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First World War : 19th of August 1914

While Brussels has fallen to German soldiers, in France, the soldiers of the Empire and the Republic were once more fighting in the city of Mulhouse. The nearby town of Dornach became the theater of heavy combats the 19th of August. Supported by artillery and helped by a regiment of sappers, France finally win the fight in Mulhouse. Hundreds of casualties are reported both sides and around a thousand German soldiers are made prisoners.

Generally, the French forces are pushing on in Lorraine. But several divisions are falling back behind the Meuse river. The 19th and 20th of August, the battle of Sarrebourg. On the 19th, the first fights between French and Germans around Sarrebourg are unsuccessful and even create a dangerous situation for the French divisions, which could easily be flanked.  On the 20th, the offensive is a failure, many soldiers are pushed back by the Germans. However, the retreat of soldiers in the mountainous zone of the Vosges became an advantage as these troops were able to contain any German attempts to break them.

 

Further North, the second French army is attacking the town of Morhange and its surroundings against the forces of the Crown Prince of Germany. Starting on the 19th, this offensive will prove to be  a serious defeat on the 20th. For many officers and even soldiers, the German army has not defeated the French army but just repelled the offensives of Lorraine. The armies retreated around Nancy, one of the Germans main objective.

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First World War : 17th and 18th of August 1914

On the 17th of August 1914, the French offensive continues. However many attacks are launched without an enemy in front. The German forces have slightly retreated  and when French troops entered the city of Sarrebourg ( Lorraine region ) the 18th, it had been abandoned. The population of the city applauded the French troops. A sentiment of joy spread in the air, but many townsfolk warned the soldiers. This pretended German retreat is a trap, there are not far from the city in great number, more numerous than the French and better equipped in artillery. And they were right. In the afternoon of the 18th of August, patrols encountered heavy defended German positions. Soon, the entire valley of the Sarre could hear artillery fire. The battle of Sarrebourg has began.

In Belgium, the perspectives were bad. Liège had fallen the day before and Germany was moving very fast toward the capital city, Brussels. The 18th, King Albert ordered the Belgian army to withdraw to the fortifications near Anvers.

In the vast majority of the Western front, the German army is free to advance. The allied nations, despite brave resistance, are unable to stop them.

 

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First World War: 16th of August 1914k

The 16th of August 1914 is an important day in the beginning of the First World War. The totality of the BEF, the British Expeditionary Force, has completed its landing in France.

But hundreds of kilometers away from French soil, in the Adriatic sea, an event will mark the start of naval warfare in the First World War.

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First World War : 11th of August 1914

Following the defeat near Mulhouse and the force retreat the French high commandment created an ” Army of Alsace ” with at its head, General Paul Pau. He will join his army on the 13th of August.

The same day, France declares war to Austria-Hungary, answering to their declaration of the 10th and cuts all diplomatic relations with the Empire.

While the hope of a quick victory in Alsace and Lorraine is gone,  the French army offered the Germans a heavy resistance in the Meuse ( Lorraine region ). The small village of Pillon is taken but the German army is confronted by hundreds of French poilus in the neighboring village of Mangiennes. The two villages are only separated by woods.

Parts of the III and IV French armies are stationed in Mangiennes, alerted at the presence of German hussars nearby. After the French cavalry sighted the German forces, Colonel de Hautecloque ( in charge of France’s 14th hussars regiment ) ordered machine guns to be deployed. The two enemy armies are barely a couple of kilometers away from each other. Artillery fire is exchanged and for a while, both sides camped on their positions. On the German general is asked to take Mangiennes, despite indicated that the terrain was not favorable for an assault. However the German command, realizing that their flank was weak and a easy target decided to reinforce the presence of German soldiers in Pillon. The French officers are persuaded that the artillery destroyed the German machine guns or forced them to retreat and General Cordonnier charged their flanks, however it was unsuccessful and the cost in men hight. Some soldiers, despite the orders, pursued the Germans in the nearby village of Loison.

The fighting of the 11th of August between Mangiennes and Pillon made 120 Frenchmen died and 240 Germans lost their lives.

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First World War : 9th of August and the battle of the frontiers.

On the 9th August, at Mulhouse and its surroundings, yesterday’s victory felt short for the soldiers. The officers knew that a great amount of German forces were very close but disagreement in the leading ranks lead to the soldiers keeping their positions. The French artillery unsuccessfully fired at a German train during the entire morning. A train that was transporting more and more enemies to the nearby forest. At the end of the afternoon, an attack launched by a corps ( the VII ) plus another division, forced the French troops to retreat after resisting several hours. The retreat was success, despite being the target of German artillery.

The French regiments organized themselves only several kilometers from Mulhouse, who was only defended by General Bonneau and his men who would retreat on the morrow, the 10th of August. The German victory at Mulhouse cost 3,000 men and France suffered 4,000 casualties. With the retreat of Bonneau, the French commandment began to send troops to the Vosges. Bonneau lost his position because of his “ lack of aggressiveness “ and hence was replaced. The retreating troops headed to Belfort, a fortified place.

The battle of Mulhouse is part of the bigger Battle of the Frontiers, fought by France, Belgium and the United Kingdom against the German Empire, a battle that will last until the 23rd of August.

At the same time, Belgium was loosing its incredible system of fortifications and fortresses. The German machine was advancing and was unstoppable.

The same day, in Africa, a joint operation between France and the United Kingdom launched an invasion of Togoland,  a German colony.