World War One Diary for Monday, August 24, 1914:
Galicia: While the Germans are preparing to take on the Russians in East Prussia, their Austro-Hungarian allies launch an offensive from around Lemberg in their province of Galicia into Russian-controlled Poland. The plan, masterminded by the Austro-Hungarian chief-of-staff, General Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, involves the movement of three armies on a 200-mile front. Their objective is to crush the four armies of General Nikolai Ivanov’s Russian Southwest Army Group, which are based southwest of the extensive and barrier-like Pripet Marshes. The main Austro-Hungarian advance begins well, with their First Army pushing back the Russian Fourth Army at the Battle of Krasnik.
East Prussia: German troops successfully delay Samsonov’s advance in southern East Prussia in a day-long battle at Orlau-Frankenau, thereby allowing other German units to concentrate at nearby Tannenberg for their forthcoming battle against Samsonov. The Russian high command remains unaware that its uncoded radio traffic is being intercepted by the Germans, who have detailed knowledge of the Russian strength, dispositions, and plans.
Belgium: BEF RETREAT FROM MONS BEGINS at c. 0400 hours. Marching infantry are ably covered on left wing by Allenby’s Cavalry Division. Only a few fierce rearguard actions involve British 5th Division. Total BEF casualties c. 2752 and 2 guns.
Battles of Charleroi and the Ardennes end with French Fourth Army ordered to retreat behind river Meuse. Joffre orders that all infantry attacks must have artillery preparation.
Three Namur forts fall.
Alsace: Battle of Alsace ends.
Lorraine: French Second Army’s XX Corps (Foch) advances 2 miles (3.22 km) in Battle of the Mortagne (until August 28) and blocks Germans east of Nancy.
France: Lille declared open city, garrison evacuated.
Serbia: Serbs recapture Sabac; by 1500 hour all Austrian invaders out of Serbia. Austrian General Krauss’ diary (29th Division) ‘One hoped to knock Serbia out quickly and then turn all forces against Russia – only this can explain the peculiar conduct of the High Command’.
Western Front: French Army airship Dupuy-de-Lome shot down in error by own ground forces.
France: War Minister backs Joffre’s policy of removing inadequate generals (140 (!) by September 6): ‘eliminate the old fossils without pity’.
India: First IEF ‘A’ units sail for France.
Britain: TUC-Labour industrial truce declared. War Refugees Central committees formed. First BEF wounded land at Southampton (27 ambulance trains follow).
Cameroons: c. 200 British soldiers capture Nsanankang on Nigerian border. In the north German Kuseri post repels 250 French from Fort Lamy, which have 23 casualties. Kuseri post falls on September 20.