The most mov­ing an­niver­sary jour­ney you could ever take

As the world pre­pares to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of The Great War, Steve Race vis­its lesser known Bel­gian bat­tle­fields with re­mark­able sto­ries to tell Email james.king-sharp@trin­i­tymir­ for ad­vice

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT - Con­tin­ued on page 8

YOU could be for­given for think­ing Mons is just an for mon­u­ments. There are a lot of them in this small Bel­gian town, but that is be­cause it has a spe­cial place in his­tory. It was here that the First World War, in ef­fect, both started and ended for Bri­tain.

On Mon­day, Au­gust 4 it will be 100 years since Bri­tain de­clared war on Ger­many.

On Au­gust 22, 1914 the first shot was fired by a Bri­tish cav­al­ry­man on the out­skirts of Mons. It marked the start of four years of the first to­tally in­dus­tri­alised war, in which mil­lions died and many more were in­jured.

The war ef­fec­tively started on July 28, 1914, when Aus­tria de­clared war on Ser­bia fol­low­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of Arch­duke Fer­di­nand, the Crown Prince of Aus­tria Aus­tria was joined by Ger­many, and Ser­bia by Rus­sia. By Au­gust 4, Ger­many had en­tered that they grad­u­ally over­came the re­sis­tance of the BEF, which was forced to re­treat. The Ger­mans took Mons and it would be another four years be­fore the Bri­tish re­turned.

The bat­tle pro­vided the first leg­end of the war – The An­gel of Mons.

The story goes that when the Ger­mans were threat­en­ing to over­run Mons, an­gels came out of the sky in the form of archers, stop­ping the Ger­mans and pro­tect­ing the Bri­tish who were able to re­treat safely in to­tal dark­ness.

The war came to Mons again four years later when Bri­tish Em­pire troops ad­vanced to the town in Novem­ber 1918 and when the last Bri­tish ca­su­alty of the war died – his name G L Price – on the day peace was de­clared.

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