Planning Jihad in Istanbul; Smashing the Lines in Antwerp
Special to The Great War Project
(30 September) The focus of the war on the Western Front is shifting to the Belgian fortified city of Antwerp near the English Channel.
Antwerp “possessed Belgium’s last great ring of forts,” observes historian Martin Gilbert. The British command wants the defenders of the city to hold out as long as they are able, thereby making the possibility of invading Britain across the Channel less likely.
“Even one week’s resistance,” Gilbert writes, “would enable the British army to form a defensive line in Flanders, from which an attack could then be launched to liberate Belgium, and then drive the Germans back to Germany.”
The British immediately send heavy artillery to Antwerp and entreat the French to match them.
The Germans begin the bombardment of Antwerp on this day, a century ago. There are three lines of defense that ring Antwerp. The German general in command devises a way to crack these defense lines.
He orders a siege train of “super heavy guns” to be transferred to his command. The Germans quickly crack the Allies’ first line of defense and send their infantry through.
The British Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, sends a letter to his mistress on this day, writing “the Belgians are rather out of ‘morale.’”
Meanwhile, intrigue continues to simmer in Istanbul.