Views: 2596|Replies: 13

100th Anniversary of Britains first battle of World War One. [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 7Rank: 7Rank: 7

Glod Medal 2015 Most Popular Member Medal of honor June's Best Writer 2012 2016 Most Popular Member

Post time 2014-8-20 11:11:12 |Display all floors
Today (20th August) marks the 100th anniversary of the 1st British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and it's first battle of the First World War.

The Battle was Mons, and it was the British Army that stopped the German advance.  It was the start of over 4 years of hell on earth for many troops.

The 1st BEF was a professional army, and the best trained in Europe and the world. 100,000 men were involved, all were regulars, that is professional soldiers, or reservists who were ex-professional soldiers.

Back then the main infantry weapon was the Lee Enfield rifle, a bolt action rifle with one of two barrel lengths and a magazine that held 10 rounds fed in from two 5 round clips. It was fitted with a long and deadly bayonet which was feared by all who came across it as the British military were known for their love of the bayonet and the devastation that it caused in close quarters combat.  All British regular soldiers and reservists were expected to be able to fire a minimum of 20 rounds a minute of aimed fire with 15 rounds hitting a target at roughly 300 meters. If you think this is easy to do, try it. Very few shooters today could achieve such a rate of fire with a 300 caliber weapon.


The somme.jpg

Soldiers going "over the top" Battle of the Somme 1916

By the end of November 1914 the 1st BEF had effectively been wiped out due to massive casualties. At the end of the war there were less than 10,000 survivors of the 1st BEF, and only 2000 or so who had not been injured in battle.  They called themselves "The Old Contemptible" a reference to an alleged statement by the Kaiser (German King) about the contemptible little army from Britain, yet it was this small force that slowed down the German advance and inflicted terrible losses on the Germans.  A couple of weeks later at the First Battle of the Marne it was the British with French aid who stopped the German advance and saved Paris from being over-run. The phase of the 1st BEF ended after the First Battle of Ypres in November 1914.

Looking back at the First World War no one today can really understand the pure hell it was. Men lived, fought and died in the most horrific circumstances.  The British artillery barrage that started the Summer offfensive on the Somme in 1916 involved the use of over 1.5 million artillery shells, with one day seeing 250,000 shells fired, the bombardment was heard 300 miles away! Then there were the mines, the horrific fate that befell the Germans when the Messines mines were detonated resulting in over 10,000 Germans being killed, with the explosion being heard in London, almost 300km away.  Even today several of the mines are "live" and intact underground.  

Messines mine.jpg

One of the Messines Ridge mines, 1916

Of course there were other horrors, trench foot, where waterlogged muddy conditions caused the flesh of the foot to start to rot and fall off, dysentry, gas, "going over the top" which involved walking (or running) on foot in to the on coming defences and frequently being cut down by withering machine gun fire, to the terrors of days of artillery bombardment, and at Paschendale which was regarded by the many hardened troops as the worst battle of the war the prospect of drowning in mud if you slipped off the wooden walkways.   To quote an Australian solider's diary comparing Gallipoli to the Somme, "We thought we knew something of the horrors of war, but we were mere recruits, and have had our full education in one day."

My great grandfather was one of The Old Contemptibles, he started out as a reservist and was called up in early 1914 as he was an ex NCO (non-commissioned officer). He had left the Army a couple of years earlier as my great grandmother had told him she'd not marry him unless he quit the army and went to university. He was studying to be a mechanical engineer at the time of his recall.

great grandfather fixed.jpg

My Great Grandfather (far right) just before leaving for France
He was the only person in the photo to surive the war.



He fought for the entire duration of the war and participated in some of the worst battles in history. The First Battle of Mons, The First Battle of the Marne, The First battle of Ypres, Gallipoli - The landing at Suvala and Scimitar hill before being sent back to the Western Front and the battles of Loos, Somme, Ancre, Polygon Wood, Menin Road, and Paschendale to name a few.
He never talked about what he saw and never celebrated Armistice Day. He did keep a diary but it's with my uncle and I've never had a chance to read it all.
Paschendale.jpg

Paschendale (3rd Battle of Ypries), a living hell of mud


After the war he resumed his studies, qualified and went to work as an engineer at the same company that designed and built the world's first operational tank.  

I never got to meet him, he was killed in an industrial accident when the lower section of a tank that was being moved by a gantry crane broke free from the crane and crashed to the ground, he was crushed to death as a result, the date Sept 3rd 1939 a few short hours after Britain declared war on Germany again.

Tyne Cot nr Ypres.jpg

One of hundreds of war cemetaries in France.





Per Ardua Ad Astra

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2014-8-20 12:04:57 |Display all floors
Since you were there, tell us a few war stories (old man).
I'm just here for the money

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 7Rank: 7Rank: 7

Glod Medal 2015 Most Popular Member Medal of honor June's Best Writer 2012 2016 Most Popular Member

Post time 2014-8-20 12:21:16 |Display all floors
jay_dee Post time: 2014-8-20 12:04
Since you were there, tell us a few war stories (old man).

very funny JD ... I'm under impressed with your comments
Per Ardua Ad Astra

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 7Rank: 7Rank: 7

2018 Most Popular Member 2016 Most Popular Member Glod Medal 2015 Most Popular Member 2012's Best Moderator Medal of honor August's Best Contributor 2012 July's Best Contributor 2012 Gold Medal

Post time 2014-8-20 14:18:52 |Display all floors
Great thread

My Great Uncle George Perrin died in 1917 in France during that war.

I took my Father to find his grave, it read similar to " believed to be George Perrin"

I now have many of his personal items including his Pocket watch and chain

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 7Rank: 7Rank: 7

2018 Most Popular Member 2016 Most Popular Member Glod Medal 2015 Most Popular Member 2012's Best Moderator Medal of honor August's Best Contributor 2012 July's Best Contributor 2012 Gold Medal

Post time 2014-8-20 14:20:12 |Display all floors
Ratfink Post time: 2014-8-20 12:21
very funny JD ... I'm under impressed with your comments

Have you ever been impressed but any of his comments?

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

2016 Most Popular Member CD top contributor in April 2015 Most Popular Member Medal of honor Medal of honor

Post time 2014-8-20 14:35:54 |Display all floors
1584austin Post time: 2014-8-20 14:18
Great thread

My Great Uncle George Perrin died in 1917 in France during that war.

You are not related to Reginald Perrin are you?

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 7Rank: 7Rank: 7

2018 Most Popular Member 2016 Most Popular Member Glod Medal 2015 Most Popular Member 2012's Best Moderator Medal of honor August's Best Contributor 2012 July's Best Contributor 2012 Gold Medal

Post time 2014-8-20 14:52:14 |Display all floors
futsanglung Post time: 2014-8-20 14:35
You are not related to Reginald Perrin are you?

Use magic tools Report

You can't reply post until you log in Log in | register

BACK TO THE TOP
Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email: blog@chinadaily.com.cn
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.