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A French hospital ship sunk in a Belgian harbor after a German air attack.

A French hospital ship sunk in a Belgian harbor after a German air attack.
A French hospital ship sunk in a Belgian harbor after a German air attack.
A French hospital ship sunk in a Belgian harbor after a German air attack.

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SKU: SCAN-NOP-00514821

A French hospital ship sunk in a Belgian harbor after a German air attack German bombers do not discriminate when considering their targets, it seems the less military their objective, the more it gets bombs. Open towns, machine-gunning women and children, bombing refugee ships and hospital trains, this is how the Germans fight. The German invasion of Belgium was a military campaign which began on 4 August 1914. Earlier, on 24 July, the Belgian government had announced that if war came it would uphold its historic neutrality. The Belgian government mobilised its armed forces on 31 July and a state of heightened alert (Kriegsgefahr) was proclaimed in Germany. On 2 August the German government sent an ultimatum to Belgium, demanding passage through the country and German forces invaded Luxembourg. Two days later, the Belgian Government refused the demands and the British Government guaranteed military support to Belgium. The German government declared war on Belgium on 4 August and troops crossed the border and attacked the Belgian city of Liège. German military operations in Belgium were intended to bring the 1st, 2nd and 3rd armies into positions in Belgium, from which they could invade France, which led to sieges of Belgian fortresses along the Meuse river at Namur, after the fall of Liège on 7 August and the surrender of the last forts on 16–17 August. The government abandoned the capital, Brussels, on 17 August and after fighting on the Gete river, the Belgian field army withdrew westwards, to the National Redoubt at Antwerp on 19 August. Brussels was occupied the following day and Namur was besieged on 21 August. After the battles of Mons and Charleroi, the bulk of the German armies marched south into France, leaving small forces to garrison Brussels and the Belgian railways. The III Reserve Corps advanced to the fortified zone around Antwerp and a division of the IV Reserve Corps took over in Brussels. The Belgian field army made several sorties from Antwerp in late August and September, to harass German communications and to assist the French and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), by keeping German troops in Belgium. German troop withdrawals to reinforce the main armies in France, were postponed to repulse a Belgian sortie from 9–13 September and a corps in transit was retained in Belgium for several days. Belgian resistance and German fear of francs-tireurs, led the Germans to implement a policy of terror (schrecklichkeit) against Belgian civilians soon after the invasion, in which massacres, executions, hostage taking and the burning of towns and villages took place and became known as the Rape of Belgium. While the French armies and the BEF began the Great Retreat into France (24 August – 28 September), the Belgian army and small detachments of French and British troops fought in Belgium against German cavalry and Jäger units. On 27 August a squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) flew to Ostend, for air reconnaissance sorties between Bruges, Ghent and Ypres. British marines landed in France on 19/20 September and began scouting unoccupied Belgium in motor cars; an RNAS Armoured Car Section was created by fitting vehicles with bullet-proof steel. On 2 October the Marine Brigade of the Royal Naval Division was moved to Antwerp, followed by the rest of the division on 6 October. From 6–7 October the 7th Division and the 3rd Cavalry Division landed at Zeebrugge and naval forces collected at Dover were formed into the Dover Patrol, to operate in the Channel and off the French-Belgian coast. Despite minor British reinforcement, the siege of Antwerp ended when its defensive ring of forts was destroyed by German super-heavy artillery. The city was abandoned on 9 October and Allied forces withdrew to West Flanders. At the end of the "Race to the Sea" (17 September – 19 October), a period of reciprocal attempts by the Germans and Franco-British to outflank their opponents in the west began, extending the front line northwards from the Aisne, Picardy, Artois and Flanders. Military operations in Belgium also moved westwards as the Belgian army withdrew from Antwerp to the area close to the border with France. The Belgian army fought a defensive battle on the Yser (16–31 October) from Nieuport south to Dixmude, as the 4th Army attacked westwards and French, British and some Belgian troops fought the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November) against the 4th and 6th armies. By November 1914, most of Belgium was under German occupation and Allied naval blockade. A military administration was established on 26 August 1914, to rule Belgium through the pre-war Belgian administrative system, overseen by a small group of German officers and officials. Belgium was divided into three administrative zones: the General Government, which included Brussels and the hinterland; a second zone, under the 4th Army, including Ghent and Antwerp; and a third zone under the German Navy along the coastline. The German occupation was maintained until late 1918. - 1940

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