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Sir John French's First Despatch
to the Secretary of State for War

inside leaf :- Robt. Rankin, 10th (S) Bn. R. I. Rifles, 36th (Ulster) Division

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newspaper clipping inside the book, Northern Whig, 3rd September 1918

7th September 1914 - My Lord, I have the honour to report the proceedings of the Field Force under my command up to the time of rendering this despatch.
1. The transport of the troops from England both by sea and by rail was effected in the best order and without a check.  Each unit arrived at its destination in this country well within the scheduled time.  The concentration was practically complete on the evening of Friday, the 21st ultimo, and I was able to make dispositions to move the force during Saturday, the 22nd, to positions I considered most favourable from which to commence operations which the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, requested me to undertake in pursuance of his plans in prosecution of the campaign.  The line taken up extended along the line of the canal from Condé on the west, through Mons and Binche on the east.  This line was taken up as follows:  From Condé to Mons inclusive was assigned to the Second Corps, and to the right of the Second Corps from Mons the First Corps was posted. The 5th Cavalry Brigade was places at Binche.  In the absence of my Third Army Corps I desired to keep the Cavalry Division as much as possible as a reserve to act on my other flank, or move in support of any threatened part of the line.  The forward reconnaissance was entrusted to Brigadier-General Sir Philip Chetwode with the 5th Cavalry Brigade, but I directed General Allenby to send forward a few squadrons to assist in this work.  During the 22nd and 23rd these advanced squadrons did some excellent work, some of them penetrating as far as Soignies, and several encounters took place in which our troops showed to great advantage.
2. At 6 a.m. on August 23rd, I assembled the Commanders of the First and Second Corps and Cavalry Division at a point close to the position and explained the general situation of the Allies, and what I understood to be General Joffre's plan.  I discussed with them at some length the immediate situation in front of us.  From information I received from French Headquarters I understood that little more than one, or at most two, of the enemy's Army Corps, with perhaps one Cavalry Division, were in front of my position; and I was aware of no attempted outflanking movement by the enemy.  I was confirmed in .............CLICK images below to continue reading the despatches

Map 1. Showing the early stages of the retreat from Mons: August 22 to September 1

Map 2 The Retreat continued.  From Compiégne, Sept. 1, to the new position south of Meaux, Sept. 3 and 4

Map 3. Commencement of the Battle of the Marne. Sept. 6 (Sunday) morning
Concentration of the Germans on a central point, and the position of the British Force when it resumed the offensive

17th September 1914 2nd Despatch

Map 4. Sept. 6 (Sunday) evening.  First advance towards the line of the Grand Morin

Map 5. Sept. 8. Battle of the Marne, where important captures were made by the British

Map 6. Sept. 9. Forcing the passage of the Marne
This day the German retreat degenerated into a rout, and many captures were made.

Map 7. Sept. 10 (evening). End of Battle of the Marne.
The Germans were driven over the Ourcq and retreated to the Aisne

8th October 1914 Third Despatch

Map 8. Sept. 10 to 12. Showing the Germans' headlong retreat to their entrenched positions beyond the Aisne

Map 9. Sept. 13 and 14. Passage of the Aisne, when bridges were constructed under great difficulties

Map 10. Sept. 15 to 28.
This map shows the entrenched positions of the Germans, many of which the Allies took with great loss to the Germans

List of Officers & Men Mentioned in Sir John French's Despatches
General Headquarters Staff, etc. - Non-Commissioned Officers and men

Officers & Regiments