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HARD FIGHTING, Issue 15660, 26 November 1914
THE RETREAT FROM MONS. AX LETTERS. The following fv'.i.iOs taken from the letters of an officer of one of the IlnliMi regiments at the front to relatives in Chiistchurch tell in plain, terse words a story of the hard fighting during the his--1 to lie retreat from Mods: — August 29. 19ia.~We have had very hard marching and fighting this week, t-nt hardest of all kinds of fighting—i.e., <le--1 living the enemv and withdrawing. Me ! have had 54 to 1 against us, and thev are Ivory energetic in trying to ‘•Sedan" ns. j So’far wo have given as good as we have got, but wo shan't he happy til! we begin Ito move forward. My division had a very i rough time, on Monday and M ednesday especially. Wednesday. September _ 2.—We had orders to march just as 1 had written so far. and I have had no time since. Wo began by advancing for two or three days to the tine of a, canal just out of Mens, 'then wo had a day of pretty harcHigJiting, j not verv serious, and fell back a ft w miles | at evening to Dove. Terrifies Shell Fire.— Xer.t dav we had a hard morning's fighting, no difficulties except that we were ordered to withdraw while we were in the hottest of it. holding an till cvciyone else had gone, and then getting away ourselves. A German division struck at our left (outer! tlank as we were going back, hut. we just succeeded in avoiding being ripped, and got out of it very well. Marched all next day to a position near Lc Gateau, and next morning were told to stand and fight, and very glad we were. The Germans outnumbered us enormously, especially in aitillerv. and it was a terrible shell fire. ITm men stuck it out splendidly, and we could have held on all right, had'it mot been that our guns were knocked out, some of them wiped out altogether. As this made the situation for the infantry hopeless we hail to retire, which was done m very good order on the. whole. Our losses were very heavy, as yon will know by now. A\ e marched practically all that night and through next day. nearly 30 miles on end, aiud since then we have marched daily about 12 to 15 miles, which means, with a division 16 miles long, verv bard and long days, and tho weather so hot. —Want of Sleep.— Desultory fighting most days, and yesterday a bigger one against a lot of <avally, ‘who gawi ns nincli anxiety, but got a bad dressing themselves, and we shook them off in the evening. The men are very tired, and wo are very short of sleep, but the spirit ia excellent, and all we want ns a better rest, re-equipping, and our faces turned phe right way. \\ c expect a big fight in a day or two, but I am weary of prophesying, and don’t profess to understand it ail. I only know that the * train of organising retirements every day is very trying. We aro al! very fit and well, if sleepy. 1 don't think I have had more than" two or three hours’ sleep a, day for the last ten days, and often none at all. Horses are feeling it worst of all, and mv poor old mare is worn to a shadow. Must stop. 1 don’t believe they send our letters cm. but hope for the best. —Making History.— I am very well indeed. We have been making history, 't he regiment was right in tlie thickest of two big battles—l cannot tell yon where—but perhaps the papers have it by this time. I was awfully pleased with the men We never gave way a yard, til! we got definite orders to retire. In the first fight we were under an awful shell tiro for two hours. I reckoned we had 6.CCO big shells into ns. hut wc had some cover, and only lost 258 men. ’Hie heat was the worst thing. After wo cams away I had n heat stroke, and remember nothing for two hours ; when it was cooler I got quite well again. —Sir J. French’s Congratulations.— Two days later we had another battle, but did not suffer much. 1 was ordered by Sir Ferguson to take tho regiment forward and relieve a brigade that had been broken to bits. We had to go forward through hundreds of wounded. It was a severe test. 1 thought it was all over with tho lot of us. but by the grace of God the shelling stopped just ae wo went forward. Wo only had a dozen shells, and lost only a dozen men. and came away in perfect order. Unfortunately, after that wo had two awful marches ; tho men dropped down and fell asleep, so we lost some stragglers, but now at last we have got one day’s rest, and are. pulling ourselves together again. We have no idea what will happen now. hut I have seen a lot of the big ,*o P lor and thev seem well content with the situation. Sir John French came and shook hands with me, and congratulated mo on tho achievement. . . , There are guns in tha distance now, but I hope we shall not bo moved, for the men need rest. —German Treachery.— In addition to a good deal of fighting of rather a desultory nature, we have had a little affair which, with any troops but tho brigade, might not have ended as ir. did. A night scare, inhabitants rushing through in panic. 1 reinforced the exposed half-company with half a battalion. Soon after, a crowd of man dressed as French soldiers and civilians camo up to our post, calling out “Vivo I’Angleterre!” singing French songs, etc. Getting dose to our men, they made a rush and tried to seize their rifles. They were closely followed by a column of tho enemy. We realised tho game, bayoneted the first line, then pot to work on the column, which opened fire with two guns at 100 yds, as well ns rifle fire. I brought up a howitzer to shoot 50 yards. The officer commanding the 2nd battalion Cold streams (Colonel Geoffrey Fielding) was tco splendid for words. He walked out id front to sa© where the shell fell, and directed their firing—the most wonderful piec© of bravery I have ever heard of. considering ho was under a hot fir© of guns and rifles at under 100 yds. Eight hundred dead German Guards were collected next day.
HARD FIGHTING, Issue 15660, 26 November 1914
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