Commemorating their forebears at Mons: Charles Enderby and Ben Thomas

First clash between British and German troops in 1914 remembered near Mons

Posted on on 22 August 2014
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Commemorations have been held in Belgium on the Centenary of the first shots fired by British troops on the Western Front in the First World War.

Descendants of the soldiers involved in the skirmish with German cavalry took part in the ceremony near Mons on 22nd August 2014.

Members of the Great War Society, in period British and German military uniforms, formed a guard of honour.

One hundred years ago, a squadron of the 4th Royal Irish Guards encountered the German cavalrymen while on reconnaissance in the village of Casteau.

Corporal Edward Thomas became the first British soldier to open fire. His great-grandson, Ben Thomas, spoke at the Centenary remembrance ceremony, together with Charles Enderby, grandson of Captain Charles Hornby who led the first cavalry attack on 22nd August 1914.

Corporal Thomas later gave an account of what happened. His words were read to guests gathered at the roadside monument commemorating the action.

 "The strange thing about this episode was that I had not the slightest feeling of being in battle, not the remotest idea that I was taking a very active part, as far as rifle fire was concerned, in what was to be the greatest war of all time."

Barely 100 metres over the road is another monument, this time a plaque, remembering Canadian troops who halted at the same spot on November 11th 1918 when the Armistice ended more than four years of fighting.

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, reporting for Centenary News from Mons