WHAT THE “HANDY MAN” DID AT ANTWERP
OFFK'CAL DESPATCH. The first official narrative of the splendid work of 'the Nava! Brigades and the Royal Marine Brigade at Antwerp in holding bark 'the Germans early in October, ami enabling most of the Belgian Army to retreat to France, is told by General Paris in the. following despatches printed in the London ‘Gazette’ on December 5. The operations redound to the utmost credit of all engaged, especially considering that many men of the Naval Brigade had but the briefest training: Admiralty. sth December. 1914. The following despatch has been received from Field-marshal (Sir J. I). P. French. G.G.8.. G.G.V.0.. K.C.M.G.. covering a- despatch from Major-general A. Paris, C.8.. R.M.A.. relating to the operations round Antwerp from the ord to the 9lh October: From Sir J. I). P. French, Field-mar-shal. Gonimauder-iu-Ghief, to the Secretary of tho Admiralty. In forwarding this report; to the Army j Council at tho request of the. Lords Com- 1 missioners of (he Admiralty, I have to, state that, from a. comprehensive review of all the circumstances, the force _of j Marines and Naval Brigades which | assisted in the defence of Antwerp was j handled by General Paris with great skill \ and boldness. _ i Although the results did not include the * actual saving of the fortress, the action f| t I the force under General Paris certainly j delayed the enemy for a considerable time,; and assisted tho Belgian Army to he wit a-, drawn in a- condition to enable it- to re- ! organise and refit, and regain its value as a, lighting force, 4he destruction of vat | material and ammunition —which, hut ior| the intervention of this force, would have , proved of great, value to the enemy was | thus able, to he carried out. _ | The assistance which the Belgian Army has rendered throughout the subsequent course of tho operations on the canal and the Yser River has been a. valuable asset to the allied cause, and such help must he regarded as an outcome oi the intervention of General Paris's force. I am further of opinion that the moral effect produced on the minds ot the Belgian Army hy this necessarily desperate attempt Up bring them succor, before it was too late, has been of great value to their use and efficiency as a lighting force. ,1. I). P. Foi-ach. Field-marshal. ('ommati.ding-in-Glnef. From the hem-taw of the Admiralty to Field-marshal ‘Sir d. D. P- French, ('ommandiiig-iii-Chiei'. Admiralty. 2nd November. 1914. Sir, —I am commanded hy My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to transmit herewith a. despatch irom Major-gene-ral Paris, reporting the proceedings* of the die isiou round- Antwerp trout the old to 9th October, with a vi.-w to its being considered by you and forwarded to the Armv Conned.’ with your •survey of the operations as a whole.—l am. etc.. W. Gk.vu.vm Oi:: t:xK. From Major-general A. Pans. G. 8.. ; Commanding Royal Naval Division, to the Secretary of the Admiralty. 51st October, 1914. Regarding tin- operations round .Antwerp from end to 9th October, 1 have the hottor to report as follows : The brigade (2.200 all ranks) reached Antwerp eluting the night srd-4th October. and early ‘mi the 4th occupied, with the 7th Belgian Regiment, the trenches hiving Lierre, with advanced post on tho river" Nethe. relieving some, exhausted Belgian troops. The outer forts on this fimn had already fallen, and bombardincut of the trenches was in progress. This increased in violence, the night and early morning of sth October, when the advanced posts worm driven in and the enemy effected a crossing «>t the rivt-r. which was not- under lire li'oin the trenches. About midday the 7th Belgian Regiment was forced to' retire, thus expo.-ing my right Hank. A vigorous counter-attack, gallantly led hy Colonel Tierrhon. 2nd Chasseurs, assisted by our aeroplane-, restored the position late in the afternoon. I'nfoi tnnateiv. an attempt made by the Belgian troops during tin; night mth-fnh October) to drive the enemy across the river failed, and resulted in the evacuation of practically tho whole of the Belgian trenches. the few troops now capable of another counter-attack were unable to make any impression, and the po-ition of the Marino Brigade became untenable. The bombardment, too, was very violent, but the retirement of the brigade was well carried out, and soon
after midday (6th October) an intermediate which had been hastily pro-, pared, was occupied. The two Naval Brigades’ reached Antwerp during the night, oth-6th October, Tim Ist Brigade moved out in the afternoon of sth to assist the withdrawal to the main second lino of defence. Tho retirement was carried out during the night sth-7th October, without opposition, and the Naval Division occupied the intervals between tho forts on the second line of defence. The bombardment of the town, forts, and trenches began at midnight. 7lh-Bth October, and continued with increasing intensity until the evacuation of the fortress, As the water supply had been cut, no attempt could bo made to subdue the flames, and soon 100 houses were burning. .Fortunately there was no wind, or the whole town and bridges must have been destroyed. During the day (October 8) it appeared evident that the' Belgian army could not hold tho forts any longer. About S.oO p.m. I considered that if the Naval Division was to avoid disaster an immediate retirement under cover of darkness wis necessary. General Do Guise, the Belgian commander, was in complete agreement'. He was most’ chivalrous and gallant, insisting on giving orders that the read; and bridges wore to bo cleared for the passage of tho Brit : sh troops. The retirement began about 7.30 p.m. and wa; carried out under very diliicult conditions. Tho enemy were reported in force (a division plus a reserve brigade) on our immediate line, of retreat, rendering necessary a detour of 15 miles to tho north. All the roads wee crowded with Belgian troops, refugees, herds of cattle, and all kinds of vehielv. miking intcmmimmi'ofiticm a practical impossibility. Partly lor these reasons, partly on account of fatigue, and partly from at present unexplained causes largo numbers of the Ist Naval Brigade became detached, and, I regret to say, are either prisoners or interned in Holland. .Marching all night (Bth to 9th October) one battalion of Ist Brigade, the 2nd Brigade, and Jioyal Marino Brigade, less one battalion, entrained at >St. Gillies Wars and effected their retreat without further incident.
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WHAT THE “HANDY MAN” DID AT ANTWERP, Evening Star, Issue 15707, 22 January 1915