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Remembered Today:

Belgian Franctireurs 1914


fritz
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Hi,

The 'Koekoeks' alreay been mentionned here:

 

Cnock

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Re the "Koekoeks" (a Flemish word, I assume, so it should be capitalized, correct?), I previously mentioned the passage in the diary of a German sergeant in Belgium that I am translating in which two Belgian officers were arrested trying to drive through a German checkpoint in a Belgian car with explosives concealed in it. I stated that the description did not say what they were wearing, but that I assumed that they were wearing German uniforms, or perhaps civvies. Just came across a briefer description of the same event elsewhere in the diary, and this passage did say that they were wearing German uniforms. There was severe fighting in the same location only hours before, so it is amazing that they though there was much chance of success of sneaking thru the German checkpoints. Brave but suicidal.

Bob

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re Dinant

Dinant is a very pretty town built on both banks of the river Meuse. On the one bank it is dominated by an old citadel (de militarised in 1914). In 1914 there were about 7000 inhabitants in the town.

There was a first encounter between German cavalry units with jäger support and French forces (coming from the nearby garrison town of Givet) on 15/08/1914. A certain lieutenant Charles De Gaulle of the 33th Régiment d'Infanterie was injured during this fight. German forces withdrew after a while.

In the night of 21 to 22/08/1914 German patrols reached Dinant again. There was strong French resistance and all to common in streetfighting at night, there were cases of German friendly fire incidents (this gave rise to calls of franc-tireurs). Some houses went up in flames.

French forces withdrew for the most part to the left bank of the Meuse. The civilian population also tried to cross to this bank. At noon on the 22nd French High Command forbade further civilian crossings trapping thereby several thousands people on the right bank.

On the 22nd and the 23th about 643 civilians were killed (including 78 women and 46 children (under 15, the youngest was 3 weeks old). This is about 10 % of the total population of the town. 2/3 of the buildings in the town were destroyed.400 surviving men were marched to Germany and were imprisoned in Cassel.

German forces involved came from the XII Armee korps (1st Royal saxon). These with regiments like Grenadier regiment 101 'Kaiser Wilhelm Köning von Preussen" were no nervous reserve troops.

There were some trials in Germany after the War in Germany on war crimes. General d'Elsa died before the start of those trials. (the Leipzig Trials)

Hope this helps

Carl

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Bad, what happened to the civilians. Were this casualties a matter of collateral damage (I hate this word) or were they executed?

Fritz

P.S. By the way, the active regiments at the beginning of war mostly consisted of 19-20 years old green conscripted soldiers.

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There were some trials in Germany after the War in Germany on war crimes. General d'Elsa died before the start of those trials. (the Leipzig Trials)

Unlike those immediately after WW2 the Leipzig trials were carried out by the German government and became notorious for the degree of white wash used.

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Bad, what happened to the civilians. Were this casualties a matter of collateral damage (I hate this word) or were they executed?

they were executed!

Cnock

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They were executed :

suburb of Leffe : 244 victims, Saint-Pierre neighbourhood: 90 victims , Montferrand neighbourhood: 6 victims, Saint-Nicolas neighbourhood: 151 victims , suburb of les Rivages : 89 victims , near the Citadel and Herbuchenne : 18 victims, suburb of Neffe : 45 victims , neighbourhood of Saint-Médart : 4 victims

the two inhabitants of Dinant who died on 15/08/1914 probably were victims of " collateral damage"

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they were executed!

I've always wondered why we say "executed." That word implies that a legal due process was carried out and the dead were killed as punishment for a crime they committed.

Isn't it more accurate to say that the dead in this case were murdered? When hostages are taken and then killed, they're murdered. Aren't they?

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I've always wondered why we say "executed." That word implies that a legal due process was carried out and the dead were killed as punishment for a crime they committed.

Isn't it more accurate to say that the dead in this case were murdered? When hostages are taken and then killed, they're murdered. Aren't they?

In Dinant they were deliberately shot in groups. You can still see the bullet holes in house walls in streets where it happened. The guy who is the expert on this (and does do tours of the town, but only in French) claims to have a map showing the buildings which the Germans deliberately did not set fire to as they wanted to use them as HQs, etc.

There was no question of hostages here. Groups of every age were simply put up against the walls.

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Now, i'm no lawyer and as you probably noticed by now, English is not my mother tongue, but i think that to talk about murder you have to have intent. I rather would call these dreadfull events cases of homicide.

Carl

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Hi cdr,

You mean the killings were not premeditated,

if the Germans collect civilians with the only purpose to fusillade them, then place them againt a wall and shoot them, this is no homicide,

the Germans knew what they were up to.

what has not been mentionned is that the civilians were even not trialled before.

Regards,

Cnock

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Now, i'm no lawyer and as you probably noticed by now, English is not my mother tongue, but i think that to talk about murder you have to have intent. I rather would call these dreadfull events cases of homicide.

Well, homicide means the killing of a human by another human. For example, when a police officer rightfully shoots and kills a dangerous criminal, that is homicide.

"Murder" is homicide that is against the law. If civilians are either taken hostage and then killed, or else rounded up, stood against a war, and killed as reprisals, isn't that murder? Saddam Hussein was tried and convicted of murdering civilians as reprisals. He was executed by hanging, but the civilians he killed were murdered.

I remember reading that one of the victims shot by the Germans in a Belgian village was three weeks old. He was being held by his mother when both of them were shot. I can't use the word "executed" in this case, because a three-week-old baby cannot commit a crime. It has to be murder.

It may be that it was second-degree murder, meaning that the soldiers acted in the heat of the moment. They were angry or afraid. But if they killed civilians as reprisals for activities of franctireurs, isn't that still murder? Also, if the soldiers first took hostages as a precaution, and then later killed them as reprisals, that would indicate premeditation, right?

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Homicide is murder and is mainly used as a term in America. In Britain we have murder and manslaughter. Firing indiscriminately into a crowd might just conceivably be manslaughter if you had a brilliant brief and a credulous judge and jury. Shooting someone lined up against a wall is intentional and nothing less than murder. Once "only obeying orders" might have been a valid defence in some countries but not since 1945.

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Homicide is not necesarily murder, it can be justifiable such as self protection or murder , manslaughter or reckless homicide, it just means killing a human.

I have tried 8 murder cases over the years here in Kentucky. Our criminal law is a lot like English. Under our law many of the things done by the German Army would be murder though some would he reduced to manslaughter in the jury verdict because the killer(s) would have been found to have acted under extreme emotional disturbance. Most though, murder.

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Like I said I am no Lawyer .

German sources justified their actions and these bloody reprisals as allowed under " the laws and customs of war". Does anyone know what is actually meant by that ?

The case of the three week old baby (a baby girl called Mariette Fievet) happened at Dinant.

Carl

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German sources justified their actions and these bloody reprisals as allowed under " the laws and customs of war". Does anyone know what is actually meant by that?

The 1907 Hague Convention, apparently. The Germans got around the restrictions because the Convention did not provide a clear definition of "civilian" or "civilian population." The Germans rationalized their actions by arguing to themselves that everyone was a combatant and therefore could be treated as uniformed troops.

Of course, the Convention didn't allow you to shoot captive uniformed troops, either, but I think the Germans were just grasping at straws by that point in their effort to justify themselves. There are plenty of stories of German troops at the time protesting the actions of their own comrades, so it's likely that everyone knew these were violations but the perpetrators committed them anyway.

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The German forces almost always tried to find a legal 'loop hole' for their actions. Much the same approach was used to justify gas as the convention had some ambiguity over the method of delivery and the high command 'reasoned' that they were delivering gas in a means not specifically forbidden.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm new to the GWF and have just read this thread from start to finish, which appears to be in WW2, almost causing and taking in WW3 in the interim !!!

My wife and her family are Belgian, from the part of the Ardennes that saw the initial encounters of the Western Front, whilst the "rape of Belgium" was undoubtedly embellished by propaganda ("crucifixions", "bayonetting babies" etc) and even with the (limited) evidence of "franc-tireurs" there can be no doubt that the reprisals committed by the German armywere not proportionate in accordance with the Hague Convention (e.g 120 civilans taken to a railway embankment near Arlon, from the village of Rossignol, and shot in August 1914).

Bob Lembke obviously has access to a wealth of important and relevant information, perhaps from a different viewpoint than most contributors (myself included); it seems a pity 95 years on we can't discuss the points he raises in a less "heated" way. I have always been led to believe that the menace of the "franc-tireurs" was nurtured in the minds of many of the soldiers before they arrived at the front by propaganda recounting tales of the "franc-tireurs" of the Franco-Prussian war: that is not to doubt their existence but perhaps help explain the reaction. I would like to know whether he has any thoughts on this ?

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Bob Lembke obviously has access to a wealth of important and relevant information, perhaps from a different viewpoint than most contributors (myself included); it seems a pity 95 years on we can't discuss the points he raises in a less "heated" way. I have always been led to believe that the menace of the "franc-tireurs" was nurtured in the minds of many of the soldiers before they arrived at the front by propaganda recounting tales of the "franc-tireurs" of the Franco-Prussian war: that is not to doubt their existence but perhaps help explain the reaction. I would like to know whether he has any thoughts on this ?

I am trying to write up my grand-father's very interesting activities in Belgium, which I have in part revealed on the Forum, some of which I have not. My research tends to spread and spread to additional topics, and I try to control this tendency, and had hoped to not venture into the "Rape of Belgium". (This is hard, as my grand-father's letters frequently mention getting shot at in urban areas, and such things.) But I have been dragged into it, and here I am. Candidly, I don't think that I could write about Belgium 1914 without having some grasp of what went on there in the domain of the relationship between the German military and the Belgian population. But I do not have a comprehensive grasp of the entire situation, and generally have not studied matters in areas where my grand-father's army corps did not venture, nor have a global grasp of this issue.

To address your question, I only have a general grasp of the Franco-Prussian War, but clearly there was a good deal of franc-tireur activity, which vexed the Germans a great deal. And many of the senior German officers in 1914 were junior officers in 1870, the men who had to struggle with that problem. I actually read little in English on WW I, other than participating in this Forum, and I may read more French material than English. (I recently posted on the Forum that I have read on and studied the Great War in eight languages, I then recounted, and I think that the number is ten, but of course in wildly varying amounts and occasions.) As I have said before, in French, in material aimed at a domestic French or Belgian audience, I read praise of the franc-tireur activity in both wars. The largest problem with studying this topic is the astonishing "tidal wave" (as I like to fancy it) of material commissioned, written, and published under heavy subsidy by the "UK-Belgian-French propaganda complex" (to coin a new term). As I have mentioned, I am on the trail of a British document which details this program and lists over 1000 books specifically commissioned as propaganda. The "Rape of Belgium" was the center-piece of this effort. I will raise hankles when I estimate that 90 or 95% of the material written at this time in English on WW I was specifically written as propaganda. Some of it is quite sophisticated, some is laughable and it is amazing that seemingly some people believed it. In the various literatures probably covering 12 or more countries that I have read in, there is nothing remotely like it.

Unfortunately, this effort, which met specific, understandable, and vital war-time objectives, still continues to poison the historical well.

It is clear that there was a good deal of franc-tireur activity, and a lot of other odd and complex activity on the part of the Belgian Army and population. It is also clear that this was anticipated. It is clear that a lot of people got swept up, and a considerable number of them shot, many of them certainly unjustly, and certainly most without a reasonable level of due process. Trying to tease out the factual details, in this tangle of propaganda and nationalistic passion, is an awful and thankless task. As I have stated before, certainly one of the best qualified people to study this question, a Belgian, author of several books, working in six languages, vice-chair of an international society of military archeology, owner of a world-class library of references, many very rare, etc., and incidentally, a graduate of the University of Louvain, was, to my understanding (having watched the exchange) driven off of this Forum by a person who gave no evidence of an inch of scholarship, or having ever studied anything but propaganda books written in English, but of course knew much better than the Belgian what actually happened in Louvain, and bullied the Belgian so that he had not participated here again, with possibly one or two exceptions.

I could write a little essay on the basis of the "reaction". I don't want to minimize the seriousness of the topic but I see a lot of it as a cultural clash, and will be happy to expand on it. My grand-father had a bad reaction; once he had to dive out of his staff car and crawl under it for cover from being sniped at, and he was nearby when Belgian guerillas raided a first-aid station and murdered 43 wounded German soldiers. (As the chief of one of the four sections of the Generalstab=Sektion of the Generalkommando of his army corps, he must have had a good grasp of what was going on, especially nearby, and in the sector of his army corps, instead of being subject to rumors serving as the only information of OR or junior officers.) And these accounts are contemporaneous, not thoughtfully penned during the Propaganda Wars of 1915, and are in his distinctive penmanship, in dated letters.

Bob Lembke

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I am trying to write up my grand-father's very interesting activities in Belgium, which I have in part revealed on the Forum, some of which I have not. My research tends to spread and spread to additional topics, and I try to control this tendency, and had hoped to not venture into the "Rape of Belgium". (This is hard, as my grand-father's letters frequently mention getting shot at in urban areas, and such things.) But I have been dragged into it, and here I am. Candidly, I don't think that I could write about Belgium 1914 without having some grasp of what went on there in the domain of the relationship between the German military and the Belgian population. But I do not have a comprehensive grasp of the entire situation, and generally have not studied matters in areas where my grand-father's army corps did not venture, nor have a global grasp of this issue.

To address your question, I only have a general grasp of the Franco-Prussian War, but clearly there was a good deal of franc-tireur activity, which vexed the Germans a great deal. And many of the senior German officers in 1914 were junior officers in 1870, the men who had to struggle with that problem. I actually read little in English on WW I, other than participating in this Forum, and I may read more French material than English. (I recently posted on the Forum that I have read on and studied the Great War in eight languages, I then recounted, and I think that the number is ten, but of course in wildly varying amounts and occasions.) As I have said before, in French, in material aimed at a domestic French or Belgian audience, I read praise of the franc-tireur activity in both wars. The largest problem with studying this topic is the astonishing "tidal wave" (as I like to fancy it) of material commissioned, written, and published under heavy subsidy by the "UK-Belgian-French propaganda complex" (to coin a new term). As I have mentioned, I am on the trail of a British document which details this program and lists over 1000 books specifically commissioned as propaganda. The "Rape of Belgium" was the center-piece of this effort. I will raise hankles when I estimate that 90 or 95% of the material written at this time in English on WW I was specifically written as propaganda. Some of it is quite sophisticated, some is laughable and it is amazing that seemingly some people believed it. In the various literatures probably covering 12 or more countries that I have read in, there is nothing remotely like it.

Unfortunately, this effort, which met specific, understandable, and vital war-time objectives, still continues to poison the historical well.

It is clear that there was a good deal of franc-tireur activity, and a lot of other odd and complex activity on the part of the Belgian Army and population. It is also clear that this was anticipated. It is clear that a lot of people got swept up, and a considerable number of them shot, many of them certainly unjustly, and certainly most without a reasonable level of due process. Trying to tease out the factual details, in this tangle of propaganda and nationalistic passion, is an awful and thankless task. As I have stated before, certainly one of the best qualified people to study this question, a Belgian, author of several books, working in six languages, vice-chair of an international society of military archeology, owner of a world-class library of references, many very rare, etc., and incidentally, a graduate of the University of Louvain, was, to my understanding (having watched the exchange) driven off of this Forum by a person who gave no evidence of an inch of scholarship, or having ever studied anything but propaganda books written in English, but of course knew much better than the Belgian what actually happened in Louvain, and bullied the Belgian so that he had not participated here again, with possibly one or two exceptions.

I could write a little essay on the basis of the "reaction". I don't want to minimize the seriousness of the topic but I see a lot of it as a cultural clash, and will be happy to expand on it. My grand-father had a bad reaction; once he had to dive out of his staff car and crawl under it for cover from being sniped at, and he was nearby when Belgian guerillas raided a first-aid station and murdered 43 wounded German soldiers. (As the chief of one of the four sections of the Generalstab=Sektion of the Generalkommando of his army corps, he must have had a good grasp of what was going on, especially nearby, and in the sector of his army corps, instead of being subject to rumors serving as the only information of OR or junior officers.) And these accounts are contemporaneous, not thoughtfully penned during the Propaganda Wars of 1915, and are in his distinctive penmanship, in dated letters.

Bob Lembke

Thank you for this extra information; differentiating fact from propaganda is one of the hardest tasks that military historians must face; it may serve its purpose at the time but makes both reconciliation and research considerably more difficult afterwards.

My main field of interest is the "Battle of the Frontiers"; particularly the weekend of 22/23 August 1914 in the sector between Neufchateau and Virton (including Rossignol, Saint Vincent, Bellefontaine and Ethe) and the period of occupation thereafter. My wife is from Jamoigne in the Semois valley and we spend many weeks there. Did your Grandfather have an involvement in these early battles ?

Belgium is a country "created" in the political climate after the Napoleonic Wars, whose neutrality was respected by both sides at the time of the Franco-Prussian war. It was a country of two languages and cultures, the northern Flemish speaking and the southern French speaking "united" in the King and Brussels [the Germanic speaking region in the East was added after the Treaty of Versailles - interestingly this contains the military training area and camp at Eisenborn, used by the German Army pre WW1 and Belgian Army post WW1, scene of intense fighting during the "Bulge"]. Your point about the "culture" clash is important: those German Army elements who advanced through Luxembourg where the local dialect is Germanic got a largely friendly welcome compared to that received when they crossed into the French speaking southern province of Belgium

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To address your question, I only have a general grasp of the Franco-Prussian War, but clearly there was a good deal of franc-tireur activity, which vexed the Germans a great deal. And many of the senior German officers in 1914 were junior officers in 1870, the men who had to struggle with that problem.

The Franc-tireurs of the Franco Prussian War were not, as has sometimes been suggested, a mass of un uniformed men. In fact most were members of volunteer groups that made some attempt to create a uniform and some were all ready uniformed by the French state but were treated as irregulars by the Prussians. Thus for example members of the Garde Mobile, a levee en mass were shot out of hand regardless of whether they were wearing uniform or not. The Prussians took a very narrow view of what constituted the French armed forces and were very concerned about any threat to their lines of communication and supply. Collective punishment was applied with villages where attacks were made being burnt and many villagers shot. Very similar to the policy in Belgium in 1914.

The situation was complicated by the existence of foreign volunteer units (usually uniformed) one of the largest being the Garibaldists. These especially incensed the Prussians by allowing French women to join them and fight in their ranks (which also scandalised many Frenchmen, not so much because the women were bearing arms as wearing trousers!). The uniform was no protection if captured.

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My main field of interest is the "Battle of the Frontiers"; particularly the weekend of 22/23 August 1914 in the sector between Neufchateau and Virton (including Rossignol, Saint Vincent, Bellefontaine and Ethe) and the period of occupation thereafter. My wife is from Jamoigne in the Semois valley and we spend many weeks there. Did your Grandfather have an involvement in these early battles ?

I do not think that I have read a secondary source on "Belgium 1914" in 20 years, when I read Tuchman's The Guns of August (not recommended reading), and terms like "The Battle of the Frontiers" are a product of such sources. (The one exception was when, about a year ago, I checked a large Belgian book out of my wife's library, entitled (in translation), The German Invasion of Belgium, dated about 1923, it turned out to not have a single page (based on a quick skim) of what one would call military history, it was about 60% atrocity stories, many clearly fantastic and/or fabricated, and 40% glorification of the Belgian Royal Family and numerous Walloon high-level bureacrats; interestingly, with the exception of one photo of an official with a Flemish name, one could read the entire book and not realize that there was a Flemish population in Belgium. So I have heard the term "Battle of the Frontiers", but am not sure what that encompases. My material is organized chronologically, but then contains locational data, and I decided about a week ago to have a large copy made of a suitable map and start plotting out my information graphically. A further complication is that the Walloons, the Flemish, and the Germans all had different names for many given locations. But I will work that all out. If you want to look for where my g-f was, just track the III. Reservekorps (not its parent unit, III. Armeekorps), of which he was the "Id". Later on, on wired orders from the Ministry of War, he took staff cars and an escort and sped about Belgium on a very successful focused tour of inspection; I know little about that except an article that he published after the war, plus a bit of family oral history.

Belgium is a country "created" in the political climate after the Napoleonic Wars, whose neutrality was respected by both sides at the time of the Franco-Prussian war. It was a country of two languages and cultures, the northern Flemish speaking and the southern French speaking "united" in the King and Brussels [the Germanic speaking region in the East was added after the Treaty of Versailles - interestingly this contains the military training area and camp at Eisenborn, used by the German Army pre WW1 and Belgian Army post WW1, scene of intense fighting during the "Bulge"]. Your point about the "culture" clash is important: those German Army elements who advanced through Luxembourg where the local dialect is Germanic got a largely friendly welcome compared to that received when they crossed into the French speaking southern province of Belgium.

You probably have noted my posting about the manuscript diary of a sergeant of my father's army corps that I was able to obtain. It now is 98% transliterated from three different scripts into modern German, and 20% translated into English, although I had to, of course, read it to perform the transliteration. The sergeant paints a very complex picture about the relationships between the soldiers and the Belgian population, when they marched in in some villages the locals would rush out of their houses and press water and excellent fruit on the troops, and these "spoke a language very much like ours", clearly Flemish, while in other villages they were fired upon, whereupon the Germans burned the houses involved. Often, for a modest sum, the locals would brew kettles of excellent coffee, cook excellent meals, and provide good wine. Other locals were clearly terrorized, and the sergeant was upset by this. There were instances of looting, which he deplored, but admitted to "liberating" four pounds of bacon he found on a kitchen table in an abandoned home. I have just translated a section (later in the fighting), where he noted a large body of French prisoners, along with 20 Belgians arrested for robbing corpses on the battlefield. (Yet another issue!) But the sergeant never used the specific terms of Walloon and Flemish.

Speaking of the division between the Walloons and the Flemish, I read of an event in which Walloons constructed a memorial to martyrs of the "Rape of Belgium", but before the dedication ceremony was held some Flemish blew up the memorial with explosives. This was about 1931. What was that all about? Looks like two distinct schools of thought. Of course pre-WW I the Flemish were severly discriminated against, and a lot of these things might have been a reaction. I worked in Jugoslavija in 1967 with a young Belgian female professor, and she said that the situation between the two groups in her town was impossible. And I gather that it has only gotten worse.

Another section that I have just done has the sergeant in the front trenches before an Antwerp fort, watching its shelling by a battery of 42 cm howitzers, the floor of the tranch shuddering under his feet as the enormous shells exploded; meanwhile, I have one or two letters written by my g-f to my father (still a schoolboy) from that battery, 2 or 3 miles to the rear, while they were firing those shells. (My g-f was an old Prussian heavy artilleryman, and spent as much time in the heavy batteries as he could; he had a deputy to take care of business when he could get away.) I think that there is enough information in the letter and diary, and other sources, to figure out their respective specific locations to say 200 meters each. The official history of the siege of Antwerp gives the range from the battery on that day to the fort to 100 meters, while the sergeant wrote: "We were in the village of Xxxx (he gave the name), and then we advanced 800 meters to stand before the fort" (paraphrased from memory).

Bob

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Re: Centurion's useful comments:

The Germans took uniforms very seriously. A good example was Count von Luckner's Pacific raider cruise. He anchored his sailing ship raider off of a remote island, and suddenly a tidal wave threw his entire ship up on the reef. He and five picked men set off in a cutter, wearing civvies, but carrying equipment, weapons, uniforms, and I believe a battle flag. They sailed to a small British colonial island, and there was a steamer to take over. He could sieze it, sail back to the island, and transfer equipment, supplies, and perhaps his cannon to the steamer, and then continue his raiding cruise. But as he sailed in and tied up to a pier a British constable, wearing a holstered revolver, and two native constables, wearing bayonets but no firearms, all wearing short pants, walked up to the cutter. Right at hand, under a blanket, von Luckner had Mauser rifles, P 08 automatic pistols, at least one Maxim machine gun, perhaps grenades (this is from memory from over 50 years ago), and their uniforms. But there was no time to observe the rules of war, and change into their uniforms, so he and his five companions quietly surrendered to the surprised constable. They of course could have easily snatched P 08s up and overpowered the mostly unarmed police, but as they were not in uniform they surrendered, and doomed his entire mission to failure, and his men (180? probably too many) to capture.

So the situation in Belgium, with armed soldiers and civilians, or possibly soldiers in civvies (or German uniforms) firing away here and there, was a bit thick to the German mind. The sergeant's diary twice described an incident in which, right after a battle, two Belgian officers in German uniforms tried to drive thru his company's checkpoint with explosives hidden in their auto. Carl (below), says that there was a special unit set up to perform these penetrations to blow up bridges and the like behind the lines. What chance did they have to succeed? Very brave, but suicidal, and against the rules of war. Our Belgian Pal Carl, who recently has added much useful information to our discussion, says that he is studying the "Cookoos", special Belgian units set up to infiltrate German lines and attack from the rear. Did they wear uniforms? Always? This "irregular" activity (in several senses) put the civilian population in great peril.

This is who I have characterized this conflict in part as a "cultural clash". I have read the French-language material, intended for domestic audiences, glorifying the franc-tireurs and the activity. It seems to be to some degree a part of the culture.

Bob

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I'm new to the GWF and have just read this thread from start to finish, which appears to be in WW2, almost causing and taking in WW3 in the interim !!!

My wife and her family are Belgian, from the part of the Ardennes that saw the initial encounters of the Western Front, whilst the "rape of Belgium" was undoubtedly embellished by propaganda ("crucifixions", "bayonetting babies" etc) and even with the (limited) evidence of "franc-tireurs" there can be no doubt that the reprisals committed by the German armywere not proportionate in accordance with the Hague Convention (e.g 120 civilans taken to a railway embankment near Arlon, from the village of Rossignol, and shot in August 1914).

Bob Lembke obviously has access to a wealth of important and relevant information, perhaps from a different viewpoint than most contributors (myself included); it seems a pity 95 years on we can't discuss the points he raises in a less "heated" way. I have always been led to believe that the menace of the "franc-tireurs" was nurtured in the minds of many of the soldiers before they arrived at the front by propaganda recounting tales of the "franc-tireurs" of the Franco-Prussian war: that is not to doubt their existence but perhaps help explain the reaction. I would like to know whether he has any thoughts on this ?

If you could mail me off-list we may have quite bit of interest in common. I'm in Luxembourg.

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