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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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anemone
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The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 4:03:25 AM
Following the Battle of Mons FM French ordered a full retreat of the BEF back to the Marne and on the evening of 25 August, British II Corps commander General Horace Smith-Dorien, ordered his corps to stand and fight to deliver a stopping blow to the Germans.

The Allies set up defensive positions near the town; as I Corps had not arrived, Smith-Dorrien's right flank was unprotected. On the morning of the 26 August, the Germans attacked with two infantry and three cavalry divisions against a British force comprising three infantry divisions, an infantry brigade and a cavalry division.

Of the 40,000 Entente troops fighting at Le Cateau, 5,212 men were killed or wounded and c. 2,600 troops were captured and thirty-eight British guns were lost.

There would be repercussions over Smith-Doreien's decision.Was he right or wrong?????

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 6:17:16 AM
Good morning Jim,

Did the British and/or Smith-Dorien make this decision unilaterally?

Was there consultation with the French as they retreated to the Marne?

I guess what I am asking is what was the purpose of the British stand? Did it have a strategic purpose?

Was it to give time to the French to consolidate or just British stubbornness?

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 6:47:25 AM

Quote:
Good morning Jim,

Did the British and/or Smith-Dorien make this decision unilaterally?

Was there consultation with the French as they retreated to the Marne?

I guess what I am asking is what was the purpose of the British stand? Did it have a strategic purpose?

Was it to give time to the French to consolidate or just British stubbornness?

Cheers,

George

--George


GM George
Although credited at the time by Field Marshal Sir John French for having saved the BEF, Smith-Dorrien was later criticized for his decision to stand at Le Cateau by Frenh.

Probably Smith-Dorien's decision was right at at the point of decision -he did battle off his own bat;; but in hindsight he was wrong IMO to risk losses at a time when he was in retreat-! Corps was off to the East of him and the French were retreating from Charleroi on the Eastern border of France from a different German Army
but I have given your queries my best shot.It is not an easy to comment on what happened over a century ago .

Regards

Jim





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George
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 9:44:35 AM
Thanks Jim.

I was wondering about the degree of co-operation and consultation between Britain and France at that stage of the war and how that impacted Smith-Dorion's decision making.

Cheers,

George


anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 10:15:28 AM
The French had informed FM French of their decision to pull back to the Marne in order to protect Paris and advised the FM to get his forces back from northern Belgium also back to the Marne.

This on the face of it would make Smith-Dorien's decision indefensible- IF he did have all the facts -Le Cateau was not a defence action; but an offensive one-- for which his Infantry suffered considerably.


Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 11:25:32 AM
Jim, did Smith-Dorrien ever write memoirs that would give us an inkling into his thought processes?

Did he ever defend himself to his critics?

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 11:47:48 AM
His finest hour came during the first few weeks of war when the British forces were retreating from Mons (25-26 August). Smith-Dorrien ignored Field Marshal French’s orders and made a stand at Le Cateau with the brief comment “Very, well, gentleman, we will fight”.

This rear-guard action checked the German advance and saved the British Army. After the second battle at Ypres he again clashed with French and retired.

[Read More]

PS I will search for something more personal

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 12:00:42 PM
Extracted from Smith-Dorien's Obituary


As it was, Smith-Dorrien was able to withdraw his troops in the middle of the summer afternoon, and so effective had been their resistance that it was not till 6 a.m. on the following day that Von Kluck issued his order, "The in-retreat-supposed-enemy to be attacked wherever found." Indeed, Von Kluck and his chief staff officer, Von Kuhl, were under the impression that at Le Cateau, they had fought the whole of the British Expeditionary Force, and when the later learned the truth, he wrote: - "One corps stands to fight, the other marches away. Where was G.H.Q. that day ?"

The fog of war was certainly very dense in those critical days of August, 1914, but the summary of what was done at Le Cateau given in the Official History will surely be the final judgment of history:

Regards

Jim --
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George
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 12:04:13 PM
Hero of the Boer War, wasn't he?

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 12:04:27 PM
Le Cateau remains a very controversial battle.

The commander of the BEF, John French, and his subordinate corps commander, Smith Dorrien, could not stand each other.

The decision of Smith Dorrien to stand and fight at Le Cateau on 26 August 1914 is as hotly debated as the move of Dan Sickles on 2 July 1863 at Gettysburg.

The British at Le Cateau deployed on ground that gave the advantage to German artillery, and suffered accordingly.

The idea was supposedly to deliver a “ stopping blow “ to the Germans.

The British officers exhorted their men to fight to the death ; it was emphasised that no one must surrender while he had a breath of life in him.

When such orders are delivered, it’s a sure sign that morale is shaky, and that a lot of men have already surrendered.

This accounts for the disproportionately high number of British casualties attributed to the battle of 26 August : that figure of 7,812 - cited by the official history - surely includes large numbers of men who were captured, or surrendered, in the days before and after the battle. British soldiers were exhausted and demoralised by desperate retreating ; many were unfit reservists who willingly surrendered rather than face the ordeal of further retirement. I believe that many such were ascribed as casualties of Le Cateau by default, because thousands of men who fell into enemy hands were lumped together as Le Cateau casualties, in the absence of certain details as to their fate.

I state this with some confidence, because CWGC actually reveals that only about 800 British soldiers were killed at Le Cateau....allowing for a couple of thousand wounded and the twenty six hundred POWs claimed by the Germans, it appears that the figure of nearly eight thousand casualties is largely inflated. I’m convinced that some three thousand of those - more or less - were stragglers or men who were gathered up by the Germans, not in the actual battle, but shortly before or after it.

It might well be that Smith Dorrien felt he had to stand and fight because he knew his force was just melting away; he saw the risk of combat destruction as preferable to the inevitable attrition of retreating further.

The Germans themselves - on the strength of their regimental histories - admit to losing some three thousand killed and wounded at Le Cateau, which, by my reckoning , suggests that the two sides inflicted roughly equal amounts of bloodshed on each other.

By the way, Jim, I’ve attempted to reply to your PM, but it appears that my message was blocked.

Regards, Phil



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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 12:15:09 PM
Cracking post Phil--I knew you would give this one some wrllie

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 1:04:46 PM

Quote:
Thanks Jim.

I was wondering about the degree of co-operation and consultation between Britain and France at that stage of the war and how that impacted Smith-Dorion's decision making.

Cheers,

George


--George



George,

Smith Dorrien actually defied orders and by making his stand was exhibiting disobedience.

He and the army commander, John French , hated each other....so much so, that one has to wonder why Kitchener decided to appoint SD to corps command.

The French made a valuable contribution to the battlefield Le Cateau by virtue of a cavalry contingent under the command of Sordet

There was a very fragile degree of liaison between the Anglo French high commands. The French commander Fifth Army, Lanrezac, hardly encouraged harmony by withdrawing as he did, leaving the British exposed and alone at Mons.

I am sure that the French had good reason to complain about some aspects of British conduct.

These problems notwithstanding , the outcome reflected credit on the fighting prowess of the Entente armies, from top to bottom.

Regards, Phil

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George
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 2:21:50 PM
Thanks for that Phil. Good insight.

You know his name lives on here in Canada, in Alberta, in the beautiful Kananaskis country.

There is a Mount Smith-Dorrien and a Smith-Dorrien Trail or highway.

[Read More]


Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/4/2018 6:33:57 PM
Smith Dorrien enjoyed the fabulous luck of being one of the only - perhaps THE ONLY - British officers to escape with his life at Isandlwana .

Some might contend that he was equally lucky to escape annihilation at Le Cateau thirty six years later. German ineptitude with their cavalry prevented them from exploiting their advantage ; along with some adroit manoeuvre by those French cavalry under Sordet. It should also be emphasised that British troops in desperate straits gave an excellent account of themselves, despite my insistence that thousands surrendered. The gunners of the Royal Artillery sacrificed themselves in deploying their pieces in the open ; and the infantry used musketry to great effect.

Le Cateau makes a great story : the fact that it was fought in 26 August - the anniversary of Crecy - has not gone unnoticed in British folklore !

Regards, Phil
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2018 4:25:17 AM


A word abour Mins At Mons the Prussian Guard, the elite of the German army were searching for the machine gun emplacements, when there weren’t any.

It was at the Mons, where the first two Victoria Crosses were awarded. Both were Machine gunners, and kept firing at their positions under exceptional circumstances. Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley.

Dease fired his weapon when the rest of the machine gun crew had been killed or injured, and although hit four times, he held off the German attack at the Nimy bridge.

Godley stayed behind, covering the retreat of his fellow-men of the fusiliers, and fired his gun until it had run out of ammo, eventually surrendering to the Germans, after he had destroyed his gun. .

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2018 5:29:59 AM
British 1st and 2nd Corps were sent to the south-west to gain the left flank of the Allied line. The X Reserve Corps encountered "especially obstinate" resistance at Marbaix and Le Grand-Fayt.

On the morning of 26 August 1914, the 2nd Connaught Rangers under Lieutenant-Colonel A.W. Abercrombie were covering the retreat of the British 5th Infantry Brigade from Petit Landrecies.

Unknown to Abercrombie, by late morning the retreat had already taken place but the orders had not received by the Connaught Rangers and they were overwhelmed.

---he 2nd Munsfer Battalion served in France and Flanders for the duration of that dreadful war and its battle honours – from its last stand in the orchard of Oisy in 1914 when it was cut off and lost 120 men – to its part in the victory in b]Mormal Forest in 1918 are a testimony to the courage of its Irish officers and men.

The Munsters served around Ypres, at Festubert, on the Somme, and at Passchendaele, and the accounts in this book are drawn from the eyewitness testimony of survivors, with additional material from Brigade and Battalion War Diaries.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/5/2018 10:23:25 AM
The total British casualties amounted to just over 1,600 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing, during the Battle of Mons.

Practically half of these were from just two battalions (400 of the 4th Middlesex and 300 of the 2nd Royal Irish, both of the 8th Brigade in the canal salient).

German losses are said by official British sources to have been in excess of 5,000 but this figure is disputed.

Fegards

Jim
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RiaindeVoy
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 3:14:06 AM
I read that Le Cateau wouldn't have occurred if the BEF had retained its originally planned structure where the divisions reported directly to the BEF GHQ.

Corps were introduced to conform with French practice only upon mobilisation in 1914, but only 1 Corps HQ existed so two were improvised.
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 3:56:17 AM
"I read that Le Cateau wouldn't have occurred if the BEF had retained its originally planned structure where the divisions reported directly to the BEF GHQ"Reaindevoy

I certainly was not aware of this order but as the war opened with two Army Corps in the field -the order you mention was surely redundant??It would then be incumbent for Corps to report to GHQ ??? However I do not when or if Smith-Dorien reported his intention to stand and fight at Le Caeau.


Regards

Jim
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RiaindeVoy
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 4:25:05 AM

Quote:
"I read that Le Cateau wouldn't have occurred if the BEF had retained its originally planned structure where the divisions reported directly to the BEF GHQ"Reaindevoy

I certainly was not aware of this order but as the war opened with two Army Corps in the field -the order you mention was surely redundant??It would then be incumbent for Corps to report to GHQ ??? However I do not when or if Smith-Dorien reported his intention to stand and fight at Le Caeau.


Regards

Jim
--anemone


The Haldane reforms of 1907, which created in peacetime the 6 infantry and 1 (4 brigade) cavalry divisions that were to deploy to France and commence battle immediately, did not create any Corps or Corps HQs. All 7 of these divisions were to be commanded by (and thus report to) GHQ of the BEF according to the plans in place from 1907 to August 1914.

So there were no Corps HQs established, no exercises undertaken, troops allocated or any of that. I also suspect the lack of a Corps level command is why the original 6 BEF infantry divisions each had a 4-gun battery of 60pdr guns, in other Armies such guns would have been allocated to the Corps commander.

Upon mobilisation in August 1914 it was decided to put the 4 infantry divisions into 2 Corps, one reason at least being to conform to French practice, but the British Army didn't have 2 Corps HQ available so had to improvise them from scratch. This happened mere weeks before Mons and Le Cateau, which as you can imagine isn't the best preparation for Corps level battles.

I assume that if the BEF didn't form Corps and the divisions of II Corps were under the direct command of GHQ that Sir John French wouldn't have ordered these divisions to stand and fight .
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 4:49:15 AM
"I assume that if the BEF didn't form Corps and the divisions of II Corps were under the direct command of GHQ that Sir John French wouldn't have ordered these divisions to stand and fight" Riaindevoy


Riain-Given that your assumption is in fact correct in all respects-Sir John French was unlikely to have agreed to halt the retreat and do battle with the pursuing Germans .

I have to say however that a GOC Division would go against his Corps Commander.Who made the decision to fight at Mons and thereafter made the decision to pull back -was this action par and parcel of the General Retreat Order-somehow I do not think so but it would have been a close. A temporary pull back just before the French Army;s decision yo retreat to the Marne-

Quote Wikipedia
"At 3:00 p.m., the British 3rd Division was ordered to retire from the salient, to positions a short distance to the south of Mons and a similar retreat towards evening by the 5th Division to conform. By nightfall II Corps had established a new defensive line running through the villages of Montrœul, Boussu, Wasmes, Paturages and Frameries".



Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 11:45:54 AM
In a meeting with Lanrezac, commander of the French 5th Army, Sir John French agreed to hold the line of the Mons Condé canal for twenty four hours on 23 August to cover the French withdrawal. Strung out along a twenty mile length of canal, the BEF was very exposed and faced the main German onslaught through Belgium.

The main German assaults began at 9am and were mainly against the ll Corps. After some desperate fighting, by the afternoon ll Corps began to fall back from the canal line and at 1am on 24 August Sir John French gave the order for a general retreat. B

ritish losses were 1,600, almost all from II Corps, while German losses are not certain, but were probably between 6000 and 10,000.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 1:55:51 PM
The six to ten thousand German casualties of the Battle of Mons are a function of wishful thinking by British historians and commentators. David Ascoli made such claims.

The most meticulous investigation carried out by Terence Zuber indicates about two thousand.

The sixteen hundred British casualties contained many unwounded prisoners , whereas the German casualties were virtually all killed or wounded.

In terms of bloodshed, the British probably inflicted twice the damage they suffered, due to accurate rifle fire and the initial bloody repulse of the German attacks.

It makes a good David versus Goliath story in British folklore when we read about six or ten thousand German casualties ; it’s not true....sorry to rain on the parade.

Regards, Phil

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RiaindeVoy
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 2:11:54 PM
The BEF gained in strength during the Great Retreat; the 4th Division went to France on 22 August and components fought at Le Cateau, III Corps was formed on 31 August, while to the north the Royal Marine Brigade occupied Ostend 27-30 August.

During the Battle of the Marne/advance to the Aisne the British formed the 2nd Cavalry division (named Gough's Command at first) on 6th September, 6th Division arrived in France from 9th of September to join III Corps and 1st-4th Siege batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery arrived in France on 17th of September.
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 2:24:35 PM
So the stories of the kindermoed at Mons are fairy tales-each 0.303 bullet finding a least two billets-as to "raining on my parade"-well you know me -I rely on you to point out where stats are completely wrong.As I pick up stats from various sources and not know the dependability o same--I should desist.???

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 3:28:36 PM
Don’t desist, Jim.

Those stats that we were all weaned on....I believed them, too.

It takes the braver researchers to investigate and disillusion us.

Apparently, as the German troops advanced at Mons, they naturally dropped down to seek cover as the British fusillade was unleashed.

A couple of hundred men “ hit the dirt”, and it seems as if they’re all being struck down.

In reality, only a small number are really hit.

To be fair, if the British shot down a couple of thousand Germans at Mons, they weren’t doing so badly.

Bearing in mind that the British losses consisted so largely of prisoners, the actual bloodshed - i.e. the killed and wounded - fell more heavily on the Germans.

The German tactics were not so unsubtle as we’ve been lead to believe.

They quickly brought their artillery to bear, used their MGs skillfully, and learnt where the weak spots in the British line were.

To depict them as blundering forward blindly into British musketry, and to keep on doing so until thousands and thousands of them had been cut down , is to imply that they were inept soldiers.

This was far from the case ; had the Germans been as daft as these stories infer, then the achievement of the BEF would have been diminished.

Regards, Phil
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"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Riaindevoy
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/6/2018 7:01:34 PM
I thought it was to dehumanise the Germans as unthinking automatons driven forward by harsh Prussian discipline. It ties in with a rapine monster myth as well.
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 3:44:17 AM
Quote Riaindevoy
"It ties in with a rapine monster myth as well"..W

hat makes you say that Riai ????n

From the next day, civilians were executed en masse, as the invasion force advanced on its first obstacle, the ring of forts around Liège. To retaliate for the shelling from these forts, the German troops rounded up inhabitants of surrounding villages.

Victims were selected and shot, those still alive being killed off with bayonets. By 8 August, nearly 850 civilians were dead. By then, several of the dynamics of this particular type of violence had fully emerged. First, the massacres occurred where the invading army suffered setbacks; the German military did not consider Belgium’s military defence to be legitimate.

Second, the victims were accused, incorrectly, of being franc-tireurs (civilian snipers). Most of the German rank and file genuinely believed that the locals were attacking them; this sniper delusion was sometimes countered by the commanding officers, sometimes not.

Third, there were women, children and old men among the victims but the vast majority were men of military age. These were more likely to be suspected of sniping; moreover, the invading troops resented them for still enjoying the civilian life that they themselves had so recently been torn from.

Fourth, and last, the massacres went together with rituals designed to show civilians how helpless they were. People were made to cheer the troops; local dignitaries (mayors, priests) were publicly mistreated, in some cases killed.

Regards

Jim

P
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 4:48:57 AM
The Retreat from Le Cateau

General Smith-Dorrien's decision to stand did, however, have a negative side as it caused a rift between General French and General Smith-Dorrien.

Over the course of the few next weeks the BEF continued its long and weary trudge southwards, often fighting sharp rearguard actions along the way. These 'Affairs' as they are often called included the actions at Le Grand Fayt on 26th August, the Affair of Etreux the following day, the Affair of Cerizy on 28th and the Affair of Nery, rearguard action at Crepy en Valois and the rearguard actions at Villers-Cotterets on 1st September 1914.

By the beginning of September 1914 the German Imperial Army was approaching the River Marne and events were shaping up for a decisive battle.

Regards

Jim
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Lightning
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 9:04:08 AM
I don't see that Smith Dorrien had much of a choice other than to stand and fight. His force was crumbling away from losses from constant rearguard actions, surrenders and desertions. He was aware his flanks were in danger of being fully exposed. The fight at Le Cateau was costly, but essentially bought a bit of time to get away from the constant rearguard attrition that was wearing down his Corps.

Had the BEF moved as a single mass it would have faced the same problem anyway - the Germans were on the move in a rapid dash for victory.

Regards,

Colin
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anemone
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 10:01:34 AM
A temporary pull back just before the French Army;s decision yo General Retreat to the Marne. At1.00 p.m., the British 3rd Division was ordered to retire from the Mond salient, to positions a short distance to the south of Mons and a similar retreat towards evening by the 5th Division to conform. By nightfall II Corps had established a new defensive line running through the villages of Montrœul, Boussu, Wasmes, Paturages and Framerie..

Colin where did the rearguard actions fought between Mons and Lr Cateau please.??I Must confess that desertions did surprise me somewhat-POWs sure but desertions by regular soldiers!!?I would be most grateful if you can elaborate on this issue please ??

Regards

Jim
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Lightning
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Posts: 515

Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 11:41:16 AM
Jim,

They were fought almost daily from Mons to the Marne, sometimes in pockets of platoons holding off companies, companies holding off battalions. So many that they're probably mostly undocumented, but the testimonies of the officers show that there were daily struggles to keep the BEF a coherent force.

Desertions is probably a stronger word than I intended - a lot of the 'regulars' were in fact reservists who simply weren't up to it and surrendered when they got the chance.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6851
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 12:37:57 PM
Very good Colin-- I am fine with your deliberations-I take you are referring to BOTH Corps and the Reserve.


Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

RiaindeVoy
Geelong, Australia
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E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1392

Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 1:32:44 PM
Jim, German atrocities in Belgium are well documented, well enough to know that the stories that circulated in 1914 were inflated much like the stories about the unthinking Hun marching into BEF bullets.
---------------
Fact: The phrase "she'll be right mate" increases an Australian's healing process by 40%.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 7825

Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 3:30:00 PM
Riain, I do not know how much the stories were inflated but does it not seem clear that the Germans took reprisals against the Belgians?

For whatever reasons, they destroyed hundreds of buildings.

Louvain was razed and many citizens shot in a mass execution on Aug. 25, 1914.

Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages or Bryce Report came out in 1915 in the UK. It was used of course as propaganda to motivate the British and Commonwealth troops.

But examination many years later seems to corroborate the essentials of the report.

But we should ask whether the Bryce Report was accurate or inaccurate. Please weigh in if you have information that is different from mine.

Is the characterization of the attack as , "The Rape of Belgium", apt?

The craziest stuff may be dismissed but the Belgians, perhaps for having the temerity to defend themselves did suffer greatly.

[Read More]


This is the letter or flyer that the Belgians received as Germany entered.

If you don't read French, it is a cautionary note, warning them not to resist.

It says that the only reason that the Germans are there is because French officers crossed through Belgium to get to Germany.

The Germans hope that there will not be any war between them but warn them that the destruction of roads and bridges will be considered and act of war.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 3191

Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/7/2018 3:53:01 PM
There was lurid exaggeration of German atrocities in Belgium and NE France in 1914 ; but, make no mistake , the truth was bad enough.

Several thousand civilians were killed, many of them in systematic massacre.

The Germans behaved atrociously .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2018 7:23:14 AM
Germany invaded neutral Belgium on 4 August 1914. From the next day, civilians were executed en masse, as the invasion force advanced on its first obstacle, the ring of forts around Liège. To retaliate for the shelling from these forts, the German troops rounded up inhabitants of surrounding villages.

`Victims were selected and shot, those still alive being killed off with bayonets. By 8 August, nearly 850 civilians were dead. By then, several of the dynamics of this particular type of violence had fully emerged.

First, the massacres occurred where the invading army suffered setbacks; the German military did not consider Belgium’s military defence to be legitimate.

Second, the victims were accused, incorrectly, of being franc-tireurs (civilian snipers). Most of the German rank and file genuinely believed that the locals were attacking them; this sniper delusion was sometimes countered by the commanding officers, sometimes not.

Third, there were women, children and old men among the victims but the vast majority were men of military age. These were more likely to be suspected of sniping; moreover, the invading troops resented them for still enjoying the civilian life that they themselves had so recently been torn from.

Fourth, and last, the massacres,--Referenres Searcrhes went together with rituals designed to show civilians how helpless they were. People were made to cheer the troops; local dignitaries (mayors, priests) were publicly mistreated, in some cases killed.
Source--The British Library

Regards

JIM
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

RiaindeVoy
Geelong, Australia
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E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1392

Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/8/2018 2:47:04 PM
Jim, yes I'm not denying the atrocities that did occur, but at the time they were inflated to whip up sentiment for propaganda.

I recently read 'Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I' which goes into detail about the German atrocities in Belgium and noted that while excessive they ended quickly once the front had moved on and things settled. It also details what the French and Russians did during their invasions of Germany and compares these to the German atrocities; its amazing how many Germans the French deported given their small and short lived invasion of Alsace-Lorraine. It makes interesting reading, I hadn't given much thought but the Russians held 1/3 of East Prussia for many months in 1914-15.
---------------
Fact: The phrase "she'll be right mate" increases an Australian's healing process by 40%.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6851
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Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/9/2018 5:31:34 AM
n the Brit/Belgian literature of the period there are numbers of arguments that it is lawful for civilians or soldiers in civilian clothes to open fire on uniformed troops of another state, and they cannot be held responsible legally.

I have not worked thru the tortured arguements, nor compared the alleged international law statutes with clearly correct copies of these texts, but in practice I have never seen a country, to this very day, tolerate such behavior.

(I might briefly mention that there are three US and UK studies that about 3/4 of a million civilians have been killed in Iraq, besides combatants; I think that these are too high, but it seems that about 200,000 civilians have been killed there, about half by "the Coalition of the Willing" (mostly US and UK, mostly in the ea rly years), plus many tens of thousands of Iraqi "insurgents";

I have not heard many shrieks of outrage over these recent acts.)

Extracted from a Belgian Historical document

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3895

Re: The Great Retreat in 1914
Posted on: 3/9/2018 8:55:32 AM

Quote:
Germany invaded neutral Belgium on 4 August 1914. From the next day, civilians were executed en masse, as the invasion force advanced on its first obstacle, the ring of forts around Liège. To retaliate for the shelling from these forts, the German troops rounded up inhabitants of surrounding villages.

`Victims were selected and shot, those still alive being killed off with bayonets. By 8 August, nearly 850 civilians were dead. By then, several of the dynamics of this particular type of violence had fully emerged.

First, the massacres occurred where the invading army suffered setbacks; the German military did not consider Belgium’s military defence to be legitimate.

Second, the victims were accused, incorrectly, of being franc-tireurs (civilian snipers). Most of the German rank and file genuinely believed that the locals were attacking them; this sniper delusion was sometimes countered by the commanding officers, sometimes not.

Third, there were women, children and old men among the victims but the vast majority were men of military age. These were more likely to be suspected of sniping; moreover, the invading troops resented them for still enjoying the civilian life that they themselves had so recently been torn from.

Fourth, and last, the massacres,--Referenres Searcrhes went together with rituals designed to show civilians how helpless they were. People were made to cheer the troops; local dignitaries (mayors, priests) were publicly mistreated, in some cases killed.
Source--The British Library

Regards

JIM
--anemone




Jim,

This has to be one of the sickest episodes of WWI!

I hope that those responsible were later punished??

outrageous!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

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