The Thunder of Guns
On Boulevard Lambermont: Alerted by the noise of the canons, the population of Schaerbeek tried to follow the artillery battles which were going on outside the city. The capture of Brussels, on 20 August 1914, was but one step in the German advance. The same day, in order to avoid the encirclement which threatened his troops, King Albert ordered the retreat toward Antwerp. Helped by the belt of fortifications surrounding it, the harbour-city was to serve as “national recess”. Despite being the last rampart of the nation, Antwerp nevertheless fell on 9 October. The Belgian army retreated toward the sea and established its position behind the Yser on 16 October. It would remain there for almost four years.
The movement warfare that characterised the first months of the conflict ravaged the Belgian army. Between 4 August and 15 October 1914, 9,000 Belgian soldiers died and 15,000 were wounded. Worst of all, this sacrifice did not prevent the territory from being up to 95% under foreign occupation. In the course of the following years, Brussels, like most of the country, would live by German time.