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Diary August 20, 1914

German supply column in Brussels
Belgian civilians look on as a German supply column prepares to move out from Brussels, the recently captured capital.

World War One Diary for Thursday, August 20, 1914:


WESTERN FRONT
Belgium: German forces occupy Brussels, the Belgian capital. Belgian Army withdraws into Antwerp fortress. von Kluck decides to send 2 corps to invest it.
The Battle of the Frontiers switches to the wooded Ardennes region to the north of Metz. Two French armies advancing at all possible speed into Belgium run into two German armies rushing through Luxembourg and southeast Belgium on August 22. Three days of bitter, confused fighting follow, with the outnumbered French blunting the German attacks and then launching their own counterattacks.
French losses are severe (over 140,000 casualties until August 24). Their Third Army (General Pierre Ruffey) is virtually destroyed and General Fernand de Langle de Cary‘s Fourth Army badly mauled. The French, pursued by the Germans, fall back to positions between the Meuse and Marne Rivers, with their right wing resting on the fortifications of Verdun.
Lorriane: French XXI Corps defeats German XIV Corps attack, but VIII Corps forced from Saarburg as 6 divisions of German Seventh Army attack. French Second Army’s XV and XVI Corps routed by German XXI and I Bavarian Reserve Corps but Foch’s XX Corps holds firm and then night retreats 12 miles (ca. 19 km) to river Meurthe. BEF concentration south of Maubeuge nears completion.

EASTERN FRONT
East Prussia – Battle of Gumbinnen: At Gumbinnen, the Germans (13,000 casualties), who fear encirclement, confront the slowly advancing Russian forces of Rennenkampf (19,000 casualties). General Hermann von Francois, who acts decisively, unlike the dithering Prittwitz, drives Rennenkampf back some five miles – but other German attacks are unsuccessful. Prittwitz is relieved of his command and is replaced by the elderly General Paul von Hindenburg, who is recalled from retirement. Hindenburg’s chief-of-staff is confirmed as the dynamic General Erich Ludendorff, fresh from his role in capturing the crucial Belgian frontier fortress of Liege.

SOUTHERN FRONTS
Serbia – Battle of the Jadar: Serb guns shell Austrians fleeing in valleys below and pursuit reaches river Drina in evening. Potiorek orders Austrian Second Army to recross the Sava.

AFRICAN FRONTS
Cameroons: Some 400 British troops invade German Cameroons from Nigeria.
Morocco: French kill over 200 tribesmen to get convoy into Fort Khenifra.

AIR WAR
Britain: Zeppelin raids on London (‘to cause panic in the population’), major British ports, and four naval bases.

NEUTRALS
Italy: Death of Pope Pius X; aged 79.

OCCUPIED COUNTRIES
Belgium: General Bülow sanctions shooting of 311 civilians (for sniping on German troops by civilians) in Andenne on the Meuse

HOME FRONTS
Britain: Royal Commission on Women’s Employment. Sugar Supplies Central Committee formed. Postal censorship begins.

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