By Nigel Thomas, Dusan Babac, Darko Pavlovic
Fresh background may still remind us that it used to be occasions within the Balkans which sparked off international struggle I (1914-1918), with the assassination of the Austrian inheritor Prince Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, and the resultant invasion of Serbia by means of Austro-Hungarian armies on 2 August 1914. however, the next four-year struggle in that theatre is often overshadowed by means of the simultaneous campaigns at the Western entrance. For the 1st time this publication bargains a concise account of those complicated campaigns, the enterprise, orders of conflict, and the uniforms and insignia of the armies concerned: Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, Serbian, Montenegrin, Albanian, British, French, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian, Greek and Rumanian.
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Signal teams used the searchlights to test message relays between the forts and to insure sightlines were clear. When the king refused the German ultimatum, the news quickly reached the forts and they were placed on full war footing. Windows and armoured doors that opened to the ditch were closed and sealed with iron bars and shored up with sandbags. Men guarding the entry to the fort tested the rolling bridge and cleared the embrasures in the flanking casemate. In the command post, the commandant tested the telephone communications with the observatories and the combat positions.
The main line of defence consisted of the new permanent forts manned by artillerymen, engineers, specialists and small infantry units to guard the forts. Field works consisting of gun batteries, trenches, and redoubts supported the main line. One Regular Army division was assigned to guard each position when war broke out. In his numerous theses on the defence of the state, Brialmont set the following criteria for the main line of defence: it should be far enough away from the city to hinder bombardment - a besieger had to be kept out of artillery range and sight of the city; the distance between the forts should not exceed the average range of their artillery in order to assure mutual support; an enemy should be compelled to attack three adjacent forts together; finally, the fort must command the zone of action of its artillery and, particularly, the intervals between it and its neighbours must be visible in order to view signals and to fire in direct view.
This is exactly what happened at Liege and Namur. Infantry troops made up about 20 per cent of a fort's garrison; the rest consisted of artillerymen, engineers and support personnel. The infantry assigned to each fort patrolled the surrounding area or stood by to make sorties to the top of the fort from the assembly room in the central massif if the fort came under enemy infantry attack. A searchlight in the centre of the fort illuminated the terrain in all directions and a military road surrounded the fort to facilitate surveillance of the exterior.