a reply to: masqua
In 1912, the German chancellor Bethmann Hollweg ended the naval arms race. His aim was to secure an understanding with the British to end the more and
more isolated position of Germany. Besides, the increasing size of the Russian army compelled the Germans to spend more money on their army and
-therefore- less on the navy. This initiative led to the Haldane Mission. Germany proposed a treaty in which Germany would accept British naval
superiority in exchange of a British neutrality in a war in which Germany could not be said to be the aggressor. This proposal was rejected by
Britain. For Britain there was nothing to gain by such a treaty, since their naval superiority was already secure. Besides, the British Foreign
Secretary Sir Edward Grey favoured a more assertive policy toward Germany.
There was no race as they had already lost in 1914.On the outbreak of the Great War the strategical railways which Germany had constructed towards,
along, and, jointly with the Belgian Government (owing to the pressure she bad brought to bear upon them), even across the Belgian frontier, enabled
her at once to concentrate and to throw into that country great masses of troops for an invasion of France. But although these railways afforded her
material aid in rushing troops on to Belgian territory, Germany had not anticipated so vigorous an opposition, at Liege, by the brave-hearted
Belgians, who thus thwarted her design first to make a sudden descent on France by rail, and then to rush the main body of her troops, also by rail,
back through Germany for the attack on Russia.
From the railway point of view the action taken by Belgium was of exceptional value to the Allies, since it meant that, although Germany crossed the
frontiers of Belgium and Luxemburg on August 3rd, it was not until the 24th that she was in a position to attack the French Army, which by that time
had not only completed both its mobilisation and its concentration, but had been joined by the first arrivals of the British Expeditionary Force.
When once the Belgian opposition had been effectively crushed, the close network of railways in that country became a powerful auxiliary to Germany's
further operations against France. While, however, she had attached so much importance both to the perfection of her own railway system (from helped
her Allies a strategical point of view) and to the control of the Belgian and Luxemburg systems, she had made the mistake of not allowing sufficiently
for what the French and British railways could also do - especially with the practical advantage which, though at so terrible a cost to herself,
Belgium had secured for them by her own heroic struggle with so powerful and merciless a foe.
It certainly was the case that, in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, military transport in France speedily assumed chaotic conditions, and that
these were, in fact, among the direct causes of the disaster by which the country was so speedily overtaken. It cannot be said, however, that the
disorder leading to those conditions was due to any lack of zeal or efficiency on the part of the French railway companies, who made the most
strenuous efforts to deal with the traffic, and themselves accomplished marvels in this direction. The faults that arose were attributable, rather, to
the absence in France of any organisation co-ordinating the military and the civil elements by the creation of authorities through whom all orders and
instructions for rail transport would pass, the military element further adopting such methods of control and regulation as would avoid congestion and
delay at the stations, while leaving the railway element free to attend to the working of the lines without the risk of having to deal with
impracticable and conflicting demands by individual military officers acting on their own responsibility without regard for the physical limitations
of the railways or for the needs of the situation as a whole.
In the interval which had elapsed. since 1870-71 an organisation for the conduct of military rail transport in time of war, on the lines here
indicated, had been planned and worked out in France in a way so comprehensive and so exhaustive that it provided in advance as far as the combined
wisdom of military and railway authorities could foresee or suggest for every contingency that was likely to arise.
At the same time, also, France had greatly improved her railway system, from a strategical point of view, and more especially in regard to better
connections with the Franco-German frontier and the linking up of cross-country lines in such a way as to facilitate speedy mobilisation and
concentration in case of need.
So it was that Germany's proclamation on July 31st, 1914, Of "the state of danger of war" found the French railways prepared to take instant
The transport of "troupes de couverture" otherwise, the troops despatched to the frontier to meet the first attack of the enemy began at nine
o'clock the same evening, and was completed by noon on August 3rd (before there had been any suspension of the ordinary railway traffic), although
this initial operation itself involved the running, on the Eastern system alone, of nearly six hundred trains.
The general mobilisation began on August 2nd, and the despatch of troops, etc., from the depots to, the points of concentration at the front, in
accordance with the time-tables prepared in time of peace, was started at midday on the 5th and completed on the 19th. Between the two last-mentioned
dates, the number of military trains run was nearly 4,500 (exclusive of 250 trains carrying siege supplies to the fortresses), and of this total more
than 4,000 had destinations on the Eastern system.
At the end of this period the French Government issued a notice expressing to the railway officers and railway workers of all ranks the warmest
acknowledgment of the patriotic zeal and the admirable devotion with which they had toiled day and night; while the "Journal des Transports," of
January 30th, 1915 in announcing this fact, declared on its own behalf: "One can justly say that the first victory in this great conflict has been
won by the railwaymen."
These earliest movements were, however, to be followed by a succession of others, which imposed a further abnormal strain on the railway organisation
to an extent far greater than had been anticipated and already provided for.
No sooner was the concentration of France's seven armies six along the front and one in Paris accomplished than the railways had to ensure, between
August 12th and August 20th, the conveyance to Mons of the officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force who had by that time arrived at
Boulogne, Nantes, and St. Nazaire. This alone involved the running of 420 transport trains. Provision had likewise to be made for the transport across
France, from Marseilles, of 60,000 French troops from Africa, and, also, of the troops arriving there from India. The masterly retreat of the allied
centre and right to the south of the Marne, which followed the fall of Charleroi, on August 26th, called for an especially prodigious effort on the
part of the French rai
Now as you call yerself a moderator this thread was started to respect the dead and you have taken it totally off track i will argue / debate with you
but not on this thread show some respect for the fallen .