THE Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Bob Rudd, travelled to Belgium to join former soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment to mark the 100 years since the Great War’s Battle of Mons.
On Sunday, August 24, Chester’s first citizen marched alongside members of the Regimental Association to the inauguration of a battlefield memorial to the heroic soldiers of the 1st Battalion.
In one of the first battles involving the British Expeditionary Force, the heavily outnumbered Cheshires were decimated by injuries.
There were more than 100 deaths from a total strength of 950, with other casualties reducing the battalion to just seven officers and 200 men.
To mark their sacrifice, a granite plaque carved by Chester masons will stand on a plinth.
The inscription on the memorial reads: ‘Dedicated to 25 officers and 925 men of the 1st Battalion the 22nd (Regiment) who stood firm on this field before an overwhelming enemy on the 24th August 1914.
‘At the end of the battle only seven officers and 200 men answered the roll call.
‘Their heroism saved the British Fifth Division from disaster.’
The march to the memorial in the village of Audregnies, where the Cheshires held back the German advance, involved around 100 members of the Regimental Association and three direct descendants of soldiers who served at Mons.
It was led by regular soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment which succeeded the Cheshire Regiment on amalgamation in September 2007.
The day before the party visited the Cement House Cemetery near Ypres where some of the soldiers killed in the Battle of Mons are buried, Passchendaele Memorial Museum and attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate where wreaths were laid by the Lord Mayor and the Chairman of the Cheshire Regiment Association, Lt Col David Oak.
The Lord Mayor said: “We owe a great debt to these men for their courage and sacrifice.”
During the First World War the Cheshires had 38 battalions of at least 1,000 men serving their country.
Major Eddie Pickering, secretary of the Regiment Association, said: “More than 8,000 of those men paid for that service with their lives.”
All are remembered in the Regimental Chapel of St. George in Chester Cathedral.