Initial Weeks at the Western Front

Published by Hamza Khan on

Flag of France during World War 1 (darker colors as compared to modern-day flag)

After declaring war on both France and Russia, Germany was ready to make its move mobilizing 750,000 troops at the western front. France having already suffered defeat in its last war with Germany (Franco-Prussia War) had no intention of losing another. So, on August 8th, 1914, France attacked the German City of Mulhouse at their common boundary. This proved to be catastrophic as Germany not only forced the French to retreat but also, in turn, bombed and attacked the French border towns of Cernay and Belfort. The major mistake made by the French was thinking that they were up against the same Germany of 40 years ago, but during this time Germany had achieved modernization way faster than France and thus had an upper hand in terms of weapons. While the French army thought that they would go head-to-head with Germany like in the stone ages, the Germans used howitzers from long ranges, dealing their enemy heavy blows without receiving none themselves. More than 30,000 died and 20,000 were taken prisoners in a matter of days by the German forces.

Movement of troops during the initial weeks

Across the narrow strait of sea in the United Kingdom, volunteers were being called upon to help France in the war. In a matter of 10 days by August 20th, 120,000 British volunteer troops had crossed into France. Now, the Germans were mocking the British over this development but the fact was that the United Kingdom had the only professional army in the European Continent at that time and these volunteers were no less a shot.

Following the Schlieffen Plan, the German Army was ready to invade Belgium. Once more, long-range artillery was brought forward by the Germans to destroy the border fortresses built by Belgium in order to stop any hostile advance. The fortresses took a lot of time and money to build but again they were built with a mindset of the stone ages that the enemy would come near and fight instead from far away. It took only a matter of days for the German cannons to totally destroy Belgium defenses and they then advanced into Belgium towards the Capital City of Brussels.

Categories: History


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