17 September – On this day

The Race to the Sea took place from about 17 September – 19 October 1914 and is part of the series of battles fought at the beginning of WWI in the West before a continuous trench line was established.

The Battle of the Frontiers (7 August–13 September) and the German advance into France, had been stopped at the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September) and was then followed by a Franco-British counter-offensive, the First Battle of the Aisne(13 September – 28 September). The Race to the Sea described reciprocal attempts by the Franco-British and German armies to envelop the northern flank of the opposing army through Picardy, Artois and Flanders, rather than an attempt to advance northwards to the sea. The “race” ended on the North Sea coast of Belgium around 19 October, when the last open area from Dixmude to the North Sea was occupied by Belgian troops, who had been withdrawn from the Siege of Antwerp (28 September – 10 October). The outflanking attempts had resulted in a number of encounter battles but neither side was able to gain a decisive victory.

Map showing the outflanking attempts
Map showing the outflanking attempts