A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 247

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TWO GALLANT OFFICERS


to appeal for renewed cavalry support and the assistance of a small force of infantry and artillery still in reserve at divisional head- quarters. The2ndand3rdcavalrybrigadesweresentforward, and these reinforcements created a diversion which relieved the pressure on the 5th division. An action developed in an area between the Mons-Valenciennes road on the north and the f Elouges-Audregnies road on the south. At 12.30 p.m. the Germans opened their attack, and shortly after General de Lisle (2nd cavalry brigade) saw an opportunity for a cavalry charge ontheGermanflank. Thiswasmadewithgreatspirit,butwas unfortunately checked by artillery fire and barbed wire. The action shortly became exceedingly serious, with the threat of a German enveloping movement, but the smafll infantry force with its single battery succeeded in holding their positions for a few hours. When the order to retire came the rescue of the guns afforded an opportunity for deeds Oi heroism which earned two officers the V.C. One of these was Major E. W. Alexander, of the artillery, the other Captain Francis Grenfell, of the 9th Lancers, who galloped with a small party of his men to assist in the rescue in the face of intense fire. The retreat now began to continue from the eastward, the 3rd division falling back on Bavai, and the main body of the 5th division on a line Bavai-St. Vaast. The cavalry division also prepared to withdraw. Unfortunately, owing to the impossibility of g(*tting orders to retire to certain parts of the line, some units were delayed, and lost very heavily. Indeed, the British losses on the first day of the retreat were more severe than they had been the day before, when the army had stood at Mons against the German attacks. On the whole, however, the day's operations gave no cause for pessimism. The5thdivisionhaddefendedsixmilesoffront,and with the 19th infantry brigade and the cavalry had countered von Kliick's enveloping attack. The enemy had suffered severely, andtheBritishtroopswerestillfullofconfidence. Theywere, however, even at this stage suffering great hardship from laclc of sleep, for scarcely a pause could be given for any adequate rest. The necessity for incessant vigilance and constant movement told heavilyuponthem. Inthewordsofonebattalioncommander; We had marched 59 mfles in the last sixty-four hours, beginning the march in the middle of an entirely sleepless night, and get- tingonlyeighthoursaltogetherontheothertwonights. Many

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