Page 31 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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18
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
"The Retreat from Mons ... was in every way honourable
to the Army. The troops suffered under every disadvantage.
The number of reservists in the ranks was on an average over
one-half of the full strength, and owing to the force of circum–
stances the units were hurried away to the area of concentration
before all ranks could resume acquaintance with their officers
and comrades, and relearn their business as soldiers. Arrived
there, they were hastened forward by forced marches to battle,
confronted with greatly superior numbers of the most renowned
army in Europe, and condemned at the very outset to undergo
the severest ordeal which can be imposed upon an army. They
were short of food and sleep when they began their retreat, they
continued it, always short of food and sleep, for thirteen days;
and at the end of the retreat they were still an army, and a
formidable army. They were never demoralized, for they
rightly judged that they had never been beaten."
An
extract from a letter written by a young officer of the 2nd
Battalion about 2nd September, 1914, will confirm this
in
the
main:
"I hardly get any time to write as up to date we are on duty
all night and march all day. Two hours' 'sleep' a day is our
usual portion.... The weather has been awfully hot-almost too
hot. Food we get in plenty but in uneven quantities sometimes;
hardly anything at all sometimes, and then suddenly enough for
about four people is hurled at one, and of course one feels
bound to try and eat it."
Some idea of the strain imposed upon all ranks, especially the
reservists, may be obtained from the following table of marches,
based on one issued by 4th Division in 1914 and included in the
War Diary of the 2nd Battalion.
Total to
Date
From
To
Dista1lce
Date
25th Aug.
Bertry
Viesly
5
5
26th Aug.
Viesly
Haucourt
8t
I3t
26th Aug.
Haucourt
, 'endhuille
121
251
27th Aug.
Vendhuille
Hancourt
10
351
27th Aug.
Hancourt
28th Aug.
Voyennes
lOt
4 6 1
28th Aug.
,'oyennes
Muirancourt
10
5 6 1
29th Aug.
:\luirancourt
CarJepont
I2i
68f
30th Aug.
Carlepont
Cuise Lamotte
9
771
31st Aug.
Cuise Larnotte
Verberie
16
93f
1St Sept.
Verberie
Baron
IIt
10
51
2nd Sept.
Baron
Darnmartin
9t
IId
3rd Sept.
Dammartin
]ossigny
I7!
13 2 1
5th Sept.
]ossigny
Brie-Cornte-Robert
14
14 6
1
Total 1461 miles in 12 days.
Average over 12 miles a day.