Audregnies is a small village west of Mons, out on the far west flank of the British Expeditionary Force during the Battle of Mons in 1914. On the 24th August 1914 the largest cavalry action of 1914 took place here when 9th Lancers and 4th Dragoon Guards charged the German positions at the Audregnies sugar factory. Captain Francis Grenfell led the 9th Lancers into action at Audregnies and was later awarded a Victoria Cross for his bravery here.
‘That charge was as futile and as gallant as any other like attempt in history on unbroken infantry and guns in position. But it proved to the world that the spirit which inspired the Light Brigade at Balaclava…was still alive in the cavalry of to-day.’
John Buchan, Francis and Riversdale Grenfell: A Memoir, (1920)
The old pavé road at Audregnies runs from the village to the sugar factory and was the dividing line between the two cavalry regiments in 1914. A century later it still remains and much of the battlefield is unchanged. This image is taken looking back from the sugar factory towards Audrenies to where the cavalry charge came from.
Thanks. Fascinating and saddening. Regards Thom.
Actually, the sugar factory was located in Quiévrain, and this old road is called “Brunehaut’s causeway” because of a wisigoth queen. But the road dates back to Roman era. Since August 2014 there’s a memorial in Audregnies’s fields who honors the Cheshire regiment, which was inaugurated in the presence of the current Mercian regiment.
Having been to the site of the Charge, last week, (my Granddad was a 9th Lancer, captured there) I can assure you that the Sugar Factory is still in the same spot -check maps, of then & now- and it is not in Quievrain. It is on the old, Roman road, between Audregnies and Elouges. The mineral railways, that ran between the collieries are no longer there but you can see where they ran. The collieries are also gone but parts of them remain, plain to see.
My grandfather Pte William Loane was batman to Captain Francis Grenfell.We live in Australia but visited the grave of Grenfell in Belgium in 2015.My grandfather took part in the famous charge at Audregnies in 1914. Would any person know if any group photos are available of the 9th lancers during ww1 or if Grenfell’s war diaries can be accessed.My grandfather died in Leeds infirmary on 31st May 1915 from wounds received during fighting at Hooge near Ypres on 9th May.Capt Grenfell died on 24th May in the same area. Would be grateful to anyone for any assistance.
Thanks. Indeed it is but this was a battlefield referred to in the Official History as Audregnies, and what communal boundaries it lays in are not really relevant. Thanks for the info on the new Cheshire Memorial.
My grandson had been learning a bit about WW1 at school I decided that it might be good to take him for a quick visit to the Mons area over a recent weekend. In attempting to research where we could visit I came across this page and its comments. Perhaps our experiences may be of benefit to others who may be contemplating a visit to Audregnies.
The memorial seemed a little more difficult to find than “Brunehaut’s Causeway” depending on your approach to Audregnies I suppose. We came in past the communal cemetery from the direction of Le Quesnoy in France on the N553 so the first turning on the left towards Baisieux took us to a left-handed bend and Brunehaut’s Causeway. We walked up the track which was extremely muddy and even boggy in parts and could see to our right some flags which we guessed was the memorial to the Cheshire Regiment. We stayed on the track for about 800 yards until it went down into a dip and crossed another track at right angles. Climbing up the bank we could see that we were still some way from the site of the Sugar Beet factory. The track was so boggy we decided to turn back towards the car.
We drove out of the Baisieux road and turned left back onto the N553 and followed it iun the direction of Élouges. Close to the end of Audregnies village we spotted a sign to the memorial. Turning left past some houses the lane became a narrow track with the Cheshire Memorial about 400 yards along it. Unfortunately there was absolutely nowhere to turn or park the car so we had to continue for another half mile or so until we came to a group of houses which allowed us to turn around and proceed back to the memorial. We had to park on the track and be on the lookout for any approaching vehicle.
We then drove back towards and through Baisieux but were unsure of which turning would talke us towards the Sugar Beet factory so we continued to Quiévrain and on to the N51 towards Mons. We srtopped at the edge of Quiévrain by the turning towards Hensies and outside a car dealership. Brunehaut’s Causeway was on our right and was indeed cobbled as the photographs. We walked to where the Sugar Beet factory must have been sited where a track to the right leads to Baisieux, in so doing we crossed a tarmac cycle path that must have been the route of the railway track leading to Élouges. The cobbled track is deteriorating caused mainly I suspect by the tractors from the adjacent farms.
My grandson was enthralled by his visit and the thought of the cavalry charge against the German guns but as he so correctly pointed out although the landscape was little changed (OK so no railway track and now the ever present wind turbines) he just could not imagine what it must have been like when the cavalry charge took place, neither the horror of it all nor the noise of battle.
I am attaching our photographs the best I can and hope that they may be of interest.
To comment on things mentioned in previous posts:-
Audregnies is a relatively small community so like the sugar beet factory it forms part of the commune of Quiévrain.
Brunehaut’s Causeway or Chausée Brunehaut that runs from Hensies to Bavay is not the only road that is so named. The D932/ N563 fnotheast rom Bavay towards Givry and Binche is similarly named. It also appears in France on the D172 near Bapaume, south of Ytres running south east from Rocquigny towards Equancourt. I suspect that there may be other roads so named.
The Cheshire Regiment memorial looking back towards Audregnies.
The Cheshire Regiment Memorial.
View from the memorial towards the Sugar Beet factory and Quiévrain (the direction of the charge.)
Brunehaut’s Causeway leading off the road to Baisieux from Audregnies.
The Cheshire Regiment Memorial (to the left of centre on horizon) as seen from Brunehaut’s Causeway.
Brunehaut’s Causeway taken from the N51 and looking towards the Sugar Beet Factory.
The site of the old railway line crossing Brunehaut’s Causeway.
The probable site of the old Sugar Beet factory looking towards Audregnies, the track to Baisieux is between the two buildings on the right.
Brunehaut’s Causeway looking from the site of the Sugar Beet factory towards Audregnies.
Aaahh! it won’t allow me to post the photographs. If anybody would like to see them or knows the easiest way to post them on this page I would be most interested and grateful. I do not use Facebook.
IT looks clear to me after finding this site that my father Richard Norton Cornall was in this charge He was captured and a prisoner of war until 1918 He was in the Dragoon Guards from 1910 I have his Service book with the entry confirming thisand his imprisonment I,m in my 70.s and was the child of his older years He died when I was 18 Although we were close he never talked about the war I understand he finished the war in a camp in Holland where his weight went down to 6 stone but he played a lot of cricket. I want to research his life further now I have finally retired and pass the family history on to at least one of my children Dad served in the Army Education Corps after the war went all over the world and met my mum at Pontefract Barracks in the 1930,s