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First Name: Walter Daniel Last Name: HAWES
Date of Death: 26/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Barking
Rank: Sergeant Unit: East Lancashire1
Memorial Site: 1. Barking Memorial 2.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.

On 26 August detachments of 11 Brigade, 4th Division, covered the north and north-east approaches of Beauvois whilst the main body of the Brigade fell back and occupied a line south-west from the ‘Quarry’, At  6 am-11 Brigade, the rearguard, gradually withdrew after exchanging fire with Germans north of Beauvois. They became somewhat isolated when 12 Brigade withdrew on its left and then a gap developed between them and 7 Brigade on the right.   The Germans worked round both flanks and began to attack along the railway from the West and from Fontaine au Pire from the north-east.  With German batteries plastered the British positions and machine guns joined in too, but no large scale infantry attack followed.  Eventually 1st East Lancashire were forced to withdraw from the northern slope of the Quarry to a sunken road on the southern slope where they held their ground.  Small parties of 11 Brigade were forced out of the more exposed positions by shrapnel but invariably reoccupied them.  At 3 pm 11 Brigade withdrew into the low ground of the Warnelle Ravine, under heavy shrapnel fire.  They met this fire again moving up the rear slope of the Ravine in front of Ligny and suffered losses.  On three occasions the Germans advanced against Ligny and three times they were thrown back severely punished. By 4 pm, 4th Division had undisputed possession of the town.

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