Forum Eerste Wereldoorlog Forum Index Forum Eerste Wereldoorlog
Hét WO1-forum voor Nederland en Vlaanderen
 
 FAQFAQ   ZoekenZoeken   GebruikerslijstGebruikerslijst   WikiWiki   RegistreerRegistreer 
 ProfielProfiel   Log in om je privé berichten te bekijkenLog in om je privé berichten te bekijken   InloggenInloggen   Actieve TopicsActieve Topics 

The First Shot: 22 August 1914

 
Plaats nieuw bericht   Plaats Reactie    Forum Eerste Wereldoorlog Forum Index -> Overige oorlogstonelen in België Actieve Topics
Vorige onderwerp :: Volgende onderwerp  
Auteur Bericht
Yvonne
Admin


Geregistreerd op: 2-2-2005
Berichten: 45457

BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Apr 2008 10:29    Onderwerp: The First Shot: 22 August 1914 Reageer met quote

The First Shot: 22 August 1914
By Richard van Emden


The first British shots of World War One occurred near a small Belgian village in August 1914. Richard van Emden recounts a little-told prologue to a war that would last for years, and ultimately cost millions of lives

The first waves of troops

On 21 August 1914, a squadron of 120 cavalrymen belonging to the 4th Dragoon Guards were sent forward to reconnoitre the land ahead of the advancing British Expeditionary Force.

The first wave of troops of the BEF had landed on the continent up to a week before, yet no contact had been made with the enemy. However, as British forces advanced deeper into France and then Belgium, unmistakable reports were being received from civilians that large numbers of German troops were advancing through Brussels towards the Belgian town of Mons.

Among the cavalrymen that day was a 16-year-old boy, Benjamin Clouting, the son of a groom working on a large estate in Sussex. Ben had grown up around the stables and had learned to ride from an early age. A boyhood interest in all things military, and a love for horses, brought Ben to the attention of several army officers who visited the big house. One of the officers, Adrian Carton de Wiart, who was later to win the Victoria Cross in the war, encouraged the young boy to enlist and so in August 1913, Ben joined up despite being just 15 years old.

'...he was about to be involved in the first engagement undertaken by British soldiers on continental Europe since the Battle of Waterloo...'

One year later, he was still well underage when the war broke out. Nevertheless, he was a fully trained cavalryman and was allowed to travel to France, although only after adamantly refusing to be left behind in England. Now, three weeks after war had been declared, he found himself riding, on a warm summer evening, in an advance guard towards thousands of enemy soldiers.

Unbeknown to him, he was about to be involved in the first engagement undertaken by British soldiers on continental Europe since the Battle of Waterloo, 99 years earlier. In an interview given shortly before he died in 1990, Ben recalled the first British contact with the enemy and the opening shot - the first of billions fired in the four-year war.

The calm before the storm

All four troops of C Squadron were on outpost that night with two troops of around 60 men on standby, saddled up, ready to move at a moment's notice. Our troop, 4th Troop, had halted in a cornfield, along the back of which ran a wood. A screen of sentries was sent out, allowing the rest to eat something or catch up on some sleep. Everything was still and quiet; everyone was tense. We tied the horses' reins round our wrists, while those too nervous to rest talked to each other in whispers. We were warned that for all we knew we might already be surrounded and that we mustn't speak to anyone. A few of us slackened our horses' girths to let them breathe freely. But silence was the order and, as horses were prone to play with their loose bit bars, we held or tied our handkerchiefs around the bars to muffle any sound.'


The Dragoons spent a largely quiet night close to a main road that ran through the Belgian village of Casteau, just north east of Mons. There was only one scare when, at 2am, a horse was heard to approach. With orders to fire on anyone suspicious, the Dragoons readied themselves to shoot, only to discover, at the last moment, that the man was one of their own, unconcernedly smoking a cigar as he returned from a patrol. The rest of the night passed peacefully. Then, at 6am on 22 August, the Dragoons regrouped and moved off.

First contact

At about 6.30am, we arrived at a farm on the corner of a staggered crossroads and began watering our horses in a trough. There were already a few people about and as we waited, a farm worker came in saying he'd seen four German cavalrymen coming down the road.

'There was a flurry of activity, and a plan was hatched to capture the patrol as it passed. Four men from 4th Troop were dismounted and ordered to fire a volley of shots into the patrol at close quarters. This would be followed by 2nd Troop charging forward and bagging the remainder. I, along with the rest of 4th troop, was placed out of sight, mounted, waiting with drawn sword. I believe a man was sent out behind a hedge to signal when the Germans were about to arrive, but in his excitement he ran to grab his horse and gave the position away.

'...a plan was hatched to capture the patrol...'

'The Germans probably observed the horse for they were seen to stop for a moment, then pull their horses round and return the way they had come. There was consternation amongst the Dragoons, until Captain Hornby made an appeal to his squadron leader, Major Tom Bridges, to give chase. A brief nod, and assent was given.'

Opening salvos

'The 1st Troop with Captain Hornby at their head went after them, and the rest of the squadron followed on in support, with drawn swords. Our troop officer, Lieutenant Pigeon, led the troop at a fast canter, and everyone was highly excited. As the Germans retired into the village they met up with a larger group of cavalrymen, and, owing to the congestion, were soon caught by the 1st Troop. A fight immediately broke out, swords clashing with lances. The German lances proved too unwieldy at close quarters and several of the enemy were downed. However, we arrived just after the Germans had scattered, with the main body splitting off and carrying on up the main road. We continued to give chase, our horses slipping all over the place as we clattered along the road's square-set stones.

'...the troop returned their swords, reached for their rifles and dismounted...'

'Our chase continued for perhaps a mile or more, until we found ourselves flying up a wide, rising road, tree-lined on both sides. The Germans, reaching the road's crest, turned and, though they were still mounted, began firing back down the hill. "Action front, dismount," rapped Hornby, "Get the horses under cover!" In one movement the troop returned their swords, reached for their rifles and dismounted, dashing for cover, lying flat on their stomachs behind the trees. Glancing up the hill, I saw several Germans filling the road. They made a perfect target, and Drummer Thomas, (a bandsman in the regiment) was the first into action, and shot one German from his horse.

'The Troops' rapid fire sent bullets swarming up the road, but as a designated horse holder, I did not come into action. Before dismounting, the troop had been riding in fours, and being number three, it was my job to take the reins of the two horses on my left and those of the one on my right. Spurred on by Hornby's command I made for a high redbrick garden wall that surrounded the grounds of a château and which, because it stood at right angles to the road, offered us suitable protection.

'A gate was rushed open into the neighbouring field and I, along with the other horse holders, rode through to comparative safety. It is not an easy job to bring four horses through a narrow opening; even in battle, each of us had to ensure our horses didn't catch their hips on the gate. We almost accomplished our minor feat without problems when the very last horse through got a bullet in her stomach.

'...the very last horse through got a bullet in her stomach...'

'The whole action can't have lasted much more than three minutes and as the fighting abated, the order was given to cease fire and withdraw. As the troopers ran back to collect their horses, I noticed a dark chauffeur-driven limousine pull up outside the gateway to the field and, though the fighting had scarcely stopped, out stepped a young, fair-headed woman who proceeded to walk over and speak to the dismounted Captain Hornby. It transpired that she was a nurse and she asked, in the light of what was already taking place, if she might be allowed to go on duty at Mons.

'We never knew the extent of German casualties, although as we rode back to Casteau in high spirits, a civilian ambulance passed us to render the Germans any assistance it could. As far as I am aware, we came out of the action with three prisoners, all suffering from sword wounds. We had no casualties except among the horses, which included the one with a bullet in her stomach. She managed to bring her man out, but she was finished, being pole-axed in a village nearby and handed over to a Belgian butcher.'

First shots, last shots


This little-known incident, the first action involving British soldiers in World War One, preceded the Battle of Mons by just 24 hours. During this battle it was the turn of the infantry to engage the enemy while the cavalry stood by, awaiting further orders. Later in the day, as German forces threatened to overwhelm the British infantry, a famous retreat was ordered. Ben was to take part in what became known as 'The retreat from Mons', which took the BEF out of Belgium into France and almost to the gates of Paris, a march of some 320km (200 miles).

'Ironically, the final shots of the war took place just yards away from the very spot where the 4th Dragoon Guards fought the opening engagement.'

After the retreat Ben took an active role in many of the war's later engagements such as First Ypres, Second Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, and the Battle of Passchendaele, and the final advance to victory in 1918. He was wounded twice. Ironically, the final shots of the war took place just yards away from the very spot where the 4th Dragoon Guards fought the opening engagement. A plaque dedicated to the 116th Canadian Infantry Regiment which ended up at Casteau on 11 November 1918, is on a wall just 50 metres from a stone memorial commemorating the exploits of the Dragoons.


When Ben attended the unveiling of the stone in 1939, he not only saw Captain Hornby and many of his former comrades again, but he also noticed a middle-aged lady he had seen before. She turned out to be the lady in the dark chauffeur-driven car. Her name was Louise Donnay de Casteau, and she lived in the house behind the walls of which Ben had hidden the horses 25 years earlier.

Find out more

Books


Veterans: The Last Survivors of the Great War by Richard van Emden and Steve Humphries (Pen & Sword, 1998)

1914: The Days of Hope by Lyn MacDonald (Penguin, 1989)

Tommy Goes to War by Malcolm Brown (Tempus, 2001)

The Origins of the First World War by James Joll (Longman, 1999)

Western Front by Richard Holmes (BBC Books, 1999)

The Origins of the First World War by Gordon Martel (Longman, 1996)

The First World War and International Politics by David Stevenson (Oxford University Press, 1988)
Links

First World War This website includes information on the origins and battles of World War One, and includes photographs and a timeline.

Trenches on the web A wide range of World War One material.

Spartacus Educational Spartacus' World War One website offers a growing encyclopaedia of entries about the war, as well as links to other websites.

Places to visit

Imperial War Museum

National Army Museum

© http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/firstshot_01.shtml
_________________
Met hart en ziel
De enige echte

https://twitter.com/ForumWO1
Naar boven
Bekijk gebruikers profiel Stuur privé bericht Verstuur mail Bekijk de homepage
Yvonne
Admin


Geregistreerd op: 2-2-2005
Berichten: 45457

BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Aug 2011 18:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Quote:
Battles this Month – August 1914 – Mons: The start of the Great War

Following the outbreak of the First World War on 4 August 1914, the Government decided
to send an Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France under Field Marshal Sir John French. After a
few weeks, the BEF assembled on the left of the French line, in the Maubeuge‐Le Cateau
area, and incurred its first casualty on 21 August when Private John Parr of the Middlesex
Regiment was killed.
Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, who had been appointed Secretary of State for War on 5
August, rightly foresaw that this advanced concentration area would considerably increase
the risks of the BEF being swamped by the powerful German forces massing north of the
River Meuse. The temper of the mercurial Sir John French was not improved when Sir James
Grierson, the commander of the British II Corps, died of a heart attack on his way to the
front.   
On 22 August the British divisions moved up to the drab industrial region of Mons, ready to
advance further with the planned Allied offensive. They happened to be directly in the path
of the German First Army under General von Kluck.  


Lees verder:
http://www.cwgc.org/admin/files/cwgc%20wfa%20newsletter%20august%202011.pdf
_________________
Met hart en ziel
De enige echte

https://twitter.com/ForumWO1
Naar boven
Bekijk gebruikers profiel Stuur privé bericht Verstuur mail Bekijk de homepage
Finnbar
Moderator


Geregistreerd op: 5-11-2009
Berichten: 6974
Woonplaats: Uaso Monte

BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Aug 2014 7:19    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Vandaag 100 jaar geleden


Lees ook: http://www.1914-1918.net/bat1.htm
Naar boven
Bekijk gebruikers profiel Stuur privé bericht Verstuur mail
Finnbar
Moderator


Geregistreerd op: 5-11-2009
Berichten: 6974
Woonplaats: Uaso Monte

BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Aug 2014 7:20    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://greatwarphotos.com/2014/08/22/marching-up-to-mons-22nd-august-1914/
Naar boven
Bekijk gebruikers profiel Stuur privé bericht Verstuur mail
Finnbar
Moderator


Geregistreerd op: 5-11-2009
Berichten: 6974
Woonplaats: Uaso Monte

BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Aug 2014 7:42    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/wiki/index.php/Slag_bij_Mons
Naar boven
Bekijk gebruikers profiel Stuur privé bericht Verstuur mail
Berichten van afgelopen:   
Plaats nieuw bericht   Plaats Reactie    Forum Eerste Wereldoorlog Forum Index -> Overige oorlogstonelen in België Tijden zijn in GMT + 1 uur
Pagina 1 van 1

 
Ga naar:  
Je mag geen nieuwe onderwerpen plaatsen
Je mag geen reacties plaatsen
Je mag je berichten niet bewerken
Je mag je berichten niet verwijderen
Ja mag niet stemmen in polls


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group