22 May 2007
Grandfather (another wordy wordless wednesday)
A wordy wordless wednesday this week but here goes:-
This is my paternal grandfather who served in the Second Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers (2nd Munsters) and we believe was taken prisoner at the battle of Mons in 1914. That he survived that terrible conflict is probably down to his spending over four years in a POW camp in Limburg in Germany as a “guest” of the Kaiser! This photograph was taken in 1914.
We have little information n him now. A while ago I searched the WWI service medal database at the UK National Archives website and I was delighted to find a medal record for a private in the Munster Fusiliers bearing the exact same name as my grandfather who arrived in France on 13 August 1914.
This piece of information would place him in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at the start of WWI. It is a matter of record that on 23 August 1914 the BEF engaged the German First Army around Mons but the 2nd Munsters were held in reserve and did not participate in that battle.
The 2nd Munsters’ contribution to the Mons Campaign took place on 27 August at Etreux. At the time the BEF was in retreat and in extreme danger of being surrounded and destroyed by advancing German forces. Three companies of the 2nd Munsters under Major Charrier along with a troop of the 15th Hussars, and two guns of the 118th Battery, R.F.A., held off a full German Corps for a day taking appalling casualties in the process. This action allowed General Haig’s I Corps to put twelve miles between itself and the front almost certainly ensuring its survival as a fighting force.
The Action is a tiny footnote in a conflict that took millions of lives but it is a textbook example of the function of a rear guard force. I cannot demonstrate absolutely that my grandfather was actually taken prisoner there and I may never be able to but this must be a prime candidate.