On the 4 August 1914 war broke
out across Europe. The empires of France and Germany found themselves face to
face in conflict. Both sides believed that this was going to be a swift war. It
would be all over by 1915.
The French Army believed that it could retake Alsace Lorraine
and march on the Rhine with relative ease. But whilst her armies rushed into
Germany, the German army stormed into Belgium.
Germany's plan was to make a fast sweep through Belgium
avoiding all of France's eastern fortresses, and thus descend upon an
unprotected Paris - war won.
They had not realised the strength of opposition from the
Belgian people, and from the moment that the German Army set foot on Belgian
soil the Franc-tireur sharpshooters took in to them as best as they could. This
constant picking off of soldiers roused the indignation of the German High
Command who felt that if they could beat the Belgian Army that should be the
end of the matter. In retaliation for these atrocities as they were
considered the Germans had a habit of holding entire villages to blame and
raising them to the ground massacring the population.
On 19 August the German Army reached Namur following the
capture of Liege to the east - a fortress even larger than Namur's. Five
Divisions lined up against a mere 27.000 defenders. The Allies could only hope
that the famous Citadel would hold out for at least a few days in order to get
relieving troops to the front line.
The following day, Brussels fell. At Namur the superior German
artillery continued to wreak havoc. On 23 August (less than 3 weeks since the
opening of the war), the German Army had advanced over a hundred miles and were
almost to the Atlantic ports of Oostende and Dunkerque. Namur was on the verge
and to the west the British
Expeditionary Force had come face to face with Germans at Mons.
Two days later Namur fell.