<– Part 7 – September 13, 1914  | Part 8 – September 20, 1914 |  Part 9 – September 27, 1914 –>

The Austro-Hungarian assault across the Drina in Serbia has settled down into the trenches. Further north, the Austro-Hungarian town of Przemyśl has been under siege by the Russian Army since September 16. However, the Russians are in retreat from the battle of the Masurian Lakes, where the Germans have crushed them and destroyed one full army and elements of another. 70,000 German casualties show, compared to 100,000 Russian casualties, plus an additional 45,000 prisoners.

To the West, with fighting ongoing at the Aisne in France and Belgium, the Allied and German forces are attempting to flank one another to the north, with the result that both flanks are being extended towards the North Sea. The Germans, prepared as they were for a fast, mobile war, have been forced to adapt to trenches. These trenches, started as shallow depressions to shield them from bullets, have grown in some places to be nearly seven feet deep.

In South Africa, former Boer rebels from the Second Boer War have launched a rebellion on September 15 under the command of Manie Martiz. They are attacking the British Union of South Africa and have declared a new Boer South African Republic. They are undoubtedly supported by the Germans.

On September 20, the naval battle of Zanzibar was fought between the Kaiserliche Marine and British Royal Navy. The German light cruiser Konigsberg sailed into harbor past a British tugboat and fired upon the British protected cruiser Pegasus, whose guns were not able to reach the German vessel. After sinking the cruiser, the Konigsberg left the harbor, damaging the tug on the way out. 100 British marines died, with no casualties aboard the Konigsberg.

<– Part 8 – September 20, 1914  | Part 9 – September 27, 1914 |  Part 10 – October 4, 1914 –>


The Allied retreat to the Marne seems to be coming to a close as forward units begin their entrenchment.

The German freighter Walkure, captured at the beginning of the war by the French, sunk at Papeete.

Damage at Papeete after the bombardment.

September 22 was a big day for the German Navy, the Kaiserliche Marine, as they saw three victories in three oceans that day. In French Polynesia, the SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau entered the port of Tahiti and sunk the French gunboat Zélée and freighter Walkure (herself a German ship captured by the Zélée at the start of the war) and then bombarded the town of Papeete. The coastal defenses returned fire ineffectively. While the German raid was an attempt to secure the coal reserves stored there, and in this they failed, yet the prestige of the German East Asia Squadron under Admiral Spee has been increased – though at the cost of alerting the Allies to her location.

Madras burning after Emden’s bombardment.

Main battery of the Scharnhorst.











To the West, in the Indian Ocean, the light cruiser Emden closed to within 3,000 meters of Madras later that night and opened fire, destroying the oil tanks and a merchant ship. Again, return fire was ineffective. While the loss of the oil is a minor concern, the prestige of the British has also been decreased, as they though the Emden would be with Spee at Tahiti.

In the North Atlantic, the German sub U-9, under command of Lt. Otto Weddingen, who turned 32 last week, spotted a ship on the horizon and immediately submerged for intercept. She discovered that it was in fact three outdated British armored cruisers – the Aboukir, the Cressy, and the Hogue. All three were staffed by reservists, and in fact an order to withdraw them was in discussions at the Admiralty, though too late to save the ships from their fate. After torpedoing the Aboukir, the other two ships came to her aid, thinking she had struck a mine. U-9 sent two torpedoes into Hogue, and then two more into Cressy as she fled. All sunk, with 1,460 British sailors lost. Amazingly, a newspaper report has shared the story of one 15-year-old British midshipman, Wenman Wykeham-Musgrave, who was aboard all three ships when they were torpedoed. As his daughter shared in the interview,

He went overboard when the Aboukir was going down and he swam like mad to get away from the suction. He was then just getting on board the Hogue and she was torpedoed. He then went and swam to the Cressy and she was also torpedoed. He eventually found a bit of driftwood, became unconscious and was eventually picked up by a Dutch trawler.


Postcard commemorating the U-9’s sinking of the three British armored cruisers. Lt. Weddigen in the top corner.

On land, fighting has erupted in Picardy as the French Second Army, attempting to flank the German lines but were stopped by the German Sixth Army. The race to the sea continues as each army attempts to turn the other’s flank. Three days later, on September 25, fighting erupted at Albert as those same two armies encountered encountered one another farther north, each advancing into territory thought to be clear.

September 26 saw a further British defeat at Sandfontein, South Africa, were forces of the Union of South Africa entered German territory but were surrounded and attacked from multiple directions by an overwhelmingly superior force. The 120 British troops (with 2 cavalry squadrons) lost 67 men, compared to 60 German casualties from their force of 1,700. The remaining British forces surrendered after their artillery and machine guns were destroyed, the Germans tightening the noose and beginning to rain explosive shells upon them.

In German Kamerun, however, the tide of war is much different. September 21 saw an allied landing at Ukoko, At the German fort of Kusseri, the 37 Germans in the fort have surrendered to a force of 250 French troops on September 25, having been under siege since late August (though, after destroying the sole French artillery piece, the French withdrew and returned only on the 20th of September). The French lost 23 troops, to the German 12. Two days later, with the harbor of Douala, the largest city in the German Kamerun colony, cleared of mines by French troops, surrendered, the entire coastline now belonging to the Allies.

Finally, earlier today, the Italian battleship Benedetto Brin, exploded violently at her mooring in the port of Brindisi. Rumors and research point to an Austro-Hungarian saboteur.


<– Part 6 – September 6, 1914  | Part 7 – September 13, 1914 |  Part 8 – September 20, 1914 –>


September 7 saw the German finally defeat the beleaguered forces under siege at the Maubeuge fortress, allowing the advance to continue. The Central Powers saw additional success to the East, where Austro-Hungarian troops launched a counter-attack against Serbia across the Drina and established footholds. After a series of attacks & counter-attacks, with horrific casualties, the area seems to be settling into a state of entrenched siege warfare (which benefits Austria-Hungary, due to her better supplies and overall weaponry, such as artillery).

To the North, a battle has begun around the Masurian Lakes. A German attack, with a push through the 8th, has seen victory nearly assured as of today, and rumors have the Russians beginning a full retreat from East Prussia, having lost one entire army and another nearly destroyed.


German troops (blue) approaching Paris. From Wikipedia.

With German troops nearly 70 miles from Paris, and victory, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Chancellor of Germany, agitator for war, and the man who expressed surprise that England would honor a “mere scrap of paper” (the treaty pledging Belgian independence from nearly 80 years ago), has laid out German’s aims on September 9, in the “Septemberprogramm.”

  • Belgium shall either be vassalized, ceding eastern lands, Antwerp, military and naval bases to Germany; or complete annexed by Germany. A strip of northern France (producing steel) will be either added to Belgium, or annexed to Germany proper.
  • France will pay a massive war fine, covering Germany’s expenses, damages, and debt, will cease trade with Britain, disarm, destroy forts, and become a vassal of Germany.
  • Luxembourg will join the German empire as a member state.
  • Western Russia will be seized to form Mitteleuropa – new states to be closely and economically tied to Germany, including Poland; all vassals of the German Empire.
  • French and Belgian colonies in Africa will be ceded to Germany, allowing German Mittelafrika to be a contiguous colony.
  • The Netherlands will be “brought closer” to Germany without force.

German war goals. Central Powers in yellow; Triple Entente in red. Orange is Entente land ceded to Germany, Pink is an almost forced alliance. The ambiguity in Belgium & Luxembourg represents the uncertainty of Belgian annexation or vassalization.

However, the tide has begun to turn against Germany, starting on the 11th. The fighting around Rawa, Rava Russka, part of the battle of Lemberg, has led to an Austro-Hungarian defeat and the Russian occupation of Lviv. The following day, September 12, saw the fighting on the Marne a French victory, with the entire German advance halted – the Schlieffen plan has failed. While the eastern flank saw German victories, the western required forces against Paris, although neither achieved the war goals.

Helmuth von Moltke (the Younger), the Chief of the German General Staff, nephew of Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder) – champion of the Franco-Prussian War 45 years ago, is reported to have said to Kaiser Wilhelm II: “Your majesty, we have lost the war.”

Fighting has also stopped to the north at the “Frontiers”, where the German victory over the British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Army was not sufficient to continue the advance across the Marne. Further affront to Germany came as South African troops invading the German Sud-West Afrika colony.

Allied troops have crossed the Aisne, and while British and French troops have established beachheads across the Aisne, a stalemate in the area has lead the opposing sides to begin attempt to outflank one another to the north, the only exposed flank in contested land.

Situation at the Marne. The end of German (red) hopes and dreams of a swift war. As German Emperor Wilhelm II had told departing troops: “You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees.”

The wide expanse of the blog.milton-stanley.com subdomain beckoned, and I felt that something, anything, needed to be planted, even, if needs be, it seems the most humble of seeds.  So perhaps this small post will sprout, one day, into a great phoenix’d blog of whimsy, delight, informative topics, sundry miscellany, and even more mixed metaphors.

Until then, fellow travellers.

<– Part 5 – August 30, 1914  | Part 6 – September 6, 1914 |  Part 7 – September 13, 1914 –>

The “Battle of the Frontiers”, fought in northern France & Belgium, continues, although the Allied retreat continues. Maubeuge fortress seems near to surrender.


On September 1, British cavalry breaking camp in the morning were attacked by German cavalry, outnumbering them nearly 2.5 to 1, at Néry. All of the British guns were put out of service except one, which continued

“The Last Gun at Nery.” An artist’s impression of the 18-pounder of ‘L’ battery. From Wikipedia.

its fire, despite losing its commander, for 2.5 hours against an entire German battery. At that time, British reinforcements arrived and completely routed the German cavalry.

September 2 saw the fighting at Komarow, part of the larger offensive at Lemburg, come to an end, with the Austro-Hungarians scoring a crushing victory against the Russians, who lost nearly 20,000 of their finest troops – surely a devastating defeat this early in the war. However, Austrian forces were humbled the following day at Rawa, when the same victorious Austro-Hungarian army came to the assistance of another against the same recently-defeated Russian army and were defeated.


On September 4, fighting across the length of the Marne began as Allied forces began digging in. To the East, the Battle of Grande Couronné has begun with a German offensive near Nancy and the “curve” in the Allied line at Verdun. The Germans, having had marginal success, seem to be regrouping for another attack, as the battle is not going as well as expected by the German General Staff. To the West, the French have launched their own offensive at the Ourcq, a tributary of the Marne. The German lines have broken – on the 6th, an entire German army was ‘pinned’ at the ‘Two Morins’, opening a large gap in the German lines. It would seem that the tide of the overall western offensive has begun to turn against the German Empire and her allies.

U-21, the German submarine, torpedoed the HMS Pathfinder on September 5, causing an explosion in Pathfinder’s magazine which sunk the entire light cruiser with nearly 270 hands aboard. Only a dozen or so survivors have been found. This would seem to be the first submarine kill by a propelled torpedo in history.

On the Eastern front, the Serbs have cross the Sava against Austria-Hungary in a limited offensive beginning September 6 following the Central Powers’ defeat at Cer. It is presumed the Austrians will counter-attack soon.