A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 159

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THE GERMANS ENTER LIÉGE


line, almost shoulder to shoulder, until, as we shot them down, the fallen were heaped on top of the other in an awful barricade of dead and wounded men, that threatened to mask our guns and cause us trouble* I thought of the French saying, C'est magnifique, mats ce ti est pas la guerre ! No, it was slaughter —just slaughter! So high became the barricade of the dead and wounded that we did not know whether to fire through it or to go out and clear openings with our hands. We should have liked to extricate some of the wounded from the dead, but we dared not. Astiffwindcarriedawaythesmokeofthegunsquickly, and we could see some of the wounded men trying to release themselves from their terrible position. I wUl confess that I crossed myself ; I could have wished ^lat the §moke had remained! But—would you believe it this veritable wall of dead and dying enabled those wonderful Germans to creep closer, and actually to charge up the glacis. They got no farther than half way, for our machine guns and rifles swept themback. Ofcourse,wehadourlosses,buttjieywereslight compared with the carnage inflicted on our enemies.* This appalling waste of life by the German high command is only explicable on the grounds that they had under-estimated thedefensivepowerofBelgium. Thefewdays*delay,however, had given time for the new enormous siege guns to be brought up whic^j Germany had constructed. In order to save the city from destruction by bombardment General Leman offered to permit the Germans to occupy the town. Unconditional sur- render of the forts and the town was, however, demanded, and this being refused the bo^ibardment was begun. The forts, with the exception of Fl^ron, were still undamaged and perfectly abletooffereffectiveresistance. OnThursdaynight,August6, the Belgian infantry occupying the lines between the forts fell back, and the Germans entered the town through the gap afforded by the disablement of Fort Fl^ron on the following morning. But the town was of little value while the forts still held out. They commanded the town, swept the approaches and paralysed tlie railway. And the Germans therefore pro- ceeded to a systematic demolition of the fortifications. No one had foreseen the destructive power of modem heavy guns. The Germans themselves were a little sceptical of their value, and the French were openly derisive. The annihilation of the defences of Litfge and Namur was speedily to open the eyes of an astounded world. The new siege guns brought upbytheGermanswereir.2in.howitzers. Enonnousmasses

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