Battles - The Siege of Maubeuge, 1914

Sir John French The French town of Maubeuge comprised a major fort sited on France's northern border with Belgium on the River Sambre.

On the junction of no fewer than five railway lines the town was consequently considered a key strategic location hence the construction of 15 forts and gun batteries around it, totalling some 435 guns.  The town's permanent garrison of 35,000 troops was initially bolstered by its selection as the advance base of the newly-arriving British Expeditionary Force under Sir John French.

With the retreat of the latter and the French Fifth Army on 23 August 1914 the town was cut off from Allied forces and came under siege by the Germans on 25 August.  The town was finally surrendered by General Fournier to the Germans some 13 days later (court-martialed after the war for this action the General was eventually exonerated).

The forts were effectively reduced by German heavy artillery which succeeded in demolishing one by one each of the key forts barring the progress of the German Army through Belgium - although in slowing the German advance the Schlieffen Plan was made to look increasingly risky.

Click here to view of map charting the progress of the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914.

The British Army suffered 188,706 gas attack casualties during the war of which 6,062 were fatal.  The German Army suffered 200,000 gas casualties, 9,000 of which were fatal.

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