I CORPS - SKIRMISH AT LANDRECIES
August 25th, 1914
I Corps’s retirement route consisted of a meandering road, which crossed the River Sambre several times. It was jammed with a mass of humanity trying to escape the advancing Germans, including French soldiers, mixed in with vast quantities of refugees.
The British troops did their best to constrict their movement on the single lane road, while dealing with the unrelenting August heat. At best, the Corps could only maintain a two mile an hour pace, eliminating any chance of meeting up with II Corps at Le Cateau.
By evening, the fatigued troops reached their billet area outside Landrecies, while General Haig established his headquarters in the town.
The VI Brigade billeted in Maroilles, a town just a few miles away.
Refugees arriving in Landrecies reported seeing advance portions of the German III and IV Corps heading towards both Landrecies and Maroilles.
With advanced warning, the British created defensive positions around both towns.
When the Germans secretly approached the British line at Landrecies, they received a verbal challenge. By replying in French, the Germans were able to slyly proceed close to the British lines before the British could respond. The two armies clashed, and at times there was savage hand-to-hand fighting. Finally the Germans retreated to the southern edge of the Mormal Forest.[i]
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