A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 163

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NATURE OF THE FIGHTING


infantry poured through the gap and pushed south along the west face of the Ardennes. The French counter-attacks were hurled back in disorder and Germany prepared to crush the French armies between enormous pincers, the Namur forces from the east, and the far-flung right wing of the Germans which had sw^ept through Brussels on the west. Meanwhile the right wing of the German advance had pushed through Belgium with staggering swdftness and irresistible pres- sure. Bay after day clouds of Uhlans harassed the retreating Belgians and rav'aged the countryside, while with monotonous regularity they w'ere followed by lorry-load after lorry-load of grey-cladinfantry. ThedestructivepoweroftheheavyGerman artillery and the speed with which motor tAnsport enabled her to move her army were the tw^o factors which nearly defeated the Allies almost before the w^ar had begun. , The scenes all along the line wheire the two armies were in touch were full of interest and excitement. The Belgians, worn and grim, fought behind hedges and roadside barricades, in shallow trenches, and behind the walls of village houses. The Germans, ‘as they advanced, drove out the villagers and destroyed all before them. .The Belgian authorities by this time had given instructions that civilians were in no circumstances to tafte part in the fighting, but were to leave the war to the soldiers. The stor}^ of the German atrocities had, however, alreadyconvincedmostpeoplethatthiswastheonlycourse. At a multitude of points little parties of Uhlans would come into contact with little parties of Belgian infantry or cavalry; there wouldbeacliarge,avolley,astruggle. Nowanambushwould belaid,andsomeUhlanswoulddashcarelesslytodeath. Now the Germans in turn would conceal their cavalry or their machine guns, and the Belgians would move forward uncon- sciously to deslruction. A skirmish of some moment occurred at Tirlcmont on Tuesday and Wednesday, August ii and 12. Two thousand German t avalry advanced in the direction of that towm, and were attacked l^y a regiment of Belgian lancers. The latter were driven back by the superior German machine-gun fire. On the Wednesday morning the Germans attempted to take the offensive. They were met by the steady fire of a body of Belgian infantry, and were forced back for some distance. About the same time a regiment of German dragoons attempted to surprise the Belgian

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