A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 242

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Not Proofread. The contents of this page needs to be proofread. Currently, there are multiple typos / OCR errors that require attention.
MONS AND CHARLEROI


near Andtrlues. Itiijchidedfivedivisions,badlyequipped,and may have totalled some :?5o,ooo men. At Namur were 25,000 Belgian troops, somewhat shaken in moral, under General Michel, and at Maubeuge a mass of 30,000 reservists and terri- torials, badly equipped owing to the shortage of boots, and with- out transport. They could not, therefore, be regarded as avail* able for field warfare, especially against liiglily trained troops. The mission of the 5th army, in conjunction with the British Expeditionary Force, then arriving at Maubeuge and moving towards Mons, was to protect the French left flank and to strike the German right, which was supposed by the French high com- mand not to extend far west of the Ardennes. The position of the* 5th army was one of great peril. Three German aniiies were closing upon it—^namely, the 1st (Kluck), passing across its front to execute a vast enveloping movement and if the British should bb encountered to deal with them; the 2nd (Billow), moving directly upon its front on the Sambre; and the 3rd (Hausen), the existence of which does not appear to have been known to the French supreme command, moving against its right flank and rear. Thus the 5th army* and the British were threatened with the double envelopment which marked Cannae and Sedan. The total German force is placed by Baumgarten-Crusius at 30 infantry and five cavalry divisions (each German cavalry division included rifle battalions, machine gun companies and cyclists, besides cavalry and horse artillery, and thus was far more formidable than a Bdtish or French cavalry division) against 16 British and French infantry divisions and four cavalry divisions. In fighting force on the spot the Germans had a superiority of about two to one (600,000 to about 320,000 men). Lanrezac, with good reason, was anxious as to his position. Ho had warned Joflre in vain of the risk of such a great German turning movement as was now being carried out. On August 20 he was ordered to take the offensive in combination with tln*> 4th army (Langle de Cary) on his right, which was separated from .him by a wide gap, and with the 3rd army (Kufley). He was unable to do, so because all his troops had not arrived, and the British were not yet in position. On the 21st. he pointed this out to the French headquarters, ‘and was told that he could wait till the 24th before attacking. It was fortunate.that he did not advance on the 20th; had he done so he would have walked

← 241   ·   242   ·   243 →
(page index)