The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day
24th August 1914On this day:
- The Battle of Mons At 2 a.m. on 24 August, II Corps was ordered to retreat into France to defensible a position along the Valenciennes to Maubeuge road, requiring a number of sharp rearguard actions against the pursuing Germans. 5th Brigade were ordered to to act as rearguard and fought a holding action at Paturages and Frameries, with Brigade artillery in particular, inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans.
At Wasmes, units of the 5th Division faced a heavy assault from German artillery which began bombarding the village at daybreak, followed at 10 a.m. by an infantry assault by German III Corps who advanced in columns and were "mown down like grass" by British Rifle and Machine Gun fire. Soldiers of the 1st West Kents, 2nd King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment, and 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment held off repeated German assaults on the village, despite taking heavy casualties, and then retreated in good order to St. Vaast at mid day.
- 1st Cheshires at Audregnies The 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment suffered 771 casualties at Audregnies on the Franco-Belgian border, whilst acting as flank guard to the 5th Division. The Battalion alongside three Companies of the 1st Norfolks, engaged four German regiments who were advancing in close formation across open fields between the villages of Audregnies and Elouges. Their actions bought valuable time for the rest of the BEF during the retreat from Mons.
The 1st Cheshire's War Diary states: "At roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay there were 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men - The strength marching out at 7.30 a.m. on the morning of 24th inst was 27 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 933 men - A loss of 78%, most of which was caused in the withdrawal."
- The Charge at Audregnies The 9th Lancers and 4th Dragoon Guards were brought up to assist the 5th Division who were facing an advance of massed German troops and suffering heavily from enemy artillery. The Lancers at first fought dismounted alongside the British Infantry, but as the situation grew more hopeless,
the Lancers were ordered to charge.
Under heavy fire, the 9th Lancers charged a battery of eleven German guns posted in a Compiegne Wood. The guns had been causing terrible losses to the British infantry
Accounts in the British Press at the time put a rosey spin on the action. stating "the 9th made a furious charge, reached the battery, cut down all the gunners and put the guns out of action". It would be over a year before an honest account was printed in The War Illustrated on the 9th of October 1915:
"On the 24th our 5th Division was in a very tight place, and the cavalry was sent to its assistance, the 2nd Brigade reaching the scene of the action first. The Germans were advancing in great masses, so near the village of Audregnies, General De Lisle ordered his men to dismount and to open fire on them. They did so, but the enemy still came on in good order. The general then decided on a charge, and for this chose the 9th Lancers who, at the word of command, mounted their horses and rode steadily at the enemy.
It was Balaclava over again. The squadrons rode to death, and the colonel, so we were told, said that he never expected a single lancer to return. In face of a torrent of shot and shell from guns and rifles, they dashed on until they found themselves against two lines of barbed wire, where men and horses fell over in all directions. This ended the charge. The survivors were ordered to return into shelter, and out of more than four hundred who had ridden out, only seventy two at first answered their names, Later some two hundred others turned up, but the regiment had lost heavily. Major V. R. Brooke D.S.O. was among the killed. However, the charge was not altogether fruitless. The Lancers had drawn the enemy’s fire and so had done something to help the harassed 5th Division."
Forty One members of the 9th Lancers could not be accounted for after their attack, including L/4653 Private Henry Warr, his survival was reported in The Western Gazette on 6th of November 1914:
"H. Warr, of the 9th Lancers, who was in the famous charge and had been missing since the end of August, was taken prisoner by the enemy. He has written, saying that he is a prisoner at Munster, Germany, and is being well-treated by the Germans. The letter was written in September, so that it has been a very long time in transit. Warr had many friends here, and there is great satisfaction at the news of his safety.” Private Warr remained in captivity for the rest of the war.
- Middlesbrough seeks recruits A full page advertisement seeking recruits for Lord Kitchener's volunteers in the Middlesbrough Recruiting Area is published on page three of this morning's Northern Echo.
- 24th Aug 1914 Cavalry Charge
- 4th Dragoons at Audregnies Two days after the encounter at Casteau, on the 24th of August, the 4th Dragoon Guards were heavily involved in the rearguard action at Audregnies after the battle of Mons. Part of B Sqn took part in a charge with the 9th Lancers and other dismounted parts of the regiment defended the village of Audregnies with the infantry. Pte AH Page was killed that day and lies in the graveyard in the nearby village of Elouges. This was the beginning of the Retreat from Mons, and it was not until the 28th of August that the regiment reassembled at Le Plessis Patte d'Oie.
- 1st Cheshires suffer heavily 1st Cheshires took part in the rearguard action fought at Audregnies, Belgium where the battalion suffered 78% losses in one day due to men killed, wounded, missing and those taken as Prisoners of War.
- 24th August 1914 Ongoing Action
- 24th Aug 1914 Soldier Escapes
- 24th Aug 1914 Charge at Audregnies
- 24th Aug 1914 Artillery Duel
- 24th Aug 1914 On the March
- 24th Aug 1914 In Camp
- 24th Aug 1914 Artillery Duel
- 24th Aug 1914 On the Move
- 24th Aug 1914 Into Billets
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