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Battle of Liege 1914 in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Battle of Liege 1914

5th Aug 1914   The Battle of Liege

The German Second Army crossed into neutral Belgium aiming to attack France from the north, and soon reached the key city of Liege, where their advance was checked by a relatively small number of Belgian soldiers under the command of Lieutenant General Leman. The city of Liege was defended by a ring of twelve underground forts built on high ground six miles outside the city in the 1880's, with retractable cupolas housing a total of 400 guns ranging in size up to six inch.

When the German Army reached the River Meuse a few miles from the city, they found the bridges had already been destroyed. They began to construct pontoons but soon came under fire from the 210mm howitzers, 150 and 120mm canons and 57mm rapid fire guns. The Belgian's had had little time to prepare and the hastily constructed earth works between the forts barely held back the German Forces and on the evening of the 5th the Germans carried out one of the first air raids with a Zeppelin dropping bombs on the city of Liege.

6th Aug 1914 The Battle of Liege  The Germans brought up field howiters and fought through the village of Queue-di-Bois taking the high ground looking down on the city of Liege. German General Ludendorff sent a party under a flag of truce to demand the Belgian's surrender of the city, but this was refused by Lt General Leman. The Belgian forts stood up to the German artillery bombardment, with only one, Fort Fleron being put out of action as the cupola mechanism was destroyed by Shell fire. Leman moved his HQ back to Fort Loncin on the western side of the city.

6th August 1914 Zeppelin raids.  On 6 August 1914 the German Zeppelin Z6 (LZ21) bombed the Belgian city of Liège, killing nine civilians. It was dropping artillery shells instead of bombs, but the ship's inadequate lift kept it at low altitude so that the bullets and shrapnel from defending fire penetrated the hull. The ship limped back towards Cologne, but had to be set down near Bonn in a forest, completely wrecking it.

John Doran

7th Aug 1914 The Battle of Liege  The German 14th Brigade broke through the defenses between the forts of Liege and entered the city, forcing the Belgian garrison to surrender. The forts continued to hold, halting further progress, though they were now exposed to attack from behind. the German's brought up a 420mm Siege Howitzer and Austrian built 305mm mortars. The forts had not been constructed to withstand such heavy artillery and were pounded into submission with Fort Boncelles being the last to fall on the 16th of August.

7th Aug 1914 Liege fort forced to capitulate  At 7:30am the last of the Liege forts was forced to capitulate under heavy artillery bombardment, which had lasted 10 days. The Battle was regarded as a moral victory by the Allies as no one had expected Belgium to put up any resistance to the invading army. In delaying the German advance time had been bought, allowing the French Forces to mobilize.

12th Aug 1914 German Siege Howitzer arrives at Liege  After seven days of hard fighting at Leige, the German, 420mm Siege Howitzer, known as 'Big Berta' arrived by rail. The Belgian forts had not been constructed to with stand such heavy artillery and were pounded into submission with the last to fall holding out until the 16th of August. The first 1700lb 42cm shell was fired as the German's set their sights on Fort Pontisse.

15th Aug 1914 The Battle of Liege  The Belgian commander of the Liege Forts, Lt. General Leman was buried under the rubble at Fort Loncin as it was destroyed by the German siege artillery. He was pulled unconscious from the debris by the Germans and was taken prisoner.

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Battle of Liege 1914

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