This Week In The War (11-17 August 1914)

This Week In The War (11-17 August 1914)
Shelling of the Liege forts by German artillery using high trajectory field howitzers.

(Times History of the War Vol. 1, p347)


The second week of the war was dominated by the raging battle of Liege, where the gallant Belgians held off a vastly larger and better equipped German army. The heavily armoured Liege forts fell one by one across the week, as the Germans employed massive 420 mm siege howitzers to shell the area. A direct hit by a shell from one of these weapons proved sufficient to wreck the thickly concreted forts.

Following unexpectedly stiff resistance from the Belgians, the Germans finally won the battle and took over the city on the 16th, with the Belgian Army pushed back towards Antwerp.

On August 12th the United Kingdom declared war on Austria-Hungary, with most of the great European powers of the time now involved in the war.

A very significant event occurred on August 13th, when the Red Cross was launched in Australia by Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, wife of the Australian Governor General. This organisation quickly gathered popular support and became one of the most effective home-based organisations of the war in Australia.

The Red Cross organised regular fund raising for the war effort, sent teams of nurses to help in France, and conducted massive “home front” operations such as the preparation of first aid kits and the knitting socks for the soldiers.

On the 16th August the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) arrived in France, led by General Sir John French. This was an Army of 4 Infantry Divisions, with another 2 kept in England in case of an invasion. Although small in comparison to the German and French Armies, the men of the BEF were highly trained and were able to perform well although being heavily outnumbered in several conflicts.

Almost immediately, the BEF were deployed against the Germans at the Battle of Mons that began only a week later.