Yesterday's rumours. Mathews (who came with wife and daughter to play tennis) said that a friend of his had a friend who with others had been sent out to Belgium, a fortnight before the declaration of war, with British guns for the Liege forts and to instruct the Belgians in the use of the said guns.
|Map of the forts at Liege|
This friend's friend had not returned. The theory held by the friend was that the Germans were taken by surprise by the range of the Liege guns. This reminds me that though we had constant news that the Liege forts were holding out, we have only had indirect news that they have fallen.
Clemenceau is right in demanding full news of defeats.
Psychological consequence of fall of Namur.
As at Liege, the city of Namur had been fortified between 1888 and 1892 under the direction of military engineer Brialmont with the construction of a ring of forts around the city It was believed that the forts, accompanied by the deployment of infantry, would protect the Sambre and Meuse Rivers against German invasion. In theory the capture of Namur ought to have been easier than at Liege: the garrison was low on morale, ammunition and, most critically, manpower. At its best Namur was garrisoned with approximately 37,000 men, against which was arrayed at least 107,000 German troops. The Germans decided to repeat their earlier success at Liege by bombarding the forts with heavy artillery, including the powerful Big Bertha gun (a 420mm siege howitzer) Two days after von Bulow had launched his assault, Namur was close to collapse on 23 August. The decision was taken to evacuate Namur that day, with German forces entering the city in the evening The last of the forts fell soon afterwards.
We were all discussing last night what we in this house ought to do if the Germans came. The general result was: nothing!