While von Kluck's army was investing Liege and its fortresses, von Buelow's army, 280,000 strong, was advancing up the valley of the Meuse toward Namur. The villagers fled from their homes by thousands at sight of the Huns. On August 12, 1914, the town of Huy, midway between Liege and Namur, was occupied with but slight resistance, giving the Germans control of all the railroad lines.
Soon the huge German siege guns, drawn in three parts by teams of forty horses, or by thirteen traction engines, were rolling along the roads to Namur. The defence of Namur consisted of nine detached forts arranged around the confluence of the rivers Meuse and Sambre. These forts were held by a garrison of 26,000 men.
The first bomb from the German field guns fell on the roof of the railway station at Namur on August 17, but the actual siege did not begin until August 21, with the arrival of the huge German howitzers, some of sixteen-inch caliber, and throwing projectiles weighing a ton each.
On that day thirty batteries concentrated their fire on the Namur forts, smothering them with shells and obliterating the barbed wire defences in the spaces between the forts. The puny armament of the Belgian forts was impotent against this assault. One by one the little six-inch guns were snuffed out under the avalanche of fire from the German batteries, while the armor-plated turrets were reduced to fragments.
Throughout four sulphurous days the brave defenders of Namur withstood the attack of 300,000 Germans, living in a veritable inferno after the forts had become untenable, and praying for French assistance that never came ; for the French themselves were hotly engaged with the enemy at Dinant, south of Namur, and could only send two regiments to aid the Belgians.
The casualties among the Namur garrison were frightful, whole regiments being decimated. On August 23, Gen. Michel ordered the evacuation of Namur. The garrison, in great disorder, fled from the ruined city, pursue...