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First Name: John Neville Last Name: MANNERS
Date of Death: 01/09/1914 Lived/Born In: Belgravia
Rank: Lieutenant Unit: Grenadier Guards2
Memorial Site: 1. Sloane Square, Holy Trinity 2. House of Lords Memorial 3.La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial

Current Information:


Sloane Square

After the opening battles of the war at Mons on 23rd August, 1914 and Le Cateau on 26th August, the British Army (BEF), in conjunction with the French Army, began a retreat that took them all the way back to the River Marne, 200 miles to the south. With the Germans in hot pursuit they were forced to fight a series of rear guard actions as they fell back in extremely hot weather. The Great Retreat, as it became known, came to an end on 5th September, 1914 when the allied forces attacked along the River Marne and drove the Germans back to the River Aisne.

On 1st  September, 1914, as the Great Retreat continued, the 2nd Grenadier Guards battalion of 4 Brigade, 2nd Division, came into action. Along with the rest of 4 Brigade they covered the withdrawal of the rest of 2nd Division from a position to the east of Taillefontaine, five miles from Villers Cottérêts. 3rd Coldstream were in the second line of this defensive formation when, at 10am, it was attacked by a large German force. 3rd Coldstream Guards and 2nd Grenadier Guards were drawn up on a grass ride along the highest ridge of the Villers Cottérêts forest which passes through an open space, Rond de la Reine, to another open space, Croix de Belle Vue, a mile on.  Here they were greatly extended with wide gaps between the companies which the Germans were able to penetrate. Nevertheless the two battalions were able to fall back slowly and eventually they were joined by the 1st Irish Guards. There was a degree of confusion and much intermingling as the three battalions fought their way back through the forest to Villers Cottérêts which they reached by 2pm. They had been engaged against a much larger German force and 4 Brigade suffered over 300 casualties one of whom was John Manners.

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