Battle of Cer | 16 Aug 1914

Battle of Lorraine

The Germans evacuate Sarrebourg. 1st Army moves cautiously towards the city, and 2nd Army receives orders to keep in contact but begin moving north. Once again, the French have played directly into the Germans’ hands.

Battle of Cer

The Austro-Hungarians are going nowhere fast. The Serbians are fighting on terrain they know well, at the top of hills, concealed in forests. General Potiorek is appealing, mostly unsuccessfully, for the men on the Sava to stay put and keep the Serbians from shifting men over to Cer. The invasion of Serbia was the first part of the war to be launched in earnest. It’s only appropriate that it should also be the first part of the war to start going horribly wrong for the people who started it.

The Serbians are beginning to counter-attack, and the Austro-Hungarian advance begins to turn into a retreat.

Siege of Liege

The Siege of Liege ends today with the capture of all the Belgian forts. They provided a significant roadblock to the German army, but it’s now been thoroughly cleared. There’s now nothing in the way of the German Army’s ability to execute its war plan. First Army will soon be on the march. The only thing between them and France is another Belgian fortress system around Namur, of which more when the Germans arrive there.

Namur, Maubeuge, and Mons

Sir John French and General Joffre have another meeting. It’s today that they decide that the BEF should head for Mons via Maubeuge with all speed. General Lanrezac’s 5th Army is heading into Belgium towards the Namur fortress, and the BEF will be in an ideal position to guard 5th Army’s flank against anything the Germans have to throw at it.

In addition, Joffre has also asked for three French Territorial reserve divisions to occupy the Franco-Belgian border from Maubeuge to Dunkirk. It’s not much of a line, and it’d be quite unrepresentative of the situation on the ground; but for the first time in this war, you could now reasonably draw an unbroken Entente defensive line from the North Sea coast to the Swiss border.

This situation will persist for a while.

Russians in Prussia

The invasion of eastern Germany begins with General Rennenkampf’s 1st Army crossing the border as darkness falls. General Samsonov, commanding 2nd Army, takes a distinctly Russian approach to his orders to advance. He declines to do so just for the moment.

Meanwhile, the German Eighth Army has taken up defensive positions on the railway line at Gumbinnen, with a plethora of advance scouts in front of them acting as tripwires for the advancing Russians. More tomorrow.

Lake Nyasa

The western border of German East Africa (today, mostly Tanzania) is bordered by a number of extremely large lakes, some of the biggest in the world. One of them, Lake Nyasa, forms part of the border with Nyasaland, an entirely objectionable British colony that we’ll be taking a much closer look at later on. In any case, the lake is extremely strategically important as a transportation hub. Both empires have a large steamer operating on the lake. Sadly for the local Germans, their only communications link with the outside world is via a telegraph line through Nyasaland, and it’s been mysteriously cut.

However, the state of affairs is soon cleared up when Captain Rhoades of the Guendolen sails up to Sphinxhaven Bay with a small pom-pom cannon, and with a single shot he disables the German steamer Hermann von Wissmann. Apparently Rhoades and Captain Berndt were drinking partners, and Berndt’s response was to row out to the Guendolen bellowing “Gott for damn Rhoades, vos you drunk?” The situation is explained, Hermann von Wissmann is impounded, and her captain and crew are taken off to spend a quiet war in internment.

Actions in Progress

Siege of Liege
Battle of Mulhouse
Battle of Lorraine
Battle of Cer

Further Reading

I have a Twitter account, @makersley, which you can follow to be notified of updates and get all my retweets of weird and wonderful First World War things.

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. Worth a look. I’m reading the paper every day, and it’s where the content for Our Advertising Feature comes from.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

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