The Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Bob Rudd will join former soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment on a pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the Battle of Mons – one of the bloodiest actions of the First World War.
On Sunday, August 24, Chester’s first citizen will march 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 and over 100 deaths from a total strength of 950 to just seven officers and 200 men.
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.”
The march to the memorial site in the village of Audregnies, where the Cheshire’s held back the German advance, will involve around 100 members of the Regimental Association and three direct descendents 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 previous day the party will visit the Cement House Cemetery near Ypres where some of the soldiers killed in the Battle of Mons are buried, 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.
Said the Lord Mayor: “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.”
During the First World War the Cheshire Regiment had no less that 38 Battalions – each of at least 1,000 men – serving their country.
Said Major Eddie Pickering, Secretary of the Cheshire Regiment Association, who will be making the pilgrimage to Mons: “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.”
All are remembered in the Regimental Chapel of St. George in Chester Cathedral.