Old Contemptibles: Men of the British Expeditionary Force on 1914: The Cavalry: Volume 1
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The historical narrative of the British Expeditionary Force and its actions during 1914 has been extensively covered by many authors, as has their operational performance against the German Army. This book focuses on a selection of some of the men who served with the B.E.F. in 1914 and their experiences during the fighting as they described them to relatives and friends at home, and to journalists when they returned home wounded or on leave. This book is about the soldiers’: stories, and the men who have been selected for inclusion, as representatives of all of their comrades, served in the ranks. The book has been divided into two parts. The first is a chronological narrative, consisting of extracts from letters, biographies and newspaper articles that chronicle the experiences of the soldiers at the front during 1914, while the second section is composed of a further selection of material that tells the stories of some of the Old Contemptibles in the years that followed, both at war and in civilian life when they left the Army. The first-hand accounts that have been included are drawn from reports published in regional newspapers. Thirsty for descriptions of the fighting in France and Flanders, the local press made appeals for relatives to provide letters that they had received from their relatives at the front. The book will be the first of a series on the lives and experiences of some of the men (and women) who served with the British Expeditionary Force between 5 August and 22 November 1914. Future planned volumes will be devoted to the “:First Seven Divisions”: –: the infantry of the B.E.F. –: as well as the Indian Corps, Royal Naval Division and other ancillary and support services deployed to France and Belgium during the first months of the Great War. With this first volume, the focus is on the lives and experiences of a few of the men who served with the Household Cavalry, the Cavalry of the Line, the Special Reservists of the North Irish Horse and South Irish Horse, and the Yeomanry regiments who deployed to France and Flanders and qualified for the award of the 1914 Star. While two regular and two Territorial Force regiments served as Divisional Cavalry, and the North Irish and South Irish units were attached to Corps and General Headquarters, the vast majority of the mounted regiments formed part of the Cavalry Divisions. Initially, there was a single Cavalry Division of four brigades, as well as an independent brigade, but in September 1914 these were reorganised into two formations. A third Cavalry Division was raised in England during September and initially consisted of two brigades: one formed from the three regiments of the Household Cavalry and another from two units that had returned from garrison duties in South Africa. The 3rd Cavalry Division landed in Belgium between 7 and 8 October, and was later joined by another regular regiment recalled from Egypt and two Yeomanry units that deployed to the front between 31 October and 3 November. Also included in the book are letters and biographies of soldiers of the Royal Horse Artillery batteries, Field Squadrons of the Royal Engineers, and other representatives of the support services that formed an essential component of the Cavalry Divisions. It is hoped that this collection of material will be of interest to researchers, medal collectors, military, local and family historians, and those who are interested in the lives of soldiers who served during the Great War.