Retreat & Rearguard
The BEF's Actions From Mons to the Marne
Date of publication: November 2011
Publisher: Pen and Sword
The British action at Mons on 23 August 1914 was the catalyst for what became a full blown retreat over 200 blood drenched miles. In this fascinating book the Author examines eighteen of the ensuing desperate rearguard actions that occurred over the twelve days of this near rout. While those at Le Cateau and Nery are well chronicled, others such as cavalry engagements at Morsain and Taillefontaine, the Connaught Rangers’ action at Le Grand Fayt and 13 Brigade’s fight at Crepy-en-Valois are virtually unknown. We learn how, in the chaos and confusion that reigned, units of Gunners and other supporting arms found themselves in the front line.
The work of the Royal Engineers responsible for blowing bridges over rivers and canals behind the retreating troops comes in for particular attention and praise: likewise the sterling efforts of the RAMC. The fact that no less than 16 VCs were won during this historic Retreat shows that, even in these darkest hours, individuals and units performed with gallantry, resourcefulness and great forbearance. Extensive use of primary source material, including first-hand accounts, letters, diaries and official unit records, brings alive this delightful and informative account of an historic, if not victorious, chapter in our Nation’s military history. It would make an excellent companion on a battlefield visit.