Battle of the Frontiers Largely Forgotten

The Battle of the Frontiers was a major battle that took place during the First World War, and yet it receives little contemporary recognition. It was responsible for massive French losses during the war, and is considered by some historians to be the bloodiest fight undertaken by the French during the four-year conflict, but still the Battle of the Frontiers remains a mere side-note in many accounts of the war and its major battles.

The fight itself may not be as exceedingly popular as those that took place at Marne or Verdun, but its numbers speak for themselves. Near the end of August in the first year of the war, approximately twenty-seven thousand Frenchmen were cut down in their prime. It has been slightly over one hundred years since the Battle of the Frontiers, and it is as worthy of remembrance as any other major campaign in the First World War. The French soldiers who died during the fray did not go down easily, demonstrating bravery as they stood their ground despite overwhelming resistance by the Germans.

The fight is named for its inclusion of over a dozen frays which took place on a wide front. From Belgium to Alsace, the French fought tooth and nail with the Germans. Many of those who died during the Battle of the Frontiers are no buried in Rossignol and other Belgian towns. Rossignol is believed to have been the major focal point of the fighting, and therefore one of the main sites at which French soldiers were killed.

A big issue was that the French had not received much in the way of defensive training. They attempted to wage a series of major offenses against the German army, but were wiped out by machine guns and lost many officers. The Battle of the Frontiers took its toll on officers who had experience and training, but did not utilize defensive strategies that might have prepared them for the surprising early arrival of the German troops. The French essentially met their downfall as a result of their own bravery, the Reuters reports.

The Battle of the Frontiers is an example of a fight in which bravado may have done more harm than good. This is one of the reasons that an effort should be made to remember this battle today. It is also important to remember the Battle of the Frontiers for the sole sake of remembrance, as the thousands of men who died there deserve as much recognition as any other soldier of the First World War.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE