Nimy Bridge, Mons

A century ago today the Battle of Mons was raging in Belgium. The men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) were dug in along the Mons-Conde canal and the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, a regular army battalion largely recruited in and around London, were defending two bridges over the canal. Sufficient explosives did not exist to blow them so their right flank was on a swing bring and their left on a railway bridge. On the railway bridge the battalion’s two Maxim machine-guns were located, under the command of Lieutenant Maurice Dease. The regimental history states:

The machine gun crews were constantly being knocked out. So cramped was their position that when a man was hit he had to be removed before another could take his place. The approach from the trench was across the open, and whenever a gun stopped Lieutenant Maurice Dease… went up to see what was wrong. To do this once called for no ordinary courage. To repeat it several times could only be done with real heroism. Dease was badly wounded on these journeys, but insisted on remaining at duty as long as one of his crew could fire. The third wound proved fatal, and a well deserved VC was awarded him posthumously. By this time both guns had ceased firing, and all the crew had been knocked out. In response to an inquiry whether anyone else knew how to operate the guns Private Godley came forward. He cleared the emplacement under heavy fire and brought the gun into action. But he had not been firing long before the gun was hit and put completely out of action. The water jackets of both guns were riddled with bullets, so that they were no longer of any use. Godley himself was badly wounded and later fell into the hands of the Germans.

Dease and Sidney Godley became the first two men in the British Army to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Great War.

The railway bridge was later destroyed in 1918. It was again brought down in May 1940 and finally in September 1944. The modern bridge seen here is a girder bridge; the original was stone, but it is on the original site of one of the most famous British battles of 1914.

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2 Comments on “Nimy Bridge, Mons

  1. off to visit the battle of the bulge villages soon. by sheer coincidence booked to stay overnight in Nimy, everythings a learning curve. Another part of the ww1 history I now know about. Thanks Paul.

  2. Thanks for posting this Paul, my Great Uncle was in the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and fought there. He was captured at sometime during WW1 (but I don’t know when and where)… As a POW he escaped 3 times (the third time escaped to freedom – he only said that they slept in the hedges by day and moved by night and lived on what they dug out of the fields) he was haunted by his time in the war all his life – calling out in his sleep regularly and would not talk about it, other than a time when he struck a German officer for spitting at him – There is a record of this and his trial for it – but I have not been able to see it as yet. He served with RF’s for over 9 years.

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