A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 216

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A Popular History of The Great War   ·   Volume 1: The First Phase - 1914   ·   Chapter 12: France's Frontier Battles
CHAPTER 12
France's Frontier Battles


IN order to undersl:and ihe battles of Mens and Charleroi, and I the subsequent retreat of the Allies' left wing to the Marne, it is necessary to follow the course of events in east and north-east France from the time when the German host first entered Belgium to the time when von Kluck and von Biilow almost surrounded the British Expeditionary Force at Mons. The success of the Germans in Belgium was partly conditioned by the 'ouddenness of their attack and partly by the unprepared- ness of the French command to counter it. The French plan ol campaign was based upon a conviction that the main attack of the enemy would be delivered through Lorraine and Alsace. Even when reluctantly they were compelled to realise that the Germans were waiting on the defensive in the east while north and west they were pushing rapidly through Belgium in a move- ment that threatened to turn the French left flank, they were still disinclined to weaken their eastern forces and quite deceived as to the extent of the German sweep. The very success of the Belgian resistance lent 'weight to this self-deception. For the defence of Liege and the south-we.st turn of the main German forces towards Namur all encouraged the French to believe that the main attack of the Germans in the north would be delivered throughthegapbetweenDinantandtheArdennes. Theidea of a German sweep through Brussels which would take the invader to the west of Paris never seemed to have occurred to any of the French general^ with the exception of Lanrezac, and it was only his most pressing insistence that persuaded the higher command to move his army so far to the north-west. These events, however, were of later develc^ment. The first :ontact of the German and French forces occurred in Alsace. Even before the declaration of war German patrols bad crossed into French territory on the Alsace frontier, and there is no doubt tliat such a move was designed to concentrate French attention on the eastern front and deceive France as to the main objective oftheGermanattackthroughBelgium. Inanyevent.Franco

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