A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 236

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MONS AND CHARLEROI


About 5 p.ni. General Hubert Hamilton reported a serious assaultonthe3rddivisionaroundMons. Therethechiefdanger lay. In every other sector, including the sector held by the ist corps, the British line* was holding well and repulsing, with con- siderable losses, all attempts to force the canal. Early in the afternoon both British flanks were threatened by greatly superior German forces. At 5 p.m. Sir J. French was informed by General Joffre that at least four German corps (160,000 men) were attack- ing him, and that the French 5th army was in retreat. French ordered an immediate retirement of the British to his second position, which had been prepared a little to the south. The British troops had punished the Germans badly, but by nightfall the Gennans had bridged the canal and were advancing in great strength. Sharpfightingwentonforhours,butitwasnotuntil dawn that the British were ordered to retreat. There was great excitement in Britain when it was known that the little British army was in actio#with its formidable foe. The first official statement was issued by the Press Bureau at 2.30 on theMondayafternoon. Itsfirstsentenceranthus The British forces were'engaged all day on Sunday and after dark with the enemy in the neighbourhood of Mons and held * their ground. The extent of the casualties was not reported at the time, but they were not heavy. Of the 16,000 killed, wounded or missing in the battle, the greater proportion were incurred in the retreat. At Frameries the British rearguard put up so good a defence that it compelled the Germans to carry out a formal attack in which at least nine battalions of the 6th German di\nsion were engaged and suffered heavy loss. The British 3rd division played thechiefpartinthisrearguardaction. Theextricationoftwo British corps from the enveloping attack of four German corps (with a fifth in reserve) was a remarkable feat—all the more remarkable as the Germans were amply supplied with motor transport w^hich, at this date, the British lacked, and aircraft. The main object of the retirement was achieved in so far that the army remained intact on either side of Bavai on the morning ofthe24th. Thesuccessofthemanoeuvrewasmateriallyassisted by the miscalculation of von Kluck, who had believed that Sir JohnFrenchwouldmakeastand. Helearntthetrueposition, after he had issued his orders, too late to carry out the envelop- ing movement which might have brought him decisive success.

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