Nimy railway bridge and the Mons-Condé Canal: scene of the first fighting between British and German troops in 1914 © WBT-JP Remy

Battle of Mons Centenary to be marked with day of commemorations on August 23 2014

Posted on on 13 June 2014
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The Belgian town of Mons has announced more details of commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Mons.

The first clash of the Great War between British and German troops took place on 23rd August 1914 as the Germans advanced across neutral Belgium to France.

The centrepiece of a day of events in Mons on 23rd August 2014 will be the planting of a Centenary tree in the Place du Parc.

The public will be invited to join young people and delegations from the former belligerent countries for this act of remembrance at 2pm, featuring music, poetry and recollections. 

Educational events include a reconstruction of a British military camp in 1914 in the Parc du Beffroi, which opens on 20th August 2014. 

A series of commemorations will be held at key battle sites, starting at Obourg railway station and the Nimy bridge over the Mons-Condé canal.

It was here that Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley won the British Army's first Victoria Crosses of the First World War.                    


Nimy bridge: memorial to Maurice Dease and Sidney Godley © WBT-Morgane Vander Lin

Lieutenant Dease is buried at St Symphorien military cemetery on the outskirts of Mons, together with the first British casualty of the conflict, Private John Parr.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission will be hosting an open day at St Symphorien from 10am to 4pm on August 23rd 2014.

This will provide an opportunity to meet the gardeners, stonemasons and historians involved in the CWGC's work. There will be a commemorative event afterwards.

The last Commonwealth soldiers killed in action in 1918, George Ellison of the Royal Irish Lancers and George Price of the Canadian Infantry, and 284 German servicemen are also buried at St Symphorien.

At 9pm, a military music concert takes place in the Grand Place, the main square of Mons.

The evening culminates at 10.30pm with a spectacular 3D show in the square, projecting the legendary intervention of the 'Angels of Mons' to protect British troops as they started their long retreat back into France.

Full details of the programme can be found here.

Centenary News will be publishing an updated round-up of events marking the First World War Centenary on 28th June 2014, the 100th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

Source: Ville de Mons; Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Images: Courtesy of Belgian Tourist Office - Brussels & Wallonia

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News