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First Name: George Last Name: EMERY
Date of Death: 26/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Wandsworth
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders2
Memorial Site: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France

Current Information:


Le Cateau 26th August 1914

By the evening of the 25th August II Corps of the BEF, commanded by  General Smith-Dorrien, had reached Le Cateau, in France. They had been retreating, but still fighting rearguard actions for two long days and they were done in.  The Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French ordered the retreat to continue the next day but Smith-Dorrien chose instead to stand and fight.  He reasoned that with the Germans on their heels a retreat would be disastrous without first halting the German advance. So, on the next day II Corps turned and faced the enemy. A fierce battle ensued when the Germans began an artillery bombardment at dawn. German infantry followed up in the wake of this barrage and became the targets of both the British artillery and infantry. The Germans were held at bay until the afternoon but by then they were threatening the flanks of II Corps. The Brits withdrew, whilst the Germans reorganised. British casualties for the day, killed, wounded or taken prisoner, were nearly 8,000.

19 Brigade  started the day in reserve at Reumont but soon 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders were ordered forward  to support the right of 2nd Suffolk on the cross roads south-west of Pont des Quatre Vaux.   Using their grubbers, they took cover on the ridge, and in a hollow to the west, At noon, two  half companies of 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders  rushed up from the hollow, through the wreckage of the guns of 11th Battery and despite heavy losses reached 2nd Suffolk. The other two coys of 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders were sent with the machine guns into the lane that ran over the ridge to the right rear of 2nd Suffolk. They turned these machine guns, at long range, on the ridge east of Le Cateau. This drew German artillery fire and both the machine guns were put out of action. Three more platoons of 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders had twice attempted to reach 2nd Suffolk but were beaten back.  They rallied on the trenches of Royal Engineers but then extremely severe German fire forced them back from the ridge to the the rear of 2nd Suffolk. Between 2.30-2.45 pm the Germans who had massed in the shelter of the Cambrai road attacked 2nd Suffolk and the two half companies of 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders that had reached them, from front, right flank and right rear.  Still they kept fighting, ignoring German cries for them to surrender, until they were eventually overwhelmed.  They had been under incessant bombardment for 9 hours. At the same time three platoons of 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders were checking the German progress further east in the Selle valley. At 3 pm they opened fire at 1500 yards  on advancing German infantry and halted their progress for a while. But the German advance was overwhelming and 19 Brigade, with 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders acting as rear guard fell back through the Selle Valley to a position behind Reumont .

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