Mobile Warfare in the West 1914.

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tigre
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Re: Mobile Warfare in the West 1914.

Post by tigre » 21 Jul 2020 18:00

Hello to all :D; more..........................

With the 1st Company, 3d Engineers from Dinant to the Marne 1914.

The 1st Company, 3d Engineers of the 1st Army Corps, leaves Arras on August 7, 1914 under the command of Captain Pigouche. Then entered Belgium on the 13th and headed for the region of Dinant-sur-Meuse. Soon, the French army was forced to retreat due to enemy superior forces.

After the initial incidents of the mobilization, concentration and first contact, an order being received from headquarters of the I Corps, to which the company was assigned, to plan and prepare the demolition of the Meuse bridges from Hastière to Yvoir. The demolition detachments were to be as small as possible and to be composed of regulars only; the explosives were to be obtained from Fort de Charlemont at Givet, and were to be transported by vehicles which were to be requisitioned. About 28 hours were allowed for the accomplishment of the preparations.

The detachments were each composed of a lieutenant or senior noncommissioned officer, a corporal, and about eight men. Their instructions were: to find the permanent mine-chambers in the bridges or to improvise them in case they were lacking; gather nearby the materiel required for the demolitions; obtain contact with the infantry defendingthe bridges and assist in the defense by construction of obstacles; the captain in charge would visit the works next day and leave the necessary explosives. Only the corps commander would be authorized to order the execution of the demolitions.

The drawing of the explosives was slow and took all night; the distribution to the various sites took nearly all of the next day. As an incident of the distribution, the company commander's chauffeur, being sleepy, let his car run off the road into the Meuse River. On climbing out they were nearly captured by a German patrol.

Bridge at Hastière.

As soon as the explosive arrived at the Hastière bridge, the one mine-chamber existent, in the pier nearest the east bank, was charged. The wires, with duplicate arrangements for firing, were led to a protected location behind a barricade on the west bank, where an officer or noncommissioned officer and a private, ready to fire the charge, were permanently stationed, and a wire entanglement was placed at the eastern end of the bridge. These preparations took about 7 hours.

The Germans tried to seize the bridge on 22 August, and again next day, at which time an order arrived to destroy it. The pier was blown up, and the two adjacent trusses dropped into the river. However, the demolition was insuffieiently complete, and that afternoon, under the protection of artillery and infantry fire, the German engineers succeeded in building a foot bridge upon the remains of the two trusses. Upon this footbridge the German infantry crossed and occupied the west bank, and then. continued their advance, but, since the destruction of the bridge deprived them of artillery support, they were later thrown back by counterattack.

Source: Campagne 1914 – 1918 - Historique du 3e Régiment du Génie. Librairie Chapelot – Paris - 1920.
AVEC LES SAPEURS DE LA 1/3, DE DINANT A LA MARNE. Military Review Sep 1934.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Mobile Warfare in the West 1914.

Post by tigre » 28 Jul 2020 17:02

Hello to all :D; more..........................

With the 1st Company, 3d Engineers from Dinant to the Marne 1914.

Bridge at Anseremme.

The preparations at the Anseremme bridge were similar to those at the Hastiere bridge, except that at this point both piers had minechambers and both were charged. On the evening of 22 August the order arrived for execution of the demolition. The piers were both destroyed, and the three trusses resting upon them fell into the water; however, as at Rastiere, it was possible to construct a footbridge, rather rapidly, on what remained.

Additional explosive was sent for, and for 4 hourq during the night the engineers worked to complete the demolition, without, however, being able to fully accomplish it. The work was started again in the morning, but the Germans attacked, crossed the bridge on ladders, and destroyed the detachment.

Bridge at Bouvignes.

The permanent chambers in this bridge, which was of concrete, were entirely insufficient for the charges necessary to accomp!ish an effective demolition, and the charges had to be placed in the open air. About 2,400 pounds of melinite were placed to drop one of the spans vertically into the river by cutting it at each end.

At 5:00 PM on 22 August the order was received to destroy the bridge. The blast was fired, the demolition was satisfactory, a complete breach was made, about 100 feet across.

Bridges at Roux and Yvoir.

Bridges at these two points were destroyed, after attack by enemy patrols.

Source: Campagne 1914 – 1918 - Historique du 3e Régiment du Génie. Librairie Chapelot – Paris - 1920.
AVEC LES SAPEURS DE LA 1/3, DE DINANT A LA MARNE. Military Review Sep 1934.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Mobile Warfare in the West 1914.

Post by tigre » 04 Aug 2020 13:24

Hello to all :D; more..........................

With the 1st Company, 3d Engineers from Dinant to the Marne 1914.

Bridge at Dinant.

This bridge was on the axis of march of the German Third Army. One of the piers near the eastern bank had five permanent mine chambers, each capable of containing about 45 pounds of explosive. About 5 hours time was required to prepare the charges and firing arrangements. An attack on the night of 22-23 August by the Germans failed to take the bridge. Next day the Germans attacked more heavily.

In the afternoon word arrived from Anseremme that the Germans had crossed there and were threatening to turn the position of the French holding the Dinant bridge. The infantry was tired and ammunition was becoming scarce. Yet no order had been received to destroy the bridge. Soon the remaining men would be unable to hold. Towards 6:00 PM, the Germans prepared a further attack. The infantry commander, considering the situation desperate, consulted with the engineer officer, and they decided to take the responsibility of destroying the bridge.

The charges were exploded. The demolition was effective, and incidentally destroyed a footbridge which the Germans had been building some 150 yards downstream. During the retirement of the detachment, a noncommissioned officer was encountered, carrying orders to destroy the bridge. He stated that he was the third sent, since morning, to carry those orders.

If the bridges of Hastiere, Anseremme, and Dinant had not been destroyed, but had fallen intact into the hands of the enemy, the French 51st Reserve Division would have been crushed by the enemy masses crossing the Meuse, the French I Corps might have been engaged in a combat which might have been disastrous for that corps and the French Fifth Army.

Source: Campagne 1914 – 1918 - Historique du 3e Régiment du Génie. Librairie Chapelot – Paris - 1920.
AVEC LES SAPEURS DE LA 1/3, DE DINANT A LA MARNE. Military Review Sep 1934.
https://centenarioprimeraguerramundial. ... o-de-1914/

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Mobile Warfare in the West 1914.

Post by tigre » 11 Aug 2020 20:10

Hello to all :D; more..........................

With the 1st Company, 3d Engineers from Dinant to the Marne 1914.

Retirement across the Marne.

In the retirement across the Marne River, the company was ordered to build a ponton bridge across that river in order to make more crossings available for the movement of the corps. As the orders were received, the problem of the company 'commander consisted in marching about 25 miles, unloading the ponton equipage, and constructing the 200-foot bridge. By initiating prompt reconnaissance, and by requisitioning transportation for his men, he enabled his men to accomplish the task which had been ordered, and the bridge was completed at about nightfall.

Next day, orders were received to prepare to destroy the bridge as soon, as the passage of the troops should be completed, it being probable that the enemy would be so close as to prevent the bridge from being withdrawn safely. However, fearful lest the order to destroy the bridge should not arrive at the right time, and naturally regretful of destroying the ponton equipage, the company commander consulted with the colonel commanding the infantry of the rear guard.

It was arranged that the last elements of the rear guard could be taken care of by a few boats. These were left, and the company started to take the bridge from the water. The operation was successful, and the last ponton wagon galloped under cover to the accompaniment of the fire of the leading Germans.

A week later, when the offensive was resumed at the Marne, the same equipage, since it had not been destroyed, was available and very useful in again crossing the Marne.

Source: Campagne 1914 – 1918 - Historique du 3e Régiment du Génie. Librairie Chapelot – Paris - 1920.
AVEC LES SAPEURS DE LA 1/3, DE DINANT A LA MARNE. Military Review Sep 1934.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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tigre
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Re: Mobile Warfare in the West 1914.

Post by tigre » 21 Sep 2020 01:50

Hello to all :D; something more........................

The importance of an old neglected fortress during the advance to the Marne in 1914.

On 27 August the German Second Army had reached the line north of Bohain–La Capelle. On the following day the pursuit was to be continued with the left flank held back. The right flank was given the mission of attacking the fortress La Fere. The 19th Reserve Division (X Reserve Corps) and the 19th Division (X Corps) were to advance astride the Oise within range of the forts to the line: Urvillers—Villers le Sec, so as to open the attack on the 29th. The remainder of the army: VII Corps, X Reserve Corps (less 19th Reserve Division), X Corps (less 19th Division) and the Guard Corps, were to be kept in readiness to the right and left. All the heavy artillery of the army was attached to the two assault divisions.

According to available maps, 1:300,000, La Fere was only a small armed point. The Oise, the Serre and the Crozat Canal met there, as well as a number of railroads and roads. This fortress was therefore strategically important. The city itself was protected by walls. Three advanced forts from two and one-half to four miles out were an advanced protection. Nothing was known as to garrison or field fortifications. Quite a few airplanes had been sent on reconnaissance, but apparently none received the mission of taking a look at the fortress.

The Cavalry Corps, located in front of the right flank of the army, was not asked to reconnoiter the fortress. In accordance with peace time regulations, officers' patrols from the heavy artillery and the engineers were to be assigned this task. The First Army had informed them, that based on the personal knowledge of their chief of staff, the fortress had been abandoned and probably was not even armed.

This small fortress played an important role in the minds of the Second Army during the next few days. Nothing came of the immediate attack. The plans of the Second Army were upset by the enemy. The French Fifth Army, which had been withdrawing, made a surprise attack towards the west and north along the Oise sector: Etreaupont—Guise—La Fere. After three days of hard fighting it was finally possible to drive the enemy back on 30 August. La Fere remained in threatening proximity to the right flank of the Second Army.

On the extreme right flank of the Second Army the 14th Division had already reached Ham on the Somme, when it was called to the Oise by an army order. The Chief of Staff of the VII Corps, Colonel Wolff, suggested that the order be disobeyed, but to move the division at night south of La Fere across the Serre against the rear of the French. This was a very promising suggestion, but the Corps Commander felt that in view of the army order, he could not very well execute such a move. Colonel v. Wolff estimated the importance of the fortress as being but minor.

The most southerly fighting unit was the 77th Infantry which was 3,000 yards from the line of forts. It had not used its supporting artillery. The regimental commander refused, however, to follow the retreating enemy, who had sought refuge in the line of forts.

Source: DIE ROLLE EINER VERALTETEN, AUFGELASSENEN FRANZöSISCHEN FESTUNG IM BEWEGUNGSKRIEGE 1914. Military Review.Sep 1937.
https://centenarioprimeraguerramundial. ... ccidental/

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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