Battle of the Frontiers

What was the battle of the frontiers?

The battle of the Frontier was a series of battles fought in Western Europe during the World War I. The battle involved a German assault on France, attempting to encircle French forces by flanking them through Belgium. This was the first large-scale clash between Germany and the Allied forces. The battle also brought Britain into the war as it involved German invasion of a neutral country, Belgium.

When and where was the battle fought?

The battle was fought from August 7th, 1914 to September 13, 1914 along the eastern French border and in southern Belgium.

The German Strategy

The German plan was to send the First and Second armies towards the Belgian border and deep inside France. The Third army would also join and pass through Belgian Ardennes. On the other side, the Fourth and Fifth armies would advance to Luxembourg and French Ardennes. This meant that all five armies would work to overwhelm the French left flank. In the meantime, the Sixth and the Seventh armies of the Germany would move and stand fast in Alsace-Lorraine.

The Schlieffen plan

In the Battle of the Frontiers, The German army used a modified version of the plan known as the Schlieffen plan. This plan was originally created in 1905 by Count Alfred Von Schlieffen. The plan was a reaction and response to Germany’s need to fight against France and Russia on two borders.

After a simple triumph in 1870 against France in Franco-Prussian War, Germany saw France a weak enemy as compared to Russia in the east. Hence, Schlieffen chose to mass the bulk of the main army of Germany towards France with the objective of winning a quick victory before the Russians could mobilize their military.

The French and the Belgians

The French army, although massive in size, had many key shortcomings. The French weapons were old and outdated, with the army also lacking artillery weapons. At the same time, the army lacked training and there was no firm and sound strategy in place to counter the Germans. The Belgian was even more old-fashioned and entirely unequipped to face the German forces.


The Battle of the Frontiers raged for one whole month from August 7 to September 6, 1914. Despite sustaining heavy casualties, the German forces were ultimately triumphant. The French and British resistance were able to significantly delay this victory which had an effect on the war.

Consequences and Aftermath

The French sustained the heaviest casualties during this battle. In all, nearly 329,999 casualties were reported by the French. British casualties were relatively light at about 30,000 men. Germans lost nearly 300,000 men during the battle.

In the aftermath of the victory in battle, German forces effectively invaded northern France. The rearguard British and French forces were able to use the delay in German victory to make arrangements for the defense of Paris. The German would face stiff resistance as they advanced and the battle around Paris turned into a stalemate of trench warfare. Belgian joined the Allied cause as its neutrality had been violated by Germany.