Monday, October 06, 2014

October 6th, 1914

- Realizing that the enemy line at Arras will hold, Rupprecht turns his attention northwards, hoping to accomplish the desired envelopment through Flanders.  The French have held Arras, though at great cost - the Alpine Division, for instance, has suffered 75% casualties over the past week fighting to hold the city.

- Early this morning Belgian units attack the German bridgehead over the Nethe River.  After initial progress, the Germans counterattack, and the Belgians are pushed back.  At the same time, Fort Broechem is put out of action and is evacuated by its Belgian defenders.  With the Nethe River line breached, the Belgians and the British Marine Brigade withdraw to a second defensive position half-way between the Nethe and the inner ring of forts around Antwerp.  The new line to the south and southeast is only five to six miles outside of the city, which means that once the Germans bring their heavy artillery across the Nethe, they will be able to bombard the city itself.

Meanwhile, the two British Naval Brigades take up defensive positions between several of the inner forts protecting Antwerp.  The trenches in these positions were shallow and rudimentary - their proximity to the Schelde River prevents digging any deeper due to the risk of flooding.

To the west of Antwerp, two German brigades attempt to force the crossing of the Schelde River.  Termonde itself has been captured, but the Germans have failed to secure bridgeheads have been beaten back by the Belgian 4th Infantry Division, which has been reinforced by 6th Infantry Division sent from Antwerp itself.  Despite the successes, it is clear that German pressure against the Schelde line will only increase.

At noon today General Rawlinson arrives at Antwerp, and with Churchill surveys the new defensive position taken between the Nethe and the inner forts.  They conclude that the position cannot be held - the trenches were only partially prepared, and its flanks were open - and that it would be better to simply pull back further and defend at the line of the inner forts.  They bring this conclusion to a meeting of the Belgian Council of Defense, held at 4pm and presided over by King Albert.  The Council concurs with the British advice, and further Albert concludes both that the three-day period agreed to on the 3rd has passed without sufficient reinforcement, and that the defensive line along the inner forts does not require the full Belgian army to hold.  As such, it is agreed that most of the Belgian field army will withdraw across the Schelde, where they can co-ordinate with any potential relieving force, while the inner forts and the lines between them will be held by the Belgian garrison and fortress troops, the Belgian 2nd Infantry Division, and the three British brigades.  Both Rawlinson and Churchill depart Antwerp this evening, the former to meet with his 7th Infantry and 3rd Cavalry Divisions landing on the Belgian coast, and the latter en route to London.

Belgian civilians leaving Antwerp, October 6th, 1914.

- Japanese and British warships attempt the first bombardment of Tsingtao today, but achieve little due to the range from ship to shore being too great.

- In German Kamerun, though the British have seized the principal port of Duala, the proximity of German forces nearby leaves their hold on the town insecure.  As a result, British forces push out from Duala towards Edea to the southwest, Jabassi to the northeast, and Dschang to the north.  Today, Senegalese soldiers seize the bridge at Japoma along the railway to Edea, overcoming German resistance.

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