Casualties in the Battle of Mons:   The outnumbered defenders were soon hard-pressed to defend the canal crossings and the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the Nimy and Ghlin bridges only held on with piecemeal reinforcement and the exceptional bravery of two of the battalion machine-gunners. Belligerents Kingdom of France County of FlandersCommanders and leaders Philip IV (WIA) William of Jülich Philip of Chieti John I of NamurStrength unknown 15.000Casualties and losses 4.500 The Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle was fought on 18 August 1304 between the French and the Flemish. . 14th Brigade:  1st East Surreys positioned north of the canal, 2nd Manchesters and 1st Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (1st DCLI) along the canal with 2nd Suffolks in reserve. This was due to the intense artillery fire on the British line, giving the expectation of high casualties, and to the confused nature of the withdrawal. The withdrawal of the Royal Fusiliers was covered by the wounded Private Godley still firing his machine gun on the railway bridge. By nightfall, II Corps had established a new defensive line running through the villages of Montrœul, Boussu, Wasmes, Paturages and Frameries. Total British casualties of the day’s fighting were around 1,500 killed wounded and missing. British troops from the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) had crossed to mainland Europe on August … [67], The Battle of Mons has attained an almost mythic status. The battalion was able to pour a heavy fire into the German infantry forming up on the edge of a wooded area on the north bank, until it was forced to fall back across the canal. [13] The dominant geographical feature of the battlefield, was a loop in the canal, jutting outwards from Mons towards the village of Nimy. A strong German attack on the Gordons and Royal Scots on the Bois la Haut was repulsed with heavy German losses. Until then the Generals had imagined that the war would follow a similar pattern to conflicts from the previous 20-years. The cavalry divisions had advanced towards Denain and the Jägerbattalions had defeated troops of the French 88th Territorial Division at Tournai and then reached Marchiennes, after a skirmish with the 83rd Territorial Division near Orchies. Background to the Battle of Mons (2 nd Day): Elouges: Contestants at the Battle of Mons:  The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) against the German First Army. Platoons and companies became separated during the night, rejoining their parent battalions hours later or during the next day. battle of mons casualties . At 6:30 a.m., the 4th Royal Irish Dragoons[16] laid an ambush for a patrol of German lancers outside the village of Casteau, to the north-east of Mons. WW1 - Battle of Mons. The 2nd RIR were ordered to move up to support the Middlesex. Von Kluck was unaware that the BEF lay in the path of his advance south into France. Units from the Indian Army arrived in France later in 1914 in time for the ‘Race to the Sea’, which ended in the savage fighting around Ypres. As the BEF moved up into position in the area of Mons the Cavalry Division provided a screen in front of the advancing infantry divisions. [62] John Keegan estimated German losses to have been c. 5,000 men. The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the First World War. Around midday the Germans infantry began to attack along the whole line of the straight section of the canal west of Mons, sworking their way forward using the numerous fir plantations and villages as cover. Two more columns were seen on the Malplaquet–Genly and the Quevy–Genly roads, a large force was seen near Asquillies and cavalry was found further east, which showed that most of the BEF was opposite the 1st Army. Kluck assumed that the subordination of the 1st Army to the 2nd Army had ended, since the passage of the Sambre had been forced. There was no commitment in France of the British Territorial Force, which comprised full regiments of part-time soldiers, in the first weeks of the War, although they were soon sent to France to act as line of communication troops and were thrown into the fighting around Ypres at the end of 1914. If you are too busy to read the site, why not download a podcast of an individual battle and listen on the move! The pursuing British Dragoon Guards were brought up short by fire from a regiment of German Jӓgers. On the right the Middlesex and RIR experienced considerable difficulty in extricating themselves from the salient as German infantry were infiltrating through Mons to the open country south of the city. Initially, in August 1914, the BEF took only 4 infantry divisions to France with the remaining 2 infantry divisions following later in the year. [4], The Battle of Mons took place as part of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the advancing German armies clashed with the advancing Allied armies along the Franco-Belgian and Franco-German borders. The Royal Artillery comprised batteries of field and horse artillery. my soldiers to exterminate first the treacherous English; walk over Field Marshal French's contemptible little Army." Historians have long questioned some details of Tacitus's account of the fight, suggesting that he exaggerated Roman success. These reservists served with the colours and then joined the reserve on return to civilian life. [33], To the right of the Royal Fusiliers, the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, were equally hard-pressed by the German assault on the salient. The armies on the Western Front in the Great War from 1914 were the Germans against the French, the British and the Belgians. The need for this withdrawal was not easily understood by the British troops who considered that they had seen off the German attacks, but was necessary for the BEF to conform to the French Fifth Army on its right and to avoid encirclement by the German corps moving south on their left. The 7th Brigade formed the II Corps reserve in the area of Cipley. This brigade joined the 6th Dragoon Guards, Carabineers, on the canal. battle of mons casualties. At Jemappes, Corporal Jarvis of the Royal Engineers worked for an hour and a half under German fire to demolish the bridge with the assistance of Private Heron of the RSF, earning himself a Victoria Cross and Heron a DCM. During the night the 2 corps of the BEF fell back to their new positions. The Germans withdrew pursued by Lieutenant Hornby with 2 troops. Visit our dedicated Podcast page or visit Podbean below. Fog delayed flights on 21 August but in the afternoon German troops were seen near Kortrijk and three villages were reported to be burning. The 8th Division encountered the British at the northernmost canal, west of Pommeroeuil and forced back the defenders but then bogged down in front of the second canal, under machine-gun fire from the south bank. At the Battle of Mons the BEF had some 80,000 men, comprising the Cavalry Division, an independent cavalry brigade and two corps, each with two infantry divisions. This was the “first confrontation on European soil since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815” ().Four divisions of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under the command of Sir John French – as confusing as that is – battled against the German 1 st Army “over the 60-foot-wide Mons Canal in Belgium” (). The exact location of the battle remains a matter of debate. During the night of 22nd August 1914 the Cavalry Division, less the 5th Cavalry Brigade, moved across to the left flank of II Corps to the area of Thulin-Elouges-Audregnies, a march of around 20 miles. It was assumed that the numerous slag heaps must provide good vantage points, but the numbers of them interfered with sight lines and many were found to be too hot to stand on. It was an auxiliary battle of the Battle of the Frontiers in which the British and French Entente forces clashed with the German forces. The pattern of the day was repeated along the canal line from east to west; initial German attacks by massed infantry formations that were shot to pieces, followed by more careful, but increasingly heavy attacks, using open formations of infantry supported by artillery fire, that increased in weight and accuracy during the day, and by machine guns. [54] The Great Retreat continued for two weeks and covered over 250 miles (400 km). Sir John French’s intention was to establish a defensive line along the high road from Charleroi to Mons with the French on the BEF’s right. Fierce Fighting into Mons. At the request of the Fifth Army commander, General Charles Lanrezac, the BEF commander, Field Marshal Sir John French, agreed to hold the line of the Condé–Mons–Charleroi Canal for twenty-four hours, to prevent the advancing German 1st Army from threatening the French left flank. The BEF took up positions with the British II Corps along the line of the Mons canal and I Corps on the right, angled back from the line of the canal. [50], German air reconnaissance detected British troops on 21 August, advancing from Le Cateau to Maubeuge, and on 22 August from Maubeuge to Mons, as other sources identified halting places, but poor communication and lack of systematic direction of air operations led to the assembly of the BEF from Condé to Binche being unknown to the Germans on 22–23 August. [61], J. E. Edmonds, the British official historian, recorded "just over" 1,600 British casualties, most in the two battalions of the 8th Brigade which had defended the salient and wrote that German losses "must have been very heavy", which explained German inertia after dark, when the 8th Brigade was vulnerable, several other gaps existed in the British line and the retirement had begun. There was a planned simple tactical that was executed in a good order. Reconnaissance by cavalry and aircraft indicated that the area to the west of the army was free of troops and that British troops were not concentrating around Kortrijk (Courtrai), Lille and Tournai but were thought to be on the left flank of the Fifth Army, from Mons to Maubeuge. I I Corps was commanded by Sir Douglas Haig and was composed of the 1st and 2nd Divisions. 9th Lancers in Mons on 22nd August 1914: Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914 in the First World War. Battle of Mons. News that large numbers of troops had been arriving at Tournai by train were received and the advance was suspended, until the reports from Tournai could be checked. [65] Post-war German records estimated 2,145 dead and missing and 4,932 wounded in the 1st Army from 20–31 August. ... Total British casualties for the day’s fighting were 1,600 killed, wounded and missing. The Royal Engineers were ordered to sink all barges in the canal and to prepare the bridges for demolition. Ad Honorem. An evening roll call of the Cheshires 1st Battalion, who had not received a withdrawal order, indicated that their establishment had been reduced by almost 80 per cent. The opening shots of the war on the Western Front for the British Army, the men of the British regular army – the Old Contemptibles – fought here on the 23rd-24th August 1914. The French Cavalry Corps (under Sordet) moved into Belgium. These 2 battalions suffered the same fate as all the German mass attacks against the Mons Canal line, cut down by rifle and machine gun fire from the concealed British infantry. British casualties were thought on the day to be much greater than in fact they were. Along the canal the British battalions began to withdraw by companies and platoons. With the pact between France and Russia it was clear that Germany, with its ally Austria-Hungary, would have to fight on an eastern front against Russia as well as the western front against France. The British suffered some 1,600 casualties, with losses concentrated especially in those units which occupied the canal salient. News had arrived that the French Fifth Army was retreating, dangerously exposing the British right flank and at 2:00 a.m. on 24 August, II Corps was ordered to retreat south-west into France to reach defensible positions along the Valenciennes–Maubeuge road. Following the surrender of the Leige Forts by the Belgian Army, the German Army continued its push towards Paris under the Schlieffen Plan. Soldiers of the 1st Lincolns in position to the south of Mons: Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914 in the First World War. There was then 5 or 4 years service in the Reserve followed by 11 years in the Landwehr. There was a planned simple tactical that was executed in a good order. Name given to the long withdrawal to the River Marne, in August and September 1914, by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the French Fifth Army, Allied forces on the Western Front in the First World War, after their defeat by the armies of the German Empire at the Battle of Charleroi (21 August) and the Battle of Mons (23 August). [22], Late on 22 August, reports arrived that the British had occupied the Canal du Centre crossings from Nimy to Ville-sur-Haine, which revealed the location of British positions, except for their left flank. The positions around the bridge were held by Major Davey’s company with a second company under Major Abell coming up in support, losing a third of its strength in the process. For the French and German armies reservists completed regular formations but also formed reserve units up to divisional and corps strength. Usurpation of Gratian (407 AD) Usurpation of Constantine III (407-411 AD) As described by Tacitus, the Battle of Mons Graupius was a Roman military victory in what is now Scotland, taking place in AD 83 or, less probably, 84. There were some 12 or more bridges and locks in the section of the canal covered by the British line and this was a difficult order to comply with in the few hours available. Taking place on August 23 rd, 1914 the Battle of Mons was a clash between the British Army and the advancing German Army in Mons, Belgium.The British lost more than 1,500 soldiers in the offensive, while the German forces lost between 2000 and 5000 men, this number has been disputed. The Royal Field Artillery also operated field batteries armed with the 4.5 inch howitzer. At 9:00 am the German infantry assault began as they attempted to force their way across the four bridges that crossed the Mons-Conde canal. The staff at Kluck's headquarters claimed that the two-day battle had failed to envelop the British, due to the subordination of the army to Bülow and the 2nd Army headquarters, which had insisted that the 1st Army keep closer to the western flank, rather than attack to the west of Mons. battle of mons casualties . Mons was a battle of movement unlike the battles that followed which involved trench warfare. The Germans fell back into cover and after half an hour resumed the assault in a more open formation. With increasing tension on the continent of Europe, from 1900 onwards the British Government remodelled the British army to provide a field force capable of taking part in a continental war. The French Commander-in-Chief was General Joffre. The Battle of Mons was a minor engagement, but because it was the first entry of British troops in the war, it was portrayed as an epic battle to the British public. In the mid-afternoon of 23 August, IV Corps was ordered to rest, as reports from the front suggested that the British defence had been overcome and the 1st Army headquarters wanted to avoid the army converging on Maubeuge, leaving the right (western) flank vulnerable. During the engagement at Audregnies the 1st Battalions of the Cheshire and Norfolk Regiments halted the German advance from Quiévrain and Baisieux until the morning of 25 August despite being outnumbered and suffering ruinous losses, and with the support of the 5th Brigade artillery, they also inflicted many casualties on the advancing German regiments. Von  Kluck’s First Army marched through Belgium in a south westerly direction at a speed that gave it little time to assess the situation in its path. The Battle of Mons cost the British around 1,600 killed and wounded, including later WWII hero Bernard Montgomery. The German forces advancing on the Mons Canal line comprised the German 3rd, 4th and 9th Corps with the 9th Cavalry Division from the German 2nd Cavalry Corps; all of von Kluck’s First Army. By the time the battle ended after nine hours, some 35,000 British soldiers had been involved, with a total of 1,600 casualties. By the end of 1914—after the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Aisne and Ypres—the old Regular Army had been wiped out, although it managed to help stop the German advance. This fire coupled with supporting machine guns decimated the advancing German formations. This would have the consequence that the German right wing would not be able to swing well clear of the French left flank. In less than three minutes Dan Snow describes the British Army's first battle of World War One. The Battle of Mons was the first clash between the land forces of Britain and Germany during World War I. That was 3 corps with cavalry from another advancing on Smith-Dorrien’s II Corps. It is clear that none of the armies involved in the war at this early stage anticipated the impact of the modern weapons they were deploying and in particular the impact of machine guns and concentrated artillery fire. [57] Mons gained a myth, a miraculous tale that the Angels of Mons—angelic warriors sometimes described as phantom longbowmen from Agincourt—had saved the British Army by halting the German troops. The German navy informed the German army command shortly before the Battle of Mons that the British had not yet landed in France. The initial German assault on the canal line, by the 18th Division of the 9th Corps, fell on the canal salient north-east of the city of Mons; the point defended by the 4th Middlesex, the 4th Royal Fusiliers and the 1st RSF. The Battle of Mons August 22 - 23, 1914. On the left of the Nimy Bridge, the Germans attacked the Royal Fusiliers on the Ghlin Railway Bridge where Private Godley manned the battalion’s second machine gun. The Battle of Mons was the first major battle of World War One, and was the only real ‘battle of movement’ to take place during the war before trench warfare took over. See more ideas about world war i, battle, world war one. The 9th Brigade lined the canal salient through Mons with the battalions in line from the right: 4th Royal Fusiliers, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers (1st RSF) and 1st Northumberland Fusiliers with 1st Lincolns in reserve. Private Carter, D Company, 4th Royal Fusiliers on sentry duty in Mons on 22nd August 1914: Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914 in the First World War. The corps commander, General von Quast, had ordered an attack for 9:55 a.m. to seize the crossings, before the halt order was received. St. Symphorien cemetery also contains the graves of the two soldiers believed to be the first (Private John Parr, 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, 21 August 1914) and the last (Private Gordon Price, 28th Canadian Infantry Regiment, 11 November 1918) Commonwealth soldiers to be killed during the First World War. Lance Corporal Charles Jarvis, of 57th Field Company Royal Engineers, preparing the demolition of the bridge at Jemappes, for which he received the Victoria Cross: Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914 in the First World War. Four German battalions attacked the Nimy bridge, which was defended by a company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliersand a machi… Where there were bridges desperate attempts were made to destroy them. Their refusal to fall back without orders led Smith-Dorrien to later state that the on reflection the 1st Battalion, Cheshires together with the Duke of Wellington's regiment had "saved the BEF". The advance by the cavalry division was across the canal to the east of Mons and the division took no part in the direct attack on the canal line. [42], On the extreme left of the British line, the 14th and 15th Brigades of the 5th Division were threatened by a German outflanking move and were forced to call for help from the cavalry. Mons was soon being compared to historic examples of British forces defying much larger enemy armies, such as the Battle of Agincourt. In the light of Germany’s invasion of Belgium, Britain declared war on Germany the same day and began mobilising. Greatly outnumbered, both battalions suffered many casualties but with reinforcements from the Royal Irish Regiment, from the divisional reserve and support from the divisional artillery, they managed to hold the bridges. The BEF moved forward towards the Belgian border on 22nd August 1914. These met with German patrols. His command was taken over by General Sir Hubert Smith-Dorien DSO from 22nd August. Although the British fought well and inflicted disproportionate casualties on the numerically superior Germans, they were eventually forced to retreat due both to the greater strength of the Germans and the sudden retreat of the French Fifth Army, which exposed the British right flank. It seems that the German High Command was unaware that the British were in the line in front of them, assuming that the BEF was still not in France, although Von Kluck’s orders to First Army for 23rd August state that a British cavalry squadron had been encountered and a British airplane shot down and captured. Kluck ordered that the attack was to continue on 24 August, past the west of Maubeuge and that II Corps would catch up behind the right flank of the army. The Germans used the cover of fir plantations that lined the northern side of the canal and advanced to within a few hundred yards of the canal, to rake the British with machine-gun and rifle fire. [47], Late in the day, the II Corps and the IV Reserve Corps rested on their march routes at La Hamaide and Bierghes, after marching 32 and 20 kilometres (20 and 12 mi) respectively, 30 and 45 kilometres (19 and 28 mi) behind the front, too far behind to take part in the battle on 24 August. II Corps commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir John Grierson comprised 3rd and 5th Divisions. Crowds watching ambulances carrying injured British soldiers from the Belgian front, First World War. One of the few to foresee that the war would be long and hard fought was Lord Kitchener, appointed British Minister for War on 6th August 1914. Mons was soon being compared to historic examples of British forces defying much larger enemy armies, such as the Battle of Agincourt. This war started on August 23rd and ended on August 24th, 1914. The regular British Army comprised some 200 infantry battalions and 30 cavalry regiments. War between France and Germany was considered inevitable following the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 to 1871. Soon after this photograph was taken the battalion moved up to the Mons Canal line at Nimy. Private Sidney Godley was one of the gunners in Lieutenant Dease’s machine gun section. At 9:00 a.m., the first German infantry assault began, with the Germans attempting to force their way across four bridges that crossed the canal at the salient. Godley crawled to the road and lay there until he was taken to the Mons hospital by some civilians, where he was captured by the advancing Germans. Following the Belgian defeat at Liege on August 16, 1914, German forces continued their westward push toward France, with Paris as their ultimate objective. The BEF was stationed on the left of the Allied line, which stretched from Alsace-Lorraine in the east to Mons and Charleroi in southern Belgium. Uniforms and equipment in the Battle of Mons (2 nd Day): Elouges: See this section in the ‘Battle of Mons’. A hugely symbolic and significant flag, its raising during battle signified that no quarter was to be given to the enemy, while its loss was seen as a huge blow to morale and French royal dignity. In the confusion of the advance some important demolition stores were missing. 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