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First Name: Samuel Last Name: BIRD
Date of Death: 24/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Camden Town
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers4
Memorial Site: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-St Pancras


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 24 hours and outnumbered two to one, the BEF dug in along the Mons-Conde canal. The battle, which commenced at 9 am, lasted all day and by nightfall the BEF had withdrawn to a position along the Valenciennes-Maubeuge road, from where the Great Retreat back to the River Marne began the next day. On 23rd August, British casualties, killed, wounded or missing, amounted to 1600 but German casualties were higher.

Along with 4th Middlesex, the 4th Royal Fusiliers battalion of9 Brigade,3rd Division held the Mons-Obourg salient on the right of the line, where the main German attack was focused. At  6 am shots were fired at approaching German patrols and between  8 and 9 am both battalions were shelled. This was followed by German infantry attacks supported by heavy artillery fire.  The Germans advanced in close formation, shoulder to shoulder but rapid rifle fire drastically thinned their ranks. After that the Germans attacked more warily and their attack was extended along the whole line west of the salient.  At 10 am massed ranks of Germans approached the 4th Royal Fusiliers positions but they were mown down. At 11 am they were still holding out but by 2 pm 4th Royal Fusiliers withdrew south from Nimy.  They reformed in Mons and then moved south to Ciply, having suffered 100 casualties.

At 2am on 24 August,  4th Royal Fusiliers left the hospital grounds in Mons  where they had congregated after falling back from the canal and took up a position south of the town, covering the village of Frameries.  Z Company lost 40% of their number when the Germans moved forward around dawn. The battalion fell back 2000 yards and then met the German advance as it appeared over the crest of a hill. There followed  a long march to Bermeries in France. Among the casualties suffered by 4th Royal Fusiliers on this day was Samuel Bird who was killed in action.

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