Photo of the day: Belgians capture 'Goulash Canon'

2014 marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. We will bring you pictures from 100 years ago on a regular basis - photos that were taken 100 years ago to the day on that particular day - to allow you to follow the Great War in pictures.

During fighting in Antwerp Belgian forces capture a German field kitchen, called a 'Goulash Canon' by the Germans. It gets a lot of attention because in 1914 the Belgian army hasn't got any field kitchens. Belgian soldiers had to make do with ingredients supplied by willing citizens.

29 September 1914

Two German soldiers are standing in a crater made by a grenade fired out of a ‘Fat Berta’, a heavy mortar developed by German armaments manufacturer Krupp. “There’s enough room to build a three-storey house in the crater”, according to an article in the magazine ‘Werldkroniek’.

28 September 1914

Today's photograph pictures German prisoners of war. It was probably taken in the vicinity of the town of Aalst. (Photo: Royal Army Museum)

27 September 1914

Fighting in the town of Aalst: this photo appeared in many newspapers abroad under the headline 'The Battle for Alost'. The scene in this snap was staged but a few hours earlier these soldiers had been in action on the outskirts of Aalst.

26 September 1914

Belgian soldiers spend the night sleeping on a pile of straw.

25 September 1914

During the Great War some advertisers used the hostilities as theme for their campaigns. This advertisement for beds that was published in a German magazine show a German soldier dreaming of a nice soft matrass.


23 September 1914

This postcard from the Liberal Archives shows a little Belgian soldier that speaks Dutch trying to stop the Germans at the border. The Belgian refuses to be corrupted by the German’s hollow promises.
The German spokesman speaks amiably to him in French while hiding a dagger behind his back.


22 September 1914

Belgian pontoon engineers build a pontoon bridge over the river The Scheldt between Hemiksem and Bazel. This photo was taken during an exercise shortly before the war. In early August 1914, four of these bridges were constructed. Their main purpose was to allow quick transportation of troops and materials, as the existing The Scheldt ferry-services had been deemed inadequate. (Collection KLM)

21 September 1914

The Belgian Army continues to destroy houses that obscured the view to the ring of forts that surround Antwerp. The houses are dowsed with petrol before being torched. A rule existed that only allowed wooden constructions to be built within a 600 metre radius of the forts. However, over the years this rule had been largely ignored.


20 September 2014

This map that was published in a British magazine shows the fortified positions around Antwerp. It clearly displays the flooded areas around Fort Willebroek, Fort Wallem and on the left bank of the River Schelde near to the Dutch border.

19 September 1914

The De Smul family from Zeveneken, near Lokeren in East Flanders regularly featured in propaganda photographs taken during World War I.

Father Gustaaf was the owner of a small textile factory; he left for the front with 7 of his 9 sons. The two others were too small to join up and they left to join the Scouts in England.

Mother Maria worked as a nurse in a military hospital, with the exception of Gaston De Smul all of the De Smul family returned home safely. ,

18 September 1914

"Their way of warfare". Reports about the German atrocities in Belgium soon found their way to international press reports, triggering this type of anti-German propaganda. 

17 September 1914

During the second half of September the Belgian army sent out its annual call up. Belgian men were called up in the year that they turned 20. New recruits were expected to present themselves to the army in the Antwerp area and were billeted on local people. By the end of teh month most had been ordered to join training camps in France.

16 September 1914

The German army attempts to take over Dendermonde again, but doesn’t succeed in crossing the River Schelde. When withdrawing from the city, the Belgian army successfully set fire to the bridge.

15 September 1914

This picture showing the "execution of a German spy by Belgian troops" appeared in various British magazines in early October 1914. The photo is actually fake and was made in Melle (near Ghent) in September. The man who is allegedly being shot is actually Albert Rhys Williams, an American war correspondent. English photographers asked him to play the role of a spy,  while Belgian soldiers played the execution team. It is said that Williams first checked himself whether there were no bullets left in the guns that were about to be aimed at him. He had no problem making his contribution to a forgery, arguing that "the photos are a representation of real life as they are a copy of everyday reality."

14 September 1914

A special unit of the Belgian armed forces blows up the rail bridge over the River Dender in Aalst. It's an attempt to hamper the German troops and to cut off one of their possible links to the French frontline. The East-Flemish city of Aalst was situated in a kind of no-man's land at the time, between the German and the Belgian troops. The Aalst city authorities were against the sabotage, as they feared reprisal acts.

13 September 1914

A Belgian armoured car on the market square in Dendermonde (East Flanders). In August 1914, twenty luxury cars of the brand ‘Minerva’ were manufactured in the Antwerp Cockerill factory. The vehicles were transformed into armoured cars and equipped with machineguns. The idea had been around for longer, but the Belgians were the first to implement it. The ‘Minervas’ were quick, agile and feared by the Germans.

©2014 brilk

10 September 1914

The 7th Belgian Mixed Brigade recaptured the city of Aarschot for a short period of time during the Siege of Antwerp. Machine-gunner Jean Pecher took this picture of the ruins on Aarschot market square. The city was almost completely destroyed on 19 August. An old lady offers some water to the soldiers.

9 September 1914

The Belgians reclaimed Dendermonde on 9 September 1914. The last Germans had left the day before. In the middle of the photograph, you can see a photographer standing in front of the white wall. In the wake of the Belgian army reclaiming Dendermonde, a lot of journalists and photographers visited the town. Dendermonde quickly became one of the most photographed ‘Martyrs’ Towns’.

8 September 1914

A house – probably in Dendermonde- the front door bears an inscription in old German hand-writing: “Here live good people”. It’s an appeal to spare this home from looting.