A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 224

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FRANCE'S FRONTIER BATTLES


strength of the French defence became the pivot upon vvhich . Joffrc was able to base his own turning movement, which stretched from Paris to Verdun. And the achie\’^ement of these I'reuch armies w^as all the more remarkable in that they were drained of their best troops for service in the w est. Their losses, however, were appalling, one reserve division alone losing over 5,000 men and 140 ofheers betw^een August 24 and September 12. The third theatre of war in which the French engaged llie GermansduringAugustwasintheArdennes. Ontheoutbreak of hostilities the French 5th army under General Lanre:^ac was moved to the north-cast frontier and posted in the triangle formed by the unipn of the rivers Sambre and Meuse at Namur. The attack on Liege persuaded General Joffre that the real German menace would be directed south of the Meuse. Com plet^ly deceived by German strategy and badly served by liis own intelligence corps, he decided upon an early attack through the Ardennes against the supposedly unprotected Geroian flank andrear. ForthispurposehebroughtupUie3rdarmy,consist ing of three corps, under General Ruffey and the 4t]i army, con- sisting of six corps, under General Langle de Cary. Joffre's complete plan w^as to deliver an attack upon Iht German spear-head in Belgium from all sides at once. Thv Belgians should attack the right flank and rear, the expected British force should strike at the extreme right, Lanrezac and the 5th army should attack the centre and left, \vhih‘ the grd and 4th armies should push through the Ardennes and strike at the left flank and rear. This pleasant picture of a noose suddenlv flung over the head of the German attacking forces lacke d only one quality—^practicability. Three factors contributed to its failure. In the first place the extent of the German sweep through Brussels was not realii^ed until the German claus le\d almost closed upon the unsuspecting British and Frenc h armies. In the second place, the strength of the German forces in Belgium and x^articularly in the Ardennes w'^as grossly luidercstimated; and in the third place, the reliance which the French command placed in the impregnability of Namur, upon w hich hinge the safety of both left and right wdngs depended, proved unfounded. The concentration of the 3rd and 4th armies was almost com- plete by August 14, and orders were given to advance, with the general direction of ‘‘attacking the enemy wherever met." Tkic Lorraine army was meanwhile dissolved, and was partly re-

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