Friday, October 03, 2014

October 3rd, 1914

- The German pressure around Arras is beginning to tell.  North of the city the French are being pushed back as Rupprecht sends reinforcements to I Bavarian Corps as they attack towards Vimy, and IV Cavalry Corps is sent northwards in the direction of Lille.  French lines south of Arras, manned by territorial divisions, are also buckling.

- This afternoon Churchill arrives in Antwerp, meets with King Albert and the Belgian Prime Minister, and at 635pm telegrams London that the Belgians have agreed to continue resistance at Antwerp for at least ten days, provided that within three days definitive assurances had been received from the British that substantial reinforcements were en route to support the Belgians.  With the Royal Marine Brigade already en route, Churchill suggests the deployment of two naval brigades, which together with the Marines made up the Royal Naval Division.  These two naval brigades were composed of those sailors of the Royal Fleet Reserve who were surplus to requirements when the Royal Navy was mobilized on the outbreak of war.  The men of these two brigades had no practical experience as soldiers, and none had had more than two days of training with rifles.  Among the officers were the poet Rupert Brooke and Arthur Asquith, son of the Prime Minister.  To say the two naval brigades were unprepared for combat would be a colossal understatement, but in the moment of crisis were the only immediately-available units in Britain.

Meanwhile, south of the city the Germans have turned their guns on Fort Kessel, but the Belgian defenders continue to hold out through the day.

- Along the Aisne River, II Corps and 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions of the British Expeditionary Force have left the front line and begin their redeployment northwards to Flanders, the first units of the BEF to do so.  II Corps is marching to Compiègne where it will board trains heading north, while the two cavalry divisions will move by road.

- In South Africa, Defense Minister J. C. Smuts has requested Lieutenant-Colonel Maritz of Force B to come to Pretoria for consultations.  Smuts is increasingly concerned about the loyalty of Maritz, while the latter, expecting arrest, refuses the summons of Smuts.  Instead, Maritz moves Force B from Upington to Kakamas, which not coincidentally is closer to the border with German South East Africa.

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