By A. F. Pollard

ISBN-10: 1428055835

ISBN-13: 9781428055834

On 28 June 1914 the Archduke Francis Ferdinand heir-presumptive to the Hapsburg throne used to be shot within the streets of Serajevo the capital of the Austrian province of Bosnia.

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They had got their pistol pointed at the heart of England, but like Napoleon they learnt that it was a pistol which could only be fired by seapower. Most of the Belgian Army with the remnants of the British forces got away to the coast through the gap beyond the Scheldt which Von Beseler had failed to close in time; and it is impossible to say whether the gallant efforts of the Royal Marines and naval brigades did more to facilitate this escape than the postponement of the retreat, caused by their arrival, did to frustrate it.

To render these plans feasible it was necessary that La Bassée and Lille should be held and that the indefinite German flank in Flanders should be outreached; and thus the country from Arras northwards to the coast became the ground on which the autumn campaign in the West was doomed to be decided. Antwerp fell amid a fluid front. On 9 October Maud'huy's 10th Army was holding up in front of Arras; but his Territorials were falling back on Lille and its environment as the Belgians retreated to join Rawlinson at Ostend.

On the 12th he attempted a frontal attack on La Bassée, but found the German position too strong, and determined to try to wheel round it on the north. This movement had some success; the 3rd Division drove the Germans from village to village until on the 17th Aubers and Herlies, north to north-east of La Bassée, were taken by assault. But the Germans were simultaneously and in the same way driving in the French Territorials; on the 13th they occupied Lille, and on the 19th an Irish brigade which had advanced beyond Herlies to Le Pilly was cut off and captured.

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