First Field Battle in Belgium
The first field battle of the war in Belgium took place northwest of Liege, on August 12, when a force of 5000 German cavalry, supported by artillery and infantry, attacked the twin villages of Haelen and Diest, with the intent to seize the bridges across the River Gethe.
Here the Huns met with their first serious repulse. From behind improvised barricades, the Belgians decimated the German lines with a terribly effective machine-gun fire, driving them back in confusion. Two thousand Germans fell in this engagement, while hundreds of others threw down their arms and surrendered.
Again and again the Belgian soldiers proved their superiority over the Germans when they met on even terms. Thus a flanking movement against the Belgian left wing at Cortenachen was easily repulsed.
On August 15, after a sharp bombardment, a force of 2000 German cavalry galloped into Tirlemont, but were quickly driven out. A German cavalry detail which had bivouacked in Eghezee, was likewise expelled.
But after the fall of the western forts at Liege, and when the overwhelming strength of the German armies was at length disclosed, the Belgian army prudently withdrew from its position on the River Gethe, falling back on Aerschot. Meanwhile, the advancing Huns had applied the torch to Pellenberg, Bautersem, Corback-Loo, and Lovenojul. Diest, St. Trond, and Waremme were occupied by the Huns without resistance.