The Flank Guard Action and the First Cavalry Charge of the Great War, 24 August 1914

Major (Retd) Philip Watson

The book takes the statement of LSgt Taylor of the 9th Lancers "Germany? I thought we were off for another go at the French” and aims to explain how in a period of 99 years the military alliances between Britain and France and Germany had become reversed. The narrative has parallel stories of social and military reform interwoven with the dynastic
Date Published :
October 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
43 b/w photos, 15 color photos, 10 b/w ills, 18 b/w maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781911628972
Pages : 350
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Available


The book starts at the point the Germany army crosses the Belgium border and follows the individual stories of the key characters, Field Marshals and soldiers alike, military and civilian, German, Belgique and French of those who were to be intimately involved in the ‘flank guard action at Élouges and the cavalry action of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade. The author has mixed the minutiae of the thoughts and details of those who played key roles and introduces them before the role become significant. The book benefits from a series of high-quality maps which help to explain the complexity of the action at Audregnies and Élouges, and is profusely illustrated, with pictures of those who were there, which brings the story to life and humanizes an action which has become known as a faceless casualty list for its perceived success or failure.

The author has drawn together many unpublished diary accounts from all the regiment’s involved in an attempt to show the interactions all between the units concerned and has avoided telling the story from a single-unit perspective. It also draws together article from the UK press illustrating the story as it unfolded back in England. For the first time the author has integrated the German story from German regimental histories and diaries to give the story a holistic picture, which sees the German Imperial Army, put into practice with success their prewar training and doctrine. The analysis and critique is solely based around the actions of the units involved and has avoided some of the much repeated ‘sound bites’ which are not relevant to his story. The analysis is based around the instructions given to Field Marshal French by Lord Kitchener before he left and how the commanders implemented the tactics which had been articulated in their own specific to arms publications and the Field Service Manual 1909.

About The Author

Philip Watson enlisted as a boy soldier in 1977 into the 9th/12th Royal Lancers, and left the regiment in 2012, having been the officer commander HQ Squadron, a period of service which spanned 35 years and many operational tours. He became interested in regimental history during his time in the WOs’ and Sgts’ Mess having been responsible for the silver or chattels for the whole period of time he was in the mess, while at regimental duty. His main area of interest was the detail around the regimental day; Mons/Moy, which commemorated the last mounted lance actions of the regiment during the Retreat from Mons. After accumulating a wealth of information over 19 years, his first book “The Last Charges” was published by the regimental trustees in 2016. After he left the army, he became the Assistant Regimental Secretary of the Royal Lancers, and is currently an adult volunteer with the Army Cadet Force.


"Watson’s extensive bibliography reveals the breath and depth of his research. The sources include archival, letters and diaries, periodicals and newspapers, printed sources, and electronic sources, both British and German. The photographs, many from Watson’s and other private collection and archives, nicely illustrate the men and places involved."


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