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First Name: George Henry Last Name: POTTER
Date of Death: 24/08/1914 Lived/Born In: St. Luke's
Rank: Sergeant Unit: West Riding2
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


Hautrage Military Cemetery, Belgium


The Battle of Mons  August 23, 1914

This was the first battle fought by the British Army (BEF) in the war. Since landing in France ten days earlier the four infantry divisions and five cavalry brigades of the BEF had advanced to a position on the left flank of the French Armies only to find themselves directly in the line of the advance of the German First Army as they swept through Belgium and headed for Paris.

With orders to hold the German advance for 24hours and outnumbered two to one, the BEF dug in along the Mons-Conde canal. The battle commenced at 9am and lasted all day. By nightfall the BEF had withdrawn to a position along the Valenciennes-Maubeuge road, a position from which the Great Retreat began the next day. British casualties, killed, wounded or missing, amounted to 1600 for the battle. German casualties were higher.

13 Brigade of 5th Division held a three mile front along the western stretch of the canal.1st Royal West Kent covered the canal bridges immediately east of St. Ghislain in excellent trenches and on their left the 2nd Scottish Borderers battalion occupied the canal up to the railway bridge at Les Herbières. The two remaining battalions of 13 Brigade, 2nd West Riding and 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, were in reserve in St Ghislain. In the afternoon the German attack spread west to the bridges of Les Herbières where they infiltrated the reedy marshes next to the canal.  2nd West Riding and 2ndYorkshire Light Infantry moved up but were not required as the German attack had been brought to a halt.

2nd West Riding began the following day in Wasmes where heavy German shelling caused some casualties. At 11am the order to withdraw was issued and 13 Brigade moved back covered by 14 Brigade. Unfortunately, 2nd West Riding and a battery of 27 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery did not get the order and at 11.30am the Germans concentrated their fire on this battery.  There was a very fierce fight for 90 minutes but the rifles of 2nd West Riding saved the battery.  At 1pm a heavy German infantry attack was seen off at 800 yards  by the battalion who then withdrew. They had stopped and driven back six German battalions but in so doing had suffered 400 casualties, one of whom was George Potter.

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