Battle of Mons
23-24 August 1914
The first battle of the First World War involving the British Expeditionary Force was the battle of Mons. The BEF’s II Corps, under Gen Smith-Dorrien, was spread along the Mons-Condé Canal east and north of Mons to hold it from the German First Army. They held off the German attack using artillery and rapid, accurate rifle fire, and when the troops to the right risked being cut off Smith-Dorrien pulled the troops back south of Mons. The British took 1,642 casualties to the estimated 5,000-10,000 German casualties. Due to the French Fifth Army retreat from Sambre, the BEF retreated to the Marne the following day. The first two VCs of the war were won by Lt Dease and Pte Godley on the Nimy Railway Bridge north of Mons..