Battle of Mons

Monsretreat from MonsBattle ofBritish Expeditionary Forcefighting at Monsfirst British battle of the war at Monsfirst time in battleHarmingniesin an engagement outside MonsMons Road
The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the First World War.wikipedia
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British Expeditionary Force (World War I)

British Expeditionary ForceBEFOld Contemptibles
The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the First World War.
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.

John French, 1st Earl of Ypres

Sir John FrenchJohn FrenchFrench
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.
After the British suffered heavy casualties at the battles of Mons and Le Cateau (where Smith-Dorrien made a stand contrary to French's wishes), French wanted to withdraw the BEF from the Allied line to refit and only agreed to take part in the First Battle of the Marne after a private meeting with the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, against whom he bore a grudge thereafter.

Mons

County of MonsMons, BelgiumMontes
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.
On 23–24 August 1914, Mons was the location of the Battle of Mons.

Horace Smith-Dorrien

Sir Horace Smith-DorrienSmith-DorrienHorace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien
II Corps was commanded by Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and consisted of the 3rd and 5th Divisions.
He commanded II Corps at the Battle of Mons, the first major action fought by the BEF, and the Battle of Le Cateau, where he fought a vigorous and successful defensive action contrary to the wishes of the Commander-in-Chief Sir John French, with whom he had had a personality clash dating back some years.

First Battle of the Marne

Battle of the MarneMarne 1914Marne
Though initially planned as a simple tactical withdrawal and executed in good order, the British retreat from Mons lasted for two weeks and took the BEF to the outskirts of Paris before it counter-attacked in concert with the French, at the Battle of the Marne.
At the Battle of Mons (23 August), the BEF attempted to hold the line of the Mons–Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st Army.

3rd (United Kingdom) Division

3rd Division3rd Infantry DivisionBritish 3rd Infantry Division
II Corps was commanded by Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and consisted of the 3rd and 5th Divisions.
The division served in many major battles of the war, including the Battle of Mons and the subsequent Great Retreat, and later the First Battle of Ypres.

I Corps (United Kingdom)

I CorpsBritish I Corps1st Army Corps
I Corps was commanded by Sir Douglas Haig and was composed of the 1st and 2nd Divisions.
It had a peripheral part at the Battle of Mons, then saw hard fighting at the Battle of the Aisne and First Battle of Ypres in 1914, at the Battle of Aubers Ridge in the Spring of 1915 and alongside the Canadian Corps at the Battle of Hill 70, as well in many other large battles of the First World War.

5th Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

5th Cavalry Brigade5th5th British Brigade
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.
In its independent role, the brigade took part in the Battle of Mons (23–24 August), Cerizy (28 August), the Retreat from Mons (23 August–5 September) and in the Battle of the Marne (6–9 September).

5th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

5th Division5th Infantry DivisionBritish 5th Infantry Division
II Corps was commanded by Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and consisted of the 3rd and 5th Divisions.
The 5th Division, as a Regular Army formation (one of the Old Contemptibles) fought in many of the major battles of the Western Front from the Battle of Mons in 1914, the later stages of the Somme offensive, including the first battle using tanks, up to the Battle of the Selle in 1918.

Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig

Douglas HaigSir Douglas HaigHaig
I Corps was commanded by Sir Douglas Haig and was composed of the 1st and 2nd Divisions.
Although II Corps fought off the German attack at Mons on 23 August (the first British encounter with the Germans) the BEF was forced to withdraw after Lanzerac ordered a retreat exposing their right flank as well.

II Corps (United Kingdom)

II Corps2nd Army CorpsBritish II Corps
II Corps was commanded by Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and consisted of the 3rd and 5th Divisions.
II Corps was first engaged two days later at the Battle of Mons and remained on the Western Front throughout the war.

2nd Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

2nd Division2nd Infantry Division2nd
I Corps was commanded by Sir Douglas Haig and was composed of the 1st and 2nd Divisions.
The division took part in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, and, along with most of the rest of the original BEF, suffered heavy casualties in the First Battle of Ypres in November.

1st Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

1st Division1st Infantry DivisionBritish 1st Infantry Division
I Corps was commanded by Sir Douglas Haig and was composed of the 1st and 2nd Divisions.
During the war, the division was involved in the following battles: Battle of Mons, First Battle of the Marne, First Battle of the Aisne, First Battle of Ypres, Battle of Aubers Ridge, Battle of Loos, Battle of the Somme, Battle of Pozières, Third Battle of Ypres, Battle of Épehy.

Charles Lanrezac

LanrezacGeneral Charles Lanrezacgénéral Lanrezac
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.
In the small hours of 24 August, just after the Battle of Mons, the BEF was forced to retreat on news that Lanrezac was falling back, which disgusted Sir John French, and that the French Third and Fourth Armies were also falling back after being defeated at Virton and Neufchâteau.

Edward Thomas (British Army soldier)

Edward ThomasE. Edward Thomas
Drummer E. Edward Thomas is reputed to have fired the first shot of the war for the British Army, hitting a German trooper.
Ernest Edward Thomas, MM, of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards fired the first shot of the British Army in the First World War, at 7am on 22 August 1914, in an engagement outside Mons.

Schlieffen Plan

Belgian annexation policyGerman invasionplanned to quickly defeat France by sweeping through Belgium
The British position on the French flank meant that it stood in the path of the German 1st Army, the outermost wing of the massive "right hook" intended by the Schlieffen Plan (a combination of the Aufmarsch I West and Aufmarsch II West deployment plans), to pursue the Allied armies after defeating them on the frontier and force them to abandon northern France and Belgium or risk destruction.

1st Army (German Empire)

1st Army1 Armee1st
The British position on the French flank meant that it stood in the path of the German 1st Army, the outermost wing of the massive "right hook" intended by the Schlieffen Plan (a combination of the Aufmarsch I West and Aufmarsch II West deployment plans), to pursue the Allied armies after defeating them on the frontier and force them to abandon northern France and Belgium or risk destruction. At Mons, the British Army attempted to hold the line of the Mons–Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st Army.

Alexander von Kluck

von KluckGeneral von KluckGeneraloberst von Kluck
Advancing towards the British was the German 1st Army, commanded by Alexander von Kluck.
After fighting the British at Mons and Le Cateau, the First Army pursued Lanrezac's French Fifth Army during the great retreat.

Duke of Wellington's Regiment

33rd Regiment of FootDuke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding)Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)
For a further two hours, soldiers of the Northumberland Fusiliers, 1st West Kents, 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment and the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, held off German attacks on the village, despite many casualties and then retreated in good order to St. Vaast.
Battalions from the regiment had served in most land conflicts involving British forces since its formation, from the Wars of the Austrian and Spanish successions, through the American war of Independence and various campaigns in India and Africa, the Napoleonic Wars, the Second Boer War and many of the greatest battles of the First World War (the Battle of Mons, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Passchendaele, the Battle of Cambrai) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919.

4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards

4th Dragoon Guards4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards4th
At 6:30 a.m., the 4th Royal Irish Dragoons laid an ambush for a patrol of German lancers outside the village of Casteau, to the north-east of Mons.
Two full troops of British cavalry surprised four patrolling German cavalrymen of the 2nd Kuirassiers at Casteau near Mons.

John Parr (British Army soldier)

John ParrPrivate John Parr
The first contact between the two armies occurred on 21 August, when a British bicycle reconnaissance team encountered a German unit near Obourg; and Private John Parr became the first British soldier to be killed in the war.
The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear, and historical research in 2014 has posited the theory that he may have been killed by friendly fire rather than that from a German patrol as previously thought, or during the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914.

15th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

15th Infantry Brigade15th Brigade15 (North East) Brigade
For the first stage of the withdrawal, Smith-Dorrien detailed the 15th Brigade of the 5th Division, which had not been involved in heavy fighting on 23 August, to act as rearguard.
During the opening months of the War, the Brigade had its full share of fighting and saw action at Mons, Le Cateau, at the crossings of the Marne and Aisne and in the first battles in Flanders.

Nimy

The dominant geographical feature of the battlefield, was a loop in the canal, jutting outwards from Mons towards the village of Nimy.
In 1914, it was the scene of heavy fighting during the Battle of Mons, the first action of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I.

Sidney Godley

Sidney Frank GodleyPte GodleySid Godley
Private Sidney Godley took over and covered the Fusilier retreat at the end of the battle but when it was his time to retreat he disabled the gun by throwing parts into the canal then surrendered.
Godley was 25 years old, and a private in the 4th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers, British Army, during the Battle of Mons in the First World War when he performed an act for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Field artillery

field piecefieldtowed artillery
Each division had twenty-four Vickers machine guns – two per battalion – and three field artillery brigades with fifty-four 18-pounder guns, one field howitzer brigade of eighteen 4.5-inch howitzers and a heavy artillery battery of four 60-pounder guns.