Le Cateau

The Battle of Le Cateau was fought on the Western Front during the First World War on 26 August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Army had retreated after their defeats at the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons.

The Honour was awarded to the 3rd Hussars.


During the retreat from Mons, II Corps was digging in on the Le Cateau line, which from in front of Caudry on its left curved south-west to a mile and a half north-west of Ligny.

With the Germans were attacking the Le Cateau line, General Smith-Dorrien and his II Corps decided to stand and stem the German tide for a few hours.

The 4th Cavalry Brigade was on the left of the British line and watching that flank. The 3rd Hussars were ordered to the left of the British position, and ‘A’ Squadron pushed forward to the cover of a bank close under the left of the infantry line, with the remainder of the Regiment in close support.

Later in the morning, the brigade covering the left of the infantry fell back to Sevigny, and in the evening was ordered to cover the retirement of the 4th Division.

The 3rd was not called in until 8 pm and were then ordered to Lempire, where the brigade was to billet. The Regiment got strung out on the move, and the only people who reached Lempire by 1 am on the 27th were a few individuals of Headquarters.

The II Corps had been in a most precarious position at Le Cateau, being greatly outnumbered they held at bay no less than four German corps and two cavalry divisions.

It became apparent that, if complete annihilation was to be avoided, retirement must be attempted; and the order was given to commence it about 3.30 pm.

The movement was covered with the most devoted intrepidity and determination by the artillery, which had itself suffered heavily, and the fine work done by the cavalry in the further retreat from the position assisted materially in the final completion of this most difficult and dangerous operation.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 3rd Hussars
  2. Western Front 1914-18 timeline