THE BATTLE OF LE CATEAU

 

The 26 August 1914 battle of le Cateau was the last of the old style 'one day' battles.

 

Following the BEF's defeat in its first battle of the war at Mons, the British fell back to the south pursued by the Germans.

 

Just after dawn three confused days later, on the anniversary of the battle of Crecy, von Kluck's army caught Smith-Dorrien's tired II Corps at le Cateau. Smith-Dorrien decided to stay and to fight - against the orders of Sir John French the C in C.

 

After a morning's battle the retreat continued. British casualties were about 8,000 men and 38 guns. German casualties are estimated at 9,000.

 

The Battlefield Tour takes two and a half hours and  includes the grave of the poet Wilfrid Owen, whose mother learned of his death on the day that the Armistice was declared. The full story is in our Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide Book Western Front - North.