A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 233
orders for a general advance, and these were passed on by British general headquarters to include a movement northward during thenextfewdays. Thefirstcontactwiththeenemy,however, was not made until dawn of August 22, when two officer's patrols of C Squadron of the 4th Dragoon Guards pushed out from ObourgonthecanalnorthtowardsSoignies. Oneofthesefound a German piquet on the road, and fired on it. These shots are generally believed to have been the first fired by British troops in the war. British cavalry covering the advance reached Soignies (ten miles north-east of Mons), and at Villers-St.-Ghislain inflicted heavy loss on a small German cavalry detachment.
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As Sir John French motored to Lanrezac's headquarters early on the 22nd he says that he saw large numbers of French troops moving in retreat in a southerly direction. His intelligence department that evening estimated that at least three German corps were marching against the British, carry- ingoutawideturningmovement. Hetookupapositionalong the canal from Conde fo Mons, and thence, after following a dangerously exposed loop in the canal, turned south to Harmig- nies, so that his right flank was posted at right angles to the rest of his front. The 5th cavalry brigade guarded Binche, while the cavalry divisiofi, under General Allenby, was kept as a reserve, ready to move to any part of the line that was