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Day 1 (Aug 4th): The Battle of Liege


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On 4 August 1914, a German battle group consisting of six infantry brigades and three cavalry divisions crossed into Belgium with the objective of taking the rail junction and Meuse River crossings at Liege. Liege was defended by a series of 12 forts, approximately 10km from the city; each fort was armed with a mix of Krupp 120mm, 150mm, and 210mm guns, howitzers, and mortars with overlapping fields of fire. Close-in defense was provided by dozens of Belgian-produced Canon 57mm Cockerill – Nordenfelt M1888. Along with the 4500 fortress troops manning the guns and 12,000 militia, the 25,000 troops of the Belgian 3rd Infantry Division and the 15th Infantry Brigade defended the city. The field artillery batteries of the Belgian infantry division were equipped with the Krupp 75mm Model 1905 field gun. German staff estimates called these Belgian troops "Praliné-Soldaten.” However, German troops, tasked with Liege as their objective, would quickly discover that the defenders of the Belgian forts would not simply melt away like Belgian chocolate in the summer sun. Belgian artillery would be The Guns of August that scored the first hits. Fort Barchon was the first position attacked on 5 August, but the 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09 of Klevesches Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Nr.43 had no effect on the fort and the German 53. Infantrie Regiment suffered heavy losses from the Belgian fort's guns. By 16 August, however, it would be German guns that were the true Guns of August. The devastating effects of Germany’s 28cm and 42cm “Dicke Bertha howitzers,” along with attachments of 30.5 Skoda mortars from its ally, Austria-Hungary, which destroyed the Belgian forts, would foreshadow the role artillery attained as the most effective killer on the battlefield.

(This is an excerpt from an upcoming article that I am working on about the Belgian artillery and the Battle of Liege.)

Belgian artillery: a battery of Krupp 75mm Model 1905 field guns and a fortress artilleryman.

Edited by IrishGunner
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I once read that many of the forts were destroyed by explosives just after te battles, and then used to scare the allies as if the guns had been 100% responsible?

On this thread there is a signed print of Ludendorff leading the chargs...

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/49350-ludendorff-an-underated-man/?hl=ludendorff

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I once read that many of the forts were destroyed by explosives just after te battles, and then used to scare the allies as if the guns had been 100% responsible?

I haven't read that yet in my "research." However, it wouldn't surprise me. I do know that several of the 12 forts surrendered due to ventilation problems - smoke from their own guns combining with smoke from the incoming shells - made the forts untenable. German propaganda being quite efficient certainly took some liberties. On the other hand, several of the forts were taken over by the Germans. So, it's probably a combination of all of the above. The big guns certainly were used - especially at Loncin, the largest fort. The smaller forts may not have needed the effort of the 42cm Big Bertha.

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On this thread there is a signed print of Ludendorff leading the chargs...

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/49350-ludendorff-an-underated-man/?hl=ludendorff

Nice print with a 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09 behind Ludendorff.

Barbara Tuchman's book, "The Guns of August," describes how Ludendorff takes command of 14. Brigade and directs a field howitzer to clear a village just outside of Liege. My OOB source lists 4 15cm howitzers of the "7th Btry/4th Howitzer Battalion" with 14. Brigade. Which is an error in translation I think. 2. Armee (which 14. Brigade/7. Infantrie-Division was under) had II. and III. Btl. FussArtillerie Regiment Nr. 4. III./FuAR 4 was 7. and 8. Batterie (according the Ehrenbuch der deut. FuAR) armed with "Mörser". So, there's a slight difference. I'm pretty sure the heavy element with 14. Brigade was an element of FuAR 4; I just am not sure of what guns.

On the other hand, 14. Brigade had elements of the Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Prinz-Regent Luitpold von Bayern (Magdeburgisches) Nr.4 and according to my OOB source that detachment had 77mm Feldkanone M96 n/A. But it's likely that it was really a battery of 10.5cm howitzers since some regiments had an Abteilung of 77mm guns and one of 10.5cm howitzers. I just happen to have the history of FAR 4 and II. Abteilung indeed was armed with 10.5cm howitzers at the beginning of the war. The regimental history of FAR 4 also says II. Abt. was attached to 14. Brigade. So, I think that's another error in the OOB. And in my opinion, the print of Ludendorff shows a 10.5cm howitzer of FAR 4. I have to read deeper into the regimental history (it's of course script; so, difficult for me...) But this is exactly the fun that researching a battle - and a picture - brings!

Edited by IrishGunner
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I have the EK2 documents to a Battalion commander and Company commander of IR27 who were there for the action. Have not been able to find out their part in the battle just yet....

The Regimental History of FAR 4 mentions actions of the infantry regiments. I had just read up to 6 August last night, but it was 1am and I went to bed. I do recall that IR27 figured prominently in the text. It mentions a few names; if you give me the names I can keep an eye out while reading.

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Nice print with a 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09 behind Ludendorff.

Barbara Tuchman's book, "The Guns of August," describes how Ludendorff takes command of 14. Brigade and directs a field howitzer to clear a village just outside of Liege. My OOB source lists 4 15cm howitzers of the "7th Btry/4th Howitzer Battalion" with 14. Brigade. Which is an error in translation I think. 2. Armee (which 14. Brigade/7. Infantrie-Division was under) had II. and III. Btl. FussArtillerie Regiment Nr. 4. III./FuAR 4 was 7. and 8. Batterie (according the Ehrenbuch der deut. FuAR) armed with "Mörser". So, there's a slight difference. I'm pretty sure the heavy element with 14. Brigade was an element of FuAR 4; I just am not sure of what guns.

On the other hand, 14. Brigade had elements of the Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Prinz-Regent Luitpold von Bayern (Magdeburgisches) Nr.4 and according to my OOB source that detachment had 77mm Feldkanone M96 n/A. But it's likely that it was really a battery of 10.5cm howitzers since some regiments had an Abteilung of 77mm guns and one of 10.5cm howitzers. I just happen to have the history of FAR 4 and II. Abteilung indeed was armed with 10.5cm howitzers at the beginning of the war. The regimental history of FAR 4 also says II. Abt. was attached to 14. Brigade. So, I think that's another error in the OOB. And in my opinion, the print of Ludendorff shows a 10.5cm howitzer of FAR 4. I have to read deeper into the regimental history (it's of course script; so, difficult for me...) But this is exactly the fun that researching a battle - and a picture - brings!

The great thing about having a regimental history - the details are better than many sources. The Regimental History of FAR 4 confirms that 7. Batt. FuAR Nr. 4 was indeed armed with 21cm Mörser. Furthermore, there is a detailed description of the house-to-house fighting after Ludendorff took command of the 14. Brigade, especially how 10.5cm howitzers of 4. Batt. FAR 4 were brought forward to help clear the village.

Edited by IrishGunner
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