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La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France
First Name: Charles Last Name: HELLRICK
Date of Death: 26/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Wandsworth
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Rifle Brigade1
Memorial Site: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France

Current Information:



30, Eglantine Road, Wandsworth


The Great Retreat of the BEF began after the opening Battle of Mons on 23rd August, 1914 and 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 BEF withdrew, whilst the Germans reorganised. British casualties for the day, killed, wounded or taken prisoner, were nearly 8,000.

At 2am on 26 August, 1st Rifle Brigade of 11th Brigade, 4th Division were bivouacked to the north-west of Fontaine-au-Pire. At 6am, 4th Division were ordered to hold the ground on the left and cover the retreat. 1st Rifle Brigade took up a position, in extended order, along the glacis to the north-west of Fontaine-au-Pire and held off an attack from Carrenières. They then fell back on the main body of 11 Brigade at the Quarry Knoll during which, one platoon of A Company came to close quarters with the Germans.  In the afternoon, 1st Rifle Brigade covered the withdrawal of 11 Brigade to Ligny and then withdrew themselves across the Warnelle Ravine. Their casualties amounted to over 350, many of whom were too severely wounded and could not be moved back to Ligny. They were left in the sunken road at the Quarry Knoll under the care of the MO, Captain Garland. Among those from the battalion killed on this day was Charles Hellrick.

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