A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 155

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THE ATTACK OF LIÉGE


constructed about a quarter of a century before under General Btialmont, a famous Belgian engineer. There were twelve of these detached forts, each from three and a half to five and a half miles from the city, in a perimeter measuring 31 miles. Each of these forts was an independent unit. On the right bank of the Meuse were the forts of Barchon, Evegn^e,Fl^ron,Chaudfontaine,EmbourgandBoncalles. The two chief of these covered the main line of railway from Cologne. On the left bank of the river the forts were Pontine, Liers, Lantin, Loiicim, Hollogne and Fl^malle. Six of the forts were large andsixsmall. Thelargerfortswereconsideredimpregnableby many. Each consisted of a triangular mass of concrete with, sunkinit,revolvinganddisappearing*steelturrets. Theirarma- raent consisted of two 6 in. howitzers, four 5 in. quick-firing guns, and three outer quick-firing guns in disappearing turrets. The forts were well equipped with machine guns and with search- lights, protected with armour, and surrounded by moats. The small forts had two guns fewer than the larger ones.* Military experts were by no means unanimous in their views concerning the value of the forts of Liege, Many, including, it is said, the kaiser himself, thought that owing to the careless way in which they were generally looked after and the absence of an adequate foreoiof troops, or of sufficient ammunition, they were negligible. There was some excuse for thinking so, as it was notorious that the forts had been for a long time guarded with great laxity. What the Germans evidently did not know was that, some months before war was declared, a brave and active military commander. General Leman, had taken charge, had secured troops, and had placed the 12 forts in strong condition. On the morning of August 4 the German army moved out in the direction of Li<5ge. Spectators say tliat the advance was a magnificent sight. The army rolled slowly down to the River Meuse, bringing with it innumerable machine guns and motor- wagons. The troops were in their green-grey uniform. Aeroplanes soared in the sky reconnoitring overhead. It was noted thattheuniformswerenewineverydetail. Thetroopsappeared as if they were carrying out a triumphal march. As an English girl said about that time, They looked like soldiers on the stage." AstheGermansattemptedtocrosstherivertheycame under the fire of the guns from the forts, guns directed in the early stages by aeroplanes. The Germans attempted to Tn;^ke

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