Diary for Saturday, August 22, 1914:
Belgium: North of the Ardennes three German armies are continuing to sweep through western Belgium and are beginning to advance to the south and southwest for France. In the third engagement of the ‘Battle of the Frontiers’ the French commander-in-chief, General Joseph Joffre, orders General Charles Lanrezac‘s Fifth Army into position between the Sambre and Meuse Rivers to block the unexpected switch in the main axis of the German attack into France.
Again, the French fight stubbornly to halt the German advance, but suffer unacceptably high casualties. Lanrezac seeks and is granted permission by Joffre to withdraw. As this battle is taking place, German troops are using their heavy howitzers to smash the Belgian garrison of Namur. 3 major forts ruined by Big Bertha-led bombardment; garrison and 4th Division escape south to French lines, from where 12,000 reach Antwerp on August 30. The fortress is finally captured on August 25.
British first in action: c. 80 Dragoon Guards scatter German squadron of 4th Cuirassiers 5 miles (ca. 8 km) north of Mons, mounted and dismounted cavalry actions to the northeast. BEF aligned along Conde-Mons canal west of Mons. Kluck’s intelligence erroneously places them at Tournai.
Battle of the Ardennes involves 361,000 French against 380,000 Germans in piecemeal actions between Neufchateau and Longwy, where Rommel’s baptism of fire is. 2 French corps mauled including 3rd Colonial Division (11,000 casualties). Foch’s cadet son Germain (131st Infantry) killed; aged 25 (father learns about on September 12).
Alsace: French near Colmar but 44th Division withdrawn to First Army; VII Corps entrained (August 25) to be new Sixth Army nucleus at Amiens.
Lorraine: Germans occupy Luneville (until September 12).
East Prussia: Ludendorff quickly takes charge of the German forces confronting Rennenkampf and Samsonov. He orders the wholesale realignment of the outnumbered German troops facing the Russians, directing the bulk of his units against Sainsonov’s Second Army in the south of the province by both road and rail. A single cavalry division is directed to delay Rennenkampf in the north. The Germans plan to defeat Samsonov before his forces can link up with Rennenkampf. Unbeknown to Ludendorff and Hindenburg, Lieutenant Colonel Max Hoffmann, Prittwitz’s chief of operations, has already begun such a maneuver.
Samsonov captures Soldau and Neidenburg.
Serbia: Serbs back on whole line of river Drina. Austrian Sixth Army retires into Bosnia (until August 24).
North Sea: German cruiser and destroyer squadron sinks 8 British fishing boats.
Mediterranean: Admiral Usedoms 522 German naval officers and technicians leave Berlin for Constantinople.
Western Front: First RFC aircraft shot down: No 5 Squadron Avro 504 (Lt Waterfall) by German rifle fire in Belgium, first evidence of BEF. RFC Farman of No 5 Squadron with first Lewis gun mounting fails to intercept German aircraft over Maubeuge.
Eastern Front: Army Zeppelin LZ5 pinpoints Russian Second Army troops in Tannenberg sector (repeated August 25). Army airship SL2 begins 24-hour reconnaissance mission for Austrian armies.
Togo: 450 allied troops lose 75 casualties at Khra against 460 Germans with 3 MGs.
Austria: The government declares war on Belgium.
Italy: Only able to mobilize 380,000 troops without untrained militia and inadequate artillery, also 200,000 uniforms short.
Belgium: Germans shoot 384 civilians in Tamines main square and levy £8 millions on Brussels.
Russia: Imperial decree prohibits liquor sales for duration of war.