THE FIRST CASUALTIES
The first fatalities of Gwent servicemen came within two days of the outbreak of war when on 6th August, the cruiser HMS Amphion sank after hitting a mine in the North Sea. Amongst the 150 sailors killed were George Hughes (Chepstow) and James Pellow (Newport)
On land, it was the regulars rather than the territorials or the volunteers of ‘Kitchener’s Army’ who were the first into battle. The British Expeditionary Force fought its first major battle at Mons in Belgium on 23rd August. The regulars of the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers, who were stationed in Aldershot when war broke out, were immediately sent to Flanders. They took a major part in the Battle of the Aisne in September, helping to turn back the German advance on Paris.
The 2nd Battalion, Monmouthshire regiment (2nd Mons) was one of the first territorial units to be sent to France, arriving in the front line trenches on 21st November. It lost its first man, William Crowley, the following day.