A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 254

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THE BRITISH RETREAT


uithout undue losses. The Germans appeared to have neglected the opportunity of harassing the retiring troops with cavalr}^, and contented themselves with shelling and bringing their machine guns to bear on them. Jn the right centre of the battlefield events moved more slowly, and beyond occasional opportunities for firing at long range at bodies of German troops, the British' forces were not seriously engaged until the order to retire was received. The movement was carried out in perfect order, despite heavy shelling which had been called down by German aerial reconnaissance. But when the units of the 5th division concentrated on a single road from a scattered j^ont there was naturally some confusion. It may help the reader to visualise the nature of such a retire- ment if we give details of the space occupied by columns of troops onthemarch. Aninfantrybrigadetookuptwoandaquarter miles of road, so that a division may be said to have occupied nearlysevenmiles. Thedivisionalartillerywerespreadoutfor five miles, and the divisional ammunition column required anotheroneandahalfmiles. Ambulancesanddivisionaltrains occupied one and three-quarter miles. These figures, which are the official estimate in military text books, may be presumed to* refertounitsatfullstrengthmarchinginpeacetimeorder. But in the circumstances of a retirement in which orders have mis- carried and troops are only able to assemble according to the exigencies of the battlefield, the congestion must naturally be far greater. On the left of the 15th infantry brigade the 9th had also encountered little opposition and was able to withdraw with- out serious loss, except to the artillery, who were obliged to abandon four of their guns. Fighting was a good deal warmer in the neighbourhood of Caudry, which w^as captured by the Germans from the troops of the 7th infantry brigade at about 2 p.m. At the same time a flanking attack developed against the left wdng at Esnes, which was checked. A counter-attack on Caudry (by the 3rd Worcesters) succeeded in recapturing the southern part of the village. Laterintheafternoontroopsfromthisareawerewith- drawn towards Ligny, and met with considerable opposition, but on the whole the retirements of the 7th and 8th infantry brigades were effected in a satisfactory manner. ‘ By 8 oVlock the 2nd corps had everywhere started its retire- ment, and in general may be said to have extricated itself with-^

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