Probably my interest was picqued when I noticed that a large amount of Algerian soldiers especially but also Moroccan and Tunisian soldiers as part of the French Army died on 22 August 1914 (date of my birthday!). I then researched into the date and found that 27,000 French Army soldiers died on this date. The French were fighting the Battle of the Frontiers which lasted from 7 August 1914 for a month. It took place between the Eastern Frontier of France and Southern Belgium.
In simple terms the plan by the Germans (Schlieffen Plan) was to use their might against France for a quick victory and then spend their efforts on the Eastern Front against Russia. The French have five divisions from Alsace/Lorraine to the Belgium Border – each division partook in different assaults (around 15) but did not communicate these with each other. The French retreated leaving behind many severely wounded and dead.
One difference between the armies that day was the Germans were efficient and organised whilst the French Army (made up from many different parts of the French colony) had not efficiently trained all of their army defensive warfare and nor the german guns out-ranged the french. You could also say that the bright colours of the French uniform (blue coats and red trousers) did not make them inconscipuous – the french had ordered new blue/grey uniform but this was not available in the first few weeks of the war.
A transcript about the 1er Regiment de Marche de Tirailleurs (mostly Algerian soldiers) on this date stated: Attached to the 3rd Army Corps, which occupies Charleroi, he arrives on August 22nd at the Figoterie, where he receives the order to “reject the Germans in the Sambre by counterattacking them towards the Chatelet “. The charge is magnificent, but precipitous, unprepared, unsupported; it breaks on the German lines; the hecatomb is terrible; the battalion has only 5 out of 19 officers and 400 out of 900 men.