A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 226

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FRANCE'S FRONTIER BATTLES


l)a<l fallen, and the Germans were free to throw the whole weiglit of their overwhelming right wing upon the shaken French troops. The position of the combatants therefore at the commence- ment of the battles of Charleroi and Mons was roughly as follows : The vGermans had reduced the frontier forts of Belgium and driven the Belgian army back on Antwerp. Brussels had been occupied and von Kluck was beginning his turning movement south on Paris, a movement which was to take him to the west of the Allies* line and almost behind them. In the east the French thrusts in Alsace, Lorraine and the Ardennes had all been more than effectively parried and the French were back in lineontheirfrontierfortifications. Alongthecomparativelyun- defended northern flintier was the fortress of Lille and Mau- beuge, but after the fate of Liege and Namur, little reliance could be placed in that, as was borne out by the subsequent course of events. In any et'ent, the value and strength of the frontier fortifications were entirely proportioned to the effective- ness of the field armies defending them, and even so early in the struggle it had been made abundantly clear that forts might be aliabilityratherthananasset. OncetheleftflankorthcAllies was turned, retreat became imperative and the forts' could be reduced at the enemy*s convenience. On the Allies* side, a cordon of armies stretched from a point west of Mons east to Charleroi, and then i*an south-east in front ofLongwy,VerdunandNancytoBelfort, Ontheextremeleft was the British Expeditionary Force, and next to that, in order, werethe5th,3rd,4th,2ndandistFrencharmies. Thedanger point,however,wasinthewest. Oncetheoverwhelmingweight of the German right wing fell upon and drove back the British army ahd the French 5th army, the whole line was turned and only precipitate retreat could save it from disaster. Such was the general position before the battles of Mons and Charleroi dnd the retreat to the Marne, which was to mark tlio zenith of the German success on the western front and carry them to within a day*s march of Paris,

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