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Osprey Campaign 49 : Mons 1914 : The BEF's Tactical Triumph

The first major clash of the Great War, Mons came as a nasty shock to the Imperial German Army. Assured by their commanders that they would sweep the French and their British allies in the BEF - 'that contemptible little army' - into the sea in a matter of weeks; they were stopped in their tracks at Mons by a numerically inferior British force. Eventually forced to fall back by overwhelming German numbers, the British carried out a masterful fighting retreat across Belgium and northern France. David Lomas examines not just the battle of Mons itself but also the ensuing British retreat, the battle of Le Cateau and several smaller engagements. The British Expeditionary Force of 1914 was one of the most highly trained armies ever fielded by the United Kingdom: having been denied the requested number of machine-guns due to financial considerations its soldiers had been taught to fire 15 aimed shots per minute, in some cases more, from their excellent Lee Enfield rifles. It was this high degree of proficiency that was to serve them well when attacked by closely packed bodies of German infantry at Mons. Although some commentators have argued that the battle was insignificant in the effect it had on the German advance, nevertheless it has gone down in British military history as a name comparable with Waterloo or Dunkirk. In desperate times this was where the British Army proved itself against the might of a much larger force. Illustrations by Ed Dovey.

    Contents
  • Origins of the Campaign
  • Opposing Commanders
  • Opposing Armies
  • The Opposing Plans
  • The Campaign
  • The Battle of Mons
  • The Retreat Begins
  • Le Cateau
  • Aftermath
  • Wargaming Mons
  • The Battlefield Today
  • Further Reading

 

Osprey Campaign


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