SERVING soldiers and relatives of fallen infantrymen will pay tribute to members of a Cheshire regiment that fought in vain to hold back the German advance into France 100 years ago.
Of the 925 troops in the 1st Battalion of the 22nd Cheshire Regiment, just 200 survived the Battle of Mons, near the village of Audregnies in Belgium on August 24, 1914.
The Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Bob Rudd, will join former soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment on a pilgrimage to the village in memory of their courage and sacrifice.
A granite plaque carved by Chester masons will stand on a plinth encircled by eight oak trees symbolising the former regiment’s famous oak leaf cap badge.
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.”
Cllr Rudd said: “I am honoured to represent Chester at this ceremony because I know everyone in the city would want to recognise the great debt we all owe to these men for their courage, bravery and sacrifice.”
The march to the memorial site in Audregnies will involve about 100 members of the Regimental Association and three direct descendants of soldiers who served at Mons.
It will be led by regular soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, which succeeded the Cheshire Regiment on amalgamation with the Staffordshire Regiment and Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, in September 2007.
The party will also visit the Cement House Cemetery near Ypres where some of the soldiers killed in the Battle of Mons are buried.
Members will also take a trip to Passchendaele Memorial Museum and attend the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate where wreaths will be laid by the Lord Mayor and the Chairman of the Cheshire Regiment Association, Lt Col David Oak.
During the First World War the Cheshire Regiment had no less that 38 battalions – each of at least 1,000 men – serving their country.
Major Eddie Pickering, secretary of the Cheshire Regiment Association, who will be making the pilgrimage to Mons, said: “It was an incredible number of battalions for a relatively small county and well over eight thousand of those men paid for that service with their lives.”
See full story in the Chester Leader