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fight, and inflicted heavy losses on their opponents.
At length it became apparent that, if complete annihilation was to be avoided, a retirement must be attempted; and the order was given to commence it about 3:30 P. M. The movement was covered with the most devoted intrepidity and determination by the artillery, which had itself suffered heavily, and the fine work done by the cavalry in the further retreat from the position assisted materially in the final completion of this most difficult and dangerous operation.
Fortunately the enemy had himself suffered too heavily to engage in an energetic pursuit.
I cannot close the brief account of this glorious stand of the British troops without putting on record my deep appreciation of the valuable services rendered by Gen. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien.
I say without hesitation that the saving of the left wing of the army under my command on the morning of the 26th August could never have been accomplished unless a commander of rare and unusual coolness, intrepidity, and determination had been present to personally conduct the operation.
The retreat was continued far into the night of the 26th and through the 27th and 28th, on which date the troops halted on the line Noyon-Chauny-La Fère, having then thrown off the weight of the enemy's pursuit.
On the 27th and 28th I was much indebted to Gen. Sordêt and the French cavalry division which he commands for materially assisting my retirement and successfully driving back some of the enemy on Cambrai.
Gen. D'Amade also, with the Sixtyfirst and Sixty-second French Reserve Divisions, moved down from the neighborhood of Arras on the enemy's right flank and took much pressure off the rear of the British forces.
This closes the period covering the heavy fighting which commenced at Mons on Sunday afternoon, 23d August, and which really constituted a four days' battle.
At this point, therefore, I propose to close the present dispatch.
I deeply deplore the very serious losses which the British forces have suffered in this great battle; but they were inevitable in view of the fact that the British Army-only two days after a concentration by rail-was called upon to withstand a vigorous attack of five German army corps.
It is impossible for me to speak too highly of the skill evinced by the two general officers commanding army corps; the self-sacrificing and devoted exertions of their staffs; the direction of the troops by divisional, brigade, and regimental leaders; the command of the smaller units by their officers; and the magnificent fighting spirit displayed by noncommissioned officers and men.
I wish particularly to bring to your Lordship's notice the admirable work done by the Royal Flying Corps under Sir David Henderson. Their skill, energy, and perseverance have been beyond all praise. They have furnished me with the most complete and accurate information, which has been of incalculable value in the conduct of the operations. Fired at constantly both by friend and foe, and not hesitating to fly in every kind of weather, they have remained undaunted throughout.
Further, by actually fighting in the air, they have succeeded in destroying five of the enemy's machines.
I wish to acknowledge with deep gratitude the incalculable assistance I received from the General and Personal Staffs at Headquarters during this trying period.
Lieut. Gen. Sir Archibald Murray, Chief of the General Staff; Major Gen. Wilson, Sub-Chief of the General Staff; and all under them have worked day and night unceasingly with the utmost skill, self-sacrifice, and devotion; and the same acknowledgment is due by me to Brig. Gen. Hon. W. Lambton, my Military Secretary, and the personal Staff.
In such operations as I have described the work of the Quartermaster General is of an extremely onerous nature. Major Gen. Sir William Robertson has met what appeared to be almost insuperable difficulties with his character
Map 3.-Commencement of the battle of the Marne, Sept. 6 (Sunday), morning. the Germans on a central point, and the position of the British force when it resumed the offensive.
Major Gen. Sir Nevil Macready, the Adjutant General, has also been confronted with most onerous and difficult tasks in connection with disciplinary arrangements and the preparation of casualty lists. He has been indefatigable in his exertions to meet the difficult situations which arose.
I have not yet been able to complete the list of officers whose names I desire to bring to your Lordship's notice for services rendered during the period under review; and, as I understand it is of importance that this dispatch should no longer be delayed, I propose to forward this list, separately, as soon as I can. I have the honor to be,
Your Lordship's most obedient Servant, (Signed) J. D. P. FRENCH,
Field Marshal, Commander in Chief, British Forces in the Field.
The Battle of the Marne
17th September, 1914.
Y LORD: In continuation of my dispatch of Sept. 7, I have the honor to report the further progress of the operations of the forces under my command from Aug. 28. On that evening the retirement of the force was followed closely by two of the enemy's cavalry columns, moving southeast from St. Quentin.
The retreat in this part of the field was being covered by the Third and Fifth Cavalry Brigades. South of the Somme Gen. Gough, with the Third Cavalry Brigade, threw back the Uhlans of the Guard with considerable loss.
Gen. Chetwode, with the Fifth Cavalry Brigade, encountered the eastern column near Cerizy, moving south. The brigade attacked and routed the column,
the leading German regiment suffering very severe casualties and being almost broken up.
The Seventh French Army Corps was now in course of being railed up from the south to the east of Amiens. On the 29th it nearly completed its detrainment, and the French Sixth Army got into position on my left, its right resting on Roye.
The Fifth French Army was behind the line of the Oise, between La Fère and Guise.
The pursuit of the enemy was very vigorous; some five or six German corps were on the Somme, facing the Fifth Army on the Oise. At least two corps were advancing toward my front, and were crossing the Somme east and west of Ham. Three or four more German corps were opposing the Sixth French Army on my left.
This was the situation at 1 o'clock on the 29th, when I received a visit from Gen. Joffre at my headquarters.
I strongly represented my position to the French Commander in Chief, who was most kind, cordial, and sympathetic, as he has always been. He told me that he had directed the Fifth French Army on the Oise to move forward and attack the Germans on the Somme, with a view to checking pursuit. He also told me of the formation of the Sixth French Army on my left flank, composed of the Seventh Army Corps, four reserve divisions, and Sordêt's corps of cavalry.
I finally arranged with Gen. Joffre to effect a further short retirement toward the line Compiègne-Soissons, promising him, however, to do my utmost to keep always within a day's march of him.
In pursuance of this arrangement the British forces retired to a position a few miles north of the line CompiègneSoissons on the 29th.
The right flank of the German Army was now reaching a point which appeared seriously to endanger my line of communications with Havre. I had already evacuated Amiens, into which place a German reserve division was reported to have moved.