A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 237

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STORIES OF THE FIGHT


The Official History of the War (Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1914) sums up the situation at this stage in the following manner Altogether the British commanders were not ill satisfied ^dth theday'swork. Theunsatisfactorypositiononthecanalhad been imposed upon them fortuitously ; but it had been held for a sufficient time, and had been evacuated without great difficulty or disaster, in favour of a second position oiily a mile or two in rear. The men, too, were in high spirits, for they had met superior numbers of the most highly renowned army in the world and had given a good account of themselves. The ground fought over had in many parts been extremely difficult. The battlefield stretched for 20 miles or so through a belt of coalfields. Scattered over this distric? are the drab features associated with a mining district—small Settlements of cottages, with environs of allotment gardens enclosed with wire fences. Thegroundwasbrokenwithpitht^adsandslagheaps. Ithas been described as "'a close, blind country, such as no army had yet been called upon to fight in against a civilised enemy in a greatcampaign." Thesameauthoritydescribesthatsection'bf the front ^eld by the 5th division as: A wilderness of deep ditches, straggling buildings. Casual roadsandtracks,andhighslagheaps. TheselastSeemedto offer points of vantage, w^hich were generally foimd to be non- existent when their summits had been explored, as they were commanded by some other slag heap ; virhile certain of them, wliich seemed to promise all that could be desired, were foiuid tobesohotthatmencouldnotstandonthem. Theartillery was more embarrassed even than the infantry ; the officers had great difficulty in finding suitable positions for batteries, or even for single guns, and were equally at a loss to discover good observation posts. From the German point of view, though the battle of Mons was claimed as a victory, it was very far from being an iih- qualified success. Their advance was delayed for a whole day andtheir?losseswereveryheavy. Theyweregladenoughof the respite of a night, under the misapprehension that the British force would stand to receive their further attacks in the morning. During that night British soldiers made their first acquaintance with Verey lights which, on the German side, were to play such an incessant part in night warfare. Many thrilling stories*of the battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat are contained in letters written home, by soldiers who participatedintheseevents. Aselectionofthesemoving,human

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