valois [map, etc.] and Croyolles [no convenient factsheet]. And on the right Haig's [29th August<=>5th September] I Corps, having crossed the Aisne at Soissons [map, etc.], is deployed in the woods and villages north of Villers-Cotterêts [map, etc.]. Allenby's [28th August<=>5th September] Cavalry Corps is doing its best to cover the gaps. The German attack on the British left takes place down the Compiègne-Néry B-road [= the modern D932A], and sets the German 4th Cavalry Division [Wikipedia factsheet] under Otto von Garnier [Wikipedia biography] against the British 1st Cavalry Brigade under Charles J. Briggs [Wikipedia biography] at Néry [map, etc.]. The units which bear the brunt of this German attack are the 2nd Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, and the 11th Hussars, supported by L-Battery Royal Horse Artillery [Wikipedia factsheet]. The encounter begins at 0540hr with a rapidly organised German horse artillery barrage (12 guns) which (from only half a mile away) inflicts crippling early casualties to both men and horses in the British lines. With its horses dead, injured, or bolted, the survivors of L-Battery manage to manhandle three of its 13-pounders into action, but only one of these - No. 6 gun - stays operational for any significant length of time. In fact for a crucial hour this gun single-handedly supports the dismounted cavalrymen, and by concentrating their fire on the German gun-crews they manage to neutralise the artillery threat.


ASIDE: The "Néry Gun" is presently on display at the Imperial War Museum, London [see the IWM factsheet at collections/item/object/30025225]. In hindsight von Garnier's artillery had been brought too far forward for its own good, leaving its crews and horses vulnerable not just to artillery counter-fire but to small arms fire as well. Had there been an immediate British collapse this would have been a victory for offensive risk-taking; but once the British organised themselves it was the German guns who suffered, and without their horses they had to be abandoned. The present author has been unable to find out how long the initial German rapid-fire bombardment lasted given that their ammunition re-supplies were miles to their rear and they were working only with the three dozen or so shells carried in their limbers [long-suffering readers will recall that the Prussians had worked hard on horse artillery design and tactics back in the 18th century, testing out their ideas at, for example, the Battle of Kunersdorf [<=1759 (12th August)]]. An officer of 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers had an opportunity to inspect the captured guns as they were taken south, describing them as "highly finished" pieces. He was particularly taken by the decoration on the breech which read Ultima Ratio Regis [= "the ultimate argument of kings] (Dunn, 1938, p43). We commend the Wikipedia factsheet on Shrapnel Shell for explaining the design aspects of this particular method of delivering death from above. WAR ART: It will take the artist Fortunino Matania [Wikipedia biography=>14th November] only a few weeks to celebrate L-Battery's stand in a lithograph entitled "An Undying Story of British Valour"[details at 14th November].


Briggs, meanwhile, has been organising a counterattack by the nearby 4th Cavalry Brigade and its supporting I-Battery, together with the nearest available infantry formation, namely 19th Brigade's 1st Bn Middlesex Regiment, and this successfully drives the Germans back ["The 4th German Cavalry Division was to all intents and purposes destroyed" (Spears, p327)]. The German attack on the British centre follows the several north-south country roads between the Aisne and Crépy-en-Valois, but is called off in the early afternoon because its field artillery is too far to the rear. The German attack on the British right follows the highway southward from Vic-sur-Aisne [= the modern N81]. This brings the German III Corps up against the 4th (Guards) Brigade under Robert Scott-Kerr [<=25th August], deployed east-west through the Forest of Retz north of Villers-Cotterêts and supported by 6th Brigade in and around the town itself. The encounter here begins at 0600hr and under sustained pressure the British are forced back onto, and then past, Villers-Cotterêts, finally reforming at Betz [map, etc.] that evening. Taken as a whole, the day's rearguard actions will subsequently be assessed as highly successful, thus: "Once more von Kluck has been prevented from achieving his objective. Had he been opposed less stoutly, it is doubtful if the Fifth Army could have escaped" (Spears, p328) [sub-thread continues at 3rd September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Wednesday 2nd September] Action in the Pacific [VII - The Tsingtao Landings]: [Continued from 27th August] The Japanese now support their naval blockade of the German fortress port of Tsingtao by starting to land an army 20 miles up the coast at Longkou [map, etc.]. The army is led by [Baron]1916 Kamio Mitsuomi [Wikipedia biography=>31st October] and will now spend several weeks shipping in its heavy equipment and putting out outposts toward the German defences at Tsingtao. The Japanese will be joined on 23rd September by 2nd Bn South Wales Borderers [factsheet at>31st October] under Nathaniel W. Barnardiston [no convenient biography] and four Companies of 36th Sikh Regiment [Wikipedia factsheet] [sub-thread continues at 31st October …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Wednesday 2nd September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XIII - The War Propaganda Bureau is Formed]: [Continued from 31st August] Conscious of the weaknesses in its story-telling ability exposed by the House of Commons debate of 31st August [<=q.v.], the British government now has Charles Masterson [<=6th August] invite 25 leading British authors to the new War Propaganda Bureau [6th August<=>22nd September], Wellington House, London, to discuss how they might best turn their individual literary skills toward helping the war effort. Amongst those present are (in alphabetical order) ...


William Archer [Wikipedia biography]; Sir James M. Barrie, 1st Baronet [Wikipedia biography] (creator of the Peter Pan stories); E. Arnold Bennett [Wikipedia biography]; [perhaps] R. Laurence Binyon [Wikipedia biography=>15th September]; Robert Bridges [Wikipedia biography]; G.K. Chesterton [Wikipedia biography]; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [<=21st August (ASIDE)] (creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes), Ford Madox [Hueffer => Ford]1919 [Wikipedia biography] (novelist and poet), John Galsworthy [Wikipedia biography] (novelist and playwright; creator of "The Forsyte Saga"); Thomas Hardy [Wikipedia biography=>5th September]; [by letter of unconditional support] Rudyard Kipling [Wikipedia biography]; John Masefield [Wikipedia biography]; [shortly afterward] A. A. Milne [Wikipedia biography] (creator of the Winnie-the-Pooh books), [Sir]1915 Henry Newbolt [<=1892] (Romantic Nationalist poet); the Canadian author-British politician Sir Gilbert Parker [1st Baronet]1915 [Wikipedia biography]; the editor of Punch magazine [Sir]1914 Owen Seaman [1st Baronet]1933 [Wikipedia biography]; G.M. Trevelyan [Wikipedia biography]; H.G. Wells [<=14th August] (novelist and journalist; "The Time Machine" (1895), "The Invisible Man" (1897), "The War of the Worlds" (1897), and the campaigning Zionist Israel Zangwill [Wikipedia biography].


Several popular writers, including the leftist playwright George Bernard Shaw [Wikipedia biography] and the entire Bloomsbury Group [Wikipedia factsheet], are specifically NOT invited, being considered likely risks to secrecy.  The adventure/crime writer Edgar Wallace [Wikipedia biography] is not in evidence on the list but by Christmas will nevertheless have turned out "Smithy and the Hun" [Amazon-Kindle], "Famous Scottish Regiments", "Sir John French", "Heroes All: Gallant Deeds", and "The Standard History of the War". The aforementioned William T. le Queux [<=1906 (19th March)] is also not apparent on the list but does his bit for the war effort by turning out a new invasion fantasy novel each month for the rest of the year. His 1914 titles include "The White Lie" [full text online], "The German Spy, A Present-Day Story", and (in collaboration with Edgar Wallace) "The War of the Nations". Of the known propagandists Hardy seems to have been first off the mark after only three days with his hits-the-spot "Men Who March Away" [=>5th September]. The British propaganda effort at this time will be closely studied after the war by Adolf Hitler [no biography needed], who will later claim to have learned much from it1. Only a century after the events will it emerge that at least one of the authors approached had the strength of character to see the proposal for what it might be and turn it down2 [sub-thread continues at 5th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1ASIDE - HOW BRITISH WW1 PROPAGANDA WORKED: The science of political propaganda is a fascinating research issue within the broader science of persuasive communication in general, and therefore shares many of that broader science's techniques [Wikipedia factsheet] and competing explanatory theories. More specifically, the Canadian academic Nick Milne [academic homepage at] has studied the British WW1 propaganda effort and in Milne (2014 online) he identifies the following three tricks of the trade …


(1) As far as practicable Wellington House's War Propaganda Bureau worked closely with commercial publishing houses (a) because it made the system largely self-funding [i.e., people paid for the privilege of being inveigled], and (b) because, having paid for the material, readers internalised that much more effectively the values espoused within it.


(2) The written word was complemented by posters, photos, pop-songs, slideshows, collectible postcards, cigarette cards [<=1895], and such-like. [The war, in modern parlance, was thoroughly "merchandised" - Ed.]


(3) The Bureau especially prized items of "personal propaganda", that is to say, testimonials from well-known and well-respected members of society not directly associated with the military. And because spontaneous testimonials of this nature were few and far between the Bureau went out of its way to engineer them, systematically identifying and involving (at its height) "tens of thousands of major figures in dozens of countries worldwide", providing them with carefully prepared "on message" briefing copy. Indeed, it is "entirely conceivable", Milne points out, that a humble clerk in Westminster would be indirectly writing sermons for preachers five thousand miles away (op. cit).


The government took the Bureau's job very seriously, and funded its expansion accordingly. In 1917 the Bureau was reorganised within the Foreign Office as the Department of Information [=>1917 (9th February)] under the author-diplomat John Buchan [1st Baron Tweedsmuir]1935 [Wikipedia biography=>1915 (??th February)], and in 1918 it was upgraded again into the Ministry of Information [=>1918 (4th March)] under the Anglo-Canadian press baron William M. Aitken [1st Baron Beaverbrook]1917 [Wikipedia biography]; Aitken, indeed, actually (and with some justification) claimed that he directed the thought of the world. One modern German assessment has it that in WW1 the Germans "had no chance", being completely outclassed in the no-lies-barred war for hearts and minds (Grund, 2014 [online at]).


2ASIDE: Milne also draws our attention to an ethical stand taken by the Irish poet William B. Yeats [Wikipedia biography=>15th September].


1914 [Thursday 3rd September] The Eastern Campaign [II - The Fall of Lemberg/Lviv]: [Continued from 26th August] Despite their setback at Tannenberg in northern Poland [<=26th August] the Russians have been making solid gains against the Austro-Hungarians further south in Galicia [map, etc.], and now capture the cathedral city of Lemberg/Lviv [map, etc.] [sub-thread continues at 7th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Thursday 3rd September] Irish Home Rule [XXVII - The 36th (Ulster) Division]: [Continued from 16th August] Recruiting begins in loyalist Ireland for a new infantry division to be commanded by [Sir]1922 Oliver Nugent [Wikipedia biography=>1916 (1st July)] [sub-thread continues at 11th September ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD] [THREAD = WW1 DIVISIONAL HISTORIES]


1914 [Thursday 3rd September] The 1st Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [9th August<=>4th October] arrives back in Britain from Malta and is assigned, along with other returning units, to 7th Division [Wikipedia factsheet=>4th October], assembling in and around the New Forest. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS] [THREAD = WW1 DIVISIONAL HISTORIES]


**********  LAST HOURS OF THE GREAT RETREAT  **********

**********  LAST HOURS OF THE GREAT RETREAT  **********

**********  LAST HOURS OF THE GREAT RETREAT  **********

**********  LAST HOURS OF THE GREAT RETREAT  **********

**********  LAST HOURS OF THE GREAT RETREAT  **********

1914 [Thursday 3rd-4th September] Britain's Part in the Frontiers Campaign [X - The Retreat Slows]: [Continued from 1st September] The 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [1st September<=>5th September] arrives at Lagny [map, etc.] and digs in. Here is one officer's account ...


"September 3rd - [...] We finally struggled into Lagny about 9 a.m., having covered 26 miles in 26 hours. Ordinarily speaking, that was not a great feat, but quite an achievement if our previous exertions are taken into account [... and] as soon as I was able I lay down for a sleep which lasted about eighteen hours. September 4th - We all had a jolly good night's sleep. It was a treat to wake up naturally instead of being dragged out in the middle of the night. The day was spent eating and sleeping. A mail was received and our first newspapers, the latter telling us much more than we knew ourselves. [...] Lagny was the end of the Retreat. It was also the nearest point to Paris reached by the Germans" (Dunn, 1938, pp45-46) [sub-thread continues at next entry but as The First Marne Campaign ...] [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]







1914 [Thursday 3rd September] The First Marne Campaign [I - The Germans Overreach Themselves]: French aerial reconnaissance reports indicate that Von Kluck's [1st September<=>5th September] First Army, having advanced the 60 miles from the Oise in only 48 hours, is crossing the Marne at Château-Thierry [map, etc.]. Since this is fully 60 miles east of Paris it indicates that von Kluck is continuing his attempt to get in behind the French Fifth and Fourth Armies. More ominously for him, he has by the same token also started to run dangerously ahead of his own supporting supply columns and is beginning to expose his western flank to Maunoury's [29th August<=>4th September] Sixth Army concentrating to the north-east of Paris. With so much at stake, Joffre [30th August<=>4th September] takes the opportunity to replace the exhausted Lanrezac [<=1st September] as commanding general of the "discouraged but not demoralised" (Spears, p385) Fifth Army with Franchet d'Espèrey [29th August<=>4th September] [continues next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 4th September] The First Marne Campaign [II - Two More Important Meetings]: [Continued from preceding entry] Newly appointed as Commander of the French Fifth Army Franchet d'Espèrey [3rd September<=>5th September] attends an urgently arranged meeting at Bray-sur-Seine [map, etc.], 40 miles east of the newly established GHQ at Melun [map, etc.], with the B.E.F.'s Deputy Chief of Staff [Sir]1915 Henry Wilson [1st Baronet]1919 [Wikipedia biography] to discuss a joint B.E.F.-Fifth Army counter-offensive on the Marne [details in Spears, pp388-391, if interested].


ASIDE: Sir John French [24th August<=>5th September] was delayed en route due "partly to tyre trouble and partly to blocks on the road caused by refugees" (Spears, p388).


At GHQ, meanwhile, the commander of the Sixth Army Maunoury [3rd September<=>5th September] and the commander of the Paris Garrison Joseph S. Gallieni [Wikipedia biography=>5th September] are meeting (in French's and Wilson's absence) with the B.E.F.'s Chief of Staff Sir Archibald J. Murray [Wikipedia biography] to discuss a simultaneous joint B.E.F.-Sixth Army counter-offensive toward the Ourcq [details in Spears, pp397-399, if interested]. Torn between their responsibilities to the Sixth Army on the B.E.F.'s left and Fifth Army on its right (and with negotiations being carried out by deputies rather than principals) there results much confusion as to each army's precise axis of advance and initial local objective.


ASIDE: Spears shows the differences in understanding in Maps XIV(A) and XIV(B) (pp392-393) and the actual position in Map XV (pp416-417).


Not yet fully aware of the extent of this confusion Joffre [3rd September<=>5th September] continues his deliberations and at 2200hr issues Instruction Générale No. 6, as follows (Spears' translation1) ...


"The movements to be carried out on the 5th will be: (a) All the available forces of the Sixth Army to be north-east of Meaux [map, etc.] ready to cross the Ourcq between Lizy-sur-Ourcq [map, etc.] and May-en-Multien [map, etc.] in the general direction of Château-Thierry [maplink at 3rd September]. The available elements of the Cavalry Corps which are at hand will be under the orders of General Maunoury for this operation. (b) The British Army established on the front Changis-Coulommiers [map, etc.; map, etc.] facing east will be ready to attack in the general direction of Montmirail [map, etc.]. (c) The Fifth Army, closing in slightly on its left, will establish itself on the general line Courtacon [map, etc.]-Esternay [map, etc.]-Sézanne [maplink at 29th August], ready to attack south-north. Louis Conneau's [Wikipedia biography=>12th October] Cavalry Corps will assure the liaison between the British and Fifth Armies. (d) The Ninth Army (General Foch) will cover the right of the Fifth Army by holding the southern exits of the St. Gond Marshes [map, etc.] and by moving part of its forces on to the plateau north of Sézanne. The offensive will be assumed by these armies on the morning of September 6th" (Spears, p405).


This instruction will reach the French liaison officers at (British) GHQ at 0300hr the following morning, but will not be shown to Sir John French until he wakens at 0700hr [sub-thread continues at 5th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Sir John French offers a slightly different translation in his 1919 memoirs [Project Gutenberg full text online].


1914 [Friday 4th September-10th September] The Frontiers Campaign [XVI - Lorraine (The Grand Couronné)]: [Continued from 29th August] This battle is fought in the heights of the  Grand Couronné [<=24th August] east of Nancy between Crown Prince Rupprecht's [24th August<=>5th September] Sixth (Bavarian) Army and de Castelnau's [24th August<=>5th September] Second Army. It is a battle of extreme ferocity to start with, for the following reason ...


"Although the main [Marne] attack was to be delivered by the armies of the left, the armies of the right and centre had important parts to play in Joffre's plan. [...] The Fourth Army was to hold the enemy whilst the Third Army on its right made a drive westward into the flank of the German forces marching to the west of the Argonne. Castelnau's Second Army was to defend its positions at all costs [... because] if he failed to hold the Couronné of Nancy the enemy would find the way open for an advance in rear of the main French line" (Spears, p425).


The Germans attack for five solid days but to no great avail, and the offensive will be called off altogether on 10th September when von Moltke [29th August<=>14th September] resolves that he needs the Bavarians further north. A separate offensive around St. Mihiel [map, etc.] has its own entry [sub-thread continues at 7th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 4th-9th September] The German armed merchant cruiser Kronprinz Wilhelm [6th August<=>7th October] captures the freighter SS Indian Prince [no convenient shipography] and spends the next five days transferring fuel and stores from her, whereupon she is sunk with demolition charges. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Saturday 5th September] Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Broadcasting [CXVII - The German Navy Cut Off]: [Continued from 2nd August] The U.S. Navy establishes a neutrality-guaranteeing presence within the Tuckerton [<=19th June] and Sayville [<=1912 (11th October)] Wireless Stations, enforcing their use for peacetime purposes and doing their best to prevent naval traffic [sub-thread continues at 1915 (6th May) ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SIGNALLING AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS]


**********  A FAMOUS BRITISH UNTRUTH  **********

1914 [Saturday 5th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XIV - The Angels of Mons]: [Continued from 2nd September] In diarised material compiled after the war, the British intelligence officer John Charteris [Wikipedia biography] refers to a story (more on which shortly) circulating within the B.E.F. around this time concerning "the Angels of Mons" [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [5th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XV(a) - "Your Country Needs You"]: [Continued from preceding entry] Today's London Opinion famously carries a recruiting appeal under the title "Your Country Needs You" [image in the bio following] by the commercial artist Alfred Leate [Wikipedia biography]. The work will be much copied [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 RECRUITMENT]



1914 [Saturday 5th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XV(b) - "Men Who March Away"]: [Continued from preceding entry] The ageing British novelist-poet (and now official propagandist [<=2nd September]) Thomas Hardy [<=2nd September] turns his hand to war poetry with "Men Who March Away" [full text online]. The title will in due course be adopted by Ian M. Parsons [no convenient biography] for his 1965 anthology "Men Who March Away: Poems of the First World War" [sub-thread continues at 7th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 POETRY ][THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]







1914 [Saturday 5th September] The First Marne Campaign [III - Another Important Meeting]: [Continued from 4th September] At 0700hr Sir John French [4th September<=>6th September] is told the contents of Instruction No. 6. He considers its contents over breakfast, takes advice from his Staff, and at 0930hr replies to the effect that the B.E.F. will just about be able to reach its allocated positional objectives on time. Later in the day, however, Joffre [4th September<=>17th September] - unwilling to leave anything to chance - makes a point of attending GHQ to meet with French in person. Spears (1930) will later remember the occasion thus ...


"We hung on his every word. We saw as he evoked [his plan] the immense battlefield over which the corps, drawn by the magnet of his will, were moving like pieces of intricate machinery until they clicked into their appointed places. We saw trains in long processions labouring under the weight of their human freight, great piles of shells mounting up by the side of the ready and silent guns. And all this was taking place behind a veil so thin and tenuous that none could perceive it, but through which no German appeared able to see. [...] Joffre was now foretelling what would happen on the morrow and on the day after and on the day after that, and as a prophet he was heard with absolute faith. We were listening to the story of the victory of the Marne, and we absolutely believed. [...] He spoke of the order he was issuing to his troops. The time for retreating was over. Those who could not advance were to die where they stood. No man was to give way even as much as a foot. [...] Then, turning full on Sir John, with an appeal so intense as to be irresistable, clasping both his own hands so as to hurt them, General Joffre said: 'Monsieur le Maréchal, c'est la France qui vous supplie' [= "Field Marshall, France beseeches you"]. His hands fell to his sides wearily. The effort he had made had exhausted him. We all looked at Sir John. He had understood and was under the stress of strong emotion. Tears stood in his eyes, welled over and rolled down his cheeks. He tried to say something in French. For a moment he struggled with his feelings and with the language, then turning to an [aide] he exclaimed: 'Damn it, I can't explain. Tell him that all that men can do our fellows will do'" (op. cit., p414-418).


ASIDE: It will later emerge (e.g., Spears, 1930; Dunn, 1938) that there were significant difficulties countermanding orders which had already gone out for the next day's retreat, resulting in many British units spending the first day of the advance well to the rear of their French allies.


The ensuing week-long "Battle of the Marne" is fought out between (both sides from west to east) the French Sixth, Fifth, and Ninth Armies under Maunoury [3rd September<=>next entry], (newly appointed) Franchet d'Espèrey [3rd September<=>6th September], and Foch [29th August<=>next entry but one], respectively, supported by Sordet's [<=24th August] Cavalry Corps covering Sixth Army's left (i.e., northern) flank and by the B.E.F. in the right angle between Sixth and Fifth Army, and the German First, Second, and Third Armies under von Kluck [3rd September<=>next entry], von Bülow [29th August<=>next entry but one], and von Hausen [23rd August<=>next entry but one], respectively. Langle de Cary's [18th August<=>6th September] Fourth Army and Sarrail's [30th August<=>6th September] Third Army are instructed to pin down Württemberg's [18th August<=>10th September]           Fourth Army and Crown Prince Wilhelm's [18th August<=>10th September] Fifth Army in their respective sectors, and Gallieni's [4th September<=>7th September] Army of Paris - with no little daring - has moved forward en masse out of its redoubts to support Sixth Army.


ASIDE - THE PARIS GARRISON ON THE MARNE (1): Paris was defended by a roughly circular system of fortifications some 20 miles out from the city centre, including in the north-east the sector Dammartin-en-Goële [map, etc.] to Lagny [maplink at 3rd September]. Taking advantage of the Parisian railway network Sixth Army had been created in situ along this sector, and the Army of Paris simply had to move itself forward out of its forts, depots, and barracks to join them. An officer with 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [3rd September<=>10th September] will later recall that his unit's retreat between 0200hr and 0900hr on 5th September was often held up "by the passage in the opposite direction of motor lorries and buses, and vehicles of all sorts, filled to overflowing with French troops brought up from round Paris" (Dunn, 1938, p48) [sub-thread continues at 7th September (ASIDE (2))].


The strongpoint at Maubeuge, 100 miles north, which has been cut off and under siege for the past 10 days and will not be able to hold out much longer, is allowed to enter surrender negotiations.


ASIDE - THE FALL OF MAUBEUGE: It is important to note the fate of Maubeuge at this juncture because the surrender freed up for use elsewhere those elements of the German First and Second Armies which had been detached to conduct the siege.


Within the B.E.F.'s 18-mile sector the units are arranged as follows: On the left Pulteney's [1st September<=>6th September] III Corps is centred on Rozay-en-Brie [map, etc.], in the centre Smith-Dorrien's [1st September<=>6th September] II Corps is centred on Tournan-en-Brie [map, etc.], and on the right Haig's [1st September<=>8th September] I Corps is centred on Brie-Comte-Robert [map, etc.]. Allenby's [1st September<=>8th September] Cavalry Corps is close by on the right ready to support as necessary. Although not scheduled to begin until the following morning the counter-attack actually begins at 1300hr [see next entry]. The most important engagements are individually recorded over the coming pages, and once German reserves start being sucked into the Marne sectors, de Castelnau's [4th September<=>7th September] Second Army will start to be transferred the 200 miles from its concentration around Nancy [maplink at 14th August] to a new concentration north of Paris and east of Beauvais [map, etc.], Picardy, where it will shortly be playing an important role in the Race to the Sea [=>15th September]. Crown Prince Rupprecht's [4th September<=>7th September] Sixth (Bavarian) Army will mirror this relocation to the northwest a few days later [=>10th September] and will likewise play an important role in said Race [sub-thread continues at next entry ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  THE ALLIED COUNTER-ATTACK BEGINS  **********

**********  THE ALLIED COUNTER-ATTACK BEGINS  **********

**********  THE ALLIED COUNTER-ATTACK BEGINS  **********

**********  THE ALLIED COUNTER-ATTACK BEGINS  **********

**********  THE ALLIED COUNTER-ATTACK BEGINS  **********

1914 [Saturday 5th (1300hr)-9th September] The First Marne Campaign [IV - The Battle of the Ourcq]: [Continued from preceding entry] This battle is the first major action within the broader Marne Campaign and is fought between Maunoury's [preceding entry<=>6th September] Paris-enhanced Sixth Army and those elements of von Kluck's [preceding entry<=>9th September] First Army holding the Ourcq sector. Maunoury is moving into his jumping-off positions in readiness for a drive eastward toward the River Ourcq [map, etc.] but is so close to the First Army's advancing IV Reserve Corps under Johann von Gronau [Wikipedia biography] that the campaign begins early [sub-thread continues at 6th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Sunday 6th September-4th October] The Serbian Campaign [II - The Battle of Drina]: [Continued from 15th August] This battle is fought for control of the Drina river crossings into southern Serbia between an Austro-Hungarian army under Oskar Potiorek [15th August<=>16th November] and a Serbian/Montenegran army under Stepan Stepanović [Wikipedia biography]. The outcome is a hard-fought Austro-Hungarian victory at the bridgeheads followed by the withdrawal of the Serbs into a chain of hilltop fortifications to the south [sub-thread continues at 16th November ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  "CALM IN THE ADVANCE"1  **********

1914 [Sunday 6th-7th September] The First Marne Campaign [V - The First Two Full Days]: [Continued from 5th September] During the first two full days of the Marne offensive the Germans suddenly realise the threat to their First Army's western flank and reverse their columns to conduct a Great Retreat of their own ...


ASIDE - ARMIES ON THE MOVE: We have already remarked some time ago as follows ...


ASIDE REPEATED FROM 1626 (BATTLE OF LUTTER AM BAMBERG): "The problem with running away from one battlefield is that unless your enemy expressly lets you go you rarely make it to the next. Your biggest problem is deciding whether to put your fighting troops ahead of your baggage train, or behind it, and both decisions are wrong. If you put your troops ahead of your baggage train then it leaves all your food, ammunition, tents, etc., and all but your lightest cannon, undefended. If you put your troops behind your baggage train then your retreat will be at the speed of the slowest cart and the weakest wagon-wheel. The best solution is to withdraw with as little panic as possible, and with an effective rear-guard to keep your pursuers at a distance. It is also useful to be leaving behind a place worth looting because is likely to distract your pursuers. We shall be studying the relationship between logistics and mobility in WW1 in due course."


More recently we have also already noted that an infantry brigade on the move occupies some three miles of road and moves at about one and a half miles an hour [see the quotation from Murland (2011) at 24th August]. This means that a three-corps army will string out to some 75 miles in length, of which only the first dozen men (out of the 90,000 or so involved) can fight in an advance and the last dozen in a retreat. It is the job of staff officers to prevent such inefficiency, that is to say, to enable an army to move and fight (and eat and sleep, etc.) at the same time by using all available roads and by-ways, phased departures, strong rearguards, spoiling local counter-attacks, etc., etc.. And although most recruits can be turned into effective front-line fighters, the same is not true of staff officers, who fight with their forebrains rather than their instincts, and whose mistakes - when they make them - are far more damaging than enemy action.


Maunoury's [5th September<=>8th September] Sixth Army2  now spends 48 hours pushing von Gronau's [5th September<=>8th September] IV Reserve Corps back to a line from Varreddes [map, etc.] to Acy-en-Multien [map, etc.], an advance of around 15 miles.


STUDENT EXERCISE: Using Google Maps find Acy-en-Multien, and then adjust centring and scaling so that Acy is at the top of your screen, Meaux/Varreddes is at the bottom, and Coulombs-en-Valois [map, etc.] is off to the right. Now place your left little fingertip on Acy and your left index fingertip on Varreddes. This is where Sixth Army were after two full days of fighting. Now without moving your little finger rotate your wrist 90º counter-clockwise so that your index finger passes Lizy-sur-Ourcq [maplink at 4th September] (where the Ourcq flows into the Marne) and points now to Coulombs. This is where Sixth Army will end up after two further days fighting, thereby maintaining alignment with the B.E.F. as it advances on its right [=>8th September].


To the south of Sixth Army Sir John French [5th September<=>8th September] spends most of the first day reversing the B.E.F.s columns. As per Instruction No. 6 [<=4th September] the B.E.F. then cautiously advances on the second day, meeting no significant resistance, to a line roughly centred on Coulommiers [maplink at 4th September], pivoting themselves as they do so to face north-east rather than north. To their right Franchet d'Espèrey's [5th September<=>8th September] Fifth Army spends 6th September advancing toward the highway [the modern N4] between Courtacon [maplink at 4th September] and Sézanne [maplink at 29th August], against a controlled withdrawal by von Bülow's [preceding entry but one<=>10th September] rearguard III Corps, commanded by Ewald von Lochow [Wikipedia biography=>8th September]. Beyond Sézanne, the first element of Foch's [5th September<=>8th September] Ninth Army, namely the independent 42e Division commanded by Paul F. Grossetti [Wikipedia biography=>21st October], finds itself having to anchor Ninth Army's left flank around La Villeneuve-lès-Charleville [map, etc.], while the main body of that army struggles to hold back a surprise Second and Third Army attack3 in the Saint-Gond Marshes sector at 0415hr on 8th September. Further east still, beyond Sommesous [maplink at 29th August], Langle de Cary's [5th September<=>8th September] Fourth Army and Sarrail's [5th September<=>8th September] Third Army continue to put pressure on the German Fourth and Fifth Armies between Bar le Duc [map, etc.] and Verdun [maplink at 21st August]. Sarrail's troops are frequently outclassed by Kurt von Pritzelwitz's [Wikipedia biography=>8th September] VI Corps [sub-thread continues at 8th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE - BANNER QUOTATION: This description from Spears (1930, p439).


2ASIDE - THE PARIS GARRISON ON THE MARNE (2): [Continued from 5th September (ASIDE (1))] Although Gallieni's [<=5th September] Army of Paris had been moving forward since 5th September it is important to remember that Paris was also the rail hub for reinforcements in transit from further afield. The passage of one unit in particular - the 7th Division, being transferred from Fourth Army to Sixth Army - suddenly caught the Press's imagination. This unit arrived in Paris on the evening of 7th September only to find that there were no onward trains available. Gallieni accordingly requisitioned 600 Paris taxicabs, placed five soldiers in each, and convoyed them toward the sound of gunfire. Newsreel coverage "went viral" worldwide [we recommend this YouTube museum videocollage], and a centenary commemorative in the Daily Express (7th September 2014) reported that the bill came to FF70,102 [roughly GBP280,000 in today's money] (although it failed to mention whether this included a tip). For more formal details, see Spears (1930, p546).


3ASIDE - THE GREAT POKER GAME OF WAR: It is likely that the German attack in the Saint-Gond sector was merely a spoiling attack intended to throw the Allied advance elsewhere off balance. It is possible that it was timed to tie down Ninth Army while the Sixth (Bavarian) Army attacks in the St. Mihiel sector [see next entry].


1914 [Monday 7th September-13th September] The Frontiers Campaign [XVII - Lorraine (The St. Mihiel Offensive)]: [Continued from 4th September] This battle is fought as an adjunct to the ongoing battles of the Marne [<=6th September] and Grand Couronné [<=4th September] in an attempt by Crown Prince Rupprecht's [5th September<=>10th September] Sixth (Bavarian) Army to break the French line in southern Lorraine between Verdun [maplink at 21st August] and Pont-à-Mousson [map, etc.]. The French line is held by a loose line of infantry units strung out across the Woëvre Forest massif up to 20 miles in front of a much harder line of seven Séré de Rivières forts [<=1874] dotted along the Côtes de Meuse [the "Meuse Heights"; map, etc.]. The sector falls between the command jurisdiction of the Verdun Strongpoint to the north and de Castelnau's [5th September<=>17th September] Second Army to the south. The Germans quickly force the defenders back onto their fort line, but have thoughtfully brought with them some of their super-heavy siege artillery so that after only 24 hours these forts are under heavy bombardment [see, for example, the experiences at Fort de Troyon at]. However the commanders of these forts are told in no uncertain terms to hold pending reinforcement, for if the Germans are allowed to get across the Meuse it will cut the supply lines up to Verdun. The forts do their job, and the strategic situation is saved when on 10th September Rupprecht is instructed to prepare instead for entrainment north, where the need is greater. Nevertheless the Germans have successfully created the "St. Mihiel Salient" and Rupprecht's replacements will finally take the forts later in the month. The salient will then remain in German hands until retaken by the Americans in 1918 [=>1918 (12th September)] [sub-thread continues at 10th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Monday 7th-11th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XVI - Reporting the Battle of Mons]: [Continued from 5th September] The Press Bureau [31st August<=>24th September] permits a detailed account of the Battle of Mons [<=23rd August] to be released. It appears in the London Gazette on 10th September and is then reprinted in the Standard on 11th. We have already covered most of the constituent actions and events. Other coverage also includes the first printed mention of the "Angels of Mons" [<=5th September] in a letter to a provincial newspaper. This latter story will now be further embellished by one of Lord Northcliffe's [27th August<=>11th September] staff propagandists, the journalist Arthur Machen [Wikipedia biography=>29th September], in his story "The Bowmen" [=>29th September] [sub-thread continues at 11th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]



1914 [Monday 7th-14th September] The Eastern Campaign [III - The First Battle of the Masurian Lakes]: [Continued from 3rd September] This battle is fought between the German Eight Army under von Hindenburg [26th August<=>28th September] and the Russian First and Tenth Armies under Paul von Rennenkampf [Wikipedia biography]. The outcome is another against-the-odds catastrophic Russian defeat with heavily disproportionate casualties [sub-thread continues at 1st December ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Monday 7th September] Coronel and the Falklands [III - Von Spee Still Moving Eastward]: [Continued from 11th August] Von Spee's [11th August<=>11th September] Asia Squadron re-coals at Christmas Island [map, etc.] [sub-thread continues at 10th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Tuesday 8th September] Following a navigational error1 RMS Oceanic [25th August<=>sinks this day] runs aground on the Isle of Foula [map, etc.] in the Faroes Archipelago. All her crew are rescued. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1ASIDE: The navigator, one David Blair [<=25th August] (whose personal binoculars might have saved the Titanic had he not been transferred from her just before she sailed) was subsequently court martialled and found guilty of "suffering [his ship] to be stranded".


1914 [Tuesday 8th-9th September] The First Marne Campaign [VI - Days #3 and #4 (Back Across the Marne)]: [Continued from 6th September] During the third and fourth days of the Marne offensive the Germans in the west execute a fighting retreat back toward the Marne crossings around Château-Thierry [maplink at 3rd September], but in the east they contrive to mount a spoiling offensive of their own against Foch's [6th September<=>10th September] Ninth Army. Maunoury's [6th September<=>10th September] Sixth Army makes only slow progress against von Gronau's [6th September<=>10th September] IV Reserve Corps east of Meaux [maplink at 4th September] (these latter having now been urgently reinforced), duly executing the 90º left wheel manoeuvre previously described [<=6th September (STUDENT EXERCISE)]. The B.E.F. and Franchet d'Espèrey's [6th September<=>8th September] Fifth Army make more rapid progress from Coulommiers [maplink at 4th September] to form an arc from La Ferté-sous-Jouarre [map, etc.] to Château-Thierry (B.E.F.), and then from Château-Thierry to Charleville [map, etc.] (Fifth Army), where they butt up against the left wing of Ninth Army. By daylight on 9th September Allenby [5th September<=>10th October] has a cavalry screen in place north of the Marne and Haig's [5th September<=>13th September] I Corps is making good use of the crossings between La Ferté and Nogent-l'Artaud [map, etc.]. Once across the river, however, they find that they are ahead of the general line of advance and so sit tight five miles west of Château-Thierry in the countryside short of Coupru [map, etc.]. Long after there would have been any propaganda value in inventing the story, Spears (1930) will recall this phase of the advance as follows ...


"... hundreds of little combats were explained by the position of the dead who had taken part in them: here a shallow trench or ditch full of Germans who had been caught by the 75s, there a group of Frenchmen lying in the open where a machine-gun had caught them; then five or six Germans lying in a haystack. And always, in the German trenches, an incredible quantity of empty bottles. [...] The German dead, strange to say, turned absolutely black a few hours after death, so much so that it was difficult to believe they were not negroes. Different theories were advanced to account for this. Some said it was the result of being killed by the French 75s, others that it was the effect of drinking so much wine" (Spears, p444).


Langle de Cary's [6th September<=>10th September] Fourth Army and Sarrail's [6th September<=>10th September] Third Army continue to put pressure on the German Fourth and Fifth Armies between Vitry-le-François [map, etc.] and Verdun [maplink at 21st August] [sub-thread continues at 10th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Tuesday 8th September] The Viceroy's Telegram: The Under-Secretary of State for India, Charles H. Roberts [Wikipedia biography], reads out before the House of Commons a telegram from the Viceroy detailing how the Indians have generously and enthusiastically been contributing men, money, and material toward the British war effort. The Viceroy's point is to reassure Parliament that India, as do Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, regards Britain's war as their war too. One wag suggests that a copy of the telegram should be sent to the Kaiser (Hansard, 66:574-578).  [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Wednesday 9th September] The Belgian Campaign [VI - The Battle of Antwerp (Von Beseler Takes Over]: [Continued from 24th August] Von Kluck [5th September<=>10th September] delegates the assault on Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] to Hans H. von Beseler [Wikipedia biography=>28th September] who, now that the Siege of Maubeuge [<=26th August] is over, now has First Army's super-heavy siege artillery on its way to him [sub-thread continues at 20th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]]


1914 [Thursday 10th-14th September] Coronel and the Falklands [IV - Dresden Plays Cat-and-Mouse]: [Continued from 7th September] On 10th September Cradock [7th August<=>5th October] sends half his forces - the ageing armoured cruiser HMS Monmouth [Wikipedia shipography=>1st November] HMS Glasgow [Wikipedia shipography=>31st October], and the auxiliary cruiser HMS Otranto [Wikipedia shipography=>1st November] - under the command of John Luce [Wikipedia biography=>5th October], to patrol the Magellan Straights. Cradock does likewise in the South Atlantic out of the Falkland Islands. However by thus splitting his forces he is flying in the face of the Admiralty orders of 14th September, which read ...


"There is a strong probability of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau arriving in the Magellan Straits or on the west coast of South America. [...] Leave sufficient force to deal with Dresden and [SMS Karlsruhe [6th August<=>4th November]]. Concentrate a squadron strong enough to meet Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, making Falkland Islands your coaling base. Canopus [7th August<=>18th October] is now en route to Abrolhos, Defence is joining you from the Mediterranean ..." (quoted in Bennett, 1962, p81). [Sub-thread continues at 14th September ...] [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


ASIDE: Bennett (1962) has SMS Dresden [5th August<=>12th October] playing cat-and-mouse at Orange Bay [map, etc.] between 9th and 11th September.


1914 [Thursday 10th September] The British 6th Division [31st August<=>1st October] starts to disembark at St. Nazaire, from where it will be taken forward by train to join Pulteney's [5th September<=>13th September] III Corps. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Thursday 10th-12th September] The First Marne Campaign [VII - Days #5 through #7 (Back Across the Aisne)]: [Continued from 8th September] Following von Bülow's [<=6th September] spoiling attack in the Saint-Gond sector the Germans finally decide that the Marne Salient is untenable and begin a full-scale withdrawal back to hastily prepared positions on the heights north of the Aisne. For example, an officer of the 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [5th September<=>13th September], advancing from La Ferté-sous-Jouarre [maplink at 8th September], will later recall as follows ...


"Signs multiplied that the Germans were retreating. Wagons, a gun, pieces of equipment, lay about. [...] And the cavalry evidently found that they could ride better without their lances. For three miles beyond [La Corbière, close to La Ferté] bottles were practically touching on both sides of the road ..." (Dunn, 1938, p59).



Each Allied Army now presses its opposite number's rearguard units northward, as follows ...


Maunoury's [8th September<=>17th September] Sixth Army follows von Kluck's [9th September<=>13th September] First Army toward Soissons [maplink at 1st September]. The B.E.F. tucks in tightly on its right.


Franchet d'Espèrey's [8th September<=>13th September] Fifth Army retakes Reims [map, etc.] on 12th September and then follows von Bülow's Second Army toward Neufchâtel-sur-Aisne [map, etc.], 10 miles north of Reims.


Foch's [8th September<=>8th October] Ninth Army retakes Châlons-sue-Marne1 [map, etc.] on 12th September and then follows von Hausen's [8th September<=>13th September] Third Army toward a line running southeast from Neufchâtel to Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand [map, etc.].


Langle de Cary's [8th September<=>17th December] Fourth Army follows Württemberg's [5th August<=>25th September] Fourth Army toward a line running east from Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand to Vienne-le-Château [map, etc.].


Sarrail's [8th September<=>1915 (22nd July)] Third Army follows Crown Prince Wilhelm's [8th September<=>26th September] Fifth Army toward Varennes-en-Argonne [map, etc.].


These movements are noteworthy in the present context because from the Oise to Switzerland they will remain the line of the Western Front for the remainder of the war - the line of the front north of the Oise is about to be decided in the Race for the Sea [=>15th September] [sub-thread continues at 13th September as First Aisne Campaign ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Châlons-sur-Marne was formally renamed Châlons-en-Champagne in 1998.


1914 [Thursday 10th September] The Frontiers Campaign [XVIII - Lorraine (The Bavarians March Northward)]: [Continued from 4th September] At 0900hr Crown Prince Rupprecht [7th September<=>15th September] receives orders to scale down the St. Mihiel Offensive [<=7th September] with immediate effect, and to prepare his Sixth (Bavarian) Army instead for transfer northward. The St. Mihiel attack proceeds with the reduction and occupation of the forts on the Meuse Heights [<=7th September] by V Corps under Hermann von Strantz [Wikipedia biography], detached for the purpose from Fifth Army opposite Verdun. Von Heeringen's [24th August<=>13th September] Seventh Army follows the Bavarians northward [sub-thread continues at 13th September First Aisne Campaign and 15th September Race to the Sea …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Thursday 10th September] The British artist Paul Nash [Wikipedia biography=>1917 (25th May)] enlists in the 28th (County of London) Battalion [The Artists' Rifles] [<=1908 (1st April)]. [THREAD = WW1 INDIVIDUAL HISTORIES]



1914 [Friday 11th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XVII - The Problem of "Shirkers" Exposed]: [Continued from 7th September] Describing himself as "Capt. Late RFA Company's Forces" and giving the address "St. Helier, Jersey", a certain K. Lyons Montgomery1 [no convenient biography] has a letter published in Lord Northcliffe's [5th September<=>15th September] The Standard in which he puts forward the following interesting proposal ...


"Sir, Let the women of the districts, towns, and villages of Great Britain form committees and sub-committees who will go round and put down the names of all single men eligible for soldiering, and opposite each name the reason he gives for not enlisting. Copies of these lists should be put up in a prominent place, such as market house, police court, and post office. Also all eligible men who hold back should be boycotted by all women in the town or village where or near where they live. A good heading on the notice would be: 'Our Village Cowards'."


The issue of what to do with "shirkers" - men who for whatever reason, including conscientious, avoid enlisting - is about to become increasingly bitter over the coming months [sub-thread continues at 15th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 RECRUITMENT TECHNIQUES]


1ASIDE: The Lyons-Montgomery family stems in the mid-18th Century from the minor British land-owning and/or military nobility of British Ireland.


1914 [Friday 11th-14th September] Action in the Pacific [VIII - The Rabaul Landings and the Battle of Bita Paka]: [Continued from 2nd September] At 0330hr 11th September the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force [<=12th August] and its Royal Australian Navy escort start to offload shore parties to seize control of Rabaul [map, etc.], Neu Pommern [= modern New Guinea], and to destroy the German wireless station at Bita Paka [map, etc.]. The German defence is led by Carl von Klewitz [no convenient biography]. Australian casualties are six killed and four wounded [for details of this operation we recommend Perryman (2014 online)]. The escort ships had been half expecting to find the German Asia Squadron under von Spee [7th September<=>14th September] in Rabaul Harbour, but it has already left to seek its fortune off the west coast of South America [to follow their fortunes switch to the Coronel and the Falklands sub-thread]. One 20-man German party under Hermann P. Detzner [Wikipedia biography] is patrolling the interior at the time of the landing and, rather than surrender, engages in a low-grade guerrilla campaign for the rest of the war [sub-thread continues at 31st October  …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  "KITCHENER'S ARMY" - THE SECOND 100,000  **********

1914 [Friday 11th September] Irish Home Rule [XXVIII - The 16th (Irish) Division]: [Continued from 3rd September] The British War Office approves the establishment of a K21 division in Ireland to bring to the field the first tranche of the service battalions presently being assembled from Irish recruiting stations. Click here to see the detailed composition of this new unit [sub-thread continues at 18th September ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD] [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1ASIDE: The descriptor "K2" indicates the six divisions - one Scottish, one Irish, and four English - authorised on 11th September 1914 to cope with the second wave of New Army volunteers - full details at


**********  "KITCHENER'S ARMY" - THE THIRD 100,000  **********

1914 [Sunday 13th September] The British War Office approves the establishment of six K3 divisions to bring to the field the third tranche of the service battalions presently being assembled. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Sunday 13th-28th September] The First Aisne Campaigne: [A.k.a. the First Battle of the Aisne] [Continued from 10th September First Marne Campaign] This two-week battle is fought between the Allied left and the German right wings as they stood on the last day of the Battle of the Marne [<=10th September]. Specifically the German First Army has decided to make a stand north of the Aisne, along a 30-mile line from Tracy-le-Mont [map, etc.] to the eastern end of the Chemin des Dames heights [Wikipedia factsheet=>1917 (16th April)] at Cerny-en-Laonnois [map, etc.]. These now face the French Sixth Army attempting to cross the Aisne between Compiègne [maplink at 1st September] and Soissons [maplink at 1st September], and the B.E.F. attempting to do likewise between Soissons and Villers-en-Prayères [map, etc.]. The right wing of the German Second Army has ended up on a 15-mile front between the Aisne at Condé-sur-Suippe [map, etc.] and the heathland north-east of Reims [maplink at 10th September], where it faces Fifth Army, fresh from its reoccupation of Reims. Fifth Army also has XVIII Corps under de Maud'huy [14th August<=>29th September] north of the Aisne around Craonne [map, etc.]. These had been heading for the 12-mile gap between First Army and Second Army, but now find that gap blocked in the nick of time by the most advanced unit of von Heeringen's [<=10th September] newly transferred Seventh Army, namely VII Reserve Corps under Hans von Zwehl [Wikipedia biography]. Within the B.E.F.'s sector Haig's [8th September<=>5th October] I Corps is developing a bridgehead at Villers, whilst Smith-Dorrien's [5th September<=>8th October] II Corps and Pulteney's [10th September<=>10th October] III Corps are doing likewise around Vailly-sur-Aisne [map, etc.] and Venizel [map, etc.], respectively. The sheer weight of Allied numbers quickly allows the riverline to be secured ...


ASIDE: In fact [Sir]1915 Aylmer G. Hunter-Weston's [Wikipedia biography=>1915 (11th April)] 11th Brigade (part of III Corps' 4th Division) had - thanks to a bold 30-mile forced march - secured a bridgehead at Venizel overnight and now follows that success up on 13th September with a dawn attack up onto the plateau to the north.


... however generally speaking the Aisne Heights are more easily defended and the battle soon degenerates into trench warfare, thus ...


"No one foresaw what the war was going to develop into, its horror, its duration, its dreariness. No one foresaw trench warfare, and it occurred to none that the day of the mighty manoeuvres of armies in which cavalry, artillery, and infantry combined in grandiose operations was over for ever. Looking back, I am deeply thankful that none of those who gazed across the Aisne on September 14th had the faintest glimmering of what was awaiting them. [...] There was nothing to show them that the most dramatic period of the war was over, and that between them and the victory they believed awaited them across the river, stretched four weary years of stalemate on the western front" (Spears, p469).


For his part, Sir John French [10th September<=>5th October] graciously places some of the blame for the Marne offensive fizzling out in this way on the effectiveness of German cavalry, thus ...


"For years the German cavalry have been trained in rearguard action such as the work they were now doing. They carry a large quantity of machine guns, which they are trained to handle very efficiently. To each brigade of cavalry there is attached a regiment of jaeger, picked riflemen, chosen for their skill in shooting and in taking advantage of ground. These troops are specially valuable for the defence of river lines and positions which are intended to cause delay to an advancing enemy" (French, 1919 [full text online], Chapter VI).


As for the B.E.F.'s three Welsh battalions (in order of ancestral precedence), (1) the 2nd Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [10th September<=>12th October] spends the fortnight in reserve south of the Aisne (Dunn, 1938), whilst (2) the 1st Bn South Wales Borderers [for an extract from the 1/SWB War Diary for this period [9th August<=>25th September] click here)] and (3) the 2nd Bn Welch Regiment [9th August<=>25th September] both take part on 14th September in a major I Corps attack up onto the heights north of Villers-en-Prayères [sub-thread continues at 15th September as Race to the Sea ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  FAMOUS LAST WORDS  **********

ASIDE: The 14th September attack sees 2/Welch awarded its (and Wales') first Victoria Cross of the war. The citation event is the battalion's assault on the "Beaulne Spur" [map, etc.] during which one Lance Corporal William C. Fuller [Wikipedia biography=>d. 1974 (29th December)] selflessly risks his own life recovering Captain Mark Haggard [biography at>dies of wounds 15th September] to safety from where he had fallen wounded. Haggard, as it happens, will turn out to be just as famous for his attempts to rally the attackers as Fuller will be for bringing him in, for one of his phrases - "Stick it, the Welch!" - is destined to become part of 2/Welch mythology.


**********  VON MOLTKE SACKED, CHEMISTS SOUGHT  **********

**********  VON MOLTKE SACKED, CHEMISTS SOUGHT  **********

**********  VON MOLTKE SACKED, CHEMISTS SOUGHT  **********

**********  VON MOLTKE SACKED, CHEMISTS SOUGHT  **********

**********  VON MOLTKE SACKED, CHEMISTS SOUGHT  **********

1914 [Monday 14th September] Having reportedly taken to his bed 48 hours previously in a state of mental collapse, Von Moltke [29th August<=>14th November] is replaced as Chief of the General Staff of the German Army by Erich von Falkenhayn [Wikipedia biography=>next entry]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


ASIDE: Spears is very clear as to von Moltke's responsibility for the German defeat ...


"... no attempt to sum up the considerations affecting the Marne would be complete without reference to their consistent weakening of their right wing. Two corps, some 80,000 men, were immobilised at Antwerp [...]. Two more corps were withdrawn to face the Russian threat against East Prussia, but did not get there until after the Battle of Tannenberg. Had they remained in the west, their intervention might have been decisive, as it was they were entirely wasted. Yet another corps was besieging Maubeuge. All these troops belonged to the right wing, which was further weakened in a greater degree than any other German forces by having to guard longer lines of communication, which moreover were on the exposed flank" (Spears, 1930, p434).


1914 [Monday 14th September] Coronel and the Falklands [V - Von Spee Still Moving Eastward]: [Continued from 10th September] Von Spee's [11th September<=>5th October] Asia Squadron re-coals at Samoa. Around the same time the Admiralty recognises the "strong probability" that von Spee's absence from China Station waters indicates that he is making a break for the South Atlantic via Chile and Cape Horn. The Royal Navy therefore starts to accumulate assets in the South Atlantic to intercept him [sub-thread continues at 5th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Monday 14th September] Chemical Warfare [I - Building the Team]: Already well-briefed by Walther Rathenau [9th August<=>assassinated 1922 (24th June)] as to the parlous state of German raw material supply von Falkenhayn [preceding entry<=>next entry] is eager to explore the battlefield potential of chemical weapons, to which end he recruits both the artillery expert Max Bauer [16th August<=>1st October], fresh from his triumphant destruction of the Belgian forts [<=16th August], and the internationally renowned chemist Fritz Haber [<=1913 (9th September)], fresh from his invention of "gunpowder from air" [sub-thread continues at 1st October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE]


1914 [Tuesday 15th September]  The Race to the Sea [I - Von Falkenhayn Makes Plans]: Confident that his new defensive line on the Aisne Heights is going to hold, von Falkenhayn's [preceding entry<=>18th September] next priority is to deal with his unanchored, and therefore highly unstable, northern flank. He therefore orders Crown Prince Rupprecht's [10th September<=>18th September] Sixth (Bavarian) Army (presently in transit from Lorraine, remember [<=10th September]) to start reassembling around Maubeuge [maplink at 20th August], from where he can simultaneously threaten (a) to get in behind the Allied left flank north of Compiègne [maplink at 1st September], and (b) to mount a quick drive for the Channel coast. Given that there is only d'Amade's [29th August<=>1915 (11th April)] territorial screen between Compiègne and the Channel Ports, von Falkenhayn's first objectives will be the towns of Noyon [maplink at 29th August] and Roye [map, etc.], and, further north still, Amiens [maplink at 29th August] [sub-thread continues at 17th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 GRAND STRATEGIES]


1914 [Tuesday 15th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XVIII - The "Authors' Declaration"]: [Continued from 11th September] Lord Northcliffe's [<=11th September] The Times publishes a manifesto signed by Wellington House's paid propagandists [<=list at 2nd September], along with some three dozen similar luminaries, including (in alphabetical order) the clergyman Robert H. Benson [Wikipedia biography], [definitely] R. Laurence Binyon [2nd September<=>21st September], the Shakespearean scholar Andrew C. Bradley [Wikipedia biography], the novelist-playwright [Sir]1917 Thomas H. Hall Caine [Wikipedia biography], the adventure novelist Sir Henry Rider Haggard [Wikipedia biography], the classical scholar Jane E. Harrison [Wikipedia biography], the historical novelist Maurice H. Hewlett [Wikipedia biography], the journalist Robert S. Hitchens [Wikipedia biography], the humourist Jerome K. Jerome [Wikipedia biography] (of whom more later), the Quaker writer Edward V. Lucas [Wikipedia biography], the novelist (and, at 49 years of age, recently enlisted soldier) Alfred E. W. Mason [Wikipedia biography] ...


ASIDE: Mason's 1902 novel "The Four Feathers" is nowadays seen as a high camp version of the English British in their Empire, extolling as it does the Boys' Own Magazine [<=1879] virtues of pluck, personal honour, and devotion to duty. It was first filmed in 1915 (J. Searle Dawley), then again in 1921, (starring Fay Wray) 1929, 1939 (Alexander Korda), 1955, 1978, and (starring Heath Ledger) 2002. Several of these versions are available in full length on YouTube for those with time on their hands, but the 1939 trailer [click here] tells you all you really need to know in only two minutes.


... the scholar G. Gilbert Murray [Wikipedia biography] (of whom more immediately below), the dramatist Alfred Sutro [Wikipedia biography], and the novelists Mary A. Ward [Wikipedia biography] and Margaret L. Woods [Wikipedia biography]. The thrust of the manifesto is to have the British intelligentsia declare themselves "on side", thereby helping to validate the Allied cause in the eyes of those who are actually going to be doing the fighting. The stand taken by the Irish poet William B. Yeats [<=2nd September] when approached by the aforementioned Gilbert Murray illustrates that not all the Empire's thinkers were so uncritical. Here is an extract from his letter declining the opportunity to think as he was told ...


"Dear Murray, No. I am sorry, but No.  I long for the defeat of the Germans but your manifesto reads like an extract from the newspapers, and newspapers are liars. What have we novelists, poets, whatever we are, to do with them? First: I don't know whether England or Germany brought on this war, and you don't. [...] That knowledge will be kept by secret diplomacy for a good many years to come. Second: I cannot see who this document is going to influence. It has every sign of its origin 'drawn up to include as many people as possible' ..." (as reproduced in Milne, 2014 online).


Yeats' letter also demonstrates how a process akin to the modern phenomenon of "neck nominating" [Wikipedia factsheet] might well have been used in developing the required social network (Oxford dons clearly responded magnificently) [sub-thread continues at 21st September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [??th September] WW1 Codebreaking [II - Ewing Gets His Ears]: [Continued from ??th August] Sir James A. Ewing [??th August<=>14th October] is approached by the barrister-radio buff Edward Russell Clarke [Grace's Guide biography] and the wireless engineer Richard John Bayntun Hippisley [<=1908]. Both men have been using amateur wireless equipment to eavesdrop on German naval signals from across the North Sea. Ewing is so impressed by the quality of their reporting that he duly appoints them "VIs" [= voluntary interceptors] and deploys them to Hunstanton1, Norfolk, in order to set up both a listening post and a direction finding station2 there.  Ewing also draws on the experience of the intelligence office/amateur magician Leslie Harrison Lambert3 [Wikipedia biography]. At much the same time comparable resources are being assembled within Section M11b at the War Office, where [Sir]1917 George Macdonogh [Wikipedia biography] leads the army's cryptanalysis and intelligence services. Other aspects of naval intelligence are run from Room 37 by F. Leverton Harris [Wikipedia biography] and from Room 61 by Douglas E. R. Brownrigg [no convenient war years biography] [sub-thread continues at 14th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1ASIDE: At the beginning of the war the Royal Navy have only one listening post, hidden away at the (then-)remote Boldon House, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham. Both Stockton and Hunstanton face the German ports of Wilhelmshaven, Bremerhaven, and Cuxhaven (not to mention their wireless transmitting station at Norddeich [map, etc.]) across some 300 miles of the North Sea.


2ASIDE: If you are interested in WHERE AN ENEMY IS then you need at least two direction finding stations, both equipped with directionally sensitive aerials to record the compass bearing of the incoming transmission. These independent observations can then be "triangulated" [Wikipedia factsheet] onto a chart and where the bearings intersect is where the enemy is. If, on the other hand, you are interested in WHAT AN ENEMY IS SAYING then you need only one listening station, but also a good ear for Morse Code and access to rapid cryptanalysis facilities. It will subsequently become standard practice to refer to listening stations as "Y-Stations" and direction finding stations as "Z-Stations".


3ASIDE: After the war Lambert earned a living under the pseudonym "A. J. Alan" reading short stories on the BBC. He returned to cryptanalysis in 1939 in Hut 3, Bletchley Park.



1914 [Wednesday 16th September] Possibly/probably at the behest of his friend Lloyd George [1911 (1st July)<=>19th September] the London-based Welsh romantic nationalist and Freemason Sir Evan Vincent Evans [no convenient biography], one of the leading lights in the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion [Wikipedia factsheet] since joining it in 1881, chairs a recruitment meeting for a new service battalion of Londoners of Welsh extraction. The end result (once the paperwork has been completed [=>29th October]) is the formation of the 15th Bn (London Welsh) Royal Welch Fusiliers [=>29th October], of which much more in due course. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS AND TACTICS] [THREAD = WW1 ROMANTIC NATIONALISM]


**********  THE NOYON SALIENT IS FORMED  **********

1914 [Thursday 17th-18th September] The Race to the Sea [II - The Battle of Noyon]: [Continued from 15th September] Faced with difficulties breaking through the entrenched German armies on the Aisne [<=13th September] Joffre [5th September<=>22nd September] attempts to outflank them on the left, and thus exploit the 30-mile gap between the Somme at Péronne [map, etc.] and the Oise at Compiègne [maplink at 1st September]. The immediate objective is therefore Noyon [maplink at 29th August], some 13 miles north-east of Compiègne. Joffre assigns this attack to (from the west) de Castelnau's [7th September<=>22nd September] Second Army, freshly transferred from the Lorraine front, and (from the south) Maunoury's [<=10th September] Sixth Army. The Germans respond by simply extending their Aisne trench-line - and its attendant stalemate - northward. It is this deviation to the north which will eventually give the northern extent of the Western Front its characteristic L-shape [check it out] [sub-thread continues at 18th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 18th September] The Race to the Sea [III - The Bavarians Reach Maubeuge]: [Continued from 17th September] Destined to play a major part in von Falkenhayn's [15th September<=>20th September] attempt to prevent his northern flank being turned, Crown Prince Rupprecht's [15th September<=>22nd September] Sixth (Bavarian) Army starts to assemble at and around Maubeuge [maplink at 20th August] [sub-thread continues at 22nd September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Friday 18th September] Irish Home Rule [XXIX = Royal Assent]: [Continued from 11th September] In accordance with the strategy set at the outbreak of war [<=30th July] both the Irish Home Rule Bill and the associated Home Rule Suspension Bill simultaneously receive the Royal Assent, thereby leaving Home Rule on hold for the duration of the war and not even beginning to address the issue of partition [sub-thread continues at ??th October ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD]


**********  A WELSH ARMY IS PROMISED  **********

1914 [Saturday 19th September] Even though large numbers of Welshmen are already serving in non-Welsh regiments, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd George [16th September<=>22nd September] famously proclaims in a speech at Queen's Hall, Marylebone, that he wishes to see a Welsh Army in the field [full speech online]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Sunday 20th September] The Race to the Sea [IV - The Diversionary Attacks]: [Continued from 18th September] Von Falkenhayn [18th September<=>25th September] tries to prevent further westbound French troop movements by ordering intensified local attacks in the Aisne, Verdun, and St. Mihiel [=>26th September] sectors [sub-thread continues at 22nd September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Sunday 20th September] The Belgian Campaign [VII - The Battle of Antwerp (The Dunkirk Landings)]: [Continued from 9th September] In the early hours the 700-strong Royal Marine Brigade under Sir George Aston [no convenient biography=>25th September] lands at Dunkirk [maplink at 24th August] to help secure a retreat corridor to the south-west, in case the defenders of Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] should be forced to abandon their National Redoubt [sub-thread continues at 25th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Sunday 20th September] The East African Campaign [III - The Battle of Zanzibar]: [Continued from 15th August] The German cruiser SMS Königsberg [5th August<=>1915 (11th July)] surprises HMS Pegasus [<=8th August] undergoing running repairs at Zanzibar and promptly sinks her at her moorings [sub-thread continues at 2nd November ...]. [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD]





1914 [Monday 21st September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XIX - Another Non-Combatant Enters the Fray1]: [Continued from 15th September] With only six weeks of (highly censored) newspaper reports and obituaries to go on, the 45-year-old poet R. Laurence Binyon [<=15th September] has already learned enough about war to compose "For the Fallen", including the following famous verse ...


"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them."


Concerned that the nobility of his deeds should match that of his words he signs up the following year to help treat the wounded in France [sub-thread continues at 22nd September ...]. [THREAD = THE SCIENCE OF SOLEMN REMEMBRANCE]


1914 [Tuesday 22nd September] The Belgian Campaign [VIII - The Battle of Antwerp (Special Ops)]: [Continued from 9th September] In an attempt to take some pressure off the defenders of Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] the Belgians conduct a series of guerrilla attacks against key railway assets in the German rear. The lack of a well-defined front south of the siege-lines also allows the experimental armoured car squadron operated by the RNAS's [= Royal Naval Air Service] Charles R. Samson [1912 (9th May)<=>1915 (19th March)] to be used to good effect as petrol-driven cavalry [sub-thread continues at 25th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Tuesday 22nd-26th September] The Race to the Sea [V - The Battle of Picardy]: [Continued from 18th September] This four-day battle is Joffre's [17th September<=>29th September] second attempt to exploit the gap between the Somme at Péronne [maplink at 17th September] and the Oise at Compiègne [maplink at 1st September]. With Noyon [<=17th September] already occupied by the Germans the next French objective is Roye [maplink at 15th September], some 20 miles north of Compiègne. Again it falls to de Castelnau's [17th September<=>25th September] Second Army to attempt the breakthrough, and again the Germans simply extend their trench-line northward from Noyon to protect Roye as well [sub-thread continues at 25th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Tuesday 22nd September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XX - Wales Follows the Piper]: [Continued from 21st September] Following Lloyd George's [19th September<=>5th October] recent call to arms [<=19th September], today's offering by the Western Mail editorial cartoonist Joseph M. Staniforth [1910 (4th November)<=>5th October] is entitled "The Pied Piper of Criccieth" [see it now] and depicts the industrial workers of Wales happily trooping off behind Lloyd George the Pied Piper on his great adventure [sub-thread continues at 24th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 CONTEMPORARY EDITORIAL COMMENT]


ASIDE - THE STANIFORTH COLLECTION: Staniforth produced over 1300 daily cartoons for the Western Mail and News of the World during WW1, including the linked image above. The full set is available on Cardiff University's "Cartooning the First World War" website [take me there], where they offer priceless insights into the issues of the day. The work of the War Propaganda Bureau [2nd September<=>15th December] in meticulously steering public opinion is often plainly to be seen.


1914 [Wednesday 23rd September] The British War Office approves Hugh Edwardes, 6th Baron Kensington [no convenient biography] as Colonel of the newly formed Welsh Horse Yeomanry [<=12th August]. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Thursday 24th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XXI - Reporting Rules Restated]: [Continued from 22nd September] The Press Bureau [7th September<=>28th September] issues a notice setting down guidelines for reporting military operations. The guiding principle is that nothing should be published which describes "any operation of war which has taken place during the preceding five days, as the result of observations made within twenty miles of the front" [sub-thread continues at 28th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 CENSORSHIP]


1914 [Friday 25th-28th September] The Belgian Campaign [IX - The Battle of Antwerp (The Battle of Buggenhout)]: [Continued from 22nd September] This four-day battle is fought between the Belgian Field Army at Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] [commanders listed at 24th August (Battle of Malines)] and elements of Württemberg's [10th September<=>10th October] Fourth Army. Fourth Army, reinforced by four infantry corps freed up by the surrender at Maubeuge [<=5th September], has recently been transferred from the Ardennes front and now sits at the far right of the German line, tasked with taking Antwerp and securing Belgium's North Sea coastline down to the Yser Estuary. The attack is timed as a diversionary operation to coincide with the Battle of Albert [see next entry] and will be called off on 29th September as the German siege stranglehold on Antwerp is progressively tightened. Further south, meanwhile, part of Aston's [20th September<=>4th October] Royal Marine Brigade is sent forward on the night of 28th-29th September to help out at Rijsel/Lille [sub-thread continues at 28th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  THE 1916 SOMME FRONT TAKES SHAPE  **********

**********  THE 1916 SOMME FRONT TAKES SHAPE  **********

**********  THE 1916 SOMME FRONT TAKES SHAPE  **********

1914 [Friday 25th-29th September] The Race to the Sea [VI - The Battle of Albert]: [Continued from 22nd September] Following the Battle of Picardy [<=22nd September] this five-day battle is the third attempt to exploit the still-unstable northern end of the Western Front, this time on the Somme itself. It is fought between de Castelnau's [<=22nd September] Second Army and Crown Prince Rupprecht's [22nd September<=>1st October] newly arrived Sixth (Bavarian) Army. With Roye [maplink at 15th September] already secured the Germans are now concentrating around Péronne [maplink at 17th September], where von Falkenhayn [20th September<=>6th October] has available two newly transferred infantry corps who duly force the French back in the direction of Albert [map, etc.], thereby threatening not just the cathedral city of Amiens [maplink at 29th August] but also a breakthrough out along the Somme Estuary to the coast at Abbeville [map, etc.]. De Castelnau responds by committing his own reserves and by 28th September the German advance will have been held on a 12-mile-long front from the Ancre River at Thiepval [map, etc.] via Fricourt [map, etc.] to the Somme River at Maricourt [map, etc.]. We shall be hearing much more of these places during the Somme Offensive of 1916 [=>1916 (1st July)]. As for the diversionary operations already mentioned [<=20th September] Crown Prince Wilhelm's [10th September<=>17th December] Fifth Army finally captures Fort Camp des Romaines [full story at http://lesaillantdesaintmihiel. fr/pages/campdr1.htm] to complete the St. Mihiel Salient, and both 1st Bn South Wales Borderers [13th September<=>21st October] and 2nd Bn Welch Regiment [13th September<=>21st October] have to endure heavy counter-attacks on the Aisne Heights around Vendresse [map, etc.] [sub-thread continues at 29th September …]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Monday 28th September-16th October] The Eastern Campaign [IV - The Battle of the Vistula (The Initial Successes)]: [Continued from 7th September] This battle is fought in Poland under the strategic direction of von Hindenburg [7th September<=>11th November] between the German Ninth Army under August von Mackenson [Wikipedia biography=>17th October], supported by the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army under Viktor Dankl von Krasnik [Wikipedia biography], and the Russian 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 9th Armies under the overall command of Nikolai Ruzsky [Wikipedia biography=>17th October]. The Germans are mounting a major offensive to threaten Warsaw in order to divert Russian resources from their successful operations against the Austro-Hungarians in Silesia [<=3rd September]. The initial German advance goes well, and by 9th October is only 12 miles away from Warsaw [sub-thread continues at 17th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Monday 28th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XXII - Smith Steps Aside]: [Continued from 24th September] The Solicitor-General Stanley O. Buckmaster [1st Viscount Buckmaster]1933 [<=6th August] takes over the Directorship of the Press Bureau [24th September<=>3rd October] from Frederick E. Smith [31st August<=>3rd October] [sub-thread continues at 29th September ...]. [THREAD = WW1 CENSORSHIP]


1914 [Monday 28th September-10th October] The Belgian Campaign [X - The Battle of Antwerp (The Final Assault Begins)]: [Continued from 25th September] This two-week siege is fought out between von Beseler's [9th September<=>6th October] Army of Antwerp and the Belgian garrison in and around Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] under Victor Deguise [Wikipedia biography]. The assault begins at 1600hr on 1st October, successfully taking two of the outer ring of forts overnight, and others the following day. As a result the Belgian Supreme Council convenes at 1100hr on 2nd October and after much analysis decides in principle that the city will have to be abandoned and the defenders - the 65,000 men of the Field Army plus the 80,000 garrison troops of the National Redoubt - withdrawn down the coastal corridor to relative safety south of the Yser Estuary, starting on 3rd October. This decision is then telegraphed to London at 2200hr on 2nd October, whereupon Kitchener [31st August<=>27th October] calls an emergency meeting which results in Winston Churchill [31st August<=>4th October] being sent to Antwerp to discuss options with King Albert [24th August<=>4th October] in person. This meeting takes place the following evening (3rd October) and the key points of the resulting withdrawal plan are (a) that Antwerp should be actively defended for a further 10 days, in return for which (b) the British government will provide such military assistance as can be spared (Edmonds, 1925) [sub-thread continues at 4th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [Tuesday 29th September] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XXIII - Machen Makes it Up]: [Continued from 28th September] The Evening News journalist Arthur Machen [<=5th September] publishes an article entitled "The Bowmen" [full text online at] in which he describes the intervention of a heavenly host at the Battle of Mons [<=23rd August (ASIDE)]. As with all effective propaganda this is exactly what the British public want to hear, and the more he subsequently admits he made it all up the more the public believe it [sub-thread continues at 5th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 UNTRUTHS, HALF TRUTHS, AND SUBTERFUGES]


1914 [Tuesday 29th September] The Race to the Sea [VII - New Units Created]: [Continued from 25th September] Joffre [22nd September<=>5th October] creates a new, Tenth, Army by consolidating reserves in the region of Arras [map, etc.] and appoints the hero of the Aisne crossing [<=13th September], de Maud'huy [13th September<=>1st October] as its commanding general. At the same time a new British cavalry division - the 3rd - is assembled on Salisbury Plain under the command of [Sir]1915 Julian ["Bungo"] Byng [1st Viscount Byng of Vimy]1928 [Wikipedia biography=>4th October] [sub-thread continues at 1st October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


*******************  MONTHLY UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1914  *******************

*******************  MONTHLY UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1914  *******************

*******************  MONTHLY UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1914  *******************


Note: Those battalions earmarked for 53rd [Territorial] (Welsh) Division are identified thus [53rd (from 5th August)]; those battalions subsequently brought together to serve in 38th (Welsh) Division are identified thus [38th (from 29th November 1915)].


1914 [Thursday 1st October] Present Location of Welsh Units: Here is the status of the British Army's essentially Welsh units at the end of the second month of the war ...


ROYAL WELCH FUSILIERS (the ancestral 23rd Regiment of Foot [<=1881 (1st July)])

1st Bn is now back in Britain [<=3rd September] and awaiting imminent deployment to France as part of 7th Division [=>6th October]. 2nd Bn[38th (from 29th November 1915)] is still in France as part of the independent 19th Infantry Brigade, and will soon be incorporated into 6th Division [10th September<=>12th October]. 3rd (Reserve) Bn remains active at Wrexham and Pembroke Dock. In addition to the four 1st Bn territorial battalions mobilised in August, the 2nd Bn has started to mobilise its own four territorial battalions, namely 2/4th [(Territorial)] (Denbighshire) Bn at Wrexham, 2/5th [(Territorial)] (Flintshire) Bn at Flint, 2/6th [(Territorial)] (Caernarvonshire and Anglesey) Bn at Caernarfon, and 2/7th [(Territorial)] (Merioneth and Montgomery) Bn at Newtown. The second of the regiment's "New Army" "service battalions", the 9th [(Service)] Bn1, is also assembling in the tented towns on Salisbury Plain.


1ASIDE: For a reminder of Llanelli's contribution to this particular battalion see


SOUTH WALES BORDERERS (the ancestral 24th Regiment of Foot [<=1881 (1st July)])

1st Bn is still in France with the B.E.F.'s I Corps as part of the 1st Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade. 2nd Bn is now actively supporting the Japanese siege at Tsingtao [=>31st October]. 3rd (Reserve) Bn remains active at Pembroke Dock. In addition to the territorial battalion mobilised in August the 1st Bn has started to mobilise 1/2nd [(Territorial)] (Brecknockshire) Bn at Brecon. Four further service battalions are also being established at Brecon, namely 5th [(Service)] (Pioneer) Bn, 6th [(Service)] (Pioneer) Bn, 7th [(Service)] Bn, and 8th [(Service)] Bn.


THE WELCH REGIMENT (the ancestral 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot [<=1881 (1st July)])

1st Bn is still in India. 2nd Bn is still in France with I Corps as part of the 1st Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade.


ASIDE: 2/Welch's War Diary entry for 30th September lists its casualties to date as 4 officers killed or died of wounds, 5 wounded, 2 missing, and 3 sick, and other ranks 47, 124, 28, and 31, respectively.


3rd (Reserve) Bn is still active in Cardiff and Barry. No further territorial battalions were mobilised during September, but three further service battalions have been created, namely 9th [(Service)] Bn and 11th [(Service)] Bn at Cardiff, and ("Dai Alphabet"'s) 10th [(Service)] (1st Rhondda) Bn[38th (from 29th November 1915)] from the mining towns around Porth and Cymmer.




The following territorial infantry regiments in Wales (sometimes also in the border counties of England) are mobilising in their respective garrison town(s) ...



The 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment has mobilised the first two of its four affiliated territorial battalions, namely 2/4th Bn at Birkenhead and 2/6th Bn at Stockport.


ASIDE - NUMBERING OF TERRITORIAL BATTALIONS IN REGULAR ARMY REGIMENTS: The British WW1 Territorial Force typically used so-called "fractional nomenclature", that is to say, battalions were numbered "a/b". For the territorial battalions affiliated to regular army regiments the format "a/bth [(Territorial)] (optional name) Bn" was used, where a was the number of the affiliated regular battalion (thus always 1 or 2), and b was the number of the new battalion within the regiment, counting upwards from 4 (because 1 through 3 were already in use). We saw this format used, for example, in the 2/4th [(Territorial)] (Denbighshire) Bn earlier in this entry.



The (all-territorial)  Herefordshire Regiment has mobilised its 2/1st Bn at Hereford.


ASIDE - NUMBERING OF TERRITORIAL BATTALIONS IN ALL-TERRITORIAL ARMY REGIMENTS: Where the regiment in question was itself a territorial-only regiment then there were, of course, no regular battalions to affiliate to. These battalions therefore followed the format "a/bth [(Territorial)] (optional name) Bn", where a was a low number (typically a 1 or a 2) recording the sequence of battalions raised at a particular recruiting town, and b was the number of the new battalion within the regiment, counting upwards from 1 (because no numbers were already in use). We see this format used, for example, in the battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment below.



The Monmouthshire Regiment has mobilised three "2-series"1 battalions, one each for the three 1-series units mobilised in August. These are 2/1st (Rifle) Bn at Stow Hill, Newport, 2/2nd Bn at Osborne Road, Pontypool, and 2/3rd Bn at Abergavenny.


1ASIDE: This means that the original 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalions now need to be renumbered 1/1st, 1/2nd, and 1/3rd.


Those units already assigned to 53rd (Welsh) Division [<=1st September] are busily training at Northampton (Ward, 1927).



All four Welsh territorial mounted units are now putting together their 2-series units, namely the 2/1st Bn Montgomeryshire Yeomanry at Welshpool, the 2/1st Bn Pembroke Yeomanry at Tenby, the 2/1st Bn Denbighshire Hussars at Wrexham, and the 2/1st Bn Glamorgan Yeomanry at Bridgend. The 1-series units remain encamped at Thetford, Norfolk. The Welsh Horse Yeomanry is presently training in the countryside north of Cardiff, but their founding father (and, according to many, Colonel by right), Arthur O. Vaughan [<=23rd September] has been totally side-lined by the (more politically and socially acceptable) Lord Kensington. A 2/1st Welsh Horse Yeomanry is being raised at Newtown.



Lloyd George's vision of a regular "Welsh Army" has just been formally announced [<=19th September] and will in due course incorporate a number of the service battalions mentioned above. The Welsh Guards have still not yet been created [=>1915 (26th February)].


*****************  END OF MONTHLY UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1914  ******************

*****************  END OF MONTHLY UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1914  ******************

*****************  END OF MONTHLY UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1914  ******************

Ward, C. H. D. (1927). History of the 53rd (Welsh) Division, 1914-1918. Cardiff: Western Mail.


1914 [Thursday 1st October] The French intelligence officer François Cartier [no convenient biography] briefs the individual French field armies on how to read the German Army's "ÜBCHI" tactical wireless encryption system [Wikipedia factsheet]. He also sets out procedures for systematic "traffic analysis", that is to say, the recording and subsequent critical scrutiny of a nation's wireless communication traffic looking for odd trends and patterns even when the precise content defies cryptanalysis. The key parameters are quantity, signal strength, and (if possible) direction. [The modern GCHQ website calls this process "contextualising the scraps" - Ed.] [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1914 [Thursday 1st October] Chemical Warfare [II - Early Trials]: [Continued from 14th September] Based at a rural weapons proving ground outside Cologne Max Bauer [<=14th September] liaises with industrial and university experts including the University of Berlin's physicist Walther H. Nernst [Wikipedia biography=>23rd October] and Friedrich Bayer and Company's [<=5th August] CEO and Chief Chemist Carl Duisberg [<=1900]. Their first line of thinking is to mix non-explosive agents in with the high explosive filling of artillery shells. The first weapons to go to full trial are the Ni-Geschoss 105mm light howitzer round, containing ortho dianisidine chlorosulphonate, and the T-Granat 150mm medium howitzer round, containing xylyl bromide. Both agents have a tear-gas effect in laboratory conditions but neither is particularly effective in the field [sub-thread continues at 21st October (ASIDE) ...]. [THREAD = WW1 CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS]


**********  THE ARRAS-VIMY FRONT TAKES SHAPE  **********

**********  THE ARRAS-VIMY FRONT TAKES SHAPE  **********

**********  THE ARRAS-VIMY FRONT TAKES SHAPE  **********

1914 [Thursday 1st-5th October] The Race to the Sea [VIII - The First Battle of Arras]: [Continued from 29th September] Following the Battle of Albert [<=25th September] this five-day battle is the fourth attempt to exploit the still-unstable northern end of the Western Front, this time around Arras [maplink at 29th September], roughly mid-way between the Somme and the Belgian frontier. It is fought between de Maud'huy's [29th September<=>6th October] Tenth Army and Crown Prince Rupprecht's [25th September<=>10th October] Sixth (Bavarian) Army. Both armies are being continually reinforced from transfers and reserves, and so neither makes any significant breakthrough. Nevertheless the French have to fight hard to hold the Germans around Ablain Saint-Nazaire [map, etc.], thus preventing them from getting round behind Arras from the north.


ASIDE - NOTRE DAME DE LORETTE: The fighting in the Ablain Saint-Nazaire sector continued through until October 1915 [=>1915 (25th September [Third Battle of Artois])] and the local basilica - Notre Dame de Lorette - was expanded after the war to host the largest of all the French WW1 military cemeteries.


Rupprecht also secures the high ground at Vimy [map, etc.] and on 5th October takes the town of Lens [map, etc.], 10 miles north of Arras [sub-thread continues at 5th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


ASIDE: The Battles of Noyon, Picardy, Albert, and Arras took place along a more or less straight line northward from Compiégne. If this line is now extended it passes through Ieper/Ypres [map, etc.], follows the line of the Ijzerdijk Canal to Diksmuide [map, etc.], and then finally arrives at the reclaimed marshlands of the Yser Estuary at Nieuwpoort [map, etc.].


1914 [Friday 2nd October] Having been under surveillance by MI5 for five weeks Carl Hans Lody [27th August<=>executed 6th November] is finally arrested at a hotel in Killarney, Ireland, taken to London, and locked up in the Tower of London. He will be convicted of treason on 2nd November and executed by firing squad on 6th November. [THREAD = WW1 ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE]


1914 [Friday 2nd October] Islam in WW1 [II - The Decision to Mobilise the Imams]: [Continued from 30th August] The diplomat/Egyptologist Max ["Abu Jihad"] von Oppenheim [Wikipedia biography=>??th October] promotes a Denksschrift [= memorandum] entitled Die Revolutionierung der islamischen Gebiete unserer Feinde [= "How to Incite Revolution in our Enemies' Muslim Possessions"] within the German Foreign Office. The thrust of his argument is that Britain, France, and Russia all have extensive Muslim territorial possessions, not to mention tens of thousands of Muslim troops in their armies, all ripe for - to use the modern term - radicalising. The Foreign Office recognises the force of Oppenheim's argument and puts him in charge of their Nachtrichtendienst für den Orient [= "Intelligence Bureau for the Orient"; Wikipedia factsheet]. His first priority is to persuade the Turkish sultan, Mehmed V [1909 (31st March)<=>5th November] (a) to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers, and then (b) to proclaim himself spokesperson for the Islamic world in general [the Islamic sub-thread continues as Goeben and Breslau at 27th October, but see the two entries at ??th October for the parallel efforts to exploit both Hindu and Irish nationalist sensitivities in like manner ...].  [THREAD = THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN WORLD] [THREAD = WW1 GRAND STRATEGIES] Schwanitz, W.G. (2004). Max von Oppenheim und der Heilige Krieg. Sozial Geschichte, 19(3,S):28-59.


1914 [Saturday 3rd October] Having been disembarking at Marseilles since 26th September, Sir James Willcocks' [Wikipedia biography=>10th October] I Indian Corps now starts to assemble around Orléans. Having been eased out of his job as Director of the Press Bureau [28th September<=>1915 (27th March)] only a week beforehand, Frederick E. Smith [28th September<=>1915 (24th May)] now joins this corps as Recording Officer, a position he will hold until May 1915 when he will return to politics. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1914 [Sunday 4th October] [Continued from 21st August] The first 540 volunteers of the [Royal]1917 Newfoundland Regiment [Wikipedia factsheet=>1915 (25th April)] set sail from St. Johns, Newfoundland, aboard the troopship SS Florizel [Wikipedia shipography]. Their number includes one of Newfoundland's two general practitioners, a certain Arthur Wakefield [no convenient biography1=>1916 (1st July [Battle of Beaumont-Hamel])], who, as local representative of the Legion of Frontiersmen [10th August<=>2nd November (ASIDE)], has done much to facilitate the mobilisation. [THREAD = WW1 ARMIES, TRADITIONS, AND TACTICS]


1ASIDE: The most accessible biographical source on Arthur Wakefield is Wade Davis's "Into the Silence" (Davis, 2012). Davis, W. (2012). Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest. London: Vintage.


1914 [Sunday 4th-5th October] The Belgian Campaign [XI - The Battle of Antwerp (Help at Hand)] [Continued from 28th September] As promised by Winston Churchill [28th September<=>13th October] in his 3rd October meeting with King Albert [28th September<=>9th October], the Royal Marine Brigade1, part of Archibald Paris's [Wikipedia biography=>6th October] 63rd (Royal Naval) Division [Wikipedia factsheet], arrives in Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] by train at 0100hr on 4th October and is immediately moved forward into the defences. At much the same time back in England, (1) the remainder of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, (2) [Sir]1915 Thompson Capper's [Wikipedia biography=>6th October] newly created 7th Division2 [3rd September<=>6th October], and (3) Byng's [29th September<=>6th October] newly created 3rd Cavalry Division have all been ordered to ports of embarkation. The Naval Division is earmarked for the defences at Antwerp itself, and the other two formations are destined [=>6th October] to hold open the Antwerp-Nieuwpoort escape corridor. The Naval Division arrives at Dunkirk [maplink at 24th August] on 5th October but the two larger formations not until 6th and 8th October, respectively. The French are also sending what they can spare, including the 87e Territorial Division [Wikipedia factsheet=>7th October] and their own naval infantry, the Fusiliers Marins [Wikipedia factsheet=>16th October] commanded by Pierre A. Ronarc'h [Wikipedia biography=>9th October]. Fortunately for the Allies there is something of a lull in the German attacks at Antwerp while they bring forward their super-heavy siege artillery to engage the inner ring of forts [sub-thread continues at 5th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Aston [<=25th September] was taken sick on 29th September and most histories mention only Paris from this point in time.


2ASIDE: 7th Division includes (with their foreign service suntans just about faded) 1st Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers [3rd September<=>12th October] and 2nd Bn Bedfordshire Regiment.


1914 [Monday 5th October] The Race to the Sea [IX - The B.E.F. Moves Closer to Home]: [Continued from 1st October] The B.E.F. starts relocating from the Aisne. For those units unlucky enough not to do the journey by train the 150-mile march to Flanders will take some eight days to complete. Joffre [29th September<=>8th October] and Sir John French [13th September<=>8th October] have agreed that they are to re-assemble in the triangle Doullens [map, etc.]/Arras [maplink at 29th September]/Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise [map, etc.]. Haig's [13th September<=>10th October] I Corps is the last to hand over its positions to the French [sub-thread continues at 6th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


*****************  STATE OF PLAY, 5TH OCTOBER 1914  ******************

*****************  STATE OF PLAY, 5TH OCTOBER 1914  ******************

*****************  STATE OF PLAY, 5TH OCTOBER 1914  ******************

To sum up there is only a thinly defended 45-mile front between the Race to the Sea trench-line snaking northward out of Arras [<=1st October] and the Yser Estuary at Nieuwpoort [ditto] and although the well-fortified cities of Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] and Rijsel/Lille are presently preventing a precipitate German advance neither can hold out for ever. This gap we shall be referring to in the coming pages as the "Ypres Gap" (by virtue of the fact that said city is situated fairly and squarely in the middle of it). Needless to say the Germans have spotted this gap also and have quietly been assembling their cavalry north of Rijsel/Lille in readiness for a dash for the coast should the opportunity present itself.



1914 [Monday 5th October] The Belgian Campaign [XII - The Germans Break for the Coast]: [Continued from 4th October] In preparation for a surprise thrust westward the Germans have concentrated Gustav von Hollen's [Wikipedia biography=>7th October] IV Cavalry Corps1 [Wikipedia factsheet]  north of Rijsel/Lille [maplink at 24th August], from where it is only 40 miles to the coast at Dunkirk [ditto]. He now crosses the Lys between Armentières [map, etc.] and Kortrijk/Courtrai [map, etc.] (i.e., the French-Belgian border) and heads west-north-westward, skirting to the south of Ieper/Ypres [maplink at 1st October] [sub-thread continues at 6th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: Von Hollen's corps presently includes the 1st Royal Bavarian Uhlan Regiment [Wikipedia factsheet=>7th October] commanded by Eduard von Crailsheim [no convenient biography], on temporary attachment from Sixth (Bavarian) Army.


1914 [Monday 5th October] Censorship, Propaganda, and Recruitment [XXIV - Welshmen Called to Arms]: [Continued from 29th September] Wales' leading editorial cartoonist Joseph M. Staniforth [22nd September<=>4th November] publishes a cartoon entitled "Remember Your Past" [see it now] in which Lloyd George's [22nd September<=>1915 (21st April)] notion of a distinct Welsh Army Corps [19th September<=>5th December] is presented as the logical and honourable thing for Welshmen to aspire to (and, of course, enlist in) [sub-thread continues at 23rd November ...]. [THREAD = WW1 CONTEMPORARY EDITORIAL COMMENT]


1914 [Monday 5th-8th October] Coronel and the Falklands [VI - Latest Intelligence]: [Continued from 14th September] The Naval Intelligence Division [26th August<=>13th October] receives a wireless intercept from its agents in the Pacific ordering von Spee [14th September<=>12th October] to patrol in the south-east Pacific along the coast of Chile. This information is duly passed to Cradock's [10th September<=>1st November] taskforce, along with the following order ...


"It appears that Scharnhorst [5th August<=>1st November] and Gneisenau [ditto] are working across [the Pacific] to South America. You must be prepared to meet them in company, possibly with a Dresden scouting for them" (quoted in Bennett, 1962, p19).


Cradock replies to the effect that his local intelligence sources have indicated that the German squadron might well include not one, but three, light cruisers [sub-thread continues at 1st November ...]. Luce [10th September<=>18th October] is instructed to complete his passage of the Magellan Straits and then to scout northward along the Chilean coast, but not to go further north than Valparaiso [map, etc.]  [sub-thread continues at 12th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


1914 [Tuesday 6th-7th October] The Belgian Campaign [XIII - The Battle of Antwerp (The Escape Corridor)]: [Continued from 5th October] On the morning of 6th October the remaining elements of  arrive in Antwerp/Anvers [maplink at 12th August] by train from Dunkirk and are marched forward to join the Royal Marine Brigade in the defences. Around the same time Capper's [4th October<=>8th October] 7th Division [4th October<=>8th October] starts to disembark at Zeebrugge [map, etc.]. Byng's [4th October<=>8th October] 3rd Cavalry Division, however, will not be able to sail until 1000hr on 7th October because of delays in the transports out of Southampton, and will not arrive until the 8th October. Around noon on the 6th October Henry S. Rawlinson [1st Baron Rawlinson]1919 [Wikipedia biography=>8th October] arrives to take overall command of the British in this sector, and his first act is to move 7th Division forward 10 miles to secure Bruges [map, etc.]. Allied high command, meanwhile, has been considering whether (a) to direct Rawlinson eastward in an attempt to relieve Antwerp (but run the risk of being cut off should the Antwerp-Nieuwpoort escape corridor be cut), or (b) to direct him south-eastward to Ghent [map, etc.], there to prop open the escape corridor itself (thus ensuring a safe withdrawal from Antwerp). In the event this important decision is made for them on 7th October when the German 37th Landwehr1 Brigade takes advantage of the morning river mists to establish a bridgehead across the Scheldt ...


ASIDE  - ANTWERP AND THE SCHELDT: The Scheldt is one of Europe's oldest commercially worked waterways, with a large west-facing estuary onto the North Sea. The river is fed from the Flanders Plain [Wikipedia geography] and performs a counter-clockwise semi-circular sweep before reaching its estuary. Antwerp is at the base of this estuary, protected by the concentric fortification lines of the National Redoubt [<=1874]. The river upstream of Antwerp is thus a natural defensive shoulder for an escape corridor down the coast. The Germans are presently both pressing the fortifications themselves and attempting to break that corridor with a left-hook outflanking manoeuvre across the river. It will later emerge (Edmonds, 1925) that von Beseler [28th September<=>14th November] has been told in very clear terms to get the job over with, so there is little doubt that the Allied decision to defend Ghent was the right one.


... at Schoonaarde [map, etc.], 20 miles upstream from (but actually south-west of) Antwerp and directly threatening the Allied escape corridor. Rawlinson is accordingly directed toward Ghent and the Belgian Field Army starts to withdraw into the corridor [sub-thread continues at 8th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1ASIDE: The traditional German infantry unit descriptors Landwehr [literally "Homeland Defence"], Landsturm [literally "Homeland Up-in-Arms"]


DOUBLE ASIDE: The German Sturm/sturmen, like the English storm/to storm, has around 20 distinct nuances. Take especial care, therefore, with the term Stürmer [= "stormtrooper"] because, militarily speaking, Landstürmer and Stürmer are from entirely different ends of the infantry skillset!


Ersatz [literally "replacement" or "substitute"], and Reserve [as in English], indicate as follows: A Landwehr unit contains reservists/militiamen of first resort in a military emergency [<=1774 (31st August) and compare the Minutemen of the American Revolutionary War]. A Landsturm unit contains reservists of last resort [we recommend the Wikipedia factsheet for the history here]. An Ersatz unit contains largely inexperienced combat replacements, whilst a Reserve unit contains more experienced men. All second-line units are deficient in machine-guns and artillery compared to first-liners. As in Britain and France, the German Army has no difficulty manning these new units, as Schwink (1919/2013 Project Gutenberg online) now explains ...


"Old and young had taken up arms in August 1914 in their enthusiasm to defend their country, and 75 per cent of the new Corps consisted of these volunteers, the remainder being trained men of both categories of the Landwehr and the Landsturm, as well as some reservists from the depots, who joined up in September. All these men, ranging from sixteen to fifty years of age, realised the seriousness of the moment, and the need of their country. […] Some regiments consisted entirely of students; whole classes […] came with their teachers and joined the same company or battery" (pp4-5).


Another insight is given in the memoirs of the German infantry general Wilhelm Balck [Wikipedia biography], as follows (quoted in Edmonds, 1925) …


"Each new battalion received as cadre a company of an Ersatz battalion, 300 strong, consisting of trained men of the older classes. This provided about 75 men for each of the four companies. The volunteers were mostly of the well-educated classes and between 17 and 20 ; only a few were over 30. There was no lack of them. One of these volunteers has written that only after standing for weeks in front of barracks and in regimental offices could he get enlisted. The great difficulty was to provide officers. […] The platoon commanders were Offizierstellvertreter, that is, fully trained candidates who were awaiting their commissions. The N.C.O.'s were all from the Reserve and mostly schoolmasters" (pp123-124).


1914 [Tuesday 6th October] The British music-hall artist Mark Sheridan [Wikipedia biography] publishes a topical ditty entitled "Belgium put the Kibosh on the Kaiser".  [THREAD = WW1 IN POPULAR SONG]


ASIDE: The song is destined to be resurrected in the 1960s in the Charles Chilton/Joan Littlewood musical "Oh! What a Lovely War" [Wikipedia factsheet], and features prominently in the opening minutes of Richard Attenborough's 1969 movie of the same name [see it performed now].


1914 [Tuesday 6th-12th October] The Race to the Sea [XI - Arras to Rijsel/Lille]: [Continued from 5th October] Realising that the German Army may no longer have the strength to force a decisive breakthrough on the Western Front, and with a relatively stable trench-line in place south of Vimy Ridge, von Falkenhayn [25th September<=>10th October] identifies Rijsel/Lille [maplink at 24th August] as the most strategically advantageous northern headquarters city. It is, however, quite strongly fortified [<=1667 (10th August)] in its own right and has de Maud'huy's [1st October<=>8th October] Tenth Army close at hand to the south-west. Von Falkenhayn accordingly orders Manfred von Richthofen's [Wikipedia biography=>8th October] I Cavalry Corps and von der Marwitz's [21st August<=>8th October] II Cavalry Corps to attack Tenth Army's southern flank between Lens [maplink at 1st October] and Lille, but they make little progress. Lille finally capitulates on 12th October and will then remain in German hands until October 1918. Its loss is noteworthy in the present context because it means that Ieper/Ypres [maplink at 1st October], 25 miles to the north-west, suddenly acquires immense strategic value as the town which is going to anchor the northernmost extremity of the Western Front [sub-thread continues at 8th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


**********  THE FINAL BEAD ON THE STRING  **********

1914 [Wednesday 7th-9th October] The Belgian Campaign [XIV - The Germans Take Ieper/Ypres]: [Continued from 6th October] Von Hollen's [5th October<=>12th October] IV Cavalry Corps makes good progress westward from the Lys, their main numbers passing south of Ieper/Ypres [maplink at 1st October] and making for the high ground at and past Kemmel [map, etc.]. One column - the 8000 men of Kurt von Unger's [no convenient biography] 3rd Cavalry Division - enters Ypres on 7th October, but it is only passing through and will have moved on again the following day, to fan out to the west of the town on a line from Rousbrugge [map, etc.] to Hazebrouck [map, etc.]. On 9th October the 1st Royal Bavarian Uhlan Regiment [<=5th October (ASIDE)] engages in a fire-fight at Hazebrouck with Antoine de Mitry's [Wikipedia biography=>19th October] II Cavalry Corps. Von Hollen's other two divisions - the 6th and the Bavarians - occupy the low hills of Katsberg/Mont des Cats [map, etc.] and Zwarteberg/Mont Noir [map, etc.], west of Kemmel. In the end, however, the gathering Allied forces are too strong for von Hollen and he withdraws to regroup on a line from Belle/Bailleul [map, etc.] to Armentières [maplink at 5th October] [sub-thread continues at 6th October ...]. [THREAD = WW1 MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS]


1914 [7th-14th October] The German armed merchant cruiser Kronprinz Wilhelm [4th September<=>1915 (11th April)] intercepts the British freighter SS La Correntina [no convenient shipography] off the Brazilian coast and spends a week transferring fuel and stores from her before sinking her with demolition charges. The Kronprinz Wilhelm then spends the next five months patrolling the sea-lanes off Brazil and Argentina, sinking 14 further vessels [sub-thread continues at 1915 (11th April) ...]. [THREAD = WW1 SURFACE NAVY OPERATIONS]


**********  AND SO FINALLY TO THE SEA  **********

**********  AND SO FINALLY TO THE SEA  **********

**********  AND SO FINALLY TO THE SEA  **********

**********  AND SO FINALLY TO THE SEA  **********

**********  AND SO FINALLY TO THE SEA  **********

1914 [Thursday 8th-9th October] The Race to the Sea [XIIFINAL - The Final Furlong]: [Continued from 6th October] Now that the first elements of the B.E.F. are in Flanders following their relocation from the Aisne, Joffre [5th October<=>17th December] promotes Foch [10th September<=>10th October] to serve as his Adjoint [= "Deputy"], and sets him the task of coordinating the efforts of the French, British, and Belgian armies. Foch immediately holds talks with Sir John French [5th October<=>10th October] at which they agree that their joint priority is to get the B.E.F. into the line north of de Maud'huy's [6th October<=>10th October] Tenth Army. It so happens that de Maud'huy has just moved his latest arrivals, XXI Corps [no convenient factsheet] under Paul Maistre [Wikipedia biography=>17th December], into the line around Béthune [map, etc.], where von Richthofen's [6th October<=>19th October] 1st Cavalry Corps and von der Marwitz's [<=6th October] II Cavalry Corps are in the process of being replaced by XIV Corps under Theodor von Watter [Wikipedia biography]. With infantry now facing infantry, the resulting entrenchments duly extend the Western Front northward another 14 miles from Vimy. At around the same time Smith-Dorrien's [13th September<=>10th October] II Corps has been detraining for some hours past at Abbeville [maplink at 25th September] and Sir Hubert Gough's [Wikipedia biography=>10th October] 2nd Cavalry Division is ahead of them on a line from Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise [maplink at 5th October] to Hesdin [map, etc.]. Foch accordingly provides II Corps with bus transport to move them forward north-east of