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First World War : 22nd of August 1914 the bloodiest day

A hundred years ago, France knew the bloodiest day of its history. Never before or after this day has France lost so many soldiers.

On the 22nd of August 1914, about 27,000 Frenchmen died.

It was crucial day in the evolution of the French army for the war. The Battle of the Frontiers was near its end and little by little, French forces were falling back.

However,  the five French armies deployed in France and Belgium launched various attacks. Less prepared than their opponents, on all battle fronts France met heavy resistance and ended attacking in uncoordinated manners, using badly its artillery and suffering from the mistakes of officers and generals who sent their men to early graves instead of retreating.

In Belgium, at the battle of Rossignol, French general of division Léon Raffenel, who had gone mad took his own decision to charge more than 30,000 German soldiers with less than half this amount of troops. He was soon killed, and his men were left in total disarray, panic and confusion. This battle was the last for 11,900 French soldiers, including two generals ( Raffenel and Rondoney )

Also in Belgium, the three days long battle of Charleroi began between France and Germany, resulting in a victory for the famous Generaloberst Karl von Bülow.

Almost everywhere in the Ardennes, France was tactically defeated despite the gain of several strategic victories. Two days later, generals Joseph Joffre and John French will begin the Great Retreat where French and British troops started to withdraw behind the Marne river. The main objective is to contain the German advance and prepare the defense of Paris.

By Alister

Studying at the University of Besaçon, Burgundy Franche-Comté, France