As Europe slid into war in 1914 the UK Government mobilised the British Expeditionary Force and declared war just before midnight on 4 August. A well oiled deployment to northern France followed, where in accordance with Plan WF (With France), the BEF would fight on the left wing of General Lanrezac's Fifth French Army. Field Marshal Sir John French and his allied counterpart, however, got on badly from the start and when the British advance reached Mons and tangled with German patrols on 22 August around Mons, the BEF's intent was to continue the advance into Belgium alongside their ally but Lanrezac only informed the BEF of his withdrawal from Charleroi late in the day. As a result with little time to prepare their defences, the British were compelled into an unexpected encounter battle with von Kluck's First German Army outnumbering the BEF three to one. Fortunately he was also working in an information vacuum.
In the resulting battle on 23 August in the dreary industrial area around Mons, the professional soldiers of the BEF's 3rd Division with the salutary experience of the Boer War behind them, proved themselves to be more than the equal of the German Army, man to man they were seriously outnumbered. Training counted and in defending the canal line the days spent on the range practicing the 'Mad minute' of rifle fire counted and whilst the German army had closed up to and secured crossing points on the canal by nightfall, they were halted in their tracks.
On 24 August the German advance resumed but with the threat of the Germans enveloping them, the BEF was to withdraw. 5th Divisions' orders to move back, were however, delayed and consequently they fought a withdrawal in contact through the
mean industrial streets, railway lines and slag heaps of Wasmes and Hornu. Out on the left flank the British cavalry was in action against a dangerous enveloping move by the Germans.
The BHTV team take the viewers to the heart of the action to examine weapons, tactics and raw heroism as they tell the story. Illustrated with maps and location scenes, they make this most complicated of British battles easily understandable.
The Battle of Mons is an iconic engagement of the Great War when soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fired the opening shots in the west for the British Army. This 90 minute film follows the story of Mons from the mobilisation of the BEF in August 1914, to the first casualties, to the area where the fighting around Mons took place. Much of the filming is on-site in Belgium, seeing the famous locations from 1914 as they are today, interspersed with contemporary footage and interviews with experts....Some interviewees like Paul Oldfield, Mike Peters and Ed Church do bring some of the stories to life and talk in terms most people can understand, and do it well...it does a good job in telling the Mons story and the 90 minutes are entertaining and interesting, covering some lesser known stories as well as the famous onesww1centenary.net
Le Cateau (DVD)
Having temporarily checked the Germans at Mons the BEF had no alternative but to withdraw as they were outnumbered by the enemy and Lanrezac's Fifth French Army was falling back. The Germans, however, were soon in hot pursuit, sensing the BEF were at their mercy. In a series of rear guard actions the BEF managed to hold – just. Despite Field Marshal French's instructions General Smith-Dorrien knew that he had to turn and fight on the open chalk hills above the town of Le Cateau. Here II Corps stood as the German pressure mounted and a desperate battle resulted as more and more German troops…By Battlefield History TV
Click here to buy both titles for £25.98