Having temporarily checked the Germans at Mons the BEF had no alternative but to withdraw as they were outnumbered by the enemy and Lanrezac's Fifth French Army was falling back. The Germans, however, were soon in hot pursuit, sensing the BEF were at their mercy. In a series of rear guard actions the BEF managed to hold – just. Despite Field Marshal French's instructions General Smith-Dorrien knew that he had to turn and fight on the open chalk hills above the town of Le Cateau. Here II Corps stood as the German pressure mounted and a desperate battle resulted as more and more German troops came into action; men fell, guns were lost and saved but again the BEF were able to escape. The retreat now began in earnest and repeated torturous marches followed, with little food and rest, testing even the sternest of constitutions; blisters burst and blood oozed from the boot. The Germans found the march equally challenging and at Nery once again the British Cavalry turned on the enemy and checked them. The retreat continued ever closer to Paris. Little did the Allies know that the German Schlieffen Plan was unraveling … The BHTV team again take the viewers to the heart of the action to examine weapons, tactics and raw heroism as they tell the story. Illustrated with maps and location scenes, they make this most complicated of British battles easily understandable.
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