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Remembered Today:

The Times - 26 Aug 1914


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On this day, August 26 1914

Lord Kitchener, whose presence at the War Office inspires the whole country with confidence, made his first appearance in Parliament yesterday as Secretary of State for War. His speech was brief and soldierly, but hopeful and, on the whole, reassuring. We think there are at present sufficient grounds for his calmness. The British Army in the field has fought its first battle with valour and steadiness and has redeemed from gloom a situation which still causes much apprehension. We gather that the First and Second Army Corps are in position in and around Mons, in addition to the cavalry arm. Opposed to them were two German Army Corps and two cavalry divisions, and Lord Kitchener says that the enemy were in superior strength. The presumption is, therefore, that only a portion of our Army was engaged. Our gallant troops held their own for thirty-six hours, and inflicted heavy losses. If our men fought in open order, while the Germans advanced in close formation, we can well understand why the foe suffered so severely. In any case, the assailants were bound to be hard hit, but in this early stage of the war the Germans are evidently ready to pile up their dead in order to achieve their purpose. It may be doubted whether they would have succeeded at Mons, at any rate, had not the French felt compelled to fall back from the line of the Sambre and the Meuse upon their own frontier. The retirement of the French made it necessary for our Army to withdraw also. Sir John French conducted the retirement of his unbeaten forces with brilliant skill. Our troops are now in their new positions, their valour unshaken, their strength intact, and in the best of spirits. The casualties are rather more than 2,000 killed and wounded, but considering the numbers engaged the losses are not severe. We have to go back to Inkerman to find a parallel for a loss of over 2,000 British troops in a single battle, but at Inkerman our total force in action was only 7,400. Our losses will be faced both by the Army and the nation with the same fortitude which was shown by our troops in encountering the enemy. The Army has emerged from its first great test with the utmost credit.

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