A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 260

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THE BRITISH RETREAT


except for the cavalry the troops in general had a short breath- ingspacetorecoverfromfatigue. Butanyprolongedrestwas yetimpossible. Therewasagooddealofactivityonthe2nd corps front, and it became clear later in the day that the French 5th army had failed to stem tlic German advance. Orders were therefore given for further retreat to a line Soissons- Compi^igne. General Joffre was anxious that the British should join in a counter-stroke, but Sir John French was of the opinion that his army was not in a con- dition to take the oiiensive until the men had had time to re- cuperate and imits were in :i On August 30 the retreat continued with little interference from the enemy, but the troops were still so tired thatthefulldistancecouldnotbeattained. Meanwhile,Joffre had ordered a widespread retirement of the French forces. Much the same circumstances attended the retreat on the following day; little activity on the part of the Germans, but great hardships to the retiring army through heat, dust and thirst. Theywereagaintoofatiguedtoaccomplishthedistance designed. Theistcorpshaltedonthenorthernsideoftheforest of Villers Cotterets, the 2nd corps at Coyolles and Crepy en Valois. Buttherewastobenorestyet. Itbecameincreasingly clear that the German ist army was approaching in great force, and it was necessary for Sir John Fi'ench to avoid contact with it until General Joffre should be ready to counter-attack. Ord(n's for further retreat were therefore given. The retreat of September i was not so uneventful, beijig markedbymorethanonegallantlyfoughtrearguardaction. At Nery, where the ist cavalry brigade and a battery of the R.H.A. had billeted for the -night, a patrol of the Hussars encountered suddenly in the early morning mist a column of German cavalry. The encounter was followed by a rain of shells on the village. It would scarcely be true to say that the British rearguard were surprised, for they had expected to be* called on to resist the enemy—but there is little doubt that the suddenness of the con- tact was equally disturbing to the Germans. Still, they mustered

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