1914

German cavalry units cross into Belgium on 4th August. Village after village falls to the advancing divisions, as the Belgian army rapidly finds itself overwhelmed. The Germans wheel out the pride of the Krupp munitions works, Big Bertha, a 16.5 inch siege cannon, and begins shelling the forts and bunkers around Liege and Louvains.

The last defences fall on the 16th. The civilian population fights on, resorting to sabotage, snipers, guerilla tactics and all manner of desperate resistance. The invaders respond brutally, torching towns and summarily executing men, women and children for refusing to surrender. France, believing the invasion to be a bluff, sends most of its army into the Ardennes forest, hoping to stop the Germans there. In their outmoded uniforms of blue coats and bright red pants, they make excellent targets for German machine guns, and are cut to pieces. The casualties are on a scale never before seen - during four days of fighting, the French lose 40,000 men.

The Germans continue to cut down every formation the French can muster against them, until the French finally back off when the casualty figure reaches the 100,000 mark. The remnants fall back to Paris in disarray. Parisians panic and leave their homes before the Hun horde arrives, the trails and roads are packed with refugees. The tiny British army, nothing more than a colonial police force, crosses the channel on the 9th of August with a tiny force of 120,000. Outnumbered by the Germans at Mons they are pushed back along with the French.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mons

By the 25th the Germans are 25 miles from Paris, and the French scrape the barrel in a counteroffensive aimed at saving the city. At the Marne, the British and French fight desperately with 6000 Parisian soldiers arriving at the battle in taxi cabs. Casualties are vast, but the German juggernaut is finally stopped.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_the_Marne

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Ypres//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_the_Marne

A series of flanking maneuvers are attempted, the "Race to the Sea", but before too long it becomes clear that Europe is too small for her huge armies to maneuver upon, and the outflanking attempts cease when the armies are drawn up in a long line from the English Channel to Switzerland, almost without breaks. By the end of 1914 France has lost 1,000,000 men, and Germany an equivalent number. Stalemate ensures, both sides dig into the earth and prepare to wait each other out.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.