Because of its strategic position on the Sambre and Meuse Rivers, the Belgian city of Namur has been the victim of nine sieges since the Hundred Years War. Four of the sieges have been by French forces. As a consequence, it has been repeatedly fortified and strengthened to resist invading armies. between 1888 and 1892The great Belgian military engineer général Henri Alexis Brialmont constructed a ring of nine forts around the city at an average distance of 7 km from the city center. They utilized standardize plans of triangular, unreinforced concrete fortifications covered by earth and surrounded by a ditch whoich was 8 meters wide and 3.5 meters deep. While the construction was performed by a French company, the heavy weapons, 120-mm, 150-mm, and 210-mm gun was manufactured by the German arms maker, Krupp. They were placed in armored retractable turrets. Turrets also held shorter range 57-mm guns and the ditches were defended by 57-mm guns in casemates in the corners.
With the fall of Liege, the German Second and Third Armies moved on Namur, which, like Liege suffered from incomplete linking fortifications, low morale, and lack of training. The strongpoint provided the Belgian 4th Division with a firm right flank. They intended to hold until the arrival of the French Fifth Army.
Siege of Namur: 20 to 23 August 1914
A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]
Summary: Probing attacks started on 20 August as General Karl von Bulow’s Second Army moved into position. Units of the 6th Guards Division were able to infiltrate between Fort de Marchovelette and Fort de Cognelee to the northwest of Namur. Without delay, the Germans moved their super-heavy artillery forward, including the 420-mm howitzer ‘Big Bertha’ and Austrian 305-mm howitzers. No infantry assaults were necessary as the siege artillery pounded the forts from a distance beyond the Belgian guns. After two days of punishing explosions, the city was evacuated and the forts surrendered.
Aftermath: With the fall of Namur, général de corps d’armée Charles Lanrezac ordered the abandonment of the Sambre River line and withdrew the French Fifth Army to [where].
Note: Unfortunately the locations of the Namur fortifications are of only historical interest. Unlike the forts at Liege, all of the Namur fortifications are on private or military land and none are open to the public. The fortifications around Liege provide a more interesting touring experience. (See: http://frenchbattlefields.com/blog/?p=579 )
Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium