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First Name: Valentine James Last Name: SMITH
Date of Death: 26/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Wanstead
Rank: Gunner Unit: Royal Field Artillery 42 Brigade 45th Battery
Memorial Site: 1. Wanstead Memorial 2. Leyton Library

Current Information:


22, Nightingale Lane, Wanstead


St Symphorien 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 By nightfall the BEF had withdrawn to a position along the Valenciennes-Maubeuge road, a position from which the Great Retreat began the next day.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.

45th Battery was part of 42 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery attached to the 3rd Division which were heavily involved in the fighting at Mons after which the division and its artillery withdrew and by 26th August were once again engaged, this time in the Battle of Le Cateau. Valentine Smith died from wounds on 26th August but as he was buried in a cemetery at Mons it is safe to say that he was wounded there during the fighting on 23rd August.


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