Heavy assault carried out with 'great skill'

Two young boys from France take on their fathers' roles

Two young boys from France take on their fathers' roles

First published in Heritage News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Archivist

THE pages of the Daily Echo 100 years ago carried the latest statement issued by the British Official Press Bureau, which reported that British forces had successfully reached their intended new position and were engaged in heavy fighting with the enemy.

According to reports, the heavy fighting was more or less continuous, but the enemy had not harassed our operations and the movement of our men had been executed with great skill by the Commander of the First and Second Army Corp.

Our forces had been opposed by two German Army Corps and two Cavalry Divisions and, despite losses to our own men, the losses suffered by the enemy had been considerable.

In an address to the House of Commons this afternoon, Prime Minister Mr Asquith announced that the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Forces, Field Marshal Sir John French, had reported that the earlier withdrawal of troops to the new position was successfully effected.

However, it was not accomplished without some considerable loss of British men.

The men were pressed hard by the enemy who were, however, shaken off.

While it was not desirable to say anything more for the moment, Field Marshal French’s reports said that in spite of hard marching and fighting, “the British forces are in the best of spirits”.

The latest information relayed back to the homeland estimated that the loss of British troops from casualties was something over 2,000.

  • THESE young French onion sellers, pictured above, photographed exactly 100 years ago in the environs of Southampton, were taking the reins of the family business while their parents and brothers were absent fighting for their country.

Despite their tender years, these young men were sent to England to peddle the onion crops, which in times of peace, would have been work undertaken by their parents.

With their elders engaged elsewhere, the responsibility of the family business, and the need to provide for their mothers and sisters back home in France, had fallen squarely on these young shoulders.

  • THERE are few people still alive who lived through the terrible years of the First World War.

Yet every family has its own memories, stories of fathers, grandfathers, brothers and other relatives serving at the front, or coping with life back home waiting for news of loved ones.

Those memories have been handed down through the generations, and we want to retell them through the columns of the Daily Echo and our website dailyecho.co.uk.

We want you to get in touch with us and tell us your family memories of the First World War years.

You may have family photographs, medals, letters from the front or letters sent from home.

If you want to help us build a picture of what times were like 100 years ago for the people of Hampshire, then please send items to David Brine, Features Editor, Southern Daily Echo, Newspaper House, Test Lane, Redbridge, Southampton, SO16 9JX, or email newsdesk@dailyecho.co.uk.

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