A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 241

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THE FRENCH ARMIES


Anglais i’' We heard them answer him, and it was evident that he was trying to make them understand, still thinking they were French. While we were waiting behind the fence the Germans were getting round us. on the far side. The colonel then came back across the road and into our held and stood in front of us. We were quite helpless. We stood there surrounded. Forafewminutesweweretalkingquietlyinthe dark asliing each other what was going to happen. I heard one word—“Highlanders!”—and then they began to shoot. I dropped at once for shelter. “ Darky ” Wilson, who had been with me all through in the trenches, said “ Now we’re inforit ”andfellontopofmeshotdead. Sometriedtomove offtotheleft,buttherewasnowayofescape. TheGemians were within three yards of us, and shot gtraight at every man who w^as standing. In conclusion, he tells how they were too frightened to move, and stayed there till light came, an<J then crawled out. T could see the colonel lying apart from the other men. A number of other Highlanders were making off in the distance. I ran after them, and fell in with two others, and together we came through to Boulogne, walking the whole way. While Ihe little British army was thus stemming to some extent the tide of the German advance, the French forces on its rightwerealsofeelingtheweightoftheGermanonset. Some22 miles to the east of Mons stands the towm of Charleroi and, being in the centre of the French position, this place has given its name to the battle which was the most important of the war up to the first battle of the Marne, one that was remarkable for the escape of a French army from an envelopment such as the Germans carried out in 1870 at Sedan. The German staff expected to reap the fruit of the advance through Belgium at this point, but its plans were thwarted by the quick manoeuvring of the two generals concerned—Lanrezac on the French side and Sir J. Freuch on the British. Owing to changes in its organization made by Joffre at the last minute, the 5tli French army commanded by Lanrezac had not completed its concentration before it was attacked. It was composed of the ist, loth, 3rd and i8th corps, in order from right to left, though the last was not ordered from Alsace before August 16, and did not arrive till August 21. It was stationed on the eve of the battle from Givet on the Meuse to the line of the Sambre near Namur—which fortress was to protect its centre—and Charleroi, with its extreme left north of the Sambre

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