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German VII Corps At Mons


rhines
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In looking at a map for the 22-24th of August 1914 covering the engagements around Mons I ran across something curious. The map in question shows a German VII Corp on the left flank (German perspective) of an unnamed cavalry division and on the northern side of the Sambre R. The position of this VII Corps is almost directly between the August 23rd positions of Lanrezac's left flank and Haig's right flank. Why can I not find any information on this VII Corps, but more curious to me personally, why did this VII Corps not attempt a crossing of the Sambre, or a flanking attack on Haig's positions?

That Von Kluck did not fully understand his opposition at Mons is beyond dispute, but he surely must have known the extent of the British positions by the 23rd, and he had to have some idea of the positions of Lanrezac via Bulow. Would the flanking option provided by the VII Corps (while Haig remained north of the Sambre) not be very appealing?

The ultimate question is this, why can I not find any information about the actions of this VII Corps during the battle of Mons? So, if you own Von Kluck's memoirs maybe you can tell me.

Regards,

R. H.

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I don't have a definite answer but I have a suspicion. At some point during the mobilization and move toward France, the German high command apparently decided to shuffle many if not all of the cavalry units. One of the cavalry units that had been assigned to VII Corps was 14 Kavallerie Brigade. Rather than concentrate on the task at hand (mobilization), the German high command decided it was more important to redirect attention to creating an entirely new unit -- the 9th Kavallerie Division. This action combined 14 Kavallerie Brigade with 13 Kavallerie Brigade, both of which had been part of VII Corps, and join them with some other units with which they had little or no training. I have found individual histories of the two units that composed the 14 Kav. Brig. but nothing about the Brig. itself nor have I been able to locate a history of the division. I would be interested to hear anything you discover.

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Hello friends!

First of all, the VII.AK did not belong to v.Klucks 1st army, but to v.Bülows 2nd army!

The 14.Kav.Brig, together with the 13. and 19.Kav.Brig built the 9th Cav.Div. under command of H.K.K.2.

In a map that shows the operations 22.august, the H.K.K.2 was north-north-west of Mons between Geerardsbergen and Ath.

21.8.: The right wing of the 2.army marched from Nivelles and Genappes fought an enemy unit near Obaix and they throwed him over the Canal du Centre. Die german divisions restet north of the canal. Soem recon units crossed the canal.

22.8.: The VII.AK recieved the order to advance. Then, 25.Inf.Brig. came in touch with british cavalry near Péronnes (north of Binche). This was the FIRST locating of british troops. The british cavalry escaped.

The 26.Inf.Brig. supported units of the 14.Inf.Div. north of Anderlues (near Pièton) in a fight against french troops.

At the end of day, the 14.Inf.Div. restet north Anderlues, the 13.Inf.Div. near Haine-St.Paul and Mont Sainte Aldegonde.

Could you please show your map?

v.Bülow wrote in his memories (Mein Bericht zur Marne-Schlacht):

20.august: H.K.K.2 reached the sector of Marbas. Those three cavalry-divisions should ralley in front of the right-wing 1st army direction Ath.It reached the sector west of Braine Comté at 24.august.

He also wrote, that the left-wing 2.army crossed the Sambre at 22.august. They stood against english troops in line Ath-Mons-Binche.

The VII.AK should attack the line Thuin-Boussu-lez-Walcourt-Cerfontaine

So, the VII.AK was NOT involved in the battle of Mons!

Here the official participations for "our" units above:

1.Army

23.-24.8. Battle of Mons (II.AK, III.AK, IV.AK, IX.AK, H.K.K.2

2.Army

23.-24.8. Battle of Namur (Gardekorps, VII.AK, X.AK, X.RK, H.K.K.1

The 13.Inf.Div. had the follwing cavalry unit: ½ Ul.Rgt.16

The 14.Inf.Div. had the other ½ of the Ul.Rgt.16

Maybe you are looking for that regiment?

Edited by The Prussian
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Thank you Prussian, that explains it. The map I was using was a British one, and only displayed the Entente army movements for the period 22-24 Aug. It's a shame to think that with a little better means of rapid communication at their disposal Von Bulow and Von Kluck could have exchanged the unit in order to use it more effectively at Mons.

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Thanks for the information. It's great! Unfortunately, I don't think that I'm smart enough to understand it and I know that my German language skills aren't good enough to get me through Bulow's book. Consequently, I have tons of questions, but don't know where to go for answers. When did the shift in the kavallerie units take place? I've looked through hundreds of English language books and internet sites and still don't understand what happened with the German kavallerie and specifically the 14th K.B. Any direction you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

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At some point during the mobilization and move toward France, the German high command apparently decided to shuffle many if not all of the cavalry units.

Good morning, I’m sorry I missed this entire thread but better late than never. Not only did they shuffle cavalry units but I think it is a specific story of its own. It is covered in our book Great War Dawning. HKK2 was in the north. HKK-1 was in the South. The reshuffling took place two days after the general advance started. Suddenly the staff realized that they had deployed the cavalry in the wrong place. Their attempt to fix it on the fly was to move HKK1. From an operational perspective this was an absolutely Herculean effort. HK K-1 had to disengage, pull back, turn 90°, conduct a major river crossing, change army headquarters, cross the lines of communications of two complete armies and their logistical trains, and relocate not to the near side of the Second Army but rather to the far side. All of this without any logistical infrastructure above the division level and no radio.

Andy, notice on your map that HK K-1 is missing. Maybe they should of put it in there with the tag “in transit”. This reshuffle – wish I had used that word – took quite some time not surprisingly. When HK K-1 and HK K2 joined together on the right of the second Army I felt that was the end of the dawn for the cavalry.

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