Retreat and Rearguard 1914 : The BEF's Actions from Mons to the Marne, Hardback Book

Retreat and Rearguard 1914 : The BEF's Actions from Mons to the Marne Hardback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


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.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 224 pages, 16pp B & W plates
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9781848843912



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As indicated on the cover, this book discusses the actions taken by the BEF during the retreat from Mons in 1914. However, the book covers the activities of several specific units. In this way it is able to provide details which would not normally be covered in a book of this nature. Generally books dealing with the rertreat have a broader vision. In that sense this book presents the missing personal experiences of specific units and individuals which are not included in other works. Also discussed is what happened later in the war and after the war to some of the participants the book introduces. Of lesser importance in the text is where the author covers some of the tensions and clashes between and among the higher command in the BEF. This is a relatively small portion of the book.If you are looking for to learn about small unit actions and individual performance during the Mons retreat, this would be useful for you. However, if you are seeking an overview of the action...take a pass.