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The Retreat from Mons 1914: North (Paperback)

Casteau to Le Cateau The Western Front by Car, by Bike and on Foot

Military WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Mons WWI > By Year > 1914

By Jon Cooksey, Jerry Murland
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Battle Lines
Pages: 157
ISBN: 9781783030385
Published: 30th April 2014
Last Released: 7th May 2014



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Mons to the Marne, the latest volume in Pen & Sword's Battle Lines series of walking, cycling and driving guides to the Western Front, is the essential companion for every visitor who is keen to retrace the path taken by the British Expeditionary Force immediately after the outbreak of the First World War. All the most famous battle sites of the Great Retreat are featured here.

Expert guides Jon Cooksey and Jerry Murland take visitors over a series of routes that can be walked or biked or driven, explaining the fighting that occurred in each place in vivid detail. They describe what happened, where it happened, and why, and who was involved, and point out the sights that remain there for the visitor to see.

Their highly illustrated guidebook is essential reading for visitors who wish enhance their understanding of the fast-moving campaign that preceded the war in the trenches. It gives a fascinating insight into the experience of the troops, the terrain over which they fought and the character of fighting itself.

As featured in the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald.

This excellent pocket-sized publication is an ideal companion if you are thinking of going to France to do some battlefield exploring. This is the first of two volumes dealing with the opening campaign of WWI in 1914 and it lists places to visit and sights to see.

The Armourer

The book is full of route maps to follow, maps, illustrations and pointers as to what happened along the way. It is very easy to use, and is suited to the driver or the cyclist/walker. It is full of lively photographs and the iconic spots are easily recognizable.

Highly recommended.

Barton-on-Humber at War

This book is the first of two books in the Battle Lines series, describing itself as “the Western Front by Car, by Bike, and on Foot”. It is a very practical guide that opens the battle lines to visitors of all ages and wealth. It is a highly illustrated guide, with crisp text, covering the fast moving campaign at the opening of hostilities.

The book provides an excellent guide and introduction. Highly commended.


The guide slips seamlessly from practical advice around accommodation and eateries to directing the reader to relevant sites of interest. The routes start with basic information about distance, co-ordinates, and relevant supplementary maps, before setting out the events and significance of the locations on the route. Personal accounts and war diary extracts are used to great effect to illustrate the experience of the soldiers involved.

WWI Geek

Jon Cooksey is the editor of Stand To! and Jerry Murland has written several books about the British Army in 1914 and this volume is part of a series the author's have been working on covering largely lesser known battlefields of the Great War. Starting with a brief background to the British Army in 1914, some historical context and visitors information, the bulk of the book covers four main tours looking at different aspects of the Mons battlefields. This takes in the Mons area itself but also the early stage of the retreat from Mons down to the battlefield at Le Cateau.

The text is clear and the book goes into some detail with lots of human interest stories. There are good, clear maps and is well supported by contemporary images as well as colour modern ones. Mons has lacked a good battlefield guide for some time and this certainly fills the gap taking the visitor to some well known sites and also some lesser known ones. A fantastic Mons battlefield guide and essential reading for anyone going to Mons for the centenary this August.

Paul Reed

About Jon Cooksey

The late Jon Cooksey was a leading military historian who took a special interest in the history of the world wars. He was the editor of Stand To!, the journal of the Western Front Association, and an experienced battlefield guide. His many books included The Barnsley Pals, Calais, Harry’s War and, as editor, Blood and Iron. 

About Jerry Murland

Jerry Murland is a retired headteacher who has written over twenty books and guidebooks coverering the events of the First and Second World Wars. His first book, Aristocrats Go To War, was published by Pen and Sword in 2010 and since then he has gone on the write a number of others, including the Battlelines Guidebooks to the Western Front, co-written with Jon Cooksey. He is currently writing an account of the Battle of the Ypres-Comines Canal 1940, part of eight Battleground Europe books which cover the France and Flanders campaign of 1940.

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