The Spectator

The Spectator at war: Gallant little Belgium

From ‘News of the Week’, The Spectator, 15 August 1914:

The war continues to be as amazing as ever. We have now had actual firing for over ten days and yet there has been no serious invasion of French soil. What one was always told would happen in the great war, and what undoubtedly the German meant should happen, was a steady and rapid advance of the stupendous tide of German soldiers into France. Wave was to succeed wave of men on the frontier and all of them were to have their faces turned to France and Paris. The sea, no doubt, was to break in through Belgium, but Belgium, it was confidently predicted, would make no serious opposition. It would flow over Belgium just as an incoming tide flows over and covers as isolated rock. In a word, the Germans were to turn neither to the right nor to the left for anything the Belgians might sat or do, but keep steadily on their appointed course. Now look at what has really happened. The first fighting line of the German Army, instead of facing south, has had to turn round and face practically west. The little rock, instead of being over-whelmed at once, has actually help up the tides! It is incredible, but it is true. Instead of France being invaded, and the first great battle taking place on French soil, it is Belgium that is being invaded, and the battle which is beginning as we write is not only in Belgium, but one largely against Belgian troops- a battle in which German guns will point west and the Belgian and French guns east.

No doubt, undercover of the battle on the German right flank, vast masses of German troops which are now penned up to the east of Liege and the line of the Meuse, ready to begin the business, will at once push south for the invasion of France.

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