THe First World War Day by Day

The Great War Bookshop’s diary of the Great War. September 2014 – 1914.

Monday, September 1st

The Kaiser moves his Headquarters closer to the action as the British and French retreat continues.

Tuesday, September 2nd

The German Army occupies the French city of Lille while its advance guards reach the River Marne. The French government leaves Paris for Bordeaux.

Wednesday,   September 3rd

German cavalry scouts are reported 8 miles from Paris. Japanese troops land at Tsingtao in China where Germany has a trade concession.

Thursday, September 4th

The German army crosses the Marne in strength. General Joffre, orders an offensive to push them back.

Friday, September 5th

The British retreat from Mons now becomes a counter attack alongside the French. The Battle of the Marne has begun.

Saturday, September 6th

The government in Berlin drafts a proclamation to the French people in anticipation of imminent victory.

Sunday, September 7th

Six thousand French reinforcements for the Marne battle are driven there in Paris taxis. The iconic British recruiting poster ‘Your Country Needs You’ is approved for printing.

Monday, September 8th

‘My centre is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking’ – French general, Ferdinand Foch, at the Battle of the Marne.

Tuesday, September 9th

The German armies recoil on the Marne and start to retreat. Spy mania sweeps Britain with pigeon fanciers coming under particular suspicion.

Wednesday,   September 10th

The Germans withdraw north from the Marne towards another river, the Aisne. Meanwhile, some 400,000 men have responded to Lord Kitchener’s appeal for volunteers.

Thursday, September 11th

Australian troops land in German New Guinea and attack the main town, Rabaul, destroying radio transmitters.

Friday, September 12th

The Battle of the Aisne. British troops push over the river to where the Germans are making a stand.

Saturday, September 13th

The French and British force the Germans off the high ground above the Aisne, which develops into a general withdrawal of the German armies away from Paris.

Sunday, September 14th

Germany’s senior general, Helmuth Von Moltke, resigns after the defeat at the Marne but to maintain morale the news is kept secret.

Monday, September 15th

The Press Bureau denies rumours that Russian troops bound for the Western Front have been seen on British trains ‘with the snow still on their boots’.

Tuesday, September 16th

The Germans start digging trenches after their withdrawal from the Aisne. The French and British also start to dig in.

Wednesday,   September 17th

With fighting continuing across Belgium its troops retreat towards Antwerp leaving nearly half the country under German control.

Thursday, September 18th

The German general, Paul von Hindenburg, is made commander of German armies on the Eastern Front. He will soon become a dominant player in German strategy.

Friday, September 19th

In France, as the battle of the Aisne subsides into a stalemate, German artillery starts a long range bombardment of the city of Reims.

Saturday, September 20th

Volunteer British nurses arrive in Belgium to help in Red Cross hospitals. Rheims cathedral is set on fire by German shells.

Sunday, September 21st

A German warship sinks a neutral Dutch vessel in the Atlantic because it is shipping wheat to Britain.

Monday, September 22nd

British aircraft carry out their first bombing raid against Germany, targeting Zeppelin sheds at Cologne and Dusseldorf – ‘flames were seen up to 500 feet’.

 Tuesday, September 23rd

The embarkation begins in Canada of an Expeditionary Force to fight alongside the British in France.

Wednesday,   September 24th

The fighting on the Western Front spreads north to the town of Peronne on the River Somme. A British force lands at Tsingtao to assist the Japanese.

Thursday, September 25th

On the Somme, the battle spreads to the nearby town of Albert.

Friday, September 26th

The German army leaves Albert in French hands but captures nearby Bapaume leaving the front line between the two places.

Saturday, September 27th

The British decide to move north into Flanders, to try to outflank the German threat to their supply lines through the Channel ports.

Sunday, September 28th

In Belgium, the German army besieging Antwerp brings up its heavy artillery.

Monday, September 29th

The Belgians prepare to evacuate Antwerp. In China, the Japanese lay siege to the garrison at Tsingtao.

Tuesday, September 30th

In a bid to prevent friendly fire mishaps, the German air service decides to identify its aircraft with the black cross.