A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 82


THE OPPOSING FORCES


The Belgian army was recruited partly by conscription and partly by voluntary enlistment, the latter being only for those who desired to make the army a profession. Its authorised field strength was, 3,360 officers and 50,300 other ranks. Its war strength was estimated at 350,000 men, but at the outbreak of war Belgium was in the midst of an army reorganization scheme, and was not able to bring all her forces into the field since her territory was overrun by the Germans. After the fall of Antwerp her total available forces fell to 82,000 men.

The Serbians Mobilized over 350,000 men, fine and seasoned soldiers, but from want of transport and munitions they were unable to fight outside their own territory.

The Russian army outnumbered all the others. Its peace strength was upwards of 1,300,000 men of all ranks. At war strength its numbers were estimated at between 6,000,000 and 7,000,000 men, and its reserves of man power were far greater than those of any of the other belligerents. But in equipment and munitions it was woefully lacking, and for this deficiency the courage and hardihood of the troops could not atone.

Against these forces was pitted the might of the two Central empires. The German regular army, like the French and the Russian, consisted of conscripts who served with the colours for two or three years and then after this period of intensive training passed into the reserve. It numbered some 860,000 men organized in 26 army corps: Each army corps consisted of two or three divisions, the constitution of which was not unlike that of their British counterparts. On mobilization the army was enlarged by calling to the colours the first reserve, young men who had just completed their years of service, and with these its fighting strength was about 1,500,000. Further additions were secured by calling upon the other reserve called the Landwehr, which made a total of over 4,000,000. Behind this was an untapped reserve, the Landsturm, older men numbering about 5,000,000.

In efficiency this vast army was second to none. Its officers were zealous students of the art of war, devoted to their profession. Guns and equipment were the best that scientific skill and long experience could devise. Directing all its activities, with plans of campaign worked out to the last meticulous detail, was the great general staff which von Moltke had fashioned into a wonderful instrument of victory. Backed be an educated

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