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First World War : 26th of August 1914

On the 26th of August, the allied troops are retreating in front of the German advance.

In Northern France, not far from the Belgian borders, British and French troops have started their retreat. While the orders and plans of the British high-command are to keep moving, generals Smith-Dorrien and French came with the idea of slowing the advance of Germany. 40,000 allied troops stationed near the city of Cambrai, the road they are trying to block and protect is called the Cateau.

The combats of the 26th are not in British advantage. The Germans are superior in number. Despite a 12 hours long stand, the British cannot hold their positions any longer. Several regiments are obliterated such as the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Before 6:00pm, a French cavalry corp under general Sordet arrived and took over the combats. They suffered heavy casualties but allowed the British to retreat in good order.

General Smith-Dorrien will be criticized for his actions and dismissed in favour of general French. However, his actions helped the retreat of British and French troops who could have fallen quickly under German fire. Nonetheless, around 7,000 thousands British troops had been lost that, most of them captured or wounded.

By Alister

Studying at the University of Besaçon, Burgundy Franche-Comté, France